Chapter five

While walking to his locker, Epstein grinned as he saw Cutie Pie standing there. She looked to the floor, appearing lost in thought. The necklace around her neck dangled loosely through a couple of her fingers. When she looked up, she saw Epstein leaning with one hand on his locker as he grinned at her. With his finger he lifted her chin a little and peered into her eyes.

"Hey, what's the matter, honey? You seem sad."

She shook her head. "I'm not sad."

"Well something must be bothering you. Hey are things at home getting' rough for ya? Is someone around here messin' with ya? 'Cause I can take care of them, just give me the word and I'll go after them."

"Juan, relax. Nothing's wrong; I'm just thinking."

"You sure nothing's wrong?"

She smiled. "I'm fine."

Still sensing something was wrong, he took her by the hand and led her over to the bench. Letting her sit down first, he then leaned in closer with an arm around her back. As she looked at him, she smiled and tried not to let her feelings show. The last thing that she wanted right then, was to tell him what she had on her mind. In order to put off talking to him, she brought him into a kiss.

Pulling away from the kiss, she gazed into his eyes and smiled. Her eyes became bright and they sparkled. It seemed right then that she forgot about whatever issues she had on her mind.

"Juan you're a great boyfriend." Her smile faded slightly.

He smiled "Well I'm glad you think that. You're a great girlfriend. And a great kisser." He leaned in to kiss her again but she stopped him.

"Everything with you has been wonderful."

"I completely agree." He said, interrupting her. He kissed her and grinned. "You make me happy, Cutie Pie. Sure, the guys give me shit about you changin' me and whatever. But I don't care about none of that."

"You don't?"

"Nah. Not as long as you keep kissin' the way that you do." He attempted another kiss but she stopped him again. "Hey come on now, Cutie Pie. You're confusin' me here. Either something's wrong or it ain't."

She sighed and looked down. Her eyes moved to the necklace that lay on her chest. Taking the chain in her fingers, she then looked back up at Epstein.

"There is something wrong." She slipped the necklace off her neck and let it dangle in her fingers. "I want to give this back to you. I just…" She sighed. "I just don't think I can be with you anymore."

Epstein's face fell into a combination of pain and confusion. "But why? You just said how I'm a great boyfriend and how things have been wonderful between us."

"I know." She nodded slowly. "Look, I can't say why… just that it's probably best for us to not see each other." She stood and placed the necklace in his hand, folding his fingers over it. "Sorry, Juan."

As Cutie Pie turned away, she had tears in her eyes. She started down the hallway, leaving Epstein behind on the bench. While watching her leave, he sat in his confusion and tried to understand what just took place. Looking up, he took his attention off Cutie Pie and noticed his friends standing off to the side. The other three guys approached the bench, looking curiously at Epstein with concern.

"What's the matter, Epstein?" Horshack asked

"I don't know. I think I just been dumped."

"So what did you do? Bring her by yo' gym locker?" Freddie asked, "Cause that would repel anybody."

"Nah." Epstein stood up and walked over to them. "I don't understand it. I mean, I've been dumped before but those times I understood why I deserved it. But not this time."

"Well what happened?"

"Well, Barbarino, I was just leanin' in to kiss her like usual then she starts out with a buncha stuff that basically told me 'see you later kid' and she left."

"Well there you go." Freddie replied. "If I saw that face comin' at me, I'd leave too."

Epstein gave him a threatening look. "Hey watch it, Washington. Besides, I don't see you winning no beauty contests."

Horshasck laughed. "You tell him, Little Juan!" He laughed again, and then his face instantly fell to show sympathy. "Sorry you was dumped, Epstein."

Epstein nodded at him, just before the bell rang. The four of them then headed towards their classroom. When they reached the door, Vinnie turned to Epstein and placed a hand on his shoulder.

"Epstein you ok with this? I mean, you ain't gonna wanna talk about it or nothin', are you?"

Epstein shook his head and brushed Vinnie's hand off his shoulder. "Nah, I'm fine." He shrugged his shoulders. "It's no big deal. Like I already said, I've been dumped before."

He turned away and entered the classroom. Then, after looking at each other with exchanged shrugs, the other three guys walked into the classroom, following their friend.


Later that day, Gabe entered the apartment and immediately took off his jacket, hanging it on the nearby hook. He walked over to the kitchen counter where Julie stood and greeted her with a kiss on the cheek. After entering a conversation about their day, they crossed the room to the couch. No sooner did they sit down, did they hear a tap on the window.

Julie looked toward the window to see the four students waiting on the fire escape. She then turned to look at her husband with a sarcastic grin.

"Gabe, I didn't realize that this was bring your work home day."

He stood up with a grin. "Julie, you should know by now, whether we want it or not, every day is bring your work home day."

