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Just Say Uncle
By Annie Carson
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013Annie Carson
All rights reserved.
The first time Charlie saw Maggie he should have known she would be trouble. He was attending college on a GI bill after four years in the military. She was working in the English office finishing up her bachelors degree in literature. "What the hell kind of degree was that. All they do is sit around reading books and writing papers," his friend Morrie had said as he launched into a lengthy discourse about those literary types. Those people see themselves as ultra intellectuals. What infuriated Morrie the most was that they threw around these fancy words but were, in his eyes, basically all talk and no action. He cautioned Charlie that he could not be too careful with the blonde who sat at the front desk. He described her as a bit of a looker but one of those anti war bleeding heart liberals who always had to have a cause. Trust me on this he had counseled. She has no sense of the real world. "Charlie, my friend, consider yourself warned. Just focus on what you need; get in and get out," he had said as he patted Charlie on the back.
Well how hard could it be? All Charlie wanted to do was force add a course and naturally he needed the signature of the department chair whose office sat directly behind her. Waiting for her to look up he thought she didn't look that formidable to him. In fact he thought she seemed a little vulnerable as she sat at her desk. Her brow was furrowed as she brushed her hair from her forehead and scrutinized the electric typewriter as if she was encountering a foreign object. "Damn, damn, damn," she muttered as she ripped the paper out of the typewriter wading it up and tossing it into the overflowing garbage can. Then she looked up at Charlie and bellowed, "What are you staring at?" Well, so much for vulnerability.
And that is where it all began. He had managed to get in and out; force adding his class in the process. But there was something about Maggie that stayed with him. He would see her on campus, after that day, primarily out jogging in the early morning or at the ice hockey rink. She seemed to be a regular at the games as was he. She would always sit as close to the center line as she could get; always with the same friend. When the score was close he would notice her sitting on the edge of her seat with that same furrowed brow; absentmindedly brushing her hair back from her forehead. She seemed so intense although he had to admit he was really captured by her passion for things. She would smile when she saw him and they would say hi in passing. But it was never more than that. And then she was gone.
After Charlie graduated he moved to Cincinnati. He found a place to live, secured a job with the local phone company and began the process of starting a new life. Charlie had grown up in a dying town. He quit high school to join the Army at seventeen. As luck would have it he would end up stationed in Germany serving under a Sergeant who recognized his hidden potential and made sure Charlie finished school. He supported Charlie in his pursuit of communications and the groundwork of his life was established. When he finished his military commitment he was able to stay involved in the reserves while doing the college scene. He was quite comfortable venturing into new places while carving out his place in the world.
Charlie had always been outgoing, making friends easily and quickly establishing acquaintances wherever he would go. He liked having an orderly life where everything looked right and fit into its appropriate place. He dressed smartly making sure his pants and shirts were starched and pressed so no wrinkles were ever seen by the naked eye. His car and living environment remained neat and clean with everything in its place. He would dispose of extraneous items immediately circumventing the need for clutter to ever occur in his life. He vacuumed daily even though he lived alone without pets or even a plant. There was never a dish in the sink or a smudge on a mirror.
Charlie worked as a telephone operator which was quite fitting since he was known by his associates as the social butterfly. He had impeccable attendance, was always punctual, achieved outstanding evaluations and was respected by those he worked with and for at his job. Outside of work he had a comfortable social life. He dated, played tennis, served in the reserves, spent time with his buds, and hung out at the pool when weather permitted. Life was good and all was moving along as it should.
When an opportunity came along for Charlie to advance he decided to move into the world of telephone repair. This was perfect for Charlie since it afforded him the opportunity to move around fixing problems and soothing customers. He was a natural at this. He was a flawless problem solver who sincerely believed in customer service. He would go to great lengths to treat people with respect. His finesse combined with his work ethic made him a power house when dealing with the public. He bought a nice house; drove a Chevrolet El Camino truck, consistently put money in the bank, had good friends, dated the right kind of women and was clearly on track for the well managed life.
Then one day it happened. Out of nowhere he got hit with the unexpected. It had started out like any other day. In fact all of his calls had been easy fixes and uneventful. He had time for one last job and showed up at the address listed for an out of service problem. This shouldn't be any big deal he thought as he rang the doorbell.
Oh boy. In retrospect he realized this thought could not have been further from the truth. The door opened and a woman came out quickly pulling the door shut behind her. Never in a million years did he expect to see Maggie. Honestly he hadn't thought about her in ages. But there she was in faded, frayed and patched blue jeans with an old ice hockey jersey on. Her hair was pulled back into a loose barrette with strains falling loose all around her face. Her green eyes sparkled and she smiled warmly at him. Had she made the connection as quickly as he had? Before he entered she just wanted to let him know she had a "Heinz 57" dog that was harmless and really quite friendly although he did a mean imitation of an unruly adolescent. In all truth she had given barely enough info to prepare him for what he was to encounter on the other side. As she opened the door he was greeted by what appeared to be a wildebeest lunging at him with a tail that wagged a million miles an hour. He braced himself as Maggie grabbed the dog's collar attempting to hold him back as he eagerly tried to jump up on Charlie. He was huge with a mammoth head and a gigantic wet tongue hanging out of his mouth.
That should have been his first clue. The second clue should have been when he looked around and saw what appeared to be a clean house but lots of stuff. Organized clutter she had said. Talk about differences. He was military; she had protested the war. He wore clothing that was starched and pressed; she wore faded jeans and huge old shirts. And speaking of huge there seemed to be a huge theme going on. Huge dog, huge shirt. Why she even had a huge drink, the monster size that looked to hold at least a thirty two ounce pop in it. He was order; she was clutter. It was all so clear.
So did he take heed? Of course not. Maybe it had been her eyes or the way she smiled at him. Or maybe it was the way she furrowed her brow and pushed her hair back from her forehead as she tried to describe what was wrong with her phone. He remembered that image so clearly when she was trying to tackle that typewriter some years ago. But whatever it was it was at that moment the course of his life would change forever.
Throughout their years together Charlie would relate this story and Maggie would look at him fondly and with a wink she would quote a line from a T
Excerpted from Just Say Uncle by Annie Carson. Copyright © 2013 by Annie Carson. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1.................... 1
Chapter 2.................... 10
Chapter 3.................... 20
Chapter 4.................... 40
Chapter 5.................... 56
Chapter 6.................... 64
Chapter 7.................... 70
Chapter 8.................... 83
Chapter 9.................... 89
Chapter 10.................... 96
Chapter 11.................... 107
Chapter 12.................... 117
Chapter 13.................... 129
Chapter 14.................... 141
Chapter 15.................... 150
Chapter 16.................... 164
Chapter 17.................... 175
Chapter 18.................... 179
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book was wonderful and I really enjoyed reading about Maggie and her friends. Great first book by Annie!!