بخش 25

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بخش 25

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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CHAPTER 13

Johnny Fontane sat in the huge recording studio and figured costs on a yellow pad. Musicians were filing in, all of them friends he had known since he was a kid singer with the bands. The conductor, top man in the business of pop accompaniment and a man who had been kind to him when things went sour, was giving each musician bundles of music and verbal instructions. His name was Eddie Neils. He had taken on this recording as a favor to Johnny, though his schedule was crowded.

Nino Valenti was sitting at a piano fooling around nervously with the keys. He was also sipping from a huge glass of rye. Johnny didn’t mind that. He knew Nino sang just as well drunk as sober and what they were doing today wouldn’t require any real musicianship on Nino’s part.

Eddie Neils had made special arrangements of some old Italian and Sicilian songs, and a special job on the duel-duet song that Nino and Johnny had sung at Connie Corleone’s wedding. Johnny was making the record primarily because he knew that the Don loved such songs and it would be a perfect Christmas gift for him. He also had a hunch that the record would sell in the high numbers, not a million, of course. And he had figured out that helping Nino was how the Don wanted his payoff. Nino was, after all, another one of the Don’s godchildren.

Johnny put his clipboard and yellow pad on the folding chair beside him and got up to stand beside the piano. He said, “Hey, paisan,” and Nino glanced up and tried to smile. He looked a little sick. Johnny leaned over and rubbed his shoulder blades. “Relax, kid,” he said. “Do a good job today and I’ll fix you up with the best and most famous piece of ass in Hollywood.” Nino took a gulp of whiskey. “Who’s that, Lassie?”

Johnny laughed. “No, Deanna Dunn. I guarantee the goods.”

Nino was impressed but couldn’t help saying with pseudo-hopefulness, “You can’t get me Lassie?”

The orchestra swung into the opening song of the medley. Johnny Fontane listened intently. Eddie Neils would play all the songs through in their special arrangements. Then would come the first take for the record. As Johnny listened he made mental notes on exactly how he would handle each phrase, how he would come into each song. He knew his voice wouldn’t last long, but Nino would be doing most of the singing, Johnny would be singing under him. Except of course in the duet-duel song. He would have to save himself for that.

He pulled Nino to his feet and they both stood by their microphones. Nino flubbed the opening, flubbed it again. His face was beginning to get red with embarrassment. Johnny kidded him, “Hey, you stalling for overtime?”

“I don’t feel natural without my mandolin,” Nino said.

Johnny thought that over for a moment. “Hold that glass of booze in your hand,” he said.

It seemed to do the trick. Nino kept drinking from the glass as he sang but he was doing fine. Johnny sang easily, not straining, his voice merely dancing around Nino’s main melody. There was no emotional satisfaction in this kind of singing but he was amazed at his own technical skill. Ten years of vocalizing had taught him something.

When they came to the duet-duel song that ended the record, Johnny let his voice go and when they finished his vocal cords ached. The musicians had been carried away by the last song, a rare thing for these calloused veterans. They hammered down their instruments and stamped their feet in approval as applause. The drummer gave them a ruffle of drums.

With stops and conferences they worked nearly four hours before they quit. Eddie Neils came over to Johnny and said quietly, “You sounded pretty good, kid. Maybe you’re ready to do a record. I have a new song that’s perfect for you.”

Johnny shook his head. “Come on, Eddie, don’t kid me. Besides, in a couple of hours I’ll be too hoarse to even talk. Do you think we’ll have to fix up much of the stuff we did today?”

Eddie said thoughtfully, “Nino will have to_ìðwe into the studio tomorrow. He made some mistakes. But he’s much better than I thought he would be. As for your stuff, I’ll have the sound engineers fix anything I don’t like. OK?”

“OK,” Johnny said. “When can I hear the pressing?”

“Tomorrow night,” Eddie Neils said. “Your place?”

“Yeah,” Johnny said. “Thanks, Eddie. See you tomorrow.” He took Nino by the arm and walked out of the studio. They went to his house instead of Ginny’s.

