Johnny, get me a drink or I get up out of bed sad get it myself."
Johnny shrugged and moved toward the bar. Jules said indifferently, "I'm saying he shouldn't have it."
Johnny knew why Jules irritated him. The doctor's voice was always cool, the words never stressed so matter how dire, the voice always low and controlled. If he gave a warning the warning was in the words alone, the voice itself was neutral, as if uncaring. It was this that made Johnny sore enough to bring Nino his water glass of whiskey. Before he handed it over he said to Jules, "This won't kill him, right?"
"No, it won't kill him," Jules said calmly. Lucy gave him an anxious glance, started to say something, then kept still. Meanwhile Nino had taken the whiskey and poured it down his throat.
Johnny was smiling down at Nino; they had shown the punk doctor. Suddenly Nino gasped, his face seemed to turn blue, he couldn't catch his breath and was choking for air. His body leaped upward like a fish, his face was gorged with blood, his eyes bulging. Jules appeared on the other side of the bed facing Johnny and Lucy. He took Nino by the neck and held him still and plunged the needle into the shoulder near where it joined the neck. Nino went limp in his hands, the heaves of his body subsided, and after a moment he slumped down back onto his pillow. His eyes closed in sleep.
Johnny, Lucy and Jules went back into the living room part of the suite and sat around the huge solid coffee table. Lucy picked up one of the aquamarine phones and ordered coffee and some food to be sent up. Johnny had gone over to the bar and mixed himself a drink.
"Did you know he would have that reaction from the whiskey?" Johnny asked.
Jules shrugged. "I was pretty sure he would."
Johnny said sharply, "Then why didn't you warn me?"
"I warned you," Jules said.
"You didn't warn me right," Johnny said with cold anger. "You are really one hell of a doctor. You don't give a shit. You tell me to get Nino in a crazy house, you don't bother to use a nice word like sanitorium. You really like to stick it to people, right?"
Lucy was staring down in her lap. Jules kept smiling at Fontane. "Nothing was going to stop you from giving Nino that drink. You had to show you didn't have to accept my warnings, my orders. Remember when you offered me a job as your personal physician after that throat business? I turned you down because I knew we could never get along. A doctor thinks he's God, he's the high priest in modern society, that's one of his rewards. But you would never treat me that way. I'd be a flunky God to you. Like those doctors you guys have in Hollywood. Where do you get those people from anyway? Christ, don't they know anything or don't they just care? They must know what's happening to Nino but they just give him all kinds of drugs to keep him going. They wear those silk suits and they kiss your ass because you're a power movie man and so you think they are great doctors. Show biz, docs, you gotta have heart? Right? But they don't give a fuck if you live or die. Well, my little hobby, unforgivable as it is, is to keep people alive. I let you give Nino that drink to show you what could happen to him." Jules leaned toward Johnny Fontane, his voice still calm, unemotional. "Your friend is almost terminal. Do you understand that? He hasn't got a chance without therapy and strict medical care. His blood pressure and diabetes and bad habits can cause a cerebral hemorrhage in this very next instant. His brain will blow itself apart. Is that vivid enough for you? Sure, I said crazy house. I want you to understand what's needed. Or you won't make a move. I'll put it to you straight. You can save your buddy's life by having him committed. Otherwise kiss him good-bye."
Lucy murmured, "Jules, darling, lutes, don't be so tough. Just tell him."
Jules stood up. His usual cool was gone, Johnny Fontane noticed with satisfaction. His voice too had lost its quiet unaccented monotone.
"Do you think this is the first time I've had to talk to people like you in a situation like this?" Jules said. "I did it every day. Lucy says don't be so tough, but she doesn't know what she's talking about. You know, I used to tell people, "Don't eat go much or you'll die, don't smoke so much or you'll die, don't work so much or you'll die, don't drink so much or you'll die.' Nobody listens. You know why? Because I don't say, `You will die tomorrow.' Well, I can tell you that Nino may very well die tomorrow."
Jules went over to the bar and mixed himself another drink. "How about it, Johnny, are you going to get Nino committed?"
Johnny said, "I don't know."
Jules took a quick drink at the bar and filled his glass again. "You know, it's a funny thing, you can smoke yourself to death, drink yourself to death, work yourself to death and even eat yourself to death. But that's all acceptable. The only thing you can't do medically is screw yourself to death and yet that's where they put all the obstacles." He paused to finish his drink. "But even that's trouble, for women anyway. I used to have women who weren't supposed to have any more babies. 'It's dangerous,' I'd tell them. 'You could die,' I'd tell them. And a month later they pop in, their faces all rosy, and say, 'Doctor, I think I'm pregnant,' and sure enough they'd kill the rabbit. 'But it's dangerous,' I'd tell them. My voice used to have expression in those days. And they'd smile at me and say, 'But my husband and I are very strict Catholics,' they'd say."
There was a knock on the door and two waiters wheeled in a cart covered with food and silver service coffeepots. They took a portable table from the bottom of the cart and set it up. Then Johnny dismissed them.
They sat at the table and ate the hot sandwiches Lucy had ordered and drank the coffee. Johnny leaned back and lit up a cigarette. "So you save lives. How come you became an abortionist?"
