Vinnie’s mom drifted off at 3:30 a.m. One minute and twenty-five seconds later high pitched out of tune soprano vocalist woke her up. She sat straight up in bed rubbing her eyes. Then the sound pierced the air again. “Al, go see what that horrible noise is. I’m sure it’s in the house. Maybe a raccoon got in through the doggy door.”
Vinnie’s dad pulls the covers up tighter and mumbles, “Can’t be a raccoon, I double checked the doggy door when I went to bed.”
“There it is again. If you won’t check, I will.”
“Okay, Marti. If I’m asleep when you come back, don’t wake me.”
Vinnie’s mom starts to get out of bed when their bedroom door swings open. “Mom, Dad, I taught Dexter how to sing. Come on in the living room. He’s really, really, good. Will you let Dexter audition for America’s Got Talent?”
“Vincent, do you know what time it is?” says Vinnie mom’s.
“I’ll be right back, Mom. I’ll check the time on the microwave.” Ten seconds later Vinnie returns, “It’s three-thirty-three, Mom. Want me to make coffee for you and Dad?”
Vinnie’s mom remembers the last time Vinnie made coffee for them, “No thanks.”
Vinnie’s mom’s iPhone rings. She looks at caller ID. “It’s Harry Johnson. You take it, Al.”
“He called you. I’m trying to sleep, I’ve got a big court case this morning.”
“Which one of Uncle Mike’s friends you getting off, Dad?” asks Vinnie.
Vinnie’s mom accepts the call. “Harry? Something wrong? . . . No, no one is being tortured. . .. What screaming? I didn’t hear anything? . . . Are you sure you weren’t having a nightmare? . . . I know there’s a noise ordinance in our neighborhood. . . . I can speak to Al. His cousin Luigi works in that department. . . . His brother Mike has some influence at city hall. I can call him. . . . Are you sure you don’t want me to call Mike? . . . Have a good day as well Harry.”
Vinnie’s dad is sitting up in bed. “What was that about?”
Before Vinnie’s mom can speak, Vinnie is standing in front of Dexter who’s sitting on his haunches. Vinnie holds a piece of leftover tofu from dinner high above Dexter’s head. “Sing, Dexter, Sing,” commands Vinnie.
Dexter hits all the high notes on the beagle musical scale.
“Good boy, Dexter. Here’s a piece of steak,” says Vinnie dropping the tofu into Dexter’s awaiting mouth.
“Vincent, to your room and I do not want to hear Dexter singing again this morning,” orders Vinnie’s mom.
“What about this afternoon, Mom?”
3 Hours Later . . .
Vinnie’s mom is working on her third cup of coffee. She’s watching Vinnie break a piece of his bagel off, dip it into Greek yogurt and drop it to Dexter. “Vinnie, I didn’t toast the bagel for Dexter. I want you to eat it so you’ll have energy at school.”
Vinnie glances at his mom, “I’ve got plenty of energy, Mom. I’m worried about Dexter. He needs energy to protect you.”
“Protect me from what?” asks Vinnie’s mom.
“Mrs. Mavis in case she calls you. I’m only kidding, Mom. I’ll be good in school today.”
Vinnie’s mom sets her coffee cup down, lowers her voice a tad as coached by Dr. Sampson, child psychologist. She says, “Vinnie, promise me you will not ask Mrs. Mavis any more questions about the family history project.”
“What if I have important, really important questions, Mom? I want to get an A on my project.”
“Okay, you can ask important questions, nothing silly that’s going to agitate Mrs. Mavis, you understand?”
“Perfectly, Mom. I won’t ask her why. When I ask her why, she turns red. I don’t understand why she turns red, but she does. When I ask you why, your eye lash jumps up and down.”
“It does not,” says Vinnie’s mom feeling the beginning pings of her eyelash getting ready to flinch uncontrollably. Vinnie’s mom changes the subject, “Tell me about your family history project.”
Vinnie uses a piece of bagel to wipe out the remnants of vanilla Greek yogurt from his dish. He looks down at Dexter. “I think Dexter is a genius, Mom. Is there a Mensa test for beagles?
“No, Vinnie, beagles are not allowed in Mensa,” says Vinnie’s mom knowing this is not the end of the conversation.
“Why, Mom? Is it because beagles are smarter than most humans?”
The ever alert for food Dexter is up on his haunches quicker than you can say “beagle.” Vinnie dangles the food. Dexter’s eyes track it as if he has radar in his beagle nose. Vinnie drops the bagel piece. Dexter’s tongue flicks out like a lizard’s tongue snagging a bug.
“We are not prejudiced against beagles or grizzly bears. It’s for humans only.”
“That’s too bad, Mom. I get it. Everybody but you would be jealous of Rupert and Dexter being smarter than them. You already know it, so it’s okay.”
“I really think Dexter could be on America’s Got Talent, Mom,” says Vinnie.
Vinnie’s mom feelings of insecurity and inferiority are fighting with her rationale mind telling her she doesn’t have to compete with a food eating beagle and a stuffed grizzly bear. She says, “Don’t change the subject, Vinnie. Tell me all about your history project.”
Vinnie glances over at digital clock on the microwave. “Mom, look at the time. If I don’t hurry, I’ll miss my bus. We can talk about my project later,” says Vinnie jumping off his stool and running toward the bathroom.
Vinnie’s mom tracks him on his way to the bathroom to brush his teeth. She says, “Mary, did you have these problems with Jesus when he was Vinnie’s age?”