Family Man

What is a man without his family?

That is the question that has been going through his mind as he slowly made his way through the crowd. He could feel their eyes on him, all of them. Every single person in the room paid attention to him. Not that it is a new thing for him; as the head of the family, as the leader of the organisation, he is used to respect being given to him in such measure. Used to the turning of heads as he enters a room, the bowing of people as he passes by, the kissing of the hand as he helps the grateful.

This, however, was something different. Though he is no cleric, not a clairvoyant of the highest order, he has always prided himself on his ability to read people. At times, however, despite the best of intentions, even the most skilled of interrogators could not unlock the secrets that lies inside a man's heart. You can never truly know how a man will react under a certain situation. Just as importantly, you never know the lies and deceit that could well.

And because of that, you can never trust another man. Even if he is your brother.

That, at the core of it all, is the main issue. Michael has never felt that he could trust Fredo, no matter how hard he tried. As the crowd parted (he noticed his wife giving him a little smile, and a nod of the head. He didn't reply), he couldn't help but to reminisce the moment when it he had argued viciously with him. Realising that Fredo had betrayed, betrayed the family, he felt his own heartbeat slow down as he chilled the atmosphere with his words. "You're nothing to me now," Michael's own words echoed in his head, as he sought to cut loose the ties that had bonded them together his entire life. "Not a brother, not a friend, nothing."

Nothing. He felt his own heartbeat rise, this time, almost incredulously in light of the situation, as he approached Fredo sitting at the table. His head bowed in his hands, he knows that he had broken all the protocols, crossed all the boundaries laid down by Michael. He had instructed him never to come to him, never to speak to him, to inform him a day in advance if he is to visit their mother. Michael, make no mistake about it, does not want anything to do with Fredo for as long as he is alive.

In life, however, there are times when you do the things that you do, not because you want to do it. Not because it is something you like; sometimes the heart calls out, the head rings, and the message is: "What the fuck are you doing? You don't want to do this." Nevertheless, it doesn't render the moments when such acts are not called for. Though his heart does not wish it, as Michael approached the table, as Fredo looked up at him, as they reached for each other, burying the hatchet that had burned the bridge, it was something that had to be done.

For what is a man without his family? Michael thought to himself once more, as the tears gushed forth from the both of them, engulfed as they were in the quiet applause of others.


*A reimagination of a scene from The Godfather Part II.