Lucy spoke up for the first time. "He wanted to help girls in trouble, girls who might commit suicide or do something dangerous to get rid of the baby."
Jules smiled at her and sighed. "It's not that simple. I became a surgeon finally. I've got the good hands, as ballplayers say. But I was so good I scared myself silly. I'd open up some poor bastard's belly and know he was going to die. I'd operate and know that the cancer or tumor would come back but I'd send them off home with a smile and a lot of bullshit. Some poor broad comes in and I slice off one tit. A year later she's back and I slice off the other tit. A year after that, I scoop out her insides like you scoop the seeds out of a cantaloupe. After all that she dies anyway. Meanwhile husbands keep calling up and asking, 'What do the tests show? What do the tests show?'
"So I hired an extra secretary to take all those calls. I saw the patient only when she was fully prepared for examination, tests or operation. I spent the minimum possible time with the victim because I was, after all, a busy man. And then finally I'd let the husband talk to me for two minutes. 'It's terminal,' I'd say. And they could never hear that last word. They understood what it meant but they never heard it. I thought at first that unconsciously I was dropping my voice on the last word, so I consciously said it louder. But still they never heard it. One guy even said, 'What the hell do you mean, it's germinal?' " Jules started to laugh. "Germinal, terminal, what the hell. I started to do abortions. Nice and easy, everybody happy, like washing the dishes and leaving a clean sink. That was my class. I loved it, I loved being an abortionist. I don't believe that a two-month fetus is a human being so no problems there. I was helping young girls and married women who were in trouble, I was making good money. I was out of the front tines. When I got caught I felt like a deserter that had been hauled in. But I was lucky, a friend pulled some strings and got pie off but now the big hospitals won't let me operate. So here I am. Giving good advice again which is being ignored just like in the old days."
"I'm not ignoring it," Johnny Fontane said. "I'm thinking it over."
Lucy finally changed the subject. "What are you doing in Vegas, Johnny? Relaxing from your duties as big-time Hollywood wheel or working?"
Johnny shook his head. "Mike Corleone wants to see me and have a talk. He's flying in tonight with Tom Hagen. Tom said they'll be seeing you, Lucy. You know what it's all about?"
Lucy shook her head. "We're all having dinner tether tomorrow night. Freddie too. I think it might have something to do with the hotel. The casino has been dropping money lately, which shouldn't be. The Don might want Mike to check it out."
"I hear Mike finally got his face fixed," Johnny said.
Lucy laughed. "I guess Kay talked him into it. He wouldn't do it when they were married. I wonder why? It looked so awful and made his nose drip. He should have had it done sooner." She paused for a moment. "Jules was called in by the Corleone Family for that operation. They used him as a consultant and as observer."
Johnny nodded and said dryly, "I recommended him for it."
"Oh," Lucy said. "Anyway, Mike said he wanted to do something for Jules. That's why he's having us to dinner tomorrow night."
Jules said musingly, "He didn't trust anybody. He warned me to keep track of what everybody did. It was fairly straight, ordinary surgery. Any competent man could do it."
There was a sound from the bedroom of the suite and they looked toward the drapes. Nino had become concious again. Johnny went and sat on the bed. Jules and Lucy went over to the foot of the bed. Nino gave them a wan grin. "OK, I'll stop being a wise guy. I feel really lousy. Johnny, remember about a year ago, what happened when we were with those two broads down in Palm Springs? I swear to you I wasn't jealous about what happened. I was glad. You believe me, Johnny?"
Johnny said reassuringly, "Sure, Nino, I believe you."
Lucy and Jules looked at each other. From everything they had heard and knew about Johnny Fontane it seemed impossible that he would take a girl away from a close friend like Nino. And why was Nino saying he wasn't jealous a year after it happened? The same thought crossed both their minds, that Nino was drinking himself to death romantically because a girl had left him to go with Johnny Fontane.
Jules checked Nino again. "I'll get a nurse to be in the room with you tonight," Jules said. "You really have to stay in bed for a couple of days. No kidding."
Nino smiled. "OK, Doc, just don't make the nurse too pretty."
Jules made a call for the nurse and then he and Lucy left. Johnny sat in a chair near the bed to wait for the nurse. Nino was falling asleep again, an exhausted took on his face. Johnny thought about what he had said, about not being jealous about what had happened over a year ago with those two broads down in Palm Springs. The thought had never entered his head that Nino might be jealous.
A year ago Johnny Fontane had sat in his plush office, the office of the movie company he headed, and felt as lousy as he had ever felt in his life. Which was surprising because the first movie he had produced, with himself as star and Nino in a featured part, was making tons of money. Everything had worked. Everybody had done their job. The picture was brought in under budget. Everybody was going to make a fortune out of it and Jack Woltz was losing ten years of his life. Now Johnny had two more pictures in production, one starring himself, one starring Nino. Nino was great on the screen as one of those charming, dopey lover-boys that women loved to shove between their tits. Little boy lost. Everything he touched made money, it was rolling in. The Godfather was getting his percentage through the bank, and that made Johnny feel really good. He had justified his Godfather's faith. But today that wasn't helping much.