By this time it was late afternoon. Nino was still more than half-drunk. Johnny told him to get under the shower and then take a snooze. They had to be at a big party at eleven that night.

When Nino woke up, Johnny briefed him. “This party is a movie star Lonely Hearts Club,” he said. “These broads tonight are dames you’ve seen in the movies as glamour queens millions of guys would give their right arms to screw. And the only reason they’ll be at the party tonight is to find somebody to shack them up. Do you know why? Because they are hungry for it, they are just a little old. And just like every dame, they want it with a little bit of class.” “What’s the matter with your voice? Nino asked.

Johnny had been speaking almost in a whisper. “Every time after I sing a little bit that happens. I won’t be able to sing for a month now. But I’ll get over the hoarseness in a couple of days.”

Nino said thoughtfully, “Tough, huh?”

Johnny shrugged. “Listen, Nino, don’t get too drunk tonight. You have to show these Hollywood broads that my paisan buddy ain’t weak in the poop. You gotta come across. Remember, some of these dames are very powerful in movies, they can get you work. It doesn’t hurt to be charming after you knock off a piece.” Nino was already pouring himself a drink. “I’m always charming,” he said. He drained the glass. Grinning, he asked, “No kidding, can you really get me close to Deanna Dunn?”

“Don’t be so anxious,” Johnny said. “It’s not going to be like you think.”

The Hollywood Movie Star Lonely Hearts Club (so called by the young juvenile leads whose attendance was mandatory) met every Friday night at the palatial, studio-owned home of Roy McElroy, press agent or rather public relations counsel for the Woltz International Film Corporation. Actually, though it was McElroy’s open house party, the idea had come from the practical brain of Jack Woltz himself. Some of his money-making movie stars were getting older now. Without the help of special lights and genius makeup men they looked their age. They were having problems. They had also become, to some extent, desensitized physically and mentally. They could no longer “fall in love.” They could no longer assume the role of hunted women. They had been made too imperious; by money, by fame, by their former beauty. Woltz gave his parties so that it would be easier for them to pick up lovers, one-night stands, who, if they had the stuff, could graduate into full-time bed partners and so work their way upward. Since the action sometimes degenerated into brawls or s@xual excess that led to trouble with the police, Woltz decided to hold the parties in the house of the public relations counselor, who would be right there to fix things up, payoff newsmen and police officers and keep everything quiet.

For certain virile young male actors on the studio payroll who had not yet achieved stardom or featured roles, attendance at the Friday night parties was not always pleasant duty. This was explained by the fact that a new film yet to be released by the studio would be shown at the party. In fact that was the excuse for the party itself. People would say, “Let’s go over to see what the new picture so and so made is like.” And so it was put in a professional context.

Young female starlets were forbidden to attend the Friday night parties. Or rather discouraged. Most of them took the hint.

Screenings of the new movies took place at midnight and Johnny and Nino arrived at eleven. Roy McElroy proved to be, at first sight, an enormously likable man, well-groomed, beautifully dressed. He greeted Johnny Fontane with a surprised cry of delight. “What the hell are you doing here?” he said with genuine astonishment.

Johnny shook his hand. “I’m showing my country cousin the sights. Meet Nino.”

McElroy shook hands with Nino and gazed at him appraisingly. “They’ll eat him up alive,” he said to Johnny. He led them to the rear patio.

The rear patio was really a series of huge rooms whose glass doors had been opened to a garden and pool. There were almost a hundred people milling around, all with drinks in their hands. The patio lighting was artfully arranged to flatter feminine faces and skin. These were women Nino had seen on the darkened movie screens when he had been a teenager. They had played their part in his erotic dreams of adolescence. But seeing them now in the flesh was like seeing them in some horrible makeup. Nothing could hide the tiredness of their spirit and their flesh; time had eroded their godhead. They posed and moved as charmingly as he remembered but they were like wax fruit, they could not lubricate his glands. Nino took two drinks, wandered to a table where he could stand next to a nest of bottles. Johnny moved with him. They drank together until behind them came the magic voice of Deanna Dunn.

