It’s Saturday. It’s 3 a.m. Ninety-nine percent of the residents on Mulberry Street are sound asleep. In a bedroom at 2016 Mulberry Street, three people are awake and excited. Well, they’re people if you count Vinnie, his stuffed grizzly bear, Rupert, and his dog, the every hungry beagle, Dexter.
Vinnie glances over the side of his bed, “Dexter, you hungry? I’m starving. Rupert, is it okay to get Dexter a snack out of the fridge?”
Vinnie uses his falsetto voice to answer for Rupert, “Bro, when the belly calls, you got to answer.”
“You are the smartest human being alive, Rupert. One day, I hope I am as smart as you. If I am, I might have my own TV show. You and Dexter can be on it with me.”
Rupert says, “Thanks, Bro.”
Dexter doesn’t understand what is going on. He hears his name every so often. He sniffs wondering if it is breakfast time and his beagle clock is off. Even though his beagle nose doesn’t pick up a scent of food, with some effort he looks up at Vinnie and wags his tail. A beagle tail wag means, I work or entertain for food and not much else.
Vinnie’s arms outstretched. His hands gripping Rupert. He says, “Rupert, do you know why I am so hungry?”
Vinnie shakes Rupert’s head, “I do, Bro. I think you woke up with a great idea for your story. Am I right?”
“Rupert, you amaze me. You knew what I was going to say before I said it. This proves you can read minds. What is Mrs. Navis thinking?”
Rupert answers, “She’s making up an excuse to send you to the office on Monday even if you are good, which you are always good. It’s hard being smarter than the teacher, Bro.”
“For sure, Rupert. Let’s go microwave a personal pizza Mom keeps in the freezer for special occasions for me whenever she gets a good report from the school. Since Mrs. Navis is already thinking about sending me to the office on Monday, it looks like I won’t be getting the pizza next week. What do you think?”
“Dexter, you want to eat?” says Vinnie.
Dexter is up on all fours. He trots over to the bedroom door and waits for Vinnie. Dexter knows the word eat. He knows the word pizza. He knows Vinnie delivers. He’d give Vinnie a tip, but beagles have not been trained to tip, only to look cute, consume food, bark at garbage trucks, and chase squirrels.
Vinnie hitches up his Captain America pajama bottoms. He lifts Rupert off the bed and tucks him under his left arm. He walks to the bedroom door, turns and holds Rupert out at arm’s length. Dexter sits on his haunches awaiting further instructions. Vinnie says, “First we’re going to get some food and take it back to the room. Then we’re going to eat. While I’m eating I’m going to think about my story. We can’t make any noise because Mom will get upset at Rupert since this is your idea, Rupert.”
Dexter wags his tail hoping it is the correct beagle response leading to food.
Vinnie cracks the bedroom door, he peaks into the hallway. The only light comes from the night light in bathroom across from his room. He turns back to Dexter, “The coast is clear. Follow me.”
The three silently make their way past the master bedroom toward the kitchen.
Two minutes later in the master bedroom, Vinnie’s mom wakes up, she shakes Vinnie’s dad’s arm, “Wake up. Wake up. Someone is in the house.”
Vinnie’s dad rolls over and says, “No one’s in the house. You were dreaming. Go back to sleep.”
“I heard someone. I’m going to call 9 1 1 and have the police send a car to check it out. Get up and peak out the door, tell me if you see anything,” whispers Vinnie’s mom.
“Why don’t you look. I’m sleepy,” says Vinnie’s dad.
“Are you afraid to look?” asks Vinnie’s mom.
After a brief pause, “Possibly,” says Vinnie’s dad. “What if they have guns? Don’t we have an alarm? Why didn’t the alarm go off? What about Dexter? Why didn’t he bark?”
Before Vinnie’s mom can answer, she hears a series of beeps. Then she hears the sound of a click and the slamming of a small door. Vinnie’s dad opens his eyes and says, “The microwave. Do you think the crooks are hungry?”
They both sit up and look at each other and mutter the same word, “Vinnie.”