“Where we going, Dad? Is work all over the day? You got Uncle Mike off on a technicality and you didn’t even try. Can we go to Six Flags? I want to ride the death-defying roller coaster. I’ll be the first one in class to ride it. I’m tall enough to get on.”
Vinnie’s dad checks his iPhone. “It’s only nine, Vinnie. Six Flags doesn’t open until noon. Besides, I have to meet with Uncle Mike. I want to talk to him. He’ll be waiting in a conference room for me. What if I get you a hot dog and soda and you wait outside the conference room? Deal?”
“No deal, Dad. I promise I won’t interrupt.”
“He might say something to me only I’m supposed to hear. It wouldn’t be right for you to be in the room.”
“Don’t worry, Dad. Uncle Mike’s told me lots of stuff I’m not supposed to hear.”
Vinnie’s dad blood pressures spikes, “Like what did he tell you?”
“I can’t tell you, Dad. Me and Uncle Mike got each other’s back. We even fist bumped on it and hooked pinkies.”
Vinnie’s dad shakes his head and dejectedly says, “Yeah, hooking pinkies seals the deal.”
The door opens, a security guard opens the door, “Counselor, you ready to see Mike Ricci?”
Vinnie’s Dad nods, Uncle Mike walks in. He turns back to the guard, “Tony, bring the whole family over to Pizza Palace tonight, it’s on the house.”
The guard says, “Mike, you’re the best.”
“I do what I can do. It’s not easy on the salary you make,” says Uncle Mike.
Vinnie whispers to his dad, “Can we go too, Dad? Uncle Mike is awesome. He’s like the best person I know. He’s always helping someone.” Vinnie adds, “He’s the best next to Mom and you and Rupert and Dexter.”
Uncle Mike walks over to the table, “How’s my man?” He opens up his arms and Vinnie gets up from his chair and jumps into them. Uncle Mike wraps his arms around Vinnie and lifts him off the ground and swings him around in a circle. He sets Vinnie down. Vinnie’s dad is standing. Mike and Vinnie’s dad embrace.
Uncle Mike walks around the table and sits down. He says, “Sorry I got you down here so early, Al. I didn’t know they was gonna drop the charges until thirty minutes ago.”
Vinnie’s dad says, “You want me to send Vinnie out of the room so you can talk to me?”
“What for?” says Uncle Mike waving both hands.
“Thanks, Uncle Mike,” says Vinnie.
“I got to clear something up first, Mike. Vinnie tells me you tell him things he’s not supposed to hear. Vinnie won’t tell me, he says you guys hooked pinkies.”
Uncle Mike glances at Vinnie and smiles, “I knew I could count on you. Me and you, we got each other’s back.”
“You know it Uncle Mike. Mrs. Mavis can put me in time out for five years and I won’t tell,” says Vinnie proudly.
“You and Marti are raising Vinnie the right way, Al. Okay, I’m going to tell you a couple of things I told Vinnie. I’m not going to tell you all the things. Before I tell you you got to promise me you can’t tell anybody, even Marti. This is very serious stuff.”
Vinnie’s dad says, “Does it have anything to do the river?”
“Does it have anything to do with cement?”
“Okay, I promise, Mike.”
“Uncle Mike, what do you do with cement?” asks Vinnie.
Vinnie’s dad kicks himself for mentioning it.
Uncle Mike says, “These days, you got to do several kinds of businesses because of the competition. One business is pizza, another business is cement, another business is river tours. I do a little of everything.”
Vinnie taps his dad’s arm, “Uncle Mike is the coolest. Can we do cement, Dad?”
Uncle Mike jumps in and saves Vinnie’s dad, “I told Vinnie the secret recipe for the sauce I use in my pizza. He even knows the special ingredient. It’s what makes my pizza the best in the city, maybe the best in the country. I know what chu thinking. I got lots of irons in the fire if you know what I mean.”
Vinnie’s dad says, “I know what you mean.”
Vinnie says, “Why did they drop the charges against you, Uncle Mike?”
Uncle Mike slaps the table with the palm of his right hand. “You a smart one. Janice tells me you score really high in the achievement tests. See, Al. Vinnie cuts right to the cheese. He don’t beat around the bushes like you.”
“I think it’s chase, Mike,” says Vinnie’s dad.
“Think what you want to think, Al. I like cheese, especially fresh mozzarella. As for whey they dropped the charges, my associate Gino explained a legal technicality to him and he understood his mistake.”
“Dad, this is awesome. I was right. Uncle Mike got off on a technicality.”
Vinnie’s dad checks his brief case for the bottle of Tums.