In the ragged town of Bompensiere, Sicily, lived a man called Mario Palmieri. He had a brother, Giuseppe, who lived in nearby Milena, some 10 kilometers away. Mario was one of the few Sicilians who had gone to Canada in the late 1950s, with his wife and two children, and had come back in the 1960s, while Sicily still endured the poverty and pain of la miseria. Mario’s excuse: he couldn’t stand the winters.
Two years older than Mario and a lifelong bachelor, Giuseppe thought him foolish for dragging his wife and kids back to Sicily, a real donkey. “Our people are doing well in Canada,” he said. “What kind of life will your son and daughter have here?”
Offended by his brother’s hectoring, Mario vowed never to talk to him again, and for several years remained true to his word.
Then one day, in Bompensiere’s piazza, the local gossip, Mufalda, reported to Mario that according to a reliable source in Milena, Giuseppe had won the super-lotto. Mario’s eyes lit up. He’d been scraping by since returning to Sicily from Canada, working odd, often humiliating jobs, and collecting a minor pension for his “disability,” a gimpy left arm he blamed on a childhood fall. If his brother had won the lotto, he might consider lending him or giving him money. After all, they were blood. The wheels in Mario’s head spun as he imagined the possibilities. He scarcely slept that night.
Next morning, he rushed out to the pasticceria, bought half a dozen pastries, and took the ten o’clock Pullman to Milena.