بخش 41

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بخش 41

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CHAPTER 22

Lucy Mancini, a year after Sonny’s death, still missed him terribly, grieved for him more fiercely than any lover in any romance. And her dreams were not the insipid dreams of a schoolgirl, her longings not the longings of a devoted wife. She was not rendered desolate by the loss of her “life’s companion,” or miss him because of his stalwart character. She held no fond remembrances of sentimental gifts, of girlish hero worship, his smile, the amused glint of his eyes when she said something endearing or witty.

No. She missed him for the more important reason that he had been the only man in the world who could make her body achieve the act of love. And, in her youth and innocence, she still believed that he was the only man who could possibly do so.

Now a year later she sunned herself in the balmy Nevada air. At her feet the slender, blond young man was playing with her toes. They were at the side of the hotel pool for the Sunday afternoon and despite the people all around them his hand was sliding up her bare thigh.

“Oh, Jules, stop,” Lucy said. “I thought doctors at least weren’t as silly as other men.”

Jules grinned at her. “I’m a Las Vegas doctor.” He tickled the inside of her thigh and was amazed how just a little thing like that could excite her so powerfully. It showed on her face though she tried to hide it. She was really a very primitive, innocent girl. Then why couldn’t he make her come across? He had to figure that one out and never mind the crap about a lost love that could never be replaced. This was living tissue here under his hand and living tissue required other living tissue. Dr. Jules Segal decided he would make the big push tonight at his apartment. He’d wanted to make her come across without any trickery but if trickery there had to be, he was the man for it. All in the interests of science of course. And, besides, this poor kid was dying for it.

“Jules, stop, please stop,” Lucy said. Her voice was trembling.

Jules was immediately contrite. “OK, honey,” he said. He put his head in her lap and using her soft thighs as a pillow, he took a little nap. He was amused at her squirming, the heat that registered from her loins and when she put her hand on his head to smooth his hair, he grasped her wrist playfully and held it lover-like but really to feel her pulse. It was galloping. He’d get her tonight and he’d solve the mystery, what the hell ever it was. Fully confident, Dr. Jules Segal fell asleep.

Lucy watched the people around the pool. She could never have imagined her life would change so in less than two years. She never regretted her “foolishness” at Connie Corleone’s wedding. It was the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to her and she lived it over and over again in her dreams. As she lived over and over again the months that followed.

Sonny had visited her once a week, sometimes more, never less. The days before she saw him again her body was in torment. Their passion for each other was of the most elementary kind, undiluted by poetry or any form of intellectualism. It was love of the coarsest nature, a fleshly love, a love of tissue for opposing tissue.

When Sonny called to her he was coming she made certain there was enough liquor in the apartment and enough food for supper and breakfast because usually he would not leave until late the next morning. He wanted his fill of her as she wanted her fill of him. He had his own key and when he came in the door she would fly into his massive arms. They would both be brutally direct, brutally primitive. During their first kiss they would be fumbling at each other’s clothing and he would be lifting her in the air, and she would be wrapping her legs around his huge thighs. They would be making love standing up in the foyer of her apartment as if they had to repeat their first act of love together, and then he would carry her so to the bedroom.

They would lie in bed making love. They would live together in the apartment for sixteen hours, completely naked. She would cook for him, enormous meals. Sometimes he would get phone calls obviously about business but she never even listened to the words. She would be too busy toying with his body, fondling it, kissing it, burying her mouth in it. Sometimes when he got up to get a drink and he walked by her, she couldn’t help reaching out to touch his naked body, hold him, make love to him as if those special parts of his body were a plaything, a specially constructed, intricate but innocent toy revealing its known, but still surprising ecstasies. At first she had been ashamed of these excesses on her part but soon saw that they pleased her lover, that her complete sensual enslavement to his body flattered him. In all this there was an animal innocence. They were happy together.

When Sonny’s father was gunned down in the street, she understood for the first time that her lover might be in danger. Alone in her apartment, she did not weep, she wailed aloud, an animal wailing. When Sonny did not come to see her for almost three weeks she subsisted on sleeping pills, liquor and her own anguish. The pain she felt was physical pain, her body ached. When he finally did come she held on to his body at almost every moment. After that he came at least once a week until he was killed.

