Walking back to Delirium Tremens, Radley asked Carlos how he felt. An emphatic “Great!” was his reply. “My arm doesn’t hurt anymore.” With wide eyed excitement, he turned to the other boy and grabbed his shoulders. “And I’m gonna get a bunch of comics! I’m getting Ultimate Warlock, and Condorito 2000, and Battlestar Galactica, and Nemesis, and Occam’s Razor!”
“But wait, you only have eight dollars.”
“No, you still owe me those five bucks, remember?”
Radley looked at Carlos as if he had just slapped him. Sure, he remembered. When they started, all Radley could think about was how many packages he could deliver. Now that he had eight dollars, now that he had worked all day to earn his money, he didn’t want to give it up. “Hey, if I hadn’t told you to come back we wouldn’t have made any extra money.”
“Well yeah, but the other comics are pretty much yours anyway. I mean, I don’t really like ViperKid. I just wanted to get Ultimate Warlock and Occam’s Razor.”
“So, then, just get those. Besides, you bought the other comics, too, you know.”
“Yeah, because you forced me –”
“I didn’t force you!”
“– and I can’t keep them because they have cuss words in them.”
“So what, your mom will never find out –”
“It’s not just about my mom…”
“–you stupid momma’s boy.”
In an instant, Carlos’s face went from beige to bright red. Faster than he could realize, his hand balled into a fist and flew straight onto Radley’s fat cheek. Within seconds, both boys were on the ground, and Carlos had Radley pinned between his legs, delivering punch after punch at his head. Then, in a moment of blind rage, Carlos picked up a nearby rock that must have been about the size of his hand, and was about to hit the bleeding boy under him with it. Radley put his arms up over his face and yelled, “I’m sorry! Please don’t kill me!”
Carlos stopped, rock above his head, as if thinking whether or not he should continue the act. But then how would he explain to anyone what happened to Radley? What would he do with his body? Could he just leave him in the street and run back to Fat Daisy’s? Wouldn’t Fat Daisy ask about him? But if he told her that Radley went home, and that he would pick up the money for both, then he could hide him, get his money, and might not even get in trouble.
As a background to his thoughts, Carlos heard Radley crying, rambling away, saying anything he could to stop the beating. “I’m sorry I called you a momma’s boy… I’m sorry I stung you with the cigarette…You can have all the money, I don’t care! Just please don’t kill me! Don’t kill me!”
Carlos suddenly felt dizzy. He threw the rock behind Radley’s head, got up, and again started walking towards Fat Daisy’s.
Radley got up slowly, first on his elbows, then rolling over on to his hands and knees. Buttons had been torn from his shirt, and blood dripped from his mouth to the floor, his teeth having done most of the damage. He finally got up, opened his mouth to speak, and saw the other boy fall.
After a second of hesitation, he ran over to Carlos, but then stopped a few feet from him, not wanting to get too close.
“Hey, you OK?” he asked. “Carlos?”
He looked around to see if anyone was near. No one was, so he tore a branch from a small, nearby tree and tried poking at the now unconscious boy. He wanted to make sure Carlos wasn’t dead, but wanted to be able to run if he suddenly went crazy again.
Still no answer.
Radely dropped the stick, moved towards the boy, and shoved at him to wake him up.