Sister Janet, all five feet one inch, stands straight and thin as a flag pole. One hand on each hip, she stares at Vinnie as the Church bell chimes two o’clock. “Vincent, you got here not one minute too soon. Try to be a bit earlier for the dress rehearsal on Monday afternoon.”
“It wasn’t my fault we were late. It was Dad’s fault. I begged Dad to leave early, but he had important work to do on his computer. Don’t be made at him, he had to make trades for his fantasy football team. He’s leading his league. If he wins, he’ll get the one hundred dollar jackpot.”
“Your father thinks fantasy football is more important than rehearsal for the living nativity scene?” asks Sister Janet. The tone of her voice made Vinnie happy Mrs. Navis was his teacher even though she was really mean.
“Fantasy football only comes once a year, Sister. Most of the time he’s really nice. I plan to put in a good word with Santa for him. Mom and me have to be patient with him. Are you sure we have rehearsal tomorrow afternoon? It’s Sunday and Sundays are family days, right? When is the living nativity scene this year? I hope it’s not at night. I don’t want to get frostbite? What if it snows? We’ll have to cancel, right?”
Sister Janet didn’t know which question to answer. She stares down at Vinnie and says, “I think you’re a handful for your mother and father.”
“Oh no, Sister. I’m a lot bigger than a hand. Want me tell you how much I weigh without my clothes on?” asks Vinnie.
“Never mind, Vincent. Let’s go into the gym, everyone is here but you,” says Sister Janet.
“Excuse me, Sister, but I’m here. You can see me,” says Vinnie.
Sister Janet rolls her eyes, turns and walks toward the gym. Vinnie follows a few feet behind just like Dexter follows him.
Sister Janet and Vinnie walk into the gym. Vinnie stops and calls to Sister Janet, “Sister, where are all the big people? Who’s going to play Joseph and Mary? Who’s going to play the wisemen?”
Sister Janet didn’t answer Vinnie, instead she points to ten other children sitting on the bottom row of the bleachers near center court. “Go and join the other children, Vincent. I’ll be over in a minute to explain everything.”
“It looks like there’s too many kids, Sister. It’s okay to drop me. You won’t hurt my feelings,” says Vinnie.
Sister Janet, paused, turned toward Vinnie and says, “Vincent, I don’t make mistakes. I want you to go over sit next to Sara Johnson.”
“Ah, Sister, can I sit next to Joey? He’s almost my best friend. My best friend is Rupert, but you didn’t pick him. He really wanted to have a part. Can I tell him he can take my place?”
“Vincent, you are incorrigible. March over and sit next to Sara. See how nice she is behaving?” orders Sister Janet.
Vinnie shrugs his shoulders. He sticks his hands in his pants pockets, and walks toward Sara Johnson. Vinnie mumbles, “You girls always stick together. It’s not fair.”
“Did you say something, Vincent?” calls Sister Janet.
Vinnie stops and turns and says, “Yes, Sister. I was saying how smart you are the way you organize everything.”
“Thank you Vincent, now run along,” says Sister Janet. She speaks to the ten children. “Children, I will only be a minute, I am going to get the scripts for each of you. Most of you only have a couple of lines. Mary and Joseph will have the most lines. What is it Tommy?”
Tommy Tupiski is waving his hand, he stops when Sister Janet calls on him, “Sister, I want to be one of the wise men. You know the one carrying gold. Is it real gold? I never held real gold.”
Larry Donald blurts out, “That’s not fair, Tommy. I want to be the wise man who carries the gold. Last year I was the donkey. My mom said I did so well as the donkey, I deserve a better role.”
Sister Janet blesses herself and mutters, “Dear Jesus, surely this is my living hell. Please help me. When she finishes her little prayer, she says, “Children, there is to be no squabbling about roles. We’ll draw them out of a box. That way it will be fair to everyone.”
Vinnie calls out, “Sister, can I hold the box to make sure no one cheats?”
“Oh dear God. Help me to get through the hour.”