THE BLACK HIGGINS CLAN

What I am about to share with the world (or at least to my few followers) is a writing project that I have had on my mind since I was a teenager. It has been stewing in my mind for over a decade, and I hope that by sharing key plot summaries and a character analysis or two, I can get the feedback and inspiration to go forward in my attempt to bring this story onto a bigger platform.

In the Fall of 2006, I was anxious to see Martin Scorsese’s new film, The Departed. My motivations were rooted in a trifecta:

1. It was set in Boston.

2. It involved the Irish mob (as I felt that the mafia/organized crime was under the monopoly of the Italians)

3. They included music by the Dropkick Murphys in their soundtrack (I first discovered them a few years earlier through my love of the Red Sox, and now they were prominently featured in an A-list movie).

While I was not able to see the movie until March of the following year, I could not help but yearn for more movies like this. I simply wanted to see more movies released that fell within this genre: Irish mob movies set in Boston (little did I know that this was already a fertile market to begin with). I knew I wanted to be a writer, but at that point I wanted to be a sports journalist, so I figured I would bang out a plot in a notebook for now and eventually hand it off to a novelist or screenwriter that I would meet in the future, and they would finish it for me.

But the next summer, I decided to get to work on it. Why not elaborate on everything? Why not go forward and see what I could do with it? And the next year as I started my senior year of high school, I got a MacBook, and because I was already a miserable student who could rule out attending a reputable college, I simply wrote what had been on my mind for the last two years as my teachers went on about God-knows-what. I ended up writing a 120+ page manuscript (Times New Roman font, size 12), and the following spring, I banged out a screenplay adaptation.

But over the course of the last 11 years, I’ve done practically nothing with it. And I was discouraged after I sent a copy to a family friend who gave me a scathing review of it, which made me realize I had to start over and rework everything. I have given attention to a few scenes that I believe could add more to the plot and character development, but apart from that I have done nothing. You would think that I would have banged it all out considering that I worked jobs in the last two years that require little attention on my part and I could just get it all done in a heartbeat. But no, that’s the problem with the internet, there are way too many distractions (this is only exacerbated by having a reality TV star turn Washington, DC, into a reality TV show, and I found myself constantly paying attention to whatever drama took place that day).

Thankfully, you-know-who has been voted out of office, and if the transition goes according to plan (which I’m sure it will, as his voter fraud accusations are being tossed out by every court they are brought to), I can pay more attention to my creative work and try to make a career for myself beyond sitting at a concierge desk making just above minimum-wage.

Perhaps the proper motivation will come from sharing it with the world for the first time beyond handing copies of a draft to classmates and friends? Perhaps through grassroots social media posts, I can get people interested, which will give me the incentive to pound out the draft in order to finally share it with the world? If so, then let’s get started!

THE PLOT

The story revolves around Seamus Mahoney. Not pronounced Mah-hoe-nee… Mah-hunny (I found out through Irish friends that we Americans had butchered the pronunciation of the name, even my own family, as it is my grandmother’s maiden name). Seamus is a psychiatric intern with Massachusetts General Hospital with a dark family history.

When his Irish parents, Bill and Molly, arrived in Boston while his mother was pregnant with him, they did not have the ability to make ends meet to support their imminent new addition to the family, on top of his toddler older brother, Darragh. After working numerous dead-end jobs, Bill was recruited by Charles Myers to do work for the infamous Black Higgins Clan, a gang run by the notorious Mike Higgins, who made Whitey Bulger look like a mere schoolyard bully.

Once Bill was able to rake in enough cash, he bought his own bar that he and Molly would run. Their dirty money filled them with shame, and they did all they could to make sure their sons never got into trouble of any kind. But the Clan would never escape them, and it lingered in their lives like a shadow, following them throughout their childhood.

As Seamus turned to a respectable medical career, he met Emily Hawke, a fellow intern from England, and they soon fell in love and were engaged to be married (and the family had a great deal of fun pointing out their engagement’s ironic overlooking of historic conflict between the English and the Irish.

But the fun would not last, as Myers informed Bill that an old-fashioned gang from England was gaining international territory in Boston with an anti-Irish approach. They learned this gang had bought out a former Clan member who provided them with information about all who worked for them, past and present, with the intention of bumping off Higgins and his associates. Also, they know about Seamus and Emily’s impending marriage, and will do whatever it takes to make sure it does not happen.

In a sudden move, Seamus and Darragh are attacked by the gang, and only Seamus survives. Already wracked with survivor’s guilt, he is pushed over the edge when the police close the case. Desperate for justice, he defies his parents’ efforts to keep him on the straight and narrow and secretly joins the Clan as a way to navigate the criminal underworld and find the gang responsible for his family’s misery.

Along the way, Higgins will push Seamus to his limits, challenging him to re-examine his life and all he holds near and dear; from his relationships with his parents, Emily, to his faith in God, himself.

THEMES

Perhaps the most obvious theme that has stuck with this story from the beginning is TRUST. Seamus was raised with a strict sense of right and wrong instilled by his parents, ashamed of their mistakes. He will have to reconcile his love for his parents and Emily as he defies them and does everything to satisfy his thirst for justice.

Higgins will act as an antichrist figure, in that he is opposed to Jesus Christ. He will instruct Seamus in his worldview rooted in the Sermon on the Mount. Christ commands the world to recognize good and evil, and to not even settle for even a seed of evil; to strive to be perfect. There is no room for settling. Turning the other cheek and going the extra mile is to dare wrongdoers to either follow through in their evil or renounce it. As far as Higgins is concerned, Seamus cannot lie to himself in thinking that he is still a good man while he indulges in acts of evil. He can either obey his reason by being a saint and yearning for peaceful justice, or give in to his anger and lust-driven search for instant satisfaction.

And finally, the other major theme is HATE. I did not realize until recently that the last few years have been a perfect time for me to go through with writing this project. We are finishing the presidency of Donald Trump, who started his whole political career in a racist-driven conspiracy that Barack Obama could not have been born in the United States, along with countless other remarks rooted in bigotry. I have marveled over the years that as a youngster who had not seen a black president, yet, that by the time this historic achievement rolled around that hate and racism would be a thing of the past. But we have observed that no matter how much progress we believe we have made as a society, hate endures. This is the underlying tone of how an English gang is holding to old-fashioned anti-Irish bigotry in the 21st century.

There will also be a focus on the presence of organized crime in South Boston, even as the area is overwhelmed with gentrification and poverty seems to be disappearing. Again, no matter how much progress society has made, evil and sin remain.

So hopefully getting this out into the world with even the smallest audience can give me the incentive to hit the keyboard to finish this project after so many years. Godspeed to me!

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