Charlie's aweful, terrible, no-good, very bad day


Alan Epps heard the backdoor slam to the accompaniment of language that he would have reprimanded his elder son for and was shocked to hear coming from his younger offspring. A slammed door and swearing were characteristic of Don in one of his furies, thankfully they were few since he had left the retrieval squad, but Charlie even in the worst mood was more likely to quietly go up to his room and vent his fury privately than to slam and curse.

A moment later a dripping wet black poodle came into the kitchen with a black thunder cloud over its head. Accepting the offered towel and dropping a kind of leather briefcase that was used to carry things on a bike on the floor, the poodle began toweling its mass of black curls dry.

"Charlie, why didn't you call, I would have come and gotten you."

"I was half way home before it started raining and my cell phone's dead. I forgot to recharge it," the towel snarled at him.

"I see," was the only response the older man gave. Charlie was rarely like he appeared to be now but when he was; he was every bit as temperamental as his brother.

Charlie stomped upstairs, still muttering under his breath and oblivious to the puddles following him.

Hearing the shower start, Alan grabbed some towels and tossed some in the drier, he used some older ones to mop up the puddles. Normally he would have left them for the maker to tend to, but something told him Charlie was having an all wrong day.Normally a wetting from being caught in the rain would irk his boy, but never cause something like the funk he was in at the moment.

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Charlie stood in the steaming shower, letting it wash away his day while it warmed him up after the cold wet ride home. He really hadn't meant to snap at his dad like that. It had just been that kind of day all the way around. It had been the kind of day his mother would have said was best spent not bothering to get out of bed.

It had begun with his over-sleeping and having to race out the door without breakfast. In his hurry he had taken a hill too fast and at the bottom was pulled over by an officer and handed a speeding ticket. He was going 37 in a 30 mile zone. Only he could get a speeding ticket on a bicycle. Somehow he doubted even Lance Armstrong had managed that.

By the time he got to campus, he was really late and of course it was a freshman day. It was Charlie's semester to take the youngsters and as usually he was finding his patience a bit stretched. Some were bright, a few troublemakers, and most just wanted to take their math requirements and be done with it.

Five minutes into class, he had begun to doubt if any ofthemhad listened to anything from Monday's lecture. From their glazed lost expressions he was having doubts they were awake and with the dayas of yet. Nothing liketeaching a firsthour class.

Having survived his first class and hungry from his lack of breakfast, Charlie grabbed some granola bars from the student bookstore and retreated to the teachers' lounge to eat his food and grade some papers in peace. Maybe the day would improve on a full, well at least not empty, stomach.

"Excuse me, students are not allowed in the teachers lounge," an arrogant, sneering voice informed him.

Charlie looked up from his Mathematical Logics class. A man Charlie had never met was standing over him, glaring. Larry was just behind him biting his lip in an attempt to not laugh out loud, but that didn't stop his eyes from laughing.

"Then it's a good thing I'm not a student," Charlie smiled.

"Charles, this is Dr. Van Weers ..." Larry began, having gotten hold of himself and now trying to salvage the situation as best he could.

"From Yale; let me guess you're from Berkley and this is your first teaching position?" Van Weer sneered.

"Cal Sci graduate and while this is my first and only teaching position, I have done guest lectures and consulting globally. Charles Epps, pleased to meet you, doctor," he answered coldly.

"You're the famous Dr. Epps are you?" the newcomer looked the younger man up and down.

"I'm doctor Epps, you can decide about the famous part yourself," he replied grumpily.

"If you'll excuse me, I have a class to get to; it was a pleasure meeting you Dr Epps, thank you for showing me to the lounge Dr. Fleinhardt," the newcomer nodded his head to both and left.

"I have suggested before that you dress more like a professor and less like a student, Charlie," Larry chuckled, joining his friend.

"Guy's a pompous ass," Charlie grumbled.

"Thankfully he's an engineer so we won't likely be seeing a lot of him. I don't suppose you have those calculations done for me?" Larry asked hopefully.

Charlie reached into his bag and, pulling out the papers in it, began searching for the numbers he had run for his colleague. It wasn't there. "I've got it done Larry, and it's sitting on my desk at home."

The physicist's face drooped. "I'll come by tonight and get it, Charles,"

"Thanks Larry, It's been one of those mornings."

"We all have them," the older man sympathized.

With another class to prepare for, Charlie arose and, bidding his friend goodbye, left.

Sadly, the test he had written out last night and planned to give them was Larry's numbers... at home. As he had planned the test he had not planned notes for a lecture. Taking a deep breath, Charlie lectured off the top of his head and furthered the opinion that he was disorganized and talked too fast.

He picked up a bowl of soup from the deli for lunch and noted that he had a dollar and thirty cents to his name and had best hit an ATM for money on the way home. Thanks to a clumsy co-ed, he wore more of the soup than he ate as she collided with him as he entered the building.

Sighing, he cleaned up as best he could after assuring the girl that he was fine, and headed to his office and an equation for Don. He had almost found the data that was dancing right out of his reach, when Amita tapped him on the shoulder and asked if he intended to teach his afternoon class. Grumbling at the lost train of thought, he dashed out of his office and into his classroom.

His afternoon freshman Calculus class was not a lot better than his morning group, having just finished lunch, for the most part, and being ready for a nap.

His late afternoon faculty meeting, as usual, seemed to degenerate into a group of toddlers fighting over who had the best toys. Never having had a taste for office politics, Charlie stayed out of the squabbles and just tried to stay awake through the gathering.

He had been half way home when the rain began in one of California's sudden storms. In minutes he was cold and wet. Pulling out his cell phone he got a dead signal, reading no charge before the phone went completely dead.

Sighing, he did the only thing he could and peddled home as fast as he could.

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Feeling that the hot shower was turning colder, Charlie got out. He was warm and feeling almost human again. He could smell the Southern Beans his dad was making; it was one of his favorites. His wet clothes had mysteriously disappeared and been replaced by clean, dry clothes sitting on the counter. Reaching for his towel, he smiled. It was a fresh one, warm from the drier.

He dressed and came down, hearing his brother in the kitchen as well as his father. Seeing that the table was already set, his job this week since Alan was cooking, Charlie took his seat between his brother and dad. Sitting at his place was a Starbuck's coffee. Sipping it, he found it was the gingerbread latte seasonal blend that he loved. Smiling his thanks, he sipped again. Leave it to Don to know his favorite treat.

"So, how was your day, Charlie?" Alan asked.

"Better, now," he smiled.

"Good, I was a little concerned when I saw a speeding ticket," Alan grinned. He hadn't been snooping; he had found it when he emptied Charlie's pockets in order to take the wet jeans downstairs to wash.

Don choked on the food in his mouth. And, swallowing deliberately, he glanced at his younger sibling. "Charlie, don't tell me you were driving without a license!"

"Nope, 37 in a 30 mile zone on my bike," he smiled, seeing the humor in it now.

Don goggled, and then laughed, Alan and Charlie soon joining him.

All in all Charlie decided, it hadn't been that bad of a day.

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