Omerta

Omerta by Mario Puzo Read Free Book Online

Book: Omerta by Mario Puzo Read Free Book Online
Authors: Mario Puzo
Tags: Fiction
that hole he put the olive pits he had secreted in his pocket. He looked up at the pale night blue of the Sicilian sky and dreamed of himself as an old man like his uncle, sitting in this garden on a similar night, watching his olive trees grow.
    A fter that, everything was fate, the Don believed. He and Astorre made the yearly trip to Sicily until Astorre was sixteen. In the back of the Don’s mind, a vision was forming, a vague outline of the boy’s destiny.
    It was his daughter who created the crisis that moved Astorre into that destiny. At the age of eighteen, two years older than Astorre, Nicole fell in love with him and with her fiery temperament did little to conceal the fact. She completely overwhelmed the susceptible boy. They became intimate with all the hot furiousness of youth.
    The Don could not allow this, but he was a general who adjusted his tactics to the terrain. He never gave any hint he knew of the affair.
    One night he called Astorre into his den and told him he would be sent to England for his schooling and to serve an apprenticeship in banking with a certain Mr. Pryor of London. He did not give any further reason, knowing the boy would realize he was being sent away to end the affair. But he had not reckoned with his daughter, who had listened outside the door. She came storming into the room, her passionate outrage making her even more beautiful.
    “You’re not sending him away,” she screamed at her father. “We’ll run away together.”
    The Don smiled at her and said placatingly, “You both have to finish school.”
    Nicole turned to Astorre, who was blushing with embarrassment. “Astorre, you won’t go?” she said. “Will you?”
    Astorre did not answer, and Nicole burst into tears.
    It would be hard for any father not to be moved by such a scene, but the Don was amused. His daughter was splendid, truly Mafioso in the old sense, a prize in any form. Despite that, for weeks afterward she refused to speak to her father and locked herself away in her room. But the Don did not fear she would be brokenhearted forever.
    It amused him even more to see Astorre in the trap of all maturing adolescents. Certainly Astorre loved Nicole. And certainly her passion and her devotion made him feel like the most important person on earth. Any young man can be seduced by such attention. But just as certainly, the Don understood that Astorre wanted an excuse to be free of any encumbrance on his march to the glories of life. The Don smiled. The boy had all the right instincts, and it was time for his real schooling.
    S o now, three years after his retirement, Don Raymonde Aprile felt the security and satisfaction of a man who has made the right choices in life. Indeed the Don felt so secure that he began to develop a closer relationship with his children, finally enjoying the fruits of fatherhood—to some degree.
    Because Valerius had spent most of the last twenty years in foreign army posts, he had never been close to his father. Now that he was stationed at West Point, the two men saw each other more often and began to speak more openly. Yet it was difficult.
    With Marcantonio, it was different. The Don and his second son enjoyed some kind of rapport. Marcantonio explained his work in TV, his excitement over the dramatic process, his duty to his viewers, his desire to make the world a better place. The lives of such people were like fairy tales to the Don. He was fascinated by them.
    Over family dinners, Marcantonio and his father could quarrel in a friendly way for the entertainment of the others. Once the Don told Marcantonio, “I have never seen people so good or so evil as your characters in those dramas.”
    Marcantonio said, “That is what our audience believes. We have to give it to them.”
    At one family gathering, Valerius had tried to explain the rationale for the war in the Persian Gulf, which in addition to protecting important economic interests and human rights had also been a ratings

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