The train whistled, lurching forward on the tracks. Vito laughed triumphantly, climbing aboard as it trundled away from the station. Safely onboard, he turned his attention back to the skirmish happening on the platform. Bond fought against a handful of men, dispatching two in one move. Naturally, Bond would prevail, but it would be too late by then. It had been a perfectly hatched plan. Vito would be long gone with his diamonds before Bond would be able to give chase. Pulling off his mask, he used it to wave goodbye to his adversary.
“Bon voyage, Mr. Bond!” Vito called, tipping his head in acknowledgement. Bond roared in fury as one of the men tackled him to the ground. Grasping the rail, Vito continued to watch his foe struggle to reach him until he was a mere speck in the distance.
Stepping inside the train car, he ran his fingers through his hair, fixing it. Straightening his shoulders, he stood tall and headed toward his seat. The rest of the train car was full of his men. They would create his cover by spreading out, leaving at different stops. The police would give chase to them while he made his getaway in a car. The train sped up, heading towards Italy. He would be home in a couple days but would only be enjoying the train ride for a few stops. It was only a matter of time before Bond and the police would be crowding every train station in the country, looking for him. However, Vito had already planned for that. Folding the mask, he hid it away in his jacket.
“He hates it when you call him that.” Roman chuckled when Vito sat across from him.
Vito smiled, “I know.”
“You chose to show him your face in the end.”
Shrugging, “I decided it was the noble way to conclude our rivalità.”
“Nicely done, Sir.” Roman said, nodding at his boss.
“Thanks, Roman. Still, it is too soon to celebrate.”
Roman merely nodded in agreement, opening his newspaper to read. They still had a long way to go before they reached home. Vito unbuttoned his expensive jacket, settling in for the ride. A server entered the train car, pushing a cart of refreshments. Pouring a glass of champagne, he handed the first one to Vito, knowing exactly the pecking order of the gentlemen in the car. Offering a charcuterie board, Vito waved it off but accepted the drink. His adrenaline was still pumping from the chase.
“Do you wish to keep the bottle, Sir?” the waiter asked.
“Please.” Vito nodded, smiling at the young man.
After leaving the bottle in a chiller and offering his men refreshments, the server left them quietly. Vito sipped on the expensive champagne. It would have been fitting if Bond could be enjoying the bottle with him. He turned his gaze to the window, reminiscing on the decade’s long rivalry between them. It was as if it had only been yesterday since their first meeting in Paris. He had been a young man of twenty-five, on his third independent job.
Growing up in a poor family, Vito had begun stealing at a young age. Though he was quick and smart, he had been caught when he tried to steal from a master thief. Rather than punish Vito though, Giovanni had taken him under his wing and showed him the ways of a con artist. As a kid, he was a great pickpocket, but that was the extent of his work. His teacher exposed the young Vito to a life of luxury and wealth. Craving that lifestyle desperately, he became Giovanni’s best student. As the age of twenty, he had inherited Giovanni’s business when his teacher passed on. For the first couple years, Vito focused on taking care of Giovanni’s legacy. Though, in his heart, he strove to build it higher and take it further than even Giovanni had expected.
“Are you sure about this?” Young Roman whispered one last time before they were to execute the plan.
Young Vito chuckled, “If I didn’t know any better, I would think you were afraid.”
Roman glared at his friend and boss, “You know I’m not.”
“Then let’s go.”
They were infiltrating one of the richest couples in Paris while they partied downstairs. Was it daring? Yes. Was it dangerous? Yes again. Was that why Vito was doing it? Absolutely. Standing, he pulled on his mask. Scaling down the stone wall, adrenaline pumped through his veins. When he reached the window he was aiming for, he heard the click of the lock right on time. Pushing it open, he silently climbed inside. His inside man disappeared from the room to stand guard outside. Roman followed close behind through the window. Vito glanced at his watch; they had exactly twenty minutes before the rotation of the guards would change and his man would be heading to a different position. The heist had taken six months to plan, and everything had to go perfectly. It was just what he needed as boss to finally gain complete loyalty of Giovanni’s men.
“Let’s get to work.” Vito whispered, heading towards the closet. One would think that such a rich man would be smart enough to know that the closet was the first place a thief would check for valuables.
Roman merely nodded and set to work. It was easy enough for Vito to get into the secret room. His heart pounded as he turned on the light and took it all in. Shelves of jewelry lined the walls. Roman began tossing them into bags. The two of them had spent months pouring over records, knowing which pieces they could take and which to leave. There were heirlooms that were not worth the trouble. Though they would bring in a pretty penny, they were too easily recognizable. The gold bars were stashed away in the bags while the cash was left behind. Gold could be melted down and reshaped, whereas the cash could be tracked.
