A Midsummer

Nightmare’s Daria

 

 

 

Text ©2008 The Angst Guy (theangstguy@yahoo.com)

Daria and associated characters are ©2008 MTV Networks

 

 

Feedback (good, bad, indifferent, just want to bother me, whatever) is appreciated. Please write to: theangstguy@yahoo.com

 

Synopsis: Quinn pulls a prank that causes Jake to think that Daria has taken up demon worship, so he takes Daria to a weekend father-daughter seminar to “bring her back to the light.” Add in a few former classmates, romance, and an unexpected twist straight out of Stephen King’s world, and a very strange summer weekend gets underway in Lawndale.

 

Author’s Notes: Portions of this cartoon script (now rewritten) originally appeared on www.fanfiction.net in chapter form. The entire story was collected 7/1/02 and posted on the Internet. Extensive notes and corrections from Galen “Lawndale Stalker” Hardesty were received within a week after that, but I was burnt out and did not add in his fixes until now. Sorry for the delay!

       The events herein take place about one or two months after the Daria TV movie, Is It College Yet? during Daria’s last summer at home before she heads off to college in Boston. When the characters speak of Boston Fine Arts College, Jane’s alma mater-to-be, they usually use the acronym (BFAC) as a word, pronouncing it as “bee fak.” Also, Andrea’s name is pronounced “ahn DRAY ah” by those who know her.

       Certain scenes marked as “Daria’s Daydreams” are fantasy scenes that take place in Daria’s imagination or unconscious mind. Certain other scenes labeled “Andrea’s Memory” show events that Andrea recalls from earlier in her life.

       Script excerpts appear in this story, taken from Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (©1964 Columbia Pictures). Lyrics from AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” also appear (©1979 J. Albert & Son (Pty) Ltd.)

 

Acknowledgements: My heartfelt gratitude goes out to beta-reader Robert Nowall, who offered life-saving advice on revising the entire story and taking out the bad parts. I am less of a bozo because of his superb work. Special thanks also to Mike Xeno, who beta-read several sections of this tale and straightened me out on the characters, making many suggestions that I stole on the spot. Thank you both, thank you, thank you, thank you! As noted above, Galen Hardesty later sent many pages of corrections and comments that have improved this story considerably. I must also credit the following persons, as I steal from only the best sources.

 

·         Mike Xeno, from whose story “The Next Step” I unashamedly and without hesitation or moral qualm stole the idea for having Jane work as a window dresser at Cashman’s over her last summer before going to BFAC.

·         Kara Wild, who provided inspiration in her story, “That Thing You Say,” for Quinn’s screwing up of Jake’s platinum credit card while shopping; in her story, “Andrea Speaks!” for a tidbit about Andrea’s potential family life; and, in her story “Shipped Out!” for the bit about Daria’s class having to learn Othello from Mr. O’Neill at Lawndale High. Apologies also to Kara, as I promised I wouldn’t let anything bad happen to Quinn, but—oh, well.

·         barmor9292 (alt.tv.daria) for the idea about Andrea doing a webcomic. Cool.

·         Galen Hardesty, who reminded me of a “medieval” comment that I added.

·         The wonderful fanfic authors who are (I pray) good sports about involuntarily contributing ideas from their “Daria” works to scene #52. Please don’t hurt me.

 

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

 

INT: Interior scene

EXT: Exterior scene

VO: Voice over (off screen)

 

 

 

* * *

 

THURSDAY EVENING

Part One: Children of the Lenses

(a.k.a., A Tale of Two Sisters, or, I Know What You Did This Summer)

 

 

1. EXT: FOGGY EVENING, AN OLD CEMETERY IN LAWNDALE

 

Low mist clings to the ground in the graveyard, the headstones and monuments peeking above the fog in the evening light. Daria Morgendorffer, wearing a black, full-length robe, walks silently between the rows of graves. Her head is bowed, and her hands, clasped before her, hold a white rose. She slows to a stop before one large headstone, on which can be seen the following inscription: Jane Lane / Death be not proud, though some have called thee / Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so . . . / Requiescat in pace.

 

Daria drops to her knees on the ground before the marker, wiping her eyes with one hand. With infinite care, she sets the white rose upright against the gravestone, then lowers her head in prayer, eyes closed.

 

Moments later, just to her right side, a skeletal hand rises from the misty ground. It reaches for Daria’s right knee and suddenly clamps down on it. Daria sits still for a moment more, then absently reaches over with her right hand and pats the skeletal hand in a familiar way. After a moment, she belches loudly.

 

DARIA: [eyes still closed] Excuse me. That was the orange soda speaking.

 

JANE: [VO, nearby] Thanks loads, Carrie.

 

We pull back and see more of the cemetery—and Jane Lane, stepping back from a video camera on a tripod, about twenty feet from Daria.

 

DARIA: [surprised whisper] Jane? Is that you? What’s it like on the other side?

 

JANE: [turns off camera] It’s sort of like Omaha, only less exciting. I’ll have to edit out that burp.

 

DARIA: [opens eyes] Maybe you can turn it into a wild scream of insane terror.

 

JANE: Not with that ho-hum look on your face. I’ll just end with a freeze-frame of you holding hands with the dead me. That was good enough.

 

Daria removes the skeletal hand from her knee, gets up, and brushes her robes off. Jane walks over to Daria, reaches down, and pulls a stone-colored plastic covering from the gravestone in front of Daria, revealing an entirely different name and legend underneath on the real headstone. Daria reaches down and picks up the skeletal hand, attached to a motor mechanism with a battery.

