by Noah Cicero

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Back in the day:

Little Tony, about five-years-old was at a wedding reception.

The year was 1965.

He was walking around in a nice suit acting happy.

The band began playing the Chicken Song.

A song commonly played at Italian-American events.

For this song there is a special dance where people act like chickens.

Everyone is looking at the dance floor.

Some adults and all the kids are dancing.

Tony is just standing there watching.

Tony’s dad goes over to him and says, “Tony do the Chicken Dance.”

“No, daddy.”

“Oh, come on Tony. Do the Chicken Dance.”

“Daddy I don’t want to.”

“Do the goddamn Chicken Dance Tony!”

Tony’s dad grabs him by the back of the neck and drags him into the bathroom.

He looks at little Tony’s face.

He says, “Listen you motherfucker you’re fucking embarrassing me!”

He slaps the boy across his face. Then punches him in the stomach.

Tony begins to cry.

Tony goes out and does the Chicken Dance.

Tony is eighteen.

He has grown strong.

But he is young and vulnerable.

He is at the bar his dad owns and where a lot of Youngstown mobsters spend their evenings.

A couple of guys are sitting at the bar.

They don’t speak.

The bar is silent.

The bartender stands there wiping off a glass.

One of the men at the bar is reading the paper.

The other sits there.

It seems like he staring. But if you look, he isn’t. He isn’t looking anywhere.

Tony’s dad comes out of the backroom and motions for Tony to come in.

Tony walks into the backroom.

The room is a small office.

It is messy.

Tony’s dad points at the chair in front of a desk.

Tony sits down.

Tony’s dad sits down in the chair behind the desk.

He says to Tony, “I want you do something. I want you to kill Johnny. Then throw him in the river. Okay.”

Tony looks at him blankly and says, “Yes.”

“Do you understand why you have to kill him?”

“He pissed you off.”

“Because Johnny is the enemy. He has chosen against us. We have worked for years to have this power. To have this way of life. To own the shit we own. And Johnny wants to take that away. Johnny wants us to die. We must take away his chance of killing us, of destroying us. When you kill a man you take away his chances and you get to keep yours. Do you understand?”


That night Tony killed his first human.

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