The first one to see Johnny Fontane enter the garden was Connie Corleone. She forgot her bridal dignity and screamed, "Johneee." Then she ran into his arms. He hugged her tight and kissed her on the mouth, kept his arm around her as others came up to greet him. They were all his old friends, people he had grown up with on the West Side. Then Connie was dragging him to her new husband. Johnny saw with amusement that the blond young man looked a little sour at no longer being the star of the day. He turned on all his charm, shaking the groom's hand, toasting him with a glass of wine. A familiar voice called from the bandstand, "How about giving us a song, Johnny?" He looked up and saw Nino Valenti smiling down at him. Johnny Fontane jumped up on the bandstand and threw his arms around Nino. They had been inseparable, singing together, going out with girls together, until Johnny had started to become famous and sing on the radio. When he had gone to Hollywood to make movies Johnny had phoned Nino a couple of times just to talk and had promised to get him a club singing date. But he had never done so. Seeing Nino now, his cheerful, mocking, drunken grin, all the affection returned. Nino began strumming on the mandolin. Johnny Fontane put his hand on Nino's shoulder. "This is for the bride," he said, and stamping his foot, chanted the words to an obscene Sicilian love song. As he sang, Nino made suggestive motions with his body. The bride blushed proudly, the throng of guests roared its approval. Before the song ended they were all stamping with their feet and roaring out the sly, double-meaning tag line that finished each stanza. At the end they would not stop applauding until Johnny cleared his throat to sing another song. They were all proud of him. He was of them and he had become a famous singer, a movie star who slept with the most desired women in the world. And yet he had shown proper respect for his Godfather by traveling three thousand miles to attend this wedding. He still loved old friends like Nino Valenti. Many of the people there had seen Johnny and Nino singing together when they were just boys, when no one dreamed that Johnny Fontane would grow up to hold the hearts of fifty million women in his hands. Johnny Fontane reached down and lifted the bride up onto the bandstand so that Connie stood between him and Nino. Both men crouched down, facing each other, Nino plucking the mandolin for a few harsh chords. It was an old routine of theirs, a mock battle and wooing, using their voices like swords, each shouting a chorus in turn. With the most delicate courtesy, Johnny let Nino's voice overwhelm his own, let Nino take the bride from his arm, let Nino swing into the last victorious stanza while his own voice died away. The whole wedding party broke into shouts of applause, the three of them embraced each other at the end. The guests begged for another song. Only Don Corleone, standing in the corner entrance of the house, sensed something amiss. Cheerily, with bluff good humor, careful not to give offense to his guests, he called out, "My godson has come three thousand miles to do us honor and no one thinks to wet his throat?" At once a dozen full wineglasses were thrust at Johnny Fontane. He took a sip from all and rushed to embrace his Godfather. As he did so he whispered something into the older man's ear. Don Corleone led him into the house. Tom Hagen held out his hand when Johnny came into the room. Johnny shook it and said, "How are you, Tom?" But without his usual charm that consisted of a genuine warmth for people. Hagen was a little hurt by this coolness but shrugged it off. It was one of the penalties for being the Don's hatchet man. Johnny Fontane said to the Don, "When I got the wedding invitation I said to myself, 'My Godfather isn't mad at me anymore.' I called you five times after my divorce and Tom always told me you were out or busy so I knew you were sore." Don Corleone was filling glasses from the yellow bottle of Strega. "That's all forgotten. Now. Can I do something for you still? You're not too famous, too rich, that I can't help you?" Johnny gulped down the yellow fiery liquid and held out his glass to be refilled. He tried to sound jaunty. "I'm not rich, Godfather. I'm going down. You were right. I should never have left my wife and kids for that tramp I married. I don't blame you for getting sore at me." The Don shrugged. "I worried about you, you're my godson, that's all." Johnny paced up and down the room. "I was crazy about that bitch. The biggest star in Hollywood. She looks like an angel. And you know what she does after a picture? If the makeup man does a