Alessandro sliced the onions and tossed them into the pan to sauté them. He skilfully chopped the cooked sausages and added them into the bowl containing the spaghetti. He looked at her from the corner of his eyes.
She sat in the corner of his couch, trying to make herself invisible. She was a frail little creature, with mousy brown hair and a sort of ‘defeated-in-life’ look about her. Alessandro absolutely hated that look in people. He tossed the remaining vegetables into the pan, added olive oil and started stirring.
‘Just ten more minutes. The broccoli needs to be cooked properly. Otherwise, it’ll kill the taste of all other ingredients. You ok there, signorina?’
She shook out of her stupor, ‘What? Si! Si! Grazie! It’s late and I don’t want to impose…’
Alessandro waved an airy hand, ‘Figurati! You are hungry. I make excellent Spaghetti. In about eight minutes you’ll agree.’ He glanced at her, ‘You are shivering. Do you want some vino?’
She hurriedly shook her head in the negative. Alessandro shrugged. He’d spotted the girl, completely drenched and shivering, waiting for the last bus from town. She didn’t know that the bus services had been suspended because of an outburst of sudden violence between the Ultras, the fanatical and highly organised football hooligans, of the two football teams who had played today. The girl was alone and scared. So, Alessandro had offered her a place to crash for the night. She would have refused if it was an hour earlier, but somehow she’d felt safe around him and agreed to come to his house.
‘Say, what’s your name? I’m Alessandro Bianchi.’
‘Carina! Grazie Signore Bianchi.’
Alessandro called her over to the dining table and placed a clean plate in front of her. He offered her a glass of red wine and this time she nodded. He poured two glasses and handed one to her. They clinked glasses and Alessandro brought the pot from the stove and served her spaghetti.
‘Basta! Basta! It’s too much Signore!’ She protested, arms waving animatedly in front of her.
‘Just eat! I know you are hungry.’
She smiled and started eating.
‘How is it?’ Alessandro sat opposite to her.
‘Cotto a puntino! ll meglio!’ She attacked the spaghetti ravenously.
‘Grazie!’ He started eating.
‘What were you doing at the bus depot at such an odd hour?’
‘I told you. Waiting for bus to my town.’
‘Don’t you have any relatives in this town?’
‘No! I came for the calcio.’
‘The football match? Really? All alone?’
‘No signore! I came with my boyfriend and his friends.’
‘What? What happened to them? Why were you alone?’
She paused eating and gave him an odd look, ‘He bailed out on me, Signore. I was angry, sad, confused, and terrified. I begged him not to leave me, but he did anyway and I ended up alone!’
‘I’m sorry to hear that, Carina.’ Alessandro poured another glass of wine for her, ‘Drink! It’ll help.’
She had stopped eating, but accepted the wine and started drinking. Alessandro felt bad for her.
‘Listen, Carina! Do you want me to come with you tomorrow and whack your boyfriend about a little? Maybe I’ll knock some sense into him.’
She laughed a harsh little laugh, ‘You’ve already done your part, Signore.’
Alessandro shook his head, ‘No! No! I think I need to pay a little visit to him.’
‘If that’s what you want, signore Bianchi.’
Alessandro polished off the spaghetti on his plate and poured himself some more wine, ‘Yes! That’s what I want Carina.’
‘Alright! If you want to see him, go to your city hospital morgue. He’s there along with a couple of his friends.’
‘My boyfriend was stabbed to death during the fight today afternoon, Signore Bianchi! I held his hand and pleaded with him not to leave me alone in this world.’ Tears sprung out of her tired eyes, ‘But he did anyway!’
Alessandro looked stunned, ‘Carina…’
‘Si, Signore Bianchi! I was there. I saw you remove a pocket knife from inside your boot and stab my boyfriend. You stabbed him three times, I counted. And when he fell, you kicked him, all the while chanting a song about your football club.’
Alessandro dropped his wine glass and it shattered into smithereens. He was an Ultra and a proud one at that. He had been a part of many fights and skirmishes – it was a way of their life, after all! He had broken bones, he had bones broken, and he’d even been stabbed once. But never before he’d come face to face with the consequences of his actions.
He dropped to his knees in front of the mousy girl, ‘Please forgive me, Carina! I know it is impossible for you, but I beg for your forgiveness.’
‘There’s nothing to forgive, Signore Bianchi! My boyfriend was an Ultra and he died in a gutter. I tried my best to talk him out of his madness. But for him his gang and his football club came before me. I look at you and see him in you. You all are the same. Fighting for some football club who make millions of Euros and employ these Superstar players who get paid hundreds of thousands of Euros every week and drive their Porsches and Ferraris. You chant their names and go to war with fans of a different millionaire club and different millionaire players, none who give a shit about your existence.’ She had a faraway look in her eyes, ‘It was my boyfriend’s day today. Yours might be tomorrow, Signore Bianchi! Thank you for your hospitality. I’ll sleep on the couch and I’ll be gone first thing in the morning. Sleep well, Signore! Your heroism has earned you a good night’s sleep.’
Alessandro watched her curl up on the couch. Within minutes she was fast asleep. He looked down. His reflections on the broken shards looked back mockingly at him.