The Bartender Tells Joey, “She Wasn’t Your Type”

1.

 

Joey Cardona takes two steps down off the sidewalk, opens the door into the dimly lit Barlow’s Beer Stop.  He steps inside, pauses, and takes a deep breath savoring the fragrance of stale beer, burnt pizza, along with several other disgusting odors. The only other person in Barlow’s at 10:30 in the morning is Skinny. Skinny’s the bartender and he’s not so skinny. Three months ago, Skinny did the stomach stapling thing. At the time, he weighed three-hundred-ten pounds. Now, he’s a svelte two-hundred-ninety pounds, which is not so skinny.

“Yo, Skinny, you got two cold bottles of Bud?” hollers Joey from the doorway.

Skinny looks away from the TV and rotates toward the door, “We’re not open til 11, Joey.”

“Come on, man. The door is open. That means you got to be open, because if you was closed, the door would be closed. See where I’m going?”

Skinny thinks, yah, you’re going straight over the cliff and you don’t even know it. He says, “I can’t sell you anything because of the laws, but you can come in. You look like hell. You needs a haircut and if that’s a grunge, it don’t look too good neither.”

“Man, I need a beer, Skinny. I can’t help it, Skinny. I thought Sunny was the one and then she tosses me out for no good reason. The last two weeks been like a hangover that won’t go away. Know what I mean? Anyway, Nate is going to meet me any minute. One of the bottles is for him.

“Whatever. I told you, she wasn’t your type.”

“She got this way of messing with my brain that makes me not know what I’m doing.”

“I’ll slide em down. Whistle when you’re ready.”

“I shoulda listened to ya when you warned me about Sunny, Skinny,” says Joey whistling and sticking his hand on the bar, palm facing Skinny at the other end of the bar.

Skinnyslides a bottle down the length of the bar watching slide softly into Joey’s open hand. The second bottle comes in with a rough landing but Joey’s left hand saves it from tipping over. A tad of beer splashes on the bar.

Joey hollers, “Thanks, Skinny. I got it.” Joey stands up, pulls up his stained maybe white, maybe grey t-shirt, sticks his hand inside his t-shirt, bends over and wipes the spill with his t-shirt.

“Tanks, Joey. Like I said, I can’t take no money for the beers. Consider them on the house,” says Skinny

“I owe ya, Skinny,” Joey gives Skinny the bartender a thumbs up and carries his beers to a booth as far back as the next county, sets the beers down, and slides into the booth.  He takes a long swing from one of the bottles, closes his eyes, and enjoys the rush of cold beer traveling toward his stomach. Joey opens his eyes thinking a cold beer is one of the best things in life. He wipes his lips on his bare arm, burps, and stares at a poster of a topless woman on the wall behind Skinny. The topless woman starts Joey’s brain to reminiscing about how he got himself caught up with Sunny and how she ruined his life.

 

 




Vinnie’s Mom: “Sweet Mother of God, this is the longest summer ever.” LOL

32

Vinnie’s mom and dad stand side by side looking out the kitchen window toward the backyard. Vinnie’s dad has an ice cream bar in his hand. Vinnie’s mom is sipping cucumber, ginger, and lemon water from an infuser bottle.

She glances over at Vinnie’s dad as he sinks his teeth into the ice cream bar. “You know how many calories are in that bar?”

Vinnie’s dad turns a bit toward Vinnie’s mom and smiles, nodding his head no.

Vinnie’s mom says, “At least two-hundred-fifty. Do you want love handles?”

Vinnie’s dad says, “I have fast metabolism. I think Vinnie gets it from me. BTW, check out Vinnie and his friends their tossing a frisbee and talking. They don’t have a care in the world.”

Vinnie’s mom takes the ice cream bar from Vinnie’s dad and takes a bite. “I saved you thirty calories. Vinnie’s up to something, I promise you, he’s up to something.” Vinnie’s mom turns from the window and walks lazily toward the fridge.

“Have a little faith in our son, Marti.  He’s with Joey, Larry, and Sara and they’re tossing a frisbee. Vinnie’s pretty good at tossing it. Oh oh, he sailed it into the Zeller’s yard. Larry and Joey are giving him ten fingers. He’s over the fence. Is this the week the Zeller’s go to the beach?”

“Why?”

