Most of Brook's earnings go towards food. I can't blame her. Her client's spread the word, so now she has three or four dogs at the assisted living place that she walks. Sometimes she gives me cash, sometimes food, and she helps me wash cars whenever she has a spare moment.
Usually, she keeps her backpack with her. She keeps that note in the Ziploc bag in her backpack at all times and never lets me see it. I try to respect that. If I had something from my dad, I'd keep it safe, too. But I'm curious. When I find Brook's backpack in the dumpster when I come home for my ten-in-the-morning nap, I give in and rummage through it.
She doesn't have much in there. Some clothes, some toiletries, a tiny New Testament. Finally, under a tank top, I find the Ziplock bag. Opening it, I pull out a note. A note that looks even more torn and stained up close. It's been ripped and taped together quite a few times, so much that it's halfway laminated.
Dear Brook, it reads, I hope you weren't too frightened by everything that happened. I didn't mean for those men to frighten you. I did, though, ask them to take you away from me. I'm tired of being with you. The grape juice was the last straw for me. You have a new mama now who loves you more than I ever did. Obey her better than you obeyed me. Don't ask if you can come back, because you can't. You have a new home, and you will be well taken care of. Love, Vivan.
I read it again, just to make sure I got it right. What kind of sicko--
Quickly, I refold the note and return it to Brook's backpack. Why does she keep this? I'd burn it the first chance I got. I thought my mom was bad--turning to drugs after my dad was killed, bringing my little brother and me with her to meet dealers in parking lots, passing out and leaving me to take care of things--I guess that was pretty terrible. But this? Throwing your kid away for no good reason? Dang. I guess I'm not the only one out here with a crappy life.
I leave the dumpster and walk around a bit. The trees block the sunlight; a pair of birds fight over something stupid in the bushes. Normally, I like living in the woods. Some days, they're warm and welcoming, smiling and sending sunbeams to greet you. Then there's days like today, where they don't really care who you are or what you do or how long you've lived there. You need sunlight? Sorry kid, so sunshine for you. Or anyone who comes into these woods. We don't discriminate.
The birds fly off, and I glance through the woods to see a wolf coming towards me. I jump before I remember that wolves aren't typically found in Detroit. No, this is a husky.
Doesn't Brook walk a husky?
This husky has a collar on. There's a leash attached to it. The rabies tag says that his name is Checkers.
And there's blood on his nose.
I grab his leash and run.
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.