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. He told her. He told her without being funny. He told it without pride. He told it without any sort of explanation except that eight years before his father had been more impetuous, and because the matter concerned his godson, the Don considered it an affair of personal honor. The story was quickly told. Eight years ago Johnny Fon璽ane had made an extraordinary success singing with a popular dance band. He had become a top radio attraction. Unfortunately the band leader, a well-known show business personality named Les Halley, had signed Johnny to a five-year personal services contract. It was a common show business practice. Les Halley could now loan Johnny out and pocket most of the money. Don Corleone entered the negotiations personally. He offered Les Halley twenty thousand dollars to release Johnny Fontane from the personal services contract. Halley offered to take only fifty percent of Johnny's earnings. Don Corleone was amused. He dropped his offer from twenty thou璼and dollars to ten thousand dollars. The band leader, obviously not a man of the world outside his beloved show business, completely missed the significance of this lower offer. He refused. The next day Don Corleone went to see the band leader personally. He brought with him his two best friends, Genco Abbandando, who was his Consigliere, and Luca Brasi. With no other witnesses Don Corleone persuaded Les Halley to sign a document giving up all rights to all services from Johnny Fontane upon payment of a certified check to the amount of ten thousand dollars. Don Corleone did this by putting a pistol to the forehead of the band leader and assur璱ng him with the utmost seriousness that either his signature or his brains would rest on that document in exactly one minute. Les Halley signed. Don Corleone pocketed his pistol and handed over the certified check. The rest was history. Johnny Fontane went on to become the greatest singing sensation in the country. He made Hollywood musicals that earned a fortune for his studio. His records made millions of dollars. Then he divorced his childhood-sweetheart wife and left his two children, to marry the most glamorous blond star in motion pictures. He soon learned that she was a "whore." He drank, he gambled, he chased other women. He lost his singing voice. His records stopped selling. The studio did not renew his contract. And so now he had come back to his Godfather. Kay said thoughtfully, "Are you sure you're not jealous of your father? Everything you've told me about him shows him doing something for other people. He must be goodhearted." She smiled wryly. "Of course his methods are not exactly constitutional." Michael sighed. "I guess that's the way it sounds, but let me tell you this. You know those Arctic explorers who leave caches of food scattered on the route to the North Pole? Just in case they may need them someday? That's my father's favors. Someday he'll be at each one of those people's houses and they had better come across." It was nearly twilight before the wedding cake was shown, exclaimed over and eaten. Specially baked by Nazorine, it was cleverly decorated with shells of cream so dizzyingly delicious that the bride greedily plucked them from the corpse of the cake before she whizzed away on her honeymoon with her blond groom. The Don politely sped his guests' departure, noting meanwhile that the black sedan with its FBI men was no longer visible. Finally the only car left in the driveway was the long black Cadillac with Freddie at the wheel. The Don got into the front seat, moving with quick coordination for his age and bulk. Sonny, Michael and Johnny Fontane got into the back seat. Don Corleone said to his son Michael, "Your girl friend, she'll get back to the city by herself all right?" Michael nodded. "Tom said he'd take care of it." Don Corleone nodded with satisfaction at Hagen's efficiency. Because of the gas rationing still in effect, there was little traffic on the Belt Parkway to Manhattan. In less than an hour the Cadillac rolled into the street of French Hospital. During the ride Don Corleone asked his youngest son if he was doing well in school. Michael nodded. Then Sonny in the back seat asked his father, "Johnny says you're getting him squared away with that Hollywood business. Do you want me to go out there and help?" Don Corleone was curt. "Tom is going tonight. He won't need any help, it's a simple affair." Sonny Corleone laughed. "Johnny thinks you can't fix it, that's why I thought you might want me to go out there." Don Corleone turned his head. "Why do you doubt me?" he asked Johnny Fontane. "Hasn't your Godfather always done what he said he would do? Have I ever been taken for a fool?" Johnny apologized nervously. "Godfather, the man who runs it is a real .90 caliber pezzonovante. You can't budge him, not even with money. He has big connections. And he hates me. I just don't know how you can swing it." The Don spoke with affectionate amusement. "I say to you: you shall have it." He nudged Michael with his elbow. "We won't disappoint my godson, eh, Michael?" Michael, who never