From Chapter 7: Quincy, Massachusetts, 1981
I directed Morris to stay in the car and "lay chickie," a euphemism for watching someone's back from my days at Mount Loretto. Morris responded with a look of bemusement. The truth was I didn't want Morris present because I wanted to get an in dependent, objective assessment of Bulger. Morris, it was becoming more and more evident, was too enamored with Whitey to be anything but counterproductive to my task.
"You're gonna like this guy," he said one more time as I climbed out of the car in front of Bulger's condo, reaffirming my decision.
Prior experience with informants conditioned me to know that Morris might actually be right. The informants I had developed and met through other agents have led me to believe that they were mostly decent people doing whatever they could to please for whatever motive: money, ego, revenge, or simply to avoid incarceration. I've learned over the years that there are good informants and bad informants. Good informants are all alike, while the bad ones are all different.
Bulger opened the door, his face hardened and expressionless, looking like a guy who clearly thought he had something better to do. He was wearing a Boston Red Sox cap angled low over his forehead to cast his face in shadows, gnawing at a toothpick wedged into the side of his mouth. In the foyer, I greeted him with an extended palm. He ignored it and just walked away, placing himself behind an island in the kitchen area.
I felt his eyes on me the whole time, something we called the "long eye" at the Academy. Always the tough guy, Bulger must have been figuring he could intimidate me as easily as he'd intimidated so many others. Well, Morris and Connolly might have read of my previous exploits, but Bulger clearly hadn't. It was doubtful they would've shared the information with him for fear of making him think he was doing business with someone more powerful than they were.
As I returned his stare, more of a snarl really, I noticed John Connolly lurking to the right of Bulger in a darkened corner. I was surprised to see him there, since I was supposed to be conducting the interview alone and had not been forewarned of his presence. I would later ream out Morris, Connolly's supervisor, for allowing this. But it was clear to me now that he wasn't the one calling the shots, nor had he ever been. Neither was Connolly. Indeed, the way Connolly positioned himself had left little doubt as to who the alpha dog here was. Everything about his body language suggested utter subservience to Bulger, a "suck-up" in the truest sense of the word. But I determined that if Connolly had so much as opened his mouth, I'd have his ass right then and there.
The light in the kitchen was dimmed, casting shadows around the room. I could picture Bulger doing that on purpose as a means of increasing his own ability to intimidate. It could also have been that the relative darkness masked his relatively small stature. Age had robbed him of the physical attributes he'd once relied on, leaving him with only his brutal reputation and glare. He was no more than five-eight, maybe five-nine, with a lean, sinewy build. Hardly imposing, but a testament to his violent reputation.
To Bulger's left stood a woman later described as his girlfriend to whom I was not introduced. I recall that Connolly faintly said hello and then disappeared back into his shadowed alcove. Bulger's girlfriend pressed out one cigarette and lit up another, blowing the smoke from her mouth and nose in plumes that wafted upward to hang heavy in the air. Her presence here was also clearly designed to unsettle me, Bulger's witness if he needed one.
Everything about Bulger, every quirk and gesture, was about control. He hadn't greeted me cordially in order to better control the situation. He had me follow him into the kitchen and left us to speak across the island, controlling our discussion by putting a physical barrier between us, his dark side against a brighter one.
One of the psychological concepts I taught at the FBI Academy was "Body Space," scientifically called "proxemics." By working the distance between us to his liking, Bulger projected that he was running the situation instead of me. He made a show of letting Connolly walk right up to him to demonstrate who he needed to pay deference to and it wasn't me. Again, the alpha dog! He never once took off his sunglasses, which, with the soft, diffused light, prevented me from seeing his eyes. "No eyes," I thought, recalling a movie where the prisoner on a chain gang tested the guard who always wore dark sunglasses. The prisoner couldn't see the guard's eyes and had to calculate whether or not he'd be shot if he tried to escape. As it turned out, he was.
Based on the game Whitey was playing, maybe he had read upon me after all.
From Betrayal: Whitey Bulger and the FBI Agent Who Fought to Bring Him Down by Robert Fitzpatrick and Jon Land. Copyright Robert Fitzpatrick and Jon Land. Excerpted by permission of Forge Books.