Three-thirty, Monday afternoon. Vinnie’s mom stands alone on the sidewalk in front of the Johnson’s home on Mulberry Street holding Dexter’s leash. The Johnsons are next door neighbors. Three chatting moms stand together on the sidewalk twenty feet in further up the sidewalk. Dexter’s sniffing the grass on the Johnson’s lawn next to her. Vinnie’s mom is hoping Dexter doesn’t go poop while anyone is looking at her because she didn’t bring a poop bag to scoop the poop.
Vinnie’s mom is facing State Street. That’s the corner where the school bus will stop and Vinnie will come leaping out of the bus, not touching the steps, land on the ground, throw his arms over his head in the air, and shout, ‘I stuck the landing, 10.0, 1o.o, 10.). Vinnie will turn around and face the students waiting to get off the bus, hold up his hands and say, No applause please.’ He’ll turn an race toward home as if he were being chased by a heat seeking missal. Vinnie will be screaming, waving his arms, and leaping over bushes and flowerbeds. He’ll pays no attention to the cute little signs some neighbors put in the yard, Keep off the Grass, Pick up after your Dog. Flowers have feelings too. Vinnie’s mom thinks this is the reason none of the other moms want to stand next to her
The yellow school bus comes into view. The bus slows down, flashing orange lights. It stops, the stop sign on the driver’s side sticks out, the red flashing lights flash on and off. The school bus door opens.
Vinnie leaps out of the bus, his backpack slung over his back, his arms raised in a victory sign over his head. He lands. He turns around toward the bus door, “I stuck the landing, perfect scores again from all the judges.”
Vinnie holds up his arms and shouts, “Applause please if you want me to move out of the way.”
Joey and Larry, Vinnie’s friends, start chanting from inside the bus, “Vinnie, Vinnie, Vinnie.” The other four students, girls, clap their hands because they know Vinnie will not move until he gets his applause.
Vinnie bows, straightens up and says, “Thank you.” He turns and begins racing down Mulberry Street toward his mom and Dexter. He yells at the top of his lungs, “I broke out of prison. I’m free. I’m free. I’m free. They won’t take me alive.”
The three mothers standing together turn and stare at Vinnie’s mom. Vinnie’s mom smiles and waves at Vinnie. Vinnie’s racing toward her as if he is carrying a football. Dexter’s straining at the leash howling in a beagle soprano voice, which is something akin to three first year trumpet players trying to sound louder than each other.
Vinnie leaps over a rose bush, looks over his shoulder and says, “Missed me.”
Vinnie’s mom bends over with her arms outstretched thinking Vinnie is going to run into her arms and give her a hug. She’s mistaken. Vinnie races across the Johnson’s lawn and dives head first onto the grass. As he is soaring through the air, he hollers, “Touchdown.”
Vinnie’s mom lets go of the leash and Dexter is all over Vinnie. Vinnie gets up to his knees, he hugs Dexter’s head and says, “I got past you and scored, Buddy. You got to be quicker if you’re going stop me.”
Dexter doesn’t know what Vinnie said. His beagle instincts tell him to sniff Vinnie’s backpack.
Vinnie says, “You’re such a smart dog. I got a treat from for you.” Vinnie slips off his backpack, opens it and sticks his arm inside. He pulls out a half sandwich. He says, “Joey gave me half of his hot dog sandwich his mom made him. How come you don’t make me good sandwiches like Joey’s mom makes for Joey?”
“Your tunafish sandwich is a healthier choice, that’s why. Why did Joey give you the half of sandwich?” asks Vinnie’s mom.
“Because he bought his lunch. He ate his other half of sandwich, then he saw they were having macaroni and cheese and he loves it. So he bought lunch. His mom gives him five dollars a week allowance. How come I don’t have an allowance, Mom? I’d probably buy lunch every day.”
Before Vinnie’s mom can answer, Vinnie says, “Dexter sit.”
Vinnie gives Dexter the half of sandwich.
Dexter consumes the sandwich in two bites and a personal record of two point one seconds.
Vinnie turns toward his mom, “What, Mom?”
“Vinnie, I want a hug.”
“But, Mom, the guys will see you hugging me. It’s bad form for the next fourth grade president.”
“Yes, Mom.” Vinnie trudges over and hugs his mom.
“Was that so hard?”
“Vinnie and his mom turn and walk back toward their home. Vinnie’s mom says, “What happened at school today?”
“Wait till you hear, Mom. You won’t believe it.”
Oh my God, Vinnie’s mom thinks. It’s worse than I imagined.