Vinnie opens the door to room 107. Mrs. Navis stares at him with a look that melts an iceberg faster than global warming. Vinnie steps in the room, he sees Larry standing in front of the class. Vinnie says, “Hi Mrs. Navis, can I have my turn after Larry?”
Mrs. Navis assumes the stern teacher position, AKA, arms akimbo, lips pursed, and foot tapping, “Vincent, I sent you to the office.”
Before Mrs. Navis can express another thought, Vinnie responds, “Thank you, Mrs. Navis. I needed a time out. I was out of control. I went to the office and now I’m back. Here’s my note.”
Vinnie walks over to Mrs. Navis and hands her the note.
Mrs. Navis reads the note, rolls her eyes and thinks, five more minutes and we’d have finished. She stares at Vinnie, who’s smiling at her, and says, “After Larry it’s JoAnne’s turn, then you can have your turn.
Vinnie says, “Thank you, Mrs. Navis, you won’t regret it.”
Vinnie turns and walks down the third row toward his seat. He crosses his eyes and squints his nose. The class laughs.
“Children, that’s enough. There’s nothing funny about being sent to the office.”
Vinnie sits down, opens his desk, takes out three blank sheets of paper and a box of crayons, and ducks down behind Joey.
Mrs. Navis tries standing on her tiptoes to see what Vinnie is doing. She’s knows it’s something, but he’s quiet. She says, “Larry, tell the class what you did on spring break.”
Vinnie stops doing what he’s doing and sits up to listen to Larry. Larry says, “We didn’t do nothing.”
“Anything,” says Mrs. Navis.
“That too,” says Larry. The class laughs.
“Surely, you did something. What was the most exciting thing that happened to you during your break.”
Vinnie raises his hand, “I know. I know. Larry told me all about it on the bus. It’s great. It’s one of the best things that could ever happen.”
“Vincent. Please, let Larry tell his story.”
“Mrs. Navis? Mrs. Navis?” asks Vinnie.
“What is it Vincent?” says Mrs. Navis her voice sending a signal she running on empty and it’s only 9 a.m.
“How come you call Larry, Larry, instead of Lawrence? Why don’t you call me Vinnie. My mom and dad and my Uncle Mickey, and Pete the custodian and my gramma and my grampa …”
“Please, Vincent. I, uh, call you Vincent because it is such a nice name.”
“You don’t think Lawrence is a nice name, Mrs. Navis?” asks Vinnie.
Mrs. Navis begins to think, I am a good Christian woman. I sing in the church choir. Why did you send me this burden, Lord?”
Larry turns and looks at Mrs. Navis, “It’s okay, Mrs. Navis. I don’t like Lawrence either. I was named after my mom’s first boyfriend, they had me, and then they split. My current dad’s name is Luther. I like him, but I don’t like his name. He doesn’t like it either. He goes by his nickname, Beak. He got the name because he has a huge nose. You should see it. Mom says he can hide secret messages in it.”
The class laughs.
“Children, enough. Larry, please tell us your story.”
“You sure you want to hear it, Mrs. Navis?” asks Larry.
“Yes, Larry. Please begin, and Vincent, no interruptions.”
“It was last Wednesday, that’s the night, they have all you can eat at Fast Eddie’s Barbecue. My mom and dad and me went to Fast Eddie’s. They got the best ribs. Mom ate two buckets of ribs and I ate one bucket of ribs and Dad ate four buckets of ribs, three ears of corn and four pieces of cornbread.”
“What a wonderful story, Larry. Sit down.”
“I’m not finished. I didn’t get to the best part, Mrs. Navis,” says Larry.
“Well, be quick about it,” says Mrs. Navis.
“When we got home, Dad went to the bathroom and was in the bathroom for twenty minutes. The whole house stunk worse than a skunk attack. When he finished, the toilet was clogged and he couldn’t get it unclogged. We had to call the plumber.”
“That’s enough, Larry. Sit down.”
The class laughs.