Get a Sneak Peek at a Mafia Mistress’s Memoir
The Doctor Broad is the fascinating story of how a woman with a distinguished medical career became doctor to one mobster and mistress to another.
At the time, my three closest girlfriends were all nurses. Ginny Beggs and Patty Wilson were coronary care unit nurses at the Miriam Hospital. Rita Greene, whose brother had been married to Ginny, was a psychiatric nurse who worked at the Training School for Boys, the juvenile prison in Cranston. They had met as nursing students at the University of Rhode Island—URI or “you are high,” as it was nicknamed. We were all single and looking for lovers, if not husbands. I told them about my lunch at the Forum. “I met this really attractive older man at the Forum Restaurant the other day,” I said, “but I’m pretty sure he’s connected. He invited me to come back, but I don’t want to go alone. Would you come with me?”
They jumped at the chance. A week to the day after my first meal at the Forum, the four of us traipsed up to Federal Hill and entered the restaurant. Louis was there and exerted himself to be charming, winning them over immediately. He asked about their families, their jobs, their hobbies. He was very attentive. It was clear however, that I was singled out for his special attention. We were not presented with a bill. “I would like to treat you lovely ladies to lunch,” Louis replied when we asked for the check. His old-fashioned manners, which I might have found off-putting in a younger man, were endearing. My friends lapped up the attention he showered on us. “You’d be crazy not to go out with him,” they assured me afterwards, “he’s so sexy, and it’s obvious he’s crazy about you.”
I continued to worry and fret. I wanted to see Louis again, I wanted to get to know him better, but I was terrified of allowing our friendship to blossom into a sexual affair, which would up the emotional ante and potentially complicate many more lives than our own. A week later, Patty and I again had lunch at the Forum. I invited Louis to go for a sail with me and Patty that Sunday on Boadicea, and he accepted with alacrity.
By now it was early October, and the trees wore their gaudy fall foliage like flaming capes as we sailed out of Bristol harbor, past the mansions on Poppasquash Point and the smaller homes on Hog Island. Louis brought champagne and panini, and we toasted each other with mimosas. He told me that he’d once owned an old Herreshoff sailboat, which he sailed for a number of years and then donated to the Museum of Yachting. Louis had bought it from an elderly Yankee, at a time when he was still a novice sailor. Louis recounted how he’d told the owner, in a hilarious malapropism, that he wanted to learn that “ecclesiastical navigation” (instead of celestial), and how the old man had looked at him as if he were some freakish lower life form. I was happy that he could laugh at himself, but a bit taken aback by his giving me advice on sailing. I was certain that I was the more experienced sailor, and in fact, our only arguments would take place when we sailed together.
Every year, the Columbus Day weekend is celebrated on Federal Hill with a three-day “festa.” A parking lot is transformed into a carnival, with ferris wheel, carousel, booths where marksmanship will win you a garish doll or stuffed animal, candied apple and cotton candy vendors, and a fortune teller. Up and down Atwells Avenue, carts sell fried dough, sausage and peppers, meatballs and other mouth-watering Italian foods. There is a parade and speeches from politicians. That Saturday, I took the children and a troop of Archie’s friends with us to the celebration. I gave them spending money, and they went off to go on the rides while I had lunch with Louis at the Forum.
It was our first lunch without others, but the children burst through the doors every half hour or so to replenish their supply of money. We made idle small talk until I could stand it no longer and said, finally, “Look, Louis, what do you want of me?” He reared back as if I had struck him physically, insulted. “What do I want from you? I don’t want anything from you!”
“That’s not what I asked,” I replied. “I asked, what do you want OF me?”
His demeanor changed instantly, and a wry smile played around his lips. “What do I want OF you? Okay, I see the difference. Well, I’d like to get to know you better, I’d like to hold your hand and have you hold mine. I’d like you to have dinner with me here tonight. My lawyer, Marty Leppo, is coming down from Boston with his wife. Can you join us?”
It was only much later that I came to understand that “holding hands” was his euphemism for making love. At the time, what I could tell from Louis’s answer was that he too wanted our relationship to advance. He was unmistakably asking me out on a “date.” This was a quantum leap from inviting me and my friends to dine at the Forum whenever we pleased. He wanted me to dine with him and his lawyer —not something I imagined he’d want a casual acquaintance to do. And I thought “hold my hand” just referred to becoming a friend, although from the way he leaned close to me, fixing me with a seductive gaze, I knew that sex was very much on his mind, as it was on mine. I felt a deliquescence, a liquefaction in my pelvis which made even breathing difficult, let alone rational thinking. Reckless with desire, I agreed to come to dinner that night.
ouis was a bundle of contradictions. In private, he had no compunctions about calling a spade a spade in sexual matters. In public, his speech and actions were always proper, bordering on courtly. Although alleged to be high up in the Mafia’s hierarchy, he numbered among his friends some of the most powerful and respected men in the state, including the lieutenant governor, Tom DiLuglio, Sr., and a host of other lawyers and physicians, not all of whom were Italian-Americans. I was later to hear firsthand from people in law enforcement that Louis was “different,” a “real gentleman,” “not your average mobster” —whatever that meant. I only knew that he fascinated me, that I was attracted by his aura of power, and by his open and frank admiration for me.
My feelings about his alleged mob connections were complex. On the one hand, any relationship I had with Louis, if it became public knowledge, would do me great harm. On the other hand, Louis, unlike most men I might become involved with (and being Raymond’s doctor made it very hard to get a date!), saw my defense of Raymond as something admirable, something courageous. In some ways, I felt like a pariah after becoming Raymond’s physician. But to Louis and his friends, I was a heroine.
So, for a number of complex reasons I said “Yes” to Louis’s invitation, and all that might flow from it. That afternoon, as the festival gathered strength outside, a pact was sealed; the windmill of fate lumbered into creaky motion. The slow revolution of the millstones that would grind us in their blind embrace commenced. We were oblivious, which was a mercy.
At home, I made dinner for the children and then headed back to the Forum. I remember little of what we discussed at the table that night. I did learn that Marty Leppo was representing Louis in the case that had led to his fleeing the jurisdiction more than ten years before. Louis’s return was orchestrated by Tom DiLuglio, Jr., another of Louis’s lawyers and the son of the lieutenant governor. He negotiated a deal with prosecutors that allowed Louis to surrender to the authorities but remain free on bail pending trial. At the time, I knew none of the details of the case, but Louis had been back in the country for two years, with no trial looming.
Before meeting the others, Louis asked me if I’d like to wait for him in his apartment after dinner until he could get free. A small studio, it had one entrance from the plaza, and another from a hallway leading off the restaurant’s second floor dining room. I said that I would, fearing all that my acquiescence might entail, but unwilling—and unable—to say no. I was being wrenched by an emotional tug-of-war unlike any I had ever experienced, trepidation equally balanced by my fascinated attraction to this mysterious man. After dinner, I bade goodnight to the Leppos, and Louis escorted me from the restaurant. Instead of going to my car, we ducked into the entranceway next door, and he led me up the stairs to his apartment.