Vinnie’s lying on his bed. Rupert sits on Vinnie’s belly smiling at Vinnie. The always hopeful Dexter lies on the floor on the side of Vinnie’s bed semi alert for food. Vinnie holds Rupert with his hands. Vinnie says, “Rupert, I need your great brain to help me come up with a cool science project. So far I can’t use night crawlers, I can’t make a rocket, I can’t build an anti bomb, bomb. I’m running out of ideas, Buddy.”
Vinnie shakes Rupert so Rupert’s head nods. Vinnie speaks in his falsetto voice he uses as Rupert’s voice. “I got a couple of good ideas, Bro.”
Vinnie says, “I like when you call me Bro, Rupert. I’d call you Bro. But it might be too confusing for Dexter.” Vinnie twists to the side and holds Rupert over the edge of the bed staring at Dexter. Dexter looks up at Vinnie and Rupert. He lifts his head and sniffs searching for any edible fragrance. He finds none and settles his head down on his two front paws.
Vinnie rolls back over on his back. Rupert speaks, “It’s too bad Mom and Dad didn’t let you solve world hunger with the night crawlers. That was such a good idea.”
Vinnie answers, “I know, Rupert. The school counselor asked me if my parents often misunderstand me. I told her no, but I was only covering for them. They’re kind of slow, but don’t tell them I said it.”
Rupert says, “Okay. Here’s an idea everybody will like.”
“Even me, Rupert?” says Vinnie.
“You can train cockroaches to take multiple choice tests.”
“Where do you get these great ideas, Rupert? All I need is cockroaches and cockroach food. Have a seat, I’m going to holler it out to Mom. Maybe she’ll let me come of my room.”
Vinnie sets Rupert down on the bed. He hops off the bed. Dexter gets an adrenaline rush believing Vinnie is going to get a snack. Vinnie walks to the bedroom door. Dexter walks behind him. Vinnie opens the bedroom door. He calls out, “I’ve got a great idea for a science project, Mom. It’s not silly. Rupert approves.”
From the living room, “What is it, Vinnie?”
“I’ll need ten cockroaches …”
“No night crawlers, no cockroaches, no ants.”
“What about scorpions?”
“Vincent! Go back into your room and don’t come out until you have a good idea Mrs. Navis will accept tomorrow.”
Vinnie closes the bedroom door, the disappointment on his face doesn’t come close to the disappointment on Dexter’s face. Vinnie looks down at Dexter and sees the pain in the beagle’s eyes. He squats down next to Dexter and grabs him around the head. Dexter doesn’t mind this hold because it is either a sign of affection or the signal he’s about to get some food. Vinnie says, “I’ll be right back, Dexter. Wait here with Rupert.”
Vinnie opens the bedroom door, “Mom, I can think better if I have a snack. Is there anything good to eat?”
From the living room, “You can have an apple. Make sure you wash it.”
“Thanks, Mom,” says Vinnie wondering if he can make a cheese and bean burrito without his mom hearing the microwave.
“Don’t make a burrito,” Vinnie’s mom calls from the living room.
“How does she do that, Dexter? Rupert, did you text her?”
Vinnie leaves the bedroom. Dexter lies on the floor by the door to Vinnie’s bedroom. Rupert sits patiently on Vinnie’s bed. Vinnie walks down a short hallway to the kitchen. He opens the refrigerator door. He opens the chills drawer and takes out a honey crisp apple. He hollers, “Thanks for getting the honey crisp apples, Mom. They’re my favorite.”
“You’re welcome, Vinnie. They are so good for you,” Vinnie’s mom calls from the study.
Vinnie places the honey crisp apple back in the chill drawer and removes a to go Chinese box filled with chicken and vegetables. He moves several Tupperware containers around and finds a small box with two slices of three day old pizza. He takes the box food containers and heads to his room.
Ten minutes pass, Vinnie’s mom’s internal alert system starts buzzing. She calls out, “Vinnie? What’s going on?”
“Nothing, Mom. Rupert and Dexter and me are conducting science experiments. If I find one I like, it will be my science project.”
Vinnie’s dad calls from the kitchen, “Dear, did you toss out the pizza we had on Tuesday night?”
“It’s there, Dear. Look behind the to go box of Chinese chicken and vegetables.”
“What to go box?” asks Vinnie’s dad.
Vinnie’s mom comes stomping out of the study heading toward Vinnie’s room.
Vinnie’s dad holds up a hand, “Let’s leave him do his experiments. He’s in his room. What can go possibly go wrong or be wrong?”
Vinnie’s mom says, “Will you ever learn?”