“Run for it before they catch us!” says Vinnie

18

“Mom, I totally agree with Mrs. Mavis,” says Vinnie innocently.

“You do?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“Yes, Mom. I can’t wait for the next three weeks to go by. I’m going to have to best summer ever. Joey and Larry and Rupert and Dexter and me are going to work on how to take over the school after I get elected President of the fourth grade. I think Gramma is right. I’m going to President of the U.S. one day. You can even visit me and Rupert and Dexter in the White House.”

Vinnie’s mom, momentarily slips into yoga mode and centers herself. She comes back to reality, “Okay, before you become President of the United States, eat your snack, then do your homework. No working on the election until I check all the homework. Remember, I know what’s due tomorrow.”

Vinnie laughs, “I already got it all done, Mom.”

“You do? When did you do it?” asks Vinnie’s mom sure Vinnie is trying to pull a fast one on her.

Vinnie says, “If I promise to tell you my secret, do you promise not to tell Mrs. Mavis or get mad at me?”

Vinnie’s mom feels the aftertaste of the hummus she had for lunch. She pushes it back down, “I promise.”

Vinnie says, “Mrs. Mavis never bothers me when it looks like I am busy and I am quiet. That’s good, right?”

“Go on,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“The last thirty minutes of school, Mrs. Mavis has us do silent reading. I finished my book three days ago. I’m the fastest reader in class. So, I hide behind Sara who likes to sit up straight with her book in front of her so Mrs. Mavis can see her reading.”

“I’m beginning to see where this is going, Vinnie,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Where’s it going, Mom? I stayed in school the whole time,” asks Vinnie.

“It’s a figure of speech, go on,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie shrugs his shoulders. He says, “I duck down behind Sara and do all my homework. You can check it. I know it’s all right. I even know all my spelling words. Can I go to Joey’s house after my snack for an hour?”

Vinnie’s mom cocks her head and stares at Vinnie for a moment, “I’ll get your snack. You take out your homework. I’ll check it while you eat your snack. Nothing to eat at Joey’s house. I mean nothing.”

“What if Joey’s mom forces me to have a piece of pizza and one of her special chocolate fudge brownies? I don’t want to hurt her feelings. Mom, why are you covering your eyes with your hand? Do you have a headache?”

Later that night. Vinnie is in bed pretending he’s asleep. Rupert is sitting next to him. Dexter is lying on the floor at the side of Vinnie’s bed. Vinnie’s mom and dad are in the living room talking about Vinnie.

Vinnie says, “Rupert, did you like Mom’s lentil soup?”

Vinnie takes Rupert and puts him on his belly facing him. Rupert says, “It was the worse meal ever. It was worse than Mom’s butternut squash soup. It was worse than her kale soup. It was worse than her cauliflower pizza. I’m starving, Bro. I might not make it to morning.”

Dexter’s beagle instincts tell him Vinnie and Rupert are talking about food. He is on high beagle alert. It’s a code red beagle alert, the highest possible alert for beagles, it’s even higher than if a burglar broke into the house.

Vinnie whispers, “If we’re quiet, we can sneak into the kitchen and go into the pantry. There’s a bag of chips Dad is saving for the game Saturday. There’s some turkey jerky for you, Dexter.”

Dexter is up, beagle commando style, ready for action. 

Vinnie opens his bedroom door a crack. He peeks down the hallway. He hears his mom and dad talking in the living room. He turns back into his room. He lifts Rupert up in his arms, “Rupert, the coast is clear. No talking.” Vinnie glances at Dexter who looks like he’s waiting for instructions. Vinnie says, “Follow me, Dexter.”

Dexter has no clue what Vinnie said but decides to follow Vinnie and Rupert. All roads lead to a food source in the beagle cosmos.

In the living room Vinnie’s mom says, “Dear, do you mind checking on Vinnie? He was too nice about going to bed. I think he’s up to something.”

Vinnie’s dad makes a half-hearted attempt to look toward Vinnie’s room but from where he is sitting on the sofa all he can see is the fireplace mantel. He says, “Why mess with success. What could go wrong?”

A moment later, the sound of falling cans, a dog barking, and the voice of an eight-year-old boy, “Run for it before they catch us.”

