That Saturday afternoon, Charlie goes to Nostrils’s house. Nostrils’s mother and father are pleased to meet Charlie, and Nostril’s mother has baked a sponge cake to celebrate something. Nostrils reveals that he has been chosen to play on the Richmond Hill football team. The boys eat some cake, and Charlie tells Nostrils about Squizzy’s job offer. Nostrils accepts.
Nostrils’s life is much more secure than Charlie. Both his parents are alive and able to support him, he has enough food to eat, and he is able to pursue his passion for football. Nevertheless, he joins Charlie in working for Squizzy. This is both a display of loyalty and evidence that even families better off than the Feehans feel the effects of poverty in Richmond.
It rains that night, but Nostrils is still eager to run when he meets Charlie on the way to the job. When they arrive at Squizzy’s house on Darlington Parade, a man greets them and gives them vague instructions. He grows frustrated at their confusion and finally explains that they will be “running the rabbit”––delivering illegal liquor. The boys realize they are now deeply in the world of organized crime, as the recipient of their delivery is the infamous criminal Henry Stokes. Nostrils wants to back out, but Charlie is determined to have “a piece of the action” and give his mother and Jack a better life.
Charlie delves deeper into Melbourne’s underworld, and he drags Nostrils in with him. He ignores his friend’s trepidation in favor of his own desire for “a piece of the action.” Charlie’s desire for excitement, wealth, and a life more fulfilling that the one he is living drives his actions, and his romanticized notion of crime makes him believe that crime is how he’ll achieve those things.
A bouncer greets Charlie and Nostrils at the address where they are supposed to pick up the liquor. The bouncer is annoyed at the boys’ inexperience, but Nostrils calms him down. The boys get the liquor; Nostrils picks up the whiskey and gin, leaving Charlie to carry the more burdensome beer. When they leave the house, Charlie reminds Nostrils that Nostrils is his “apprentice,” but it’s not until they’re nearly finished with the run that Nostrils offers to carry the beer. Charlie is unimpressed. They are right outside their destination when Charlie sees a police constable coming down the street, so he and Nostrils duck behind a bush.
Charlie holds some status over Nostrils as Squizzy’s official runner, and he is conscious of that status. He openly calls Nostrils his “apprentice,” reminding Nostrils that Charlie secured this job for him. Nostrils is the one who puts the bouncer at ease and enables the boys to get the liquor, but Charlie overlooks his contributions and focuses on Nostril’s reluctance to carry the beer. Nostrils isn’t bothered by Charlie’s treatment of him, and the friendship between the boys never falters, but as Charlie’s job inflates his self-importance, inequality grows in their friendship.
After the police constable leaves, Charlie and Nostrils deliver the liquor. The man who answers the door reassures them that they don’t need to worry about police, since many officers and high-ranking administrators are involved in organized crime. The man himself is a police inspector. He gives Charlie a shilling coin and sends his regards to Squizzy. As Charlie and Nostrils walk away, they pass the constable and say hello. Charlie smiles confidently and tells the constable they are there on business. As he holds the gaze of the police officer, Charlie realizes that he loves working for Squizzy Taylor. It gives him not only money, but power.
Squizzy Taylor wields power in Richmond, and because Charlie is his employee, Charlie has some power as well. This taste of authority after a life of powerlessness is a thrill for Charlie, and he eagerly shows off his influence over those who would usually have power over him, like the police. Crime continues to “seduce” Charlie, offering him the wealth, excitement, and power that he has never had.