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Книга The Godfather. Страница 83

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She was immediately curious. “Oh, come on, tell me,” she said. “Come on.” It would be a delicious piece of gossip and one of the things about Juice was that she could show her feminine love of gossip without him making fun of it.

“I’ll tell you if you have dinner with me and spend the night with me,” Jules said. “We have a lot of lost time to make up for because of your silliness.”

Lucy felt an overwhelming affection to him for being so kind and she was able to say, “You don’t have to sleep with me, you know you won’t enjoy it the way I am now.”

Jules burst out laughing. “You dope, you incredible dope. Didn’t you ever hear of any other way of making love, far more ancient, far more civilized. Are you really that innocent?”

“Oh that,” she said..

“Oh that,” he mimicked her. “Nice girls don’t do that, manly men don’t do that. Even in the year 1948. Well, baby, I can take you to the house of a little old lady right here is Las Vegas who was the youngest madam of the most popular whorehouse in the wild west days, back is 1880, I think it was. She likes to talk about the old days. You know what she told me? That these gunslingers, those manly, virile, straight-shooting cowboys would always ask the girls for a ‘French,’ what we actors call fellatio, what you call ‘oh that.’ Did you ever think of doing ‘oh that’ with your beloved Sonny?”

For the first time she truly surprised him. She turned on him with what he could think of only as a Mona Lisa smile (his scientific mind immediately darting off on a tangent, could this be the solving of that centuries-old mystery?) and said quietly, “I did everything with Sonny.” It was the first time she had ever admitted anything like that to anyone.

Two weeks later Jules Segal stood in the operating room of the Los Angeles hospital and watched his friend Dr. Frederick Kellner perform the specialty. Before Lucy was put under anesthesia, Jules leaned over and whispered, “I told him you were my special girl so he’s going to put in some real tight walls.” But the preliminary pill had already made her dopey and she didn’t laugh or smile. His teasing remark did take away some of the terror of the operation.

Dr. Kellner made his incision with the confidence of a pool shark making an easy shot. The technique of any operation to strengthen the pelvic floor required the accomplishment of two objectives. The musculofibrous pelvic sling had to be shortened so that the slack was taken up. And of course the vaginal opening, the weak spot itself in the pelvic floor, had to be brought forward, brought under the pubic arch and so relieved from the line of direct pressure above. Repairing the pelvic sling was called perincorrhaphy. Suturing the vaginal wall was called colporrhaphy.

Jules saw that Dr. Kellner was working carefully now, the big danger in the cutting was going too deep and hitting the rectum. It was a fairly uncomplicated case, Jules had studied all the X rays and tests. Nothing should go wrong except that in surgery something could always go wrong.

Kellner was working on the diaphragm sling, the T forceps held the vaginal flap, and exposing the ani muscle and the fasci which formed its sheath. Kellner’s gauze-covered fingers were pushing aside loose connective tissue. Jules kept his eyes on the vaginal wall for the appearance of the veins, the telltale danger signal of injuring the rectum. But old Kellner knew his stuff. He was building a new snatch as easily as a carpenter nails together two-by-four studs.

Kenner was trimming away the excess vaginal wall using the fastening-down stitch to close the “bite” taken out of the tissue of the redundant angle, insuring that no troublesome projections would form. Kellner was trying to insert three fingers into the narrowed opening of the lumen, then two. He just managed to get two fingers in, probing deeply and for a moment he looked up at Jules and his china-blue eyes over the gauze mask twinkled as though asking if that was narrow enough. Then he was busy again with his sutures.

It was all over. They wheeled Lucy out to the recovery room and Jules talked to Kellner. Kellner was cheerful, the best sign that everything had gone well. “No complications at all, my boy,” he told Jules. “Nothing growing in there, very simple case. She has wonderful body tone, unusual in these cases and now she’s in first-class shape for fun and games. I envy you, my boy. Of course you’ll have to wait a little while but then I guarantee you’ll like my work.”

Jules laughed. “You’re a true Pygmalion, Doctor. Really, you were marvelous.”

Dr. Kellner grunted. “That’s all child’s play, like your abortions. If society would only be realistic, people like you and I, really talented people, could do important work and leave this stuff for the hacks. By the way, I’ll be sending you a girl next week, a very nice girl, they seem to be the ones who always get in trouble. That will make us all square for this job today.”

Jules shook his hand. “Thanks, Doctor. Come out yourself sometime and I’ll see that you get all the courtesies of the house.”

Kellner gave him a wry smile. “I gamble every day, I don’t need your roulette wheels and crap tables. I knock heads with fate too often as it is. You’re going to waste out there, Jules. Another couple of years and you can forget about serious surgery. You won’t be up to it.” He turned away.

Jules knew it was not meant as a reproach but as a warning. Yet it took the heart out of him anyway. Since Lucy wouldn’t be out of the recovery room for at least twelve hours, he went out on the town and got drunk. Part of getting drunk was his feeling of relief that everything had worker out so well with Lucy.

* * *

The next morning when he went to the hospital to visit her he was surprised to find two men at her bedside and flowers all over the room. Lucy was propped up on pillows, her face radiant. Jules was surprised because Lucy had broken with her family and had told him not to notify them unless something went wrong. Of course Freddie Corleone knew she was in the hospital for a minor operation; that had been necessary so that they both could get time off, and Freddie had told Jules that the hotel would pick up all the bills for Lucy.

Lucy was introducing them and one of the men Jules recognized instantly. The famous Johnny Fontane. The other was a big, muscular, snotty-looking Italian guy whose name was Nino Valenti. They both shook hands with Jules and then paid no further attention to him. They were kidding Lucy, talking about the old neighborhood in New York, about people and events Jules had no way of sharing. So he said to Lucy, “I’ll drop by later, I have to see Dr. Kellner anyway.”

But Johnny Fontane was turning the charm on him. “Hey, buddy, we have to leave ourselves, you keep Lucy company. Take good care of her, Doc.” Jules noticed a peculiar hoarseness in Johnny Fontane’s voice and remembered suddenly that the man hadn’t sung in public for over a year now, that he had won the Academy Award for his acting. Could the man’s voice have changed so late in life and the papers keeping it a secret, everybody keeping it a secret? Jules loved inside gossip and kept listening to Fontane’s voice in an attempt to diagnose the trouble. It could be simple strain, or too much booze and cigarettes or even too much women. The voice had an ugly timbre to it, he could never be called the sweet crooner anymore.

“You sound like you have a cold,” Jules said to Johnny Fontane.

Fontane said politely, “Just strain, I tried to sing last night. I guess I just can’t accept the fact that my voice changed, getting old you know.” He gave Jules a what-the-hell grin.

Jules said casually, “Didn’t you get a doctor to look at it? Maybe it’s something that can be fixed.”

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