Saturday, July 20, 2013

Getting to know a Boston mobster...

How I knew Whitey Bulger    “He would call, just to talk, would visit us,” said the author. She’d admitted that compiling a book about Whitey Bulger hadn’t been her idea, not one she’d ever expected to write.

I listened intently; the man she described was darkly appealing, a bad guy James Bond. From what she said, it was just as obvious was that he was brilliant, a masterful technician of murder. When I learned that his brother was President of the Massachusetts Senate, I wasn’t surprised. ['Whitey' Bulger, the Alcatraz-hardened king of the Boston ...
BOSTON — Whitey Bulger was considered for many years to be the Jimmy Cagney of the Boston underworld — an Alcatraz-hardened ex-bank robber, brother of...]

As we listened to the author, a woman who appeared to be living a comfortable life with her husband in the Boston area, I wondered how she felt about being so near Bulger for so long. She told us she drained him for details, small things like the color of his shirt, the newspapers he might have read. Once her book was done, she told us that she found it difficult to forget him, wasn’t sure how she could sever the ties with him that appeared to have changed from author to subject into a relationship that almost became a friendship.

To Bulger, it seemed, she was someone he could trust to be who she said she was. She was not a threat, nor a danger. As an ex mobster and informant, Bulger knew lots of people who might have dastardly reasons for wanted to see him.

I remember asking her about the remnants of her work with him; were the horrors she was told about impossible to forget? Because I was hearing them second hand, I knew they wouldn’t bother me. But I also knew that, as attentive to detail as she was, she had noted how his face changed as he described the final blows to his victim’s head or the gunshot to the heart or the stabbing when that was necessary.
What about lingering images of the disposal of bodies and gore?

She spoke with some concern about those matters, about how they seemed stuck in her mind. Indeed, I might have imagined that she shivered at their recall. At last, she said, thoughtfully, that she didn’t want to write about anyone like Whitey ever again.

Writers probably say that about many topics they tackle, not just those that are gruesome. I know I do. Even so, ideas do recycle in different ways, appear less unappetizing when time provides less daunting perspectives.

That’s why I checked Barnes and Noble for books on Bulger. I wanted to find hers, hoped to see she’d relented and had written a follow-up, especially since Bulger’s diaries or journals had been discovered. I had to wonder whether she’d been the one who’d encouraged him to store his bloodstained memories that way.

But I didn’t have any luck. Instead, I saw 25 books listed; only one was written by a woman. I don’t think she was the author I had heard. Could it be that, like the Bulger witness who was recently found dead, that my mystery author has disappeared too. [Bulger Witness Found Dead - ABC News Whitey Bulger's weapons and stash. Rakes comes from a storied South Boston family. ... FLDS Escapee Builds New Life Outside Warren Jeffs' Control.]

Please believe me, I’m trying to find out. At times, not knowing can be just as troublesome as first hand knowledge. So my search goes on...

                                    B.Koplen  7/20/13

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