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Книга The Godfather. Страница 114

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Neri walked out into the street so that he was standing by the driver’s open window. The driver was a tough-looking hood, just the kind he loved to break up. Neri said with deliberate insultingness, “OK, wise guy, you want me to stick a summons up your ass or do you wanta get moving?”

The driver said impassively, “You better check with your precinct. Just give me the ticket if it’ll make you feel happy.”

“Get the hell out of here,” Neri said, “or I’ll drag you out of that car and break your ass.”

The driver made a ten-dollar bill appear by some sort of magic, folded it into a little square using just one hand, attd tried to shove it inside Neri’s blouse. Neri moved back onto the sidewalk and crooked his finger at the driver. The driver came out of the car.

“Let me see your license and registration,” Neri said. He had been hoping to get the driver to go around the block but there was no hope for that now. Out of the corner of his eye, Neri saw three short, heavyset men coming down the steps of the Plaza building, coming down toward the street. It was Barzini himself and his two bodyguards, on their way to meet Michael Corleone. Even as he saw this, one of the bodyguards peeled off to come ahead and see what was wrong with Barzini’s car.

This man asked the driver, “What’s up?”

The driver said curtly, “I’m getting a ticket, no sweat. This guy must be new in the precinct.”

At that moment Barzini came up with his other bodyguard. He growled, “What the hell is wrong now?”

Neri finished writing in his summons book and gave the driver back his registration and license. Then he put his summons book back in his hip pocket and with the forward motion of his hand drew the.38 Special.

He put three bullets in Barzini’s barrel chest before the other three men unfroze enough to dive for cover. By that time Neri had darted into the crowd and around the corner where the car was waiting for him. The car sped up to Ninth Avenue and turned downtown. Near Chelsea Park, Neri, who had discarded the cap and put on the overcoat and changed clothing, transferred to another car that was waiting for him. He had left the gun and the police uniform in the other car. It would be gotten rid of. An hour later he was safely in the mall on Long Beach and talking to Michael Corleone.

* * *

Tessio was waiting in the kitchen of the old Don’s house and was sipping at a cup of coffee when Tom Hagen came for him. “Mike is ready for you now,” Hagen said. “You better make your call to Barzini and tell him to start on his way.”

Tessio rose and went to the wall phone. He dialed Barzini’s office in New York and said curtly, “We’re on our way to Brooklyn.” He hung up and smiled at Hagen. “I hope Mike can get us a good deal tonight.”

Hagen said gravely, “I’m sure he will.” He escorted Tessio out of the kitchen and onto the mall. They walked toward Michael’s house. At the door they were stopped by one of the bodyguards. “The boss says he’ll come in a separate car. He says for you two to go on ahead.”

Tessio frowned and turned to Hagen. “Hell, he can’t do that; that screws up all my arrangements.”

At that moment three more bodyguards materialized around them. Hagen said gently, “I can’t go with you either, Tessio.”

The ferret-faced caporegime understood everything in a flash of a second. And accepted it. There was a moment of physical weakness, and then he recovered. He said to Hagen, “Tell Mike it was business, I always liked him.”

Hagen nodded. “He understands that.”

Tessio paused for a moment and then said softly, “Tom, can you get me off the hook? For old times’ sake?”

Hagen shook his head. “I can’t,” he said.

He watched Tessio being surrounded by bodyguards and led into a waiting car. He felt a little sick. Tessio had been the best soldier in the Corleone Family; the old Don had relied on him more than any other man with the exception of Luca Brasi. It was too bad that so intelligent a man had made such a fatal error in judgment so late in life.

* * *

Carlo Rizzi, still waiting for his interview with Michael, became jittery with all the arrivals and departures. Obviously something big was going on and it looked as if he were going to be left out. Impatiently he called Michael on the phone. One of the house bodyguards answered, went to get Michael, and came back with the message that Michael wanted him to sit tight, that he would get to him soon.

Carlo called up his mistress again and told her he was sure he would be able to take her to a late supper and spend the night. Michael had said he would call him sin, whatever he had planned couldn’t take more than an hour, or two. Then it would take him about forty minutes to drive to Westbury. It could be done. He promised her he would do it and sweet-talked her into not being sore. When he hung up he decided to get properly dressed so as to save time afterward. He had just slipped into a fresh shirt when there was a knock on the door. He reasoned quickly that Mike had tried to get him on the phone and had kept getting a busy signal so had simply sent a messenger to call him. Carlo went to the door and opened it. He felt his whole body go weak with terrible sickening fear. Standing in the doorway was Michael Corleone, his face the face of that death Carlo Rizzi saw often in his dreams.

Behind Michael Corleone were Hagen and Rocco Lampone. They looked grave, like people who had come with the utmost reluctance to give a friend bad news. The three of them entered the house and Carlo Rizzi led them into the living room. Recovered from his first shock, he thought that he had suffered an attack of nerves. Michael’s words made him really sick, physically nauseous.

“You have to answer for Santino,” Michael said.

Carlo didn’t answer, pretended not to understand. Hagen and Lampone had split away to opposite walls of the room. He and Michael faced each other.

“You fingered Sonny for the Barzini people,” Michael said, his voice flat. “That little farce you played out with my sister, did Barzini kid you that would fool a Corleone?”

Carlo Rizzi spoke out of his terrible fear, without dignity, without any kind of pride. “I swear I’m innocent. I swear on the head of my children I’m innocent. Mike, don’t do this to me, please, Mike, don’t do this to me.”

Michael said quietly, “Barzini is dead. So is Phillip Tattaglia. I want to square all the Family accounts tonight. So don’t tell me you’re innocent. It would be better for you to admit what you did.”

Hagen and Lampone stared at Michael with astonishment. They were thinking that Michael was not yet the man his father was. Why try to get this traitor to admit guilt? That guilt was already proven as much as such a thing could be proven. The answer was obvious. Michael still was not that confident of his right, still feared being unjust, still worried about that fraction of an uncertainty that only a confession by Carlo Rizzi could erase.

There was still no answer. Michael said almost kindly, “Don’t be so frightened. Do you think I’d make my sister a widow? Do you think I’d make my nephews fatherless? After all I’m Godfather to one of your kids. No, your punishment will be that you won’t be allowed any work with the Family. I’m putting you on a plane to Vegas to join your wife and kids and then I want you to stay there. I’ll send Connie an allowance. That’s all. But don’t keep saying you’re innocent, don’t insult my intelligence and make me angry. Who approached you, Tattaglia or Barzini?”

Carlo Rizzi in his anguished hope for life, in the sweet flooding relief that he was not going to be killed, murmured, “Barzini.”

“Good, good,” Michael said softly. He beckoned with his right hand. “I want you to leave now. There’s a car waiting to take you to the airport.”

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