The three moms, Vinnie’s mom and Dexter all hear shouting from the school bus long before they see it. At first it sounds like playground noise, then the rhythmic chant becomes clear, Vinnie! Vinnie! Vinnie! The chanting becomes louder as the bus slowly comes into view. It pulls up to a stop at the corner of Mulberry and State Streets. It’s flashing orange lights turn quickly to flashing red lights. It sounds like a Friday night adult party bus. The bus is rocking back and forth with chanting children. The bus door opens and Vinnie leaps out doing a half twist with his two arms tossed overhead in a triumphant signal.
Vinnie’s best friend Joey follows quickly behind him. Unlike Vinnie, Joey takes one step at a time. When he reaches the ground, he turns around toward the bus door and screams, “Give it up for Vinnie.”
The kids on the bus let out a cheer loud enough to dwarf the cheers heard in a professional football stadium.
Vinnie hollers, “Don’t forget to vote tomorrow. Who yah gonna vote for?”
“Vinnie,” the screams echo from the the bus.
“Who yah gonna vote for?” hollers Vinnie pumping his fist.
“Vinnie,” the bus rocks with sound.
“Who yah gonna vote for?” hollers Vinnie.
“Vinnie! Vinnie! Vinnie,” scream the busload of children.
Vinnie bows and turns and takes off racing toward home as if he’s riding a rocket blasting into space from Cape Kennedy.
Vinnie’s mom is watching and listening to the show. She strokes Rupert’s head, “Oh my God, he really may be President one day.”
Rupert answers, “It’s his dream job, Mom.”
Vinnie is a third of the way home before the bus pulls away from the curb. He leaps over a rose bush. He dodges a maple tree. He runs up on the porch of a house leaps onto the railing and jumps over the hedges before cutting across the Johnson’s lawn and diving head first, sliding arms outstretched toward Dexter. Dexter jumps back.
Vinnie yells, “Vinnie steals home. The game’s over.”
Vinnie’s mom fights a strong sense of vertigo. She stares at the deep gouge Vinnie made in the Johnson’s lawn. She whispers to Rupert, “Is this is the worse it will get as Vinnie grows older?”
Rupert whispers back, “You haven’t seen anything, Mom.”
Vinnie’s lying face first on the Johnson’s lawn. He lifts his head and looks up toward his mom, “Hi, Mom.”
Dexter is licking Vinnie’s face. This is beagle affection. Nearly 5000 years ago a genetic mutation took place in beagles linking licking the face of humans to being rewarded with food.
Vinnie’s up on his knees. He slips his backpack off and puts it in front of him. Dexter is sitting on his haunches staring at the top of the backpack, a potential source of beagle happiness.
Vinnie opens his backpack and pulls out a half of salami sandwich, a piece of sausage, and a half of tuna sandwich. Dexter already has his right paw in the shake position. His beagle brain tells him this is a way to show you can anticipate a command before it is given.
Vinnie says, “Wow, Dexter, you can read my mind. You are brilliant. Rupert have you been teaching Dexter how to read minds?”
Vinnie’s mom wants to answer but decides not to ever tell Vinnie she and Rupert talk. It’s a patient and client privilege.
Vinnie using his falsetto voice for Rupert, “Hi Bro. Mom let me meet you on the street. Yup, I’ve been teaching Dexter how to read minds and do card tricks.”
Vinnie tosses the tuna and salami sandwiches on the ground along with the piece of sausage. Dexter pounces on the treats as if they are home invaders and he is an attack dog.
Vinnie’s mom steps over to Vinnie and puts her arm around his shoulders. “How did it go today?”
“Mom, Mom, Mom, you should have been there. It was so great. It was better than great.”
Vinnie’s mom sees the three moms talking to their children and all six are looking up at Vinnie. Vinnie’s mom says, “Lets go inside and you can tell me all about it while you have your snack.”
Vinnie’s mom turns Vinnie toward the house. They walk on the sidewalk to their home and the sidewalk walk leading up to the porch. Vinnie’s mom glances back at the Johnson’s lawn and shudders.
As they climb up the stairs to the porch, Vinnie says, “Did Mrs. Mavis send you an email?”