Meanwhile . . . Vinnie’s Set for School
Vinnie’s mom stands next to the fridge, she glances at Vinnie who sits on a stool at the breakfast bar. Rupert sits on the counter smiling at Vinnie’s mom. Dexter lies on the floor next to Vinnie’s stool. Vinnie’s mom says, “Do you want to take lunch today or buy school lunch?”
Vinnie sticks a butter knife into a peanut butter jar and pulls out two tablespoons of peanut butter. He swabs a third of it on a slice of apple and licks the other two-thirds off with his tongue. When he finishes, he dangles the knife by his side and Dexter licks off any remaining residue. Vinnie sticks the knife in the peanut butter jar.
“That’s disgusting, Vinnie. Now, I have to toss the rest of the peanut butter away,” says Vinnie’s mom.
“You licked the spoon and then you let Dexter lick the spoon and then you put it back in the peanut butter jar.”
Vinnie picks up the peanut butter jar with his left hand and peers into it. “It looks okay to me, Mom.” He pulls the knife out and licks off the peanut butter. He sticks the knife back into the jar. “Are you happy, I didn’t let Dexter lick it this time?”
‘Dear God,’ Vinnie’s mom silently prayed. You could have given me a girl. She says, “Vinnie, do you want to buy your lunch?”
“No thanks, Mom. I’ll have one of your healthy lunches.”
“Really? I proud of you.”
“Yup. I’ll trade my apple for Joey’s candy bar. I’ll trade my hummus wrap for Sara’s cookie.”
“Punked yah, Mom.”
Vinnie looks up from his bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, “How many Cheerios do you think are in my bowl, Mom?”
Vinnie’s mom knows if she answers, Vinnie will take each Cheerio out and put them on the counter to get an accurate count. She tries to change the subject. “Dad is six feet one inch. I think you’ll grow taller.”
Vinnie puts a spoonful of cereal in his mouth. He chews and swallows it. “I hope so, Mom, then I can beat him in wrestling. There’s six less Cheerios in my bowl, Mom. I’m helping you out. What was your guess?”
“I’m thinking about it, Vinnie. What is going to be your first order of business as fourth grade president today?”
“You can’t trick me, Mom. That’s between Uncle Mike and me. I promised I wouldn’t tell.”
“Vinnie, I’m your mom, certainly you can tell me,” says Vinnie’s mom.
“Can’t, Mom. Uncle Mike says when you give your word about something you can’t break it. What’s your guess? Give up? Rupert knows the answer? Want to know how Rupert knows the answer?”
Vinnie’s mom says, “I give up, how many Cheerios are in your bowl?”
Vinnie laughs, “I can’t tell you, Mom. Rupert and me promised each other we wouldn’t tell you.”
Vinnie’s mom glances at her iWatch. Fifteen more minutes. Only fifteen more minutes. I’ll be a free woman for at least six hours she imagines.
“What are you thinking about, Mom. I saw your eyes moving,” says Vinnie.
“I was thinking you better floss and brush your teeth. It’s almost time to walk to the corner to catch the school bus.”
Vinnie turns and looks at the digital display on the microwave. “Yikes, I am running late, Mom.” Vinnie slides off his stool. He takes his bowl and sets it on the floor next to Dexter. Dexter is up on all fours faster than a lightening strike. The bowl of cereal is cleaned in six point four seconds, a new beagle PR.
Vinnie races down the hallway toward the bathroom.
Vinnie’s mom picks up the empty cereal bowl. Dexter gives her his big brown beagle sad eyes look hoping for seconds on cereal. Vinnie’s mom says, “You’re on a diet, Dexter. Vinnie’s not home during the day. That means no more snacks in between meals.”
Dexter only understood one word, ‘snacks.’ He waits patiently for a doggie treat. His beagle brain becomes confused when Vinnie’s mom puts the bowl in the dishwasher and doesn’t bring him a treat.
Meanwhile at Kennedy Elementary School . . .
Dr. Cashman walks into her office. Mark Doolittle, assistant principal is sleeping on the floor. Lori Smith is curled up on a soft chair sound asleep. “Mark? Lori?”
“Did he leave? Can we go home? What time is it?” asks Mark Doolittle.
“Did you two spend the night in my office?” asks Dr. Cashman.
“It was Lori’s idea,” says Mark Doolittle.
“You never told us we could leave,” says Lori rubbing her eyes.
“Did the mob take you prisoner? Did they hold you hostage?” asks Mark Doolittle.
Dr. Cashman says, “Everything worked out better than expected. Mike Ricci is a very nice man. I think he’s misunderstood.”
Mark Doolittle stands up and stretches, “Do I have time to go home and brush my teeth and shower before the busses arrive?”
Lori says, “My hair must be a mess. I can’t let the teachers see me like this. You need Mark more than you need me. Can I go home first?”
“I asked first,” says Mark.
“I asked second,” says Lori.
Dr. Cashman mind flashes a thought, ‘I wonder if Mike needs help at his bar.”