Книга The Godfather. Страница 35
All four heads turned and stared at him. Clemenza and Tessio were gravely astonished. Hagen looked a little sad but not surprised. He started to speak and thought better of it. But Sonny, his heavy Cupid’s face twitching with mirth, suddenly broke out in loud roars of laughter. It was deep belly laughter, not faking. He was really breaking up. He pointed a finger at Michael, trying to speak through gasps of mirth. “You, the high-class college kid, you never wanted to get mixed up in the Family business. Now you wanta kill a police captain and the Turk just because you got your face smashed by McCluskey. You’re taking it personal, it’s just business and you’re taking it personal. You wanta kill these two guys just because you got slapped in the face. It was all a lot of crap. All these years it was just a lot of crap.”
Clemenza and Tessio, completely misunderstanding, thinking that Sonny was laughing at his young brother’s bravado for making such an offer, were also smiling broadly and a little patronizingly at Michael. Only Hagen warily kept his face impassive.
Michael looked around at all of them, then stared at Sonny, who still couldn’t stop laughing. “You’ll take both of them?” Sonny said. “Hey, kid, they won’t give you medals, they put you in the electric chair. You know that? This is no hero business, kid, you don’t shoot people from a mile away. You shoot when you see the whites of their eyes like we got taught in school, remember? You gotta stand right next to them and blow their heads off and their brains get all over your nice Ivy League suit. How about that, kid, you wanta do that just because some dumb cop slapped you around?” He was still laughing.
Michael stood up. “You’d better stop laughing,” he said. The change in him was so extraordinary that the smiles vanished from the faces of Clemenza and Tessio. Michael was not tall or heavily built but his presence seemed to radiate danger. In that moment he was a reincarnation of Don Corleone himself. His eyes had gone a pale tan and his face was bleached of color. He seemed at any moment about to fling himself on his older and stronger brother. There was no doubt that if he had had a weapon in his hands Sonny would have been in danger. Sonny stopped laughing, and Michael said to him in a cold deadly voice, “Don’t you think I can do it, you son of a bitch?”
Sonny had got over his laughing fit. “I know you can do it,” he said. “I wasn’t laughing at what you said. I was just laughing at how funny things turn out. I always said you were the toughest one in the Family, tougher than the Don himself. You were the only one who could stand off the old man. I remember you when you were a kid. What a temper you had then. Hell, you even used to fight me and I was a lot older than you. And Freddie had to beat the shit out of you at least once a week. And now Sollozzo has you figured for the soft touch in the Family because you let McCluskey hit you without fighting back and you wouldn’t get mixed up in the Family fights. He figures he got nothing to worry about if he meets you head to head. And McCluskey too, he’s got you figured for a yellow guinea.” Sonny paused and then said softly, “But you’re a Corleone after all, you son of a bitch. And I was the only one who knew it. I’ve been sitting here waiting for the last three days, ever since the old man got shot, waiting for you to crack out of that Ivy League, war hero bullshit character you’ve been wearing. I’ve been waiting for you to become my right arm so we can kill those fucks that are trying to destroy our father and our Family. And all it took was a sock on the jaw. How do you like that?” Sonny made a comical gesture, a punch, and repeated, “How do you like that?”
The tension had relaxed in the room. Mike shook his head. “Sonny, I’m doing it because it’s the only thing to do. I can’t give Sollozzo another crack at the old man. I seem to be the only one who can get close enough to him. And I figured it out. I don’t think you can get anybody else to knock off a police captain. Maybe you would do it, Sonny, but you have a wife and kids and you have to run the Family business until the old man is in shape. So that leaves me and Freddie. Freddie is in shock and out of action. Finally that leaves just me. It’s all logic. The sock on the jaw had nothing to do with it.”
Sonny came over and embraced him. “I don’t give a damn what your reasons are, just so long as you’re with us now. And I’ll tell you another thing, you’re right all the way. Tom, what’s your say?”
Hagen shrugged. “The reasoning is solid. What makes it so is that I don’t think the Turk is sincere about a deal. I think he’ll still try to get at the Don. Anyway on his past performance that’s how we have to figure him. So we try to get Sollozzo. We get him even if we have to get the police captain. But whoever does the job is going to get an awful lot of heat. Does it have to be Mike?”
Sonny said softly, “I could do it.”
Hagen shook his head impatiently. “Sollozzo wouldn’t let you get within a mile of him if he had ten police captains. And besides you’re the acting head of the Family. You can’t be risked.” Hagen paused and said to Clemenza and Tessio, “Do either one of you have a top button man, someone really special, who would take on this job? He wouldn’t have to worry about money for the rest of his life.”
Clemenza spoke first. “Nobody that Sollozzo wouldn’t know, he’d catch on right away. He’d catch on if me or Tessio went too.”
Hagen said, “What about somebody really tough who hasn’t made his rep yet, a good rookie?”
Both caporegimes shook their heads. Tessio smiled to take the sting out of his words and said, “That’s like bringing a guy up from the minors to pitch the World Series.”
Sonny broke in curtly, “It has to be Mike. For a million different reasons. Most important they got him down as faggy. And he can do the job, I guarantee that, and that’s important because this is the only shot we’ll get at that sneaky bastard Turk. So now we have to figure out the best way to back him up. Tom, Clemenza, Tessio, find out where Sollozzo will take him for the conference, I don’t care how much it costs. When we find that out we can figure out how we can get a weapon into his hands. Clemenza, I want you to get him a really ‘safe’ gun out of your collection, the ‘coldest’ one you got. Impossible to trace. Try to make it short barrel with a lot of blasting power. It doesn’t have to be accurate. He’ll be right on top of them when he uses it. Mike, as soon as you’ve used the gun, drop it on the floor. Don’t be caught with it on you. Clemenza, tape the barrel and the trigger with that special stuff you got so he won’t leave prints. Remember, Mike, we can square everything, witnesses, and so forth, but if they catch you with the gun on you we can’t square that. We’ll have transportation and protection and then we’ll make you disappear for a nice long vacation until the heat wears off. You’ll be gone a long time, Mike, but I don’t want you saying good-bye to your girl friend or even calling her. After it’s all over and you’re out of the country I’ll send her word that you’re OK. Those are orders.” Sonny smiled at his brother. “Now stick with Clemenza and get used to handling the gun he picks out for you. Maybe even practice a little. We’ll take care of everything else. Everything. OK, kid?”
Again Michael Corleone felt that delicious refreshing chilliness all over his body. He said to his brother, “You didn’t have to give me that crap about not talking to my girl friend about something like this. What the hell did you think I was going to do, call her up to say good-bye?”
Sonny said hastily, “OK, but you’re still a rookie so I spell things out. Forget it.”
Michael said with a grin, “What the hell do you mean, a rookie? I listened to the old man just as hard as you did. How do you think I got so smart?” They both laughed.