Vinnie’s dad pulls the family SUV into the Doggie Palace – Your Pets Home Away from Home parking lot into a parking space with a sign in front of it reading: Reserved for Our Canine Guests and Family.
Vinnie’s mom stares straight ahead, fearful of what she might see in the seat behind her if she dares turn around.
Vinnie’s dad turns the motor off, unbuckles his seat belt, and turns around to face Vinnie. He says, “Doggie Palace is a really a nice place. You can come inside with Dexter and me and say goodbye to … Vinnie? Vinnie? I don’t see him, Dear. The door alarm would sound if he jumped out.”
Vinnie’s mom unbuckles her seat belt and turns around. She lets out a deep sigh, tilts her head to the right, and says, “Vincent, come from under the suitcases, you’ll suffocate.”
From somewhere in the rear of the SUV a muffled 8-year old boy’s voice rises, “If you leave one, you leave us all. We signed a blood pact.”
Vinnie’s mom says, “Ketchup doesn’t count.”
“It wasn’t ketchup,” says Vinnie.
“Nice try, salsa or pasta sauce doesn’t count, either.”
“Darn,” from the muffled voice.
“We’re still not going. Take us home. We’ll be okay. I can order to go pizza. You and Dad have a good trip,” says Vinnie.
Vinnie’s mom faces Vinnie’s dad and throws up her hands, “It was your idea to leave Dexter home. I told you what would happen.”
Vinnie’s dad whispers, “Not a problem, I know his weaknesses.”
“How much is it going to cost?” asks Vinnie’s mom.
“I don’t bribe, Dear. I offer more attractive alternatives,” says Vinnie’s dad. He raises his voice, “Vinnie, I was thinking of trading in your tablet and getting you one of the new iPads.”
From the rear of the SUV, “Go right ahead, Dad. I hope it’s waiting for me when Dexter, Rupert, and me get home from vacation.”
“That went over well, Mister Super Negotiator,” says Vinnie’s mom. “Look. someone is coming from the kennel, maybe they can help us.”
“A kennel? A kennel. You said it was a home away from home. You didn’t say anything about a kennel. There might be pit bulls and vicious attack dogs there. Dexter doesn’t stand a chance,” hollers Vinnie.
Vinnie’s dad lowers his window. A young, brown hair pulled into ponytail, woman says, “We’ve been waiting for Dumpster. Where is he?”
“Did she say, ‘Dumpster.’ That settles it, Dexter is not staying here. They don’t know his name. They’ll poison him. They don’t know how to cook for him. Dexter’s on a special diet,” hollers Vinnie.
Vinnie’s dad shrugs. The woman says, “We run into this all the time. Is Dexter in back?”
Vinnie’s dad gives a wimpy smile and nods.
“It won’t be a problem. How old is your son?”
“Perfect. My nephew is eight and I babysit him all the time,” says the woman as she walks to rear of the SUV.
Vinnie’s mom whispers, “She’s never met Vinnie.”
The woman stands at the rear of the SUV and taps on the window, “Hi in there, what’s your name?”
A brief moment passes, then a face appears in the window and speaks to the woman in a high pitched falsetto voice, “Hi my name is Rupert. Dexter is not leaving, no way. You may as well leave. Nice to meet you. Bye.” The face disappears.
The woman calls out, “Did a stuffed grizzly bear just speak to me?”
Vinnie’s mom says, “Yes.”
The woman says, “Mr. Rupert I’m going to open the rear door. I want to shake your paw.”
Rupert appears in the rear window and says, “If you open the door, I’ll bite your arm off.”