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Vinnie Asks His Mom If She’s Asking Him a Trick Question – LOL

17

Vinnie’s mom reaches to the breakfast bar and picks up a piece of paper. She holds it up in her right hand. She says, “Vincent, do you know what this is?”

Vinnie shrugs and says, “Is it a trick question, Mom. I know it’s a piece of paper.”

“Vincent, do not try my patience. You know what this is.”

“Honest, Mom. I don’t want to try your patients. I’m not a doctor. Do you have patients?”

Vinnie’s mom lifts her eyes toward the ceiling, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, a little help here.”

Vinnie says, “If Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are too busy, Mom. Rupert, me, and Dexter can help.”

Vinnie’s mom takes a deep breath. She’s thinking, he’s not being fresh. He’s being sincere. How can I scold him for his innocence. She takes another deep breath. “Let’s sit at the dining room table. You have some explaining to do young man.”

As Vinnie’s mom and Vinnie walk toward the dining room table, Vinnie says, “Is it about the burp?”

“What burp?”

“Nothing, Mom. I was only talking to myself.”

Vinnie’s mom stops and stands behind a chair at the dining room table, “What burp, Vincent?”

“Mom, it was nothing to most people. But, Joey said I set a world record for the longest burp in history. After Larry stopped laughing, he said it sounded like an out of control freight train. Mom, all the guys burp because it grosses the girls out.”

“What did Mrs. Navis say?”

“She said, all right, who burped, step forward.”

“Did you step forward and own up to making a long, outrageous burp?”

“No way, Mom. If I did, Mrs. Mavis would have sent me to the office and I would have missed my turn to read my first paragraph, which is great. Besides, no one told on me. Mrs. Mavis stared straight at me and said, ‘I think it was you, Vincent.’ All I said was, ‘Mrs. Mavis, I can do a bigger burp. Do you want to hear me? ‘ All the kids started laughing. She told us to go into the room and get ready for class.”

Vinnie’s mom pulls out her chair and sits down. She motions to Vinnie to sit down. Dexter lies on the floor at Vinnie’s feet mistakenly thinking the family is eating an early dinner.

Vinnie says, “Can I get Rupert? He can help me explain some of the stuff you’re going to ask me.”

Vinnie’s mom resists laughing when her mind returns to Doctor Samuel’s office and Doctor Samuel wanting to keep Rupert for her fantasy friend. Vinnie’s mom says, “Okay, but make it quick.”

Vinnie gets off his chair and runs toward his room, Dexter, barks and runs after him. This is the beagle hunting instinct. Dexter is hunting for a snack.

A moment later, Vinnie is sitting at the dining room table and Rupert is sitting on the table facing Vinnie’s mom. Vinnie says, “Can I eat my after school snack first, Mom?I always think better when I have food in my belly.” 

Dexter’s ears perk up at the word food. He lifts his head and begins sniffing, seeking any minute trace of a food scent.

Vinnie’s mom says, “No.”

“She begins reading, “One, I sent Vincent to the office five times. Two, I gave Vincent four timeouts. He cannot sit still. He cannot stop talking. Three, when he finished his math, he took Ralph’s paper and finished it for him. He told Ralph to vote for him in the election on Friday in exchange for doing his math. Four, when the class was singing, Vincent kept changing the words to vote for Vinnie. I knew it was him because everyone was laughing except Vincent. Five, he told me your husband and you approved his first paragraph, really, Mrs. Ricci? Now, I understand only too well. The next three weeks of school cannot go by fast enough for me.”

“Well, Vincent. What do you have to say for yourself?”

Vinnie looks around the dining room. He rubs his chin. He glances at the smiling Rupert. He reaches over to Rupert and picks him up. Vinnie whispers in Rupert’s ear. He turns Rupert around to face his mom. Vinnie speaks in his falsetto voice for Rupert, “Mom, Vinnie is innocent of all charges.”

“Not you too, Rupert?” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Uh huh,” answers Rupert.