“I think Vinnie’s tossing ripe peaches from the Zeller’s peach tree over the fence. One, two, three, four, five, six. Larry is tossing a rope over the fence to Vinnie. Vinnie’s like one of the commandos we see in in a movie, he’s using the rope to scale the fence. He’s back in the yard.”

Vinnie’s mom is next to Vinnie’s dad, “Al, do something. Vinnie’s turning in a thief.”

“Can I wait until his friends go home?”

“Why?”

“I think I’m part of the problem.”

“Dear God, you’re both going to be sharing a cell,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s mom and dad stand side by side watching Vinnie and his friends eat ripe peaches from the Zeller’s peach tree. Vinnie’s mom shakes her head. She says, “Al, what story did you tell Vinnie?”

“Remember last week, when you left me alone with Vinnie?”

“Hold on, don’t pin Vinnie’s peach caper on me,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“But Marti, you’re so much better with Vinnie than me. I don’t make a connection between what I tell him and how Vinnie interprets what I say,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“That’s true, Al. Tell me you didn’t tell him another story of Mike and you when you were growing up.”

“We went out to Sonic and . . .”

“You went to Sonic! You know what I think about their food.”

“Vinnie convinced me it was the right choice,” pleads Vinnie’s dad.

“Al, he’s an eight-year-old.

“He’s going to be nine soon. It was the night you decided we needed to detox our systems and we had cabbage soup.”

Before Vinnie’s mom responds, Vinnie comes busting in through the deck door, “Mom, Dad I’ve got some ripe peaches for you. They’re the best peaches ever.”

“Vincent. You know stealing is wrong. You’re going to have to tell Mr. Zeller you stole his peaches and ask him what chores you can to do to pay him back,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“But, Mom,” Vinnie pleads.

“Don’t but, Mom, me, Vincent. You know you were wrong.”

“Mr. Zeller called over the fence and said he had too many peaches and asked us if we wanted some. When the frisbee went over the fence, it was the perfect time get the frisbee and the peaches. Mr. Zeller handed me the peaches when I threw them over the fence.”

Vinnie’s dad says, “Did you tell Mr. Zeller thank you?”

“Un huh. Am I in trouble?”

Vinnie mom says, “I jumped to conclusions, Vinnie. I apologize.”

“No problem, Mom. Will you call Del’s and order a take out pizza for my friends and me?” asks Vinnie as he heads out the door.

Vinnie hollers to his friends, “My Mom is going to order pizza for us.”

Joey, Larry, and Sara begin chanting, “Vinnie, Vinnie, Vinnie.”

“Does it ever end, Al,” says Vinnie’s mom wearily.

“Afraid not. Okay if I order two pizzas with pepperoni?”

“Sweet Mother of God, this is the longest summer ever. I’m desperate, I need inspiration.”

Vinnie’s dad glances over at Vinnie’s mom. He says, “Be careful what you pray for. Your prayers might be answered.”


Vinnie’s Mom Says, “Vinnie’s Being Too Good, He’s Up to Something.”

31

Vinnie’s mom is waiting on the front porch as Vinnie’s dad pulls the car in the driveway. She waves at him. Vinnie’s dad waves back. He turns the engine off and climbs out of the car. He opens the back door and gets his laptop and briefcase. He turns back toward the porch. He says, “What’s wrong?”

Vinnie’s mom says, “Is it so obvious?”

“I don’t see Vinnie or Dexter. What’s he done?” says Vinnie’s dad walking toward the front porch.

Vinnie’s mom says, “That’s just it, nothing yet. But, I know the four of them are planning something.”

Vinnie’s dad reaches the porch, climbs up the three steps and kisses Vinnie’s mom. He says, “I had a tough day in court. I could use a beer before dinner. Where’s Vinnie?”

“He’s in his bedroom. I checked on him and he’s sitting on the floor on the side of the bed away from the door. He stuck his head over the bed and said high and bye. Then he disappeared.”

“Did you walk around the bed to see what he was doing?”

“Well, I thought it was kind of nice he had his own little space. When I was a little girl I made a space for myself in the closet. Mom and dad never bothered me when I went in there. I guess he needs his space too, but there’s something mysterious going on, Al.”

“What makes you think somethings up?” asks Vinnie’s dad.

“Right before everyone went home, they put their hands on top of each other’s hand and said, ‘All for one and one for all and none for Mrs. Mavis.’