 

DARIA: Instead of burping, I should have had you pick my nose. [raises skeleton’s hand to her face]

 

JANE: [quickly takes skeletal hand from Daria] I’d rather not explain the boogers to the costume rental shop, thank you very much. They were paranoid enough about loaning this to me. Don’t want to endanger my second job, no matter how much I hate it. I need all the money I can get right now.

 

DARIA: You think this multimedia thing is going to wow them into letting you get into BFAC early? I’ve never heard of anyone being let into college a semester early at this late a date.

 

JANE: [putting skeletal hand in a small carrying case] It can’t hurt. Maybe someone will change colleges or move to Australia or something, and I’ll be next in line. I sure don’t want to hang around Lawndale any longer than I have to, and I’d rather get into classes this fall than wait until next spring. [straightens up] Besides, I wouldn’t want you to get lonely in Boston with no one to annoy you on the weekends.

 

DARIA: [takes off the robes, wears her usual green jacket and black skirt underneath] I can always call Quinn and put her on speakerphone.

 

JANE: Yeah, but that lacks a personal touch. Plus, there’s the phone bill.

 

DARIA: She could call me instead.

 

JANE: Your parents would strangle her when the bill arrived.

 

DARIA: [deadpan] Okay, so your point is . . .?

 

JANE: [sighs] C’mon. I need to get the camera back to the rental shop before it closes, then get the tape developed and digitized. This had better work. If I can’t convert this film to a digital file, my project is massively screwed.

 

 

 

2. EXT: AT THIS MOMENT, SECLUDED SPOT NEAR OLD CEMETERY

 

As Daria and Jane leave the cemetery, Quinn Morgendorffer lowers a camera with a telephoto lens, watching them go. She stands about a hundred yards from the other girls. Quinn looks as she always does, though a pair of stylish sunglasses is pushed up over her forehead. Her quizzical expression also reflects a bit of revulsion.

 

QUINN: [to herself] Jane must be making a horror movie. Eeewwww. Wouldn’t get me to run around in a cemetery, especially not wearing those dork-alert graduation robes with no trim or belt or necklaces or anything. Gold would have been nice with her autumn complexion. Maybe copper with some jade. [sniffs] If anyone saw me wearing that nerdy get-up, they’d think I was . . . I was . . . [long pause] Huh.

 

Deep in thought, Quinn watches Daria and Jane walk out of sight.

 

QUINN: [to herself] If she was me, and I was her . . . what would Daria do? [pause, frowns] If one of us felt the other really deserved it.

 

A wicked grin crosses Quinn’s lips. She quickly puts her camera into its shoulder-strap carrying case and walks back to her car, the Morgendorffer’s SUV, parked nearby.

 

QUINN: [cheery] Quickie Photo, here I come.

 

 

 

* * *

 

FRIDAY MORNING

Part Two: Saving Private Morgendorffer

(a.k.a.: Looking for Mister Good-dad, or, Something Quinn Did This Way Comes)

 

 

3. INT: EARLY MORNING, KITCHEN, MORGENDORFFER HOME

 

Jake and Helen Morgendorffer sit at the table, having breakfast before leaving for work. Jake reads his newspaper while Helen reads a thick legal brief. They are content in their separate worlds. Quinn (not a morning person, even in summer) walks into the kitchen in her bathrobe and bedclothes, a small packet in hand, and looks in the refrigerator.

 

JAKE: [brief look up from paper] ‘Morning, kiddo! TGIF! Get your nature photos developed from last night’s expedition?

 

QUINN: [head stuck in refrigerator] Landscaping photos, Daddy. My friends and I are discussing homes now, not so much actual people-fashions anymore. We have to open up new horizons and all that.

 

JAKE: [head in newspaper] Landscaping, good stuff. Garden gnomes, concrete deer, those wooden birds with the whirling wings that go in different directions—God knows how they managed to do that. Science! [shakes head at paper]

 

QUINN: Whatever. [exits refrigerator with several items in her arms, sets them on kitchen table] Is this the diet egg salad? Good. Anyway, I got pictures of something else. Something you won’t believe.

 

HELEN: [focused on legal brief] That’s wonderful, dear.

 

QUINN: [assembling her brunch] I saw Daria when I was out last night.

 

JAKE: [to newspaper] Um-hmm.

 

QUINN: She was in a graveyard.

 

HELEN: [underlines something in legal brief] That’s nice.

 

QUINN: She was wearing black robes and doing some kind of cult thing, I think. Sacrificing baby animals to demons or something. It was hard to tell.

 

JAKE: [turns page] Mmm-hmm.

 

QUINN: [opens packet, takes out several photos, tosses them on the table between her parents] There she is.

 

Quinn picks up her glass of milk and waits patiently. After a pause, Helen and Jake look up from their reading, eye the photos for a second, then go back to their reading with a smile. They do a panicked double take one-half second later. Both of them jump to their feet, banging into the table and upsetting their coffee and cereal, and they stare down at Quinn’s photos in undiluted horror. Quinn calmly puts her milk down on the table again.

 

BOTH HELEN AND JAKE: [shouting] Daria!

 

HELEN: Oh, my baby!

 

JAKE: Oh, my God!

 

With a bland look, Quinn spoons diet egg salad onto a slice of bread.

 

HELEN: [hysterical] This is all my fault! She’s probably cried out for help a thousand times, and I put her on call waiting!

 

JAKE: [looks up angrily, shakes fist at ceiling] This is all your fault, Dad! You robbed me of a happy childhood and destroyed my potential as a parent! I hope you’re happy, you rotten bastard!

 

QUINN: Hey, do we have any of those low-fat potato chips? You know, the ruffly ones?

 

JAKE: We have to do something before she starts mutilating horses and leaving little stick figures outside camping tents! But what, oh God, what?

 

HELEN: [hands pressed to the sides of her head] I should look in the phone book under “deprogrammers.” Maybe there’s one with weekend rates.

