Vinnie Claims it was for the Science Fair


Vinnie and his family are cruising along on the Interstate heading for vacation in the Grand Canyon. Vinnie’s dad is driving the speed limit. The driver and passengers in the last five cars that past the SUV all stared at Vinnie’s dad. Vinnie’s dad checks the rearview mirror. He stares into it. He taps Vinnie’s mom’s arm. She glances at him. Vinnie’s dad makes a motion with his head and shoulders toward the rear seat. Vinnie’s mom half turns and sees Vinnie pushing his face against the car window. His hands plastered against the window on either side of his face. Each hand holds a piece of paper.

“Vincent!” Vinnie’s mom says sternly.

Vinnie doesn’t answer.

“Vincent, turn around and face front,” orders Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie slowly turns around. He crumples the two pieces of paper and hides them in his fists.

“Vincent, let me have those two pieces of paper,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Why, Mom? I was only doing an experiment,” says Vinnie. 

“What kind of experiment,” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“For the science fair at school this spring, Mom. It didn’t work. I’ll have to think of something else,” says Vinnie.

“The two pieces of paper, Vincent. Now,” demands Vinnie’s mom.

“Here, Mom. Remember, it was an experiment for the science fair this spring,” says Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom reaches for the two crumpled pieces of paper. Vinnie places them in her hands. Vinnie’s mom turns around and faces the front. She sets the papers on her lap. She picks up one of the crumpled pieces of paper and unfolds it. She takes a deep breath. She picks up the other piece of paper. She unfolds it and shrieks, “Oh, sweet Mother of God.”

Vinnie’s dad glances into the rearview mirror and then over at Vinnie’s mom and says, “What?”

Vinnie’s mom says, “Vincent was holding two pieces of paper against the car window. Do you want to know what they say?”

“I have to pay attention to the road. There’s a state trooper behind me. He’s been there for the last ten miles.”

Vinnie’s mom says, “It’s because Vincent wrote Call on one piece of paper and Police on the other piece of paper.” She turns toward Vinnie. “Young man do you know what trouble you’re in?”

“It’s not my fault, Mom. Honest,” says Vinnie.

“It’s not? I know it’s not dad’s fault. And, I know it’s not my fault. So, whose fault is it?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“It’s Rupert’s fault, Mom. He really misses Dexter. Rupert made me write it. He’s afraid Dexter will die of loneliness,” says Vinnie.

Vinnie’s dad sees a rest area ahead and signals that he is going to pull into it. He checks his rearview mirror and notes the state trooper has the same intention. Vinnie’s dad says, “The state trooper is following us into the rest stop.”

Vinnie’s dad parks the SUV away from the other cars. The state trooper pulls in next to him. The state trooper gets out of the car and walks over to Vinnie’s dad window.

Vinnie says, “He’s really big, Dad. Do you think you can take him?”

“Vincent, not a word. Not another word unless you are asked to speak,” says Vinnie’s mom.

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