February 27, 2020 0

Joshua Bond | Call Me Charlie | Moth Mainstage

Joshua Bond | Call Me Charlie | Moth Mainstage

I managed a hotel and
an apartment building in Santa Monica for about seven years. I lived in the apartment building and I had an office in the
hotel across the street. Super easy commute, it’s
great when you live in LA. You meet a lot of interesting people when you manage an apartment building. For example, there was a retired couple who lived in the apartment
next to mine, the Gaskos. And the first time I met the husband, I was in my apartment playing guitar and trying to write a song,
and there’s a knock on the door and I open it to find this 70 year old man holding a black case. He tells me that he heard me
playing music and he liked it, which was good,
and he thought I could use this black Stetson cowboy hat. So, really nice gesture. I thanked him and he said
his name was Charlie. So fast forward four or five years, and I’m taking a nap on my couch. I’d been working for like two
weeks straight, no days off, on call every night, but
this particular Wednesday, I was taking off work early. I was going to see this band, My Morning Jacket, in Hollywood. I was meeting a friend, all planned out. At 2 p.m. the phone rang. My coworker is at the hotel with the FBI. So before I know it, I’m on
the phone with an FBI agent and he says, “I need to talk to you” “about a tenant in your
apartment building.” And I’m on my couch so I say,
“Can we do this tomorrow?” And he says, “No, where are you? “Come here now.” So I get to my office and I have a seat, and there’s a larger man with
a Hawaiian shirt and jeans on. He closes the door, he
throws a manila folder down on the desk, he opens it and
points to this sheet of paper. Across the top is “Wanted,”
you know, the familiar “Wanted” and underneath a photo of a
man and a woman with names. And he says, “Do these people live “in the apartment next to mine?” At first glance, I know the woman is my
neighbor, Carol Gasko. The man, not as familiar,
but after another look, I know these are my neighbors. And while I’ve never heard
the name Catherine Greig, the name James J. “Whitey”
Bulger is very familiar. I had heard this name many times when I was in college at
Boston University but I didn’t really
know anything about him. He was more of a Jimmy Hoffa
type guy to me, it was like, “Oh this guy’s missing, he’s
never going to be found.” It was almost like a joke. So, I’m standing there
and the FBI agent says, “What do you think?” And I said, “What does my face tell you?” And he says, “I need percentages.” I said, “99.5, 100 percent.” So he gets on his radio and
while this is happening, almost like a movie after an explosion where the sound just disappears, and you’re trying to process something that you’re not familiar with, you don’t know what’s going on and you don’t know
what’s about to happen. This is an old man who bought
me a bike light one time because he was worried
about me riding my bike at night without one. And now I’m discovering
he’s a notorious fugitive. So another agent quickly
appears and he says, “We need the keys to his apartment “and we’ll bust his door down
if you don’t give it to us.” And I said, “Okay, here are the keys.” And he left and then the
other agent, Hawaiian shirt, kind of walks up to me and he says, “Look, this guy’s pretty
high on the Most Wanted List, “one, two maybe, I don’t know. “We could use your help
apprehending him.” So my first response is,
“I just gave you the keys “to his apartment and
told you he lives there, “so I’m not really sure
what else I can do.” And he says, “Well you
know we can’t just go “to his apartment, we have
to make sure he’s in there. “If it’s just her, it
doesn’t really work for us. “So why don’t you go knock on the door “and see if he’s there?” And in the previous months before this, Carol had been telling
people in the building, “Charlie has dementia,
he has heart problems.” And they put notes on
their door during the day, “Don’t knock on the door.” And I knew from talking
to him over the years that he slept during the day. So I explained this to the agent, and without skipping a beat,
he moves on and he says, “What are you doing tonight?” And I said, “Well I’m going to a concert.” And he said, “You might
want to cancel those plans.” And so I call my buddy and tell him, “Look, I don’t think I’m
going to make the show tonight “and I can’t tell you why.” So as the original shock is dissipating, I realize I’m going to be with these guys until they have him in cuffs. So, “What do you need me to do?” And then things kick in. We place an agent in the
hotel at a window that has a good view
of the balcony, of the Gasko’s balcony and then the agent wants
to go to my apartment. So I take him through a back
alley and some side streets so we aren’t walking in front
of the apartment building in clear view of Charlie and Carol, and we’re stopping at cars
and he’s talking on the radio and there’s agents everywhere, and I’m starting to think
this is a pretty big deal. It must be, there’s this
many people staked out in the neighborhood, and I’m
hearing chatter over the radio, “Oh they just closed their blinds.” “Did you tip them off?” “I’ve been with you the
whole time, no of course not. And then I hear that a man walked out onto his balcony, and so I say, “All right he’s there, you got the keys.” And he says, “Nah, he had a hoodie on “and so we couldn’t really identify him, “but you can go knock on the door “and tell us if he’s in there.” I say, “No, I don’t want to do that.” So we get to my apartment,
and I draw him a floor plan of the Gasko’s place, and we’re throwing ideas back and forth of how to get this guy
out of his apartment. And he’s talking on the radio
and we’re in my living room and my living room wall shares a wall with Charlie’s bedroom, so I’m like, “This guy can hear
everything we’re saying.” He’s replayed conversations I
