It's said there are no coincidences; everything happens for a reason. I don't know about that. I've never been one to bandy about pithy nuggets of wisdom. Life's experiences are far too complex to be whittled down to nine words.
It's said there are no coincidences; everything happens for a reason. I don't know about that. I’ve never been one to bandy about pithy nuggets of wisdom. Life's experiences are far too complex to be whittled down to nine words. I prefer to think that what happened on the morning of October 20, 2004 was a keying error, a simple mistake; that the telephone call was synchronal, possibly even serendipitous, rather than some sort of causal determinism.
That morning I was energized, focused, and ready to work. My laptop was open and booted up. I had gathered my writing talismans: Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary, Roget's International Thesaurus, a freshly brewed Thermos of Starbucks' Caffé Verona blend, my Sex and the City cappuccino mug. The items were in their assigned spots. Webster and Roget to my left; the Thermos stationed atop the buffet behind me.
I logged in at The Post-Standard. The familiar banner elicits a small smile. Having grown up in Syracuse the newspaper was daily reading in our household. I click on archives to retrieve an article for a client. The screen reads: For stories more than fourteen days old use pay-per-click.
My account with the Post is already established so I key my choice. Within moments the order is processed.
Your order for 10 Articles - $12.95 is confirmed.
“Shit!” I hit the wrong tab! Now my credit card was being charged $12.95. “Damn it!” I yell at the computer.
I click on My Account and begin the process of canceling my order. As I am about to hit SEND, the computer freezes. “Son of a bitch!”
Searching through the myriad pens and pencils that fill an old, worn Dutch Masters cigar box on my desk, I find my rebooting tool: a straightened paper clip. Inserting it into that secret little pinhole most Mac users eventually discover, my computer comes immediately back to life with a musical ding.
Within minutes I am back at www.syracuse.com.
I start the correction to my account, then change my mind. To hell with it. What’s ten bucks? After I retrieve the article for my client, I decide to make the most of my error. I still knew people in the Syracuse area. Might as well see what folks were up to. “Okay Nick, you’re first.”
I type Nicholas Fragola—my high school sweetheart. Last I had heard he’d become a cardiologist and was still quite the eligible bachelor. My client, Rose, was single again. Maybe I would play matchmaker.
Results 1 of 2 of about 2 for Nicholas Fragola.
March 2, 1992— FRAGOLA JOINS UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL CARDIAC UNIT
May 24, 1994 — FRAGOLA, MCCREARY WED
Forget that. I type in my own name.
Results 1 of 1 of about 1 for Rita Schiano.
August 3, 2001 — BOOKSTORE CELEBRATES 10 YEARS WITH GALA EVENT
I scan down to my name.
...and former Syracuse native, writer Rita Schiano, brought the crowd to its feet with a hilarious and heartfelt reading of her short story, Brown Shoes.
That’s a keeper. Click. Print. “Now who?” I think a moment. And then it was as if my fingertips were resting on a Ouiji; the letters A-L-F-R-E-D S-C-H-I-A-N-O appear suddenly on screen. I stare at the name—Alfred Schiano—and try to recall the last time I’d typed, or written for that matter, my father’s name. I couldn’t remember. My hand moves again, as if guided by a supernatural power. Click. Within moments the screen reads:
Results 1 of 6 of about 37 for Alfred Schiano.
I skim through the first set of headlines.
November 10, 1995 - MOB ENFORCER GETS JAIL TERM
September 17, 1995 - LAWYER FOR ACCUSED MOB ENFORCER SAYS CLIENT NOT DANGEROUS
September 13, 1995 – FBI TAPES SHOW HE'S DANGEROUS
June 26, 1993 - FEDS FILE ILLEGAL GAMBLING CHARGES
April 30, 1992 - LAWYER SNARLED IN MURDER PLOT
“What the fuck?” This can’t be right. All thirty-seven articles are from the 1990s, nearly twenty years after his death. Why would my father’s name be in the news again, thirty-seven times after all those years? I click on the first listing.
I hadn’t allowed myself to think about that day in many, many years. The raw emotion that stirred surprised me. But I knew myself well enough to know that I would not be able to stuff it back down. Something was brewing deep within my being and was about to rear up and break loose, and there would be no running from it.
While researching a freelance article, I stumbled upon archived stories about my father’s gangland-style murder twenty years before. This inspired me to dig deeper into the story, and in doing so, look critically and emotionally into my childhood. I chronicled this coming-of-age story through the eyes of a fictional character, Anna Matteo, who also discovers articles about her father’s Mafia murder. Both Anna and my story is one of a stolen childhood, a family torn apart by the violence of a Mafia life, and one young girl’s resilient spirit that allows her to rise above the hardships and seek solace in most unusual ways.
The finished project, "Painting The Invisible Man" takes readers on a journey inside the world of a struggling Italian family on the fringes of the Mafia.