Vinnie’s Game – Vinnie’s Mom Feels A Migrane Coming On

2

The family sits at the dinning room table. Vinnie’s mom fills a bowl with low salt popcorn. Vinnie’s dad goes to the pantry and brings a bag of Mexican chips to the table. Vinnie stands in front of an open refrigerator door before deciding to fetch a jar of salsa and two raw hot dogs. He carries them to the kitchen counter, opens a cabinet door and takes a small plate for the hot dogs and a small bowl for Fruit Loops, his go to high sugary cereal he eats in place of candy. Vinnie breaks the hot dogs into small pieces and places the pieces on a plate. He sets the dish with the hot dogs on the floor. Dexter correctly assumes it’s snack time and consumes the two dogs in fifteen point one seconds a new PR. Vinnie picks Dexter’s plate off the floor, examines it. Feels its clean and puts it back in the cabinet. He says, “Dexter, you’re better than the dishwasher.”

Dexter sits on his haunches, cocks his head slightly, believes he did something good but he doesn’t know what it was, and expects a reward. Dexter’s dog brain is still trying to understand the human mind.

Vinnie carries the Fruit Loops to the table, places the dish on the table and sits down. I’m ready. I’ll go first. He picks up his cards and says, “I get to exchange one card with Mom and two with Dad. Then you guys can exchange a card.”

“That’s not how you play, Vincent. And, you are not going to a whole bowl of Fruit Loops. You know how I feel about sugary cereal, anyway.”

“But Mom, Gramma bought them for me, so you can’t throw them away.”

“When they’re gone, they’re gone and don’t you go asking Gramma to buy you sugary cereals.”

“I didn’t, Mom. I was talking to Rupert and she overheard me saying I was hungry for Fruit Loops. And, why can’t we exchange cards? Why, Mom? Why?”

“Because we are going to play the way the game was designed to be played, Vincent. It will be good for you to play by the rules. It’s what adults have to do to be successful in life.”

“Can I pass out the cards, Mom?”

“Okay. First, I’ll slide out one card from the characters, one from the room, and another from the murder weapon and put them in the case. See, I didn’t look at them. Before I pass the cards out, can I guess?”

“Dear, I warned you how this would turn out. I’m afraid it’s going to be worse than I imagined. I feel a migrane coming on,” says Vinnie’s mom to his dad.

Vinnie’s dad smiles, “Vinnie, pass out the cards. You can’t possible know who is on the cards in the case. I shuffled the cards. Mom and I watched you. You didn’t peek. If we look, we’ll have to do it all over again.”

“I still know. I am so sure I know. Please don’t look at your cards. I want to guess the murderer and the room and the weapon. Then we can play the game I invented.”

Vinnie’s dad answers for Vinnie’s mom who is pressing the palms of her hands against her temples. “Vinnie, you can’t guess until you’re in a room. We haven’t started playing yet, so you’re not in a room.”

Vinnie moves the yellow piece representing Colonel Mustard to the library, “I’m in a room, can I guess now, Dad?”

“Vincent, either you play right or you can’t play,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“But I don’t want anybody to look at their cards until I guess. I want to show you how smart I am,” says Vinnie.

“You know you don’t know,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“If I can’t play you won’t have enough players to play unless you use Rupert. He’s very smart and will probably win,” answers Vinnie. 

“Dear, will you get this game started so we can get it finished. I’m already worn out and no one has rolled the dice,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s dad picks up Vinnie’s yellow piece and moves it back to the starting place. He says, “Mom will go first, you will go second, Vinnie, and I will go third. I will be Professor Plum, Mom will be Miss Scarlet, and Vinnie, you’ll be Colonel Mustard.”

“Dad. Dad. Dad,” says Vinnie waving his arm as if he is in school.

“What, Vinnie,” says Vinnie’s dad with a hint of weariness in his voice.

“Mom can’t be Miss Scarlet. She has to be Mrs. Peacock because Miss Scarlett isn’t married and Mom is married,” says Vinnie.

“One can only wish,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie Asks His Mom If Santa Is Real

3

Vinnie’s mom, dad, and Vinnie sit in the living room watching The Christmas Story. Vinnie is eating from a bowl of popcorn. Rupert sits next to Vinnie, Vinnie’s left arm drapes around Rupert. Vinnie’s dad snacks on a piece of pizza and sips on a beer. His Mom has an open box of chocolates on her lap. Dexter is on the floor next to Vinnie’s feet hopeful Vinnie will toss him some popcorn.

