Monday, October 18, 2021

A story about a family that escaped the Soviet Union only to find themselves prisoners of the mafia

From the story:

We were foreigners. However, we were also guests of the mob. My father’s connections, those hidden strings, pulled favors across national borders and were tied to a well-financed machine. The Italian Mob leveraged the collapse of the Soviet Union to collect well-educated and grateful people. They groomed these resources to become sanitation directors, architects, port engineers, and the like. But all remained pawns beholden to a cabal of made men looking to skim and continue getting fat off the graft. One such man wiped sausage grease from his mouth and belly laughed as my father demanded his benefactors to let us move on to the United States. That man slapped both his hands loudly on either side of his waist — eyeing a resource that was meant to become a betting horse. They knew my father won Soviet regional chess competitions and even performed at grand-master competitions. He was perfect, too valuable to let go. The man pointed at him: “You’ll win and lose when we tell you. Otherwise, we send you home.”