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Книга The Godfather. Страница 71

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And so she let Tom Hagen escape to his corner conference room and once in that room, Hagen began to tremble so violently he had to sit down with his legs squeezed together, his head hunched into his contracted shoulders, hands clasped together between his knees as if he were praying to the devil.

He was, he knew now, no fit Consigliere for a Family at war. He had been fooled, faked out, by the Five Families and their seeming timidity. They had remained quiet, laying their terrible ambush. They had planned and waited, holding their bloody hands no matter what provocation they had been given. They had waited to land one terrible blow. And they had. Old Genco Abbandando would never have fallen for it, he would have smelled a rat, he would have smoked them out, tripled his precautions. And through all this Hagen felt his grief. Sonny had been his true brother, his savior; his hero when they had been boys together. Sonny had never been mean or bullying with him, had always treated him with affection, had taken him in his arms when Sollozzo had turned him loose. Sonny’s joy at that reunion had been real. That he had grown up to be a cruel and violent and bloody man was, for Hagen, not relevant.

He had walked out of the kitchen because he knew he could never tell Mama Corleone about her son’s death. He had never thought of her as his mother as he thought of the Don as his father and Sonny as his brother. His affection for her was like his affection for Freddie and Michael and Connie. The affection for someone who has been kind but not loving. But he could not tell her. In a few short months she had lost all her sons; Freddie exiled to Nevada, Michael hiding for his life in Sicily, and now Santino dead. Which of the three had she loved most of all? She had never shown.

It was no more than a few minutes. Hagen got control of himself again and picked up the phone. He called Connie’s number. It rang for a long time before Connie answered in a whisper.

Hagen spoke to her gentiy. “Connie, this is Tom. Wake your husband up, I have to talk to him.”

Connie said in a low frightened voice, “Tom, is Sonny coming here?”

“No,” Hagen said. “Sonny’s not coming there. Don’t worry about that. Just wake Carlo up and tell him it’s very important I speak to him.”

Connie’s voice was weepy. “Tom, he beat me up, I’m afraid he’ll hurt me again if he knows I called home.”

Hagen said gently, “He won’t. He’ll talk to me and I’ll straighten him out. Everything will be OK. Tell him it’s very important, very, very important he come to the phone. OK?”

It was almost five minutes before Carlo’s voice came over the phone, a voice half slurred by whiskey and sleep. Hagen spoke sharply to make him alert.

“Listen, Carlo,” he said, “I’m going to tell you something very shocking. Now prepare yourself because when I tell it to you I want you to answer me very casually as if it’s less than it is. I told Connie it was important so you have to give her a story. Tell her the Family has decided to move you both to one of the houses in the mall and to give you a big job. That the Don has finally decided to give you a chance in the hope of making your home life better. You got that?”

There was a hopeful note in Carlo’s voice as he answered, “Yeah, OK.”

Hagen went on, “In a few minutes a couple of my men are going to knock on your door to take you away with them. Tell them I want them to call me first. Just tell them that. Don’t say anything else. I’ll instruct them to leave you there with Connie. OK?”

“Yeah, yeah, I got it,” Carlo said. His voice was excited. The tension in Hagen’s voice seemed to have finally alerted him that the news coming up was going to be really important.

Hagen gave it to him straight. “They killed Sonny tonight. Don’t say anything. Connie called him while you were asleep and he was on his way over there, but I don’t want her to know that, even if she guesses it, I don’t want her to know it for sure. She’ll start thinking it’s all her fault. Now I want you to stay with her tonight and not tell her anything. I want you to make up with her. I want you to be the perfect loving husband. And I want you to stay that way until she has her baby at least. Tomorrow morning somebody, maybe you, maybe the Don, maybe her mother, will tell Connie that her brother got killed. And I want you by her side. Do me this favor and I’ll take care of you in the times to come. You got that?”

Carlo’s voice was a little shaky. “Sure, Tom, sure. Listen, me and you always got along. I’m grateful. Understand?”

“Yeah,” Hagen said. “Nobody will blame your fight with Connie for causing this, don’t worry about that. I’ll take care of that.” He paused and softly, encouragingly, “Go ahead now, take care of Connie.” He broke the connection.

He had learned never to make a threat, the Don had taught him that, but Carlo had gotten the message all right: he was a hair away from death.

Hagen made another call to Tessio, telling him to come to the mall in Long Beach immediately. He didn’t say why and Tessio did not ask. Hagen sighed. Now would come the part he dreaded.

He would have to waken the Don from his drugged slumber. He would have to tell the man he most loved in the world that he had failed him, that he had failed to guard his domain and the life of his eldest son. He would have to tell the Don everything was lost unless the sick man himself could enter the battle. For Hagen did not delude himself. Only the great Don himself could snatch even a stalemate from this terrible defeat. Hagen didn’t even bother checking with Don Corleone’s doctors, it would be to no purpose. No matter what the doctors ordered, even if they told him that the Don could not rise from his sickbed on pain of death, he must tell his adoptive father and then follow him. And of course there was no question about what the Don would do. The opinions of medical men were irrelevant now, everything was irrelevant now. The Don must be told and he must either take command or order Hagen to surrender the Corleone power to the Five Families.

And yet with all his heart, Hagen dreaded the next hour. He tried to prepare his own manner. He would have to be in all ways strict with his own guilt. To reproach himself would only add to the Don’s burden. To show his own grief would only sharpen the grief of the Don. To point out his own shortcomings as a wartime Consigliere, would only make the Don reproach himself for his own bad judgment for picking such a man for such an important post.

He must, Hagen knew, tell the news, present his analysis of what must be done to rectify the situation and then keep silent. His reactions thereafter must be the reactions invited by his Don. If the Don wanted him to show guilt, he would show guilt; if the Don invited grief, he would lay bare his genuine sorrow.

Hagen lifted his head at the sound of motors, cars rolling up onto the mall. The caporegimes were arriving. He would brief them first and then he would go up and wake Don Corleone. He got up and went to the liquor cabinet by the desk and took out a glass and bottle. He stood there for a moment so unnerved he could not pour the liquid from bottle to glass. Behind him, he heard the door to the room close softly and, turning, he saw, fully dressed for the first time since he had been shot, Don Corleone.

The Don walked across the room to his huge leather armchair and sat down. He walked a little stiffly, his clothes hung a little loosely on his frame but to Hagen’s eyes he looked the same as always. It was almost as if by his will alone the Don had discarded all external evidence of his still weakened frame. His fact was sternly set with all its old force and strength. He sat straight in the armchair and he said to Hagen, “Give me a drop of anisette.”

Hagen switched bottles and poured them both a portion of the fiery, licorice-tasting alcohol. It was peasant, homemade stuff, much stronger than that sold in stores, the gift of an old friend who every year presented the Don with a small truckload.

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