In this fanfiction I have created a younger sister, Mary (13), for my own purposes. The rest of the characters are canon. The story begins a few days after the Don is gunned down. Up until then all events remain the same, but from now I'll be using my artistic licence and what happened in the Godfather Part I will not necessarily happen in the story. I have also played slightly with the time of year and the hit has taken place in May/June and not near Christmas. My aim is to explore the sibling relationships between the Corleones, with action and twists and turns on the way.
Hope you enjoy. Feedback is always greatly appreciated and if you want to criticise go ahead …
It was a lazy Tuesday evening. The sun had been shining high in the sky all day, cruelly blistering the skin of those brave or stupid enough to sit out in it. The smartly-dressed men positioned on the doors and in the gardens of the Long Island Corleone residence had, throughout the day, loosened their ties and unbuttoned their shirts as much as they dared. They had wiped the stinging sweat from their faces with silk handkerchiefs, using the ends of their ties to flick away the buzzing insects that had taunted them sporadically. Sonny had had to keep up a steady stream of chilled beer and cool black wine to the men to prevent them becoming too irritable. Since the Don had been gunned down it had been vital that guards covered every inch of the grounds at all times of the day, heat-wave or not. Now, however, there were only a couple of hours of sunlight left. A breeze had begun to cut through the dry and oppressive heat. The men sighed to each other with relief and the amicable chatter sprung up once again between them.
The change in temperature, however, did not make any difference to the atmosphere inside the Corleone residence. Since the hit on the Don in the market place two days before, a cloudy haze seemed to cling to every room, exasperated by the stifling tension that came with having the Corleone children in such close proximity for any length of time. Sonny and Sandra, Tom and Theresa, even Connie and Carlo, and Michael had all moved to be under the same roof as their mother and mother-in-law, Carmella, their brother Fredo, and their sister Maria until the Don was well. It was also a measure for their own protection, though, as was usual in the Corleone household, this was never spoken about openly for fear of frightening the women (who kept their own counsel on the matter).
Maria Corleone, stifled by the new arrangements, decided that she had had enough of hiding out like a prisoner. She was worried about her father, and being kept inside where everyone spoke in whispers or fell silent when she entered a room was beginning to get on top of her. Anyway, unlike her brothers, her confinement to the house was not necessary. She was a child and female and so was considered a civilian. There would be no hit on her – it would be something unthinkable to any of the five families that governed New York – the Tattaglias and Virgil "The Turk" Sollozzo included (though Maria herself was not privy to such exact information). She was as safe as the Pope himself. Her mother had told her earlier that she was to return to school the following day, and so Maria had decided that this also earned her the right to have a couple of hours out with her friends. She had managed to get a telephone message through her friend Georgina to her best friend Peter P, or Peter Petriano, and he would be waiting for her at the Ice Palace at the other side of the town. The trick now was to get out of the house without anyone stopping her. She knew Sonny wouldn't be too crazy about her going out, but she thought that he was probably in the office with Tom and Michael at the other side of the house, which was where they seemed to have holed themselves up over the past few days. If she could get out of the side door near the kitchen then she would be home and dry. Even if the men Sonny had positioned outside saw her she doubted they would stop her. They wouldn't think that she would be brazen enough to leave without permission and they knew that she wouldn't be in danger.
Maria smiled as she saw that the back, downstairs passage was clear. She flicked her long dark hair away from her face nervously as she placed her sweaty palm on the door-knob. She was almost out before she heard footsteps on the staircase and Michael's voice.
'Where are you going, Maria?' he asked with a smile. He was dressed in casual trousers and a black short-sleeved shirt, refusing to wear the staple silk-suit uniform of the other men. Maria noted that with his olive skin and rosy pallor that he looked quite handsome in it. Her heart beat loudly in her chest with fear but she decided to try and brazen it out.
'Just out for an hour, Mikey. I'm going back to school tomorrow so Mama said it would be okay.'
Michael didn't have any reason not to believe his sister and so he nodded. 'Okay, just make sure you're back before dark.' As his little sister opened the door to leave Michael pushed the door to the kitchen open to let in some air. As he did so, Carmella Corleone turned from the kitchen sink to look straight at her youngest daughter.
