Vinnie Has His Own Version of ‘Amazing Grace’


Later Sunday morning . . .

Vinnie and his dad and mom stand in church as Sister Janet gets the choir ready to lead the congregation in singing the closing Mass hymn. Vinnie has his hymnal open. He taps his mom’s arm, “Mom, this is your favorite hymn, Amazing Grace. It’s too bad you made Rupert stay in the car, he sings really good.”

Vinnie’s mom thinks, “That’s all I need right now.” She smiles at Vinnie and whispers, “Now, Vinnie, sing nicely.” She realizes she made a mistake.

Sister Janet spots Vinnie, his mom and dad. Her right eye starts twitching when Vinnie holds his hymnal in front of his face. The choir starts singing, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound  . . .”

From somewhere in the middle of the church a young boy’s voice sings loud enough to wake the dead in the cemetery behind the church, “That saved a wretch like Mrs. Mavis.”

The folks in the pew in front of Vinnie and his parents along with the folks in the row with Vinnie and his parents, Sister Janet and Father Pete all turn toward Vinnie and his parents and glare.

Vinnie’s mom grabs Vinnie’s hymnal and sternly says, “Not another word.”

Vinnie smiles at his mom and nods.


Decision Time . . . Or, is it?

Sunday afternoon, Vinnie’s dad and mom sit on the deck. Vinnie’s mom takes a sip of wine. Vinnie’s dad a sip of beer from a bottle. He says, “Great idea to let Vinnie go to Joey’s.”

“You know what I think about Vinnie going to Joey’s. Joey’s mom is a food machine. He won’t be hungry when he comes home.”

“But, it was your idea,” questions Vinnie’s dad.

“After what happened at the end of mass, it was either send Vinnie off to a boarding school or out of the house for a couple of hours. What are we going to do, Al? Vinnie’s the nicest boy. He has a great heart. He’s smart. But . . .”

“He’s always walking on the edge,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Al, please don’t finish . . .”

“my sentences for me,” says Vinnie’s dad and he starts laughing. He smiles at Vinnie’s mom, “Do you want more wine?”

Vinnie’s mom and dad sit quietly for a moment, then Vinnie’s dad speaks, “I’ll ask the judge for a continuance for Lefty Genero’s trial to next week. That will clear my plate for Friday and Vinnie can go to work with me. I’ll take him around the court. We’ll go down to the police station. We’ll have lunch together and after lunch, I’ll take him home.”

Vinnie’s mom sets her wine glass down, “Do you think the judge will grant a continuance?”

“It depends if I can get the assistant DA to agree.”

“That won’t be a problem, will it?” asks Vinnie’s mom cautiously.

“Maybe,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Who’s the assistant DA and why might it be a problem?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“Which question do you want me to answer first?” asks Vinnie’s dad.

“That’s what Vinnie says to me. Now I know where he learned it. Answer both of them, I don’t care about the order.”

“Well, the assistant DA is Craig Johnson,” says Vinnie’s dad.


“Does the last name sound familiar?”

“Don’t tell me he’s related to Harry Johnson next door.


“He is! Why didn’t you tell me?”

“You told me not to tell you,” says Vinnie’s dad realizing he’s going to lose.

“He was the deacon at today’s mass. Did you see the way he stared at Vinnie when he sang Amazing Grace?”

“I was trying to pretend Vinnie was your son and I wasn’t related. Do you think it’s a problem?”

“Uh huh.”

“Why do you get my hopes up only to dash them, Al.”

“I don’t do it purposely.”

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