18 months after Luca, Marco and Antonio stole their first tool and sold it to the grocer, they were no longer just workers. Now, they strolled the streets alongside a man that was well-known in the neighborhood simply as Mr. R. Red-cheeked with a large, soft face, he would not allow anyone to speak his name. His cutthroat tactics as a property owner belied his jolly appearance.
The brothers had gone into business supplying building materials to Mr. R for half of what they would have cost him otherwise. When he learned of their building skills, he put them on his payroll to supervise construction.
Knowing they weren't above breaking the law, Mr. R asked them to cut corners, intimidate neighbors who complained about construction early in the morning or late at night, and to guarantee that nobody was stealing from the site.
This new arrangement was fruitful for the brothers, at least for the first year. With the protection of Mr. R, they could steal from construction sites practically in the open. No builder in town wanted to get involved with Mr. R for fear that he might take a shine to their building and attempt one of his violent takeovers. Better to suffer the small losses of supplies than lose an entire building and the valuable property it was being erected on. With construction booming in the city, the brothers acquired whatever they wanted whenever they wanted it.
The relationship between the three brothers and Mr. R soured quickly. When Mr. R asked Antonio, the youngest and most timid of the group to beat a man who would not part with a building uptown, he did it dutifully. What Antonio did not understand is that Mr. R did not want the man to ever breathe again after that beating. Summoned by his partner and boss, Antonio believed he was likely to receive praise for his work. Perhaps Mr. R would tell him that the man had chosen to sell and provide a list of building materials he and his brothers were to acquire. Instead, he was jumped by two men he had never seen before. Antonio may never have known why he was beaten if Mr. R did not appear from the shadows, a Churchill cigar protruding from his wet lips.
58When I tell you to take care of a man
When Antonio returned home and told his brothers what happened, they quickly developed a calculated plan. In the process, they would end up with a vast fortune of property that they would build into one of the largest family dynasty's Manhattan has ever known.