Fandom/Characters: Due South. RayV
Word Count: 1641
Summary: Ray in Los Vegas
AN: My first attempt at a RayV-centric story.
Ray Vecchio was in a motel room. The walls were covered with ripped wall paper and the brown carpet was stained. The Feds has spared ever expense.
Feds in cheap suits had filled the room with boxes full of paper until boxes stood on top of each other like towers of cardboard. Black and white photos were taped to the wall. He was getting ready to take over the life of Armando Langoustini. He had to know every detail of the man's life.
Armando had lived most of his life in New York. Now, he was very private and lived outside Vegas in the middle of the desert where he had a large cactus garden. The only thing Ray knew about cactus was that it had sharp spines, but he was going to have to get a book about them. The only good advice he'd ever gotten from Pop was if you're going to do something he should do it well.
He grimaced. The only thing Pop did well was hustling pool and yelling at his kids. The yelling he could deal with, the hits not so much. The only time Ray had ever knocked Pop out was when his dad had smacked Frannie. Ray could still remember how he had held Frannie as she cried and he promised she would never get hurt again. He had almost kept his promise when Guy had hurt her; if he ever saw the bustard again he was afraid of what he might do.
Right now as looked around the room Guy was the farthest thing from his mind. Seeing someone's life condensed to pieces of paper and black and white photographs made Ray think about his own life; he hoped when he finally kicked the bucket people would remember all the good he did with Benny and that he would be more than just a name in a file.
He was sitting on the bed, a puke green blanket on top of it, getting ready to look at the files when he heard a knock at the door and a Fed named Alex stuck his head into the room.
'Hello, Mr. Vecchio. You want something to eat?'
Alex walked into the room, in his head, Ray referred to him as Baby G-man. The kid looked barely old enough to be out of high school. He wore the same cheap suit as any g-man, the only difference was his bright red tie. He looked so much like Willie that they could have been bothers. He hoped Willie was okay too.
'Sure. How about a beef roast sandwich.'
'Okay. I'll take care of it. The government is all about care.'
'I can see that,' Ray said sarcastically. He waved his hand to encompass the room.
Alex rubbed the back of his neck. 'I know it's not The Hilton... budget concerns and all that.'
Ray let out a laugh. The was something funny about hearing a kid who looked barely old enough to shave talk about budget concerns.
He continued to laugh after he got a sandwich and ate it.
After he had memorized the files he wore Armondo like the mustache he pasted on his upper lip, but the word budget still made him laugh.
A week later, he had taken a plane to Vegas. As it touched down he thought he was prepared, but nothing could prepare him for Vegas. He had lived his whole life in Chicago, but the city in Nevada was a whole different beast. A beast with sharp claws.
He thought he finally knew how Benny felt.
Like shifting desert sand, Vegas was a city of movement. Neon lights moved on billboards that advertised everything from gambling to all-you-can-eat shrimp. Even the people seemed to scurry.
The movement he could deal with the lights not so much. The glow of neon hurt his eyes and made him long for the gentle glow of a simple street lamp. Sometimes he would sit outside his adobe house and look across the desert for the glow. The desert seemed to be on fire.
Now, he was sitting in the back of a gold colored town car. He settled into white leather seats and looked out his window. The lights of Vegas zoomed past; they were like rainbow colored fire, but his mind was on a green Riviera. He hoped Benny was taking care of his baby.
Knowing Benny he probably blew it up chasing a ring of counterfeit rubber duck makers. Even though thinking about his baby in danger made his stomach drop, just thinking about Benny put a smile on Ray's face. He felt sorry for the guy who took over Ray's life; he probably had no idea what he was in for.
'How you doing back there, Mr. Langoustini?'
The voice of Armondo's driver startled Ray out of his thoughts and he leaned forward.
Ray settled back against his seat and stared at the back of his driver's head. Red hair gave way to a neck speckled with freckles. His driver Phil wasn't the talking type, for the first three weeks Ray thought Phil was mute, so he must have had something important to say.
'Would you like to go to dinner tonight? Danny's got in those prime ribs you like.'
'Nah. I think I'll hit the casino tonight.'
'The Mermaid or The Globe?'
Phil nodded and they settled back into a comfortable silents.
When they arrived at The Mermaid, Phil got out of the car and opened Ray's door. The hot air hit Ray like a punch to the gut. He adjusted his tie and made his way to the doors of the casino. He channeled his inner Zuko. Just like Frank, no matter where he was going Armando always walked around as if he owned everything he saw.
The glass doors had mermaids with flowing hair painted on them, the door handles were brass seashells. The mermaid theme was even applied to waitresses that worked on the floor. More than once he had ended up with a bikini clad babe on his arm. He would hold them close as Armando, but as Ray his heart wasn't in it. Maybe when he got back to Chicago he would find a nice girl who liked him for him and not because he had a fat roll of cash.
He walked into the building and was hit by a wall of sound. Slot machines clanked, coins clattered and people talked. As he walked through the throng of people they parted. It seemed like even tourists knew not to bother Armando.
He stopped by a mermaid fountain made of fake white marble and waited.
He didn't have to wait long.
The pit boss Jim came up to Ray and stuck out his hand. He was surrounded by his bodyguards; they were thugs who both wore gold rings on their thick fingers. Jim was wearing a cheap gray suit and orange polyester tie. He reminded Ray of Louie, if Louie had been as slimy as a slug.
After he shook Jim's hand he had to resist the urge to wipe his hand on his pants.
'Your usual craps table?' Jim asked.
They walked through the casino. As they walked past a roulette wheel Ray got an idea. He stood in front of the spinning wheel and sat down a chip worth one thousand dollars. When it came to money he might be frugal, but Armando was a big spender.
He bet on red and thought of Benny.
That night Ray went back to his house. His hands shook as he tried to put his key in the lock. After he had played craps for a couple of hours he had had to 'take care of business'.
Jim had been skimming money and the mob wanted Armando to make an example of him. Even though he couldn't stand the guy, no one deserved to have their fingers broken with a hammer. As Jim screamed, Armando stood silent and stoic. Ray had felt sick.
He finally got the door open and stepped into his house. The setting sun threw red light onto light green walls. He kicked off his shoes, took off his socks and felt plush carpet under his feet.
He went over to the mirror that hung at the end of the hallway. Armando's dead green eyes stared back at him. He peeled off his mustache and Ray stared back at him.
'There you are,' Ray said to himself.
Walking over to his liquor cabinet he pulled out a bottle of scotch. As he opened the bottle the scent of alcohol filled his nose. He poured himself a glass and made his way outside just as the sun dipped below the horizon.
He sat on a chair and watched as the sun turned the sky red, yellow and orange.
After several long moments, the sky turned inky black. Off in the distance the light of Vegas turned the night sky into a red glow.
He took a drink of scotch and let the smooth alcohol sit on his tongue. He looked at the glow. He sat in the darkness for several minutes, nursing his scotch.
He got up from his chair, stretched, and went back inside.
He made his way to his bedroom. He shed his clothes like a snake shedding skin. Getting into bed he adjusted his pillow and let himself settled against silk sheets.
As he drifted off to sleep he thought about ugliness. With it's moving neon lights, Vegas looked like a jewel in the desert, but underneath it was ugly. He just hoped he wasn't ugly too. He wished he could talk to Benny about it. Benny would probably have a caribou story ready.
He would give anything to hear one of Benny's stories.