Vinnie runs ahead of his mom up the sidewalk, leaping over three steps onto the porch and swinging the door open. Vinnie’s mom winces as she hears the door crash against the wall. Dexter, barking and howling in a combo hip hop and reggae rhythm chases Vinnie.
From inside the house, Vinnie’s mom hears Vinnie screaming as if he has his volume turned up as high as it can go, “Rupert, Buddy, I’m home. I’m home. I’m free. I escaped from Mrs. Mavis.”
Vinnie’s mom, now halfway up the sidewalk to the house, looks around to see if anyone else hears him. She sees the three other mothers staring at her and shaking their heads. The mothers look at their children walking politely in front of them and smugly smile. Vinnie’s mom thinks, “I live in a totally different world. But, I wouldn’t trade it, sisters.”
Rupert remains faithful to where Vinnie placed him when he left, in the center of the bed facing the door. Vinnie slams open the door to his bedroom, he shouts, “Rupert’s trying to score. Vinnie stands between him and the goal line.”
Vinnie shucks his backpack at the door, dropping it on the floor. He takes three running steps and dives arms outstretched onto the bed wrapping his arms around Rupert. “I stopped you, Buddy.You almost made it. Better luck next time.”
Rupert never loses his composure or smile. Vinnie rolls onto his back and puts Rupert on his belly. Vinnie holds onto Rupert with his two hands. Vinnie says, “Buddy, you want me to tell you all about my day?”
Vinnie speaks in his falsetto voice for Rupert, “You know it, Bro. First tell me how you escaped from the clutches of the evil Mrs. Mavis.”
Vinnie says, “I only got put in time out four times today.”
Rupert says, “You were on your best behavior.”
“I tried, Buddy. I thought she was going to send me to the office after lunch when I was in line coming back from lunch.”
“What happened, Vinnie?” asks Rupert.
“Buddy, I hope she doesn’t email, Mom. Mom let me buy the school lunch today because it’s taco salad Monday. When lunch was over we had to go back to our classroom and line up outside the door.”
“Did you line up, Bro?” asks Rupert.
“I was first in line. I couldn’t wait to get in class to read my opening paragraph to my fiction story.”
“Oh, oh,” says Rupert.
“Mrs. Mavis was late, Buddy. I took charge and started making burps. I can make really long burps. I didn’t see Mrs. Mavis coming up behind me. Joey was pointing, but I was to busy going for my record. Larry was counting the seconds. I got off a five second burp.”
“That might be a world record,” says Rupert.
From the kitchen, “Vincent. We need to talk, now.”
“Opps, Buddy. I think Mom read an email from Mrs. Mavis.”
Vinnie let go of Rupert and sets him on his pillow. Vinnie rolls up and sits on the edge of his bed. He looks down into the adoring eyes of Dexter. Dexter sits on his haunches thinking his affectionate beagle look earns a treat.
Vinnie slides off the bed, bends over and hugs Dexter. He says, “Wish me luck, Dexter. If I don’t get stuck in my room for burping in school, I’ll sneak you a treat.”
Dexter understands the word treat. He barks. Vinnie heads out of his room, down the hallway and into the kitchen area. Vinnie’s mom is standing by the breakfast bar, a hand on each hip.
Vinnie says, “Did Mrs. Mavis tell you how good I was today?”