بخش 19

کتاب: پدرخوانده / فصل 19

بخش 19

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

این فصل را می‌توانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید

دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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At the houses in Long Beach the entrance to the mall was blocked by a long black car parked across its mouth. Two men leaned against the hood of the car. The two houses on each side, Michael noticed, had opened windows on their upper floors. Christ, Sonny must really mean business.

Clemenza parked the car outside the mall and they walked inside it. The two guards were Clemenza’s men and he gave them a frown of greeting that served as a salute. The men nodded their heads in acknowledgment. There were no smiles, no greetings. Clemenza led Hagen and Michael Corleone into the house.

The door was opened by another guard before they rang. He had obviously been watching from a window. They went to the comer office and found Sonny and Tessio waiting for them. Sonny came to Michael, took his younger brother’s head in his hands and said kiddingly, “Beautiful. Beautiful.” Michael knocked his hands away, and went to the desk and poured himself some scotch, hoping it would dull the ache in his wired jaw.

The five of them sat around the room but the atmosphere was different from their earlier meetings. Sonny was gayer, more cheerful, and Michael realized what that gaiety meant. There were no longer any doubts in his older brother’s mind. He was committed and nothing would sway him. The attempt by Sollozzo the night before was the final straw. There could no longer be any question of a truce.

“We got a call from the negotiator while you were gone,” Sonny said to Hagen. “The Turk wants a meeting now.” Sonny laughed. “The balls on that son of a bit@h,” he said admiringly.” After he craps out last night he wants a meeting today or the next day. Meanwhile we’re supposed just to lay back and take everything he dishes out. What fu@king nerve.” Tom asked cautiously, “What did you answer?”

Sonny grinned. “I said sure, why not? Anytime he says, I’m in no hurry. I’ve got a hundred button men out on the street twenty-four hours a day. If Sollozzo shows one hair on his asshole he’s dead. Let them take all the time they want.”

Hagen said, “Was there a definite proposal?”

“Yeah,” Sonny said. “He wants us to send Mike to meet him to hear his proposition. The negotiator guarantees Mike’s safety. Sollozzo doesn’t ask us to guarantee his safety, he knows he can’t ask that. No point. So the meeting will be arranged on his side. His people will pick Mike up and take Mike to the meeting place. Mike will listen to Sollozzo and then they’ll turn him loose. But the meeting place is secret. The promise is the deal will be so good we can’t turn it down.” Hagen asked, “What about the Tattaglias? What will they do about Bruno?”

“That’s part of the deal. The negotiator says the Tattaglia Family has agreed to go along with Sollozzo. They’ll forget about Bruno Tattaglia. He pays for what they did to my father. One cancels out the other.” Sonny laughed again. “The nervy bastards.”

Hagen said cautiously, “We should hear what they have to say.”

Sonny shook his head from side to side. “No, no, Consigliere, not this time.” His voice held a faint trace of Italian accent. He was consciously mocking his father just to kid around. “No more meetings. No more discussions. No more Sollozzo tricks. When the negotiator gets in touch with us again for our answer I want you to give him one message. I want Sollozzo. If not, it’s all-out war. We’ll go to the mattresses and we’ll put all the button men out on the street. Business will just have to suffer.” “The other Families won’t stand for an all-out war,” Hagen said. “It puts too much heat on everybody.”

Sonny shrugged. “They have a simple solution. Give me Sollozzo. Or fight the Corleone Family.” Sonny paused, then said roughly, “No more advice on how to patch it up, Tom. The decision is made. Your job is to help me win. Understand?”

Hagen bowed his head. He was deep in thought for a moment. Then he said, “I spoke to your contact in the police station. He says that Captain McCluskey is definitely on Sollozzo’s payroll and for big money. Not only that, but McCluskey is going to get a piece of the drug operation. McCluskey has agreed to be Sollozzo’s bodyguard. The Turk doesn’t poke his nose out of his hole without McCluskey. When he meets Mike for the conference, McCluskey will be sitting beside him. In civilian clothes but carrying his gun. Now what you have to understand, Sonny, is that while Sollozzo is guarded like this, he’s invulnerable. Nobody has ever gunned down a New York police captain and gotten away with it. The heat in this town would be unbearable what with the newspapers, the whole police department, the churches, everything. That would be disastrous. The Families would be after you. The Corleone Family would become outcasts. Even the old man’s political protection would run for cover. So take that into consideration.” Sonny shrugged. “McCluskey can’t stay with the Turk forever. We’ll wait.”

Tessio and Clemenza were puffing on their cigars uneasily, not daring to speak, but sweating. It would be their skins that would go on the line if the wrong decision was made.