doubted his father for a moment, shook his head. As they walked toward the hospital entrance, Don Corleone put his hand on Michael's arm so that the others forged ahead. "When you get through with college, come and talk to me," the Don said. "I have some plans you will like." Michael didn't say anything. Don Corleone grunted in exasperation. "I know how you are. I won't ask you to do anything you don't approve of. This is something special. Go your own way now, you're a man after all. But come to me as a son should when you have finished with your schooling." The family of Genco Abbandando, wife and three daughters dressed in black, clustered like a flock of plump crows on the white tile floor of the hospital corridor. When they saw Don Corleone come out of the elevator, they seemed to flutter up off the white tiles in an instinctive surge toward him for protection. The mother was regally stout in black, the daughters fat and plain. Mrs. Abbandando pecked at Don Corleone's cheek, sobbing, wailing, "Oh, what a saint you are, to come here on your daughter's wedding day." Don Corleone brushed these thanks aside. "Don't I owe respect to such a friend, a friend who has been my right arm for twenty, years?" He had understood immediately that the soon-to-be widow did not comprehend that her husband would die this night. Genco Abbandando had been in this hospital for nearly a year dying of his cancer and the wife had come to consider his fatal illness almost an ordinary part of life. Tonight was just another crisis. She babbled on. "Go in and see my poor husband," she said, "he asks for you. Poor man, he wanted to come to the wedding to show his respect but the doctor would not permit it. Then he said you would come to see him on this great day but I did not believe it possible. Ah, men understand friendship more than we women. Go inside, you will make him happy." A nurse and a doctor came out of Genco Abbandando's private room. The doctor was a young man, serious-faced and with the air of one born to command, that is to say, the air of one who has been immensely rich all his life. One of the daughters asked timidly, "Dr. Kennedy, can we go to see him now?" Dr. Kennedy looked over the large group with exasperation. Didn't these people realize that the man inside was dying and dying in torturous pain? It would be much better if everyone let him die in peace. "I think just the immediate family," he said in his exquisitely polite voice. He was surprised when the wife and daughters turned to the short, heavy man dressed in an awkwardly fitted tuxedo, as if to hear his decision. The heavy man spoke. There was just the slightest trace of an Italian accent in his voice. "My dear doctor," said Don Corleone, "is it true he is dying?" "Yes," said Dr. Kennedy. "Then there is nothing more for you to do," said Don Corleone. "We will take up the burden. We will comfort him. We will close his eyes. We will bury him and weep at his funeral and afterwards we will watch over his wife and daughters." At hearing things put so bluntly, forcing her to understand, Mrs. Abbandando began to weep. Dr. Kennedy shrugged. It was impossible to explain to these peasants. At the same time he recognized the crude justice in the man's remarks. His role was over. Still exquisitely polite, he said, "Please wait for the nurse to let you in, she has a few necessary things to do with the patient." He walked away from them down the corridor, his white coat flapping. The nurse went back into the room and they waited. Finally she came out again, holding the door for them to enter. She whispered, "He's delirious with the pain and fever, try not to excite him. And you can stay only a few minutes, except for the wife." She recognized Johnny Fontane as he went by her and her eyes opened wide. He gave her a faint smile of acknowledgment and she stared at him with frank invitation. He filed her away for future reference, then followed the others into the sick man's room. Genco Abbandando had run a long race with death, and now, vanquished, he lay exhausted on the raised bed. He was wasted away to no more than a skeleton, and what had once been vigorous black hair had turned into obscene stringy wisps. Don Corleone said cheerily, "Genco, dear friend, I have brought my sons to pay their respects, and look, even Johnny, all the way from Hollywood." The dying man raised his fevered eyes gratefully to the Don. He let the young men clasp his bony hand in their fleshy ones. His wife and daughters ranged themselves along his bed, kissing his cheek, taking his other hand in turn. The Don pressed his old friend's hand. He said comfortingly, "Hurry up and get better and we'll take a trip back to Italy together to our old village. We'll play boccie in front of the wineshop like our fathers before us." The dying man shook his head. He motioned the young men and his family away from his bedside; with the other bony claw he hung fast to the Don. He tried to speak. The Don put his head down and then sat on the bedside chair. Genco Abbandando was babbling about their childhood. Then his coal-black eyes became sly. He whispered. The Don bent closer. The