good job on her face, she lets him bang her. If the cameraman made her look extra good, she brings him into her dressing room and gives him a screw. Anybody. She uses her body like I use the loose change in my pocket for a tip. A whore made for the devil." Don Corleone curtly broke in. "How is your family?" Johnny sighed. "I took care of them. After the divorce I gave Ginny and the kids more than the courts said I should. I go see them once a week. I miss them. Sometimes I think I'm going crazy." He took another drink. "Now my second wife laughs at me. She can't understand my being jealous. She calls me an old-fashioned guinea, she makes fun of my singing. Before I left I gave her a nice beating but not in the face because she was making a picture. I gave her cramps, I punched her on the arms and legs like a kid and she kept laughing at me." He lit a cigarette. "So, Godfather, right now, life doesn't seem worth living." Don Corleone said simply. "These are troubles I can't help you with." He paused, then asked, "What's the matter with your voice?" All the assured charm, the self-mockery, disappeared from Johnny Fontane's face. He said almost brokenly, "Godfather, I can't sing anymore, something happened to my throat, the doctors don't know what." Hagen and the Don looked at him with surprise, Johnny had always been so tough. Fontane went on. "My two pictures made a lot of money. I was a big star. Now they throw me out. The head of the studio always hated my guts and now he's paying me off." Don Corleone stood before his godson and asked grimly, "Why doesn't this man like you?" "I used to sing those songs for the liberal organizations, you know, all that stuff you never liked me to do. Well, Jack Woltz didn't like it either. He called me a Communist, but he couldn't make it stick. Then I snatched a girl he had saved for himself. It was strictly a one-night stand and she came after me. What the hell could I do? Then my whore second wife throws me out. And Ginny and the kids won't take me back unless I come crawling on my hands and knees, and I can't sing anymore. Godfather, what the hell can I do?" Don Corleone's face had become cold without a hint of sympathy. He said contemptuously, "You can start by acting like a man." Suddenly anger contorted his face. He shouted. "LIKE A MAN!" He reached over the desk and grabbed Johnny Fontane by the hair of his head in a gesture that was savagely affectionate. "By Christ in heaven, is it possible that you spent so much time in my presence and turned out no better than this? A Hollywood finocchio who weeps and begs for pity? Who cries out like a woman--- 'What shall I do? Oh, what shall I do?"' The mimicry of the Don was so extraordinary, so unexpected, that Hagen and Johnny were startled into laughter. Don Corleone was pleased. For a moment he reflected on how much he loved this godson. How would his own three sons have reacted to such a tongue-lashing? Santino would have sulked and behaved badly for weeks afterward. Fredo would have been cowed. Michael would have given him a cold smile and gone out of the house, not to be seen for months. But Johnny, ah, what a fine chap he was, smiling now, gathering strength, knowing already the true purpose of his Godfather. Don Corleone went on. "You took the woman of your boss, a man more powerful than yourself, then you complain he won't help you. What nonsense. You left your family, your children without a father, to marry a whore and you weep because they don't welcome you back with open arms. The whore, you don't hit her in the face because she is making a picture, then you are amazed because she laughs at you. You lived like a fool and you have come to a fool's end." Don Corleone paused to ask in a patient voice, "Are you willing to take my advice this time?" Johnny Fontane shrugged. "I can't marry Ginny again, not the way she wants. I have to gamble, I have to drink, I have to go out with the boys. Beautiful broads run after me and I never could resist them. Then I used to feel like a heel when I went back to Ginny. Christ, I can't go through all that crap again." It was rare that Don Corleone showed exasperation. "I didn't tell you to get married again. Do what you want. It's good you wish to be a father to your children. A man who is not a father to his children can never be a real man. But then, you must make their mother accept you. Who says you can't see them every day? Who says you can't live in the same house? Who says you can't live your life exactly as you want to live it?" Johnny Fontane laughed. "Godfather, not all women are like the old Italian wives. Ginny won't stand for it." Now the Don was