'Wait a moment,' she said in Italian, wiping her wet hands on her apron and addressing Michael. 'Where's she going?'
Maria felt her heart sink as she noticed Sonny sitting at the kitchen table. He was tucking into fresh bread mopped up with olive whilst he waited for Tom to return from speaking with Clemenza and the men. He looked up with interest as he heard his mother speak.
'Just out, Ma,' Maria said, shooting Michael a nervous look, aware that he had caught her out, 'I'll be in before dark.'
Maria now had Sonny's full attention. His expression soured as he got to his feet. 'What sort of answer is that?' he demanded. ' "Just out"?. Out where? Who said you could go out?'
Maria looked at Michael for help. 'Mikey said if I was back before dark …' She trailed off. It was a shameless lie, but the truth would cause untold ructions. There was one thing that her mother wouldn't tolerate and that was lying - and she had lied to Michael.
'Oh Mikey said?' Sonny said unimpressed, folding his arms in front of him. 'You didn't think you should ask your mother or me? You thought you'd ask Mikey.' He turned to Michael. 'What the hell are you doing telling her that she can go out, kid? What's that all about? I thought I was supposed to be in charge here.' He waited for an answer but Michael didn't give one and so he took it as a sign that his brother knew he was in the wrong and spoke accordingly. 'Don't do that again,' he said, pointing his finger at him. 'If I can't go anywhere, and Tom can't go anywhere, then I'm sure as hell not going to have her going God-knows-where. You got that?'
Michael's dark eyes remained cool to his brother's anger. He could see Maria silently pleading with him to go along with her story. He waited a few seconds before giving the answer that he thought was the best in the circumstances.
'Yes Sir.' He could practically feel his sister's sigh of relief.
Satisfied, Sonny came out into the hall and, reaching past Maria, shut the half-opened door. 'You're not going anywhere,' he said.
'Aw but Sonny,' Maria pleaded, 'I'm only going to the ice-cream parlour to meet my friends. It's only the ice-cream parlour. I'll go straight there and back – I'll be an hour; two at most.'
'You heard what I said. It isn't safe.' He looked at his mother. 'Can you believe this kid?' he asked in broken Italian. 'Our father is lying unconscious in a hospital bed and she wants to go to the ice-cream parlour. You should be helping your mother.'
'Helping her do what?' Maria spat before she could stop herself. 'Cook for you? Clean for you? You already have Sandra waiting on you hand and foot. In fact I'm surprised that she doesn't follow you into the bathroom to wipe your backside for you.' Maria knew she had gone too far but Sonny had been annoying her lately. He was always making jibes to suggest that she didn't quite meet up to anyone's expectations of her as a 'female' – or the Sicilian expectation of one at least. She loved her brother but to her his views were as backward as her elderly mother's.
'What did you say?' Sonny said angrily. He put his face close to hers. 'You better button it, kid. I'm not Fred; I don't take cheek from kids, sister or not.'
'Listen to her, Santino,' Carmella said, again in Italian. 'I don't know what to do with her. She's out of control.' She threw up her hands to emphasize her point. 'She says what she likes to whoever she likes.'
'Is that right?' Sonny said, not taking his eyes off his sister.
'I had a letter from school the day your father was hurt. They said she's just as bad there – she can't keep that mouth of hers shut. They said she's just like a boy – cursing and fighting. I didn't say anything because I know how upset she's been about her father, but I can't let this go on any longer.'
'Don't you worry Ma,' Sonny said, grabbing Maria's arm, 'it stops right now. Come on you, I think we'll have a little chat shall we?'
Maria knew that it would be futile trying to disagree – especially now her mother had told him about the letter from school. She was in a lot of trouble.
'Ma, give Mike that letter. Mike, bring it to the office. I think I should have a read of it my self.'
Michael glanced at Maria. She looked scared now and he felt a pang of annoyance. He wondered why her sister should be kept locked up like a prisoner because of the life his father had chosen for them. She was a kid and she was probably upset – after all her father had just been gunned down. Like him, she probably had to get out of the house once in a while just to get some normality.
