Vinnie Finds A Way to Wake Up the Neighbors


The wine didn’t help. Talking didn’t help. Vinnie’s Mom checks her iPhone, it’s 4 a.m. She’s not sure if she slept. She glances at Vinnie’s dad, sound asleep. Vinnie wanting to be a demolition expert didn’t bother him. Vinnie wanting to be a pirate didn’t bother him. She flips her pillow over looking for the cool side. She turns on her right side, her face toward the bedroom window, and closes her eyes. She remembers watching an NPR program on sleep and a suggestion to count backward from one-hundred. She begins counting to herself, 100, 99, 98, before she reaches 97 she falls into a deep sleep.

A flash of light on the window, followed by loud bang and rain beating on the window wakes her. Another flash of light, another loud bang, and more rain. 

She hears Mr. Johnson’s voice from next door, “Whoever is making that racket, stop or I’ll call the police. Vinnie, is that you squirting me with the hose? The flashes of light stop. The loud banging stop. The rain stops. 

“We’ve got to move out of this neighborhood,” Mr. Johnson says loud enough for Vinnie’s mom and dad and the all the neighbors to hear.

Vinnie’s mom shakes Vinnie’s dad. He mumbles, “Huh?”

“I think Vinnie soaked Mr. Johnson with the hose,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Vinnie’s in bed. What would he being doing outside? What time is it?”

“A bit past four. I’m sure he’s outside. Will you check?”

“Will you look in his room first? If he’s not there I’ll go outside. I don’t want to deal with Johnson.”

“You have to face Larry, we don’t have another choice. Suck it up and go. I’m going to take a shower and make myself a triple espresso. It’s too late to go back to sleep,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“No it’s not,” says Vinnie’s dad.

Vinnie’s dad sits on the edge of the bed rubbing his eyes. He stretches his arms over his head and yawns. A flash of light briefly lights up the bedroom window. Vinnie’s dad counts, one-thousand one, one-thousand two, one- thousand three … Before he reaches one-thousand four a loud crash sounds and water hits the bedroom window. 

Vinnie’s dad twists a bit toward Vinnie’s mom and says, “That lightening strike was close. I don’t think I should go outside. It’s not safe.”

“That was no lightening strike, Al. That was Vinnie. Now, go before the Johnson’s call the police.”

Vinnie’s dad stands up, walks to the door, opens it, and steps into the hallway. He glances toward Vinnie’s room. Vinnie’s door is open. He walks down the hallway toward Vinnie’s room. 

Vinnie’s mom calls from the bedroom, “Get ready for another clap of thunder, he shined the light on the window.”

Vinnie’s dad looks in Vinnie’s room as the sound of thunder rings in his ears, or is he hearing the sound of a baseball bat against the metal top of rain recycle can? Vinnie’s dad turns and rushes toward the kitchen. When he gets to the kitchen, the door from the kitchen to the outside deck opens, Dexter comes running in. Vinnie and Rupert follow him. 

“Hi Dad? Is it time for breakfast?”

Vinnie’s dad stares at Vinnie. He’s in his Captain American pajamas holding onto Rupert. He says, “What were you doing outside?”

“I don’t want to be a demolition expert, Dad. I want to control the weather.”

Vinnie’s dad tries to say something but his lips won’t work. 

Vinnie’s mom stands off Vinnie’s dad’s shoulder. She says, “Dear God, Al. Go outside and if Mr. Johnson is outside, apologize and tell him it won’t happen again.”

Vinnie’s dad nods. He steps past Vinnie and walks out onto the deck. Harry Johnson is standing on his deck glaring at Vinnie’s dad. He growls, “Al, if you weren’t a mouthpiece for the mob, I’d call the police or sue.”

“I’m not a mouthpiece for the mob. Where did you hear that, Harry?”

“It’s all over. Everyone knows it. Okay, you can’t admit it. We all know its true. Do you think you can put a curfew on Vinnie so we can get some sleep?”

Vinnie sticks his head out the door, “Mr. Johnson, did the thunderstorm wake you up, too?”

Vinnie’s Mom Says, “I Think I’ll Have That Glass of Wine” LOL


It’s a bit past midnight, Vinnie’s mom and dad are  in bed. Vinnie’s mom stares at the digital clock on her bedside table. She reaches back and touches Vinnie’s Dad. She says, “Are you awake?”

