Книга The Godfather. Содержание - Chapter 10

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When Michael got out of the cab in front of the French Hospital he was surprised to see that the street was completely deserted. When he entered the hospital he was even more surprised to find the lobby empty. Damn it, what the hell were Clemenza and Tessio doing? Sure, they never went to West Point but they knew enough about tactic to have outposts. A couple of their men should have been in the lobby at least.

Even the latest visitors had departed, it was almost ten-thirty at night. Michael was tense and alert now. He didn’t bother to stop at the information desk, he already knew his father’s room number up on the fourth floor. He took the self-service elevator. Oddly enough nobody stopped him until he reached the nurses’ station on the fourth floor. But he strode right past her query and on to his father’s room. There was no one outside the door. Where the hell were the two detectives who were supposed to be waiting around to guard and question the old man? Where the hell were Tessio and Clemenza’s people? Could there be someone inside the room? But the door was open. Michael went in. There was a figure in the bed and by the December moonlight straining through the window Michael could see his father’s face. Even now it was impassive, the chest heaved shallowly with his uneven breath. Tubes hung from steel gallows beside the bed and ran into his nose. On the floor was a glass jar receiving the poisons emptied from his stomach by other tubes. Michael stayed there for a few moments to make sure his father was all right, then backed out of the room.

He told the nurse, “My name is Michael Corleone, I just want to sit with my father. What happened to the detectives who were supposed to be guarding him?”

The nurse was a pretty young thing with a great deal of confidence in the power of her office. “Oh, your father just had too many visitors, it interfered with the hospital service,” she said. “The police came and made them all leave about ten minutes ago. And then just five minutes ago I had to call the detectives to the phone for an emergency alarm from their headquarters, and then they left too. But don’t worry, I look in on your father often and I can hear any sound from his room. That’s why we leave the doors open.”

“Thank you,” Michael said. “I’ll sit with him for a little while. OK?”

She smiled at him. “Just for a little bit and then I’m afraid you’ll have to leave. It’s the rules, you know.”

Michael went back into his father’s room. He took the phone from its cradle and got the hospital operator to give him the house in Long Beach, the phone in the corner office room. Sonny answered. Michael whispered, “Sonny, I’m down at the hospital, I came down late. Sonny, there’s nobody here. None of Tessio’s people. No detectives at the door. The old man was completely unprotected.” His voice was trembling.

There was a long silence and then Sonny’s voice came, low and impressed, “This is Sollozzo’s move you were talking about.”

Michael said, “That’s what I figured too. But how did he get the cops to clear everybody out and where did they go? What happened to Tessio’s men? Jesus Christ, has that bastard Sollozzo got the New York Police Department in his pocket too?”

“Take it easy, kid.” Sonny’s voice was soothing. “We got lucky again with you going to visit the hospital so late. Stay in the old man’s room. Lock the door from the inside. I’ll have some men there inside of fifteen minutes, soon as I make some calls. Just sit tight and don’t panic. OK, kid?”

“I won’t panic,” Michael said. For the first time since it had all started he felt a furious anger rising in him, a cold hatred for his father’s enemies.

He hung up the phone and rang the buzzer for the nurse. He decided to use his own judgment and disregard Sonny’s orders. When the nurse came in he said, “I don’t want you to get frightened, but we have to move my father right away. To another room or another floor. Can you disconnect all these tubes so we can wheel the bed out?”

The nurse said, “That’s ridiculous. We have to get permission from the doctor.”

Michael spoke very quickly. “You’ve read about my father in the papers. You’ve seen that there’s no one here tonight to guard him. Now I’ve just gotten word some men will come into the hospital to kill him. Please believe me and help me.” He-could be extraordinarily persuasive when he wanted to be.

The nurse said, “We don’t have to disconnect the tubes. We can wheel the stand with the bed.”

“Do you have an empty room?” Michael whispered.

“At the end of the hall,” the nurse said.

It was done in a matter of moments, very quickly and very efficiently. Then Michael said to the nurse, “Stay here with him until help comes. If you’re outside at your station you might get hurt.”

At that moment he heard his father’s voice from the bed, hoarse but full of strength, “Michael, is it you? What happened, what is it?”

Michael leaned over the bed. He took his father’s hand in his. “It’s Mike,” he said. “Don’t be afraid. Now listen, don’t make any noise at all, especially if somebody calls out your name. Some people want to kill you, understand? But I’m here so don’t be afraid.”

Don Corleone, still not fully conscious of what had happened to him the day before, in terrible pain, yet smiled benevolently on his youngest son, wanting to tell him, but it was too much effort, “Why should I be afraid now? Strange men have come to kill me ever since I was twelve years old.”

Chapter 10

The hospital was small and private with just one entrance. Michael looked through the window down into the street. There was a curved courtyard that had steps leading down into the street and the street was empty of cars. But whoever came into the hospital would have to come through that entrance. He knew he didn’t have much time so he ran out of the room and down the four flights and through the wide doors of the ground floor entrance. Off to the side he saw the ambulance yard and there was no car there, no ambulances either.

Michael stood on the sidewalk outside the hospital and lit a cigarette. He unbuttoned his coat and stood in the light of a lamppost so that his features could be seen. A young man was walking swiftly down from Ninth Avenue, a package under his arm. The young man wore a combat jacket and had a heavy shock of black hair. His face was familiar when he came under the lamplight but Michael could not place it. But the young man stopped in front of him and put out his hand, saying in a heavy Italian accent, “Don Michael, do you remember me? Enzo, the baker’s helper to Nazorine the Paniterra; his son-in-law. Your father saved my life by getting the government to let me stay in America.”

Michael shook his hand. He remembered him now.

Enzo went on, “I’ve come to pay my respects to your father. Will they let me into the hospital so late?”

Michael smiled and shook his head. “No, but thanks anyway. I’ll tell the Don you came.” A car came roaring down the street and Michael was instantly alert. He said to Enzo, “Leave here quickly. There may be trouble. You don’t want to get involved with the police.”

He saw the look of fear on the young Italian’s face. Trouble with the police might mean being deported or refusal of citizenship. But the young man stood fast. He whispered in Italian. “If there’s trouble I’ll stay to help. I owe it to the Godfather.”

Michael was touched. He was about to tell the young man to go away again, but then he thought, why not let him stay? Two men in front of the hospital might scare off any of Sollozzo’s crew sent to do a job. One man almost certainly would not. He gave Enzo a cigarette and lit it for him. They both stood under the lamppost is the cold December night. The yellow panes of the hospital, bisected by the greens of Christmas decorations, twinkled down on them. They had almost finished their cigarettes when a long low black car turned into 30th Street from Ninth Avenue and cruised toward them, very close to the curb. It almost stopped. Michael peered to see their faces inside, his body flinching involuntarily. The car seemed about to stop, then speeded forward. Somebody had recognized him. Michael gave Enzo another cigarette and noticed that the baker’s hands were shaking. To his surprise his own hands were steady.

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