Disclaimer: I own nothing connected with Welcome Back, Kotter.
It was the first day of school, and Juan Epstein was not in his usual spot in Gabe Kotter's classroom. The other Sweathogs joked and slouched in their chairs as Kotter scanned the room.
"So we're all here except for Epstein. Anybody know where he's at?"
The Sweathogs all exchanged looks before Barbarino spoke up. "Oh, he's around, Mr. Kotter."
"Yeah," Horshack piped up, "just not around here!" He laughed his unique guffaw.
"Arnold, that's the point. He needs to be here in the classroom. What, did he forget today was the first day of school?"
"Yeah, Mr. Kot-taire," Freddie said, "that's probably what happened."
"Yeah," Vinnie supplied, "I tried to forget, but then I saw Arnold and Freddie and I remembered."
"Fascinating," Kotter broke in. "And as much as I'd like to continue this conversation, I need to get class started."
"But Little Juan is in trouble!" Horshack blurted.
Kotter sighed. "What now? Fighting?"
Horshack avoided his classmates' glares. "He's—"
Barbarino leaned over and threw his arm around Arnold's shoulders, stopping his explanation. "It's nothin', Mr. Kotter. We got it. Right, Horshack?" He stared at Arnold.
"I'm sure it's nothing," Washington said with a weak smile.
"Yeah, we don't need to get all excited or nothin'," Vinnie supplied.
"But guys," Arnold said, facing the others, "you know what we heard—"
"Hey, you know Epstein!" Barbarino interrupted. "He's always into something. I mean, he was in Newark all summer, and he just got back a week ago, and he just forgot about school. Now, Mr. Kotter, how about you do some teachin' and we'll do some learnin', okay?"
"Is there more that I need to know about?" Kotter asked.
"No, no, nothin'! Nothin' goin' on here!" Vinnie exclaimed. "Right, Freddie?"
"Yeah, nothin' goin' on, Mr. Kot-taire!"
Gabe sighed and gave up, although privately he vowed to get to the bottom of Epstein's problems.