Frank Laganà stood on the cliff suited in black, as straight as an exclamation point, poised to leap to his death once again.
When he’d set out that afternoon, he looked the part of a man on his way to a funeral. He’d ironed his shirt beneath a teakettle, polished his wingtips, and ribboned his homburg in the grosgrain of mourning. He wore his mustache trimmed, his bow tie tight, and his hair brilliantined in the patent-leather Valentino look. He was determined to meet death as he would an appointment with any of his creditors, overdressed and early. He’d even rented a three-piece suit for the occasion.
But it had taken him the better part of an hour to slog through groves of olive, manna, and carob trees, over rocks and up sheer switchbacks, and by the time he reached the top, perspiration soaked his waistcoat and the heat had wilted his bow tie. He wanted to die with grace, with gravitas, not with grime caked to his shoes. Soon enough, he supposed, the sweat and the schmutz would wash away in the rising tide below. A blast of sea breeze aerated the oppressive heat as he plodded to where the land ended. He walked until there was only one step left. Just one more and gravity would take him the rest of the way. There he stood with the dread and sobriety he brought to any important job. Frank Laganà was a confidence artist and this would be his final swindle. Today he would stiff the Fascist penal system of the nine years he still owed it.