It’s a new moon, the wide open Texas sky offers Vinnie and his parents a panoramic view of the night sky. Only, no one is paying attention. It’s Eleven-thirty when Vinnie’s dad finally scores a room at Trailside Inn. He walks out of the lobby to the SUV smiling, holding up credit card sized room key. He opens Vinnie’s mom’s door and says, “We’re all set. I got a room with a late checkout. Look, next door there’s an all night Denny’s.”
Vinnie’s mom stifles a yawn, “How much did it cost?”
“It is reasonable, Dear.”
“It was the only room left. You can tell from the parking lot it’s an overflow crowd.”
Vinnie opens his eyes, he rubs them, “Where are we? There’s a Denny’s. Joey and his mom always go there on Saturdays. He gets the GrandSlam. Can we go, it’s almost Saturday. I’m starving. Is it time to get up? Are we almost there?”
Vinnie’s mom steps out of the car and stretches. She looks at Vinnie’s dad, “You paid too much. I don’t want to know, it will upset me.” She turns back and ducks her head inside, “Vinnie, grab your things. It is not morning for thirty more minutes. Dad found a motel that will take dogs. We are not eating at Denny’s in the morning.”
“Why, Mom, what?” asks Vinnie’s mom, her voice carrying a weariness as if she were totting a water bucket up a long hill.
“Why isn’t it morning, Mom? I’ve been asleep for hours. I’m ready to go. Can I watch TV when we get to our room. Do they have a pool? I want to go swimming.”
“No, you cannot watch TV. No, you cannot go swimming. Now come along, I’m exhausted.”
“Mom, Dexter’s tired. Can Dad carry him.”
“No, Dad is carrying our overnight luggage.”
“Will our other stuff be safe in the car? I wish the bikers were around. I trusted them.”
Vinnie’s mom turns to Vinnie’s dad, “Will you handle this. I don’t have the strength to go any further.”
One hour later everyone is lying in bed. Vinnie’s mom and dad lie in the bed closest to the door and bathroom. Vinnie is in bed with Rupert and Dexter near the window. Vinnie’s mom pushed a chair against the door and jammed the back of the chair under the door handle. She turns off the light.
For two minutes the only sound is a large military cargo plane also know as the room’s air conditioner. The noise from the air conditioner yields first place to Vinnie, “Mom! Mom! Mom!”
“What is it, Vincent? Is something wrong?”
“Yes, Mom. I can’t sleep. What do you have for a snack?”
“We just went to bed. You’ll fall asleep if you’re quiet.”
“I can’t, Mom. The air conditioner is too loud. I can fall asleep if I watch TV.”
“You are not watching TV. The air conditioner is not too loud.”
“Rupert says the noise is hurting his ear.”
“Rupert is a stuffed animal, the noise can’t hurt his ears. Go to sleep.”
A minute passes, the silence breaks, “Rupert, you are not a stuffed animal. You are real. Mom didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. When she wakes up, she’ll apologize.”
From the other bed, “I’m sorry, Rupert. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”
Vinnie’s mom mutters under her breath, “I’ve got to get help, I’m apologizing to a stuffed grizzly bear.”
Vinnie’s dad puts his arm around Vinnie’s mom and says, “You’re okay, it’s been a long day. You’re hallucinating.”
“How many days have we been on vacation?” asks Vinnie’s mom.
“It will get better, I promise,” says Vinnie’s dad.
“I don’t think it can get any worse. Can it, Dear?”
Vinnie’s dad answers, “We’ve bottomed out. Everything is on the uptick from here on in.”
“Thank you for your optimism. Are you sure?”
Vinnie’s dad says, “I’m sure. Now try to get some rest, we’ll be leaving early.”
“I thought you got a late check out?”
“I did,” says Vinnie’s dad.
Two minutes pass and the sounds of silence fill the room, not the song, just the sounds of silence as much as it can be silent in a motel room next to the Interstate, and an air conditioner that sounds like an express freight train. Then . . .
“Arooooooooooo. Aroooooooo. Arooooooo.”
Vinnie’s dad wakes up and sits upright. Vinnie’s mom wakes up and sits upright holding onto Vinnie’s dad’s arm.
“What is that sound?”
“That was me, Mom. I’m trying to sound like a dog to keep the burglars away. Dexters too tired to do his job.”
Vinnie’s mom puts her hand on Vinnie’s dad’s jaw and twists it toward her. “You sleep with Vinnie. Send Rupert and Dexter over here.”
“Do I have to?”