Sonny had a firm grip on her arm and she was biting her lip as though it hurt her and Michael spoke up. 'Why don't I take her to the office,' he said. 'Let Ma give you the letter; give you a chance to calm down.'
'Calm down?' Sonny said. 'You're giving me orders? Telling me I should calm down? Is that the way it works now?'
'I didn't mean anything…'
Sonny let go of Maria and advanced on his brother. 'Just do what I said, alright, college boy. While Pa's ill I'm the Don, so just do what I say.'
Michael calmly held Sonny's gaze for a few moments before shrugging. He moved to do what his brother had said, but it was clear to Sonny that he was hiding his contempt and it annoyed him. He was use to having his word obeyed to the letter – and to having unwavering respect. Their mother disappeared into the kitchen with Michael.
'Come on you,' he said to Maria, escorting her to the Don's office.
Inside, Sonny sat Maria down roughly and dismissed the men who were stood guard inside the window. They drew the blinds before they left so that the room took on a dusky dimness. As Maria looked round the pristine room, full with polished mahogany furniture and heavy with the smell of whisky and the cheap cigars the Don preferred, she was struck by how empty it seemed. She felt tears spring to her eyes and struggled to fight them back. She reminded herself that Sonny had told her that her father would make it.
'Ma doesn't need this at the moment,' Sonny said when they were alone. 'None of us do. I've got the business to worry about and Pa. I don't need you playing up and making our mother worry about you.'
'You're getting this out of proportion,' Maria said. 'All I wanted to do was go and get ice-cream.'
Sonny paused for a moment for emphasis. 'Who with?'
Maria hesitated for a fraction of a second, knowing her brother didn't approve of Peter P., and this confirmed to Sonny what he had suspected. He pointed a finger in her face, interrupting before she had the chance to speak.
'I've warned you before about hanging around with those hoodlums, haven't I? What did I say to you last time? I told you that if it happened again then I'd persuade Pa to put you in convent school.'
'I'm not doing anything wrong,' Maria said sullenly. 'They're just my friends.'
'Why don't you make girl-friends like everyone else?' he said. 'Look at Connie – I never had to stop her going anywhere, and you know why? Because she didn't bring any trouble to the door. She was respectful to Pa and she didn't worry our mother.
'I've got nothing in common with those dolly-birds Connie hangs round with,' Maria said, 'and you can't say that I'm not respectful towards Pa.'
'Yes I can,' Sonny said. 'Look at the trouble you're getting yourself in. If he was up and about you would think twice, wouldn't you? You wouldn't be cheeking him like you do me.' He sighed. 'Why is that school writing about you anyway? Do you know how much that upsets Ma – and upsets me?'
'It never bothered anyone when it was you in trouble with school, did it?' Maria snapped.
'You watch your mouth. That was completely different. And if I did get into trouble at school then I had Pa to contend with. You know how big he is about education. He wouldn't let any of us mess about with it. If any of us skipped class then we'd probably get a good hiding for our troubles.'
'So what're you saying - you going to hit me?' Maria said.
Sonny sighed. 'No I'm not going to hit you. I should do though.' At that Michael came in and handed Sonny the letter, noting what Sonny had said to Maria. 'Thanks kid.' Sonny said before scanning the letter, shaking his head.
'What sort of young pricks fight with a girl?' he said. 'Have you read this?'
'Yes,' Michael said. He was more annoyed with whoever had written it. It was obvious to him that it was a lot of fuss about nothing. The school, as far as he could tell, had always had it in for Maria; he had the suspicion that it was because she was a Corleone.
'And?' Sonny prompted.
Michael looked at Maria. 'I don't think it's malicious. It's just play-fighting.'
'Just play-fighting?' Sonny said with disbelief. 'Our kid sister is fighting with the local hooligans,' he shook the letter, 'and cursing like a navvy into the bargain and you just dismiss it?' He turned back to Maria. 'Well what have you got to say for yourself?'
