Книга The Godfather. Содержание - Chapter 24

Brasi glared at her, malevolent, insanity stamped on his face. “Yes, I’m the father,” he said. “But I don’t want any of that race to live. Take it down to the basement and throw it into the furnace.”

For a moment Filomena thought she had not understood him properly. She was puzzled by his use of the word “race.” Did he mean because the girl was not Italian? Or did he mean because the girl was obviously of the lowest type; a whore in short? Or did he mean that anything springing from his loins he forbade to live. And then she was sure he was making a brutal joke. She said shortly, “It’s your child, do what you want.” And she tried to hand him the bundle.

At this time the exhausted mother awoke and turned on her side to face them. She was just in time to see Brasi thrust violently at the bundle, crushing the newborn infant against Filomena’s chest. She called out weakly, “Luc, Luc, I’m sorry,” and Brasi turned to face her.

It was terrible, Filomena said now. So terrible. They were like two mad animals. They were not human. The hatred they bore each other blazed through the room. Nothing else, not even the newborn infant, existed for them at that moment. And yet there was a strange passion. A bloody, demonical lust so unnatural you knew they were damned forever. Then Luca Brasi turned back to Filomena and said harshly, “Do what tell you, I’ll make you rich.”

Filomena could not speak in her terror. She shook her head. Finally she managed to whisper, “You do it, you’re the father, do it if you like.” But Brasi didn’t answer. Instead he drew a knife from inside his shirt. “I’ll cut your throat,” he said.

She must have gone into shock then because the next thing she remembered they were all standing in the basement of the house in front of a square iron furnace. Filomena was still holding the blanketed baby, which had not made a sound. (Maybe if it had cried, maybe if I had been shrewd enough to pinch it, Filomena said, that monster would have shown mercy.)

One of the men must have opened the furnace door, the fire now was visible. And then she was alone with Brasi in that basement with its sweating pipes, its mousy odor. Brasi had his knife out again. And there could be no doubting that he would kill her. There were the flames, there were Brasi’s eyes. His face was the gargoyle of the devil, it was not human, it was not sane: He pushed her toward the open furnace door.

At this point Filomena fell silent. She folded her bony hands in her lap and looked directly at Michael. He knew what she wanted, how she wanted to tell him, without using her voice. He asked gently, “Did you do it?” She nodded.

It was only after another glass of wine and crossing herself and muttering a prayer that she continued her story. She was given a bundle of money and driven home. She understood that if she uttered a word about what had happened she would be killed. But two days later Brasi murdered the young Irish girl, the mother of the infant, and was arrested by the police. Filomena, frightened out of her wits, went to the Godfather and told her story. He ordered her to keep silent, that he would attend to everything. At that time Brasi did not work for Don Corleone.

Before Don Corleone could set matters aright, Luca Brasi tried to commit suicide in his cell, hacking at his throat with a piece of glass. He was transferred to the prison hospital and by the time he recovered Don Corleone had arranged everything. The police did not have a case they could prove in court and Luca Brasi was released.

Though Don Corleone assured Filomena that she had nothing to fear from either Luca Brasi or the police, she had no peace. Her nerves were shattered and she could no longer work at her profession. Finally she persuaded her husband to sell the grocery store and they returned to Italy. Her husband was a good man, had been told everything and understood. But he was a weak man and in Italy squandered the fortune they had both slaved in America to earn. And so after he died she had become a servant. So Filomena ended her story. She had another glass of wine and said to Michael, “I bless the name of your father. He always sent me money when I asked, he saved me from Brasi. Tell him I say a prayer for his soul every night and that he shouldn’t fear dying.”

After she had left, Michael asked Don Tommasino, “Is her story true?” The capo-mafioso nodded. And Michael thought, no wonder nobody wanted to tell him the story. Some story. Some Luca.

The next morning Michael wanted to discuss the whole thug with Don Tommasino but learned that the old man had been called to Palermo by an urgent message delivered by a courier. That evening Don Tommasino returned and took Michael aside. News had come from America, he said. News that it grieved him to tell. Santino Corleone had been killed.

Chapter 24

The Sicilian sun, early-morning lemon-colored, filled Michael’s bedroom. He awoke and, feeling Apollonia’s satiny body against his own sleep-warm skin, made her come awake with love. When they were done, even all the months of complete possession could not stop him from marveling at her beauty and her passion.

She left the bedroom to wash and dress in the bathroom down the hall. Michael, still naked, the morning sun refreshing his body, lit a cigarette and relaxed on the bed. This was the last morning they would spend in this house and the villa. Don Tommasino had arranged for him to be transferred to another town on the southern coast of Sicily. Apollonia, in the first month of pregnancy, wanted to visit with her family for a few weeks and would join him at the new hiding place after the visit.

The night before, Don Tommasino had sat with Michael in the garden after Apollonia had gone to bed. The Don had been worried and tired, and admitted that he was concerned about Michael’s safety. “Your marriage brought you into sight,” he told Michael: “I’m surprised your father hasn’t made arrangements for you to go someplace else. In any case I’m having my own troubles with the young Turks in Palermo. I’ve offered some fair arrangements so that they can wet their beaks more than they deserve, but those scum want everything. I can’t understand their attitude. They’ve tried a few little tricks but I’m not so easy to kill. They must know I’m too strong for them to hold me so cheaply. But that’s the trouble with young people, no matter how talented. They don’t reason things out and they want all the water in the well.”

And then Don Tommasino had told Michael that the two shepherds, Fabrizzio and Calo, would go with him as bodyguards in the Alfa Romeo. Don Tommasino would say his good-byes tonight since he would be off early in the morning, at dawn, to see to his affairs in Palermo. Also, Michael was not to tell Dr. Taza about the move, since the doctor planned to spend the evening in Palermo and might blab.

Michael had known Don Tommasino was in trouble. Armed guards patrolled the walls of the villa at night and a few faithful shepherds with their luparas were always in the house. Don Tommasino himself went heavily armed and a personal bodyguard attended him at all times.

The morning sun was now too strong. Michael stubbed out his cigarette and put on work pants, work shirt and the peaked cap most Sicilian men wore. Still barefooted, he leaned out his bedroom window and saw Fabrizzio sitting in one of the garden chairs. Fabrizzio was lazily combing his thick dark hair, his lupara was carelessly thrown acres the garden table. Michael whistled and Fabrizzio looked up to his window.

“Get the car,” Michael called down to him. “I’ll be leaving in five minutes. Where’s Calo?”

Fabrizzio stood up. His shirt was open, exposing the blue and red lines of the tattoo on his chest. “Calo is having a cup of coffee in the kitchen,” Fabrizzio said. “Is your wife coming with you?”

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