She learned of his death through the newspaper accounts and that very same night she took a massive overdose of sleeping pills. For some reason, instead of killing, the pills made her so ill that she staggered out into the hall of her apartment and collapsed in front of the elevator door where she was found and taken to the hospital. Her relationship to Sonny was not generally known so her case received only a few inches in the tabloid newspapers.

It was while she was in the hospital that Tom Hagen came to see her and console her. It was Tom Hagen who arranged a job for her in Las Vegas working in the hotel run by Sonny’s brother Freddie. It was Tom Hagen who told her that she would receive an annuity from the Corleone Family, that Sonny had made provisions for her. He had asked her if she was pregnant, as if that were the reason for her taking the pills and she had told him no. He asked her if Sonny had come to see her that fatal night or had called that he would come to see her and she told him no, that Sonny had not called. That she was always home waiting for him when she finished working. And she had told Hagen the truth. “He’s the only man I could ever love,” she said. “I can’t love anybody else.” She saw him smile a little but he also looked surprised. “Do you find that so unbelievable?” she asked. “Wasn’t he the one who brought you home when you were a kid?” “He was a different person,” Hagen said, “he grew up to be a different kind of man.”

“Not to me,” Lucy said. “Maybe to everybody else, but not to me.” She was still too weak to explain how Sonny had never been anything but gentle with her. He’d never been angry with her, never even irritable or nervous.

Hagen made all the arrangements for her to move to Las Vegas. A rented apartment was waiting, he took her to the airport himself and he made her promise that if she ever felt lonely or if things didn’t go right, she would call him and he would help her in any way he could.

Before she got on the plane she asked him hesitantly, “Does Sonny’s father know what you’re doing?”

Hagen smiled, “I’m acting for him as well as myself. He’s old-fashioned in these things and he would never go against the legal wife of his son. But he feels that you were just a young girl and Sonny should have known better. And your taking all those pills shook everybody up.” He didn’t explain how incredible it was to a man like the Don that any person should try suicide.

Now, after nearly eighteen months in Las Vegas, she was surprised to find herself almost happy. Some nights she dreamed about Sonny and lying awake before dawn continued her dream with her own caresses until she could sleep again. She had not had a man since. But the life in Vegas agreed with her. She went swimming in the hotel pools, sailed on Lake Mead and drove through the desert on her day off. She became thinner and this improved her figure. She was still voluptuous but more in the American than the old Italian style. She worked in the public relations section of the hotel as a receptionist and had nothing to do with Freddie though when he saw her he would stop and chat a little. She was surprised at the change in Freddie. He had become a ladies’ man, dressed beautifully, and seemed to have a real flair for running a gambling resort. He controlled the hotel side, something not usually done by casino owners. With the long, very hot summer seasons, or perhaps his more active s@x life, he too had become thinner and Hollywood tailoring made him look almost debonair in a deadly sort of way.

It was after six months that Tom Hagen came out to see how she was doing. She had been receiving a check for six hundred dollars a month, every month, in addition to her salary. Hagen explained that this money had to be shown as coming from someplace and asked her to sign complete powers of attorney so that he could channel the money properly. He also told her that as a matter of form she would be listed as owner of five “points” in the hotel in which she worked. She would have to go through all the legal formalities required by the Nevada laws but everything would be taken care of for her and her own personal inconvenience would be at a minimum. However she was not to discuss this arrangement with anyone without his consent. She would be protected legally in every way and her money every month would be assured. If the authorities or any law-enforcement agencies ever questioned her, she was to simply refer them to her lawyer and she would not be bothered any further.

Lucy agreed. She understood what was happening but had no objections to how she was being used. It seemed a reasonable favor. But when Hagen asked her to keep her eyes open around the hotel, keep an eye on Freddie and on Freddie’s boss, the man who owned and operated the hotel, as a major stockholder, she said to him, “Oh, Tom, you don’t want me to spy on Freddie?”