'Mikey's right,' she said. 'It don't mean nothing.'
'Don't talk like that!' Sonny said slamming his fist on the table. 'She's even talking like one of them now.'
'One of who?' Maria said annoyed.
'A hood. Well you listen to me, girl, whether it meant "nothing" or not it stops today. I mean it. You don't hang round with those kids any more. If I so much as hear that you've been talking to one of them in the playground then you'll know about it. I ain't having my sister making us a laughing stock.'
'But Sonny …'
'No buts, princess. That's the end of it. You hang around with girls your own age from now on and you keep that,' he pointed to his mouth, 'clean, or else I will hit you. I mean it. You're thirteen now, you're not a kid anymore. It's about time you found out how the real world works.'
'What do you mean the real world?' Maria said suddenly angry. 'You mean the one where the men are in charge of everything and can do what they please, and the women stay in the background, remembering to mind their manners, look pretty, and obey everything they're told to do?'
'If you like, yeah,' Sonny said belligerently. To him that was indeed the way of things. Women were seen as a liability if left to their own devices. They had to be guided; they could not possible hope to be equal to their male counterparts in intelligence, the same as they could not in physical strength.
'Oh grow up Sonny,' Maria said with exasperation. 'Things are changing. Wives and mothers did a pretty good job taking care of things in America when the soldiers went off to war didn't they? We're realising that we're not just fit to be servants to men. Not that you'd ever want Sandra finding that out. You have her on a leash shorter than the one round Gino's neck.' Gino was their father's dog. The barb hit home.
'Don't you dare bring my wife into it,' Sonny said getting to his feet. 'I swear I will let you have it in a minute.'
Maria flinched in reluctant fear as Sonny towered over her. A six-foot Italian with piercing eyes and wiry jet-black hair, he cut an impressive figure. Maria's father had never raised a hand to her but Sonny was more than capable of it. She thought briefly back to an incident that had occurred two years previously. She had been eleven and Sonny had caught her smoking with Peter P. who she had also been childhood friends with. Sonny had flipped. It was worse in his mind because they had been sat on a wall in the neighbourhood in full view of some of his associates. One of her father's men had actually had to call him to come and collect her. Sonny had then half-dragged her home, not even trusting himself to speak. She remembered her fear – it was palpable. You never quite knew what Sonny was going to do in one of his rages. When they had been safe in the confines of their Long Island home he had loosened his belt and taken it to her, holding her still as she struggled to get away from the few stinging blows he inflicted. He had scared her more than hurt her but that she had cried bitterly. Eventually, his rage spent, he had taken her in his arms until she calmed down. 'It's alright princess,' he had said, 'I was just angry. I didn't mean to hurt you. I would never hurt you. I just don't want that kind of life for you.'
It was the words Sonny had heard his father speak to Fredo and Michael shortly after he himself had joined the family business, but it was the first time that he had truly understood what he had meant.
Since that day Sonny had watched Maria like a hawk and, at twenty-two years her senior, he had almost become like a second father to her. At times like this Maria wished he wasn't quite so interested in what she got up to.
'Calm down Sonny,' Michael said, bringing Maria back to the present and her brother's furious face. 'She didn't mean anything bad by it.'
'I just mean that I want more in life than to be someone's wife,' Maria said quietly. 'Can't you understand that?'
'That's the way of things; the sooner you realise that the better,' Sonny snapped. He took a step back as he fought to get a handle on his temper. He didn't know why he let his sister get so badly under his skin.
'I don't feel that way,' Maria said. 'Look at Kay – she goes to college doesn't she Mikey?'
Sonny glowered at Michael. He had met Kay at the wedding and, though she was a good-looking broad with a nice smile, he had recognised that with her fancy college education, straight-laced parents, and promiscuous relationship with his brother, she was about as far away from their world as anyone could ever hope to be. She was American, not Sicilian, and he knew that even his long-suffering mother had disapproved of her. She was, and would always be, an outsider.
'She does,' Michael said, ignoring Sonny's look of disapproval. 'But Kay didn't get into fights at school. If you want to go then you have to apply yourself.'