had at night with my friends asking me why we don’t curse or fight as much as he and his friends
did in his younger days. So… So I take the agent, we
walk back into my bedroom and we come up with an idea. We’re going to break into his
storage locker in the garage. So we go down to the
garage and we walk out into the back alley and
he goes to get his car, he had some bolt cutters in
there, and I’m just pumped up. I’m involved in something,
it’s like a movie, I’m having fun almost at this point, and I call my brother because
I got to tell somebody. And I say, “Man, do you
know who Whitey Bulger is?” And he goes, “No.” And I said, “Well, I’m
with the FBI right now “and I think we’re about
to arrest this guy, “he’s the old man who lives next to me.” I had to hang up because the FBI agent
came around the corner and I don’t think I was
supposed to be on the phone. So
we get in there and he’s like, “All right stand by the elevator “and whistle if anybody appears “while I break into this storage unit.” And I’m sitting there and the adrenaline and the energy of the
situation is kind of helping me to forget about my
relationship to these people over the last four years. I mean, this is the same man who bought me a Christmas
present every year for the four or five
years I had lived there. And once the lock was broken,
we go back to my apartment and he’s telling me, “Okay
this is what’s going to happen, “we’re going to go down,
I’m going to go down, “we’re going to get everything
set, I’m going to call you, “you knock on his door, bring him down.” And I’m like, “No, I’m
going to go to the hotel, “I’m going to call him, I’m going
to tell him to meet me there, “then you guys take
care of your business.” So I’m in my office and I’m
thinking about this guy, my neighbor, who took care
of an old woman on the first floor and who, one year when I didn’t write a thank you note for a Christmas present he gave me, gave me a box of stationery. And I’m like, “What did this guy do?” And so I go to Wikipedia
and I’m reading murders and extortion and gambling,
and I get to the bottom and one of his last public sightings with one of his Mafia buddies,
there’s a quote from him and he says, “When I go down,
I’m going out guns blazing.” So around this time, I start
to rethink my involvement in the day’s events. And conveniently, my phone
rings and it’s the FBI, and they say, “Make the call.” So I start to kind of,
“Look man, I don’t know. “I just read something
about this guy that’s not, “I don’t know about this.” He said, “No, no, no, he’ll never know. “He’ll never know.” Which was obviously not true, but I was that close to
getting to my concert, so I said, “All right,
I’ll make the call.” So I called the Gasko’s from the hotel and there was no answer
and I was so relieved. So happy that they
didn’t answer the phone. I called the agent back and said, “Hey man, sorry, they didn’t answer. “Going to have to do something else.” He’s like, “Are you sure you
don’t want to knock on the door?” And I’m like, “Look man,
curtain’s closed, guns blazing, “what if he comes to
the door with a gun?” And he says—I’ll just be like,
“Hey man, what’s going on?” I’m thinking to myself,
“He would shoot me “before I finished that one statement.” And I tell him I’m not going to do that. While this is going on, Carol calls back. So I get on the phone
and I explain to her that the storage unit’s been broken into and I can either call the
police or Charlie can meet me in the garage and we’ll look at it. So she discusses with him
and she’s like, “He’ll be down in five minutes.” And I say, “All right, great.” Hang up, call the FBI, “He’s
on his way, do your thing.” And then, I walk outside,
I call my friend and I say, “Look man, I think I’m
going to make the show, “I’ll explain everything
to you when I get there.” And I’m standing in the
courtyard of the hotel and Carol walks out on her balcony, which is directly across the
street, and she looks at me and then she quickly
looks down to the garage and then she looks back at me. I don’t know if she knew
but she looked worried and she walked back in and
then I got a call from the FBI and they said, “We got
him, go to your concert.” So I go change clothes and
the adrenaline and the rush, and I’m walking back to the
garage and as I open the door, I mean it’s like a slow motion shot of Suburbans and vans and
FBI agents everywhere. My neighbor Charlie Gasko’s
standing there in cuffs surrounded by agents,
laughing and telling stories. He almost looked relieved, and
I’m kind of staring at this and as I pass him, a few feet away I see Carol standing there in cuffs and there’s maybe one agent with her. The magnitude of everything
that had happened started to sink in a little
bit, and she looked at me and she said, “Hi Josh.” And I couldn’t speak,
I just meekly waved and walked to my car
and got on the highway and called my brother and said, “You’ll never guess what
happened to me today.” And he said, “What?” And I said, “I helped the FBI
arrest the most wanted man “in the country.” So a couple months later, my family’s a little worried about me and my friends are taking bets on how much longer I have to live. And I get home one day, and
there’s a letter in the mail from the Plymouth Correctional Facility. I open it later on that night and I see the same
familiar cursive writing and the same shoot-the-shit
dialogue tone that I knew from four years living
next to Charlie Gasko, but in this letter, he’s reintroducing himself as Jim Bulger. So I wrote him back and I said, “Look, you know I had something to do “with the day of the arrest “and my family’s a little worried. “Just a little note of
‘everything’s good’ would be nice.” So he wrote back and he said, “Look, they had me with
or without your help. “No worries.” So that made my mom
feel better, definitely. Anyway, new neighbors
eventually moved in and they seem like nice people. But what do I know?

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