 

QUINN: [looks around kitchen] I was sure we had some low-fat chips around here. [gets up to look in cabinets]

 

JAKE: [looks down at newspaper he dropped on the table] Wait! Helen, look at this! A father-daughter togetherness seminar starts tonight at the Lawndale Plaza Hotel! The “Lawndale Princesses Weekend”! I still have a chance to bring Daria back into the light before she goes to college! Thank God! [shakes fist at ceiling] Screw you, old man! You’ll never ruin my kids the way you ruined me!

 

HELEN: [glancing at Quinn, loud whisper to Jake] Dear, maybe you should take Quinn, too, in case—

 

QUINN: [whirls, startled] No! Wait! Mom, Dad, I’m fine! Cemeteries are so yucky and gross, how could you think I’d go there? If Daria needs help, you should, like, focus your energies entirely on her, right?

 

JAKE: You’re right. Damn it! How could evil like this creep into our own home, right under our noses? What the hell’s the FBI doing all day, anyway? Where are my tax dollars going? Lousy federal government!

 

QUINN: [thoughtful] You know, of course, it will be like horribly lonely for me this weekend, with Daddy gone and Mom at work and Daria getting all that attention and everything, and probably dinners out, and like maybe souvenirs and clothes and magazines and—

 

HELEN: [hardly paying attention] Of course, dear. [reaches for pocketbook on the table]

 

JAKE: [still stunned] Certainly. [reaches into pocket for wallet]

 

QUINN: [voice quavering and faint] I just don’t want to feel like I’m second best and maybe have to go kill goats or wear black or whatever it is that depressed Satanists do to feel better, you know?

 

Helen and Jake blindly hand Quinn wads of cash. She takes it all and stuffs it in her bathrobe pockets.

 

QUINN: [joyful] Thank you! I knew you really cared! [goes back to looking in cabinets]

 

JAKE: [whispers] We’ll have to talk to Daria right away.

 

HELEN: [whispers] I think she’s still asleep!

 

JAKE: [louder] Or is she? She could be communing with infernal powers this very second! [shakes fist angrily at ceiling] You wouldn’t get me out of military school, but I’m pulling my daughter out of your dark academy of sin, Generalissimo Dad-zilla!

 

Helen and Jake rush from the kitchen. Alone, Quinn pulls a large sack of potato chips from the cabinet.

 

QUINN: Here we go. [reads lettering on bag closely] No-fat ruffly chips, with . . . ole . . . olestra. Yup. “No fat” is where it’s at.

 

Quinn returns to her seat and opens the bag.

 

QUINN: [pouring chips on her plate] This will settle accounts for the rude little tale that you wrote about me on the Internet. [takes bite of a chip, smiles in contentment] Dear sister of mine . . . you taught me so well.

 

 

4. INT: TWO MINUTES LATER, DARIA’S BEDROOM, MORGENDORFFER HOME

 

A long shape about the size of a teenage girl lies under a sheet in Daria’s bed. Her room looks much as shown in The Daria Diaries, only with more stuff: a computer at a small work station and large book shelves (jammed with books) on the wall by her door (with a Kafka poster), and other items named below. A VCR unit rests under a television set on a mobile cart.

 

A knock is heard from the door. The lump under the sheets doesn’t move. The knock repeats and gets louder. No movement. The doorknob twists, but it is locked. After a moment, the doorknob rattles, the lock in the knob pops out, and the door opens quietly. Helen peeks in, pocketing a bent-up paperclip.

 

HELEN: [softly] Daria? Are you awake?

 

DARIA: [under sheet, muffled] No. [low voice] Forgot the deadbolt again. Damn it.

 

HELEN: [enters room with Jake right behind her, sweetly] How are you doing this morning?

 

DARIA: [under the sheet, muffled] Mom, I promise to e-mail a complete report to you in a couple hours. Can I get back to my research now?

 

Helen turns and motions to Jake to go around Daria’s room. He nods quickly and starting looking around, obviously searching for something, picking up things and sometimes stepping on or tripping over them.

 

Aside from furniture and padded walls, Daria’s room currently contains: realistic replicas of human bones and skulls on the center carpet; a large wall poster of a partially unearthed human skeleton; another large wall poster showing the different levels of Dante’s Inferno, showing graphic depictions of the sufferings of the damned, with many small yellow sticky-pad notes stuck all over it on which are written the names of many currently famous people; a microscope on the floor with slides labeled “E. coli” and “E. coli mutations w/ radiation”; videos with titles like Horrifying Spectacular Disasters Caught Live on Video: Volume XXIV, Cannibal Rituals Revealed! and Alien Autopsy: The Director’s Cut; a print-out of a friendly e-mail sent to Daria by Rhonda, an axe-murderess (who appears to know Daria quite well), writing from a place called Kinsington Prison; an incomplete short story entitled, “Why I’m Not Sorry That I Made the Sun Go Nova”; books with titles like When Bad Things Happen to People Who Deserve It, Barbaric Practices Everyone Can Enjoy, and A Layman’s Guide to Soviet Thermonuclear Weapons; and plastic models of a human heart, a B-2 Stealth bomber, and a Visible Woman with most of its internal organs scattered around its feet. A small plastic rat sits in the Visible Woman’s empty abdomen, peering out.

 

Jake sees all of the above but ignores it, instead looking for something else.

 

HELEN: [turns back to Daria, sweetly] What research are you doing?

 

DARIA: [under the sheet, muffled] Controlled nightmare generation. Oddly, it seems to be working even when I’m awake. Like now, for instance.

