Vinnie Dances to a Different Beat


Melanie and Kyle lead the 16 kids up the well-marked trail toward Buffalo Point. Every once in a while, Melanie and Kyle stop and point out a cactus plant, insect, or bird to the kids.

Melanie takes Kyle aside, “Where are they? I’m getting nervous, we’re almost there.”

Kyle reassuringly says, “Not to worry, they ran ahead and are resting.” Kyle glances toward the sky. “That’s strange. Not a cloud in the sky and I felt a drop of rain  …

From behind cedar trees and yucca plants on both sides of the trails streams of water hit Melanie, Kyle and sixteen kids.

Vinnie jumps out from behind a cedar tree onto the trail, “Feel better. It’s so hot, we wanted to cool you down.”

Melanie steps forward, “Hand over those squirt guns. They’re not allowed.”

“Why?” asks Vinnie handing his power squirt gun over. Joey, Larry and Sara do the same.

“How would you like it if we squirted you?” says Melanie.

Kyle rolls his eyes.

“Please, please, please squirt us,” Vinnie and his friends shout. Vinnie adds, “We gotta go and catch our rattlesnake for dinner. Come on gang.”

Kyle puts a hand on Melanie’s arm, “Please let them go. Please. We have their squirt guns. Besides it was kind of refreshing.”

“That’s not the point.”

Kyle shrugs.

Five minutes later, Vinnie, Joey, Larry and Sara come running down the trail toward Melanie and Kyle and the sixteen kids. Vinnie’s waving a plastic grocery bag hollering, “We caught a rattlesnake, we caught a rattlesnake, we caught a rattlesnake.”

The sixteen kids scream and run back down the trail toward the trailhead. Melanie screams. Kyle checks his iPhone.

Melanie grabs Kyle’s arm, “Go after the kids. Round them up and take them someplace safe.”

Kyle thinks Melanie was a border collie in a past life. He doesn’t argue, he jogs down the trail toward the trailhead.

Vinnie slams on the brakes in front of Melanie and waves the bag in front of her. Melanie jumps back. “Vinnie, stop it. Drop the bag. A rattlesnake bite can kill.

“You’re afraid of rattlesnakes?” asks Vinnie. Joey, Larry, and Sara stand behind Vinnie suppressing a laugh.

Melanie looks over her shoulder and sees Kyle returning with the 16 kids.

“I told you to keep them safe until we got rid of the rattlesnake,” grumbles Melanie.

Kyle smiles, steps forward toward Vinnie and says, “Let me see it. I want to see if it is a sidewinder or a diamond head or a . . .”

“I told you we couldn’t fool Kyle,” says Sara from behind Vinnie.

“What do you have in the bag, Vinnie?” asks Kyle.

Vinnie tucks the bag behind his back, “What bag?”

Kyle extends his arm, “Hand it over, Vinnie.”

Joey takes the bag from Vinnie and tucks it behind his back. Vinnie brings both hands around to the front and extends his arms, his palms up, “What bag, Kyle?”

Kyle takes a step forward, “Okay, boys. Quit fooling around. Where’s the bag?”

Joey and Larry both have their hands behind their back. Sara steps back.

“It’s not funny, boys,” says Kyle.

Sara snitches the bag out of Larry’s hands and says, “Here it is, Kyle.”

“Thank you, Sara,” says Kyle reaching his hand for the bag.

Sara holds bag closer to her, “It’s not a rattlesnake, it’s four scorpions. Be careful, Kyle.”

Kyle steps back, “Drop the bag, please.”

Vinnie, Joey, and Larry are laughing. Sara fist bumps Vinnie and Joey and Larry.

Kyle turns beet red. Melanie and the sixteen kids stand behind the red-faced Kyle.

Melanie bends over and picks up the plastic grocery bag and opens it, “Acorns, small rocks and twigs are not funny. You all ruined our trip to Buffalo Point.”

Vinnie says, “But we didn’t get to Buffalo Point. Follow us. Come on gang.”

Vinnie turns and runs up the trail. Joey, Larry, Sara, and Dexter are on his heels. The 16 other children run pass Melanie and Kyle and chase after Vinnie and his friends.

Melanie says, “This is more serious than I thought. I think we should run after them.”

Kyle says, “You have to admit they really punked us.”

“I will not admit it,” says Melanie striding up the trail toward Buffalo Point.

Melanie and Kyle reach the final bend in the path and hear screams the likes of which have never been heard on planet Earth. “Oh, dear God, what are those screams? Did one of the children get bitten by a rattlesnake.”

Melanie and Kyle and race toward Buffalo Point. The stop short when they see Vinnie, his friends, the sixteen kids, screaming and Dexter howling. They’re pausing, waiting for the echo, and after the echo clears they’re screaming again.

An hour later, Melanie and Kyle are talking to Vinnie, Rupert and Dexter. Melanie says, “I’ve tried to call your mom and dad, but they are not answering.”

Before she continues, Vinnie speaks up, “I can tell why they’re not answering.”

“Why?” says Melanie.

“Because they know you and Kyle are the best camp counselors ever and would never let anything bad happen. That’s what they said.”

“They did?” asks Melanie.

“Un huh. It was something like that,” says Vinnie. He continues, “I know some great campfire songs we can sing tonight. Can we roast marshmallows? What’s for dinner? I hope it’s pizza.”

Kyle pulls Melanie aside, “We can get through the night. The kids are all exhausted, we’ll be leaving right after lunch. What could go wrong?”

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