mocking. "Because you acted like a finocchio. You gave her more than the court said. You didn't hit the other in the face because she was making a picture. You let women dictate your actions and they are not competent in this world, though certainly they will be saints in heaven while we men burn in hell. And then I've watched you all these years." The Don's voice became earnest. "You've been a fine godson, you've given me all the respect. But what of your other old friends? One year you run around with this person, the next year with another person. That Italian boy who was so funny in the movies, he had some bad luck and you never saw him again because you were more famous. And how about your old, old comrade that you went to school with, who was your partner singing? Nino. He drinks too much out of disappointment but he never complains. He works hard driving the gravel truck and sings weekends for a few dollars. He never says anything against you. You couldn't help him a bit? Why not? He sings well." Johnny Fontane said with patient weariness, "Godfather, he just hasn't got enough talent. He's OK, but he's not big time." Don Corleone lidded his eyes almost closed and then said, "And you, godson, you now, you just don't have talent enough. Shall I get you a job on the gravel truck with Nino?" When Johnny didn't answer, the Don went on. "Friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent. It is more than government. It is almost the equal of family. Never forget that. If you had built up a wall of friendships you wouldn't have to ask me to help. Now tell me, why can't you sing? You sang well in the garden. As well as Nino." Hagen and Johnny smiled at this delicate thrust. It was Johnny's turn to be patronizingly patient. "My voice is weak. I sing one or two songs and then I can't sing again for hours or days. I can't make it through the rehearsals or the retakes. My voice is weak, it's got some sort of sickness." "So you have woman trouble. Your voice is sick. Now tell me the trouble you're having with this Hollywood pezzonovante who won't let you work." The Don was getting down to business. "He's bigger than one of your pezzonovantes," Johnny said. "He owns the studio. He advises the President on movie propaganda for the war. Just a month ago he bought the movie rights to the biggest novel of the year. A best seller. And the main character is a guy just like me. I wouldn't even have to act, just be myself. I wouldn't even have to sing. I might even win the Academy Award. Everybody knows it's perfect for me and I'd be big again. As an actor. But that bastard Jack Woltz is paying me off, he won't give it to me. I offered to do it for nothing, for a minimum price and he still says no. He sent the word that if I come and kiss his ass in the studio commissary, maybe he'll think about it." Don Corleone dismissed this emotional nonsense with a wave of his hand. Among reasonable men problems of business could always be solved. He patted his godson on the shoulder. "You're discouraged. Nobody cares about you, so you think. And you've lost a lot of weight. You drink a lot, eh? You don't sleep and you take pills?" He shook his head disapprovingly. "Now I want you to follow my orders," the Don said. "I want you to stay in my house for one month. I want you to eat well, to rest and sleep. I want you to be my companion, I enjoy your company, and maybe you can learn something about the world from your Godfather that might even help you in the great Hollywood. But no singing, no drinking and no women. At the end of the month you can go back to Hollywood and this pezzonovante, this .90 caliber will give you that job you want. Done?" Johnny Fontane could not altogether believe that the Don had such power. But his Godfather had never said such and such a thing could be done without having it done. "This guy is a personal friend of J. Edgar Hoover," Johnny said. "You can't even raise your voice to him." "He's a businessman," the Don said blandly. "I'll make him an offer he can't refuse." "It's too late," Johnny said. "All the contracts have been signed and they start shooting in a week. It's absolutely impossible." Don Corleone said, "Go, go back to the party. Your friends are waiting for you. Leave everything to me." He pushed Johnny Fontane out of the room. Hagen sat behind the desk and made notes. The Don heaved a sigh and asked, "Is there anything else?" "Sollozzo can't be put off any more. You'll have to see him this week." Hagen held his pen over the calendar. The Don shrugged. "Now that the wedding is over, whenever you like." This answer told Hagen two things. Most important, that the answer to Virgil