 

HELEN: [distracted] That’s wonderful. We’re very proud of you. [looks around room] Listen, your father and I have to hurry out to work in a few moments, but we want to tell you about a special event that’s going on tonight. You’re going away this fall, and, you know, we’re all going to miss you, even Quinn, I’m sure, but your father . . . he, um—

 

Helen breaks off, seeing Jake gesture wildly at her. He’s picked up a paperback book he found on the floor under a pile of Daria’s used clothing: Stephen King’s Needful Things. A library’s Dewey decimal tag is taped to the spine, but it falls off as Jake’s fingers bump against it. Helen looks horrified to see the book.

 

DARIA: [under the sheet, muffled] What are you guys doing?

 

HELEN: [hands covering mouth, her worst fears confirmed] Uh, eh, ah—

 

Jake quickly gives the Stephen King book to Helen, who hurries out of the room with it, holding it gingerly between thumb and forefinger.

 

JAKE: [forced joviality] Kiddo, you’re in luck tonight! We’re going to a once-in-a-lifetime event, just you and me!

 

DARIA: [under the sheet, muffled] Dad, I have plans tonight. Jane needs my help on—

 

JAKE: But this is just the two of us, kiddo! You and me! Daria and her dad! We’re going to a really great seminar over at the Lawndale Plaza Hotel—

 

Daria pulls the sheet back from her face. She has no glasses on, and her hair is a mess.

 

DARIA: [squinting at Jake] Dad, you didn’t join Amway, did you?

 

JAKE: [nervous laugh] Ha! Always the kidder! That’s why you’re such a great kid, you always—

 

DARIA: [flops back on bed, stares at ceiling] Oh, damn it—you did join Amway.

 

JAKE: [still nervous] Oh, no, I didn’t, don’t worry about that. Your old man is signing us both up for a weekend away at a father-daughter seminar right here in Lawndale! It’s the “Lawndale Princesses Weekend”! You and me, kiddo! Morgendorffer and Morgendorffer! We’re going to renew our family bonds, be one with the Force, turn aside the powers of darkness and evil—[coughs]—and have a wild time doing it! Whaddya say?

 

DARIA: [covers eyes with an arm] I’m sorry, I guess Amway wasn’t so bad. Do I have to sell stuff, too?

 

JAKE: Ha, ha! Great! I’ll close the office early, and we’ll head out to the hotel at five. Jake and his Lawndale Princess! I can’t wait! [hurries out, closing door behind him]

 

DARIA: [pause, to self] I know I have sinned, and I do regret it, except maybe for the fun parts, and anything involving Quinn, so that’s, what, about ninety percent of my sins—but as divine punishments go for the other ten percent, this one is really way out of—

 

JAKE: [opens door again, pokes head inside] My oldest Lawndale Princess, of course. You, I mean. Quinn would be my youngest Lawndale Princess. I wasn’t implying—

 

DARIA: [deadpan] I have to shower and change, Dad.

 

JAKE: [panicked] Bye! [shuts door]

 

Daria lies still for a few moments, groans, then rolls over and pulls the sheet over her head again.

 

 

5. EXT: A SHORT WHILE LATER, BACK YARD, MORGENDORFFER HOME

 

Helen and Jake have set up the barbecue grill by the back door, and Jack is pouring lighter fluid over the Stephen King book. Helen holds a book of matches.

 

JAKE: [very stressed] I bet this is what turned her soul to demon worship! Damn Stephen King! Let’s see how a paperback about Satan working in small-town retail holds up against the fires of righteousness! [stops pouring lighter fluid, to Helen] Do you think we should we hire an exorcist?

 

HELEN: No time! [lights match, throws it on book, which burns merrily] Back to Hell!

 

JAKE: [looks up, shakes fist at the sky with grim delight] I win, Dad! Her soul is free! Go pedal your perverted papers in some other suburb!

 

 

6. INT: SAME MOMENT, KITCHEN, MORGENDORFFER HOME

 

Quinn looks out the window in disbelief, watching her mother and father burn a paperback book on the backyard grill. Helen and Jake jump up and down, arms raised, cheering as the book turns to ash.

 

QUINN: [low voice] I wish to God they’d never taken drugs in the Sixties.

 

With a sad sigh, she turns to go. Quinn is still in her bathrobe and nightclothes, and she holds the “No Fat” potato-chip bag she was eating from earlier. She shakes the bag, notices that it is empty, and drops it into the kitchen wastebasket. She then looks in the cabinet, gets another sack (sour cream and onion), and walks off elsewhere in the house.

 

 

7. INT: TWO HOURS LATER, DARIA’S BEDROOM, MORGENDORFFER HOME

 

On one side of a split screen, Daria sits on her bed, talking on the phone. She’s dressed in her usual clothing, glasses on, drying her damp hair with a towel. On the other side of the screen, Jane sits in her room, phone on her shoulder, flipping through the pages of a manual: Advanced Photo/Video Digitization for Idiots.

 

DARIA: On top of all that, I can’t find this Stephen King book that’s due back at the library today. I thought I left it in my room, but it’s gone. That caps off my Friday, and it’s barely even started yet.

 

JANE: [looks up from manual] Well, there are worse things than being taken to an all-expenses-paid father-daughter togetherness weekend at a posh hotel.

 

DARIA: Name one.

 

JANE: [slow intake of breath] Not being taken.

 

DARIA: [pause] Oh.

 

JANE: You know what I would give to—oh, forget it. Sorry I said it. Listen, just go and be thankful your dad gives a damn. Some don’t. Good thing I’m not bitter.

 

DARIA: Maybe Trent could take you.

 

JANE: Nah, he’d never let me gray his hair. And I have to do window dressings at Cashman’s tonight and tomorrow night. And we don’t have any money left anyway. On top of that, I’m still having trouble with this stupid project. [flips book shut] I do wish you were here to help. I don’t know squat about computers, except that they’re all evil.