Vinnie’s The Center of Attention

15

Three-thirty, Monday afternoon. Vinnie’s mom stands alone on the sidewalk in front of the Johnson’s home on Mulberry Street holding Dexter’s leash. The Johnsons are next door neighbors. Three chatting moms stand together on the sidewalk twenty feet in further up the sidewalk. Dexter’s sniffing the grass on the Johnson’s lawn next to her. Vinnie’s mom is hoping Dexter doesn’t go poop while anyone is looking at her because she didn’t bring a poop bag to scoop the poop. 

Vinnie’s mom is facing State Street. That’s the corner where the school bus will stop and Vinnie will come leaping out of the bus, not touching the steps, land on the ground, throw his arms over his head in the air, and shout, ‘I stuck the landing, 10.0, 1o.o, 10.). Vinnie will turn around and face the students waiting to get off the bus, hold up his hands and say, No applause please.’ He’ll turn an race toward home as if he were being chased by a heat seeking missal.  Vinnie will be screaming, waving his arms, and leaping over bushes and flowerbeds. He’ll pays no attention to the cute little signs some neighbors put in the yard, Keep off the Grass, Pick up after your Dog. Flowers have feelings too. Vinnie’s mom thinks this is the reason none of the other moms want to stand next to her

The yellow school bus comes into view. The bus slows down, flashing orange lights. It stops, the stop sign on the driver’s side sticks out, the red flashing lights flash on and off. The school bus door opens.

Vinnie leaps out of the bus, his backpack slung over his back, his arms raised in a victory sign over his head. He lands. He turns around toward the bus door, “I stuck the landing, perfect scores again from all the judges.”

Vinnie holds up his arms and shouts, “Applause please if you want me to move out of the way.”

Joey and Larry, Vinnie’s friends, start chanting from inside the bus, “Vinnie, Vinnie, Vinnie.” The other four students, girls, clap their hands because they know Vinnie will not move until he gets his applause.

Vinnie bows, straightens up and says, “Thank you.” He turns and begins racing down Mulberry Street toward his mom and Dexter. He yells at the top of his lungs, “I broke out of prison. I’m free. I’m free. I’m free. They won’t take me alive.”

The three mothers standing together turn and stare at Vinnie’s mom. Vinnie’s mom smiles and waves at Vinnie. Vinnie’s racing toward her as if he is carrying a football. Dexter’s straining at the leash howling in a beagle soprano voice, which is something akin to three first year trumpet players trying to sound louder than each other. 

Vinnie leaps over a rose bush, looks over his shoulder and says, “Missed me.” 

Vinnie’s mom bends over with her arms outstretched thinking Vinnie is going to run into her arms and give her a hug. She’s mistaken. Vinnie races across the Johnson’s lawn and dives head first onto the grass. As he is soaring through the air, he hollers, “Touchdown.”

Vinnie’s mom lets go of the leash and Dexter is all over Vinnie. Vinnie gets up to his knees, he hugs Dexter’s head and says, “I got past you and scored, Buddy. You got to be quicker if you’re going stop me.”

Dexter doesn’t know what Vinnie said. His beagle instincts tell him to sniff Vinnie’s backpack. 

Vinnie says, “You’re such a smart dog. I got a treat from for you.” Vinnie slips off his backpack, opens it and sticks his arm inside. He pulls out a half sandwich. He says, “Joey gave me half of his hot dog sandwich his mom made him. How come you don’t make me good sandwiches like Joey’s mom makes for Joey?”

“Your tunafish sandwich is a healthier choice, that’s why. Why did Joey give you the half of sandwich?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“Because he bought his lunch. He ate his other half of sandwich, then he saw they were having macaroni and cheese and he loves it. So he bought lunch. His mom gives him five dollars a week allowance. How come I don’t have an allowance, Mom? I’d probably buy lunch every day.”

Before Vinnie’s mom can answer, Vinnie says, “Dexter sit.” 

Dexter sits.

“Dexter, shake.”

Dexter shakes.

Vinnie gives Dexter the half of sandwich. 

Dexter consumes the sandwich in two bites and a personal record of two point one seconds.

Vinnie turns toward his mom, “What, Mom?”

“Vinnie, I want a hug.”

“But, Mom, the guys will see you hugging me. It’s bad form for the next fourth grade president.”

“Vincent.”

“Yes, Mom.” Vinnie trudges over and hugs his mom.

“Was that so hard?”