Vinnie’s mom is at the fridge, she pulls out a beer bottle and the cabernet. She pours cabernet into a wine glass and screws off the cap to the bottle. She returns to the living room with the drinks. As she’s sitting down on the sofa with Vinnie’s dad, Vinnie’s voice comes from his bedroom, “Don’t set a place for me. I’m too busy to eat. I’m still full from yesterday. If you tell me I have to eat dinner I won’t be able to hear you because Rupert is blocking my ears with his paws. His paws are sound proof.”

Vinnie’s mom sets her wine glass on the coffee table. That’s it, he’s up to something. What are we going to do, Al?”

“Can I finish my beer, first?”

Before Vinnie’s mom can answer, her cell phone rings. Vinnie’s dad says, “Leave it alone, it’s probably a robocall.”

Vinnie’s mom checks the caller ID. She holds it toward Vinnie’s dad? “It’s Sara’s Mom, Teresa. The only time the Johnson’s call is when there is a problem. Do you want to answer it?”

“I really had a hard day defending the mob,” laughs Vinnie’s dad.

“He’s just like you, Al,” says Vinnie’s mom touching the answer icon on the cell phone.

“Hello, Teresa. How are you?” . . .

“No, I didn’t know anything about it.” . . .

“I resent that, Teresa. I keep a close eye on the kids when they’re here. I can assure you nothing happened.” . . .

“They’re not serious. It’s all an imaginary adventure.” . . .

“Yes, read me the note Sara showed you.” . . .

“Thank you, Teresa. We’ll speak to Vinnie. . . .  Yes, I’ll tell Vinnie Sara can’t play with him and his friends for a week. Bye.”

Vinnie’s dad looks at Vinnie’s mom. He says, “Harry and Teresa overreact to everything. Last Saturday, Harry asked me to have Dexter stop pooping on his lawn. I told Harry there are lots of dogs in the neighborhood and Dexter poops in our yard. Harry apologized. He told me he’s thinking of getting a surveillance camera to catch the phantom pooper.”

Vinnie’s mom says, “It is Dexter.”

“Oh,” says Vinnie’s dad.

Vinnie comes running in the living room, “One quick thing, Mom. I need a four month advance on my allowance. It’s important. I’ll take twenty dollars out of your purse and leave an IOU. Thanks, bye.” Vinnie turns around and runs toward his bedroom.

“Hit the brakes, Buster,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie skids to a stop, turns around, and says, “What, Mom. Rupert and me are really busy.”

“Sara’s mom, called,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Busted, I knew Sara would break the vow of silence. Don’t worry, Mom, I’m teaching her my tricks. She won’t spill anything next time.”

“There is no next time, Vincent. Go get cleaned up for dinner.”

Vinnie’s dad whispers, “I have ten dollars the next time happens before sundown tomorrow.”


Vinnie & His Friends Want to Play Survivor ~ Oh Oh

30

Vinnie, Joey, Larry, and Sara are huddled in Vinnie’s yard. Rupert is on the ground between Vinnie and Sara. Dexter is lying between Vinnie and Joey.

Sara says, “Vinnie can you check with your dad, he’s a lawyer. He can tell us if it’s legal.”

Vinnie says, “He’s pretty busy working for the mob. I heard Dad tell Mom one time it’s better not ask permission, it’s always better to ask forgiveness.”

“I guess that’s why they have confession at church,” says Joey.

“Makes sense,” says Larry. “When I went to confession three weeks ago, I told Father Pete I copied all your answers on the math test.”

“Did you tell him we were the only two to get one hundred,” asks Vinnie.

“I did. I told him my mom was really happy I got an A,” says Larry.

“What did Father Pete say?” asks Sara.

“He told me I had to tell my mom the truth,” says Larry.

“Did you?” asks Sara.

“I’m going to when I think she’s in a real good mood,” says Larry.

“That’s not fair. I got a 98 and I should have been second best,” says Sara

Joey chimes in, “I wish I sat on the other side of you, Vinnie. Then the three of us could have got a one hundred.”

“I hope Father Pete gave you a hard penance,” says Sara.

“I also told him I twisted my little brother Vic’s arm until he said uncle.”

“What’s wrong with that?” asks Vinnie.

“I kept twisting it until he started crying. But, he deserved it because he hid my baseball glove and wouldn’t tell where it was and I had to use Tommy Smith’s glove.”

“Wasn’t Tommy playing?” asks Sara.

