In a brief respite from matters Peltier, the following true story is offered.
A follow-up video is available on YouTube:
EDWARD PATRICK MALONEY
(2004) Eddie is sitting on a shelf in the basement. His remains actually, and how he came to be there is quite a story.
The first question to ask is whether the world is a better place without him.
You’ll have to be the judge of that.
As difficult as it is to admit, there was a time I really hated Eddie. It would be an understatement that for a long time he made my life miserable, but, over time, I came to care for him like a lost stepbrother in need.
I met Eddie Maloney in the summer of 1982. He committed suicide in the summer of 2004 and it remains to be seen whether this recap of our times together will be an obituary or eulogy. The fact that Eddie had been shot a total of ten times at point blank range on two separate occasions mattered little in the end. Eddie Maloney is what was left after life finished screwing him.
Eddie was an unforgettable character, straight off the screen of Pulp Fiction. Not an imposing presence, he was on the short side, but extra-broad shoulders gave the impression of a larger man. There was no mistaking what was on his mind; his thoughts showed clearly in facial expressions that ranged from disgust, to hatred, to intimidation. Dark drab eyes topped by his most prominent feature, thick reddish eyebrows, accented a ruddy complexion with distinct features and character lines, not from a life of luxury and happiness but from the burden of deep emotional scars and experiences. What can be said of someone who had prison tattoos across the fingers of his right fist that spelled V-I-L-E? There was nothing subtle about him, he moved through life like a bulldozer pushing aside a pile of rubble. Finesse wasn’t his strong suit. In his own world, Eddie was a powerhouse. Problem was though; he generated more heat than light.
It would be impossible to forget our first meeting in July 1982. Eddie had just turned forty. I was a thirty-six year old career FBI agent. The purpose of the mix should be obvious, and hardly a match made in heaven. It was a marriage of necessity, the proverbial shotgun wedding. At that moment too many people were trying to kill him—and nearly did—and he had information about some crime figures that the Bureau wanted. More precisely, he wanted to use the government, and I wanted to use his testimony. I envisioned us both testifying, and we did, but not until 1986. It was a long and difficult four years, even longer after that, for both of us. During that time I learned all there was to know about Eddie Maloney including all I didn’t want to know or deal with. I learned to dislike him and then understand him, how fundamentally intelligent he was, and why he pretty much became a social outcast.
(The following eighty pages are omitted…)
My plan had always been to bring Eddie home to New York City. He grew up on the Lower East Side. His drunkard father abused him and his mother. His father was out of the picture early, and for some inexplicable reason known only to her, Eddie’s mother put him in a Catholic orphanage at age six. Ironically, Eddie’s mother was employed as a nurse at the time.
History has shown that 1950s Catholic orphanages were horrible and demeaning institutions. I believe that experience created the foundation for Eddie’s developing anti-social behavior and personality. Nuns had little tolerance for a rambunctious or out of control Irish kid.
I have pondered the nurture/nature debate. Eddie was basically smart, probably above average intelligence and often displayed an excellent memory, although sometimes filtered through the prism of his life-challenging experiences, and sometimes just to suit his own view of things. In my opinion, Eddie was a victim of the nurture side. His early years created the twisted path his life followed.
I had a miserable and abusive childhood—nothing like Eddie’s, but severe enough that it still bothers me to this day. I did, though, have the advantage of growing up in a solidly middle class suburb that offered advantages and options. And somehow along the way, I did learn the value of a strong work ethic.
I have often contemplated the “What If” of Eddie Maloney. What if it was reversed and he grew up in the suburbs and I on the Lower East Side? Would I have fared any better than the other Eddie? My gut tells me no.
Eddie’s basic intelligence never amounted to much. Doing the math, in 1982, having just turned forty, he had been incarcerated nearly twenty years. We actually sat down and added up the months one time. Much of that time was in solitary for violating prison rules and for one prison escape. Out of prison, obviously, Eddie wasn’t a successful criminal. His short times back on the streets took him to Manhattan’s swankiest nightspots where he lived and partied hard before getting pinched again.
Eddie never killed or seriously injured anyone. His specialty was high-end burglaries and thefts and too often double-crossing those who thought he could be trusted. A couple of those escapades put him on a hit list that eventually forced him to come over to the dark side and reluctantly start working with the Feds. Eddie despised everyone in law enforcement, who he un-affectionately referred to as “da bulls.” But at that point his options in the street were severely limited. Cooperate or perish. It was that simple.
His ventures into the Witness Protection Program were problematic, following the program’s rules and attempting an unsuccessful transition to the work-a-day world were insurmountable challenges.
It’s not totally coincidental that Eddie wound up near where I eventually settled as well, finishing one career, then another.
The 1990s for Eddie were generally uneventful but for a couple of minor scrapes with the law that didn’t set him back much. He had actually gotten a real job for a while. Phone sales of some sort. As time passed, it was amusing to hear the change in his telephone demeanor from that of a gravelly New York tough guy to being somewhat polite and civil.
He would call occasionally and give me updates and for the last ten years or so we would get together for lunch on his birthday. We had some good conversations about our days in New York and how he was getting along. Eddie did have a good sense of humor, unless he was drinking. Back in the day, Eddie was a nasty drunk and readily admitted that alcohol and gambling were his uncontrollable weaknesses.
The last couple of years he talked about the chemo and radiation treatments for throat cancer, the result of a lifetime of heavy smoking since he was probably around twelve. As a non-smoker this was always a source of tension between us.
Towards the end he wrestled with the possibilities of a laryngectomy. I didn’t think he would go through with it but apparently he did want to continue the fight.
In the process he had other health complications and I visited him in the hospital several times.
On one visit, after the laryngectomy, I was surprised that when he tried to talk there was absolutely no sound at all. Not even the sound of passing air. He did, though, write notes. One was for me to go downstairs and get him a pack of cigarettes.
Eddie was released, and I had planned to visit him at his apartment to see what help I could offer. I was away on business, and it was a couple of weeks later I learned from one of his friends that he had apparently collected his prescription medication, overdosed, and had been cremated. His friend eventually gave me the urn with his ashes.
My immediate family is small and a remaining nephew was getting married on Long Island, which offered an opportunity to finally bring Eddie home.
I transferred the sealed bag that held Eddie’s remains from the urn into a suitable metal tin for the trip.
With apparent irony I donated the urn to a local Catholic charity.
I checked the TSA website for the requirements to carry human remains. I was pleased that when I stated I had a container with human remains they followed the TSA protocol, being both thorough and professional.
We had the day of the wedding to find a suitable resting place. As it turned out, that day, April 27, 2017, was the birthday of our first son who we lost when he was three in 1977 due to congenital heart problems. Otherwise, it was an incredibly beautiful day.
I didn’t know what I was going to say. It was a spontaneous farewell, a brief summary from the heart for someone whose life had taken many terrible turns. Although Eddie created most of his own problems in life, it was those early years that robbed him of the opportunity to do otherwise and find a better path.
My daughter captured the moment perfectly.
May God be with you Eddie. Rest in Peace.