In four hours, the boys had delivered all but one of the packages. Radley had earned seven dollars while Carlos earned eight, since his addresses were closer and usually easier to find. Fat Daisy said it was alright if they wanted to call it a day, but the boys decided to try again to deliver the last package, this time together. Fat Daisy was at first apprehensive, but was then fine with it: her biggest concern had been to make sure no clients would know who the other clients were.
Radley had tried to deliver this last package a couple of hours ago, but the guy — Mr Funland, the package said, though the boy thought that no one could possibly have a name like “Funland” — didn’t have a mail slot or a mail box, at least not one he could see, and his next door neighbors were apparently having some sort of party. Mr Funland was the only person on the deliveries list who lived in a house, and was just a few blocks from where Radley and his mother lived. Radley remembered seeing the man on occasion and on the way to his house described him to Carlos as “an old, rich guy with a nice car.” He was sure the man had never seen him, but the boy had a presentiment that he shouldn’t let Funland know he was now the man’s delivery boy.
“I need to stop by my house before we go on,” said Radley as they neared both his and Funland’s house. “I really have to take a pee.” Carlos felt the same, so he agreed.
Once at Radley’s place, they saw that his mom wasn’t home. Radley told Carlos to go to the bathroom first, he could wait.
While Carlos was in the bathroom, Radley looked at the package. It certainly looked like there should be magazines in there, but like all the others, it felt different than magazines, lighter, like a book with thick pages. Earlier he had tried opening Mr Mortimer Mouse’s package, but stopped when the tape started to rip the packaging. This time he would be more careful, and had access to tape, just in case.
Carlos stepped out of the bathroom, he started to tell Radley it was his turn, but stopped when he saw the other boy hunched over the other package.
“What are you doing?” asked Carlos.
The other boy glanced at him then focused his attention back on the package. “Finding out what’s in here,” he finally answered.
“What do you mean ‘why’?”
“I mean, didn’t you already know what was in here? Doesn’t your dad already get these types of magazines?”
“I don’t think these are magazines.” Radley picked up the package and shook it. It didn’t bend like magazines, and it seemed too light to be this bulky. After a few shakes, a light rattling came from within.
“That’s weird.” Carlos said.
“Yeah, none of the others rattled.”
“Wait… you checked out the others?”
“Just one, but I didn’t open it.” Radley put the package down and unwrapped it. At first, it just looked like a couple of hardcover books, each decorated with drawings of bears and titled Bears Across the World. The boy opened one of the books. Surely enough, the book was about bears: pictures of bears, information about bears, and about what bears could be found where. He flipped the pages. “It’s just a book about –”
Before he could finish the sentence, the book opened to a section where a large hole had been cut in the middle, and now had a clear, plastic box jammed in it. Inside the box were what looked like six small, clear plastic containers, none thicker than a pen, and something that looked like a cigarette.
Carlos knelt next to Radley to get a closer look. “What do you think this is?” he asked, forgetting how much trouble they would get in if Fat Daisy found out they had opened Mr Funland’s package.
“I don’t know.” Radley looked at the box curiously. Although he was afraid now he didn’t want to show it. He opened the box, picked up the cigarette, and trying to lighten the mood, he held it between his index and middle finger. He brought it to his lips, pretending to smoke it.
“What are you supposed to do with this?” asked Carlos. He was now more curious than afraid.
“Smoke it, I guess.” He felt the plastic around his fingers. Weren’t these usually made of paper? Then, with sudden life he added, “Hey, you know what? This one time I saw this movie where a guy had another strapped down to a chair and took a cigarette and burned him with it.” As if to reenact the movie scene, he grabbed the other boy’s arm and pressed the tobacco end of the cigarette to his arm. “Answer me!” he yelled, in mock-seriousness.
As soon as the cigarette had touched Carlos’s arm, something in the thing stung him. “Ouch!” he yelled, pulling his arm away and grabbing at it. He pulled up his hand, and saw a small bit of blood on both the arm and his palm. “Why’d you do that for, you jerk?!”
“Are you OK?” Radley dropped the cigarette and moved towards the other boy. The cigarette was broken by the impact of the fall.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Let’s just pack this stuff up and drop it off at the fat guy’s place.”
The boys quickly packed the broken cigarette back into the book, carefully re-wrapped the package, and ran to Funland’s place. Both were surprised when Carlos outran the usually faster Radley, especially since the boy didn’t look winded when they got there.