'See?' Sonny said dismissively. 'Mikey agrees with me. Now that's the end of it. You make yourself some nice friends and get your head down and get on with school and we'll see about college. I know you're a bright girl; Pa is very proud of you – but running around with the neighbourhood scum balls stops now.'
'They aren't scum balls …'
'I said that's the end of it!' Sonny spat, losing his patience again. 'Now just get out of my sight will you? Go up to your room. I don't want to see you for the rest of the night. But go and apologise to Mama first.'
Maria hesitated. She had no intention of ditching the boys that she hung around with, but she sensed that Sonny wouldn't stand to talk about it anymore that night. 'Yes Sir,' she said at last. She got up and left the room with a dejected air.
'Did you hear all that?' Sonny said. 'What has Kay been telling the kid, eh? She's been giving her fancy ideas about going to college and living away from home and Jesus-only-knows what else.'
'There's nothing wrong with her wanting to go to college,' Michael said patiently.
'Ma won't like it, Mike. You know she won't. She wants her to get married and stay close to home. Connie hasn't got such grand ideas. She knows what's expected of her – she's a wife and she'll soon be a good mother. All you're doing in encouraging Maria her is setting her up for a fall.'
'I don't think that Pa sees it that way,' Michael said.
'Pa's got a soft spot for that girl, that's why. He indulges her, but if he survives this – God willing - he won't stomach his youngest daughter going off to some fancy college. What's the point anyway? Once she's married and drops one then it will all be insignificant anyway – see I know some big words too. She's not going to be the next rocket scientist or whatever you got to college to be these days – it isn't the way of the world; not our world it isn't.' The insult to Kay hung in the air unspoken.
'And if Pa doesn't make it, then you'd stop her going?'
'You're damn right I would. Jesus Mike she's a kid – our sister. She's hanging around with hoodlums – getting into fights, and then trying to persuade us that it's okay because it's some sort of stand for women. She's yanking our chains. It's just a way for her to get her own way. She's not interested in school – and if she's not interested in school then I'm damn sure that she's not bothered about college.'
'I don't know,' Michael said, 'she seems pretty serious about it all.'
'I'm telling you Mike. You're not here most times. You should hear the way that she speaks to Ma and turns her nose up at Sandra. She's turning into a spoilt brat and I ain't going to stand for it. She's the youngest kid in this family and I'm going to get her back into line.'
'By hitting her?' Michael said calmly.
Sonny sighed. 'I was angry when I said that. I wouldn't raise a hand to her if I could help it. But what else can I say when she makes me so angry? I don't want her going down the wrong path, getting mixed up with the wrong crowd, do I? Do you?'
'No … '
Sonny threw himself down behind his father's desk. He was beginning to get a headache. As if he didn't have enough on his mind without having to deal with his younger brother and sister. He opened his mouth to say something else, but at that Tom Hagen, his near-brother, and his father's Consigliere entered the room.
'Hey Sonny, everything okay? I said Hi to Maria and she practically bit my head off.'
Sonny gave Michael a look as if to say, See? 'Oh nothing. She's playing up again that's all.'
'Is there anything I can do?'
'I don't know. I don't know what to do about her. I think she's falling in with the wrong crowd.'
'You don't know that,' Michael said. 'You don't know who her friends are.'
'I know I don't like what I'm hearing,' Sonny snapped. 'I'm telling you kid, you're starting to get on my nerves now.' He turned back to Tom. 'He's defending her when he don't even know nothing about it.'
'Maria's been worrying Sonny and the Don for a while now,' Tom said with a smile that irritated Michael. It was patronizing; like he was talking to a small child.
'So what do you suggest, Tom? Do you want to send her to convent school as well?'
'That would only be a last resort, Mike' Tom said. 'Let's just keep an eye on her shall we?' He turned back to Sonny. 'I could get one of the boys to pick her up from school everyday if you want?'
'Yeah, that might be a good idea. At least then she can't sneak off anywhere.'
'I can do it,' Michael said. 'I'm going crazy sitting around the house all day. I'll take her there in the mornings as well if you want.'