Hagen smiled. “His father worries about Freddie. He’s in fast company with Moe Greene and we just want to make sure he doesn’t get into any trouble.” He didn’t bother to explain to her that the Don had backed the building of this hotel in the desert of Las Vegas not only to supply a haven for his son, but to get a foot in the door for bigger operations.

It was shortly after this interview that Dr. Jules Segal came to work as the hotel physician. He was very thin, very handsome and charming and seemed very young to be a doctor, at least to Lucy. She met him when a lump grew above her wrist on her forearm. She worried about it for a few days, then one morning went to the doctor’s suite of offices in the hotel. Two of the show girls from the chorus line were in the waiting room, gossiping with each other. They had the blond peach-colored prettiness Lucy always envied. They looked angelic. But one of the girls was saying, “I swear if I have another dose I’m giving up dancing.” When Dr. Jules Segal opened his office door to motion one of the show girls inside, Lucy was tempted to leave, and if it had been something more personal and serious she would have. Dr. Segal was wearing slacks and an open shirt. The horn-rimmed glasses helped and his quiet reserved manner, but the impression he gave was an informal one, and like many basically old-fashioned people, Lucy didn’t believe that medicine and informality mixed.

When she finally got into his office there was something so reassuring in his manner that all her misgivings fled. He spoke hardly at all and yet he was not brusque, and he took his time. When she asked him what the lump was he patiently explained that it was a quite common fibrous growth that could in no way be malignant or a cause for serious concern. He picked up a heavy medical book and said, “Hold out your arm.” She held out her arm tentatively. He smiled at her for the first time. “I’m going to cheat myself out of a surgical fee,” he said. “I’ll just smash it with this book and it will flatten out. It may pop up again but if I remove it surgically, you’ll be out of money and have to wear bandages and all that. OK?”

She smiled at him. For some reason she had an absolute trust in him. “OK,” she said. In the next instant she let out a yell as he brought down the heavy medical volume on her forearm. The lump had flattened out, almost.

“Did it hurt that much?” he asked.

“No,” she said. She watched him completing her case history card. “Is that all?”

He nodded, not paying any more attention to her. She left.

A week later he saw her in the coffee shop and sat next to her at the counter. “How’s the arm?” he asked.

She smiled at him. “Fine,” she said. “You’re pretty unorthodox but you’re pretty good.”

He grinned at her. “You don’t know how unorthodox I am. And I didn’t know how rich you were. The Vegas Sun just published the list of point owners in the hotel and Lucy Mancini has a big ten points. I could have made a fortune on that little bump.”

She didn’t answer him, suddenly reminded of Hagen’s warnings. He grinned again. “Don’t worry, I know the score, you’re just one of the dummies, Vegas is full of them. How about seeing one of the shows with me tonight and I’ll buy you dinner. I’ll even buy you some roulette chips.”

She was a little doubtful. He urged her. Finally she said, “I’d like to come but I’m afraid you might be disappointed by how the night ends. I’m not really a swinger like most of the girls here in Vegas.”

“That’s why I asked you,” Jules said cheerfully. “I’ve prescribed a night’s rest for myself.”

Lucy smiled at him and said a little sadly, “Is it that obvious?” He shook his head and she said, “OK, supper then, but I’ll buy my own roulette chips.”

They went to the supper show and Jules kept her amused by describing different types of bare thighs and breasts in medical terms; but without sneering, all in good humor. Afterward they played roulette together at the same wheel and won over a hundred dollars. Still later they drove up to Boulder Dam in the moonlight and he tried to make love to her but when she resisted after a few kisses he knew that she really meant no and stopped. Again he took his defeat with great good humor. “I told you I wouldn’t.” Lucy said with half-guilty reproach.

“You would have been awfully insulted if I didn’t even try,” Jules said. And she had to laugh because it was true.

The next few months they became best friends. It wasn’t love because they didn’t make love, Lucy wouldn’t let him. She could see he was puzzled by her refusal but not hurt the way most men would be and that made her trust him even more. She found out that beneath his professional doctor’s exterior he was wildly fun-loving and reckless. On weekends he drove a souped-up MG in the California races. When he took a vacation he went down into the interior of Mexico, the real wild country, he told her, where strangers were murdered for their shoes and life was as primitive as a thousand years ago. Quite accidentally she learned that he was a surgeon and had been connected with a famous hospital in New York.

