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Under the skin

“My father is no different than any powerful man, any man with power, like a president or senator.”
“Do you know how naive you sound, Michael? Presidents and senators don’t have men killed!”
“Oh. Who’s being naive, Kay?”

Whitey and Billy Bulger were, during the 70s and 80s, the flip side of the Massachusetts Kennedy mystique. The world knew the Kennedies; Boston knew the Bulgers, and recognized them — one politician, one gangster — as two of the most powerful men in the city.

In the early 1970s, Whitey Bulger suborned an FBI agent, John Connolly, and for the next twenty years he used the FBI to pressure his enemies and protect his friends. He was the most powerful organized crime figure in the city. During the same period, Billy Bulger was the most powerful man in the Massachusetts Senate. Governors came and went, but Bulger ran a political machine as tight as anything from Chicago.

“If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone.”

If I was gonna run an Angel game, which I’m not, it would be set in Boston, in 1976. The Tall Ships would be passing through town. Boston’s inner-city neighborhoods would be literally up in arms over Judge W. Arthur Garrity’s busing decision. Aerosmith would be singing "Back In The Saddle Again".

And Whitey Bulger would just have discovered that there are demons walking the earth.

“I don’t feel I have to wipe everybody out, Tom. Just my enemies.”

Whitey, in our world, was a criminal and by all accounts not a very nice man. I wouldn’t change that, but even a hardened killer like Whitey might well object to demons infesting his city: infesting his treasured Boston. So I wouldn’t make him anything that he wasn’t. He’d still be a criminal, he’d still be a killer, and he’d still have John Connolly under his thumb.

But he would also have a hand-picked team of South Boston hard boys, specially tasked with hunting and killing demons and vampires and anything else that doesn’t belong in a good Catholic town like Boston. They’d have all the money he could funnel them; they’d have the FBI winking at them; they’d have the tools you only have when you’re working outside the law with impunity. They don’t get to call on extra gunmen, because they’re supposed to be the best of the best, and the kinds of people they need to be don’t ask for help just because a few demons punked them out. They’d be bad men, just like Whitey, and just like Whitey they’d be bad men fighting for a good cause. They, of course, are the PCs.

“I want someone good, I mean very good, to plant that gun. I don’t want my brother coming out of the bathroom with just his dick in his hands.”

Meanwhile, Billy’s covering for the PCs and their boss on the other side. He’s not running things quite yet, and his political strength only goes so far, but he’s got his uses. If an ancient Indian graveyard really needs to be redeveloped to deprive some demons of a breeding ground, he can make that happen. Billy thinks his brother is nuts but he’s not going to turn his back on family. The quid pro quo? Sometimes they have to do some political jobs, leaning on a Congressman, that sort of thing. Sometimes a job serves both masters.

It’s a hard life and a dangerous one, but you know — when you get right down to it, you’re killing Satan’s creatures. You can’t fight the government and nobody’s figured out how to shoot inflation in the nuts. There’re lines at the gas station a mile long, and you can’t do much about that either. Demons, though, can be killed.

Welcome to Boston. It’s a messed up shithole, but at least someone’s keeping it safe.


  1. This post by Bryant is damned creative, entertaining, and even (gasp!) educational. Never even heard of Whitey Bulger before now,…

  2. Boston: “…In the early 1970s, Whitey Bulger suborned an FBI agent, John Connolly, and for the next twenty years he

  3. Cool concept – the discussion of the South Boston hard boys reminds me of a short story from Omni from the late 80’s or early 90’s. The main character was a cruel, sadistic criminal with not a shred of decency, but the FBI (or some other government organization) kept an eye on him and used him as a tool to hunt vampires. What this guy had, besides being willing to use every dirty fighting technique in the book, was a fantastically elaborate tattoo on his chest of Christ on the cross. If I remember correctly from the story, the inks had been imbued with some magic or something and the tattoo artist had been a mystic of some kind. Mind you, this was long prior to the FBI finding out about him. Anyway, this guy, after beating a vampire into submission would pull open his shirt and bare his chest, revealing the crucifix – a crucifix of such power that it would cause the vampires to burst into flames.

    Mm…wish I could find that story again.

  4. When I read this AP news story about Bulger and MK ULTRA, I remembered your post from all the years back.
    So, not only can he see monsters, but he might be hallucinating. Or the LSD opened his doorways of perception and that’s why he can see monsters.
    Anyway, thanks for the post, so many years ago.

    • Impressive memory! Yeah, it’d fit into this really well. I’d heard about Bulger and MK ULTRA a few years back, but I don’t think I knew it when I wrote this.

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