 

DARIA: Mind if I call now and then?

 

JANE: Call me whenever you want, as often as you want, as long as you want. I’ll need the breaks, along with any computer advice you can spare.

 

DARIA: Done. Good luck.

 

JANE: Yeah. I could use that.

 

DARIA: Bye.

 

JANE: Bye.

 

They hang up. The split screen turns into a single screen, showing Jane sitting at her desk. She puts an elbow on the computer workstation next to her and covers her face with that hand, looking tired and a little depressed.

 

JANE: [to self, glum] Father-daughter weekend. [sigh] Daria, you are so damn lucky.

 

 

8. INT: A SHORT WHILE LATER, KITCHEN, MORGENDORFFER HOME

 

Daria enters the kitchen to make breakfast for herself. She finds a note on the refrigerator: Daria—Do not eat the fat-free chips! There are only enough for me! Just eat the fat chips and other stuff. Thanks! Quinn.

 

DARIA: [deadpan] Always looking out for me.

 

Daria drops the note in the trashcan, then goes to the sink to get a glass of water. She looks out the window as she does, and frowns. She can see the grill out in the back yard, with a book-sized pile of black ash on it. She shrugs and looks in the refrigerator, pulling out the orange juice. The phone rings, and she picks it up while pouring herself a glass. The following conversation starts in three-way split-screen, between Daria in the kitchen, Quinn in her room upstairs (eating potato chips), and Helen at her legal office.

 

DARIA: Morgendorffers.

 

QUINN: I’ve got the phone! Hang up, Daria!

 

HELEN: Quinn, I called to talk to Daria. You hang up.

 

QUINN: Muuuh-ooom! I’m expecting a very important—

 

HELEN: Now.

 

QUINN: Oh, all right. Five minutes. [hangs up, disappears from split screen]

 

DARIA: [putting orange juice away] I think we’re alone now.

 

HELEN: Daria, listen. Your father’s picking you up at five tonight. You and he each have a small suitcase for the weekend, so pack light. No “Family Court” tonight, of course.

 

DARIA: [deadpan] Out of idle curiosity, am I being punished for something bad I did?

 

HELEN: [caught off guard] Ah, eh, no, dear, of course not. Whatever gave you that silly idea?

 

DARIA: You and Dad are sending me away without warning or explanation to a father-daughter bonding seminar designed to make me a better person—but Quinn’s not going with us.

 

HELEN: Oh, Daria, we’ve nothing to hide! We, uh, um, just thought it, uh, would be nice for you and your dad to, um, you know, get out and bond, and, uh, talk about, um, what you’ve been doing lately, where you’ve been, anything that you might want to tell us that could be important later in a legal, moral, or spiritual sense, before it gets into the newspapers and all over town, that sort of thing.

 

DARIA: I’m not having sex, Mom.

 

HELEN: [quickly] Oh, of course not! [laughs loudly in relief] What a ridiculous idea!

 

DARIA: [really stung] Thanks a lot. [pause until Helen stops laughing so hard] Spill it, Mom. What’s going on?

 

HELEN: [quickly] I’ll let Jake talk with you about that. It’s his weekend—his and yours, I mean. He can talk about it. I’m swamped here.

 

DARIA: Am I being sold to a child-labor factory in Asia? Or is Quinn being sold? I can handle it if it’s Quinn.

 

HELEN: [peeved] Daria, your sense of humor is almost demoni—[gasps]—I mean, it’s just awful. Behave yourself, do what you have to do to get ready for the weekend, and don’t, uh, do anything that, uh, the neighbors might take badly if they saw you do it in public.

 

DARIA: [looking out the window at the grill] Like animal sacrifices, you mean?

 

HELEN: [gasps] Daria! Please, no! Think of your family! Wait, I’ve got another call coming in.

 

Helen punches a button on her cell phone and vanishes from the split screen, leaving Daria only.

 

DARIA: Hey, before you go, have you seen my library book? It was Stephen King’s . . . hello? Mom?

 

With a sigh, Daria hangs up the phone.

 

DARIA: [to self] I’m going to write a book about this someday. Too bad that “Hell House” is already taken for a title.

 

 

9. INT: MID-AFTERNOON, JAKE’S CONSULTING BUSINESS OFFICE

 

Looking nervous, Jake uses his business phone at his desk. He holds the newspaper clipping about the father-daughter seminar. Beside him on the desk is a pad of paper and a pencil.

 

JAKE: [reading article aloud] “Every father should know the following things about his daughter. . . .” [anxious expression] I better get a professional opinion. [dials phone]

 

The phone call (to Jane) is shown in split screen. Jane is in her room at her family’s home, working on her desktop computer. The monitor shows a still frame from the video movie Jane shot of Daria the night before, with Daria kneeling on the grave in her black robes. The image, however, is reversed out like a photonegative. Jane still has the manual on her lap, with bookmarks stuck all through it.

 

JANE: [not looking away from the monitor] Trent? Trent! The phone! Oh, forget it.

 

She picks up the handset on the ringing phone beside her.

 

JANE: [to phone] Yo. Lanes.

 

JAKE: [shaky voice] Hi, Jake Morgendorffer. Is Jane Lane in, please?

 

JANE: [frowns at computer monitor, taps keys] Speaking. Hi, Mister Morgendorffer.

 

JAKE: Jane! Yeah, this is Daria’s dad. How’s it going?

 

JANE: [taps a few more keys] Okay, I guess. Computer troubles. What’s up?

