The family sits at the dinning room table. Vinnie’s mom fills a bowl with low salt popcorn. Vinnie’s dad goes to the pantry and brings a bag of Mexican chips to the table. Vinnie stands in front of an open refrigerator door before deciding to fetch a jar of salsa and two raw hot dogs. He carries them to the kitchen counter, opens a cabinet door and takes a small plate for the hot dogs and a small bowl for Fruit Loops, his go to high sugary cereal he eats in place of candy. Vinnie breaks the hot dogs into small pieces and places the pieces on a plate. He sets the dish with the hot dogs on the floor. Dexter correctly assumes it’s snack time and consumes the two dogs in fifteen point one seconds a new PR. Vinnie picks Dexter’s plate off the floor, examines it. Feels its clean and puts it back in the cabinet. He says, “Dexter, you’re better than the dishwasher.”
Dexter sits on his haunches, cocks his head slightly, believes he did something good but he doesn’t know what it was, and expects a reward. Dexter’s dog brain is still trying to understand the human mind.
Vinnie carries the Fruit Loops to the table, places the dish on the table and sits down. I’m ready. I’ll go first. He picks up his cards and says, “I get to exchange one card with Mom and two with Dad. Then you guys can exchange a card.”
“That’s not how you play, Vincent. And, you are not going to a whole bowl of Fruit Loops. You know how I feel about sugary cereal, anyway.”
“But Mom, Gramma bought them for me, so you can’t throw them away.”
“When they’re gone, they’re gone and don’t you go asking Gramma to buy you sugary cereals.”
“I didn’t, Mom. I was talking to Rupert and she overheard me saying I was hungry for Fruit Loops. And, why can’t we exchange cards? Why, Mom? Why?”
“Because we are going to play the way the game was designed to be played, Vincent. It will be good for you to play by the rules. It’s what adults have to do to be successful in life.”
“Can I pass out the cards, Mom?”
“Okay. First, I’ll slide out one card from the characters, one from the room, and another from the murder weapon and put them in the case. See, I didn’t look at them. Before I pass the cards out, can I guess?”
“Dear, I warned you how this would turn out. I’m afraid it’s going to be worse than I imagined. I feel a migrane coming on,” says Vinnie’s mom to his dad.
Vinnie’s dad smiles, “Vinnie, pass out the cards. You can’t possible know who is on the cards in the case. I shuffled the cards. Mom and I watched you. You didn’t peek. If we look, we’ll have to do it all over again.”
“I still know. I am so sure I know. Please don’t look at your cards. I want to guess the murderer and the room and the weapon. Then we can play the game I invented.”
Vinnie’s dad answers for Vinnie’s mom who is pressing the palms of her hands against her temples. “Vinnie, you can’t guess until you’re in a room. We haven’t started playing yet, so you’re not in a room.”
Vinnie moves the yellow piece representing Colonel Mustard to the library, “I’m in a room, can I guess now, Dad?”
“Vincent, either you play right or you can’t play,” says Vinnie’s mom.
“But I don’t want anybody to look at their cards until I guess. I want to show you how smart I am,” says Vinnie.
“You know you don’t know,” says Vinnie’s mom.
“If I can’t play you won’t have enough players to play unless you use Rupert. He’s very smart and will probably win,” answers Vinnie.
“Dear, will you get this game started so we can get it finished. I’m already worn out and no one has rolled the dice,” says Vinnie’s mom.
Vinnie’s dad picks up Vinnie’s yellow piece and moves it back to the starting place. He says, “Mom will go first, you will go second, Vinnie, and I will go third. I will be Professor Plum, Mom will be Miss Scarlet, and Vinnie, you’ll be Colonel Mustard.”
“Dad. Dad. Dad,” says Vinnie waving his arm as if he is in school.
“What, Vinnie,” says Vinnie’s dad with a hint of weariness in his voice.
“Mom can’t be Miss Scarlet. She has to be Mrs. Peacock because Miss Scarlett isn’t married and Mom is married,” says Vinnie.
“One can only wish,” says Vinnie’s mom.