Vinnie’s dad doesn’t respond.

Vinnie’s mom turns over and puts her mouth close to Vinnie’s dad’s ear and says a bit louder, “Are you awake?”

Vinnie’s dad struggles to open his eyes. He says, “Make me some coffee while I shower. I feel like I only slept a couple of hours.”

Vinnie’s moms says, “I haven’t slept. I’m worried. You have to help me.”

“What time is it? Do we need to talk about this now?”

“Un huh.”

Vinnie’s dad rolls onto his back, “Did I forget our anniversary? Maybe your birthday. I’m sorry. I’ll make it up to you. Is it still yesterday or is it tomorrow. If it’s tomorrow, I’ll make it up to you today.”

“We need to talk about Vinnie. I won’t be able to sleep until we’ve settled everything.”

Vinnie’s dad struggles to sit up. He adjusts his pillow behind his back. He tries to remember what a sensitive male is supposed to do in these situations. He says, “Do you need a glass of wine?”

“What are you talking about? I want to talk about Vinnie,” whispers Vinnie’s mom.

“You mean, Blackbeard the pirate?” chuckles Vinnie’s dad.

“It’s not funny. We both know Vinnie doesn’t do anything half way. He’s either all in or he’s out. Recall his detective agency? He and Joey were following Sara and her mother was hysterical.”

“I do remember, but he made our neighborhood safe,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“You’re walking on egg shells. You need to be serious. I will keep you up all night,” says Vinnie’s mom indignantly.

“Help me, I’m confused,” pleads Vinnie’s dad.

“I want you to take Vinnie to work with you. Maybe he’ll start think about being a lawyer or he’ll get some other ideas. At least he won’t be near Joey’s mom.”

“Martha is a nice woman. Sure she’s a bit crude, doesn’t eat the right foods, let’s Joey do what he wants, but she has a good heart.”

“Don’t get me started on Martha. When are you going to tell Vinnie, he’s going to have Mrs. Mavis as his 4th grade teacher?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“I thought that was your job,” says Vinnie’s dad.

“I had to take the phone call. Now, you have to deliver the message. Maybe tomorrow when you boys go to work together.”

“Can I tell Rupert and tell him to tell Vinnie?” asks Vinnie’s dad. Then he adds, “When I wake up can I check my calendar to see what I have scheduled for today. It is today, right? I might have to postpone talking to him until my calendar clears.”

Before Vinnie’s mom can respond the sound of bangs, and bongs and a howling beagle. Then the scream of an 8 year old boy, “Best one yet, Dexter. Let’s check the damage.”

Vinnie’s mom and dad are out of bed slipping on their robes. Vinnie’s mom reaches the bedroom door first. She peeks into the hallway. She looks toward Vinnie’s room. It’s quiet and dark. She looks toward the living room and kitchen, all the lights are on. Both parents hustle down the hallway, they walk into the living room. Every pan in the kitchen is stack on top of one another. Vinnie has a rope around the base. Rupert is sitting next to him. Dexter is lying on the floor on the other side of Vinnie.

Vinnie says, “Countdown to demolition, three, two, one.” He yanks the rope, the tower of pans falls sounding like a multi car pileup on the highway. 


Vinnie turns around, “Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad. I changed my mind about being a pirate. I’m going to work with explosives. Is there a camp I can go to this summer?”

Vinnie’s mom turns to Vinnie’s dad, “I think I’ll have that glass of wine.”

Vinnie Tells His Mom He Already Knows All the Bad Words – LOL


Later that night Vinnie’s mom, Vinnie’s dad, Vinnie, Rupert and Dexter are in the living room watching the Secret Lives of Pets. Vinnie is sitting on the floor with his back braced against the sofa. Rupert is on his lap facing the TV. Dexter is next to him saying Beagle prayers Vinnie shares some of his popcorn with him. 

“Mom, how many times have we seen this movie? I know the lines by heart. Why can’t we watch something good that only adults watch?” says Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom sets her iPhone on her lap. She says, “You requested the movie. Don’t complain.”

Vinnie half turns his head, “That’s not right, Mom. Rupert asked you if we could watch it. You didn’t ask me or Dexter. Dexter told me he wanted to watch one of the shows you and Dad watch when you put me to bed. If the show is bad for me, why isn’t bad for you?”

