August and Jack walk right into a group of strange kids. August realizes the group has firecrackers and cigarettes. As someone in the group points a flashlight at Jack and August and asks what school they're from, another kid shrieks. The rest of the group starts laughing, cursing, and asking "what is that?" August realizes they're talking about him. Jack and August try to walk away, but a big guy named Eddie cuts them off. He laughs at August and calls him Gollum. Jack tries to stand up to Eddie, but Eddie won't let them leave. Eddie starts shoving Jack and though August knows he should run, he doesn't want to leave Jack.
The cigarettes here function as a symbol for these kids' maturity, though Eddie's behavior clearly shows that maturity doesn't always equal kindness. Though this situation is much more akin to what August mentioned experiencing on the playground as a little kid, it's important to note that the lack of supervision and the older ages of the kids here make this encounter far more dangerous than anything August has experienced.
Suddenly, August hears Amos, Miles, and Henry come up behind them and ask what's going on. Amos calmly says that Mr. Tushman is waiting for them, so August helps Jack up and walks towards Amos. Eddie reaches out, grabs August's sweatshirt, and yanks August backwards. Amos rams into Eddie and things get crazy. Someone pulls August up and yells to run, and August's sweatshirt gets ripped.
When Amos brings up Mr. Tushman, it shows that he trusts Mr. Tushman and recognizes that invoking a teacher will indicate to the other boys that there are adults around who won't condone their actions.