He told me his story.
"My two brothers and I were kid detectives. You know, we used critical thinking and science to solve local crimes. We thwarted cheats and bullies across the elementary school, and sometimes adults too."
"That sounds nice," I said noncommittally.
"It was. It was a good life. I had a pet tarantula named Matteo Ricci. But then things went south."
He looked up at me guiltily. "We started solving bigger crimes, and we attracted attention. They came on so smooth, the mob bosses. Visited all friendly-like, bringing us gifts. They always had more crimes for us to solve. We thought they were the police or something."
"But they were mob bosses."
"Yeah. They were hiring us to investigate rival families. Paid us the standard fifty cents a case, but a lot more on top of that. Microwaves and big television sets. Fancy bicycles. Action figures and posters. Chocolate chips by the truckload, just for my comically ever-hungry brother Cookie. We thought we were on top of the world."
I was starting to feel uncomfortable.
"They plugged Cookie. Lil' Watson is upstate now; he'll get out in six years. And me? I drink and try to forget, but I just can't forget, on account of my perfect memory. But I can't tell where we went wrong. We just wanted to solve mysteries."