Sonny smiled. 'That'd be swell Mike. See – you know we've only got her best interests at heart.' He turned to Tom with earnest. 'Will it be safe for him to take her?' He didn't want to be responsible for his father's best boy joining him in hospital.
'Yeah,' Tom nodded. 'They know he's a civilian.'
'Better put a tail on him just in case though.'
'I don't need a tail,' Michael insisted.
'Just as a precaution. You never know what those bastards have up their sleeves. I wouldn't put it past them to try a hit with the kid in the car.'
'I can look after myself.'
'Course you can,' Sonny smiled. He made up his mind to put the tail on his brother anyway. Michael could be stubborn as a mule when he wanted to be. He had a will as strong as the Don's himself. He had enrolled in the army against their father's wishes and refused to have anything to do with the family business. Sonny knew that it had broken the Don's heart, but at the same time it had afforded him respect. Personally Sonny thought Michael was a fool. He had always said that he thought Michael was the dark horse of the family and would have done well in the business. One day he had the feeling he would be proved right.
'Now go on kid,' he said. 'Go and spend some time with your mother – she's been missing you when you've been off killing Japs and cracking books. I have some business to talk with Tom.'
Michael was suddenly annoyed. 'Don't speak to me like a child Sonny. I'm not Maria. I'm grown; if there's business to attend to then let me help.'
'I thought you didn't want to know about the family business,' Sonny said. 'I thought you were a college boy.' The latter words rolled off his tongue like an insult. College had never interested Sonny. He could have gone if he'd have wanted to but had shirked the opportunity. He valued life experience. He reasoned with himself that his father had never been to college and so it was not necessary that he should. He never considered that Don Vito Corleone, orphaned and shipped to America at the age of nine, had never been given such a chance.
Michael pursed his lips. He paused for a few seconds to keep his composure, reminding himself that in his father's absence Sonny was now head of the family and as such should be listened to and given respect. It was hard though. Sonny was quick-tempered and gave out insults as readily as he cheated on his wife. As a child and a teenager Michael had been on the end of his temper on many occasions, and though he had always put up a good fight, Sonny's sheer rage had been enough to ensure that it was more painful for him. They had fought as brothers did, but with Sonny it had always been personal. It was important to him that as the older brother he came out on top; and so, much to his father's displeasure, he had often gone further than he intended with Michael, who was six years his junior, hurting him. Whenever they met there always seemed to be an underlying tension. It had been sated somewhat by their common grief and anger over the hit on their father but now it threatened again.
Tom cleared his throat, sensing that the situation had the potential to implode. 'Don't worry about it, Mike,' he said. 'If we need your help we'll ask for it.'
Michael looked coldly at Tom. 'That's very decent of you, Tom,' he said, 'but I want to help and would prefer it if you didn't exclude me from my father's business.' Tom felt a flush creep to his face. He knew that Michael wouldn't openly insult him, but the way he had emphasized the word 'father' had stung him nevertheless. To him Don Vito had been a father, but he knew that it would never be a connection as thick as blood. The Don seemed to know it too. That was why he had never adopted him. He believed that no matter who Tom's parents were they were his blood and as such had to be respected.
'Fine, fine, whatever,' Sonny said waving his hand, oblivious to the sudden tension in the room. 'I haven't got time for this. Sit down and listen if it's what you want. He might be able to contribute,' he added with a shrug to Tom, misreading his dour expression for apprehension at including Michael in their discussion. 'Pa always said that he'd do well in the family business.'
'He also said that he didn't want him involved in it,' Tom said.
'It's all hands on deck now,' Sonny said. 'We're looking at a full-scale war here. Besides if it gets too hairy we can always ship him back to that hick town he loves so much.' It was said in jest but Michael knew it was also a reiteration to him about exactly who was in charge. He decided to let it slide and took up a seat in the leather armchair. 'Right,' Sonny said. 'What's first?'
So what did you think? Did you believe the characters? What about Mary? A mistake or not?
Hope you enjoyed anyway; would be grateful if you took a minute to leave your comments …