 

JAKE: Great! Say, Jane, I’m taking Daria to a father-daughter seminar at the Lawndale Plaza Hotel this weekend, but not because there’s anything dreadfully wrong, you understand. It’s just that I want to talk with her about her life and the direction she’s going and the directions she should avoid, like turning to animal or human sacrifice or summoning demons or falling under the spell of unspeakable evil or—

 

JANE: [leans back in her seat, still looking at monitor] Everyone needs a hobby.

 

JAKE: A hobby? [panicked] Oh, my God! You’re saying she’s—oh! I get it! [forced laugh] Anyway, I was just thinking that it would be good to know a little more about her, and seeing as you’re Daria’s best friend, if not her only—

 

JANE: [looks away from monitor to random spot in her room] You know the rules. Maximum of three questions. No betrayals. Immunity from prosecution.

 

JAKE: Right! [pause] Eh, what—[consults list]—does your child—Daria, what does Daria think her strongest point is?

 

JANE: [frowns] Are you reading from something?

 

JAKE: [startled, drops list] What? Oh, no, of course not! Ha, ha! What a kidder! No, I—

 

JANE: What does she think her strongest point is? Her integrity.

 

JAKE: [confused] Her what? I thought it would be her intelligence. She’s smarter than I am! She can—

 

JANE: It wouldn’t mean anything without integrity. She really prides herself on that.

 

JAKE: [shrugs, writes this down on notepad] Her . . . do you spell that with an “e” or an “i” at the end?

 

JANE: I-n-t-e-g-r-i-t-y. Third question?

 

JAKE: Third? I’ve asked only one!

 

JANE: You also asked how to spell “integrity.”

 

JAKE: [panicked] I’ll pay! Jane, I swear! I need another question! Don’t make me beg!

 

JANE: Twenty bucks. I’ll be by this afternoon to collect.

 

JAKE: Done! Yes! Okay, now, uh—[bends down to read list on the floor]—what does y—Daria want to be when she grows up?

 

JANE: [incredulous] She IS grown up!

 

JAKE: I mean, when she gets out of college! What does she want to do when she gets out of college? That kind of grown up!

 

JANE: Mmm, that’s hard to say, but she loves to write. Whatever else she does, she’ll probably be a writer, too. She’s very good at it.

 

JAKE: Writer. [pause to write this down] Okay, great. I thought that might be it. We’re getting somewhere. Thank God. No more animal sacrifi—[coughs to cover up] Yes, uh, my last question is—

 

JANE: [startled, frowns] What did you say about animal—

 

JAKE: [interrupts loudly, stooping to read list on floor again] What is Daria’s most cherished dream?

 

JANE: [hesitates] Her most cherished dream. Huh. Lately, she’s talked a lot about restarting the Inquisition under a new set of guidelines, but I’d have to say—

 

JAKE: Inquisition. Inquis—damn it, I’ll have to look that up.

 

JANE: No, don’t bother. Listen, she and I talk about this a lot. Daria wants everyone to be honest. A lot of things bug her, but what bugs her most is when people aren’t honest with themselves or with others. That drives her crazy.

 

JAKE: [look of disbelief] Are you sure? Being honest? Well, I guess I can see that. It does sound sort of strange—well, not really strange, like summoning the undead, but—anyway, I mean—

 

JANE: Look, you remember a few months ago when she crawled in that refrigerator carton and wouldn’t come out until you told her about the fight you and your wife had when Daria was little? The fight about why Daria was so different from other kids?

 

JAKE: [stunned] She told you about that?

 

JANE: Well, of course she did! I’m her best friend. That’s why you’re calling me to find out what’s she’s like instead of asking her yourself.

 

JAKE: [pause, chastened] Um, oh. Yeah.

 

JANE: Once you were honest with her about what really happened, she was fine, right? That’s all you had to do. If you lie to her or deny something really happened, she goes ballistic. She wants people to be honest. She’s smart enough to know when people are lying or covering up. Lots of things annoy her, but nothing burns her like dishonesty. It goes with that integrity thing.

 

JAKE: [silent for a moment] Um, okay. That was three. I’ll have the twenty ready when—

 

JANE: Wait a sec. Mister Morgendorffer, I’ll be honest with you, too. When we started this three-questions thing, I fully expected you’d ask me something like, oh, what’s Daria weigh, or what’s her favorite food, or something like that. Don’t take this the wrong way, but what you asked was really different. It showed me that you really care about her. It goes against all my principals, but forget about the twenty. Keep it. Spend it on Daria instead at the seminar this weekend. Do that, and we’ll be even.

 

JAKE: [face brightens, relieved] Uh, okay. I will. Thanks, Jane! You’ve been a big help!

 

JANE: Great. Now, I have a question for you. What’s all this stuff you were saying about animal sacrifices and summoning the undead and unspeakable—

 

JAKE: [panicked] Gottacallontheotherlinebye! [hangs up fast, vanishes from split screen]

 

JANE: [stares at handset in confusion] What the hell . . .?

 

 

 

* * *

 

FRIDAY EVENING

Part Three: Night of the Living Dad

(a.k.a.: My Dinner with Angry, or, The Good, the Bad, and the Upchuck)

 

 

10. INT: EARLY EVENING, LOBBY OF LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Daria and Jake come into the lobby through the revolving doors in front. Jake pulls two small wheeled suitcases behind him.

 

JAKE: [stops, happily looks around lobby for main desk] Nice place! Hey, kiddo, there’s a long line at the desk, so have a seat and I’ll get the room keys. Got us a two-bedroom suite with a kitchenette, two bathrooms, a full refrigerator, and TVs in every room!

 

DARIA: [deadpan] Cable or satellite?

 

JAKE: Satellite! Six thousand channels! Nothing but the best for my Lawndale Princess!

