NO ORDINARY FUNERAL

Updated: Mar 5, 2019


The United States of America is the only nation on earth whose borders have nothing to do with its landmass. To go, say, from Montreal to New York, a traveler faces U.S. customs officers at Dorval Airport in Canada.


“Travel document?” The crew cut, pot-bellied storm trooper with the humongous gold-plated shield nailed to his chest and the stars and stripes splashed across his black uniform sleeve isn’t smiling. I hand over a dog-eared Canadian passport.


“What is the purpose of your visit to America, Mister Rizzuto?”


I’m tempted to tune up this minion with a terse lecture on what the world thinks of Americans versus what Americans think of themselves. This time, I decide to avoid provocation, the lockup, and the blue latex glove routine. My sphincter muscles are already contracting for various other reasons and I need to catch a plane out of here.


“Attending a business meeting.”


“What kinda business meeting?”


“Copper mines in Namibia. Investing.”


“Namibia, huh. Where’s that?”


“It’s in Africa, sir.”


“I knew that.”


“I’m sure you did.”


“Where do you live?”


“Toronto.”


“Not Montreal?”


“No.”


“Canadian citizen?”


“That is correct.” He holds my passport.


“Any other citizenships?”


“No, sir.”


“You sure about that?”


“No. I mean, yes. I’m quite sure.”


The man takes an overly long look at my face, as if comparing every wart, mole, liver spot and shaving cut with whatever the National Crime Computer Database is displaying on his hooded monitor this morning which, of course, I cannot see. He takes a momentous decision; puts himself out there for me.


“Then have a nice day.” Smiley Face.


“Right.”


An attractive, blond Air Canada Jazz flight attendant in her blue and white two-piece ensemble and red fashionista neckerchief strolls down the aircraft’s strip-lighted centre aisle – the one that leads to the escape hatches over the wings – distributing newspapers. Today’s surprise isn’t the faceful of cleavage I get when she stoops to hand me the Montreal Gazette.


“NO ORDINARY FUNERAL FOR MOBSTER NICOLO RIZZUTO”


MONTREAL—A gold-plated casket and a mysterious black box, grieving family members and curious onlookers, burly security staff and watchful police.

Those were the sights Monday outside a funeral at a church in Montreal’s Little Italy.

86-Year-old Rizzuto, dubbed by many as the Last Godfather, arrived in Canada as an illiterate immigrant from Sicily and went on to build one of the world’s most powerful criminal enterprises with influence on several continents. He was assassinated by a sharpshooter while relaxing inside his suburban Montreal home in front of his wife of 55 years.


But the biggest, most powerful member of the Rizzuto family remains alive.

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