Michael spoke for the first time. He asked Hagen, “Can the old man be moved out of the hospital onto the mall here?”

Hagen shook his head. “That’s the first thing I asked. Impossible. He’s in very bad shape. He’ll pull through but he needs all kinds of attention, maybe some more surgery. Impossible.”

“Then you have to get Sollozzo right away,” Michael said. “We can’t wait. The guy is too dangerous. He’ll come up with some new idea. Remember, the key is still that he gets rid of the old man. He knows that. OK, he knows that now it’s very tough so he’s willing to take defeat for his life. But if he’s going to get killed anyway, he’ll have another crack at the Don. And with that police captain helping him who knows what the hell might happen. We can’t take that chance. We have to get Sollozzo right away.” Sonny was scratching his chin thoughtfully. “You’re right, kid,” he said. “You got right to the old nuts. We can’t let Sollozzo get another crack at the old man.”

Hagen said quietly, “What about Captain McCluskey?”

Sonny turned to Michael with an odd little smile. “Yeah, kid, what about that tough police captain?”

Michael said slowly, “OK, it’s an extreme. But there are times when the most extreme measures are justified. Let’s think now that we have to kill McCluskey. The way to do it would be to have him heavily implicated so that it’s not an honest police captain doing his duty but a crooked police official mixed up in the rackets who got what was coming to him, like any crook. We have newspaper people on our payroll we can give that story to with enough proof so that they can back it up. That should take some of the heat off. How does that sound?” Michael looked around deferentially to the others. Tessio and Clemenza had gloomy faces and refused to speak. Sonny said with the same odd smile, “Go on, kid, you’re doing great. Out of the mouths of infants, as the Don always used to say. Go ahead, Mike, tell us more.” Hagen was smiling too a little and averting his head. Michael flushed. “Well, they want me to go to a conference with Sollozzo. It will be me, Sollozzo and McCluskey all on our own. Set up the meeting for two days from now, then get o_Robnformers to find out where the meeting will be held. Insist that it has to be a public place, that I’m not going to let them take me into any apartments or houses. Let it be a restaurant or a bar at the height of the dinner hour, something like that, so that I’ll feel safe. They’ll feel safe too. Even Sollozzo won’t figure that we’ll dare to gun the captain. They’ll frisk me when I meet them so I’ll have to be clean then, but figure out a way you can get a weapon to me while I’m meeting them. Then I’ll take both of them.” All four heads turned and stared at him. Clemenza and Tessio were gravely astonished. Hagen looked a little sad but not surprised. He started to speak and thought better of it. But Sonny. his heavy Cupid’s face twitching with mirth, suddenly broke out in loud roars of laughter. It was deep belly laughter, not faking. He was really breaking up. He pointed a finger at Michael, trying to speak through gasps of mirth. “You, the high-class college kid, you never wanted to get mixed up in the Family business. Now you wanta kill a police captain and the Turk just because you got your face smashed by McCluskey. You’re taking it personal, it’s just business and you’re taking it personal. You wanta kill these two guys just because you got slapped in the face. It was all a lot of crap. All these years it was just a lot of crap.” Clemenza and Tessio, completely misunderstanding, thinking that Sonny was laughing at his young brother’s bravado for making such an offer, were also smiling broadly and a little patronizingly at Michael. Only Hagen warily kept his face impassive.

Michael looked around at all of them, then stared at Sonny, who still couldn’t stop laughing. “You’ll take both of them?” Sonny said. “Hey, kid, they won’t give you medals, they put you in the electric chair. You know that? This is no hero business, kid, you don’t shoot people from a mile away. You shoot when you see the whites of their eyes like we got taught in school, remember? You gotta stand right next to them and blow their heads off and their brains get all over your nice Ivy League suit. How about that, kid, you wanta do that just because some dumb cop slapped you around?” He was still laughing.