 

DARIA: [faint smile] Houston, we’re go for launch. [smile fades] They still could’ve picked a better name for this outing than the Princesses thing. Lawndale Bloodthirsty Medusas, maybe, or Lawndale Crazed Psycho Chicks, or—

 

JAKE: [nervous, starts to leave] Ah, sure, great ideas, kiddo! I better get those keys!

 

DARIA: No problem. I brought some light reading.

 

JAKE: Great! [heads off] Just hope they didn’t screw anything up and put us in a broom closet. Man, I hate these overgrown impersonal bureaucracies!

 

DARIA: [watches him go, softly] Which, of course, is why you choose to work with them for a living.

 

Daria shrugs and looks around the lobby. She notices that the main dining room for the hotel is actually a large section of the lobby, surrounded by planters and potted trees and shrubs. Her attention is caught by a sign that reads, “Weekender Special! Need a special getaway place for someone special? Ask about our Friday-Monday Weekender Rates!” In small print is: “Renter and all guests must be 18 or older. No refunds.”

 

DARIA: [to self] A no-tell hotel. Do tell. Anything for a buck these days.

 

Seeing nothing else of interest, Daria then takes a seat on a bench behind a row of decorative bushes and small trees. She is completely blocked from view to anyone coming in the hotel’s main doors. She pulls a paperback book (Best Short Slasher Fiction of the Twentieth Century) from an inside pocket in her jacket and begins to read.

 

Behind her, Jodie Landon comes in through the main revolving door. A moment later, “Mack” MacKenzie hurries across the lobby to greet her, wearing his school jacket.

 

MACK: Hey! Glad you could make it! [reaches out to hug her]

 

JODIE: [backpedals, holds up hand, face tense] Mack, wait a minute.

 

Daria hears their voices and puts her book aside, preparing to stand up and greet her friends.

 

MACK: I got the room. Just the two of us in our secret love nest.

 

Eyes wide, Daria immediately sits down again, scrunching up behind the shrubbery to avoid being seen.

 

JODIE: [soft but firm voice] Mack, listen to me. I came down here only to talk to you, nothing else. I’m not very good at saying things like this, so just listen to me. Okay?

 

MACK: What? Something come up? The room’s good for the weekend, no refunds, and we’ve had this planned for—

 

JODIE: Mack, nothing’s come up that hasn’t come up a hundred times already since graduation.

 

MACK: Jodie, what are you talking about? Look, we can talk up in—

 

JODIE: No. I can’t stay.

 

MACK: What?

 

JODIE: It’s over, Mack.

 

Daria listens, frozen in place.

 

MACK: Jodie, honey, please—

 

JODIE: Listen to me! You and I are friends. We’ve always been friends.

 

MACK: What? [loud whisper] We’ve been a lot more than friends!

 

JODIE: Mack, please. We’ve shared so much, but we always knew we were heading in different directions. Let me say this, please!

 

MACK: What are you talking about? We’re not going to be that far apart, Jodie. Vance University’s only a day’s drive from Turner U! We can still—

 

JODIE: It’s not that! [deep breath] I want to be free. I’m so confused lately about what I want in life. When we graduated, I thought I knew where I was going with everything, but I need some breathing space. I’ve been thinking about the two of us for weeks now, and we—we aren’t going down the same road, Mack. We’re not. [pause] I want to see what else life has for me. We have to go our separate ways. It’s going to happen when we got to college, and we may as well face it now. We never were meant for each other for the rest of our lives. [pause] Mack, it’s over.

 

MACK: [gasps] Jodie!

 

JODIE: We’ve talked about this a hundred times! You knew we weren’t going to be together forever! That was high school. This is life!

 

MACK: [agonized] Jodie . . . I love you.

 

Daria closes her eyes and grimaces in sympathetic pain.

 

MACK: After everything we’ve been through, everything I’ve done for you, please—

 

JODIE: [upset, voice breaking] I have to go. I’m sorry, but it’s over, Mack. I’ll always be your friend, but that’s . . . I have to go.

 

MACK: But you said you were so lucky to have—wait! Jodie!

 

JODIE: [leaving, verge of tears] Goodbye!

 

Jodie leaves quickly through the revolving door, wiping her eyes as she goes. Mack stands in the lobby in shock. He takes a few steps toward the door, looks out after Jodie, then steps back. His face is blank with disbelief. His hands fall to his sides. Dazed, he slowly turns and walks back across the lobby and out of sight.

 

Daria opens her eyes and sighs heavily, looking sad. She picks up her paperback but cannot get interested in it.

 

Behind her, Brittany Taylor comes through the revolving door. She wears the same yellow-and-blue outfit as always. She looks around the lobby for someone. Moments later, Kevin Thompson (still wearing his Lawndale High School football uniform) hurries across the lobby to her.

 

KEVIN: Hey, babe! Glad you could make it!

 

BRITTANY: [anxious, low voice] Kevvy, I don’t know if this is really a good idea.

 

Hearing their voices, Daria gets a severely pained look on her face. She tries to focus on her book, scrunching down in her seat.

 

KEVIN: I got a room for the two of us, babe. It’ll be just like the old days.

 

BRITTANY: Wow, like, we never did it in a hotel. Under the bleachers, in your car, in the locker room, in the janitor’s room, in every closet in your house and every park in town, yeah, but never in a hotel. Not a nice hotel like this one, anyway. Probably no crawly things in the sheets here.

 

KEVIN: [wicked leer] Except for me, of course!

 

BRITTANY: Wait. Kevvy, listen to me.

 

KEVIN: We can talk later. Let’s let looove talk now. Let’s put Mister Gopher back inside his happy burrow!

 

Daria flinches and scrunches down in her seat even further, the paperback pressed right up to her face.

 

BRITTANY: [upset] Kevin, that’s just rude! Please listen to me! Something about this isn’t right. We have to think about our futures, you know?

