In 1953, minutes before sentencing Fat-Face Louie Tromboni to life without parole,
the judge asked him, “Do you have anything you would like to say before I pronounce
sentence, Mr. Tromboni?”
Fat-Face Louie sighed the sigh of a thousand Italian mothers and said: “Yeah I do.
I got a lot to say… y’honor… not that I think anybody will hear me. But, you know, an’ I
know, we all got more important things to do than sit around here and hear me gripe,
so I’ll make it brief.”
Fat-Face Louie looked down sadly at his nicely manicured, chubby little hands, as if
he were looking upon them for the last time. He sighed again deeply. He shook his big
head slowly from side to side before looking up and fixing the judge with heavy-lidded,
watery, grey eyes.
“I am a good family man; nobody, I think, would deny that. I’ve always been a good
father to my children… and, might I add, a devoted husband to most of my wives…”
He shrugged sheepishly, “Well, you know how it is… But, even my mistress, who is not
too pleased with me at this very moment, for reasons into which I will not delve, would
have to admit that I am a good husband. I have also given to the community from
which I have sprung; though I do not myself live there anymore. I have, for just one
example, built a library there: The Louis Tromboni, Jr. Community Library… y’honor.”
Fat-Face Louie looked up at the judge and smiled.
“I have… well, HAD plans to build a branch to that establishment this coming year:
The Louis Tromboni, Jr. Community Library Annex. I have, unlike some… well, many…
perhaps most, of my colleagues—no offense, fellahs—paid my taxes. Whatever else I
done, I paid my taxes. So, you’d think, with all of that, I might get a break… y’honor.
But, no. It looks like none of this—family man, good father, devoted husband, good
works in the community, plans for the continuation of future good works—none of this
counts. For all that, I get no credit. It means nothing. It all goes right out the window.”
Here Fat-Face Louie shook his head again and looked down once more at his hands.
He sighed and laughed a little private laugh, before looking up. “It just don’t seem
right that, after all the good I done, I get no credit. I mean, Christ, (and here Fat-Face
Louie began to lose it a little) I kill one stinkin’ little worthless piece-a-trash, street
punk, and everything else is erased? I kill one goddamned guy—ONE—and I’m no
longer Mister Louis Tromboni, Jr., the guy who built us that library, the devoted father
and reasonably dedicated husband. Now it’s Louie Tromboni, Jr., Murderer. Does that
seem right to you? I ask you.”
Actually, it did seem right. It seemed right to the judge. It seemed right to the jury. It
seemed right to everybody in that courtroom on that day, except Fat-Face Louie…
well, you know, and a few of his close personal friends. Though secretly, even they
understood. The sheepish look on the face of the defendant’s lawyer told the judge
that he had to admit that it seemed quite right to him.
But, Louis Tromboni Jr. could not see it. To him it made no sense. He strained to
make sense of it, but could not. As they escorted him from the courtroom in
handcuffs, he pleaded with a reporter to explain it to him. “What was my crime? I do
not understand the nature of my offense.” And, he honestly didn’t. He thought that by
taking one 'stinkin’ little worthless piece-a-trash' off the street he had done society a
favor. Perhaps he had. Now, society was going to do itself a favor and put away Fat-
Face Louie for a very long time.
In my interview with Fat-Face Louie, in Joliet Prison yesterday, he admitted that after
62 years of mulling it over, he was still confused. “I just don’t get it,“ he told me. “I
murder one guy… ONE guy… suddenly I am no longer a pillar to the community, No,
I’m just another murderer. You know what it's like? It’s like them poor kids in
Baltimore; same situation exactly. Yesterday they was all singin’ in the Baptist choir,
today, ‘cause they set a few stinkin’ cop cars on fire, they’re being called thugs.
B’leive me, they ain’t thugs. I KNOW thugs—fact I know quite a few thugs—and just
cause you smash a window and loot a pharmacy, or set an old folks home on fire
doesn’t make you a thug. It takes more than one night of mayhem to earn that title.
FAT-FACE LOUIE SEES THE INJUSTICE OF IT ALL by C. D. C. Bellwether