Michael stood up. “You’d better stop laughing,” he said. The change in him was so extraordinary that the smiles vanished from the faces of Clemenza and Tessio. Michael was not tall or heavily built but his presence seemed to radiate danger. In that moment he was a reincarnation of Don Corleone himself. His eyes had gone a pale tan and his face was bleached of color. He seemed at any moment about to fling himself on his older and stronger brother. There was no doubt that if he had had a weapon in his hands Sonny would have been in danger. Sonny stopped laughing, and Michael said to him in a cold deadly voice, “Don’t you think I can do it, you son of a bit@h?” Sonny had got over his laughing fit. “I know you can do it,” he said. “I wasn’t laughing at what you said. I was just laughing at how funny things turn out. I always said you were the toughest one in the Family, tougher than the Don himself. You were the only one who could stand off the old man. I remember you when you were a kid. What a temper you had then. Hell, you even used to fight me and I was a lot older than you. And Freddie had to beat the sh@t out of you at least once a week. And now Sollozzo has you figured for the soft touch in the Family because you let McCluskey hit you without fighting back and you wouldn’t get mixed up in the Family fights. He figures he got nothing to worry about if he meets you head to head. And McCluskey too, he’s got you figured for a yellow guinea.” Sonny paused and then said softly, “But you’re a Corleone after all, you son of a bit@h. And I was the only one who knew it. I’ve been sitting here waiting for the last three days, ever since the old man got shot, waiting for you to crack out of that Ivy League, war hero bullsh@t character you’ve been wearing. I’ve been waiting for you to become my right arm so we can kill those fu@ks that are trying to destroy our father and our Family. And all it took was a sock on the jaw. How do you like that?” Sonny made a comical gesture, a punch, and repeated, “How do you like that?” The tension had relaxed in the room. Mike shook his head. “Sonny, I’m doing it because it’s the only thing to do. I can’t give Sollozzo another crack at the old man. I seem to be the only one who can get close enough to him. And I figured it out. I don’t think you can get anybody else to knock off a police captain. Maybe you would do it, Sonny, but you have a wife and kids and you have to run the Family business until the old man is in shape. So that leaves me and Freddie. Freddie is in shock and out of action. Finally that leaves just me. It’s all logic. The sock on the jaw had nothing to do with it.” Sonny came over and embraced him. “I don’t give a damn what your reasons are, just so long as you’re with us now. And I’ll tell you another thing, you’re right all the way. Tom, what’s your say?”

Hagen shrugged. “The reasoning is solid. What makes it so is that I don’t think the Turk is sincere about a deal. I think he’ll still try to get at the Don. Anyway on his past performance that’s how we have to figure him. So we try to get Sollozzo. We get him even if we have to get the police captain. But whoever does the job is going to get an awful lot of heat. Does it have to be Mike?” Sonny said softly, “I could do it.”

Hagen shook his head impatiently. “Sollozzo wouldn’t let you get within a mile of him if he had ten police captains. And besides you’re the acting head of the Family. You can’t be risked.” Hagen paused and said to Clemenza and Tessio, “Do either one of you have a top button man, someone really special, who would take on this job? He wouldn’t have to worry about money for the rest of his life.” Clemenza spoke first. “Nobody that Sollozzo wouldn’t know, he’d catch on right away. He’d catch on if me or Tessio went too.”

Hagen said, “What about somebody really tough who hasn’t made his rep yet, a good rookie?”

Both caporegimes shook their heads. Tessio smiled to take the sting out of his words and said, “That’s like bringing a guy up from the minors to pitch the World Series.”

Sonny broke in curtly, “It has to be Mike. For a million different reasons. Most important they got him down as faggy. And he can do the job, I guarantee that, and that’s important because this is the only shot we’ll get at that sneaky bastard Turk. So now we have to figure out the best way to back him up. Tom, Clemenza, Tessio, find out where Sollozzo will take him for the conference, I don’t care how much it costs. When we find that out we can figure out how we can get a weapon into his hands. Clemenza, I want you to get him a really ‘safe’ gun out of your collection, the ‘coldest’ one you got. Impossible to trace. Try to make it short barrel with a lot of blasting power. It doesn’t have to be accurate. He’ll be right on top of them when he uses it. Mike, as soon as you’ve used the gun, drop it on the floor. Don’t be caught with it on you. Clemenza, tape the barrel and the trigger with that special stuff you got so he won’t leave prints. Remember, Mike, we can square everything, witnesses, and so forth, but if they catch you with the gun on you we can’t square that. We’ll have transportation and protection and then we’ll make you disappear for a nice long vacation until the heat wears off. You’ll be gone a long time, Mike, but I don’t want you saying good-bye to your girl friend or even calling her. After it’s all over and you’re out of the country I’ll send her word that you’re OK. Those are orders.” Sonny smiled at his brother. “Now stick with Clemenza and get used to handling the gun he picks out for you. Maybe even practice a little. We’ll take care of everything else. Everything. OK, kid?” Again Michael Corleone felt that delicious refreshing chilliness all over his body. He said to his brother, “You didn’t have to give me that crap about not talking to my girl friend about something like this. What the hell did you think I was going to do, call her up to say good-bye?”

Sonny said hastily, “OK, but you’re still a rookie so I spell things out. Forget it.”

Michael said with a grin, “What the hell do you mean, a rookie? I listened to the old man just as hard as you did. How do you think I got so smart?” They both laughed.

Hagen poured drinks for everyone. He looked a little glum. The statesman forced to go to war, the lawyer forced to go to law. “Well, anyway, now we know what we’re going to do,” he said.

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