OCtober Day 29: Ricardo Vittore

I came to learn something about the younger Vittore brother; he’s not so much a problem child, as he is just a child with problems.

During my time working at Acerbi’s Bar, I’d become quite aware of how popular it was with the mafia. Some combination of their various family members came to frequent the place often. I like to think they’re civil people. To give them credit, most of the time they were. With the bar being such an old fashioned, classy place, Acerbi was rather protective over keeping it intact. Usually, the only trouble caused were by local gangs or events. The mafia on the other hand were surprisingly well behaved. No doubt orders from the don, but it’s appreciated nonetheless. 

By this point I’d had the pleasure of meeting the don and his consigliere, Solitaire. However, the younger brother, Ricardo, had eluded my presence. When I made the wine delivery to the party a while back, I’d hoped to meet him. However, I only got so much as a glimpse of the man before he’d stormed up to his room for the remainder of the party. From party goers I overheard whispers. Rumours came in mixed messages. Most people insisted that Ricardo was nothing more than a petty, jealous boy acting up for attention. A handful of the maids or goons however saw something more. Scars hidden under shirts, lachrymose serenades, and familial fights lasting well into the night. This behaviour was nothing new apparently. Some of the older members had been watching this happen for years, and feared they’ll keep watching it right up until he turns twenty seven.

Why that age, I enquired.

And I regret asking, after hearing the answer.

Even more so, when for the first time in weeks he appeared before me at the bar. My co-workers, boss included, were all in too much shock to approach. In all my years in this line of work I’d developed a strong will and a heart that couldn’t ignore any customer. So, I took it upon myself to serve him. I ceased my washing up and exited the kitchen. There he sat indeed, Ricardo Vittore. Seems he came alone, as I saw no escort with him. I couldn’t help but notice how much he resembled his older brother. A handsome young man with a strong jawline and olive skin. He too had short black hair, though styled differently. Another sharp dresser, the young man shared a similar sense to his brother. However, he lacked the earrings, his suit jacket was red and the black trousers had a dark, intricate pattern to them. Off the collar of the shirt hung a pair of yellow sunglasses. The sleeves of the jacket were rolled up, revealing those all too telling scars I’d heard about. My heart sunk, but I swallowed it back up and marched on. 

Sorrowful brown eyes idly gawked over the white lighter he was fiddling with. Click, whoosh, lighting up a flame. Clack, silence, and it was gone. The action kept repeating, right up until I stepped within view. As I did, he shut it for good, slipping the lighter back in his breast pocket.

“Good evening sir, how may I help you?” I greet him, trying to stay professional. 

For a moment my eyes accidentally flicker back the young man’s arm, to which he seems to notice. Becoming self conscious, Ricardo rolls his sleeves back down and he coughs awkwardly. 

“Ciao, just start me off with a bottle of wine. Bartender’s choice” he mutters wistfully, eyes drifting elsewhere.

“Very good sir” I replied.

Whilst browsing the selection, I come across a bottle of the stuff I’d delivered a while back. Assuming he likely got none of it, I pour out a glass. He takes a sip of it absentmindedly. A weak smile comes over him.

“That’s pretty good. Nicely chosen” he compliments.

He takes a few more sips, before speaking up again.

“You’re...new here, aren’t you?”

“Just started last month, sir”

“You look...familiar. I think I saw you at my brother’s party, though only briefly”

“I did have to make a delivery that day, so you’re likely correct”

“Sorry we couldn’t have met properly then. I was...not having a good day”

“It’s alright sir. Life can be troublesome sometimes”

“I’ll drink to that” he replies, and does. 

“Well, regardless of our first encounter, might I say I’m honoured to meet you in person Mr. Vittore” 

He frowns as I say that name.

“Please don’t call me that. Mr. Vittore was my brother, and my brother. Ricardo is too formal for my tastes as well. Just call me Ricky” 

“As you wish, Ricky”

That weak smile comes back, quite thankfully. With Ricardo now somewhat pacified, Acerbi comes crawling out of the woodworks to say hello.

“Ah, Ricky, ragazzo mio, it’s been too long!”

“The sentiment is shared darling” he echoes.

“Oh you charmer. No sign of Sol or Vitale with you this evening, are they coming?”

Ricardo’s eyes glass over. 

“No...it’s just me tonight” he answers through gritted teeth. The glass is slid my way once more, and I fill it up again.

“Well, that’s a shame” Acerbi continues. “Still, been awhile since you graced us with your voice. How about a song, for old time’s sake?”

The mafia underboss hums, thinking it over.

“I’ll knock the bottle off your tab as payment. What do you say?”

His eyes close, taking in a deep breath then letting out a sigh as they open.

“Alright then. Just a couple songs”

“Fantastic, I’ll fetch the guitar” Acerbi exclaims, bounding off.

Ricardo chuckles feebly as he stands up.

“Not how I planned to spend my night, but oh well” 

He pulls out a wallet, extracting some cash and sliding it my way.

“A tip, for lending a ear to a miserable man”

Ricardo drags himself to the stage in the middle of the bar, where Acerbi has set up a microphone. They talk about something for a moment. Then, she sits down and begins to strum a melody on the guitar. As it picks up, that’s when Ricardo joins in. My heart skips a beat as the harmonies wrap their words around it. He sings soft and low, melancholy like the song of a caged bird. The patrons fall silent in appreciation. Even the staff in the back come bustling into the front to witness the scene. 

He sings to no-one, not that we can see. But, with those eyes cast towards the sky, I read between the lines. 

I hope someone comes to answer his prayers, and soon.