Annie marched down the sidewalk, passed the car-lined street, and blended in with the large group of people walking towards the mansion. At that moment she searched through the crowd. “Ricky?”
“I’m here.” A reluctant Ricky responded. “Told ya I’d rather wait in the car.” Her flowing red hair and captivating smile made it hard for him to say no.
“This is where Vito the Mauler Lepinski lived! One of the most famous mobsters of all time. Don’t you wanna see his house?” They walked through the imposing iron gate.
He caught up with her. “No. Not interested in a giant garage sale.”
“It’s an estate sale, not a garage sale. They’re selling everything for cheap. Maybe you’ll find something to buy.”
“I doubt it,” he said. “All the good stuff is probably gone by now. Okay, I’ll play along. After all I’m Italian too.”
A long table was set up opposite the front doors and had become the place of business. Two serious-looking men in short sleeve shirts sat in front of a cash box with a stack of papers between them. A uniformed policeman paced behind them reflecting on his luck at getting this off duty assignment. The short line of people carried everything from lamps to paintings over to the table.
Annie grabbed Ricky’s hand. “Let’s explore the upstairs. There’s over a dozen bedrooms.”
“How exciting,” Ricky yawned.
The large staircase led them to spacious hallways. After ducking in and out of several rooms, Ricky spied a king sized bed and sat down. “I’ll wait for you here. At least this bed’s comfortable.”
“This is Vito’s bedroom!”
“It’s as big as the entire first floor of our house! Look a mirror on the ceiling too. Who needs a room this size?”
Annie pointed at the burgundy couch and chairs with the well-stocked bar. “Bet a lotta deals went down here. Probably gave orders to have people killed.”
“You read too much. That’s gossip not fact. I heard he never served a day in jail.”
“Gangsters got the best lawyers. Everyone knows that.”
Ricky reached under the bed. “Hey look what I found – black patent leather shoes! I could use new dress shoes. I’m sure they won’t fit.” Ricky tried on both shoes and stood up. “Damn, they actually fit. Good condition too. I’m guessing two hundred easy for these.”
Annie entered the huge walk-in closet. “There’s still some of his suits in here. Maybe you can find a suit to go with your shoes.”
“Thought he was fat.”
Annie laughed. “You haven’t looked in the mirror lately.”
He flipped through the suits and pulled out a black three piece suit. “What’d think Annie?”
“You’ll fit in at Muraski’s Funeral Home.” She placed a black felt hat on his head. “Now you look like a real gangster!”
They cut short the rest of their upstairs tour and joined the line of customers. “Don’t know what they’ll charge me.” Ricky remembered having about a hundred and twenty in his wallet and had to buy dinner tonight for them. “I wonder if Vito left me some cash.” He laughed this time.
Ricky rifled through the suit pockets and retrieved a handful of hundred dollar bills. Since the line was slow, he counted out twelve hundred dollars. This day just kept getting better! “I owe you a special dinner tonight honey.” He flashed the roll of hundreds for only her to see.
“Wow!” Annie reacted. “Let’s dress up for dinner. You can wear your new clothes.”
They reached the table with the emotionless men staring at them. “What are you buying?” The man on the left asked.
“Gotta suit, shoes and oh yeah this hat.”
The second man wrote everything on a blank sheet of paper. “Your offer?”
“Two hundred for everything?”
“Done. Sign here and put today’s date. All sales are final, no refunds.”
Annie left the mansion and began strolling through the colorful flower gardens, neatly trimmed hedges and Roman style water fountains. Ricky followed closely behind. He would not complain this time. Maybe he finally got lucky; his ship had come in at last.
Hours later, they dressed for their night on the town. “Yes you need to wear a tie Ricky.” She stood in her white slip staring into her closet. Something dressy, something sexy. The short navy dress always looked good showing off just enough of her shapely figure to turn a few heads when she entered a room. Of course she would add the pearl necklace.
Ricky walked in with two ties. “The blue stripes or the solid red?”
“Blue, it’ll match my dress.” She was startled by his smack on her behind as he left the room. “You’ll pay for that Ricky.” She giggled.
“I plan on collecting babe.” He called to her. “How bout that expensive Italian place, the Golden Bowl?”
“You need reservations to eat there.”
“Well let’s stop anyhow. I should buy a lottery ticket with my luck today.” As he zipped her dress, he said,”You look amazing!”
“And you look like a gangster out of the old black and white movies, especially with that hat.”
After a short drive, they reached the Golden Bowl. Annie took his arm as they walked up to the maitre d. “Need a table for two Oscar.” Ricky said to the white coated man.
“Vito?” Oscar couldn’t hide the shocked look on his face. “Of course, your usual table follow me.” He tried to regain his composure.
They sat at a small table by the enormous fireplace. The waiter appeared handing them menus and pouring glasses of water.
“Tony, how’s the veal tonight?”
“Delicious, your favorite meal I know. Sorry for giving you menus Mr. Lepinski. A pleasure to have you dining with us again.” Tony reached for the menus and disappeared into the kitchen.
“How do you know everyone’s names?” Annie questioned. “I thought you never ate here before.”
“They wear name tags I guess.”
“No, they don’t Ricky.”
Ricky shook his head. “Can’t tell you. It just came to me.”
Tony returned and filled their wine glasses with champagne. Then he left the bottle in a bucket of ice by Ricky’s chair.
“You’ll love the veal doll. Best I ever had!”
Annie said,”Ricky, you’re doing it again! You’re scaring me. It’s like you became Vito!”
“Don’t be silly.” He grabbed her leg under the table. “Who else would do that?”
“Okay, I’m overreacting. Let’s enjoy our dinner.”