Vinnie’s dad takes his attention away from his iPad and turns his attention toward Vinnie’s mom. Vinnie’s mom gives Vinnie’s dad a ‘Don’t you dare look.’ She says, “There are often words in the movie that young children shouldn’t hear. We’re only trying to protect you.”

“I already know all the bad words, Mom.”

“You do? Where did you hear them? Dad and I don’t use them. I’m sure Mrs. Mavis didn’t use them. Did she? Tell me, Vinnie. Did Mrs. Mavis ever use bad words with you?”

“I could tell she was thinking them, Mom. She didn’t say any. Sometimes Pete the custodian uses them when he accidentally spills something or hits his finger with a hammer. I learned most of the bad words from Joey’s mom and dad. Joey’s mom uses them all the time. Sometimes when she’s talking to Joey’s dad all they use are bad words. I memorized them. I made a list in my notebook so I can use them when I am officially allowed to use them. Want me tell you want they are. I think I know some bad words you don’t know.”

“No, Vincent. I don’t want to know them. I don’t want to ever hear you say them.”

“Mom, if I don’t tell you what they are, how will you know what they are? asks Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom mutters, “I’m beginning to understand my phone call today.”

“What phone call, Mom. Who called? What did they say? Did they same some bad words you didn’t know were bad words, Mom? You should have asked Rupert, he’s smarter than you. Right, Rupert?”

Vinnie picks Rupert up. He lifts Rupert over his head so Rupert is facing Vinnie’s mom. Vinnie uses his falsetto voice for Rupert, “I was born smart, Mom. I’m too smart for Mensa.”

Vinnie’s mom turns to Vinnie’s dad. “I need some help here.”

Vinnie’s dad says, “You’re doing just fine.”

Vinnie’s mom knows this is the right moment to tell Vinnie the bad news. Then she wonders if there will ever be a good moment. She tries to change the subject, “Vinnie, what do you think of attending the science discovery camp at the university. I hear it is lots of fun.”

Vinnie sets Rupert down in the bowl of popcorn. He turns to face his mom. In turning, the popcorn and Rupert tumble over in front of Dexter. Dexter knows in this moment that a beagle’s life is the best life. He’s up on all fours consuming his gift, the spilled popcorn.

Vinnie says, “Where’d you hear that, Mom? Larry went to it last year. He  said it was  boring. They didn’t do any fun stuff.”

“Of course they did fun stuff, Vinnie. That’s what summer science camps are all about. Science is your favorite subject.”

“Not any more, Mom. Joey’s mom told me I’m a free spirit. What’s a free spirit, Mom? Mom, how come Joey’s mom is as skinny as you and she eats real pizza and cake and cookies.”

Vinnie’s mom says to Vinnie’s dad, “You take the free spirit question, I’ll take the food question.”

“Do I have to?” asks Vinnie’s dad.

Vinnie’s dad gets the don’t play games with me look and says, “Vinnie, what is your favorite subject?”

Vinnie lifts Rupert and turns Rupert to face Vinnie’s dad. Rupert says, “I don’t think they teach it at school.”

“Well, maybe they don’t teach it in 3rd grade, but you’ll be in 4th grade. There will be more options because you’re older,” says Vinnie’s dad puffing up like he made a great closing statement in court.

Vinnie’s mom touches Vinnie’s dad’s arm, “You think you were great, wait five seconds.”

Vinnie pulls Rupert down. “I can handle this, Buddy.” Vinnie twists and looks at his dad. “Dad, I know what I want to be when I grow up. Can I go to a summer camp that will help me be what I want to be?”

Vinnie’s mom touches Vinnie’s dad’s arm and says, “Be careful.”

Vinnie’s dad is still puffed up from his previous response. He says, “Sure.”

“You asked for it,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Dad, I want to be a pirate.”

“A pirate?”

“Yes, Dad. I need to learn how to sail a boat, sword fight, and plunder. I’ll need a patch for my right eye and a bandana to wear on my head. Joey and Larry and me already talked about. You won’t have to pay for college since pirates don’t need school. The first thing, I’m gonna do is make Mrs. Mavis walk the plank. You’re the greatest, Dad.”

“You’re the greatest, okay,” says Vinnie’s mom to Vinnie’s dad.