He walked over to the window, pausing only to snicker over Horshack's wave and smile. After opening the window for them, Gabe took a step aside. Then, one by one with Epstein entering last, all four boys entered the apartment.

"Nice to catch you guys at home, Mr. Kotter, Mrs. Kotter." Vinnie grinned.

"Well, of course, Vinnie. Where else did you expect to see us?" Gabe asked with a slight laugh. "So what brings you guys here?"

"Well it certainly ain't 'cause we didn't have enough of you in school." Vinnie said, speaking for all four of them

Epstein stood off to the side, looking down and frowning. Julie took notice to this and sympathy came instantly to her expression as she stepped over to him.

"Juan, what's the matter? You're being awfully quiet."

He looked up at her, trying to hide his feelings. "Oh, I'm fine, Mrs. Kotter."

"Are you sure?" She asked, "You seem upset."

"Yeah, Epstein's been in that mood all day." Freddie replied. "Ever since, Cutie Pie dumped him."

"Which is why we came here, Mr. and Mrs. Kotter." Horshack spoke up "We was hoping maybe you two would be able to cheer him up."

"Oh Juan! She dumped you? I'm so sorry."

"Thanks, Mrs. Kotter. But I'm fine."

He walked away from everyone and sat on the couch. As he sat, he hung his head low, continuing to frown. Vinnie looked from Epstein to Gabe, full of concern.

"See what we mean? You've got to do something Mr. Kotter. We need our friend back."

"You know, Vinnie, I should have known something was wrong earlier when he volunteered to answer a question in class. It's only too bad he gave the wrong answer." Gabe gave a small shrug of his shoulders "I'll see what I can do." He walked over to the couch and sat next to Epstein. "Epstein, look at me." The student lifted his head and leaned back with his arm draped over the back of the couch. "What's going on, Epstein? What happened with you and Cutie Pie?"

Epstein leaned back a little more and looked at everyone. "That's the thing, y'know? I don't know. I've been trying to figure out what happened all day. Things have been going great with us. Then out of nowhere, Susie gives me back my good luck charm and tells me she doesn't think we can see each other anymore." He looked away with a sigh and rested his hand on his forehead. "I wish I knew where it went wrong with her. Susie, uh, she meant a lot to me, y'know? I never thought I'd fall so hard for someone so fast… but with her I did."

There was a short moment of silence as everyone thought about what Epstein said. Horshack lifted his head and looked at him with a combination of sympathy and confusion.

"Little Juan, I'm real sorry things didn't work out with Cutie Pie. But why do you keep talking about this Susie girl?" he paused briefly then grinned a little with a small nod. "Is she why Cutie Pie dumped you?"

Epstein looked at Horshack in disbelief. He narrowed his eyes a little bit before speaking. "Cutie Pie is Susie. That's her real name, Horshack."


"Don't worry about it, Horshack. I was confused too." Vinnie said.

Julie sat next to Epstein and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Oh, Juan." She said, ignoring the interaction between the boys. "I'm real sorry about your break up. Maybe you could talk to her in private and get her to explain her side of things. She at least owes you an explination as to why she broke up with you."

Epstein looked down and shook his head. "I dunno, Mrs. Kotter."

"Come on, Juan. It could be worth it. Besides, what would you have to lose? You should really try talking to her."

"Julie's right, you know." Gabe said. "All you can do is try. If talking doesn't work then… well you care about her right?"

Epstein nodded "Yeah. Of course I do."

"Then find some way to win her back."

"How am I supposed to do that, Mr. Kotter?"

"Well… figure something out that will sweep her off her feet. What's something you know she really likes? Something that means a lot to both of you or that you both really connected with. Because I have the feeling that this is going to take more than flowers and candy."

Epstein sat quietly for a moment before looking back up at Gabe. "Thanks for the advice, Mr. Kotter. I'll think about it." He looked at Julie. "I'll think about what you said too. I just hope it works." He stood up and rejoined his friends. "Thanks, this actually helped a little."

"Hey listen, Epstein." said Vinnie. "Why don't we, for now, do something to help get Cutie Pie off your mind? We could hang out at Coney Island for a while."

Epstein nodded. "Alright, alright. That doesn't sound too bad. Just as long as we don't go near no photo booths." He grinned. "See you later Mr. Kotter, Mrs. Kotter."

"Good luck, Epstein." Gabe grinned. "Let me know how things turn out for you and Cutie Pie."

"Don't worry, Gabe." Julie said, grinning. "The boys will be around every chance they get, as always. I'm sure you won't be able to miss what happens with them."

Horshack laughed, leading the boys to the window. All four boys crawled through the window, saying goodbye to their teacher and his wife. With Epstein momentarily in a better mood, the boys discussed their plans for Coney Island. They knew then that they were going to have fun, but they also knew that the fun was going to be only temporary until Epstein was able to see Cutie Pie again.