Tale of Two Bedrooms . . .
Three-thirty a.m. Sunday. Everyone on Mulberry Street is sound asleep with a few exceptions. The few exceptions all live in the Ricci house. Vinnie’s mom tried 3mg of melatonin. When that didn’t work by midnight she tried 3mg more of melatonin. She practiced deep breathing along with every relaxation technique known to yoga students, they didn’t work. At 3 a.m. Vinnie’s mom decides she doesn’t want to stay awake alone.
Vinnie’s mom rolls on her side and faces Vinnie’s dad’s back. She boosts herself up and leans over and whispers in Vinnie’s dad’s ear, “Al, I need to talk.”
When Vinnie’s dad is asleep, he is as close to a human zombie as a human being gets. Vinnie’s mom taps Vinnie’s dad’s shoulder. Vinnie’s dad slaps at it as if he is trying to whack a mosquito.
“I know you’re awake, Al. If you don’t tell me you’re awake I’m going to throw out your left-over pizza.”
Vinnie’s dad’s response is to fall deeper into NREM sleep. Vinnie’s mom climbs out of bed. She walks around the bed and picks up Vinnie’s dad’s iPhone. She checks the time. It’s 3:05 a.m. She sets the alarm on Vinnie’s dad’s iPhone for 3:06 a.m. Vinnie’s mom scurries around the bed, climbs in, pulls the covers up to her neck and pretends to be asleep. She starts counting backward from sixty. When she hits thirty she is sound asleep and rapidly drops into NREM. Thirty seconds later, Vinnie’s dad’s iPhone goes off. Vinnie’s dad sits up with a start. He’s rubbing his eyes. Vinnie’s mom curses her luck.
Vinnie’s dad says, “I’ve got an early morning court hearing. I don’t feel like I slept at all. I don’t remember Sunday. What did we do? Did I watch football?”
Vinnie’s mom sheepishly says, “I set it early so we don’t miss 8 o’clock mass.”
Vinnie’s dad stares at his iPhone. “It’s, it’s three oh seven. What were you thinking?”
Vinnie’s mom says, “I wanted you to take a long, hot shower.” Vinnie’s mom has a momentary panic attack thinking she’s becoming like Vinnie, or is Vinnie becoming just like her. She’s not sure.
“Since you’re awake, Al. Can we talk? You didn’t tell me what you’re doing in court Friday. Is Mike involved?”
“Well, sort of, but he has an alibi.”
“Oh, dear God.”
Meanwhile in the other bedroom in the Ricci home . . .
Vinnie’s lying in bed. Rupert is sitting on his belly staring at him. Dexter is lying on Vinnie’s bed stretched out alongside Vinnie. Vinnie rubs Dexter’s head, “Sorry, buddy, you ate all your snacks.”
Dexter hears the word snack. His beagle brain sends a signal to his tail. Dexter’s tail is on automatic pilot and begins wagging to a 6/8 tempo.
Vinnie grasps Rupert with both hands, “Rupert, I decided when I grow up I want to work for the FBI, CIA, or become a brain surgeon. I haven’t decided. What do you think?”
Vinnie uses his falsetto voice for Rupert, “I was thinking you could become a world famous chef and be on the Food Channel.”
“Great idea, Rupert. The only master chef I know is Uncle Mike and he’s going to be in court Friday.”
“What about Gino?”
“Gino is going to be in court too,” answers Vinnie.
“What about Fast Eddie?”
“Uncle Mike says Fast Eddie is in court too.”
“Dad’s going to be busy,” says Rupert.
“Yah, but Uncle Mike says they’re all innocent and not to worry. I got this other idea,” says Vinnie.
“Let’s hear it,” says Rupert.
“I always think better when I’m not hungry. Are you hungry?”
Dexter hears the word hungry. It’s one of the half dozen or so words his beagle brain files away are essential to survival. His tail starts thumping against the bed as if he is performing a solo for a rock band.
Vinnie twists Rupert sideways so Rupert is watching Dexter. Dexter never got a treat from Rupert but this could be a first. He’s watching Rupert’s paws.
Vinnie twists sideways and looks at Dexter, “Buddy, we’re going to have to be very quiet. Mom hears everything. No barking. No talking. Rupert and me will crawl on our bellies. I’m going to put my socks on your paws so you don’t make any noise.”
Dexter doesn’t understand a word Vinnie said. He knows Vinnie is up to something and in the middle of the night, it usually means food.
Two minutes later Vinnie’s in his Captain American pajamas crawling on his belly past the master bedroom door. Rupert is on his belly being pushed along by Vinnie’s head. Dexter, wearing four mismatched socks is already waiting in the kitchen.
Meanwhile in the master bedroom . . .
“Al, I will not let you go back to sleep until you tell me what’s happening in court on Friday and how Mike is involved,” says Vinnie’s mom.
“What if I promise I tell you first thing in the morning.”
“Can I give the highlights now and save the detailed explanation for later?”
“The good news is that it’s a pre trial hearing for Mike. The prosecutor has to show the judge there’s enough evidence to go to trial.”
“Is that good? What do they think Mike did?”
“Well . . .”
Vinnie’s mom interrupts Vinnie’s dad, “Did you hear something? I heard something.”
“Uh un. I’m so tired,” says Vinnie’s dad falling onto his side and slipping quickly into a deep sleep.
Vinnie’s mom listens, waiting for another sound. She decides she was imagining whatever it was she thinks she heard. She pulls the covers over Vinnie’s Dad and slips under them. She closes her eyes and falls to sleep.