Sollozzo would be no. The second, that Don Corleone, since he would not give the answer before his daughter's wedding, expected his no to cause trouble. Hagen said cautiously, "Shall I tell Clemenza to have some men come live in the house?" The Don said impatiently, "For what? I didn't answer before the wedding because on an important day like that there should be no cloud, not even in the distance. Also I wanted to know beforehand what he wanted to talk about. We know now. What he will propose is an infamita." Hagen asked, "Then you will refuse?" When the Don nodded, Hagen said, "I think we should all discuss it--- the whole Family--- before you give your answer." The Don smiled. "You think so? Good, we will discuss it. When you come back from California. I want you to fly there tomorrow and settle this business for Johnny. See that movie pezzonovante. Tell Sollozzo I will see him when you get back from California. Is there anything else?" Hagen said formally, "The hospital called. Consigliere Abbandando is dying, he won't last out the night. His family was told to come and wait." Hagen had filled the Consigliere's post for the past year, ever since the cancer had imprisoned Genco Abbandando in his hospital bed. Now he waited to hear Don Corleone say the post was his permanently. The odds were against it. So high a position was traditionally given only to a man descended from two Italian parents. There had already been trouble about his temporary performance of the duties. Also, he was only thirty-five, not old enough, supposedly, to have acquired the necessary experience and cunning for a successful Consigliere. But the Don gave him no encouragement. He asked, "When does my daughter leave with her bridegroom?" Hagen looked at his wristwatch. "In a few minutes they'll cut the cake and then a half hour after that." That reminded him of something else. "Your new son-in-law. Do we give him something important, inside the Family?" He was surprised at the vehemence of the Don's answer. "Never." The Don hit the desk with the flat of his hand. "Never. Give him something to earn his living, a good living. But never let him know the Family's business. Tell the others, Sonny, Fredo, Clemenza." The Don paused. "Instruct my sons, all three of them, that they will accompany me to the hospital to see poor Genco. I want them to pay their last respects. Tell Freddie to drive the big car and ask Johnny if he will come with us, as a special favor to me." He saw Hagen look at him questioningly. "I want you to go to California tonight. You won't have time to go see Genco. But don't leave until I come back from the hospital and speak with you. Understood?" "Understood," Hagen said. "What time should Fred have the car waiting?" "When the guests have left," Don Corleone said. "Genco will wait for me." "The Senator called," Hagen said. "Apologizing for not coming personally but that you would understand. He prob璦bly means those two FBI men across the street taking down license numbers. But he sent his gift over by special messenger." The Don nodded. He did not think it necessary to menion that he himself had warned the Senator not to come. "Did he send a nice present?" Hagen made a face of impressed approval that was very strangely Italian on his German-Irish features. "Antique silver, very valuable. The kids can sell it for a grand at least. The Senator spent a lot of time getting exactly the right thing. For those kind of people that's more important than how much it costs." Don Corleone did not hide his pleasure that so great a man as the Senator had shown him such respect. The Senator, like Luca Brasi, was one of the great stones in the Don's power structure, and he too, with this gift, had resworn his loyalty. When Johnny Fontane appeared in the garden, Kay Adams recognized him immediately. She was truly surprised. "You never told me your family knew Johnny Fontane," she said. "Now I'm sure I'll marry you." "Do you want to meet him?" Michael asked. "Not now," Kay said. She sighed. "I was in love with him for three years. I used to come down to New York whenever he sang at the Capitol and scream my head off. He was so wonderful." "We'll meet him later," Michael said. When Johnny finished singing and vanished into the house with Don Corleone, Kay said archly to Michael, "Don't tell me a big movie star like Johnny Fontane has to ask your father for a favor?" "He's my father's godson," Michael said. "And if it wasn't for my father he might not be a big movie star today." Kay Adams laughed with delight. "That sounds like another great story." Michael shook his head "I can't tell that one," he said. "Trust me," she said.