Книга The Godfather. Страница 115
Carlo went out the door first, the other three men very close to him. It was night now, but the mail as usual was bright with floodlights. A car pulled up. Carlo saw it was his own car. He didn’t recognize the driver. There was someone sitting in the back but on the far side. Lampone opened the front door and motioned to Carlo to get in. Michael said, “I’ll call your wife and tell her you’re on your way down.” Carlo got into the car. His silk shirt was soaked with sweat.
The car pulled away, moving swiftly toward the gate. Carlo started to turn his head to see if he knew the man sitting behind him. At that moment, Clemenza, as cunningly and daintily as a little girl slipping a ribbon over the head of a kitten, threw his garrot around Carlo Rizzis neck. The smooth rope cut into the skin with Clemenza’s powerful yanking throttle, Carlo Rizzi’s body went leaping into the air like a fish on a line, but Clemenza held him fast, tightening the garrot until the body went slack. Suddenly there was a foul odor in the air of the car. Carlo’s body, sphincter released by approaching death, had voided itself. Clemenza kept the garrot tight for another few minutes to make sure, then released the rope and put it back in his pocket. He relaxed himself against the seat cushions as Carlo’s body slumped against the door. After a few moments Clemenza rolled the window down to let out the stink.
The victory of the Corleone Family was complete. During that same twenty-four-hour period Clemenza and Lampone turned loose their regimes and punished the infiltrators of the Corleone domains. Neri was sent to take command of the Tessio regime. Barzini bookmakers were put out of business; two of the highest-ranking Barzini enforcers were shot to death as they were peaceably picking their teeth over dinner in an Italian restaurant on Mulberry Street. A notorious fixer of trotting races was also killed as he returned home from a winning night at the track. Two of the biggest shylocks on the waterfront disappeared, to be found months later in the New Jersey swamps.
With this one savage attack, Michael Corleone made his reputation and restored the Corleone Family to its primary place in the New York Families. He was respected not only for his tactical brillance but because some of the most important caporegimes in both the Barzini and Tattaglia Families immediately went over to his side.
It would have been a perfect triumph for Michael Corleone except for an exhibition of hysteria by his sister Connie.
Connie had flown home with her mother, the children left in Vegas. She had restrained her widow’s grief until the limousine pulled into the mall. Then, before she could be restrained by her mother, she ran across the cobbled street to Michael Corleone’s house. She burst through the door and found Michael and Kay in the living room. Kay started to go to her, to comfort her and take her in her arms in a sisterly embrace but stopped short when Connie started screaming at her brother, screaming curses and reproaches. “You lousy bastard,” she shrieked. “You killed my husband. You waited until our father died and nobody could stop you and you killed him. You killed him. You blamed him about Sonny, you always did, everybody did. But you never thought about me. You never gave a damn about me. What am I going to do now, what am I going to do?” She was wailing. Two of Michael’s bodyguards had come up behind her and were waiting for orders from him. But he just stood there impassively and waited for his sister to finish.
Kay said in a shocked voice, “Connie, you’re upset, don’t say such things.”
Connie had recovered from her hysteria. Her voice held a deadly venom. “Why do you think he was always so cold to me? Why do you think he kept Carlo here on the mall? All the time he knew he was going to kill my husband. But he didn’t dare while my father was alive. My father would have stopped him. He knew that. He was just waiting. And then he stood Godfather to our child just to throw us off the track. The coldhearted bastard. You think you know your husband? Do you know how many men he had killed with my Carlo? Just read the papers. Barzini and Tattaglia and the others. My brother had them killed.”
She had worked herself into hysteria again. She tried to spit in Michael’s face but she had no saliva.
“Get her home and get her a doctor,” Michael said. The two guards immediately grabbed Connie’s arms and pulled her out of the house.
Kay was still shocked, still horrified. She said to her husband, “What made her say all those things, Michael, what makes her believe that?”
Michael shrugged. “She’s hysterical.”
Kay looked into his eyes. “Michael, it’s not true, please say it’s not true.”
Michael shook his head wearily. “Of course it’s not. Just believe me, this one time I’m letting you ask about my affairs, and I’m giving you an answer. It is not true.” He had never been more convincing. He looked directly into her eyes. He was using all the mutual trust they had built up in their married life to make her believe him. And she could not doubt any longer. She smiled at him ruefully and came into his arms for a kiss.
“We both need a drink,” she said. She went into the kitchen for ice and while there heard the front door open. She went out of the kitchen and saw Clemenza, Neri and Rocco Lampone come in with the bodyguards. Michael had his back to her, but she moved so that she could see him in profile. At that moment Clemenza addressed her husband, greeting him formally.
“Don Michael,” Clemenza said.
Kay could see how Michael stood to receive their homage. He reminded her of statues in Rome, statues of those Roman emperors of antiquity, who, by divine right, held the power of life and death over their fellow men. One hand was on his hip, the profile of his face showed a cold proud power, his body was carelessly, arrogantly at ease, weight resting on one foot slightly behind the other. The caporegimes stood before him. In that moment Kay knew that everything Connie had accused Michael of was true. She went back into the kitchen and wept.
The bloody victory of the Corleone Family was not complete until a year of delicate political maneuvering established Michael Corleone as the most powerful Family chief in the United States. For twelve months, Michael divided his time equally between his headquarters at the Long Beach mall and his new home in Las Vegas. But at the end of that year he decided to close out the New York operation and sell the houses and the mall property. For that purpose he brought his whole family East on a last visit. They would stay a month, wind up business, Kay would do the personal family’s packing and shipping of household goods. There were a million other minor details.
Now the Corleone Family was unchallengeable, and Clemenza had his own Family. Rocco Lampone was the Corleone caporegime. In Nevada, Albert Neri was head of all security for the Family-controlled hotels. Hagen too was part of Michael’s Western Family.
Time helped heal the old wounds. Connie Corleone was reconciled to her brother Michael. Indeed not more than a week after her terrible accusations she apologized to Michael for what she had said and assured Kay that there had been no truth in her words, that it had been only a young widow’s hysteria.
Connie Corleone easily found a new husband; in fact, she did not wait the year of respect before filling her bed again with a fine young fellow who had come to work for the Corleone Family as a male secretary. A boy from a reliable Italian family but graduated from the top business college in America. Naturally his marriage to the sister of the Don made his future assured.
Kay Adams Corleone had delighted her in-laws by taking instruction in the Catholic religion and joining that faith. Her two boys were also, naturally, being brought up in that church, as was required. Michael himself had not been too pleased by this development. He would have preferred the children to be Protestant, it was more American.