Книга The Godfather. Страница 96
“Marvelous,” Kay said. “But you sort of skipped ones the widow part.”
“There’s not much chance of that. I just mentioned it to give a fair presentation.” Michael patted his nose with the handkerchief.
“I can’t believe it, I can’t believe you’re a man like that, you’re just not,” Kay said. Her face had a bewildered look. “I just don’t understand the whole thing, how it could possibly be.”
“Well, I’m not giving any more explanations,” Michael said gently. “You know, you don’t have to think about any of this stuff, it has nothing to do with you really, or with our life together if we get married.”
Kay shook her head. “How can you want to marry me, how can you hint that you love me, you never say the word but you just now said you loved your father, you never said you loved me, how could you if you distrust me so much you can’t tell me about the most important things in your life? How can you want to have a wife you can’t trust? Your father trusts your mother. I know that.”
“Sure,” Michael said. “But that doesn’t mean he tells her everything. And, you know, he has reason to trust her. Not because they got married and she’s his wife. But she bore him four children in times when it was not that safe to bear children. She nursed and guarded him when people shot him. She believed in him. He was always her first loyalty for forty years. After you do that maybe I’ll tell you a few things you really don’t want to hear.”
“Will we have to live in the mall?” Kay asked.
Michael nodded. “We’ll have our own house, it won’t be so bad. My parents don’t meddle. Our lives will be our own. But until everything gets straightened out, I have to live in the mall.”
“Because it’s dangerous for you to live outside it,” Kay said.
For the first time since she had come to know him, she saw Michael angry. It was cold chilling anger that was not externalized in any gesture or change in voice. It was a coldness that came off him like death and Kay knew that it was this coldness that would make her decide not to marry him if she so decided.
“The trouble is all that damn trash in the movies and the newspapers,” Michael said. “You’ve got the wrong idea of my father and the Corleone Family. I’ll make a final explanation and this one will be really final. My father is a businessman trying to provide for his wife and children and those friends he might need someday in a time of trouble. He doesn’t accept the rules of the society we live in bgcause those rules would have condemned him to a life not suitable to a man like himself, a man of extraordinary force and character. What you have to understand is that he considers himself the equal of all those great men like Presidents and Prime Ministers and Supreme Court Justices and Governors of the States. He refuses to live by rules set up by others, rules which condemn him to a defeated life. But his ultimate aim is to enter that society with a certain power since society doesn’t really protect its members who do not have their own individual power. In the meantime he operates on a code of ethics he considers far superior to the legal structures of society.”
Kay was looking at him incredulously. “But that’s ridiculous,” she said. “What if everybody felt the same way? How could society ever function, we’d be back in the times of the cavemen. Mike, you don’t believe what you’re saying, do you?”
Michael grinned at her. “I’m just telling you what my father believes. I just want you to understand that whatever else he is, he’s not irresponsible, or at least not in the society which he has created. He’s not a crazy machine-gunning mobster as you seem to think. He’s a responsible man in his own way.”
“And what do you believe?” Kay asked quietly.
Michael shrugged. “I believe in my family,” he said. “I believe in you and the family we may have. I don’t trust society to protect us, I have no intention of placing my fate in the hands of men where only qualification is that they managed to con a block of people to vote for them. But that’s for now. My father’s time is done. The things he did can no longer be done exeept wilt a great deal of risk. Whether we like it or not the Corleone Family has to join that society. But when they do I’d like us to join it with plenty of our own power; that is, money and ownership of other valuables. I’d like to make my children as secure as possible before they join that general destiny.”
“But you volunteered to fight for your country, you were a war hero,” Kay said. “What happened to make you change?”
Michael said, “’This is really getting us no place. But maybe I’m just one of those real old-fashioned conservatives they grow up in your hometown. I take care of myself, individual. Governments really don’t do much for their people, that’s what it comes down to, but that’s not it really. All I can say, I have to help my father, I have to be on his side. And you have to make your decision about being on my side.” He smiled at her. “I guess getting. married was a bad idea.”
Kay patted the bed. “I don’t know about marrying, but I’ve gone without a man for two years and I’m not letting you off so easy now. Come on in here.”
When they were in bed together, the light out, she whispered to him, “Do you believe me about not having a man since you left?”
“I believe you,” Michael said.
“Did you?” she whispered in a softer voice.
“Yes,” Michael said. He felt her stiffen a little. “But not in the last six months.” It was true. Kay was the first woman he had made love to since the death of Apollonia.
The garish suite overlooked the fake fairyland grounds in the rear of the hotel; transplanted palm trees lit up by climbers of orange lights, two huge swimming pools shimmering dark blue by the light of the desert stars. On the horizon were the sand and stone mountains that ringed Las Vegas nestling in its neon valley. Johnny Fontane let the heavy, richly embroidered gray drape fall and turned back to the room.
A special detail of four men, a pit boss, a dealer, extra relief man, and a cocktail waitress in her scanty nightclub costume were getting things ready for private action. Nino Valenti was lying on the sofa in the living room part of the suite, a water glass of whiskey in his hand. He watched the people from the casino setting up the blackjack table with the proper six padded chairs around its horseshoe outer rim. “That’s great, that’s great,” he said in a slurred vote that was not quite drunken. “Johnny, come on and gamble with me against these bastards. I got the luck. We’ll beat their crullers in.”
Johnny sat on a footstool opposite the couch. “You know I don’t gamble,” he said: “How you feeling, Nino?”
Nino Valenti grinned at him. “Great. I got broads coming up at midnight, then some supper, then back to the blackjack table. You know I got the house beat for almost fifty grand and they’ve been grinding me for a week?”
“Yeah;” Johnny Fontane said. “Who do you want to leave it to when you croak?”
Nino drained his glass empty. “Johnny, where the hell did you get your rep as a swinger? You’re a deadhead, Johnny. Christ, the tourists in this town have more fun than you do.”
Johnny said, “Yeah. You want a lift to that blackjack table?”
Nino struggled erect on the sofa and pleated his feet firmly on the rug. “I can make it,” he said. He let the glass slip to the floor and got up and walked quite steadily to where the blackjack table had been set up. The dealer was ready. The pit boss stood behind the dealer watching. The relief dealer sat on a chair away from the table. The cocktail waitress sat on another chair in a line of vision so that she could see any of Nino Valenti’s gestures.
Nino rapped on the green baize with his knuckles. “Chips,” he said.
The pit boss took a pad from his pocket and filled out a slip and put it in front of Nino with a small fountain pen. “Here you are, Mr. Valenti,” he said. “The usual five thousand to start.” Nino scrawled his signature on the bottom of the slip and the pit boss put it in his pocket. He nodded to the dealer.