Книга The Godfather. Страница 60
Of course the matter was easily adjusted. Don Corleone sent his Consigliere, Genco Abbandando, to speak to the wholesaler, and as was to be expected, that wide-awake businessman caught the drift immediately and arranged for Nazorine to get his furniture. But it was an interesting lesson for the young Vito Corleone.
The second incident had more far-reaching repercussions. In 1939, Don Corleone had decided to move his family out of the city. Like any other parent he wanted his children to go to better schools and mix with better companions. For his own personal reasons he wanted the anonymity of suburban life where his reputation was not known. He bought the mall property in Long Beach, which at that time had only four newly built houses but with plenty of room for more. Sonny was formally engaged to Sandra and would soon marry, one of the houses would be for him. One of the houses was for the Don. Another was for Genco Abbandando and his family. The other was kept vacant at the time.
A week after the mall was occupied, a group of three workmen came in all innocence with their truck. They claimed to be furnace inspectors for the town of Long Beach. One of the Don’s young bodyguards let the men in and led them to the furnace in the basement. The Don, his wife and Sonny were in the garden taking their ease and enjoying the salty sea air.
Much to the Don’s annoyance he was summoned into the house by his bodyguard. The three workmen, all big burly fellows, were grouped around the furnace. They had taken it apart, it was strewn around the cement basement floor. Their leader, an authoritative man, said to the Don in a gruff voice, “Your furnace is in lousy shape. If you want us to fix it and put it together again, it’ll cost you one hundred fifty dollars for labor and parts and then we’ll pass you for county inspection.” He took out a red paper label. “We stamp this seal on it, see, then nobody from the county bothers you again.”
The Don was amused. It had been a boring, quiet week in which he had had to neglect his business to take care of such family details moving to a new house entailed. In more broken English than his usual slight accent he asked, “If I don’t pay you, what happens to my furnace?”
The leader of the three men shrugged. “We just leave the furnace the way it is now.” He gestured at the metal parts strewn over the floor.
The Don said meekly, “Wait, I’ll get you your money.” Then he went out into the garden and said to Sonny, “Listen, there’s some men working on the furnace, I don’t understand what they want. Go in and take care of the matter.” It was not simply a joke; he was considering making his son his underboss. This was one of the tests a business executive had to pass.
Sonny’s solution did not altogether please his father. It was too direct, too lacking in Sicilian subtleness. He was the Club, not the Rapier. For as soon as Sonny heard the leader’s demand he held the three men at gunpoint and had them thoroughly bastinadoed by the bodyguards. Then he made them put the furnace together again and tidy up the basement. He searched them and found that they actually were employed by a house-improvement firm with headquarters in Suffolk County. He learned the name of the man who owned the firm. Then he kicked the three men to their truck. “Don’t let me see you in Long Beach again,” he told them. “I’ll have your balls hanging from your ears.”
It was typical of the young Santino, before he became older and crueler, that he extended his protection to the community he lived in. Sonny paid a personal call to the home-improvement firm owner and told him not to send any of his men into the Long Beach area ever again. As soon as the Corleone Family set up their usual business liaison with the local police force they were informed of all such complaints and all crimes by professional criminals. In less than a year Long Beach became the most crime-free town of its size in the United States. Professional stickup artists and strong-arms received one warning not to ply their trade in the town. They were allowed one offense. When they committed a second they simply disappeared. The flimflam home-improvement gyp artists, the door-to-door con men were politely warned that they were not welcome in Long Beach. Those confident con men who disregarded the warning were beaten within an inch of their lives. Resident young punks who had no respect for law and proper authority were advised in the most fatherly fashion to run away from home. Long Beach became a model city.
What impressed the Don was the legal validity of these sales swindles. Clearly there was a place for a man of his talents in that other world which had been closed to him as an honest youth. He took appropriate steps to enter that world.
And so he lived happily on the mall in Long Beach, consolidating and enlarging his empire, until after the war was over, the Turk Sollozzo broke the peace and plunged the Don’s world into its own war, and brought him to his hospital bed.
In the New Hampshire village, every foreign phenomenon was properly noticed by housewives peering from windows, storekeepers lounging behind their doors. And so when the black automobile bearing New York license plates stopped in front of the Adams’ home, every citizen knew about it in a matter of minutes.
Kay Adams, really a small-town girl despite her college education, was also peering from her bedroom window. She had been studying for her exams and preparing to go downstairs for lunch when she spotted the car coming up the street, and for some reason she was not surprised when it rolled to a halt in front of her lawn. Two men got out, big burly men who looked like gangsters in the movies to her eyes, and she flew down the stairs to be the first at the door. She was sure they came from Michael or his family and she didn’t want them talking to her father and mother without any introduction. It wasn’t that she was ashamed of any of Mike’s friends, she thought; it was just that her mother and father were old-fashioned New England Yankees and wouldn’t understand her even knowing such people.
She got to the door just as the bell rang and she called to her mother, “I’ll get it.” She opened the door and the two big men stood there. One reached inside his breast pocket like a gangster reaching for a gun and the move so surprised Kay that she let out a little gasp but the man had taken out a small leather case which he flapped open to show an identification card. “I’m Detective John Phillips from the New York Police Department,” he said. He motioned to the other man, a dark-complexioned man with very thick, very black eyebrows. “This is my partner, Detective Siriani. Are you Miss Kay Adams?”
Kay nodded. Phillips said, “May we come in and talk to you for a few minutes. It’s about Michael Corleone.”
She stood aside to let them in. At that moment her father appeared in the small side hall that led to his study. “Kay, what is it?” he asked.
Her father was a gray-haired, slender, distinguished-looking man who not only was the pastor of the town Baptist church but had a reputation in religious circles as a scholar. Kay really didn’t know her father well, he puzzled her, but she knew he loved her even if he gave the impression he found her uninteresting as a person. Though they had never been close, she trusted him. So she said simply, “These men are detectives from New York. They want to ask me questions about a boy I know.”
Mr. Adams didn’t seem surprised. “Why don’t we go into my study?” he said.
Detective Phillips said gently, “We’d rather talk to your daughter alone, Mr. Adams.”
Mr. Adams said courteously, “That depends on Kay, I think. My dear, would-you rather speak to these gentlemen alone or would you prefer to have me present? Or perhaps your mother?”