All this made her more puzzled than ever at his having taken the job at the hotel. When she asked him about it, Jules said, “You tell me your dark secret and I’ll tell you mine.”

She blushed and let the matter drop. Jules didn’t pursue it either and their relationship continued, a warm friendship that she counted on more than she realized.

Now, sitting at the side of the pool with Jules’ blond head in her lap, she felt an overwhelming tenderness for him. Her loins ached and without realizing it her fingers sensuously stroked the skin of his neck. He seemed to be sleeping, not noticing, and she became excited just by the feel of him against her. Suddenly he raised his head from her lap and stood up. He took her by the hand and led her over the grass on to the cement walk. She followed him dutifully even when he led her into one of the cottages that held his private apartment. When they were inside he fixed them both big drinks. After the blazing sun and her own sensuous thoughts the drink went to her head and made her dizzy. Then Jules had his arms around her and their bodies, naked except for scanty bathing suits, were pressed against each other. Lucy was murmuring. “Don’t,” but there was no conviction in her voice and Jules paid no attention to her. He quickly stripped her bathing bra off so that he could fondle her heavy breasts, kissed them and then stripped off her bathing trunks and as he did so kept kissing her body, her rounded belly and the insides of her thighs. He stood up, struggling out of his own bathing shorts and embracing her, and then, naked in each other’s arms, they were lying on his bed and she could feel him entering her and it was enough, just the slight touch, for her to reach her climax and then in the second afterward she could read in the motions of his body, his surprise. She felt the overwhelming shame she had felt before she knew Sonny, but Jules was twisting her body over the edge of the bed, positioning her legs a certain way and she let him control her limbs and her body, and then he was entering her again and kissing her and this time she could feel him but more important she could tell that he was feeling something too and coming to his climax.

When he rolled off her body, Lucy huddled into one corner of the bed and began to cry. She felt so ashamed. And then she was shockingly surprised to hear Jules laugh softly and say, “You poor benighted Eye-talian girl, so that’s why you kept refusing me all these months? You dope.” He said “you dope” with such friendly affection that she turned toward him and he took her naked body against his saying, “You are medieval, you are positively medieval.” But the voice was soothingly comforting as she continued to weep.

Jules lit a cigarette and put it in her mouth so that she choked on the smoke and had to stop crying. “Now listen to me,” he said, “if you had had a decent modern raising with a family culture that was part of the twentieth century your problem would have been solved years ago. Now let me tell you what your problem is: it’s not the equivalent of being ugly, of having bad skin and squinty eyes that facial surgery really doesn’t solve. Your problem is like having a wart or a mole on your chin, or an improperly formed ear. Stop thinking of it in s@xual terms. Stop thinking in your head that you have a big box no man can love because it won’t give his penis the necessary friction. What you have is a pelvic malformation and what we surgeons call a weakening of the pelvic floor. It usually comes after child-bearing but it can be simply bad bone structure. It’s a common condition and many women live a life of misery because of it when a simple operation could fix them up. Some women even commit suicide because of it. But I never figured you for that condition because you have such a beautiful body. I thought it was psychological, since I know your story, you told it to me often enough, you and Sonny. But let me give you a thorough physical examination and I can tell you just exactly how much work will have to be done. Now go in and take a shower.” Lucy went in and took her shower. Patiently and over her protests, Jules made her lie on the bed, legs spread apart. He had an extra doctor’s bag in his apartment and it was open. He also had a small glass-topped table by the bed which held some other instruments. He was all business now, examining her, sticking his fingers inside her and moving them around. She was beginning to feel humiliated when he kissed her on the navel and said, almost absentmindedly, “First time I’ve enjoyed my work.” Then he flipped her over and thrust a finger in her rectum, feeling around, but his other hand was stroking her neck affectionately. When he was finished he turned her right side up again, kissed her tenderly on the mouth and said, “Baby, I’m going to build you a whole new thing down there, and then I’ll try it out personally. It will be a medical first, I’ll be able to write a paper on it for the official journals.”

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