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Книга The Godfather. Страница 78

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Corleone turned to the massive Clemenza. The caporegime nodded. “I released them. Tell me, Godfather, is it possible for a Sicilian to be as dumb as the Bocchicchios pretend to be?”

Don Corleone smiled a little. “They are clever enough to make a good living. Why is it so necessary to be more clever than that? It’s not the Bocchicchios who cause the troubles of this world. But it’s true, they haven’t got the Sicilian head.”

They were all in a relaxed mood, now that the war was over. Don Corleone himself mixed drinks and brought one to each man. The Don sipped his carefully and lit up a cigar.

“I want nothing set forth to discover what happened to Sonny, that’s done with and to be forgotten. I want all cooperation with the other Families even if they become a little greedy and we don’t get our proper share in this. I want nothing to break this peace no matter what the provocation until we’ve found a way to bring Michael home. And I want that to be first thing on your minds. Remember this, when he comes back he must come back in absolute safety. I don’t mean from the Tattaglias or the Barzinis. What I’m concerned about are the police. Sure, we can get rid of the real evidence against him; that waiter won’t testify, nor that spectator or gunman or whatever he was. The real evidence is the least of our worries since we know about it. What we have to worry about is the police framing false evidence because their informers have assured them that Michael Corleone is the man who killed their captain. Very well. We have to demand that the Five Families do everything in their power to correct this belief of the police. All their informers who work with the police must come up with new stories. I think after my speech this afternoon they will understand it is to their interest to do so. But that’s not enough. We have to come up with something special so Michael won’t ever have to worry about that again. Otherwise there’s no point in him coming back to this country. So let’s all think about that. That’s the most importunt matter.

“Now, any man should be allowed one foolishness in his life. I have had mine. I want all the land around the mall bought, the houses bought. I don’t want any man able to look out his window into my garden even if it’s a mile away. I want a fence around the mall and I want the mall to be on full protection all the time. I want a gate in that fence. In short, I wish now to live in a fortress. Let me say to you now that I will never go into the city to work again. I will be semiretired. I feel an urge to work in the garden, to make a little wine when the grapes are in season. I want to live in my house. The only time I’ll leave is to go on a little vacation or to see someone on important business and then I want all precautions taken. Now don’t take this amiss. I’m not preparing anything. I’m being prudent, I’ve always been a prudent man, there is nothing I find so little to my taste as carelessness in life. Women and children can afford to be careless, men cannot. Be leisurely in all these things, no frantic preparations to alarm our friends. It can be done in such a way as to seem natural.

“Now I’m going to leave things more and more up to each of you three. I want the Santino regime disbanded and the men placed in your regimes. That should reassure our friends and show that I mean peace. Tom, I want you to put together a group of men who will go to Las Vegas and give me a full report on what is going on out there. Tell me about Fredo, what is really happening out there, I hear I wouldn’t recognize my own son. It seems he’s a cook now, that be amuses himself with young girls more than a grown man should. Well, he was always too serious when he was young and he was never the man for Family business. But let’s find out what really can be done out there.”

Hagen said quietly, “Should we send your son-in-law? After all, Carlo is a native of Nevada, he knows his way around.”

Don Corleone shook his head. “No, my wife is lonely here without any of her children. I want Constanzia and her husband moved into one of the houses on the mall. I want Carlo given a responsible job, maybe I’ve been too harsh on him, and”— Don Corleone made a grimace— “I’m short of sons. Take him out of the gambling and put him in with the unions where he can do some paper work and a lot of talking. He’s a good talker.” There was the tiniest note of contempt in the Don’s voice.

Hagen nodded. “OK, Clemenza and I will go over all the people and put together a group to do the Vegas job. Do you want me to call Freddie home for a few days?”

The Don shook his head. He said cruelly, “What for? My wife can still cook our meals. Let him stay out there.” The three men shifted uneasily in their seats. They had not realized Freddie was in such severe disfavor with his father and they suspected it must be because of something they did not know.

Don Corleone sighed. “I hope to grow some good green peppers and tomatoes in the garden this year, more than we can eat. I’ll make you presents of them. I want a little peace, a little quiet and tranquillity for my old age. Well, that’s all. Have another drink if you like.”

It was a dismissal. The men rose. Hagen accompanied Clemenza and Tessio to their cars and arranged meetings with them to thrash out the operational details that would accomplish the stated desires of their Don. Then he went back into the house where he knew Don Conrleone world be waiting for him.

The Don had taken off his jacket and tie and was lying down on the couch. His stern face was relaxed into lines of fatigue. He waved Hagen into a chair and said, “Well, Consigliere, do you disapprove of any of my deeds today?”

Hagen took his time answering. “No,” he said. “But I don’t find it consistent, nor true to your nature. You say you don’t want to find out how Santino was killed or want vengeance for it. I don’t believe that. You gave your word for peace and so you’ll keep the peace but I can’t believe you will give your enemies the victory they seem to have won today. You’ve constructed a magnificent riddle that I can’t solve, so how can I approve or disapprove?”

A look of content came over the Don’s face. “Well, you know me better than anyone else. Even though you’re not a Sicilian, I made you one. Everything you say is true, but there’s a solution and you’ll comprehend it before it spins out to the end. You agree everyone has to take my word and I’ll keep my word. And I want my orders obeyed exactly. But, Tom, the most important thing is we have to get Michael home as soon as possible. Make that first in your mind and in your work. Explore all the legal alleys, I don’t care how much money you have to spend. It has to be foolproof when he comes home. Consult the best lawyers on criminal law. I’ll give you the names of some judges who will give you a private audience. Until that time we have to guard against all treacheries.”

Hagen said, “Like you, I’m not worried so much about the real evidence as the evidence they will manufacture. Also some police friend may kill Michael after he’s arrested. They may kill him in his cell or have one of the prisoners do it. As I see it, we can’t even afford to have him arrested or accused.”

Don Corleone sighed. “I know, I know. That’s the difficulty. But we can’t take too long. There are troubles in Sicily. The young fellows over there don’t listen to their elders anymore and a lot of the men deported from America are just too much for the old-fashioned Dons to handle. Michael could get caught in between. I’ve taken some precautions against that and he’s still got a good cover but that cover won’t last forever. That’s one of the reasons I had to make the peace. Barzini has friends in Sicily and they were beginning to sniff Michael’s trail. That gives you one of the answers to your riddle. I had to make the peace to insure my son’s safety. There was nothing else to do.”

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