Книга The Godfather. Страница 72
“My wife was weeping before she fell asleep,” Don Corleone said. “Outside my window I saw my caporegimes coming to the house and it is midnight. So, Consigliere of mine, I think you should tell your Don what everyone knows.”
Hagen said quietly, “I didn’t tell Mama anything. I was about to come up and wake you and tell you the news myself. In another moment I would have come to waken you.”
Don Corleone said impassively, “But you needed a drink first.”
“Yes,” Hagen said.
“You’ve had your drink,” the Don said. “You can tell me now.” There was just the faintest hint of reproach for Hagen’s weakness.
“They shot Sonny on the causeway,” Hagen said. “He’s dead.”
Don Corleone blinked. For just the fraction of a second the wall of his will disintegrated and the draining of his physical strength was plain on his face. Then he recovered.
He clasped his hands in front of him on top of the desk and looked directly into Hagen’s eyes. “Tell me everything that happened,” he said. He held up one of his hands. “No, wait until Clemenza and Tessio arrive so you won’t have to tell it all again.”
It was only a few moments later that the two caporegimes were escorted into the room by a bodyguard. They saw at once that the Don knew about his son’s death because the Don stood up to receive them. They embraced him as old comrades were permitted to do. They all had a drink of anisette which Hagen poured them before he told them the story of that night.
Don Corleone asked only one question at the end. “Is it certain my son is dead?”
Clemenza answered. “Yes,” he said. “The bodyguards were of Santino’s regime but picked by me. I questioned them when they came to my house. They saw his body in the light of the tollhouse. He could not live with the wounds they saw. They place their lives in forfeit for what they say.”
Don Corleone accepted this final verdict without any sign of emotion except for a few moments of silence. Then he said, “None of you are to concern yourselves with this affair. None of you are to commit any acts of vengeance, none of you are to make any inquiries to track down the murderers of my son without my express command. There will be no further acts of war against the Five Families without my express and personal wish. Our Family will cease all business operations and cease to protect any of our business operations until after my son’s funeral. Then we will meet here again and decide what must be done. Tonight we must do what we can for Santino, we must bury him as a Christian. I will have friends of mine arrange things with the police and all other proper authorities. Clemenza, you will remain with me at all times as my bodyguard, you and the men of your regime. Tessio, you will guard all other members of my Family. Tom, I want you to call Amerigo Bonasera and tell him I will need his services at some time during this night. To wait for me at his establishment. It may be an hour, two hours, three hours. Do you all understand that?”
The three men nodded. Don Corleone said, “Clemenza, get some men and cars and wait for me. I will be ready in a few minutes. Tom, you did well. In the morning I want Constanzia with her mother. Make arrangements for her and her husband to live in the mall. Have Sandra’s friends, the women, go to her house to stay with her. My wife will go there also when I have spoken with her. My wife will tell her the misfortune and the women will arrange for the church to say their masses and prayers for his soul.”
The Don got up from his leather armchair. The other men rose with him and Clemenza and Tessio embraced him again. Hagen held the door open for the Don, who paused to look at him for a moment. Then the Don put his hand on Hagen’s cheek, embraced him quickly, and said, in Italian, “You’ve been a good son. You comfort me.” Telling Hagen that he had acted properly in this terrible time. The Don went up to his bedroom to speak to his wife. It was then that Hagen made the call to Amerigo Bonasera for the undertaker to redeem the favor he owed to the Corleones.
The death of Santino Corleone sent shock waves through the underworld of the nation. And when it became known that Don Corleone had risen from his sick bed to take charge of the Family affairs, when spies at the funeral reported that the Don seemed to be fully recovered, the heads of the Five Families made frantic efforts to prepare a defense against the bloody retaliatory war that was sure to follow. Nobody made the mistake of assuming that Don Corleone could be held cheaply because of his past misfortunes. He was a man who had made only a few mistakes in his career and had learned from every one of them.
Only Hagen guessed the Don’s real intentions and was not surprised when emissaries were sent to the Five Families to propose a peace. Not only to propose a peace but a meeting of all the Families in the city and with invitations to Families all over the United States to attend. Since the New York Families were the most powerful in the country, it was understood that their welfare affected the welfare of the country as a whole.
At first there were suspicions. Was Don Corleone preparing a trap? Was he trying to throw his enemies off their guard? Was he attempting to prepare a wholesale massacre to avenge his son? But Don Corleone soon made it clear that he was sincere. Not only did he involve all the Families in the country in this meeting, but made no move to put his own people on a war footing or to enlist allies. And then he took the final irrevocable step that established the authenticity of these intentions and assured the safety of the grand council to be assembled. He called on the services of the Bocchicchio Family.
The Bocchicchio Family was unique in that, once a particularly ferocious branch of the Mafia in Sicily, it had become an instrument of peace in America. Once a group of men who earned their living by a savage determination, they now earned their living in what perhaps could be called a saintly fashion. The Bocchicchios’ one asset was a closely knit structure of blood relationships, a family loyalty severe even for a society where family loyalty came before loyalty to a wife.
The Bocchicchio Family, extending out to third cousins, had once numbered nearly two hundred when they ruled the particular economy of a small section of southern Sicily. The income for the entire family then came from four or five flour mills, by no means owned communally, but assuring labor and bread and a minimal security for all Family members. This was enough, with intermarriages, for them to present a common front against their enemies.
No competing mill, no dam that would create a water supply to their competitors or ruin their own selling of water, was allowed to be built in their corner of Sicily. A powerful landowning baron once tried to erect his own mill strictly for his personal use. The mill was burned down. He called on the carabineri and higher authorities, who arrested three of the Bocchicchio Family. Even before the trial the manor house of the baron was torched. The indictment and accusations were withdrawn. A few months later one of the highest functionaries in the Italian government arrived in Sicily and tried to solve the chronic water shortage of that island by proposing a huge dam. Engineers arrived from Rome to do surveys while watched by grim natives, members of the Bocchicchio clan. Police flooded the area, housed in a specially built barracks.
It looked like nothing could stop the dam from being built and supplies and equipment had actually been unloaded in Palermo. That was as far as they got. The Bocchicchios had contacted fellow Mafia chiefs and extracted agreements for their aid. The heavy equipment was sabotaged, the lighter equipment stolen. Mafia deputies in the Italian Parliament launched a bureaucratic counterattack against the planners. This went on for several years and in that time Mussolini came to power. The dictator decreed that the dam must be built. It was not. The dictator had known that the Mafia would be a threat to his regime, forming what amounted to a separate authority from his own. He gave full powers to a high police official, who promptly solved the problem by throwing everybody into jail or deporting them to penal work islands. In a few short years he had broken the power of the Mafia, simply by arbitrarily arresting anyone even suspected of being a mafioso. And so also brought ruin to a great many innocent families.