The Cultural Production
“In a world as complicated as the Cosa Nostra's, ” pentito Calderone has said, “even small wrongs are remembered for years and there are thousands of tangled relationships; … grounds for suspicion and [sinister] hypotheses are never lacking” (in Arlacchi 1993: 62). A mafioso sometimes murders a fellow cosca member out of fear that the other person could—and therefore might—betray him. Sometimes the victim is done in after a convivial meal, a scenario that Calderone likens to the Last Supper (see ibid.: 135). In such an atmosphere, participants in the plot have every reason to “suspect each other of treachery in the future. ” As Buscetta told Arlacchi, “The man who stands beside you might take you to your tomb as easily as he would take you to a party. … The anxiety is continuous and is born of the fact that one never knows” (Arlacchi 1994: 155).
Calderone's and Buscetta's powerful stories may well exaggerate the tensions endured by mafiosi. Having themselves committed an ultimate act of betrayal through their collaboration, they are compelled to depict the life they left behind as awash in revenge, a degeneration of the “honorable society” to which they once belonged. In most cases, such important witnesses are heavily protected by the state; disowned by the mafia, they would surely have been killed otherwise. This circumstance also contributes to the mistrust that pervades their recollections. Nor can we minimize their own intense desire for retaliation, stoked by the vendetta killings of their friends and kin. Buscetta lost two sons in the