“Yes, Mom.”

“Vinnie and his mom turn and walk back toward their home. Vinnie’s mom says, “What happened at school today?”

“Wait till you hear, Mom. You won’t believe it.”

Oh my God, Vinnie’s mom thinks. It’s worse than I imagined.

Vinnie: “Did Mrs. Mavis Tell You How Good I Was at School?” LOL

16

Vinnie runs ahead of his mom up the sidewalk, leaping over three steps onto the porch and swinging the door open. Vinnie’s mom winces as she hears the door crash against the wall. Dexter, barking and howling in a combo hip hop and reggae rhythm chases Vinnie. 

From inside the house, Vinnie’s mom hears Vinnie screaming as if he has his volume turned up as high as it can go, “Rupert, Buddy, I’m home. I’m home. I’m free. I escaped from Mrs. Mavis.”

Vinnie’s mom, now halfway up the sidewalk to the house, looks around to see if anyone else hears him. She sees the three other mothers staring at her and shaking their heads. The mothers look at their children walking politely in front of them and smugly smile. Vinnie’s mom thinks, “I live in a totally different world. But, I wouldn’t trade it, sisters.”

Rupert remains faithful to where Vinnie placed him when he left, in the center of the bed facing the door. Vinnie slams open the door to his bedroom, he shouts, “Rupert’s trying to score. Vinnie stands between him and the goal line.”

Vinnie shucks his backpack at the door, dropping it on the floor. He takes three running steps and dives arms outstretched onto the bed wrapping his arms around Rupert. “I stopped you, Buddy.You almost made it. Better luck next time.”

Rupert never loses his composure or smile. Vinnie rolls onto his back and puts Rupert on his belly. Vinnie holds onto Rupert with his two hands. Vinnie says, “Buddy, you want me to tell you all about my day?”

Vinnie speaks in his falsetto voice for Rupert, “You know it, Bro. First tell me how you escaped from the clutches of the evil Mrs. Mavis.”

Vinnie says, “I only got put in time out four times today.”

Rupert says, “You were on your best behavior.”

“I tried, Buddy. I thought she was going to send me to the office after lunch when I was in line coming back from lunch.”

“What happened, Vinnie?” asks Rupert.

“Buddy, I hope she doesn’t email, Mom. Mom let me buy the school lunch today because it’s taco salad Monday. When lunch was over we had to go back to our classroom and line up outside the door.”

“Did you line up, Bro?” asks Rupert.

“I was first in line. I couldn’t wait to get in class to read my opening paragraph to my fiction story.”

“Oh, oh,” says Rupert.

“Mrs. Mavis was late, Buddy. I took charge and started making burps. I can make really long burps. I didn’t see Mrs. Mavis coming up behind me. Joey was pointing, but I was to busy going for my record. Larry was counting the seconds. I got off a five second burp.”

“That might be a world record,” says Rupert.

From the kitchen, “Vincent. We need to talk, now.”

“Opps, Buddy. I think Mom read an email from Mrs. Mavis.”

Vinnie let go of Rupert and sets him on his pillow. Vinnie rolls up and sits on the edge of his bed. He looks down into the adoring eyes of Dexter. Dexter sits on his haunches thinking his affectionate beagle look earns a treat.

Vinnie slides off the bed, bends over and hugs Dexter. He says, “Wish me luck, Dexter. If I don’t get stuck in my room for burping in school, I’ll sneak you a treat.”

Dexter understands the word treat. He barks. Vinnie heads out of his room, down the hallway and into the kitchen area. Vinnie’s mom is standing by the breakfast bar, a hand on each hip. 

Vinnie says, “Did Mrs. Mavis tell you how good I was today?”

Vinnie Returns Tomorrow

Does Vinnie walk, run, hop, skip, and jump to his own drummer? You bet he does. Join the fun.

Vinnie Returns on Tomorrow, June 24th

Vinnie’s Embarrassed by His Mom’s Hug

15

Three-thirty, Monday afternoon. Vinnie’s mom stands alone on the sidewalk in front of the Johnson’s home on Mulberry Street holding Dexter’s leash. The Johnsons are next door neighbors. Three chatting moms stand together on the sidewalk twenty feet in further up the sidewalk. Dexter’s sniffing the grass on the Johnson’s lawn next to her. Vinnie’s mom is hoping Dexter doesn’t go poop while anyone is looking at her because she didn’t bring a poop bag to scoop the poop. 

