Meanwhile . . .
“Morris, wake up, I can’t sleep.”
Morris Mavis struggles to open his eyes. He glances at the digital clock on the bed stand. “Mavis, for God’s sake, it’s three-thirty in the morning.”
“Morris, I don’t want to go to school.”
“You have to, Mavis. You’re the fourth-grade teacher. The children are expecting you.”
“Morris, don’t you dare go back to sleep and leave me awake. You didn’t ask why I don’t want to go to school.”
Morris Mavis rolls from his right side to his back. He says, “Why don’t you want to go to school, Mavis?”
“I have to face Vincent this morning and every school morning for the next one-hundred seventy-nine days.”
“Is it snowing? Maybe you’ll get a snow day,” says Morris rolling on his side and closing his eyes.
“Morris, open your eyes. It’s August, Morris. It doesn’t snow in August,” says Mavis Mavis.
“What do you want me to do, Mavis?” asks a bewildered Morris.
“I don’t know. Didn’t you contribute to the mayor’s election fund? You can ask the mayor to pull some strings to get me transferred or get Vincent transferred. You’ve got to do something. I’ll have a nervous breakdown if you don’t.”
Morris rubs his eyes, turns on his back and half sits bracing himself on his pillow. He says, “I did contribute, but so did a lot of other people.”
“Morris. You even worked the polls for the mayor. Surely the mayor owes you a big favor.”
“But, Mavis, I don’t like to do this sort of thing. It doesn’t feel right.”
“Morris, if you don’t do this, I will get upset and you do not like it when I am upset.”
“Okay, what is this Vincent’s last name?” says Morris remembering the last time Mavis got upset.
Morris Mavis sits straight up. He runs his right hand through his thinning gray hair. “You said Ricci, right?”
“Yes, Morris. Is there a problem?” asks Mavis.
“Yes, there is a problem. I’m not getting involved. They run the mob in the city.”
“Don’t be childish, Morris. It’s only a rumor Vincent started to scare people. That’s how those people operate. Anyway, you’ve been watching too many movies. Try doing something constructive with your time.”
“Mavis,” Morris squeaks, “Is this Vincent Ricci any relation to Al Ricci?”
“I believe that’s his father. I’ve never met him, but his mother, she’s something else,” says Mavis.
“Mavis, Al Ricci, is the mouthpiece for the mob.”
“That’s silly. Who told you?”
“It’s common knowledge, why our grandson, Harold, told me that last weekend. He said, his friend Michael plays on the same soccer team with a boy named Joey who told him a boy named Vinnie’s dad is a mouthpiece for the mob.”
“Morris, I want police protection. Do something. Call the mayor. Call pastor Bonner. Call our state senator.”
“Have you been threatened, Mavis?” asks Morris.
“No, not exactly,” says Mavis.
“What do you mean?”
“I heard, Vincent is making plans to run the school and have me fired. He’s fourth grade president. He got all the votes but two.”
“Mavis, you’re being paranoid. Where did you hear this rumor?”
“It’s not a rumor. I overheard Pete the janitor talking with Mrs. Nokowski, the school secretary, and Pete the janitor said, ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if Vinnie ends up running the school and firing Mrs. Mavis.’ Do you know what Mrs. Nokowski said?”
“She said, ‘From your lips, Pete, to God’s ears.’”
“Why don’t you take a sleeping pill and get a few hours’ sleep. I’m sure everything will be fine.”
“It’s easy for you to say, Morris. You don’t have to face Vincent. Please make me a pot of coffee.”