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One for the Records

Not long after sending a FOIA request to the National Archives and Records Administration, I received a phone call from an archive technician. Our conversation was brief but informative:

“Sir, do you happen to know his social security number?”

“No.”

“Is he currently alive?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have his current address?”

“He’s incarcerated. Wait a moment while I go online. Here you go, he’s in Coleman II United States Penitentiary in Sumterville, Florida. Would you like his prison number?”

“Yes.”

(pause, looking it up on Wikipedia) “021820-748. How about his date of birth?”

“We have that. Is this person deceased?”

“Like I said, he’s incarcerated. Haven’t you heard of him?”

“Who?”

The guy you’re calling about. His name is James Joseph Bulger. He was a notorious Boston mobster on the lam for 16 years. The FBI finally caught him and his girlfriend in 2011. It was in the papers. It was on TV.”

“I haven’t heard of him. How do you spell his name?”

“B U L G E R. First name James, middle name Joseph. Junior. His nickname is Whitey. You never heard of him?”

“How do you spell Whitey?”

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Marc Levy was an infantry medic with the First Cavalry Division in Vietnam and Cambodia in 1970. He won the 2016 Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families Writing Prize. His books are How Stevie Nearly Lost the War and Other Postwar Stories, and Dreams, Vietnam. His website is Medic in the Green Time. Email: silverspartan@gmail.com

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