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Книга The Godfather. Страница 23

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Hagen said, “You haven’t got a chance. Sonny will come after you with everything he’s got.”

Sollozzo said impatiently, “That’s gonna be his first reaction. You have to talk some sense to him. The Tattaglia Family stands behind me with all their people. The other New York families will go along with anything that will stop a full-scale war between us. Our war has to hurt them and their businesses. If Sonny goes along with the deal, the other Families in the country will consider it none of their affair, even the Don’s oldest friends.”

Hagen stared down at his hands, not answering. Sollozzo went on persuasively. “The Don was slipping. In the old days I could never have gotten to him. The other Families distrust him because he made you his Consigliere and you’re not even Italian, much less Sicilian. If it goes to all-out war the Corleone Family will be smashed and everybody loses, me included. I need the Family political contacts more than I need the money even. So talk to Sonny, talk to the caporegimes; you’ll save a lot of bloodshed.”

Hagen held out his china cup for more whiskey. “I’ll try,” he said. “But Sonny is strong-headed. And even Sonny won’t be able to call off Luca. You have to worry about Luca. I’ll have to worry about Luca if I go for your deal.”

Sollozzo said quietly, “I’ll take care of Luca. You take care of Sonny and the other two kids. Listen, you can tell them that Freddie would have gotten it today with his old man but my people had strict orders not to gun him. I didn’t want any more hard feelings than necessary. You can tell them that, Freddie is alive because of me.”

Finally Hagen’s mind was working. For the first time he really believed that Sollozzo did not mean to kill him or hold him as a hostage. The sudden relief from fear that flooded his body made him flush with shame. Sollozzo watched him with a quiet understanding smile. Hagen began to think things out. If he did not agree to argue Sollozzo’s case, he might be killed. But then he realized that Sollozzo expected him only to present it and present it properly, as he was bound to do as a responsible Consigliere. And now, thinking about it, he also realized that Sollozzo was right. An unlimited war between the Tattaglias and the Corleones must be avoided at all costs. The Corleones must bury their dead and forget, make a deal. And then when the time was right they could move against Sollozzo.

But glancing up, he realized that Sollozzo knew exactly what he was thinking. The Turk was smiling. And then it struck Hagen. What had happened to Luca Brasi that Sollozzo was so unconcerned? Had Luca made a deal? He remembered that on the night Don Corleone had refused Sollozzo, Luca had been summoned into the office for a private conference with the Don. But now was not the time to worry about such details. He had to get back to the safety of the Corleone Family fortress in Long Beach. “I’ll do my best,” he said to Sollozzo. “I believe you’re right, it’s even what the Don would want us to do.”

Sollozzo nodded gravely. “Fine,” he said. “I don’t like bloodshed, I’m a businessman and blood costs too much money.” At that moment the phone rang and one of the men sitting behind Hagen went to answer it. He listened and then said curtly, “OK, I’ll tell him.” He hung up the phone, went to Sollozzo’s side and whispered in the Turk’s ear. Hagen saw Sollozzo’s face go pale, his eyes glitter with rage. He himself felt a thrill of fear. Sollozzo was looking at him speculatively and suddenly Hagen knew that he was no longer going to be set free. That something had happened that might mean his death. Sollozzo said, “The old marl is still alive. Five bullets in his Sicilian hide and he’s still alive.” He gave a fatalistic shrug. “Bad luck,” he said to Hagen. “Bad luck for me. Bad luck for you.”

Chapter 4

When Michael Corleone arrived at his father’s house in Long Beach he found the narrow entrance mouth of the mall blocked off with a link chain. The mall itself was bright with the floodlights of all eight houses, outlining at least ten cars parked along the curving cement walk.

Two men he didn’t know were leaning against the chain. One of them asked in a Brooklyn accent, “Who’re you?”

He told them. Another man came out of the nearest house and peered at his face. “That’s the Don’s kid,” he said. “I’ll bring him inside.” Mike followed this man to his father’s house, where two men at the door let him and his escort pass inside.

The house seemed to be full of men he didn’t know, until he went into the living room. There Michael saw Tom Hagen’s wife, Theresa, sitting stiffly on the sofa, smoking a cigarette. On the coffee table in front of her was a glass of whiskey. On the other side of the sofa sat the bulky Clemenza. The caporegime’s face was impassive, but he was sweating and the cigar in his hand glistened slickly black with his saliva.

Clemenza came to wring his hand in a consoling way, muttering, “Your mother is at the hospital with your father, he’s going to be all right.” Paulie Gatto stood up to shake hands. Michael looked at him curiously. He knew Paulie was his father’s bodyguard but did not know that Paulie had stayed home sick that day. But he sensed tension in the thin dark face. He knew Gatto’s reputation as an up-and-coming man, a very quick man who knew how to get delicate jobs done without complications, and today he had failed in his duty. He noticed several other men in the corners of the room but he did not recognize them. They were not of Clemenza’s people. Michael put these facts together and understood. Clemenza and Gatto were suspect. Thinking that Paulie had been at the scene, he asked the ferret-faced young man, “How is Freddie? He OK?”

“The doctor gave him a shot,” Clemenza said. “He’s sleeping.”

Michael went to Hagen’s wife and bent down to kiss her cheek. They had always liked each other. He whispered, “Don’t worry, Tom will be OK. Have you talked to Sonny yet?”

Theresa clung to him for a moment and shook her head. She was a delicate, very pretty woman, more American than Italian, and very scared. He took her hand and lifted her off the sofa. Then he led her into his father’s corner room office.

Sonny was sprawled out in his chair behind the desk holding a yellow pad in one hand and a pencil in the other. The only other man in the room with him was the caporegime Tessio, whom Michael recognized and immediately realized that it must be his men who were in the house and forming the new palace guard. He too had a pencil and pad in his hands.

When Sonny saw them he came from behind his desk and took Hagen’s wife in his arms. “Don’t worry, Theresa,” he said. “Tom’s OK. They just wanta give him the proposition, they said they’d turn him loose. He’s not on the operating end, he’s just our lawyer. There’s no reason for anybody to do him harm.”

He released Theresa and then to Michael’s surprise he too, got a hug and a kiss on the cheek. He pushed Sonny away and said grinning, “After I get used to you beating me up I gotta put up with this?” They had often fought when they were younger.

Sonny shrugged. “Listen, kid, I was worried when I couldn’t get ahold of you in that hick town. Not that I gave a crap if they knocked you off, but I didn’t like the idea of bringing the news to the old lady. I had to tell her about Pop.”

“How’d she take it?” Michael asked.

“Good,” Sonny said. “She’s been through it before. Me too. You were too young to know about it and then things got pretty smith while you were growing up.” He paused and then said, “She’s down at the hospital with the old man. He’s gonna pull through.”

“How about us going down?” Michael asked.

Sonny shook his head and said dryly, “I can’t leave this house until it’s all over.” The phone rang. Sonny picked it up and listened intently. While he was listening Michael sauntered over to the desk and glanced down at the yellow pad Sonny had been writing on. There was a list of seven names. The first three were Sollozzo, Phillip Tattaglia, and John Tattaglia. It struck Michael with full force that he had interrupted Sonny and Tessio as they were making up a list of men to be killed.

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