After Mario Puzo wrote his internationally acclaimed The Godfather, he has often been imitated but never equaled. Puzo's classic novel, The Sicilian, stands as a cornerstone of his work--a lushly romantic, unforgettable tale of bloodshed, justice, and treachery. . . .
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September 26, 2004
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Excerpt from The Sicilian by Mario Puzo
MICHAEL CORLEONE STOOD on a long wooden dock in Palermo and watched the
great ocean liner set sail for America.He was to have sailed on that
ship,but new in- structions had come from his father.
He waved goodbye to the men on the little oshing boat who had brought him to this
dock,men who had guarded him these past years.The oshing boat rode the
white wake of the ocean liner,a brave little duckling after its mother.
The men on it waved back;he would see them no more.
The dock itself was alive with scurrying laborers in caps and baggy clothes unloading other
ships,loading trucks that had come to the long dock.They were small wiry
men who looked more Arabic than Italian,wearing billed caps that
obscured their faces.Amongst them would be new body- guards making sure
he came to no harm before he met with Don Croce Malo,Capo di Capi of the
"Friends of the Friends,"as they were called here in Sicily.Newspapers
and the outside world called them the Ma oa,but in Sicily the word Ma oa
never passed the lips of the ordinary citizen.As they would never call
Don Croce Malo the Capo di Capi but only "The Good Soul."
In his two years of exile in Sicily,Michael had heard many tales about Don
Croce,some so fantastic that he al- most did not believe in the
existence of such a man.But the instructions relayed from his father were
explicit: he was ordered to have lunch with Don Croce this very day.And the
two of them were to arrange for the escape from Sicily of the country 's greatest
bandit, Salvatore Guiliano. Michael Corleone could not leave Sicily
Down at the end of the pier,no more than fifty yards away,a huge dark car was
parked in the narrow street. Standing before it
were three men,dark rectangles cut out of the glaring sheet of light
that fell like a wall of gold from the sun.Michael walked toward them.He
paused for a moment to light a cigarette and survey the city.
Palermo rested in the bottom of a bowl created by an extinct
volcano,overwhelmed by mountains on three sides, and escaping into the
dazzling blue of the Mediterranean Sea on the fourth side.The city
shimmered in the golden rays of the Sicilian noon-time sun.Veins of red
light struck the earth,as if re oecting the blood shed on the soil of
Sicily for countless centuries.The gold rays bathed stately marble
columns of Greek temples,spidery Moslem turrets,the oercely intricate
facades of Spanish cathedrals;on a far hill- side frowned the
battlements of an ancient Norman castle. All left by diverse and cruel
armies that had ruled Sicily since before Christ was born.Beyond the
castle walls,cone- shaped mountains held the slightly effeminate city of
Palermo in a strangler 's embrace,as if both were sinking gracefully to
their knees,a cord pulling tightly around the city 's neck.Far
above,countless tiny red hawks darted across the brilliant blue sky.