That’s when I got into trouble.
“Send no money! COD. Order today!”
Send no money? Get free fish? Codfish? The white meat stuffed in our fish stick dinners?
Then I realized how cod would go bad, really bad, if someone sent it in the mail. Reading the COD magazine ads closer, they weren’t for codfish but all kinds of things, and things you didn’t have to pay for. Wow, how’s that possible? Who cares – what should I get first?
I tinkered with acquiring the incredible weather balloon offered on page eighty-seven. I couldn’t take my eyes off a photo of the tiny man standing next to a huge balloon in his yard. For only $2.98, plus tax, I could get my own balloon and never have to pay a dime in charges, tax, or postage. No wonder the tiny man looked so happy.
Then again, why should I get something so cheap when I wasn’t paying for it?
One Saturday afternoon a few weeks later, I heard footsteps on our front sidewalk. The mailman was here to deliver my package, care of the kind people at COD.
When I looked through the gap in the window curtains, it wasn’t the mailman, but somebody in a dark suit holding a suitcase. Oh, no. Somebody from school. What did I do wrong? Mom and Dad are home. They can’t know he’s here.
I ran to the front door before my suited caller could knock.
“Oh. Hello. How are you? Are you Master Michael Andberg?”
“Uh, no, I’m not.”
“You’re not Master Michael Andberg of 9218 Whitney Street?”
“I think that’s my father, but he’s not home.”
“Mom’s not home either.
The man looked over at the two cars parked in front of our house.
“I see. Well, I’m from Miracle-ear, and what I have here was ordered by a Master Michael Andberg at this address for cash on delivery $39.95, plus tax.”
“But it’s COD. It’s free. There’s no cost, tax either.”
“May I speak with your parents?”
I wanted to say, “My parents aren’t here. They’re at the polio clinic,” but settled on, “No one here is deaf, sir.”
“Are you sure your parents aren’t home? Because I’d be happy to answer any questions they might have about the revolutionary Miracle-ear.”
“It must be for next door. They’re old.”
“You don’t have to be old, Michael, to use a Miracle-ear and reap the benefits that improved hearing brings for people of all ages.”
“We all had our hearing tests in school this year, and Mom and Dad are still young.”
“Well, I’m sorry to have taken your time, Michael. Perhaps another day soon when your parents are home, all right? Till then, good-bye.”
What if he came and Mom and Dad answered the door first? What if the police came, too, not to mention guys from the magazine? What would I say? “It wasn’t my fault. COD is false advertising. I thought COD meant free fish, free fish for our whole family to eat.”
It was time to cool it for a while, try and be a normal kid for a change.
Change, change, change. I’d need a miracle to get through it.