The school bus stops at the corner of Mulberry and State streets. It’s red light flashing, a stop sign sticks out from driver’s side, the driver opens the door and Vinnie jumps down the three steps from the bus and onto the sidewalk. He turns around and waves, and says, “Thanks for the great ride, Mrs. Walker and for the candy bar. You’re the best.”
Mrs. Walker has her hand on the handle that opens and shuts the bus door. She shakes her head and smiles at Vinnie, “Your mom must a saint, Vinnie.”
“My mom’s not a saint yet, Mrs. Walker, she’s still alive. I gotta go. My two best friends in the world are waiting for me,” says Vinnie taking off as if he were a fighter jet streaming down a runway down Mulberry toward home.
Mrs. Walker mumbles, “Dear Lord, bless Vinnie’s mom, she has her hands full with that boy.” She closes the bus door, turns off the flashing red lights and drives off down State Street.
Vinnie’s mom stands on the porch holding Dexter’s leash. Dexter sees Vinnie racing down the sidewalk, he strains at the leash nearly pulling Vinnie’s mom off balance. Dexter begins yelping and his yelp soon turns into a howl. Vinnie’s mom says, “Dexter, please everyone is staring at us. Can’t you bark like a normal dog?”
Vinnie’s mom’s words only encourage Dexter, his howling quickly accelerates to a cross between a tornado siren and an ambulance approaching a red light. Vinnie crosses the lawn and slides into his mom’s favorite rosebush, “Was I safe or out, Mom?”
“Vincent, you’re going to kill the rosebush if you do that every day.”
“It’s not a rosebush, Mom. It’s second base. I got a jump on the pitcher and stole second. Was I safe?”
“Yes, Vinnie, you were safe.”
“How was my slide. I’ve been working on it?” asks Vinnie rising to his knees, then standing up.
“You’re almost ready for the big leagues. Do. you understand when you slide into the rosebush with your school pants on I have to wash them, their not fit to wear to school with all the grass stains and dirt on them,” says Vinnie’s mom.
“Mom, I’m not being wise, but the washing machine washes them and they fit perfect, they’re the right size,” says Vinnie. Vinnie continues, “Let Dexter go, Mom. I’m home buddy. It’s time for some fun.”
Vinnie’s mom releases Dexter’s leash. Dexter’s not the most athletic beagle, but he leaps off the porch onto the sidewalk and runs to Vinnie. Vinnie grabs Dexter around the neck and hugs him. Dexter’s tail is wagging at the speed of sound, or, as close to as a beagle can get. She shakes her head, utters a silent Hail Mary and wonders if it is all a dream.
“Sit, Dexter. I got a treat for you,” says Vinnie, taking his backpack off and setting it on the grass.
Vinnie opens his backpack, reaches in and pulls out a half of a bologna sandwich on white bread and says, “Shake. Good boy. Here you go.” Vinnie puts the half sandwich three inches from Dexter’s mouth. Dexter snaps at it and pulls the half sandwich into mouth. Six chews and a hard swallow later, Dexter is on his haunches wondering where is the other half of sandwich.
“Vinnie, where did you get the bologna sandwich? Tell me you didn’t eat the other half,” says Vinnie’s mom.
“That was Larry’s sandwich, Mom. His mom always gives him two sandwiches. She gives him cookies, and she gives him a chocolate bar. Larry has the best lunches. Mom. Will you give me cookies and a chocolate bar in my lunch tomorrow?”
“I will not. What happened in school today? Did you have fun?”
“It was great, Mom. I got to talk to Pete the custodian and Mrs. Nokowski and I got to tell the class all about our vacation. The class thought my story about our vacation was the best because we did so many different things. And, I got to do a lot of other things too. I think Mrs. Navis is really happy to see me back from vacation. I think she missed me. I’d like to talk to you, Mom, but Rupert is waiting for me.”
Vinnie runs up the steps, past his mom.
“Vincent, did you forget something?” says his mom.
“Awe, Mom, do I have to?”
“Yes, come here and give me a hug,” says Vinnie’s mom.
Vinnie turns around, runs to his mom, he hugs her, and as soon as she lets go, he breaks for his bedroom.
Vinnie’s mom watches him, she shakes her head and begins to enter the house when her cell phone rings. She stops, reaches into her back jean’s pocket and pull her cell phone out. She checks caller ID. Kennedy Elementary School.