Книга The Godfather. Страница 88
As for Michael Corleone, he found himself standing, his heart pounding in his chest; he felt a little dizzy. The blood was surging through his body, through all its extremities and pounding against the tips of his fingers, the tips of his toes. All the perfumes of the island came rushing in on the wind, orange, lemon blossoms, grapes, flowers. It seemed as if his body had sprung away from him out of himself. And then he heard the two shepherds laughing.
“You got hit by the thunderbolt, eh?” Fabrizzio said, clapping him on the shoulder. Even Calo became friendly, patting him on the arm and saying, “Easy, man, easy,” but with affection. As if Michael had been hit by a car. Fabrizzio handed him a wine bottle and Michael took a long slug. It cleared his head.
“What the hell are you damn sheep lovers talking about?” he said.
Both men laughed. Calo, his honest face filled with the utmost seriousness, said, “You can’t hide the thunderbolt. When it hits you, everybody can see it. Christ, man, don’t be ashamed of it, some men pray for the thunderbolt. You’re a lucky fellow.”
Michael wasn’t too pleased about his emotions being so easily read. But this was the first time in his life such a thing had happened to him. It was nothing like his adolescent crushes, it was nothing like the love he’d had for Kay, a love based as much on her sweetness, her intelligence and the polarity of the fair and dark. This was an overwhelming desire for possession, this was an unerasable printing of the girl’s face on his brain and he knew she would haunt his memory every day of his life if he did not possess her. His life had become simplified, focused on one point, everything else was unworthy of even a moment’s attention. During his exile he had always thought of Kay, though he felt they could never again be lovers or even friends. He was, after all was said, a murderer, a Mafioso who had “made his bones.” But now Kay was wiped completely out of his consciousness.
Fabrizzio said briskly, “I’ll go to the village, we’ll find out about her. Who knows, she may be more available than we think. There’s only one cure for the thunderbolt, eh, Calo?”
The other shepherd nodded his head gravely. Michael didn’t say anything. He followed the two shepherds as they started down tie road to the nearby village into which the flock of girls had disappeared.
The village was grouped around the usual central square with its fountain. But it was on a main route so there were some stores, wine shops and one little cafe with three tables out on a small terrace. The shepherds sat at one of the tables and Michael joined them. There was no sign of the girls, not a trace. The village seemed deserted except for small boys and a meandering donkey.
The proprietor of the cafe came to serve them. He was a short, burly man, almost dwarfish but he greeted them cheerfully and set a dish of chickpeas at their table. “You’re strangers here,” he said, “so let me advise you. Try my wine. The grapes come from my own farm and it’s made by my sons themselves. They mix it with oranges and lemons. It’s the best wine in Italy.”
They let him bring the wine in a jug and it was even better than he claimed, dark purple and as powerful as a brandy. Fabrizzo said to the cafe proprietor, “You know all the girls here, I’ll bet. We saw some beauties coming down the road, one in particular got our friend here hit with the thunderbolt.” He motioned to Michael.
The cafe owner looked at Michael with new interest. The cracked face had seemed quite ordinary to him before, not worth a second glance. But a man hit with the thunderbolt was another matter. “You had better bring a few bottles home with you, my friend,” he said. “You’ll need help in getting to sleep tonight.”
Michael asked the man, “Do you know a girl with her hair all curly? Very creamy skin, very big eyes, very dark eyes. Do you know a girl like that in the village?”
The cafe owner said curdy, “No. I don’t know any girl like that.” He vanished from the terrace into his cafe.
The three men drank their wine slowly, finished off the jug and called for more. The owner did not reappear. Fabrizzio went into the cafe after him. When Fabrizzio came out he grimaced and said to Michael, “Just as I thought, it’s his daughter we were talking about and now he’s in the back boiling up his blood to do us a mischief. I think we’d better start walking toward Corleone.”
Despite his months on the island Michael still could not get used to the Sicilian touchiness on matters of sex, and this was extreme even for a Sicilian. But the two shepherds seemed to take it as a matter of course. They were waiting for him to leave. Fabrizzio said, “The old bastard mentioned he has two sons, big tough lads that he has only to whistle up. Let’s get going.”
Michael gave him a cold stare. Up to now he had been a quiet, gentle young man, a typical American, except that since he was hiding in Sicily he must have done something manly. This was the first time the shepherds had seen the Corleone stare. Don Tommasino, knowing Michael’s true identity and deed, had always been wary of him, treating him as a fellow “man of respect.” But these unsophisticated sheep herders had come to their own opinion of Michael, and not a wise one. The cold look, Michael’s rigid white face, his anger that came off him like cold smoke off ice, sobered their laughter and snuffed out their familiar friendliness.
When he saw he had their proper, respectful attention Michael said to them, “Get that man out here to me.”
They didn’t hesitate. They shouldered their luparas and went into the dark coolness of the cafe. A few seconds later they reappeared with the cafe owner between them. The stubby man looked in no way frightened but his anger had a certain wariness about it.
Michael leaned back in his chair and studied the man for a moment. Then he said very quietly, “I understand I’ve offended you by talking about your daughter. I offer you my apologies, I’m a stranger in this country, i don’t know the customs that well. Let me say this. I meant no disrespect to you or her.”
The shepherd bodyguards were impressed. Michael’s voice had never sounded like this before when speaking to them. There was command and authority in it though he was making an apology. The cafe owner shrugged, more wary still, knowing he was not dealing with some farmboy. “Who are you and what do you want from my daughter?”
Without even hesitating Michael said, “I am an American hiding in Sicily, from the police of my country. My name is Michael. You can inform the police and make your fortune but then your daughter would lose a father rather than gain a husband. In any case I want to meet your daughter. With your permission and under the supervision of your family. With all decorum. With all respect. I’m an honorable man and I don’t think of dishonoring your daughter. I want to meet her, talk to her and then if it hits us both right we’ll marry. If not, you’ll never see me again. She may find me unsympathetic after all, and no man can remedy that. But when the proper time comes I’ll tell you everything about me that a wife’s father should know.”
All three men were looking at him with amazement. Fabrizzio whispered in awe, “It’s the real thunderbolt.” The cafe owner, for the first time, didn’t look so confident, or contemptuous; his anger was not so sure. Finally he asked, “Are you a friend of the friends?”
Since the word Mafia could never be uttered aloud by the ordinary Sicilian, this was as close as the cafe owner could come to asking if Michael was a member of the Mafia. It was the usual way of asking if someone belonged but it was ordinarily not addressed to the person directly concerned.
“No,” Michael said. “I’m a stranger in this country.”
The cafe owner gave him another look, the smashed left side of his face, the long legs rare in Sicily. He took a look at the two shepherds carrying their luparas quite openly without fear and remembered how they had come into his cafe and told him their padrone wanted to talk to him. The cafe owner had snarled that he wanted the son of a bitch out of his terrace and one of the shepherds had said, “Take my word, it’s best you go out and speak to him yourself.” And something had made him come out. Now something made him realize that it would be best to show this stranger some courtesy. He said grudgingly, “Come Sunday afternoon. My name is Vitelli and my house is up there on the hill, above the village. But come here to the cafe and I’ll take you up.”