Vinnie Takes Control


Vinnie’s dad wakes up, he reaches over to the left side of the bed. All he feels is Dexter. Dexter sees this as an invitation to give love in exchange for food. With great effort, he lifts himself and hobbles the three steps to Vinnie’s dad. His simple brain selects the first possible option. He climbs onto Vinnie’s dad’s stomach and begins to lick Vinnie’s dad’s face.

“Vinnie, get Dexter off me. Please, please.”

Vinnie’s dad turns his head sideways, no Vinnie, no Rupert, no significant other. “Hello? Hello?” he calls. No answer. A panic attack sets. The thought that Vinnie’s mom left him, took Vinnie and Rupert and all he has is Dexter and he’s stuck in Williams, Arizona. 

Vinnie’s dad starts to deep breathe. He saw an NPR show on how to relieve panic attacks. Deep breathing was one of the strategies. He struggles to remember if it was five, seven, or eight counts breathing in. Or, was it four. He quits deep breathing when he hears the key card inserted into the door lock. 

Dexter cocks his head toward the door, engages his olfactory mechanisms, and jumps off the bed, sticking a perfect four pawed landing. Ten point oh, nine point nine, and three point one the scores by the judges, if there were any. The three point one score was given by the owner of a toy poodle. 

Dexter sits on his haunches near the door. He watches the door handle move, his tail swishing along the dirty carpet. The door opens. Dexter rises to all fours, and barks.

“Dexter, Dexter, look what we have for you. A plate of tiny sausages. Mom says you can have them,” says Vinnie carrying the plate of tiny sausages over by the window. 

Vinnie’s mom steps into the doorway carrying a plastic bag with three styrofoam food containers in her right hand and beverage food tray in the other. 

Vinnie’s dad is sitting up in bed, “What is this? Where did you get the food? I thought they might have a great breakfast buffet.”

‘Huh?” says Vinnie’s mom. “The only thing from the breakfast buffet in the lobby is the sausages. I’m not even sure they’re fit for a beagle.” She glances over at Dexter, “Well he liked them, they’re all gone.”

Vinnie’s sitting crossed legged on his bed. Rupert is sitting next to him. Dexter is back on the bed alertly lying on the other side of Vinnie. “We’re going to have a breakfast party, Dad. This is the best. Way to go, Mom.”

“Where’d you go? They have a Starbucks in town? This smells delicious. What did you get?” Vinnie’s dad takes the to go cup of coffee from Vinnie’s mom and takes a sip. “Thank you so much. I didn’t see this one coming.”

Vinnie’s mom hands Vinnie’s dad his styrofoam box. She hands one to Vinnie. Then she sits on the edge of the bed next to Vinnie’s dad and across from Vinnie. She says, “I’ve had a change of attitude. This is the best vacation ever. And, it’s not over. We still have today before we head back. We can make it in two days.”

“What happened?” says Vinnie’s dad taking a bite of his vegetable omelet. “This is awesome, where’d you get it?”

“I woke up at six. You were sound asleep. I looked over at Vinnie and he was working away on his tablet. I asked him what he was doing. Vinnie said he found a Starbucks, a vegetarian breakfast place, and best of all, he said there is a train that leaves the station here and goes to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. I already bought three tickets for us. Hurry on, the train leaves at nine.”

“Wow. It’s all coming together. Thanks, Vinnie,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Somebody had to do it, Dad,” says Vinnie swirling a piece of pancake in syrup.

“Vinnie did more than that, Dear,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“What else did he do?” asks Vinnie’s dad.

“He made me realize we were having fun the whole time, only you and I didn’t see it. We stopped in Happy, Texas. Vinnie made a friend. Officer Barnett was really very nice and I’m happy we took Dexter. Vinnie didn’t see the people at the pool as bad, he saw them as friends having fun. And, he was ready to enjoy life wherever we were.”

Vinnie looks up from his pancake, “When I finish can I get Dexter more sausages?”


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