So the inevitable guilty verdicts came in yesterday against Southie mobster James "Whitey" Bulger.
I now trod every day the same streets where Whitey was born and ruled with an iron hand. From the sixth floor, I see the neighborhood where he intimidated everyone who had ever even heard of him. I am mere blocks from a home where he murdered and buried three of his victims.
Last night after the verdict I spent some time reading up on his crimes, looking at murder-scene photos, learning about the 11 people he killed and the eight others he is suspected of killing.
Whitey Bulger is a monster. A real monster. He was a ruthless murderer and criminal, constricted by nothing. If he wanted you dead, you were dead. He was a rapist, a pedophile, a thief ... and he was brutal, cold and calculating.
Unlike shiny dons we imagine (like Corleone or Gotti or even Soprano), Whitey was basically just common street trash who leveraged his way to a shaky empire. He was no master criminal, he was just a weasel with big balls who wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty. Hell, it appears that he loved that part of his job: the killing, the instilling of fear, the "just-crazy-enough" persona that made people avert their eyes and cross the street when they saw him coming.
Whitey's lieutenant Stevie Flemmi was vice-monster. One story is particularly repulsive. Flemmi got involved with his 15-year-old stepdaughter, eventually killing her. The two scumbags also killed another young woman who thought her close position would protect her.
On the day that they decided to murder the stepdaughter, Flemmi first took her shopping. Then they headed home, where Flemmi later testified they were to kill her. Bulger strangled her. Then Flemmi began to pull out her teeth with a pair of pliers to make identification of her body more difficult.
I began to wonder: what happens next?
At the end of that day, these animals went to bed. Did they reflect? What must that have been like?
"Wow, I'm tired. Strangling someone is a lot harder than just shooting them. I really should maybe tone my arms a bit. And damn, those teeth! Gotta remember to throw those into the ocean tomorrow. Huh, tomorrow... crap, really need to bury that body. I guess I could set fire to it. Wonder if anyone knows a good crematorium somewhere."
How can one disconnect their humanity enough to commit crimes like that? This isn't a crime of passion; this is a crime of choice. This is "just business."
I've always enjoyed the "mobster fiction" of The Godfather, The Sopranos, etc. But today I feel a little differently about it because today it's a lot more real. It happened near where I live, and it was gruesome and scary.