Vinnie’s mom finishes her CrossFit class hoping she doesn’t die before she steps into the sauna. She imagines siting in the sauna and letting the dry heat suck the stress out of her pores. She reaches her locker and silently vows it’s the last time she’ll do CrossFit with a group of women who must pay an expert to chisel their abs and calves. She opens her locker, sees her iPhone resting on the locker shelf and picks it up. Her heart, already beating fast from her CrossFit workout, races to heights seldom achieved in a workout. four notifications stare at her.
She knows in her heart Vinnie’s been suspended, sent to an alternative school, or transferred permanently to the principal’s office. She opens the first notification, it’s a text from Vinnie’s dad. Call me.
She opens the second notification, another text from Vinnie’s dad, Please, call me, it’s important.
Vinnie’s mom’s defensive reaction is that Vinnie’s dad is working to get Vinnie out of juvenile. She reads the text, Marti, where are you?
Vinnie’s mom thinks, ‘I’m here.’ She touches the fourth notification, it’s from Vinnie’s dad. I don’t want to put anything in writing. I’ll be in court the rest of the day. I’ll tell you when I come home.
‘Huh,’ thinks Vinnie’s mom. ‘This is not fair.’ Vinnie’s mom tries to remember what case Vinnie’s dad is working on. It can’t be Mike because he usually gets Mike out on bail and finds a loophole to get him off.
“Are you okay, Marti,” asks Jennifer Curtis-Smith.
Marti turns sharply around, “Jennifer, of course I’m alright. Why?”
“I saw you reading text and then flush. Did Vincent get sent home on the first day of school?” asks Jennifer Curtis-Smith.
“Why would the school send the 4th grade president home? Did you know Vinnie scored highest in the mathematics achievement test for the 4th grade? Where did Lauren place?” Vinnie’s mom wishes she didn’t send the zing, and feels guilty because it feels so good to see Jennifer Curtis-Smith stumble for an answer.
“I’m only being helpful. I thought you were going to pass out.”
“I’m flush from the CrossFit workout. The elliptical doesn’t give me the same benefits. How does it work for you?” Two zingers in a row, Marti, Vinnie’s mom says to herself. I’ve got to go to confession this Saturday, I’m enjoying this too much.
“I’ve got to run, Marti. Are you going to our Mensa meeting tomorrow evening? Or, do you have to stay home to keep an eye on Vincent? Caio,” Jennifer Curtis-Smith hurriedly turns and walks out of the locker room.
Later that afternoon . . .
Vinnie’s mom came home from the gym, showered, and took stress eating to an Olympic level. She snacked, nibbled, and noshed her way into the afternoon until it was time to meet Vinnie’s school bus. Dexter sat at her feet perplexed why Vinnie’s mom wasn’t sharing.
Vinnie’s mom is standing on the sidewalk waiting for the school bus. So far, no emails, calls, or texts from school, she thought. She hasn’t heard a word back from Vinnie’s dad. She holds Dexter’s leash loosely in her right hand, and watches Dexter do his business on the Johnson’s lawn. She forgot to bring a plastic bag. She looks around, no one saw Dexter humped over. She pulls Dexter further down the sidewalk.
Three other mothers stand in the sidewalk talking and occasionally staring at her. Vinnie’s mom takes a bite of the Twix bar she holds in her left hand. She finishes the Twix bar in three bites, then calculates how many CrossFit classes she’ll have to attend to work off today’s calories.
Dexter leaves the Johnson’s lawn and walks to the sidewalk, he stares down Mulberry Street toward State Street. Vinnie’s mom knows Dexter hears the school bus. She takes a deep breath and utters a silent prayer, ‘Dear Lord, I know today already happened, but let me hear some good news, just a bit, please?’
The school bus comes into view. It’s orange lights flash and turn to blinking red lights. The stop sign on the driver’s side extends outward. The bus comes to a stop. The bus door swings open, Vinnie leaps out twirling three-hundred and sixty degrees in the air and sticking his landing. The kids on the school bus chant, Vinnie, Vinnie, Vinnie. The three moms turn and stare at Vinnie’s mom, before turning their attention back to the bus.
Dexter barks and howls at a fever pitch. More stares from the women. Dexter takes their stares as approval and increases the pitch of his howling. If there is a beagle choir, the neutered Dexter has the soprano part.
Vinnie sets himself down in a sprinter’s stance and bolts down the sidewalk. The three women step aside, Vinnie yells, “Thanks, I’m going for a record.”
Two-thirds of the way up the sidewalk, Vinnie veers off the sidewalk, crosses the ninety-year-old Olivia Zembroski’s lawn, and leaps the three steps onto her porch.
Mrs. Zembroski is sitting on a chair, listening to a Chicago Cubs game on a baseball radio station. She sees Vinnie, smiles, and says, “Don’t trip, Vinnie, when you leap over the railing.”
“Sure thing, Mrs. Z,” says Vinnie as he passes by. He hits the top of the rail with his left foot and pushes off as if he is superman off to save the world. He comes back to earth on a perfect landing turns and bows to Mrs. Zembroski.
Mrs. Zembroski gives squeaky holler, “I’m giving you a 9.1 Vinnie. Nice landing but you grazed my rose bush.”
“Thanks, Mrs. Z. I’ll do better tomorrow.”
Vinnie turns and barrels toward his mom. Dexter is straining at the leash howling at Vinnie. Vinnie darts around the Johnson’s fence onto the sidewalk and turns back onto the Johnson’s lawn. Five feet from Dexter, Vinnie hollers, “Two seconds left, Vinnie Ricci has the ball, will he score?”
Vinnie dives headfirst at Dexter wrapping both arms around the loving beagle. “I scored Dexter, Rupert will help you improve.”
Vinnie looks up from his prone position, “Hi, Mom. Wait till I tell you what I did as President today.”