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Chapter 8 A Bridge Too Far

Two years after their wedding, Connie and Carlo Rizzi were not happily married. Carlo drank a lot and saw other women. Connie shouted at him all the time, and Carlo used to hit her. One day, Sonny visited his sister and saw her face was covered in bruises. He became very angry and, although Connie tried to stop him, he rushed away to find Carlo.

He found Carlo sitting outside the betting shop where he worked. Sonny jumped out of his car and ran quickly towards him. Carlo tried to escape, but Sonny dived and caught him by the ankles, pulling him down with a crash. Then, while Carlo was still on the ground, Sonny kicked and hit him, screaming at him all the time. Carlo didn’t try to fight. He stayed on his knees and covered his head with his hands.

Finally, Sonny grew tired. He looked down at Carlo’s bruised and bloody body and said: ‘If you ever touch my sister again, I’ll kill you!’

A few weeks later, the telephone rang in the kitchen of Don Corleone’s house. Sonny was called to the phone. It was Connie, and she was crying. Carlo had hit her badly, and she wanted to come home.

As he listened, Sonny’s face went red and he began to shake. ‘I’m coming right over,’ he told his sister. ‘Just wait there.’

‘Please Sonny, don’t …’ Connie began, but Sonny put down the phone and ran straight out of the house.

Tom Hagen tried to stop him, but Sonny refused to listen. As Sonny drove quickly out of the gates, Tom told two bodyguards to follow him.

Between Long Island and the City of New York, there was a kind of bridge. Before anyone could cross, they had to stop at the tollbooth and pay. When Sonny arrived at the bridge, only one tollbooth was open. He had to wait because another car was in front of him. Sonny impatiently looked for some money in his jacketpocket. The car in front of Sonny drove forward a little way and stopped. Sonny drove up to the tollbooth. He gave the man inside his money and tried to drive away, but the car was still in front of him. The man in the tollbooth dropped the money and bent down to pick it up.

From the corner of his eye, Sonny noticed something moving in the empty tollbooth on his right. He looked round and saw four men standing in the windows looking at him. At the same moment, two men got out of the car in front and began to walk towards him. They were carrying machine-guns. Sonny thought about driving backwards, but he was too late. In the second before anything happened, Sonny knew that he was a dead man.

There was a sudden thunder of noise, and bullets crashed through the windows of his car from all directions. Before Sonny could dive for cover, he was hit several times in the chest and head. But he was a strong man. He refused to die quietly. He pulled himself across the seat, opened the door and half jumped, half fell out of the car. He tried to pull his gun from his jacket, but bullets continued to hit him. At last, with a wild and angry look on his face, he fell to the ground in a pool of blood and stopped moving.

By the time the bodyguards that Tom had sent to follow him arrived, Sonny Corleone, eldest son of Vito Corleone, was dead, and his killers were gone.

Later that night, Tom Hagen sat alone in Don Corleone’s dark office, drinking. He couldn’t believe that Sonny was dead. He heard the door behind him open and close. Turning round, he saw Don Corleone.

He looked very old and tired as he walked stiffly across the room. He had lost weight, and his clothes hung loosely from his body.

‘Give me some wine,’ he said as he lowered himself slowly into his favourite leather armchair. He waited while Tom poured hima drink, then half spoke, half whispered: ‘My wife was crying before she fell asleep. Outside my window, I saw Tessio and Clemenza coming to the house and it’s midnight. So, Tom, I think you should tell your Don what everybody already knows.’

‘I was about to come up and tell you, ‘Tom said.

‘But you needed a drink first.’

‘Yes, ‘Tom looked down, ashamed.

‘You’ve had your drink. You can tell me now.’

Tom looked up, his eyes filled with tears. ‘They shot Sonny,’ he said, his voice shaking. ‘He’s dead.’

Don Corleone closed his eyes. For a second he, too, seemed about to cry. But when he opened his eyes again, they were dry. ‘I want no revenge,’ he said sadly. ‘I want you to arrange a meeting with the heads of the five families. This war stops now.

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