Книга The Godfather. Содержание - Chapter 27

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The hotel nurse had come into the room wheeling a cart loaded with medication. Johnny got up and stared down at Nino, who was sleeping or maybe dying. He knew Nino wasn’t jealous of his getting his voice back. He understood that Nino was only jealous because he was so happy about getting his voice back. That he cared so much about singing. For what was very obvious now was that Nino Valenti didn’t care enough about anything to make him want to stay alive.

Chapter 27

Michael Corleone arrived late in the evening and, by his own order, was not met at the airport. Only two men accompanied him: Tom Hagen and a new bodyguard, named Albert Neri.

The most lavish suite of rooms in the hotel had been set aside for Michael and his party. Already waiting in that suite were the people it would be necessary for Michael to see.

Freddie greeted his brother with a warm embrace. Freddie was much stouter, more benevolent-looking, cheerful, and far more dandified. He wore an exquisitely tailored gray silk and accessories to match. His hair was razor cut and arranged as carefully as a movie star’s, his face glowed with perfect barbering and his hands were manicured. He was an altogether different man than the one who had been shipped out of New York four years before.

He leaned back and surveyed Michael fondly. “You look a hell of a lot better now that you got your face fixed. Your wife finally talked you into it, huh? How is Kay? When she goons come out and visit us out here?”

Michael smiled at his brother. “You’re looking pretty good too. Kay would have come out this time, but she’s carrying another kid and she has the baby to look after. Besides this is business, Freddie, I have to fly back tomorrow night or the morning after.”

“You have to eat something first,” Freddie said. “We’ve got a great chef in the hotel, you’ll get the best food you ever ate. Go take your shower and change and everything will be set up right here. I have all the people you want to see lined up, they’ll be waiting around for when you’re ready, I just have to call them.”

Michael said pleasantly, “Let’s save Moe Greene to the end, OK? Ask Johnny Fontane and Nino up to eat with us. And Lucy and her doctor friend. We can talk while we eat.” He turned to Hagen. “Anybody you want to add to that, Tom?”

Hagen shook his head. Freddie had greeted him much less affectionately than Michael, but Hagen understood. Freddie was on his father’s shit list and Freddie naturally blamed the Consigliere for not straightening things out. Hagen would gladly have done so, but he didn’t know why Freddie was in his father’s bad graces. The Don did not give voice to specific grievances. He just made his displeasure felt.

It was after midnight before they gathered around the special dinner table set up in Michael’s suite. Lucy kissed Michael and didn’t comment on his face looking so much better after the operation. Jules Segal boldly studied the repaired cheekbone and said to Michael, “A good job. It’s knitted nicely. Is the sinus OK?”

“Fine,” Michael said. “Thanks for helping out.”

Dinner focused on Michael as they ate. They all noted his resemblance in speech and manner to the Don. In some curious way he inspired the same respect, the same awe, and yet he was perfectly natural, at pains to put everyone at their ease. Hagen as usual remained in the background. The new man they did not know; Albert Neri was also very quiet and unobtrusive. He had claimed he was not hungry and sat in an armchair close to the door reading a local newspaper.

After they had had a few drinks and food, the waiters were dismissed. Michael spoke to Johnny Fontane. “Hear your voice is back as good as ever, you got all your old fans back. Congratulations.”

“Thanks,” Johnny said. He was curious about exactly why Michael wanted to see him. What favor would he be asked?

Michael addressed them all in general. “The Corleone Family is thinking of moving out here to Vegas. Selling out all our interests in the olive oil business and settling here. The Don and Hagen and myself have talked it over and we think here is where the future is for the Family. That doesn’t mean right now or next year. It may take two, three, even four years to get things squared away. But that’s the general plan. Some friends of ours own a good percentage of this hotel and casino so that will be our foundation. Moe Greene will sell us his interest so it can be wholly owned by friends of the Family.”

Freddie’s moon face was anxious. “Mike, you sure about Moe Greene selling? He never mentioned it to me and he loves the business. I really don’t think he’ll sell.”

Michael said quietly, “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

The words were said in an ordinary voice, yet the effect was chilling, perhaps because it was a favorite phrase of the Don’s. Michael turned to Johnny Fontane. “The Don is counting on you to help us get started. It’s been explained to us that entertainment will be the big factor in drawing gamblers. We hope you’ll sign a contract to appear five times a year for maybe a week-long engagement. We hope your friends in movies do the same. You’ve done them a lot of favors, now you can call them in.”

“Sure,” Johnny said. “I’ll do anything for my Godfather, you know that, Mike.” But there was just the faint shadow of doubt in his voice.

Michael smiled and said, “You won’t lose money on the deal and neither will your friends. You get points in the hotel, and if there’s somebody else you think important enough, they get some points too. Maybe you don’t believe me, so let me say I’m speaking the Don’s words.”

Johnny said hurriedly, “I believe you, Mike. But there’s ten more hotels and casinos being built on the Strip right now. When you come in, the market may be glutted, you may be too late with all that competition already there.”

Tom Hagen spoke up. “The Corleone Family has friends who are financing three of those hotels.” Johnny understood immediately that he meant the Corleone Family owned the three hotels, with their casinos. And that there would be plenty of points to give out.

“I’ll start working on it,” Johnny said.

Michael turned to Lucy and Jules Segal. “I owe you,” he said to Jules. “I hear you want to go back to cutting people up and that hospitals won’t let you use their facilities because of that old abortion business. I have to know from you, is that what you want?”

Jules smiles. “I guess so. But you don’t know the medical setup. Whatever power you have doesn’t mean anything to them. I’m afraid you can’t help me in that.”

Michael nodded absentmindedly. “Sure, you’re right. But some friends of mine, pretty well-known people, are going to build a big hospital for Las Vegas. The town will need it the way it’s growing and the way it’s projected to grow. Maybe they’ll let you into the operating room if it’s put to them right. Hell, how many surgeons as good as you can they get to come out to this desert? Or any half as good? We’ll be doing the hospital a favor. So stick around. I hear you and Lucy are going to get married?”

Jules shrugged. “When I see that I have any future.”

Lucy said wryly, “Mike, if you don’t build that hospital, I’ll die an old maid.”

They all laughed. All except Jules. He said to Michael, “If I took a job like that there couldn’t be any strings attached.”

Michael said coldly, “No strings. I just owe you and I want to even out.”

Lucy said gently, “Mike, don’t get sore.”

Michael smiled at her. “I’m not sore.” He turned to Jules. “That was a dumb thing for you to say. The Corleone Family has pulled some strings for you. Do you think I’m so stupid I’d ask you to do things you’d hate to do? But if I did, so what? Who the hell else ever lifted a finger to help you when you were in trouble? When I heard you wanted to get back to being a real surgeon, I took a lot of time to find out if I could help. I can. I’m not asking you for anything. But at least you can consider our relationship friendly, and I assume you would do for me what you’d do for any good friend. That’s my string. But you can refuse it.”

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