Vinnie’s confined to his room until dinner. He doesn’t mind, his two best buds, Rupert and Dexter, are with him. Vinnie’s at his desk working on his homework. Rupert is sitting on the desk staring at Vinnie.
Dexter is lying on the floor next to Vinnie’s chair. Dexter doesn’t understand what happened. He was happily awaiting more pieces of turkey jerky and then they stopped coming. Vinnie’s mom started talking to Vinnie with words Dexter doesn’t know. She left the room with the turkey jerky. Dexter was too slow to squeeze through the door in time to trail behind her and give her his best sad beagle eyes look. If Dexter had a cardboard sign, he’d hold it between his paws and print on it, I Wag My Tail for Food.
Vinnie’s working on his math. He prints his name at the top of the worksheet. He glances at Rupert, “I finished my math homework and I know they’re all right. Do you think if I tell Mom I checked all my answers on my math homework, she’ll let me out of prison?”
Vinnie speaks in his falsetto voice, which is Rupert’s voice, “You have spelling words. If you memorize them, you can ask her to test you. It’s a good move.”
“Thanks, Buddy. You know how to get around Mom when she is upset. I don’t know why she’s upset with me, I was being kind to Dexter when I was feeding him the turkey jerky.”
Rupert says, “Adults are hard to understand sometimes.”
“Here’s my list of words, Rupert. Will you test me. I think I’m ready.”
Rupert says, “Catnip.”
Vinnie says, “That’s a dumb word. C A T N I P.”
Rupert says, “Monkey.”
“When will I ever use these words, Rupert? Don’t answer. I got to get out of the room, M O N K E Y.”
It went this way for the remaining eight words. Rupert asked Vinnie a word. Vinnie gave a small editorial then correctly spelled the word.
Vinnie opens the door to the bedroom, “Mom. Mom. Mom.”
“Not until dinner, Vincent.”
“I finished my homework. I checked my math and it’s all right. You can check it too. I want you to ask me my spelling words. I know all of them.”
Vinnie’s mom says, “Dad just pulled into the driveway.”
Vinnie, Rupert under his arm, races out of the bedroom. Dexter follows, barking as if he has the scent of a fox. All Dexter knows is where Vinnie goes the cuisine possibilities are endless.
Vinnie’s mom turns and watches the blur go past her. She steps back, watches Vinnie open the door and holler, “Dad, Dad, Dad, I had the best day at school. Want to hear everything?”
Vinnie’s mom thinks, no he doesn’t. No he doesn’t. The next thought in her mind is what is Vinnie going to tell his dad that she doesn’t know about. She looks at her iWatch. Her normal 60’s heart rate spiked to 98 … 105 … 110.
Vinnie’s mom stands arms akimbo watching Vinnie’s dad picking Vinnie up and tossing him over his shoulder as he walks into the entryway.
Vinnie says, “Dexter wants you to toss him over your other shoulder, Dad. Can you, Dad? Please?”
Vinnie’s dad carries Vinnie to the kitchen and kisses Vinnie’s mom. “How was your day, Dear?”
Vinnie’s mom says, “Before or after Mrs. Navis called?”
Vinnie, still slung over his dad’s shoulder, says, “Dad, Dad, Dad, you’re a lawyer, will you defend me? I might be the first case you win this month. I got proof, Dad. Can we sue Mrs. Navis?”
Vinnie’s dad looks at Vinnie’s mom, “Was it bad? Or, was Vinnie being high spirited?”
From Vinnie’s dad’s upper back, “I’m high spirited, Dad. That’s good, right. You don’t want me to be low spirited, do you?”
Vinnie’s mom tilts her head, raises her eyebrows, and gives a look needing no further explanation. Then adds, “High spirited, imaginative, uncontrolled, strong willed. You want me to continue?”
The voice from behind Vinnie’s dad, “Yes, Mom.”
Vinnie’s dad cracks a smile and suppresses a laugh. His mom purses her lips and mouths, “We’ve got to do something. He’s driving her nuts.”
Vinnie’s dad mouths, “Do you want to home school?”
Vinnie’s mom breaks the mouthing silence compact and says, “Dear God, no.”
“Why are you talking to God, Mom?”