“Tommy’s not too good. He was sitting on the bench making faces at the pitcher so he didn’t need a glove,” says Larry. “Anyway, Father Pete told me I had to do something nice for Vic every day for five days.”

“That’s really a hard penance,” says Joey.

“Do you think we’ll have to tell Father Pete we’re going to do something and not tell our parents?” asks Sara.

Vinnie answers, “Uncle Mike told Dad it’s only a crime if you get caught. I think he knows because he’s been in court a lot of times.”

“That doesn’t sound right to me,” says Sara.

Joey jumps in, “I think it’s right because one-time Mom told me not to eat any of the cupcakes she made for a party. They were chocolate and she filled the middle of each cupcake with fudge. When they were cooling on the table I took one and moved all the others around so it looked like they were all there. Since I didn’t get caught I didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Can I ask Rupert what he thinks?” asks Sara.

Vinnie picks up Rupert and holds him in front of his face. Rupert is facing Sara. Sara says, “Rupert have you been listening this?”

Rupert answers, “I wish Joey brought me the cupcake he took off the plate.”

“Rupert, you know that is wrong,” says Sara.

“I don’t think so, because Joey’s mom didn’t tell me not to eat one. She told Joey not to eat it.”

Sara says, “Vinnie, you are right, Rupert is the smartest person on Earth. Can I ask him if what we’re doing is going to get us in trouble?”

Vinnie sets Rupert on the ground and says, “Rupert’s going with us. He’s going to be our guide. Here’s my plan. I’ll ask my mom for a four month advance on my allowance. That will give us enough money for the boat at the lake. Joey, you have your mom pack enough food for four days.”

“What should I tell her?” asks Joey.

“The best thing is tell her the truth. That way you can’t get in trouble,” says Vinnie.

“What’s the truth, Vinnie?” asks Joey.

“Tell her you’re going to come to my house and sleep outside in a tent with the three of us,” says Vinnie.

“I don’t have to tell her we’re going to take a boat to the island in the middle of the lake and play survivor?” asks Joey.

“No, if she asks, tell her you got to go to your room and pack your stuff,” says Vinnie.

“Where do you learn all this, Vinnie?” asks Sara.

“Uncle Mike. He’s really a cool guy. He knows stuff most normal people don’t know,” says Vinnie. “Larry, you got to get us about four six packs of soda. None of the diet junk. Only the good stuff.”

“Easy, squeezy. My mom stores soda in the pantry in case company comes over. I’ll sneak it over tonight,” says Larry.

“Sara, can you get us some of the bug and sun screen stuff?”

“I can get it, Vinnie. But, I think I need to tell my mom we’re going to the island in the park pond to play survivor. Mom and dad will be worried about me,” says Sara.

“Rupert has a great idea how to take care of our parents. Rupert, it’s your turn,” says Vinnie picking Rupert up and turning him toward Joey, Larry, and Sara.

Rupert says, “Everybody has to write a note that says, ‘Dear Mom and Dad, don’t try to find us. We’ve gone to the jungle and we’re playing survivor. It’s something I dreamed about all my life. If I survive I will be home in a few days.’”

Vinnie sets Rupert down and says, “It’s the perfect letter. Our parents won’t get nervous.”

Vinnie’s mom calls out from the deck, “What are you kids planning?”

Vinnie’s looks over to his mom and says, “We’re planning a cool adventure, Mom.”

Vinnie’s mom’s first thought, this is so cute. Her second thought, ‘what kind of adventure? Oh, dear.”

 


Vinnie’s Mom Wonders If Men Ever Mature ~ LOL

29

It is early evening, the sun is stretching toward the horizon, Vinnie’s mom and dad sit on lounge chairs on the deck sipping iced tea. Vinnie’s mom touches Vinnie’s dad’s forearm, “Al today was the best day so far this summer. I think Vinnie’s turned a corner.”

Vinnie’s dad is holding his iced tea in his left hand and his iPhone in his right hand. He’s streaming live baseball from somewhere on planet Earth.

“Al? Al?” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Huh?”

“Are you listening to me?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“Un huh,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Okay, what did I say?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“Do I have to answer now? The game is at a crucial moment. There is a no hitter going,” pleads Vinnie’s dad.

“Vinnie’s mom says, “I have two questions: One, what teams are playing? And, two, what inning are they in?”

Vinnie’s dad turns his head away from his ball game and says, “Can I plead the 5th amendment?”

“We’re not in court and you’re not talking to Vinnie. You didn’t hear a word I said, admit it.”

