The room the troopers shared was small and stuffy, and as the weeks passed into June and July it got hotter. They'd come to work wearing shorts and T-shirts, carrying gym bags that concealed their cameras and their log books. They practically had to whisper so the other occupants in the flophouse would not overhear them. Fights frequently broke out in the other rooms running down the hallway. But it was worth it, they thought.
The garage's daily rhythm quickly revealed itself, with Kaufman opening up in the morning and then Bulger and Flemmi taking over in the early afternoon. Besides Bulger, Flemmi, Kaufman and Femia, there were a number of other regulars, including established mobsters like Phil Waggenheim and Mafia associate Nicky Giso. Then there were the heavyhitters. Bulger met with Donato Angiulo, a Capo de Regime, or captain, in his brother's crime family. Larry Zannino, Flemmi's old acquaintance who ranked second only to Underboss Gennaro Angiulo in the heirarchy of the Boston Mafia, made entrances that resembled a Hollywood set piece. Zannino would pull up in a new blue Lincoln Continental or a polished brown Cadillac that was driven by an underling. Men at the garage scattered like ants, as Zannino made his way from the car to a meeting inside the office with Bulger and Flemmi. Sometimes the flamboyant mafioso would embrace Bulger and kiss him on the cheek. Not every visit was so lovey-dovey, though. Once Zannino emerged from the office and was met by two men who'd been waiting outside. Zannino embraced one but when the second man moved in for a hug Zannino slapped him violently. The man dropped to his knees, and Zannino began yelling. Bulger and Flemmi hustled out of the office to catch the show. Zannino berated the fleeing man and then stopped, composed himself and climbed back into his cool blue Continental.
To the troopers taking notes across the street, Bulger and Flemmi and the Mafia -- it all seemed like one family. The troopers developed a feel for the garage. They could tell when an associate "was in the shits" with Bulger. Bulger would make these men wait, and the troopers watched the men nervously pacing outside the garage, checking their wristwatches for the time, looking up and down the street, their faces clenched. When Bulger finally appeared, he began the finger-jabbing. The body language spoke volumes. Bulger was in charge, no doubt about it. The other men at the garage deferred to him, including Flemmi.
Over time, the troopers could detect when Bulger was in a funk -- he'd turn dark, wouldn't talk to anyone else, didn't want to be bothered, and he'd sulk over in one corner. In keeping with his fanaticism about fitness, he'd take a hamburger and throw out the bun, eating only the meat. Long, O'Malley and Fraelick learned that Bulger was neat as pin, a casual but careful dresser who wouldn't let a hair fall out of place. He liked the things around him kept up and in place. One time Femia had gone down the street to the McDonald's near the Boston Garden. Upon his return, the hungry henchman spread out the Big Mac and french fries on the hood of the black car. Bulger came out of the office, saw the greasy display of fast food, and turned white hot. He marched over, grabbed the french fries and began whipping them at Femia. He whipped french fries into Femia's chest and into Femia's face. The 240-pound Femia back-pedalled and stumbled, a hulking hitman cowering before Bulger's rage. It was as if, instead of hot french fries, Bulger had been swinging a crow bar. The troopers would never forget the food fight, and the message was clear: you did not mess with Whitey Bulger.
At times, Long, Fraelick or O'Malley followed Bulger and Flemmi in order to pick up their routine. They learned that Flemmi often kept the Chevy overnight. They saw that Whitey was not the only one with a complicated love life; Flemmi was the true underworld Lothario. In fact, his juvenile rap sheet contained a portent of the man's appetites -- an early arrest at 15 years old for a bizarre charge of "carnal abuse," without further explanation. Flemmi always had a slew of women. He might age but he made sure the women on his arm were young.
Copyright 2000, Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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