Nino, like millions of other men, had that voice imprinted on his brain forever. Deanna Dunn had won two Academy Awards, had been in the biggest movie grosser made in Hollywood. On the screen she had a feline feminine charm that made her irresistible to all men. But the words she was saying had never been heard on the silver screen. “Johnny, you bastard, I had to go to my psychiatrist again because you gave me a one-night stand. How come you never came back for seconds?” Johnny kissed her on her proffered cheek. “You wore me out for a month,” he said. “I want you to meet my cousin Nino. A nice strong Italian boy. Maybe he can keep up with you.”

Deanna Dunn turned to give Nino a cool look. “Does he like to watch previews?”

Johnny laughed. “I don’t think he’s ever had the chance. Why don’t you break him in?”

Nino had to take a big drink when he was alone with Deanna Dunn. He was trying to be nonchalant but it was hard. Deanna Dunn had the upturned nose, the clean-cut classical features of the Anglo-Saxon beauty. And he knew her so well. He had seen her alone in a bedroom, heartbroken, weeping over her dead flier husband who had left her with fatherless children. He had seen her angry, hurt, humiliated, yet with a shining dignity when a caddish Clark Gable had taken advantage of her, then left her for a s@xpot. (Deanna Dunn never played s@xpots in the movies.) He had seen her flushed with requited love, writhing in the embrace of the man she adored and he had seen her die beautifully at least a half dozen times. He had seen her and heard her and dreamed about her and yet he was not prepared for the first thing she said to him alone.

“Johnny is one of the few men with balls in this town,” she said. “The rest are all fags and sick morons who couldn’t get it up with a broad if you pumped a truckload of Spanish fly into their scrotums.” She took Nino by the hand and led him into a corner of the room, out of traffic and out of competition.

Then still coolly charming, she asked him about himself. He saw through her. He saw that she was playing the role of the rich society girl who is being kind to the stable boy or the chauffeur, but who in the movie would either discourage his amatory interest (if the part were played by Spencer Tracy), or throw up everything in her mad desire for him (if the part were played by Clark Gable). But it didn’t matter. He found himself telling her about how he and Johnny had grown up together in New York, about how he and Johnny had sung together on little club dates. He found her marvelously sympathetic and interested. Once she asked casually, “Do you know how Johnny made that bastard Jack Woltz give him the part?” Nino froze and shook his head. She didn’t pursue it.

The time had come to see the preview of a new Woltz movie. Deanna Dunn led Nino, her warm hand imprisoning his, to an interior room of the mansion that had no windows but was furnished with about fifty small two-person couches scattered around in such a way as to give each one a little island of semiprivacy.

Nino saw there was a small table beside the couch and on the table were an ice bowl, glasses and bottles of liquor plus a tray of cigarettes. He gave Deanna Dunn a cigarette, lit it and then mixed them both drinks. They didn’t speak to each other. After a few minutes the lights went out.

He had been expecting something outrageous. After all, he had heard the legends of Hollywood depravity. But he was not quite prepared for Deanna Dunn’s voracious plummet on his s@xual organ without even a courteous and friendly word of preparation. He kept sipping his drink and watching the movie, but not tasting, not seeing. He was excited in a way he had never been before but part of it was because this woman servicing him in the dark had been the object of his adolescent dreams.

Yet in a way his masculinity was insulted. So when the world-famous Deanna Dunn was sated and had tidied him up, he very coolly fixed her a fresh drink in the darkness and lit her a fresh cigarette and said in the most relaxed voice imaginable, “This looks like a pretty good movie.” He felt her stiffen beside him on the couch. Could it be she was waiting for some sort of compliment? Nino poured his glass full from the nearest bottle his hand touched in the darkness. The hell with that. She’d treated him like a goddamn male whore. For some reason now he felt a cold anger at all these women.

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