A Death in Sicily 1983

From Italian Labyrinth, by John Haycraft. An account of reading about Benedetto Grado, an agricultural laborer and supervisor of a large market garden, killed at seventy-eight, at eight a.m. November 15th, 1983.

A photograph showed a sheet-covered shape on the pavement, from which shoes protruded at one end, with a half folded umbrella which looked strangely like a dolphin’s head, at the other. Blood trickled down to a little pool nearby. One of the three women in black ranged against the white wall behind was kneeling. Another stood, leaning against the bricks, while Grado’s wife sat crouched on a low wooden chair.

The article explained that Grado was probably killed only because he was related to a Mafia boss, who had recently disappeared. Grado himself appeared to have had no criminal involvement since 1934 when he was sent to the prison colony of Lampedusa, suspected of belonging to the Mafia.

When he was killed, Grado was wearing his son’s black coat, which still had bullet holes in its back from the day when the boy was gunned down, ten months earlier. As a final dramatic point, the shots which killed Grado were heard in the church nearby, where helpers were preparing the funeral of Salvatore Zarcone who had been killed the previous weekend in another feud. “One corpse in church and another on the asphalt,” as the journalist writing the article put it.

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