Chapter Seven: Good Morning, Sunshine
Alan Eppes stood in the doorway with a cup of coffee and watched his two sons in silence. Charlie was propped up in the old brown recliner, his unruly mop of curls spread out over the small throw-pillow that was being using to keep his head from lolling onto his shoulder. His older brother Don was stretched out, full length, on the couch with his feet sticking out over the arm rest, both hands laced behind his head. They were both snoring.
The TV was on and the mid-morning news cycle had started. Two earthquake experts from CalSci were the guests and they were droning on about the possibility of yet another aftershock.
The first aftershock of the day had jarred Alan from bed about eight thirty. His attempt to go back to sleep was foiled when the phone rang a few minutes later. It had been Larry calling to make sure Charlie had made it home ok. It seemed the eccentric physicist had slept thru the events of last night and didn't know anything about the earthquake until the aftershock prompted him to turn on his TV this morning. Alan had been afraid the ringing phone would wake the two men sleeping in the living room. He could see now he had had nothing to worry about.
Walking around the couch, Alan took a seat in the small armchair on the other side of the room. Charlie moaned in his sleep and twisted himself onto his side. Alan could see the white bandage that covered the left side of his youngest son's forehead. Of all the nights for Charlie to decide he needed to try riding the subway.
"What time is it?"
Don yawned and squinted his eyes against the bright sunlight that was shining in through the open curtains.
"It's about ten thirty. The news just came on."
"I turned it on the last time I woke Charlie up…but I dozed back off. What did I miss?"
"Not much. It seems we had an earthquake last night."
"Yeah….I may have already known about that."
Don slung his legs onto the floor and pulled himself into sitting position. He rubbed the back of his neck and looked at his younger brother.
"Still out huh?"
Alan sipped his coffee.
"When did you wake him last?"
"About three hours ago."
"The doctor said every two hours, Donnie. Concussions are tricky things."
"I didn't mean to fall back to sleep, Dad."
Alan sat his mug on the coffee table.
"I'll wake him up."
Don gave his father a sincere smile.
"Would you? He hit me with his pillow last time."
"You should have ducked."
"Would you two keep it down? How's a guy supposed to get any sleep around here?"
Don watched as Charlie peeled his eyes open and made a disgusted face at the open curtains. "And why is it so bright?"
"And good morning to you too, Chuck."
Charlie sneered at his brother's use of the hated nickname.
"Donald….my dear brother…..Although I appreciate having you around, if you ever spend another night waking me up every two hours, I will grow to hate you."
"I won't take that personally. The doctor did say that concussions can cause uncharacteristic hostility and abnormal behavior."
Stretching his legs out, Don continued to work on the kink in his neck.
Charlie got his eyes open all the way and spotted his father's ceramic mug.
"Please tell me that's coffee?"
Alan pulled himself to his feet. "I'll get it. You sit. Doctor's orders."
Charlie watched his father exit into the kitchen.
"He didn't sit there all night did he?"
Don shook his head. "No. He went to bed when you fell asleep, after he made me swear I would wake you up every two hours just like the doctor ordered."
A reluctant smile floated across Charlie's face.
"Well, I guess that was better than spending the night in the hospital."
"I'll say. I never could sleep in their little chairs."
A comfortable silence filled the room. Charlie looked reverently at his older brother, knowing full well that Don would have spent the night in one of those uncomfortable little hospital chairs if they had decided to keep him for observation.
Last night, Don's reaction to what he knew of the ordeal on the subway had surprised Charlie. By the time he got through telling him about the actual derailment and his subsequent panic attack, Don had looked ready to have a panic attack of his own. Charlie had failed to mention that the other passengers might have been gang members and decided to avoid admitting that they had gotten him out of the metro car by shooting out the glass doorswith a handgun, that had then been shoved in his face while the gang leader had a bout of insecurity. Now he was really glad he had left them out of the story. When Megan arrived at the hospital with their Father, he even told her to inform Director Merrick that he had a family emergency and would not be coming in today. This was so unlike his brother, that Charlie almost asked the doctor to take a look at his head instead. Don had been so openly concerned. He was usually intensely guarded when it came to things like that.
"What? What's so funny?"
Don was giving him an inquisitive look.
"Nothing…I'm just…..glad….I mean. Thanks for sticking around."
When Alan walked back in with two more cups of coffee, his sons were again sitting in silence. Handing each of them a mug, he sat back down in the arm chair.
"What did I miss?"
Don glanced at his father and shot Charlie an indistinct smile.
"Not a thing, Dad. Charlie was just thinking now might be a good time to try flying."
Don laughed at the expression of horror on his brothers face and almost spilled his coffee when a well aimed throw-pillow slammed into the side of his head.
Authors Notes: It will be a few weeks until I am able to start postingPart II. But here is a preview.
SEQUEL IN THE WORKS: No Common Allegiance: Death in the Key of G
Lt. Walker of the LAPD finds Charlie's backpack. Marcus shows up with that gun again.
AND - Charlie finds out just how right his probability figures were and inadvertently becomes a statistic himself.