Vinnie’s dad mutes the TV during a commercial break. Vinnie says, “You know what Linda Michaels said in school today?”

Vinnie’s mom looks up from the chocolates, “Linda is such a sweet girl. I bet what she said made a lot of sense.”

Vinnie says, “Linda said there is no such thing as Santa. She said parents were Santa. Tommy Smith started crying. Is there a Santa or isn’t there a Santa?”

Vinnie’s mom looks at Vinnie’s dad and says, “Honey, why don’t you tell Vinnie the truth.” 

Vinnie’s dad takes a sip of beer and says, “Linda’s parents are weird, but don’t tell her I said that. Of course there is a Santa. I’m working on my Christmas list tonight. I’m going to email Santa my list when I’m finished.”

Vinnie’s mom’s mouth clenches tight around a chocolate covered caramel. 

Vinnie says, “Dad, will you give me Santa’s email. I want to tell him what a good job he’s doing and not to leave any presents at Linda’s house. Mom, you could try being a little more like the mom in the Christmas Story and maybe Santa might be nicer to you and bring you something you like for a change.”

Vinnie’s mom starts coughing.

Vinnie jumps up knocking his popcorn over the floor. “Opps. Don’t worry about the popcorn, Mom. Dexter will clean the floor. I’m going to get you a glass of water. Dad, will you tell Santa Mom didn’t have to ask me to get her a glass of water. I volunteered?”

“Sure, Vinnie. That will make Santa happy.”

“Tell him how I shared my popcorn with Dexter. Santa loves animals. I can name all his reindeer. Do you want to hear their names. Dasher, Dancer, Prancer …”

“I think we know the names of Santa’s reindeer,” Vinnie’s dad says. “Run along into the kitchen and get Mom a glass of water.”

Vinnie takes two steps toward the kitchen, stops and turns around, “Mom, is there a Santa? You never lie to me. Rupert can tell if you’re lying. He’ll tell me when I go to bed. He’s got super powers.”

Vinnie’s Mom says, “Vinnie, let me ask you a question, who has been bringing you presents on Christmas for as long as you remember?” 

“Santa,” responds Vinnie.

“Does that answer your question?” his mom asks.

Vinnie cocks his head a bit upward and thinks about it. Vinnie says, “Pretty much.”

Vinnie walks to the kitchen. Dexter finishes the popcorn clean up and follows Vinnie into the kitchen hopeful Vinnie will sneak him a snack out of the fridge. Dexter is always the opportunist. Vinnie hollers from the kitchen, “Dad, want another piece of pizza? How about a cookie? Can I get you a bowl of ice cream?”

“No thanks, Vinnie. Thanks for asking,” says his dad.

Vinnie hollers again from the kitchen, “Dad?”

“What is it, Vinnie?”

“When you write your email to Santa will you tell him that I wanted to do these nice things for you?”

“Sure thing, Vinnie,” says his Dad.

“Don’t forget to ask Santa to bring Mom the kind of chocolates she likes, not the kind you buy for her. I don’t think Santa will hold it against you. She hates the kind with nuts and cream filling on the inside.”

“Thank you, Vinnie,” his Mom says.

Vinnie runs the water and whispers to Dexter, “Dexter, I can’t tell if Mom or Dad are telling me the truth. Tomorrow, we’re going to be detectives. We’ll start by searching the guest bedroom to see if they are hiding presents. That’s where Linda says parents hide them.” 

Vinnie takes a sugar cookie off the plate on the counter and breaks it in half and gives it to Dexter. Dexter scoffs it and wags his tail approvingly. Whether Dexter was approving of the plan to search Vinnie’s parents’ room or asking for another cookie we’ll never know.

“You talking to me, Vinnie,” calls out his mom.

“Uh, yes, Mom. I want to know if you want me to get the box of chocolates Uncle Tony sent,” says Vinnie.

“What a sweetheart you are, Vinnie. The Christmas season is special. Get the chocolates.”

“Sure thing, Mom. Tell Dad to put it is his email to Santa.”