Monday, April 11, 2011



The Butcher’s Daughter’ was originally published at A Twist Of Noir

One long Summer I unwittingly rented a villa off a Mafia lawyer in the heart of Sicily. It was bakingly hot, over 100 degrees all the time and I was in the interior. It is a strange and beautiful country steeped in bloodshed.

Olive groves shimmer in a constant haze and the Mafia still run the place. The teenagers are well behaved because they are too scared not to be.

One night I was eating out in a small and extremely good restaurant when three men, who were too sharply dressed for the area walked in, brushed the manager aside and went through to a back room behind a curtain.

You get the picture, all in expensive suits, the heavy, the good looking son, the lawyer with glasses and the papers in his case. It used to be called the Pizza connection. Hanging out the wash.

The landscape and the entire place left an imprint on me.

A few days after I returned Berlusconi was deposed.

Bernardo Provenzano, otherwise known as Il Tractore or The Tractor for his brutal methods, was known as the Cappo di Tutti and was arrested at a farmhouse near where I was staying.

He had been on the run since 1963. He was hard to find since he had no mobile phone, no computer, and communicated by pizzi which means a bird dipping its beak in the water. It is also a piece of paper which he would write on and fold up until it was no bigger than your small fingernail. He used a Bible code the Italian police are still trying to crack and he would write his orders on his pizzi.

They would go out in his laundry bag. He was found in a farmhouse with a ricotta machine and some red wine. You will smell lemon groves as you drive through the countryside. The Mafia started out exporting lemon and bergamot.

The interior of Sicily is steeped in history and Sicilian itself is incomprehensible to most Italians, being a mix of many languages including the languages of their invaders.

I remember going out for a drink one Saturday night. The local Piazza was lined with old men on wooden chairs drinking Grappa. No women, and I felt I was not in the twentieth century.

The interior of Sicily is a strange place. Go there and you will never forget it.

I never heard another word of English spoken during my entire time there. And I have never seen so many dead dogs rotting by the roadside, the Sicilians just run them over.

Richard Godwin is a crime and horror writer as well as a produced playwright. His stories have been widely published in magazines such as A Twist Of Noir and Pulp Metal Magazine. His works in print include ‘Chemical’, published in the Anthology Back in 5 Minutes (Little Episodes Publishing 2010), ‘Doll’, published in Howl: Tales of the Feral And Infernal (Lame Goat Press 2010), 'Face off' in CrimeFactory Issue #5 (CreateSpace 2010), 'Pike N Flytrap' in Needle Magazine (Lulu 2010) and 'Mother' in Tainted Tea (Lulu 2011).

His crime novel ‘Apostle Rising’ is out and can be bought at all good bookstores and online at Amazon and here Go to his site to watch a video trailer for ‘Apostle Rising’ and visit his blog for his Chin Wags At The Slaughterhouse, which are the interviews he conduct with other authors


Paul D Brazill said...

Smashing story!

Anonymous said...

Patti - Thanks for hosting Richard.

Richard - I think it's fascinating how a place can inspire one like that. Thank you for sharing your story.

Gerard said...

Good thing the US Army used Sicily as a stepping stone in '43 and didn't try to stay there.

Carrie Clevenger said...

Wonderful account. Always good to get why something triggered in you.

Salvatore Buttaci said...

Richard, you and I have spoken on several occasions about La Bedda Sicilia," The Beautiful Sicily. Having been there eight times since 1965, I found it's the one place in all the world that most holds my heart. It is sad that the Mafia, an extremely small percentage of Sicilians, is what comes to mind when non-Sicilians think "Sicily." The media has done much to malign Sicily's and Sicilians' reputations in the name of the Mighty Buck.

AJ Hayes said...

Wow. this reminded me of a work by one of those old Italian masters (Ghilosfi, maybe). Usually landscapes with ancient ruins depicted that are drenched in golden light partially obscured by chiaroscuro mists. Pretty cool stuff my friend. Elegant I think is the word I'm looking for.

quin browne said...

My Sicilian grandmother told me, when I once asked what the Mafia was, "It's a buncha guys who meet on Saturday nights to play cards."

The first time I ever saw 'The Soprano's' was on a Saturday night, and the opening scene had them playing cards.

I guess she was right.

Alan Griffiths said...

Terrific story and insight.

Charles Gramlich said...

I have a friend who is Sicilian and he has told me a lot of stories. He too writes crime fiction. Good stuff.

Jack Bates said...

Richard- (via patti) I had a story come out last year that my publisher wanted changed to The Butcher's Heir. Originally called The Udjat Eye, she wanted me to dump the obscure references to Egypt and stick to the heart of the matter: A union boss who crossed the wrong people. She was right. One of the working titles was The Butcher's Daughter but that got scrapped and became the published title I mentioned earlier.

Chris Rhatigan said...

Fascinating stuff. It's hard to believe that places like that still exist.

MCrittenden said...

Awesome read, thanks for that. And posted on my Birthday. YAY! Tippin the wine glass to ya!~

Joyce said...

What an intense experience that was. I agree. It's hard to imagine that places like that do exist outside of a movie studio. I can only guess how much inspiration an atmosphere like that can generate! Thanks so much for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

And thank you, Richard.