“Not true, Marti. I heard every word you said. I don’t remember them, I was singing the national anthem along with the crowd. Was it important?”

Vinnie’s mom remembers what she said and wonders if men ever mature. Her psych teacher in college never lectured on male emotional intelligence. She’s taken out of her thinking when Vinnie’s dad interrupts. He says, “What are you thinking?”

Vinnie’s mom turns toward Vinnie’s dad and says, “Vinnie’s following in your footsteps.”

Vinnie’s dad beams. “That’s so nice of you to say. I try really hard to be a good role model for him.”

“Believe me, Vinnie’s taking it all in,” says Vinnie’s mom. “Where is Vinnie, Al? I haven’t seen or heard him since dinner.”

“Didn’t I tell you?”

Vinnie’s mom anxiety alarm is beeping. “Tell me what?”

Vinnie asked if he could go to Joey’s house with Larry and Sara to work on their bug project.”

“Dear God, you let him go to Martha’s kitchen? Did he take Rupert and Dexter with him?” says Vinnie’s mom sitting straight up on the lounge and reaching for her iPhone.

“Vinnie didn’t say anything about going in Martha’s kitchen. He said they were going to watch a show on the Discovery Channel that will give them some ideas. He promised he’ll be home by 7:30,” says Vinnie’s dad checking the time on his iPhone. “He’ll be home in twenty minutes.”

“What show? Do you have any idea how many calories of junk food he’ll consume in twenty minutes?”

“He didn’t say anything about junk food,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“Why do you think he always wants to go to Joey’s house? Martha greets people with cookies and cake and that’s at the door,” says Vinnie’s mom, “There’s no telling what she’s going to give them while they’re watching TV. They’ll probably get pizza, fries, popcorn, and ice cream.”

Vinnie’s dad’s eyes light up with the thought of grabbing a piece of Martha’s homemade pizza. He stands up, “Don’t bother calling, I need the exercise, I’ll walk over and get them.”

“Dear Lord, is there any hope?”

“You talking to me, Marti?” says Vinnie dad as he’s leaving the deck.

 


Vinnie Doesn’t Want the Summer to End

28

Vinnie’s Mom sits at the breakfast bar sipping her morning coffee. Her music app plays Ed Sheehan, for Vinnie’s mom, life is suddenly good. Last night Vinnie Joey and Larry were shooting baskets in the driveway. When Sara asked if she could play, they let her join them. Vinnie’s mom is thinking that Vinnie and his friends are acting like normal children. Her life is on a high note, even Al’s brother Mike hasn’t called asking Al to represent him in a criminal case in the four days. And, Vinnie’s sleeping in this morning. It’s all good. A brief thought dashes through her mind . . . it’s not going to last. Not more than ten seconds later . . .

“Mom, Mom, Mom, calls Vinnie from his bedroom.

Vinnie’s mom calls out, “You’re finally awake, Vinnie. Good morning. I’ll get your breakfast.”

“Mom, Mom, Mom,” Vinnie’s tone takes on a sense of urgency.

Vinnie’s mom takes one last sip of coffee and mutters, ‘I knew it was too good to last.’ She says, “What Vinnie? Is it an emergency?”

“Yes, Mom. Rupert and Dexter and I are running away from home. We’ll be back when school starts. Don’t worry about me.”

Vinnie’s mom is off the breakfast bar stool and streaking toward Vinnie’s room. She opens his door without knocking. Steps inside and stares at Vinnie and Rupert sitting on the bed facing her. Dexter is lying on the floor waiting for his food machine, aka Vinnie, to get off the bed. Vinnie is staring at his mom’s iWatch. He says, “I win. Dexter is second. Sorry, Buddy, you came in last.”

Vinnie’s mom glances at her wrist and says, “What are you doing with my iWatch? When did you get it? I always put it on my night table next to my side of the bed.”

“I woke up at 4 this morning, Mom. Dexter and Rupert were hungry so we went into the kitchen and ate our first breakfast. I’m ready for my second breakfast. I wanted to test Rupert and Dexter’s heart rate so I went in your room and got your iWatch. Did you know it has a cool stop watch? I used it to iMessage with Uncle Mike while the police were holding him for questioning. I got lots of good news, Mom. I’m not going to run away. It was a test to see if you’re in shape to help me if I need help. I probably never will because I got Rupert and Dexter with me most of the time. You passed, but I think you can improve. The police let Uncle Mike go. He said they couldn’t prove a thing. He’s pretty smart, huh, Mom?”