Vinnie’s mom is facing State Street. That’s the corner where the school bus will stop and Vinnie will come leaping out of the bus, not touching the steps, land on the ground, throw his arms over his head in the air, and shout, ‘I stuck the landing, 10.0, 1o.o, 10.). Vinnie will turn around and face the students waiting to get off the bus, hold up his hands and say, No applause please.’ He’ll turn an race toward home as if he were being chased by a heat seeking missal.  Vinnie will be screaming, waving his arms, and leaping over bushes and flowerbeds. He’ll pays no attention to the cute little signs some neighbors put in the yard, Keep off the Grass, Pick up after your Dog. Flowers have feelings too. Vinnie’s mom thinks this is the reason none of the other moms want to stand next to her

The yellow school bus comes into view. The bus slows down, flashing orange lights. It stops, the stop sign on the driver’s side sticks out, the red flashing lights flash on and off. The school bus door opens.

Vinnie leaps out of the bus, his backpack slung over his back, his arms raised in a victory sign over his head. He lands. He turns around toward the bus door, “I stuck the landing, perfect scores again from all the judges.”

Vinnie holds up his arms and shouts, “Applause please if you want me to move out of the way.”

Joey and Larry, Vinnie’s friends, start chanting from inside the bus, “Vinnie, Vinnie, Vinnie.” The other four students, girls, clap their hands because they know Vinnie will not move until he gets his applause.

Vinnie bows, straightens up and says, “Thank you.” He turns and begins racing down Mulberry Street toward his mom and Dexter. He yells at the top of his lungs, “I broke out of prison. I’m free. I’m free. I’m free. They won’t take me alive.”

The three mothers standing together turn and stare at Vinnie’s mom. Vinnie’s mom smiles and waves at Vinnie. Vinnie’s racing toward her as if he is carrying a football. Dexter’s straining at the leash howling in a beagle soprano voice, which is something akin to three first year trumpet players trying to sound louder than each other. 

Vinnie leaps over a rose bush, looks over his shoulder and says, “Missed me.” 

Vinnie’s mom bends over with her arms outstretched thinking Vinnie is going to run into her arms and give her a hug. She’s mistaken. Vinnie races across the Johnson’s lawn and dives head first onto the grass. As he is soaring through the air, he hollers, “Touchdown.”

Vinnie’s mom lets go of the leash and Dexter is all over Vinnie. Vinnie gets up to his knees, he hugs Dexter’s head and says, “I got past you and scored, Buddy. You got to be quicker if you’re going stop me.”

Dexter doesn’t know what Vinnie said. His beagle instincts tell him to sniff Vinnie’s backpack. 

Vinnie says, “You’re such a smart dog. I got a treat from for you.” Vinnie slips off his backpack, opens it and sticks his arm inside. He pulls out a half sandwich. He says, “Joey gave me half of his hot dog sandwich his mom made him. How come you don’t make me good sandwiches like Joey’s mom makes for Joey?”

“Your tunafish sandwich is a healthier choice, that’s why. Why did Joey give you the half of sandwich?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“Because he bought his lunch. He ate his other half of sandwich, then he saw they were having macaroni and cheese and he loves it. So he bought lunch. His mom gives him five dollars a week allowance. How come I don’t have an allowance, Mom? I’d probably buy lunch every day.”

Before Vinnie’s mom can answer, Vinnie says, “Dexter sit.” 

Dexter sits.

“Dexter, shake.”

Dexter shakes.

Vinnie gives Dexter the half of sandwich. 

Dexter consumes the sandwich in two bites and a personal record of two point one seconds.

Vinnie turns toward his mom, “What, Mom?”

“Vinnie, I want a hug.”

“But, Mom, the guys will see you hugging me. It’s bad form for the next fourth grade president.”

“Vincent.”

“Yes, Mom.” Vinnie trudges over and hugs his mom.

“Was that so hard?”

“Yes, Mom.”

“Vinnie and his mom turn and walk back toward their home. Vinnie’s mom says, “What happened at school today?”

