Excerpts for Invisible Thread : The True Story of an 11-Year-Old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny

The boy stands alone on a sidewalk in Brooklyn and this is what he sees: a woman running for her life, and another woman chasing her with a hammer. He recognizes one woman as his father's girlfriend. The other, the one with the hammer, he doesn't know.

The boy is stuck in something like hell. He is six years old and covered in small red bites fromchinches--bedbugs--and he is woefully skinny due to an unchecked case of ringworm. He is so hungry his stomach hurts, but then being hungry is nothing new to him. When he was two years old the pangs got so bad he rooted through the trash and ate rat droppings and had to have his stomach pumped. He is staying in his father's cramped, filthy apartment in a desolate stretch of Brooklyn, sleeping with stepbrothers who wet the bed, surviving in a place that smells like death. He has not seen his mother in three months, and he doesn't know why. His world is a world of drugs and violence and unrelenting chaos, and he has the wisdom to know, even at six, that if something does not change for him soon, he might not make it.

He does not pray, does not know how, but he thinks, Please don't let my father let me die. And this thought, in a way, is its own little prayer.

And then the boy sees his father come up the block, and the woman with the hammer sees him too, and she screams, "Junebug, where is my son?!"

The boy recognizes this voice, and he says, "Mom?"

The woman with the hammer looks down at the boy, and she looks puzzled, until she looks harder and finally says, "Maurice?"

The boy didn't recognize his mother because her teeth had fallen out from smoking dope.

The mother didn't recognize her son because he was shriveled from the ringworm.

Now she is chasing Junebug and yelling, "Look what you did to my baby!"

The boy should be frightened, or confused, but more than anything what the boy feels is happiness. He is happy that his mother has come back to get him, and because of that he is not going to die--at least not now, at least not in this place.

He will remember this as the moment when he knew his mother loved him.

© 2011 Laura Schroff