Книга The Godfather. Страница 42
Johnny smiled at her and patted her cheek. His hand fell down to pull her skirt discreetly over her rounded silken knees. “I’m not sore,” he said. “It’s nice having an old-fashioned date.” Not telling what he felt: the relief at not having to prove himself a great lover, not having to live up to his screened, godlike image. Not having to listen to the girl trying to react as if he really had lived up to that image, making more out of a very simple, routine piece of ass than it really was.
They had another drink, shared a few more cool kisses and then she decided to go. Johnny said politely, “Can I call you for dinner some night?”
She played it frank and honest to the end. “I know you don’t want to waste your time and then get disappointed,” she said. “Thanks for a wonderful evening. Someday I’ll tell my children I had supper with the great Johnny Fontane all alone in his apartment.”
He smiled at her. “And that you didn’t give in,” he said. They both laughed. “They’ll never believe that,” she said. And then Johnny, being a little phony in his turn, said, “I’ll give it to you in writing, want me to?” She shook her head. He continued on. “Anybody doubts you, give me a buzz on the phone, I’ll straighten them right out. I’ll tell them how I chased you all around the apartment but you kept your honor. OK?”
He had, finally, been a little too cruel and he felt stricken at the hurt on her young face. She understood that he was telling her that he hadn’t tried too hard. He had taken the sweetness of her victory away from her. Now she would feel that it had been her lack of charm or attractiveness that had made her the victor this night. And being the girl she was, when she told the story of how she resisted the great Johnny Fontane, she would always have to add with a wry little smile, “Of course, he didn’t try very hard.” So now taking pity on her, he said, “If you ever feel real down, give me a ring. OK? I don’t have to shack up every girl I know.”
“I will,” she said. She went out the door.
He was left with a long evening before him. He could have used what Jack Woltz called the “meat factory,” the stable of willing starlets, but he wanted human companionship. He wanted to talk like a human being. He thought of his first wife, Virginia. Now that the work on the picture was finished he would have more time for the kids. He wanted to become part of their life again. And he worried about Virginia too. She wasn’t equipped to handle the Hollywood sharpies who might come after her just so that they could brag about having screwed Johnny Fontane’s first wife. As far as he knew, nobody could say that yet. Everybody could say it about his second wife though, he thought wryly. He picked up the phone.
He recognized her voice immediately and that was not surprising. He had heard it the first time when he was ten years old and they had been in 4B together. “Hi, Ginny,” he said, “you busy tonight? Can I come over for a little while?”
“All right,” she said. “The kids are sleeping though; I don’t want to wake them up.”
“That’s OK,” he said. “I just wanted to talk to you.”
Her voice hesitated slightly, then carefully controlled not to show any concern, she asked, “Is it anything serious, anything important?”
“No,” Johnny said. “I finished the picture today and I thought maybe I could just see you and talk to you. Maybe I could take a look at the kids if you’re sure they won’t wake up.”
“OK,” she said. “I’m glad you got that part you wanted.”
“Thanks,” he said. “I’ll see you in about a half hour.”
When he got to what had been his home in Beverly Hills, Johnny Fontane sat in the car for a moment staring at the house. He remembered what his Godfather had said, that he could make his own life what he wanted. Great chance if you knew what you wanted. But what did he want?
His first wife was waiting for him at the door. She was pretty, petite and brunette, a nice Italian girl, the girl next door who would never fool around with another man and that had been important to him. Did he still want her, he asked himself, and the answer was no. For one thing, he could no longer make love to her, their affection had grown too old. And there were some things, nothing to do with sex, she could never forgive him. But they were no longer enemies.
She made him coffee and served him homemade cookies in the living room. “Stretch out on the sofa,” she said, “you look tired.” He took off his jacket and his shoes and loosened his tie while she sat in the chair opposite him with a grave little smile on her face. “It’s funny,” she said.
“What’s funny?” he asked her, sipping coffee and spilling some of it on his shirt.
“The great Johnny Fontane stuck without a date,” she said.
“The great Johnny Fontane is lucky if he can even get it up anymore,” he said.
It was unusual for him to be so direct. Ginny asked, “Is there something really the matter?”
Johnny grinned at her. “I had a date with a girl in my apartment and she brushed me off. And you know, I was relieved.”
To his surprise he saw a look of anger pass over Ginny’s face. “Don’t worry about those little tramps,” she said. “She must have thought that was the way to get you interested in her.” And Johnny realized with amusement that Ginny was actually angry with the girl who had turned him down.
“Ah, what the hell,” he said. “I’m tired of that stuff. I have to grow up sometime. And now that I can’t sing anymore I guess I’ll have a tough time with dames. I never got in on my looks, you know.”
She said loyally, “You were always better looking than you photographed.”
Johnny shook his head. “I’m getting fat and I’m getting bald. Hell, if this picture doesn’t make me big again I better learn how to bake pizzas. Or maybe we’ll put you in the movies, you look great.”
She looked thirty-five. A good thirty-five, but thirty-five. And out here in Hollywood that might as well be a hundred. The young beautiful girls thronged through the city like lemmings, lasting one year, some two. Some of them so beautiful they could make a man’s heart almost stop beating until they opened their mouths, until the greedy hopes for success clouded the loveliness of their eyes. Ordinary women could never hope to compete with them on a physical level. And you could talk all you wanted to about charm, about intelligence, about chic, about poise, the raw beauty of these girls overpowered everything else. Perhaps if there were not so many of them there might be a chance for an ordinary, nice-looking woman. And since Johnny Fontane could have all of them, or nearly all of them, Ginny knew that he was saying all this just to flatter her. He had always been nice that way. He had always been polite to women even at the height of his fame, paying them compliments, holding lights for their cigarettes, opening doors. And since an this was usually done for him, it made it even more impressive to the girls he went out with. And he did it with all girls, even the one-night stands, I-don’t-know-your-name girls.
She smiled at him, a friendly smile. “You already made me, Johnny, remember? For twelve years. You don’t have to give me your line.”
He sighed and stretched out on the sofa. “No kidding, Ginny, you look good. I wish I looked that good.”
She didn’t answer him. She could see he was depressed. “Do you think the picture is OK? Will it do you some good?” she asked.
Johnny nodded. “Yeah. It could bring me all the way back. If I get the Academy thing and play my cards right, I can make it big again even without the singing. Then maybe I can give you and the kids more dough.”
“We have more than enough,” Ginny said.
“I wants see more of the kids too,” Johnny said. “I want to settle down a little bit. Why can’t I come every Friday night for dinner here? I swear I’ll never miss one Friday, I don’t care how far away I am or how busy I am. And then whenever I can I’ll spend weekends or maybe the kids can spend some part of their vacations with me.”