The story so far:
Things Not Made To Open - 6 by scryier
I went back to Brooklyn, back to Erasmus Hall High School and met Koa. I'm not really sure if we were friends. I was really friends with her two older sisters, but I don't think Koa and I were friends.
Koa and her sisters lived in what was a Doctor's office when I left for New Hampshire. Now, it was an orphanage for homeless children. In all, there were ten girls living across the street and they weren't terribly well received by my white, middle class Italian, Jewish neighborhood. Of the ten girls living across the street, six of them were Puerto Rican and four were Black. They mostly stayed in the house, or, on their front porch. I use to see them from my bedroom window. They didn't seem weird, or anything. They just seemed like kids.
One night, not long after I came home, we were choosing up sides for a game of ring-a-leaveo; a sort of glorified hide-and-seek. There was only about six of us and I began to think of how much more fun it would be if the teams were bigger. So, I went across the street and invited them to join us. Laverne, the oldest of the group, was all for it and she talked Lorraine, Maria, Koa and two others into it. We had a pretty good time. After the game was over, Laverne, Lorraine and I, sat in an alleyway and talked well into the night.
As the weeks wore on, that's how it came to be. Laverne, Lorraine and I; off to the movies, the skating rink, the mall. Most of the time, we'd hang out in my house. Some of the time, I'd hang out in their house. It was in their house that I'd see Koa, but Koa wasn't like Laverne or Lorraine. You couldn't carry on a serious conversation with Koa. Everything seemed to be a joke to Koa. It was like life was one big party, except Koa was the only one invited. If you were lucky, you were allowed to go along. Otherwise, you were left out in the cold. Koa, more often than not, left me out in the cold.
Then one day, Koa discovered my two puppies. I had somehow inherited these two Belgian Shepherds that were absolutely beautiful, but I couldn't keep them. We already had one dog and my folks made it clear that three dogs were two dogs too many. I needed to find homes for these dogs and one of these dogs found Koa.
I was walking them one morning when one of the pups slipped its collar. It bolted across Linden Boulevard, raced for the corner house and straight into the arms of Koa. I don't know how that dog kept from getting killed. I bolted after him with one pup on one leash, a three year old Collie Terrier on another leash and an empty leash dangling along. I heard brakes squeal, horns blare and motorists cuss before I reached the other side of the street and I knew what I was doing. I was chasing a run away puppy and that pup was jumping in and out of Koa's arms.
"Thank God," I said completely out of breath.
Koa was laughing and kneeling and playing with the pup. He kept jumping up and lapping her on the face. It must have been a full ten minutes before she even acknowledged my being there.
"Guess you gotta take him now," she said.
"Yeah, I do."
She stood up and her smile disappeared. She stuffed her
hands in the pockets of her jeans and started shoving the pup away with her knee.
"He really seems to like you," I said.
"So what about it?"
I slipped the collar back around the puppies neck. "So, he needs a home. Maybe you could take him."
"Yeah. Right. Sure. They'd never let me have a dog."
"Maybe they would."
I stood up. "Maybe I could talk to the guy whose in charge of all this and get him to give you permission to have a dog."
She looked at me and her tiny brown eyes grew wide.
"Yeah?" She asked and she wasn't kneeing the puppy off of her anymore. She was letting the puppy stand upright, on her leg, while she pet him.
"Yeah. I mean it is a responsibility and you'd probably have to make a few sacrifices, but I don't see why they wouldn't let you have a dog."
"What's his name?"
"I don't know. I haven't really named either one of them. What do you think his name should be?"
"Bullet. Let's call him Bullet."
"Sounds good to me. I'm going to take Bullet home, now. You can come along. Later on, we'll ask the house mother who is in charge of everything and when we find out, we'll set up a meeting and see about getting you Bullet."
Koa came home with me and that evening we found out who was in charge of the orphanage she lived in. His name was Carl Raguzza and his office was in Downtown Brooklyn.
Two days later, I met with him. I told him about the dog and the love and responsibility that went along with it. I told him it would be a good learning experience for Koa. The dog was already house broken, so I didn't foresee any problems.
He considered my proposal and the following day called the house mother with his permission. Koa raced over to my house and took off with Bullet. Her boyfriend bought some lumber and built a dog house in the back yard. Everybody chipped in for dog food and dog toys and Bullet had more attention; more affection, than half the people in the world.
It just didn't last.
Seven weeks later, I came home from school and found six cop cars parked in front of the orphanage. The big bay window in the front of the house had been smashed. There was a desk chair on the front lawn. I raced into the house and it was trashed. Furniture had been turned upside down. Pictures that had hung on walls, were all over the house and in pieces. They were dragging Koa out in cuffs.
Bullet was gone. There was a letter from Mr. Raguzza that said something about other kids in other homes, wanting dogs. They never gave Koa any notice. Raguzza just showed up with the ASPCA and had Bullet taken away. He left a note with the house mother to give to Koa when she came back from school. Koa returned from school and went straight into the backyard for Bullet, which is what she always did. When she saw he was gone, she went straight into the house. The house mother handed her the note from Mr. Raguzza and she went straight into a rage.
I didn't see Koa again for another four months. They had shipped her off to a private school up in Maine. She called her boyfriend and pleaded with him to come and get her. She was the only nonwhite in the school and she hated it. They hated her and she hated it and he had to come and get her. He came to get me. I knew New England. I went along.
We should have left her there.
I should have left her there. It could have been good for her. It would have been right for her, but then we do so many things without ever realizing what it is we're really doing.
Her boyfriend borrowed a car and we drove all the way up to Maine to break Koa out of school. We broke her out of school and made it all the way back to Brooklyn, to boot. We dropped Koa off at the orphanage and returned the car, but the nightmare was far from over. Koa was supposed to be up in Maine. The orphanage had no intentions of just letting Koa walk back in through the front door. It was foolish of us to have thought otherwise.
I think that's when Koa and I became friends.
The orphanage wanted to commit her. They wanted to put her into one of the worst Juvenile Detention Center's in the City of New York. Her boyfriend, who already had an arrest record, panicked and abandoned her. He just didn't know what to do and I guess that just left Koa with no one to turn to but me.
Koa was a runaway and I guess that made me a runaway, too. We spent the next several days sleeping on apartment stairwells, together. We stayed in a basement, one night. Steve put us up in his garage on another night. We rode the subways on other nights. I kept calling my folks and telling them I was okay, but I wasn't. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know who to trust and then we caught a break.
A social worker with the orphanage called Laverne.
"I've found a file," she said. "I was looking for contacts that Koa might have run off to and I found a file. It's about your mother. Apparently, your mother is alive. She's living in New Mexico. I have a phone number. Maybe you should call her."
Two days later, Koa and I parted company for good. It was at the Port Authority bus terminal. Her sisters and the friends that had helped us out, pooled enough money together to get Koa a one way bus ticket to Albuquerque. I was on the bus with her. We sat beside one another until the bus was ready to leave and then we said goodbye.
Koa went to Albuquerque and I went to counseling. My folks forced me to see the school counselor. I missed a week and a half of school running around the city with Koa and they placed me on probation. I had to have every teacher of every class sign a sheet stating I was there. I never finished High School. I took the GED, instead. I passed and we moved out of Flatbush, Brooklyn and I never went back to Flatbush again.
'Things Not Made To Open - 6' statistics: (click to read)