Vinnie pushes off the ground with his hands, hops to his feet, crouches, and leaps into the air, arms extended over his head. “It’s gonna be the best school year ever.”
Dexter is sitting on his haunches. Dexter’s beagle brain has an absolute lock on previous events where he received food. Dexter remembers in vivid detail each time Vinnie came home from school he received food from Vinnie. Vinnie drops to a knee and unslings his backpack letting gravity take it to the Johnson’s lawn.
Vinnie’s mom says, “Vinnie, are you forgetting something?”
Vinnie looks up at his mom, “I don’t think so, Mom. I got my backpack, my homework, the food I didn’t eat, the food Joey gave me, and a book I got from the school library.”
“Mom, do I have to, Joey and Larry are walking toward us.”
Vinnie’s mom looks toward the corner of Mulberry and State streets. She sees Joey, Larry, and Sara walking together toward them. She takes a deep sigh. “Okay, you don’t have to hug me on the street, but as soon as we get in the house, I want a hug.”
Vinnie fishes in his backpack, he pulls out a half of a cold hot pocket. He holds it out for Dexter. Dexter’s confused, Vinnie didn’t tell him what to do. Dexter’s beagle brain instructs him to shake. He lifts his left paw up.
Vinnie says, “Good dog, Dexter. We’re now reading each other’s minds.” Vinnie gives Dexter the cold hot pocket.
“I didn’t give you a hot pocket. I gave you a bagel with a small container of guacamole and an apple. You said that was all you wanted.”
“Good choices, Mom. I traded the apple to Sara for her peanut butter sandwich. I traded the bagel to Joey for the hot pocket. And, I traded the guacamole to Larry for a brownie.”
Vinnie’s mom makes a deep sigh and says, “Let’s go home and you can tell me all about today.”
Vinnie slings his backpack over his shoulder, and runs ahead of his mom. He cuts across the front lawn and leaps over the three steps onto the front porch. Dexter is right on his Vinnie’s heels. Vinnie’s mom thinks, my little Vinnie is growing up. I wonder when I’ll be able to hug him publicly again?
Vinnie turns and hollers from the front porch, “You’re slow, Mom. I’ll be in my room with Rupert. Don’t bother me.”
Vinnie’s mom thinks, ‘not on your life, Buster. I want to know what you did as president today.’
Vinnie’s mom doesn’t want the other women to see her running after Vinnie, it will start rumors swirling through the neighborhood. She attempts to walk casually to her home. She reaches the walkway to the porch turns on to the walkway, when a car pulls up to curb. She glances over her shoulder, it’s Jennifer Curtis-Smith.
Jennifer Curtis-Smith lowers the window, “Where’s Vincent? Did he have detention on the first day? I have to go to Kennedy to get Laura, she’s in tryouts for fourth-grade cheerleader. I believe she’ll be team captain. You know she’s been taking ballet since she was two.”
Vinnie’s mom wants to stick her index finger down her throat. She suppresses the temptation and says, “Vinnie’s home. He had a wonderful day and is excited about the school year. Is this your normal way to go to Kennedy? I forgot to tell you when we saw each other at the gym, that Vinnie scored highest in the fourth grade on math and science achievement tests. We’re so proud of him. We believe he’s gifted.”
Jennifer Curtis-Smith responds, “I read someplace where the state achievement tests were incorrectly scored. I got to go, caio.”
Jennifer Curtis-Smith gets under Vinnie’s mom’s skin every time she opens her mouth. Vinnie’s walks up the sidewalk, climbs the three steps and walks through the open front door. She wonders at what age Vinnie will remember to close the front or back doors. She steps into the entry way and calls out, “Vinnie?”
“Vincent, leave Rupert alone and meet me in the kitchen or else there is no play time with Joey, Larry, and Sara after your homework is done.”
Vinnie’s bedroom door opens, “Do I have to?”
“Can I call Uncle Mike and ask him what he’d do?”
“Okay, Mom. I’ll be right there.”