The salad bowls were quickly joined by their dinner plates of veal and penne. They ate quietly. Ricky refilled their glasses until the bottle was empty.
Oscar rapidly crossed the restaurant to Ricky’s table. “Vito, you need to leave now! The Torelli brothers pulled up in a white limo. Follow me through the kitchen. We have a car waiting for you.”
“Annie, we gotta scram. Those are the Torelli brothers who killed me!”
Too startled to talk, Annie’s wine glass slipped from her hand spilling champagne on the white tablecloth. She took Ricky’s hand. It felt like a dream or a nightmare and she couldn’t wake up. They rushed past the kitchen crew and into the dark sedan in the alley.
Oscar closed the car door. “That was too close,” he said to the darkening night sky.
“Is it really you Vito?” The driver asked as he drove rapidly through the downtown streets.
“Michael, good to have you at the wheel. Like old times.”
Was it the champagne? Had she fallen asleep watching Edward G. Robinson in a gangster movie? Tell me this can’t be happening; Annie cried into her hands.
“Change of plans tonight Michael. Drop us off at 1370 Wallings. Then disappear. I’ll see you in the morning, usual time.”
“Whatever you say boss. Gotta a little hideaway for you and the girl. Fine by me.”
Annie waited in her lace robe until she heard Ricky snoring. As she expected, he piled all of his clothes on the bedroom floor. Whatever spell Ricky was under, the clothes appeared to be the key. She scooped them up, with his shoes, into a garbage bag and threw it in the trash can behind the garage. Perhaps she could sleep and life would be normal in the morning.
Ricky emerged from the shower towel-drying his black hair. “Annie, I barely remember what happened last night. I should never drink champagne.”
Putting on her robe again, she responded,”We had a great time, especially when we got home.”
“That I remember!” He smiled when the sizzling memory resurfaced. “You’re incredible.”
Annie kissed his cheek. “I’ll make some coffee while you get dressed.”
Ricky called out to her,”Hey, where’s my new suit?”
She didn’t answer. Maybe the genie was finally back in the bottle. No more mobster Vito.
“I found my new shoes. Must’ve put them in the closet.”
Shoes, Annie thought, they were tossed away too. She poured the water in the coffeemaker and flipped the switch.
Ricky appeared in all of his gangster clothes – black suit, black shoes and hat. Annie was speechless. No, it couldn’t be possible! “Ricky?”
Ricky/Vito kissed her hard on the lips and squeezed her ass. “Thanks for last night doll. I feel like a new man. See you soon. Michael’s got your address.” Then he walked out the door and into the waiting Lincoln Town Car.
Annie collapsed onto the kitchen chair in a burst of tears. Why? Why was this happening?
“Where to boss?” Michael asked.
“Silvio’s. Gotta connect with the boys. Let ‘em know I’m back.”
“Oscar called me from the restaurant. Said the Torelli brothers came in heavy looking to kill you. Guess they went away disappointed.” Michael finished the drive and opened the car door. “Call me when you’re ready to leave boss.”
Ricky walked through the side door of Silvio’s. “Hey Frankie, good to see ya.”
Frankie’s large frame slowly rose from the desk chair. Stacks of twenties, fifties, and hundreds covered the desk. “Vito?”
“Who else?” He hugged Frankie patting him on the back. “How’d we do last night?”
“Pretty good. I’m still counting. Surprised to see you Vito.” Shocked better described his true feelings as he returned to his chair.
“We need to hit Dominic and Vinnie Torelli. They were gunning for me at the Golden Bowl. We gotta put them in the ground.”
“Lemme call Max. His crew would be perfect. Nobody knows them.” Frankie dialed and nodded to Vito. “They’ll be here in ten minutes.”
“I’m going too.”
“Not a good idea Vito. They’ll see you coming.”
“I’ll stay outta sight. I gotta watch them die for what they did to me!”
Joey, a slender man in his twenties, walked in. “Rumors must be true! Vito lemme make you a drink. Scotch and water?”
“Always, thanks Joey. Good to be back.” Ricky sipped his Scotch and waited.
The phone rang. “Yea,” Frankie answered. “Keep an eye on ‘em. Call me here if they leave.” Frankie hung up the phone and wrote on a small piece of paper. “Got an address, Hillcrest Motel over on State. The Torellis are staying there.”
Max opened the door. His blonde hair and glasses reminded Ricky that he wasn’t Italian but had prove his loyalty many times. A ruthless killer he could rely on.
“Here’s the address.” Ricky handed him the paper. “I’m riding along with you.”
“Yes Mr. Lepinski. Whenever you’re ready.”
Max opened the back door of the black Impala for Ricky. Two other men were already seated rechecking the clips from their pistols. Max took the wheel as they slowly approached Hillcrest Motel. He stopped and gave the orders. “Front door for you two. Bobby take the parking lot. I’ll take the door.”
Like a smooth military operation, Max’s boot kicked open the motel door. All three men fired before the Torellis could reach their guns. Dominic never got off the bed. Vinnie fell by the bathroom door riddled in bullets. Max shot each brother in the head.
Ricky stood by the motel door. “Good job! I could always count on you Max.” Then he turned and walked away.
Frankie answered the ringing phone. “Max, is it done?”
“Yes. You won’t believe this Frankie. Vito vanished. All we found was a pile of his clothes. Can’t find him anywhere.”
“Is this a joke? It ain’t funny Max.”
Annie started to calm down by her second cup of coffee. Nothing made any sense. Vito back from the dead? Suddenly Ricky walked in the house. Annie jumped up and greeted him with a big hug. “I’m really glad to see you.”
“Crazy thing is I don’t have any shoes.” A confused Ricky added, “And I’m standing here without any pants on. What’s been going on?”