When they reached the end of their endeavor, Vito peered at his watch, “It’s time.”
Nodding, Roman headed back to the window. Climbing out, he slid down the thick rope. Vito followed, leaving everything exactly the same as before, covering their retreat. Tapping out a code on the door, he hurried to the window. His man on the other side would know to lock the window behind him before shift change. Once he stepped foot on the ground, he ducked down into the bushes. Roman was waiting for him.
“See you on the other side, Boss.” Roman whispered before crawling off. Vito was sure that no one knew about the heist, however, he had set up multiple escape routes just in case. Going in a different direction, he made his way to the canal. He was going to flee by water. Though, he only made it a few steps before the silence was interrupted.
“It looks like I was right.” A voice said behind him.
Vito spun on his heel. Facing him was a strapping young man, around the same age as himself. Messing with the cufflinks on his expensive suit, the man glared at Vito icily. Dark hair was perfectly shaped into a James Bond-esque style. Wearing a bowtie, he looked exactly like the famous super spy. Vito had to admit, he was intrigued and leaned against the tree, crossing his arms.
“Well now, if it isn’t fiction come to life.”
The young man rose an eyebrow, “What?”
“It’s nice to meet you Mr. Bond.” Vito chuckled.
He rolled his eyes, “That’s not my name.”
“But you are a spy.” Vito surmised.
“I knew someone would show up tonight to rob the Baudelaire’s.”
“Maybe I’m here for the benefit.”
Bond shook his head, “Dressed in black, wearing a mask, and crawling out of the bushes. A bit obvious, don’t you think?”
“Perhaps I’m the gardener?”
“Then why the mask?”
Vito smiled, enjoying the banter more than he would care to confess, “Maybe my face is disfigured?”
“I highly doubt that.” He paused for a moment. “Now, before I take you in; who are you?”
Vito laughed, “Oh how delightful! You must think rather highly of yourself to assume you will capture me this night.”
“And you sound like a poet.” Bond argued sardonically. Vito once again barked in laughter.
“Though I am quite enjoying this little repartee, I have places to be.”
Vito gave a short bow before sprinting off. Bond’s shoes clicked against the cobblestones as he chased after him. Though he was quick, he was not nearly as fast as Vito. Hurrying towards the docks, he toppled a pile of boxes behind him to hold Bond off just a little longer. The boat was waiting for him, loosely tied to the wooden post. The dock had been cleared of any other watercraft to safeguard his escape. Jumping in, he cut the rope with his sharp knife all in the same motion. Standing at the wheel, he fired it up easily and sped away. Glancing over his shoulder, he heard Bond shouting, cursing him as he disappeared into the night.
For the next twenty years, Bond chased him around the world. There had been several close calls over the years, but Vito was always able to evade capture. The danger and excitement only made Vito crave more. He had one thing going for him though; Bond had never been able to discover his identity. After the close call in Paris, he was steadfast in wearing a mask on every job. Though they had crossed paths many times at various functions as civilians, Bond still had no idea who he really was. It tickled Vito to no end when they shook hands and talked briefly of their fabricated lives. He was careful to not get too close to his adversary. Rather, he always kept his distance, and they became merely acquaintances who ran into one another from time to time.
Showing his face to Bond in the end was not an easy decision. Vito had only begun to consider it when he decided to retire. He wanted to live the rest of his life in peace and his massive wealth would sustain him, his men, and their families for generations to come. Forty-five wasn’t old, but he knew the years had aged him, nonetheless. No longer as quick as he was as a young man, it was only a matter of time before he was caught. Vito would disappear easily, and Bond would not be able to find him. Being Vito’s very last job, it was a bitter-sweet farewell to their rivalry.
“I’ll see you on the other side.” Roman smiled when they reached their destination. They were the last two left in the train car.
“You too my friend.” Vito stood, buttoning his jacket. Grabbing his briefcase, he draped his coat over his arm, hiding it from view. Before stepping out of the train car, he covered his hair with a bowler hat. It was a classic style that had stood the test of time. Heading in the opposite direction as Roman, he descended the steps that would take him to the parking garage. Waiting for him exactly as planned was his most trusted driver, John.
“It’s wonderful to see you sir.”
“You as well, John. Let’s go home.” He climbed into the back of the vehicle before they drove away from the city. Reflecting once again on his foe, he smiled. It had been a good run.
“Bon voyage, Mr. Bond.” He whispered, closing that chapter of his life forever.