(WP) Weapons or Pasta

(WP) Weapons or Pasta

               Everyone
in the small town in the mountains knew of the tiny Italian restaurant, one of
the best in the city.

               Even
more well-known than the eatery was the family that ran it: The Vitellos. Warm,
caring, and congenial, they were well-loved by their neighbors and by drifters
alike.

               The matriarch
that ran the family was Donatella, who had been a widow for over ten years now.
Everyone remembered her husband, Giovanni; the whole neighborhood and people
from out of town had come to see him off to the afterlife.

               She was
tall and willowy, even in her early fifties, with a rich mane of long, dark
hair, peppered with gray in some spots. Her dimples were deep and endearing,
and her eyes were as dark and sharp as obsidian.

No one would have ever suspected
this sweet woman of anything other than making people happy and their stomachs
full.

But everyone has secrets, even the
most unassuming of people.

**

When the restaurant at last closed
its doors on a Friday night, Donatella and her brood descended the stairs, into
the basement, where the food and wine were kept.

It wasn’t unusual for her children
to play cards down here, letting off steam after a crazy night of bussing,
cooking, or waitressing. She didn’t mind. Even though they all had their own
lives, now that they’d reached adulthood, they were good kids, and they loved
her.

Which is why they’d called this
meeting to begin with.

Donatella brought down a tray of
bruschetta, toast points, melted, smoked mozzarella fondue, fried ravioli,
meatballs and skewers. She enjoyed feasting with everyone, but she especially
loved spoiling her kids.

“Mama, why’d you call this meeting?”
Her youngest daughter, Jeanette, said from her place at the table, a glass of
wine in her hand, already half gone. Her cheeks flushed, she was a spitting
image of Gio: hair so red it appeared to be aflame, with bright brown eyes that
glowed like honeyed amber.

Donnatella supposed there was no
getting around it any longer, and the kids instinctively quieted, their eyes on
their mother.

“I think this needs to stop. The
whole reason we started this restaurant was to front our… other activities. And
now that your father is gone…”

“But we make good money from it,
Ma,” A voice chimed in from the other side of the table, and her son, Emmett,
leaned forward, his green eyes on her. “And we have such a good reputation, no
one would ever mess with us!”

That wasn’t exactly hard, Donnatella
thought to herself. This town was small, and it had been easy enough to gain
control. Everyone who was important had been in Gio’s pocket, and now hers, as
she’d inherited his empire.

Power was addictive, but it was
also dangerous.

“I just don’t know if continuing
down his path is wise,” She said to Emmett. “But I’m not going to make this decision
alone. You all are just as involved as I. So, we’re going to put it to a vote.”

This was the way that things had
always been. She didn’t believe in lying to her children, and had been honest
with them from the beginning.

“Everyone for keeping things as
they are, raise your hands,” She said, and four hands went up.

“Everyone who wants to quit the
side jobs and use the restaurant as the main business, raise your hands.”

Three hands went up, including her
own.

It appeared in this, she was outvoted.

She was a firm believer in democracy,
and capitalism, even of the illegal sort, had served them well.

The Vitello family feasted heartily
that night, over a small meal of appetizers, wine, and games of cards.

They’d made their decision and
would follow it, wherever it led.

**