“Mom, I totally agree with Mrs. Mavis,” says Vinnie innocently.
“You do?” asks Vinnie’s mom.
“Yes, Mom. I can’t wait for the next three weeks to go by. I’m going to have to best summer ever. Joey and Larry and Rupert and Dexter and me are going to work on how to take over the school after I get elected President of the fourth grade. I think Gramma is right. I’m going to President of the U.S. one day. You can even visit me and Rupert and Dexter in the White House.”
Vinnie’s mom, momentarily slips into yoga mode and centers herself. She comes back to reality, “Okay, before you become President of the United States, eat your snack, then do your homework. No working on the election until I check all the homework. Remember, I know what’s due tomorrow.”
Vinnie laughs, “I already got it all done, Mom.”
“You do? When did you do it?” asks Vinnie’s mom sure Vinnie is trying to pull a fast one on her.
Vinnie says, “If I promise to tell you my secret, do you promise not to tell Mrs. Mavis or get mad at me?”
Vinnie’s mom feels the aftertaste of the hummus she had for lunch. She pushes it back down, “I promise.”
Vinnie says, “Mrs. Mavis never bothers me when it looks like I am busy and I am quiet. That’s good, right?”
“Go on,” says Vinnie’s mom.
“The last thirty minutes of school, Mrs. Mavis has us do silent reading. I finished my book three days ago. I’m the fastest reader in class. So, I hide behind Sara who likes to sit up straight with her book in front of her so Mrs. Mavis can see her reading.”
“I’m beginning to see where this is going, Vinnie,” says Vinnie’s mom.
“Where’s it going, Mom? I stayed in school the whole time,” asks Vinnie.
“It’s a figure of speech, go on,” says Vinnie’s mom.
Vinnie shrugs his shoulders. He says, “I duck down behind Sara and do all my homework. You can check it. I know it’s all right. I even know all my spelling words. Can I go to Joey’s house after my snack for an hour?”
Vinnie’s mom cocks her head and stares at Vinnie for a moment, “I’ll get your snack. You take out your homework. I’ll check it while you eat your snack. Nothing to eat at Joey’s house. I mean nothing.”
“What if Joey’s mom forces me to have a piece of pizza and one of her special chocolate fudge brownies? I don’t want to hurt her feelings. Mom, why are you covering your eyes with your hand? Do you have a headache?”
Later that night. Vinnie is in bed pretending he’s asleep. Rupert is sitting next to him. Dexter is lying on the floor at the side of Vinnie’s bed. Vinnie’s mom and dad are in the living room talking about Vinnie.
Vinnie says, “Rupert, did you like Mom’s lentil soup?”
Vinnie takes Rupert and puts him on his belly facing him. Rupert says, “It was the worse meal ever. It was worse than Mom’s butternut squash soup. It was worse than her kale soup. It was worse than her cauliflower pizza. I’m starving, Bro. I might not make it to morning.”
Dexter’s beagle instincts tell him Vinnie and Rupert are talking about food. He is on high beagle alert. It’s a code red beagle alert, the highest possible alert for beagles, it’s even higher than if a burglar broke into the house.
Vinnie whispers, “If we’re quiet, we can sneak into the kitchen and go into the pantry. There’s a bag of chips Dad is saving for the game Saturday. There’s some turkey jerky for you, Dexter.”
Dexter is up, beagle commando style, ready for action.
Vinnie opens his bedroom door a crack. He peeks down the hallway. He hears his mom and dad talking in the living room. He turns back into his room. He lifts Rupert up in his arms, “Rupert, the coast is clear. No talking.” Vinnie glances at Dexter who looks like he’s waiting for instructions. Vinnie says, “Follow me, Dexter.”
Dexter has no clue what Vinnie said but decides to follow Vinnie and Rupert. All roads lead to a food source in the beagle cosmos.
In the living room Vinnie’s mom says, “Dear, do you mind checking on Vinnie? He was too nice about going to bed. I think he’s up to something.”
Vinnie’s dad makes a half-hearted attempt to look toward Vinnie’s room but from where he is sitting on the sofa all he can see is the fireplace mantel. He says, “Why mess with success. What could go wrong?”
A moment later, the sound of falling cans, a dog barking, and the voice of an eight-year-old boy, “Run for it before they catch us.”