others in the room were astonished to see tears running down Don Corleone's face as he shook his head. The quavering voice grew louder, filling the room. With a tortured, superhuman effort, Abbandando lifted his head off his pillow, eyes unseeing, and pointed a skeletal forefinger at the Don. "Godfather, Godfather," he called out blindly, "save me from death, I beg of you. My flesh is burning off my bones and I can feel the worms eating away my brain. Godfather, cure me, you have the power, dry the tears of my poor wife. In Corleone we played together as children and now will you let me die when I fear hell for my sins?" The Don was silent. Abbandando said, "It is your daughter's wedding day, you cannot refuse me." The Don spoke quietly, gravely, to pierce through the blasphemous delirium. "Old friend," he said, "I have no such powers. If I did I would be more merciful than God, believe me. But don't fear death and don't fear hell. I will have a mass said for your soul every night and every morning. Your wife and your children will pray for you. How can God punish you with so many pleas for mercy?" The skeleton face took on a cunning expression that was obscene. Abbandanda said slyly, "It's been arranged then?" When the Don answered, his voice was cold, without comfort. "You blaspheme. Resign yourself." Abbandando fell back on the pillow. His eyes lost their wild gleam of hope. The nurse came back into the room and started shooing them out in a very matter-of-fact way. The Don got up but Abbandando put out his hand. "Godfather," he said, "stay here with me and help me meet death. Perhaps if He sees you near me He will be frightened and leave me in peace. Or perhaps you can say a word, pull a few strings, eh?" The dying man winked as if he were mocking the Don, now not really serious. "You're brothers in blood, after all." Then, as if fearing the Don would be offended, he clutched at his hand. "Stay with me, let me hold your hand. We'll outwit that bastard as we've outwitted others. Godfather, don't betray me." The Don motioned the other people out of the room. They left. He took the withered claw of Genco Abbandando in his own two broad hands. Softly, reassuringly, he comforted his friend, as they waited for death together. As if the Don could truly snatch the life of Gencp Abbandando back from that most foul and criminal traitor to man. The wedding day of Connie Corleone ended well for her. Carlo Rizzi performed his duties as a bridegroom with skill and vigor, spurred on by the contents of the bride's gift purse which totaled up to over twenty thousand dollars. The bride, however, gave up her virginity with a great deal more willingness than she gave up her purse. For the latter, he had to blacken one of her eyes. Lucy Mancini waited in her house for a call from Sonny Corleone, sure that he would ask her for a date. Finally she called his house and when she heard a woman's voice answer the phone she hung up. She had no way of knowing that nearly everyone at the wedding had remarked the absence of her and Sonny for that fatal half hour and the gossip was already spreading that Santino Corleone had found another victim. That he had "done the job" on his own sister's maid of honor. Amerigo Bonasera had a terrible nightmare. In his dreams he saw Don Corleone, in peaked cap, overalls and heavy gloves, unloading bullet-riddled corpses in front of his funeral parlor and shouting, "Remember, Amerigo, not a word to anyone, and bury them quickly." He groaned so loud and long in his sleep that his wife shook him awake. "Eh, what a man you are," she grumbled. "To have a nightmare only after a wedding." Kay Adams was escorted to her New York City hotel by Paulie Gatto and Clemenza. The car was large, luxurious and driven by Gatto. Clemenza sat in the back seat and Kay was given the front seat next to the driver. She found both men wildly exotic. Their speech was movie Brooklynese and they treated her with exaggerated courtliness. During the ride she chatted casually with both men and was surprised when they spoke of Michael with unmistakable affection and respect. He had led her to believe that he was an alien in his father's world. Now Clemenza was assuring her in his wheezing guttural voice that the "old man" thought Mike was the best of his sons, the one who would surely inherit the family business. "What business is that?" Kay asked in the most natural way. Paulie Gatto gave her a quick glance as he turned the wheel. Behind her Clemenza said in a surprised voice. "Didn't Mike tell you? Mr. Corleone is the biggest importer of Italian olive oil in the States. Now that the war is over the business could get real rich. He'll need a smart boy like Mike." At the hotel Clemenza insisted on coming to the desk with her. When she protested, he said simply, "The boss said to make sure you got home OK. I gotta do it." After she received her room key he walked her to the elevator and waited until she got in. She waved to him, smiling, and was surprised at his genuine smile of pleasure in return. It was just as well she did not see him go back to the hotel clerk and ask, "What name she registered under?"