Vinnie’s mom places her right hand on the door jam. Her heads swirling. She doesn’t know where to begin, what to say, who to call, or pray.

Vinnie says, “Why’d did you close your eyes, Mom? Are you going blind? Dexter is smart, he can be a seeing eye dog when I’m not at home. You’ll have to use a cane when I’m at home because Dexter likes me more than he likes you.”

Vinnie’s mom says the only words that come to mind, “Will this summer ever end?”

“I hope not, Mom. I’m waiting until two days before school starts to figure out what I’m going to do as fourth grade president. I’m thinking I’ll make up a list of rules Doctor Cashman and the teachers have to follow.”

“What am I going to do?” Vinnie’s mom asks rhetorically.

“One thing, Mom. When the library opens can you drive Joey and Larry and Sara and me to the Library. We want to do research on bugs.”

“What kinds of bugs?” asks Vinnie’s mom wondering if Vinnie already knows how to hack into computers.

“The usual, Mom, you know, ants, flies, bees,” says Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom thinks this is the best idea Vinnie’s had all summer. Vinnie and his friends will be at the library. What could go wrong.

 



Vinnie Asks His Mom If He Can Pout for 2 More Minutes – LOL

27

“Mom, Mom, Mom, can I come out of my room? How long do I have to stay in the slammer?” Hollers Vinnie from his bedroom.

Vinnie’s mom glances over at Vinnie’s dad, “Al, Mike is not a good influence on Vinnie. Listen to his language.”

“Mikes a good guy, Marti. You know he’d be here in a minute if we needed his help,” says Vinnie’s dad, his eyes glued to the TV screen and a man and woman ready to parachute into the Amazon with only a Swiss jackknife and the clothes on their back.

“Pay attention, Al. I’m serious,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Mom, Mom, Mom, are you in the house. If you don’t answer me by the time I count to ten Rupert says it’s okay if me and Dexter and Rupert to run away and live the rest of the summer at Joey’s house. One . . . two . . . six . . .”

“You missed three, four, and five,” calls out Vinnie’s mom. “Are you ready to talk about the play?”

“Can I pout for two more minutes before we talk? Are you mad at Sara and Joey and Larry?”

 “No, I’m not mad at anyone. Yes, you can pout for two more minutes.”

“Mom?”

“Yes, Vinnie,” says Vinnie’s mom knowing the questions are going to last the two minutes while Vinnie is pouting.

“How come Sara and Joey and Larry didn’t get put in the slammer?” asks Vinnie.

Vinnie’s dad glances away from the TV screen and looks at Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s mom says, “I thought the courtroom play was very good until . . .”

“Until what, Mom?”

“Until you told Rupert to tell the truth and stop lying or you’d hit him in the head with the gavel.”

“I wasn’t telling that to Rupert, Mom. I was speaking to Mrs. Mavis. Remember you interrupted and asked Joey to object?”

“Well, yes. Joey was Mrs. Mavis’s attorney. He should have objected. Instead, you told me I was out of order and the next time I’d have to leave the courtroom.”

Vinnie’s dad whispers, “It’s what a real judge would say.”

“Whose side are you on? Al, quick, they’re parachuting into the jungle. You don’t want to miss this part,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s mom turns her attention back to Vinnie, “Well, when you found Mrs. Mavis guilty of everything, you asked Sara what she wanted for the penalty. Sara said she thought Mrs. Mavis could apologize and that was enough. You didn’t listen to Sara. She’s such a sweet girl, you need to listen her more often. Instead, you said, Mrs. Mavis has to clean all the toilets while Pete the custodian takes over her classes for two-hundred years.”

“I was going easy on her, Mom.”

“Vinnie, you’ve only been on summer recess for ten days. I’m going to think of something to keep you busy so you don’t get into trouble.”

“Can I help Uncle Mike? I heard him tell Dad he needs a bouncer.”

“Al, talk to Vinnie about working with Mike,” demands Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s dad feels his attention drawn away from the Amazon jungle. He says, “Do I have to do it now? Bob and Karen have to swim across a river filled with piranha.”

“Mary, you need to talk to your son for me, please,” pleads Vinnie’s mom.

“Mom?”

“Yes, Vinnie?”

“Mom, I’m through pouting. Are you through talking to Mary?”