Vinnie’s dad pulls the SUV into the car gas island at a truck stop. Vinnie’s mom turns around and says, “Vincent, what are you doing? What are those pieces of bread doing on your ears? Where is the tunafish that was inside the bread?”
Vinnie’s has his hands pressed against two pieces of whole wheat bread, one on each ear, pressing the bread tightly against his head. His eyelids are shut, he says, “We landed at Space Station X30. I’m ready to fire at any aliens from another galaxy. My trusted navigator, Rupert, is with me. And our fierce fighter, Dexter, is ready for action. Dexter prepare to fire the death ray.”
“Vincent,” says Vinnie’s mom raising her voice and stretching to reach one of Vinnie’s arms.
Vinnie pulls a slice of bread off of his right ear. He says, “Do you want to board the space station, Mom?”
“Vincent, give me those slices of bread. I made you tuna sandwiches. Where is the tuna?”
“Dexter was hungry, Mom. I let him lick the tuna off of the bread. I didn’t waste the bread. I’m using the bread as my headset as I travel through space.”
Vinnie’s dad turns toward Vinnie’s mom, “Dear, I’ll be filling the tank. I’ll go to the restroom with Vinnie when I finish.” He quickly gets out of the car before being asked about joining the space station crew.
“Do you think I made those tuna sandwiches for fun, Vincent?” says Vinnie’s mom.
“I don’t know, Mom. Grownups have fun different from kids.”
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph please pray for me,” Vinnie’s mom silently whispers.
“What did you say, Mom? I saw your lips moving but I didn’t hear any words,” says Vinnie.
Vinnie’s mom takes the two slices of bread from Vinnie and puts them in a plastic bag she’s using for trash.
Vinnie says, “Mom, can I give the bread to the birds. I see some blackbirds by the trashcans.”
Vinnie’s mom wants to answer with the answer her dad gave her when she was a child, ‘Because I said no,’ but the psychologist who leads her support group suggested reasoning is more effective.
Vinnie’s mom says, “The birds may be carrying disease, you don’t want to be near them.”
“Because I said no,” says Vinnie’s mom deciding her dad is smarter than the psychologist.
“Okay. When we go inside can I get a hot dog, some fries, and a 42 ounce Doctor Pepper?”
“No,” says Vinnie’s Mom.
“Which part are you saying no to, Mom? Okay, I won’t get the fries,” says Vinnie.
Vinnie’s dad opens the side SUV door and says, “Let’s go, Vinnie. I want to make Albuquerque by five.”
“No hot dog, fries, or 42 ounce soda for Vinnie,” says Vinnie’s mom.
Vinnie’s dad answers, “Okay.”
Vinnie’s dad and Vinnie walk toward the travel station. Vinnie’s mom watches them. Vinnie’s dad has his hands in his front jean pockets. Vinnie has his hands in his front jean pockets. She see’s Vinnie and his dad talking. It gives her a fuzzy warm feeling. Dexter interrupts the idyllic scene chasing after Vinnie and the scent of hotdogs grilling for over 24 hours inside the travel station.
Vinnie’s mom grabs Dexter’s leash, leaps out of the SUV and looks like an Olympian sprinter. She hollers, “Vinnie. Vinnie. Here’s Dexter’s leash. Grab a hold of him before he gets hit by a car.”
Vinnie and his dad stop and turn. Dexter skids to a stop next to Vinnie, the magic genie who understands canine culinary tastes better than anyone on the planet.
Vinnie’s mom catches up to Vinnie and his dad. She hands the leash to Vinnie. “I’m going to the restroom. Dear, will you close the van doors and lock them? Vinnie, leash Dexter and wait here out of the way for Dad. You and Dad take Dexter for a walk before you go inside.”
Vinnie looks over at Dexter lifting his right leg against stacked cases of bottled water outside the travel station. He turns back to his mom, “We don’t have to, Mom. Dexter will be through in a minute. Want us to put him back in the van?”