It was only here in these 1)dim, 2)vaulted churches that she allowed herself to think about her husband’s other life. About that terrible night a year ago when he had deliberately used all their trust and love in each other to make her believe his lie that he had not killed his sister’s husband.
She had left him because of that lie, not because of the deed. The next morning she had taken the children away with her to her parents’ house in New Hampshire. Without a word to anyone, without really knowing what action she meant to take. Michael had immediately understood. He had called her the first day and then left her alone. It was a week before the 3)limousine from New York pulled up in front of her house with Tom Hagen.
She had spent a long terrible afternoon with Tom Hagen, the most terrible afternoon of her life. They had gone for a walk in the woods outside her little town and Hagen had not been gentle. They walked along the green country road. Hagen asked quietly, “Why did you run away?”
Kay said, “Because Michael lied to me. Because he made a fool of me when he stood Godfather to Connie’s boy. He betrayed me. I can’t love a man like that. I can’t live with it. I can’t let him be father to my children.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Hagen said.
She turned on him with 4)now-justified rage. “I mean that he killed his sister’s husband. Do you understand that?” She paused for a moment. “And he lied to me.”
They walked on for a long time in silence. Finally Hagen said, “You have no way of really knowing that’s all true. But just for the sake of argument let’s assume that it’s true. I’m not saying it is, remember. But what if I gave you what might be some justification for what he did. Or rather some possible justifications?”
Kay looked at him 5)scornfully. “That’s the first time I’ve seen the lawyer side of you, Tom. It’s not your best side.”
Hagen grinned. “OK. Just hear me out. What if Carlo had put Sonny on the spot, fingered him. What if Carlo beating up Connie that time was a deliberate plot to get Sonny out in the open, that they knew he would take the route over the Jones Beach Causeway? What if Carlo had been paid to help get Sonny killed? Then what?”
Kay didn’t answer. Hagen went on. “And what if the 6)Don, a great man, couldn’t bring himself to do what he had to do, 7)avenge his son’s death by killing his daughter’s husband? What if that, finally, was too much for him, and he made Michael his successor, knowing that Michael would take that load off his shoulders, would take that guilt?”
“It was all over with,” Kay said, tears springing into her eyes. “Everybody was happy. Why couldn’t Carlo be forgiven? Why couldn’t everything go on and everybody forget?”
She had led across a meadow to a tree-shaded brook. Hagen sank down on the grass and sighed. He looked around, sighed again and said, “in this world you could do it.”
Kay said, “He’s not the man I married.”
Hagen laughed shortly. “If he were, he’d be dead now. You’d be a widow now. You’d have no problem.”
Kay 8)blazed out at him. “What the hell does that mean? Come on, Tom, speak out straight once in your life. I know Michael can’t, but you’re not Sicilian, you can tell a woman the truth, you can treat her like an equal, a fellow human being.”
There was another long silence. Hagen shook his head. “You’ve got Mike wrong. You’re mad because he lied to you. Well, he warned you never to ask him about business. You’re mad because he was Godfather to Carlo’s boy. But you made him do that. Actually it was the right move for him to make if he was going to take action against Carlo. The classical tactical move to win the victim’s trust.” Hagen gave her a grim smile. “Is that straight enough talk for you?” But Kay bowed her head.
Hagen went on. “I’ll give you some more straight talk. After the Don died, Mike was set up to be killed. Do you know who set him up? 9)Tessio. So Tessio had to be killed. Carlo had to be killed. Because 10)treachery can’t be forgiven. Michael could have forgiven it, but people never forgive themselves and so they would always be dangerous. Michael really liked Tessio. He loves his sister. But he would be 11)shirking his duty to you and his children, to his whole family, to me and my family, if he let Tessio and Carlo go free. They would have been a danger to us all, all our lives.”
Kay had been listening to this with tears running down her face. “Is that what Michael sent you up here to tell me?”
Hagen looked at her in genuine surprise. “No,” he said. “He told me to tell you you could have everything you want and do everything you want as long as you take good care of the kids.” Hagen smiled. “He said to tell you that you’re his Don. That’s just a joke.”
Kay put her hand on Hagen’s arm. “He didn’t order you to tell me all the other things?”
Hagen hesitated a moment as if debating whether to tell her a final truth. “You still don’t understand,” he said. “If you told Michael what I’ve told you today, I’m a dead man.” He paused again. “You and the children are the only people on this earth he couldn’t harm.”
From the innermost recess of the church the bell tolled for 12)repentance. As she had been taught to do, Kay struck her breast lightly with her clenched hand, the stroke of repentance. The bell tolled again and there was the 13)shuffling of feet as the 14)communicants left their seats to go to the 15)altar rail. Kay rose to join them. She knelt at the altar and from the depths of the church the bell tolled again. With her closed hand she struck her heart once more. The priest was before her. She tilted back her head and opened her mouth to receive the papery thin 16)wafer. This was the most terrible moment of all. Until it melted away and she could swallow and she could do what she came to do.
She emptied her mind of all thought of herself, of her children, of all anger, of all rebellion, of all questions. Then with a profound and deeply willed desire to believe, to be heard, as she had done every day since the murder of Carlo Rizzi, she said the necessary prayers for the soul of Michael Corleone.