The night after the clenched fist at Triple O's, King showed up at the front door of Whitey's mother's apartment in the project. He was hung over, his hair more tousled than usual, his tongue sandpaper.
"I'm sorry, Jimmy," he said, as soon as Whitey opened the door. "I was out of line last night. Out of line." Whitey looked back over his shoulder, stepped into the hallway, and closed the door behind him. King was not coming into his mother's place.
"Forget about it, Tommy," Whitey said, knowing more than ever he would kill him. "It's done. It's over."
They shook hands.
Tommy King would be dead in a week.
Pat Nee and Howie Winter believe Whitey had always intended to kill as many Mullens as he could after the truce Winter negotiated between the Mullens and the Killeens ended the gang war. And the way Whitey went about setting King up was ingenious and cynical. He used King, blaming him for the murder of the Mullens' titular leader, Paul McGonagle, a murder Whitey had made his priority. "It was deviously clever," Nee said. "Because not only did Whitey get rid of Paulie, but the rest of us Mullens never looked at Tommy the same way again. Whitey isolated Tommy. And after it was clear that he was cut off from the rest of us, at least in our minds, he took out Tommy."
For Whitey, killing Paulie McGonagle had been unfinished business. In a perverse way, he blamed Paulie for his having killed Donald McGonagle by mistake in the middle of the gang war. Whitey figured that eventually Paulie was going to avenge his brother's murder, so he made a preemptive strike.
According to Flemmi, Whitey tricked Paulie into getting into the back of a car with him by saying he had a suitcase of counterfeit money to show him. Tommy King set him up, telling Paulie it was a good score. Paulie climbed into the back of the car outside the Mullens clubhouse. Whitey opened the suitcase, pulled out a gun, and shot him.
Up to that point, it had been the underworld's calling card to leave bodies where they fell or to stuff them in trunks. It was the rule of the jungle, to humiliate the vanquished and display the trophy of the hunter. But after he killed Paul McGonagle, Whitey turned that rule on its head. Paulie would go into the ground. There would be no funeral, no mourning, no absolute proof he was even dead. In the absence of the ritual of death, the chance of retaliation by the dead man's friends was greatly reduced. With the absence of a body, the chance of a criminal charge was almost entirely eliminated.
They took Paulie to Tenean Beach, a couple of miles away in Dorchester, and dug a grave in the moonlight. King refused to take part in the burial. That didn't stop Whitey from telling all the Mullens that King had killed McGonagle. King was such a hothead that they believed him.
Whitey let a year go by with Paulie's body in the Dorchester sand before moving on King. The Mullens had been stewing over Paulie's murder, and King was growing ever more erratic and isolated.