“Wait till you hear, Mom. You won’t believe it.”

Oh my God, Vinnie’s mom thinks. It’s worse than I imagined.

“I’ll Eat It, Do I Have to Like It?” Vinnie’s at it Again – LOL

13

Vinnie has his notebook lying flat on the table. He glances down at the paragraph he wrote. He looks up at his parents. He says, “Mom, I promised Rupert he could read it. He said it is the best paragraph ever written, even better than his all time favorite book, The Cat In The Hat.”

Vinnie’s mom glances over at Vinnie’s dad who seems to be someplace other than the dining room table. She says, “Dear, do you mind if Rupert reads Vinnie’s paragraph?” Vinnie’s mom puts her tongue between her teeth so she won’t laugh.

Vinnie’s dad glances up at Vinnie and says, “Will he talk in grizzly bear or English?”

Vinnie says, “Do you understand grizzly bear, Dad? Me and Dexter do. Rupert say something to Dad in grizzly bear.”

Vinnie picks Rupert up and holds him in front of his face. He turns Rupert slightly to face Vinnie’s dad. Vinnie, using his falsetto voice for Rupert, says, “Grrr. Grrr grrr grrrrrr. Grrrrr.”

“What did he say, Dad? Dexter and me know what he said,” says Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom says, “Yes, Dear. What did Rupert say?”

Vinnie’s dad tries to come up with something that makes sense. His mind is struggling to interpret grizzly bear language. Vinnie’s dad wonders if it is anything like Italian, Spanish, or French. He can get by in all three languages. He says, “I totally agree with you, Rupert. That makes a lot of sense.”

Vinnie shakes Rupert’s head and has Rupert answer in English, “You just agreed that vegetarian chili is boring and we should go out for pizza tonight.”

Vinnie quickly turns Rupert to face his mom, “Mom, it’s four to one against you. We have to go out for pizza.”

Vinnie’s mom looks at Rupert and says, “Sorry, Rupert, we’re eating home tonight. Vinnie will love my vegetarian chili once he tries it. I know Dexter will love it too. And, because you are so brave and smart, I’m going to give you a tofu hot dog.” Vinnie’s mom makes a mental note to tell her support group she’s having conversations with a stuffed grizzly bear and a beagle. She wonders if this is normal or if she is nuts. 

Vinnie shakes Rupert and Rupert says, “Thanks, Mom. Can I share my tofu dog with Dexter?”

Vinnie’s dad is into the conversation between Vinnie’s mom and Rupert. He says, “While you’re making Rupert a tofu hot dog, will you make me two of them if I promise to eat my vegetarian chili?”

Vinnie’s mom rolls her eyes, takes a deep breath, and says, “I really need to go to the spa. There is too much male energy in this house.”

“That’s good, right, Mom? Do you want me to read my paragraph before you go to the spa or when you come home? If you go to the spa can Dad and me order pizza?” asks Vinnie.

“It was only a matter of speech, Vinnie. I am not going to the spa. We are going to eat my vegetarian chili and you and Dad are going to like it. Please read your paragraph,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“I’ll eat it, Mom. But, do I have to like it?” asks Vinnie.

“Does it ever end? Does it ever end?” asks Vinnie’s mom not expecting an answer.

But, she gets one, “Apparently not, Dear.”

Vinnie’s mom and dad turn and look at him. Together they say, “Rupert read the paragraph.”

Vinnie extends his arms so that he is holding Rupert out beyond his notebook. Vinnie has the notebook open. A salt shaker holds down one side of the notebook. The pepper shaker holds down the other side of the notebook. 

Rupert begins reading. The country of Nadir is having an election for it’s first president. Before, the country was ruled by an evil queen, Mrs. Mapis, who cut of the heads of the smart kids. The smartest kid, Vinnie, this is another Vinnie, not me, drove the evil queen  into the barbecue pit and roasted her until she was burned to a crisp.

“Stop, Vincent. You promised you were not writing about Mrs. Navis,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“I’m, Mom. I’m talking about Mrs. Mapis.”

Vinnie’s mom turns to Vinnie’s dad, “Well, say something.”

“It think I can catch the final five minutes of the game.”