Vinnie sits Rupert on his lap. Rupert’s fuzzy, dark brown face rests on the table top. His black, shiny glass eyes stare across the table at Vinnie’s mom and dad. Vinnie’s mom wants to look at Vinnie, but Rupert’s eyes and smile force her to place her tongue between her teeth so she won’t laugh.
Vinnie says, “Rupert wants to asks the question. He said he’s made it simple for adults, it will be a true and false question. Are you ready?”
Vinnie’s Mom and Dad stare at Rupert waiting for the stuffed grizzly bear to speak. Vinnie lifts Rupert up so Rupert is in front of his face. Vinnie speaks in his high pitched nasal falsetto voice, “This is a two-part question. The first part is what is true?”
Vinnie turns Rupert around so that they are facing each other. Vinnie says, “Good job, Rupert. I’ll take it from here,” Vinnie sets Rupert on the table against his lunch box.
Vinnie’s mom blurts, “That’s not a true or false question.”
Vinnie points a forefinger at his chest, “Mom, you talking to me?”
“Well, Vincent, I’m not talking to Dad,” says Vinnie’s Mom.
“Mom, I didn’t ask the question. It was Rupert. You should ask him. Hold on. I’ll get him.” Vinnie takes Rupert and lifts him in front of his face. Rupert eyes stare blankly at Vinnie’s mom.
Vinnie’s mom begins, “Rupert …”
She interrupted by Vinnie’s dad getting up from the table and running to the front door. He opens it, goes outside in below freezing weather. The next sound Vinnie and his Mom hear is a loud burst of laughter coming from somewhere on Mulberry Street. Several minutes later, Vinnie’s dad returns and sits down. He looks at Vinnie’s mom and says, “Continue with your conversation with Rupert, Dear.” Vinnie’s dad’s eyes start to water, his face turns as red as a deep red Crayola crayon. He looks away and presses his fingers and thumbs against his lips.
“You’re no help, Dear,” says Vinnie’s mom to Vinnie’s dad. She turns her attention back to Rupert, “Rupert, I thought this was . . . excuse me for a moment.”
Vinnie’s mom follows the exact route Vinnie’s dad took a few moments earlier. Vinnie’s dad turns his back toward Rupert who is now looking at him. The uproarious sound of female laughter coming from somewhere on Mulberry Street filter into the house. Moments later, Vinnie’s mom returns, shivering. She says, “I’m going to make some tea. Does anyone else want anything?”
Dexter hears the invitation and barks. Vinnie’s dad says, “I’ll have some.”
Vinnie says, “Rupert and I will have hot chocolate. Dexter wants a strip of the turkey bacon you cook for dad.”
Ten minutes later, Vinnie’s dad and mom sip on hot tea. Vinnie sips on hot chocolate. Dexter already scoffed a microwaved slice of turkey bacon. And, Rupert stares at a small cup of hot chocolate placed in front of him.
Vinnie says, “Rupert is busy with his hot chocolate. I’ll take over for him. Challenge round question, What is true? I already know the answer so don’t try to trick me.”
Vinnie’s dad says, “I’ll take this one. Something is true when it isn’t false.”
“Poor answer, Dad. You and Mom get minus six points and Rupert and Dexter get seven points. Like I learned in school, one time people thought the world was flat. Did that make it true?”
“But, Vinnie,” says Vinnie’s Mom, “If it was on a true and false test back then, it would be correct.”
“See Mom. Just because you say something is true, doesn’t make it true.”
“Boys got a point, Dear.”
“I guess we lost, Rupert and Dexter won. It was a nice game. Thank you, Vinnie,” says Vinnie’s mom pushing back from the table.
“The game’s not over, Mom. You and Dad earned a chance to go to the next round card,” said Vinnie while he printed ‘Go To The Next Round’ on a paper napkin.