Didee Fuller looked about half his age, slumped across from me in his pajamas with the specter of a black eye floating above one cheek. Looked about six. Small, skittish and unafraid.
“You know who I am, Didee?” I gave him eyes as unblinking as my star tattoos under them.
Didee chuckled. Maybe more of a giggle. “Yeah. You’re Jurgis.”
“Why’s that funny?”
He slid on a wry smile. “We got similar interests.”
“You know why I’m here, then.” I flipped open my notepad.
“Mhm.” The smile dawned big. “You want to know how a twelve year old could take down Giant.”
I clicked my pen. Didee got talking.
Didee spent Saturday mornings busy. When other kids were shoveling cereal in front of cartoons, Didee had already cleaned his room and sorted his comic collection.
He liked Teen Titans the best. Robin was his hero.
“Robin’s ten times brave as Batman,” Didee told me. “Batman’s a grown dude, spent all his life training how to mess somebody up. Robin’s just a kid. Not much training. Not even a pair of pants. Takes a special bravery to run around, getting in fights, without pants.”
Didee would be out helping Desire district’s charities by nine.
Giant came by Didee’s house Saturdays at noon. Didee didn’t even know why his mother was crying until he asked three months in.
He had come back from gathering strays for the Animal Shelter that morning, bouncy with a job well done, and asked her with a grin, “Mama, why you got to be so down on such a beautiful day?”
She told him. Not everything at first, but he kept pressing.
Didee was a curious kid. He’d stick Mentos in a Diet Coke two-liter to prove they’d blow up. Made baking soda volcanoes out at Edith Sampson Playground just to see the smaller kids goggle in wonder.
“What Mama told me,” Didee said, “It was the first thing I ever learned that I didn’t want to know.”
“You know why Giant was shaking her down for money?” I set the pen down.
“And sex,” Didee added. The word sounded like even more of a crime coming from a kid.
“Way Giant had it, my uncle had ripped him off when he was just coming up in the game.” Didee shrugged. “Stole his bike. Beat him up. Crippled his brother.”
“This was payback?”
“No,” Didee said “That was an excuse.”
He told the rest of the story with his fists clenched pale.
It took a month spying to get Giant’s routine memorized.
“I didn’t take no pictures, didn’t write nothing down,” Didee said. “Never write nothing down.”
Then two weeks to steal enough animal tranquilizer from the kennel.
“A bit at a time, they don’t notice,” Didee said. “Never take nothing they’ll notice.”
Then another two weeks of watching Giant park his F-150 outside his last drop-off, a crack house on Law Street. Timing how long Giant visited, averaging it, doing practice runs. Checking no one was on the street. No one looking out a window.
“Had to be patient,” Didee said. “Never rush nothing.”
Then August 13 arrived with the 100% humidity of a crock pot and not a soul on Law.
Giant came out to the F-150 and tried to start it. The sugar Didee put in the gas tank worked a charm. Giant cussed a few minutes and then went under the hood.
Didee came from behind the trash cans in the alley and put the syringe of ketamine in Giant’s femoral.
“He went down like a pit bull,” Didee said with a smile white as his knuckles. “Growling.”
Giant crumpled into four-hundred pounds of watery muscle. Didee hunched by his head. He took out his Mama’s kitchen knife.
“Never take no chances,” Didee told me as I wrote another bullet point.
Didee made sure Giant’s eyes saw him, slid the metal through the tight tube of his jugular vein and was back in the alley by the time Giant bled out.
“So how’d you get caught?” I ask, pen poised for the last entry.
Didee’s eyes and smile went somewhere else. He hugged himself. Straightened up in those orange jail pajamas.
“Told Mama,” Didee said to the Parish Prison window. “She got in an argument on the street and said it to scare someone. Might as well have used a bullhorn. All Desire knew by dinner time.”
I flipped the notepad closed.
“You forgot the last note,” Didee said, looking back at me. “Never get close to nobody.”
I didn’t have to write that down to live it.
“How’re you holding up?” I pointed at his black eye as I stood.
“Good,” he said, smiling tight again. “Just got jumped into the Grubs up in here. My reputation preceded me, ain’t that how it goes?”
“That’s how it goes.”
“Word has it, Giant’s brother’s looking for payback.” Didee gave up on smiling. We both had. “We’ll see who gets who first.”