Vinnie’s mom half turns to check on Vinnie. She has an internal clock that sounds an alarm when Vinnie’s been quiet for over five minutes. She sees Vinnie smiling, busy at work on drawing on a notepad. A sense of momentary peace spreads over her slow like the rising sun. She relaxes and thinks maybe this trip to the Grand Canyon will turn out well after all.
“Mom? Mom? Mom? Do you want to see what I’ve been doing? What’s that show you and Dad watch where they help the police catch criminals?”
Vinnie’s Dad quickly answers, “Clean the Streets.” Then he adds, “It’s a great show. It’s almost like a quiz show where they give away money for helping the police catch some really bad criminals.”
Vinnie’s mom’s internal early warning system is beeping, “Why do you ask, Vinnie?”
“Oh, no reason. Do you have the address? I want to help them catch some very bad criminals. When they do, I will share the reward with you and Dad and Rupert and Dexter.”
“Great idea, Vinnie,” says Vinnie’s dad thinking it’s all a silly game.
Vinnie’s mom says, “Let me see what you were drawing, Vinnie. Does this have something to do with the TV show?”
“Uh, yes, Mom, but I’ve got to keep it quiet so the criminals won’t get away. All you have to do is get me a large envelop and the address. We can go to the post office when we stop tonight.”
“Let me see the drawings, Vinnie,” says Vinnie’s mom emphatically.
“Do I have to?” asks Vinnie.
Vinnie’s dad interrupts, “What harm can be done, Dear.”
Vinnie’s mom looks at Vinnie’s dad and says, “You have no clue.”
Vinnie’s mom stretches her arm toward Vinnie with her hand waiting to receive the notepad, “Vincent, now.”
Vinnie places the notepad in his mom’s hand. Vinnie’s mom turns back toward the front, places the notepad on her lap and opens it. She says, “Oh my God, you are not going to send this anyplace. We are going to tear it up and throw it away.”
“Please, no, Mom. The police need to know,” begs Vinnie.
“What is it, Dear?” asks Vinnie’s dad.
“I told you, you have no clue. The first drawing is of Mrs. Navis and above it he printed the words, “Master Criminal – Dangerous.”
“I think all kids harbor thoughts like that about their teachers,” says Vinnie’s dad.
“Did you?” asks Vinnie’s mom.
“No, but I never had Mrs. Navis,” says Vinnie’s dad.
“You’re no help here. Don’t encourage him. You know who’s on the second drawing?”
“The principal?” says Vinnie’s dad.
“No, Dear. It’s you. Above your drawing it says, “Dog Kidnapper – Beware.”
“What? Vinnie, I am not a dog kidnapper.”
“Rupert and Dexter drew that one, Dad. I tried to stop them, but they had good reasons. How many years in jail do you think you’ll get?” asks Vinnie.
“We’re not going to a motel tonight, Vinnie. The motel where we had reservations doesn’t allow dogs. I’m making other plans,” says Vinnie’s dad.
“Are we going to camp out? Are we, Dad. Are we?”
Vinnie’s mom turns her head toward Vinnie. She says, “Vincent, I was so looking forward to the motel. I was going to take a nice long hot shower. There are nice restaurants nearby. We’d have a great dinner. Now, that’s all gone because you didn’t tell the state trooper the truth.”
“We’re not going to eat dinner, Mom? I told him the truth, Mom.”
“Vincent, the kennel was not going to kill Dexter if we didn’t pick him up on time. The paper your wrote for Mrs. Navis was about some space warrior. And, they were not mean to Dexter.”
“Mom, they didn’t say they wouldn’t kill Dexter. You can’t trust them. I know.”
“How do you know, Vincent?”
“Larry told me his father took their dog Gopher to the kennel and they killed him. I made Larry cross his heart. He even swore on his mother’s grave.”
“His mother isn’t dead. I know Helen,” says Vinnie’s mom.
“Well, it’s the same thing, Mom.”
“Helen told me the story and Gopher was very sick and old. Sometimes with animals that’s what you have to do,” says Vinnie’s mom.
“Mom, Mom, promise me you’ll never do it to Dexter. Promise me Mom or I’ll hold my breath,” says Vinnie.
Vinnie’s Mom says, “Criminal mastermind, this is your problem. You figure it out. I’m worn out.” Vinnie’s mom slips her earphones back in and drifts back to the ocean.
Vinnie’s dad says, “I’ve got some good news, Vinnie.”
“Good news? What’s that, Dad? Are we going to turn around and go home?”