BOX

Percy appeared. Just as I was thinking it was time to move. Neck and shoulders stiff. I put my coat on and felt a weight on one side. Felt around. Something in the pocket. It was a little container. About the size of a packet of cigs and made of wood. Dark wood. Tiny brass hinges and a clasp with a padlock.

“OK,” I said. “did you put this in my coat?”

He shook his head slowly, took his hand out of his pocket and showed me a tiny key.

“Wait on,” I said. “Not here.”

We jogged to his house and sat at the table in the kitchen.  We didn’t say anything, even when I put the box on the table. We stared at it.

“Shall we?”

I nodded. He put the key in the opening and there was a soft click as the padlock opened. Percy lifted the lid. We looked inside. On the dark red baize lining were two sachets. I took one out. It was folded like Wrigley’s chewing gum or a Beecham’s powder.

“Go on then.” Percy nodded.

There was an aroma of herbs and pepper as I unfolded the paper. Inside the wrapper were brown and dark green threads. We gazed at them for a few moments.

“Where did this come from?”

“I can guess.” Percy started to fiddle with the box. He pushed his thumbnail into a groove I hadn’t noticed and a flap opened. There was another piece of paper in there. It was pale blue and had been torn off a bigger piece. When he unfolded it there was some writing.

“oppen yur mind Bruw up and see”

“It’s hash, man.” Percy was excited.

“Dunno.” I picked up a strand and rubbed it between my finger and thumb, sniffed. “Smells like soil.”

Percy put the kettle on.

“Not now,” I said. “Wait until we’ve got ready.”

“How do you mean?”

“Just calm down and think for a minute.”

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