Vinnie’s mom finishes her fourth loop around the neighborhood. She checks the time on her iPhone. She stops in front of the Johnson’s yard. Dexter tugs at the leash to walk on the Johnson’s lawn. Vinnie’s mom glances the at the previous three markers Dexter left on the Johnson’s lawn. Teresa thinks I am such a bad neighbor. I should have taken a plastic bag to scoop the poop. She rationalizes, how was I to know Dexter only wants to poop on the Johnson’s lawn. He must be all done by now.
Dexter starts sniffing here and there. He pulls on the leash toward Harry Johnson’s prize azalea bush. Dexter sniffs at it. He turns around and looks at Vinnie’s mom. Vinnie’s mom knows all the signs. She tugs on Dexter’s leash. Dexter tugs back. He hunches his back and goes into a semi squat position. Vinnie’s mom tugs harder. She glances over her shoulder, no one is walking toward her. The three nosey moms are two houses in front of her probably tossing shade her way.
Dexter finishes and politely kicks with his hind legs at the Johnson’s manicured lawn to cover his waste. Vinnie’s mom gasps when she sees Dexter kicking turf onto his mess. Dexter turns and looks. He’s satisfied. He turns back toward Vinnie’s mom and proudly struts to her side. Vinnie’s mom silently prays Teresa Johnson is at her afternoon tea with the ladies’ garden club.
The yellow school comes into sight at the corner of Mulberry and State Streets. Dexter tugs at the leash. The orange flashing lights turn to red flashing lights, a red stop sign swings out from the driver’s side as the bus pulls to stop. The bus door opens. Vinnie leaps out twisting three-hundred-sixty degrees in the air and sticking the landing. The kids on the school bus cheer. Vinnie bows. He calls into the bus, “Thanks for the great ride, Mrs. Sanchez. See you Monday. Vinnie waves to his friends turns and bolts down Mulberry toward his mom and the howling Dexter.
The three moms move to the grass as Vinnie barrels towards them. At the last second, Vinnie jukes to his right and goes to his left barely missing the screaming moms. “No worries,” he yells.
Vinnie’s mom turns crimson.
Vinnie darts across the lawn leaping over a small hedge and landing on the ninety years old Mrs. Crandall’s lawn. Mrs. Crandall is raking around her bushes. She turns and calls in soft whispery voice, “Nice move, Vinnie. You made the stuck up ladies scream.”
Vinnie tosses Mrs. Crandall a wave as he leaps the three steps to her porch. He says, “I’ll be right over to finish raking Mrs. Crandall as soon as I change and have a snack.”
“You’re so sweet, Vinnie. Watch out for my rosebushes.”
“No sweat, Mrs. Crandall,” says Vinnie as his left foot rises to the top of the porch railing and he powers himself over the rosebush. Mrs. Crandall drops the rake and applauds.
Vinnie’s mom says, “Mary, Vinnie is such a good kid. He’s going to rake Mrs. Crandall’s bushes. Why does he drive me nuts?”
Vinnie dips around the Johnson’s fence and cuts across their lawn. Dexter is back on the lawn. Now standing on his hind feet doing a beagle a cappella of the number one hit on the beagle hit parade. This tune cannot be found on YouTube, Apple Music, Spotify, or Amazon Music.
Vinnie screams out, “Dexter I’m going to score, you can’t stop me. I’m going to dive across the goal line.”
Dexter has no idea what Vinnie is saying. The words are not in his limited beagle vocabulary. Dexter’s eyes are on Vinnie’s backpack a secret source of food at the end of every school day.
Vinnie’s mom’s brain tells her to tell Vinnie not to dive on the Johnson’s manicured grass. The message doesn’t reach her lips in time. Vinnie dives head first toward Dexter carving two nice six-inch ruts in the Johnson’s lawn with the toes of his Nike’s.
“Vinnie scores. Game over. Too bad buddy, I slipped past you again,” says Vinnie rising to his knees. Vinnie throws his arms around Dexter and pulls the beagle to his chest. Dexter accepts the affection since it part of the afterschool ritual to get food.
Vinnie looks up and says, “Hi Mom? How was your day?”
Vinnie’s mom thinks, ‘You don’t want to know.” She says, “I had a great day. Dexter and I went for a long walk.”
Vinnie glances at the Johnson’s lawn. “Did you go four times around the block?”
“Hurry, Vinnie. Feed Dexter at home,” urges Vinnie’s mom.
“I gotcha, Mom.”
“How was school, Vinnie?”
“Mom, it was so great. Mrs. Mavis didn’t send me to the office or put me in time out. And, I got permission to do my oral history with Uncle Mike.”