Vinnie’s On Summer Recess – His Poor Mom


Vinnie’s mom’s cell phone rings. She picks it up, checks the caller ID, and a shiver of anxiety runs through her body. It’s from Kennedy Elementary School. Vinnie’s in the yard playing with his buds, Joey and Larry. School let out yesterday for summer recess. Something’s wrong, what could it be? Vinnie’s home. Vinnie’s Mom’s mind within a millisecond computes two-hundred and fifty probabilities. 

Vinnie’s mom touches the accept call icon. “Hello?”

“How are you, Mrs. Ricci? Do you have a moment?” says Doctor Cashman, school principal.

“It’s no bother. How can I help you, Doctor Cashman?” answers Vinnie’s mom as she steels herself for the bad news.

“It’s about Vincent and his 4th grade room assignment.”

Vinnie’s mom internal warning system flashes red alert, red alert, red alert. She says, “Are you calling every parent and telling them who their child’s teacher will be next fall?”

“Oh no. I thought you could use the summer months to prepare Vincent to have a successful school year with his 4th grade teacher. After all, he’s 4th grade president. You must be so proud.”

“There’s something you’re not telling me, Doctor Cashman. The only time you called during the past school year was when Vinnie was in trouble. He’s on summer recess, now. He’s in the yard with Joey and Larry,” says Vinnie’s mom. Suddenly a surge of fear rushes through her and she wonders if the three boys rode their bikes to school and got in trouble. She covers the iPhone mic and hurries to the back window. A rush of relief gushes over her. The boys are shooting baskets.

“I have some good news for you, Mrs. Ricci. Vincent will have one of our best teachers as his 4th grade teacher.”

Vinnie’s mom picks up a tremor of nervousness in Doctor Cashman’s voice. She says, “Who, and it better not be Mrs. Mavis.”

“I didn’t choose the teachers and the class roster. It was all done by computer and the selections were random. Vincent will still have his friends Joseph and Lawrence with him. He’ll be a year older and more mature. Isn’t it exciting, you’ll see how much more Vincent has grown.”

Vinnie’s mom doesn’t stop to think. She blurts out, “Oh, dear God, no. You have to do something. It is not right. Vinnie will not be happy.” 

“My hands are tied. If we made an exception for you, we’d have to make an exception for everyone,” says Doctor Cashman.

Vinnie’s mom wants to strangle her phone. She says, “If you made exceptions for everyone, Mrs. Mavis won’t have any students. Admit it. You can make the change. I don’t believe your hands are tied. You’re the principal.”  

“I don’t like your attitude, Mrs. Ricci. I’m only following school board policy.”

Vinnie’s mom takes a deep breath. She tries to picture a peaceful mountain lake, but it doesn’t come into focus. She says, “I don’t care if it is a school board policy. You know what’s going to happen when they see each other.”

“Mrs. Mavis isn’t happy either. She told me she won’t be able to sleep all summer knowing she will have Vincent in class in the fall.” 

Vinnie’s mom answers, “I don’t care if she’s not happy, she’s an adult.”

“I am only paying you a courtesy, Mrs. Ricci. I hope you and Mr. Ricci will help Vincent to have a positive attitude about being with Mrs. Mavis in 4th grade.

“We’ll do our best to make sure Vinnie has a positive attitude when school begins. My husbands a lawyer and he will not be happy. Please make a note of my protest,” answers Vinnie’s mom.

“Don’t threaten me with Mr. Ricci. I know he is a lawyer for the mob. I even heard he’s their mouthpiece,” stammers Doctor Cashman.

Vinnie’s mom raises her voice, “That is not correct. I don’t care where you heard it. My husband is not a mouthpiece for the mob.”

“Vinnie told Mrs. Rokowski, my secretary. And, on the day when the children were to tell the class what their parents did for work, Vincent told his class, that his father only handles mob cases,” Doctor Cashman says with a bit of I got you in her voice.

“Vinnie says a lot a things. He has a vivid imagination. It’s not true,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie, Joey, and Larry come in the house and head toward the refrigerator. Dexter follows close behind. Dexter’s beagle instincts knows three boys on summer recess it’s like being in beagle heaven, there will food all day long.

Vinnie sees his mom staring at her iPhone. He says, “Want me show you how to do snapchat?”