 

KEVIN: Hey, I am thinking about our future. It’s on the fifth floor in room five thirteen.

 

BRITTANY: I mean our big futures! Like, you remember in class when they talked about that philosophy stuff, and it, like, made my head hurt so much I had to take my PMS pills? That kind of future, Kevvy.

 

KEVIN: Baby, look, it wasn’t my fault I didn’t graduate. It’s the stupid teachers. They’re jealous of me. They’re jealous of my athletic prow—prown—’cause I can throw a football, and they suck at it. They’re jealous because I’ve got you!

 

BRITTANY: But Kevvy, I’m going away to Great Prairie State in a couple months, and that’s a long way from here, even though on the map it isn’t that far, only four inches, maybe. We’ll be apart for weeks and weeks. [leans forward, low voice] Things can happen, you know?

 

KEVIN: [low, husky whisper] I’ve got four inches that’ll take you all the way to paradise, babe.

 

Daria instantly puts her book aside and clamps both hands tightly over her ears, eyes shut and teeth clenched.

 

BRITTANY: [looks around, whispers] Shhh! Not here, Kevvy!

 

KEVIN: Please, baby. Look, we can have dinner or something first and talk about it. They’ve got burgers and fries here on the kids’ menu.

 

BRITTANY: [groans, weakening] Any pizza?

 

KEVIN: [grins in triumph] Bitchin’ pizza. Cheese, I think.

 

BRITTANY: [sighs] Well, maybe a little pizza would be okay. So we can talk. We gotta talk, Kevvy.

 

KEVIN: [relieved] Great, baby! Then maybe for dessert we can have some of that great Brittany pie!

 

BRITTANY: Kevin! [smacks him on the arm]

 

Kevin and Brittany leave. After a few moments, Daria removes one hand, hears nothing more, and sits up again, opening her eyes and sighing deeply. She sits for a moment, appearing exhausted, then reaches over and picks up her book. She forces herself to read it, frowning hard.

 

Behind her, Andrea of the unknown last name (in her usual Goth outfit) comes through the revolving doors. Hurrying across the lobby, Charles Ruttheimer III (Upchuck) comes up to greet her, in his usual school outfit.

 

UPCHUCK: [in peak form, takes Andrea in his arms] Ah, my vampiric vixen, my queen of darkness, my Hoth-eyed beauty!

 

Daria jumps, startled to hear Upchuck right behind her. Upchuck and Andrea kiss passionately until Andrea pulls back.

 

ANDREA: [pointing to her eye makeup] Horus. This is the Eye of Horus.

 

UPCHUCK: Of course it is, my coal-haired queen of the night! Glad you could make it! A grand suite waits us, my divine angel, my perfect partner, my dark dominatrix! Oh, Andrea! Grrrrrr! [buries face in Andrea’s shoulder, kissing her neck with great passion]

 

Daria drops her book on the floor. She sags in her seat, head falling back, and stares at the lobby ceiling in disbelief.

 

ANDREA: [hugs him, but distracted] Charles, listen. I think we should—

 

UPCHUCK: [husky whisper, kissing Andrea’s neck, cheek, hair, and ear] I’ve waited endless eons for us to share this night of madness together. Everything is in readiness for our journey into the Stygian heart of passion, the silken touch of your mortal flesh against mine, together . . . as . . . one.

 

Daria shivers in revulsion and wraps her arms around her middle. She bends forward at the waist, head down between her spread knees, as if seconds from being violently ill.

 

ANDREA: Charles . . . we need to talk, okay?

 

UPCHUCK: Not now, my mistress of the sacred and profane arts! We have forever, the rest of our lives to talk. [lowers voice] Now is the time for mighty deeds, not weakling words. The scent of you has aroused me, and I must take you away from this mundane, lifeless world and lose myself in your glory and splendor, or else perish, fade into oblivion, and be no more. Grrrrrr! [buries his face in her neck again]

 

Still bent over, Daria grabs handfuls of her hair with both hands and pulls as hard as she can, unable to tune out the conversation.

 

ANDREA: [sighs, yields] Okay, okay. You win, Romeo. You’ve got me.

 

UPCHUCK: [husky whisper] No, my precious one, my midnight delight. You . . . have got . . . me!

 

Upchuck and Andrea leave, walking across the lobby together toward the elevators. Daria remains bent over, her hands gripping her hair.

 

DARIA: [very tense, low voice] If Tom comes in that door, so help me God, I swear I’m going to—

 

Behind her, Jake Morgendorffer comes back from the main desk with their suitcases, looking around anxiously.

 

JAKE: [turning in place] Daria?

 

DARIA: [jumps to her feet, turns, and yells, arms waving desperately] Dad!

 

JAKE: [extreme startle reaction] Aaaugh! [backs up and falls over his own suitcase]

 

 

11. INT: AN HOUR LATER, SEMINAR ROOM, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

A large crowd of fathers and daughters are present in a large meeting room in the hotel, seated and facing a speaker at a podium. Most daughters are considerably younger than Daria, who is probably the oldest daughter present; Daria notices all the elementary-school girls and sighs. Vases of pink roses and bright flowers are everywhere along the sides of the room. Some of the older girls’ faces in the room are familiar—Sandi, Stacy, Tiffany, etc. Certain faces are not present (Jane, Quinn, Andrea, Brittany, Jodie).

 

Sandi Griffin and her father sit immediately behind Daria and Jake, near the back of the room. (Stacy, Tiffany, and their fathers are close by.) Sandi leans forward and taps Daria on the shoulder.

 

SANDI: [whispers] Where’s Quinn?

 

DARIA: [looks back, whispers] Probably shopping.

 

SANDI: [irritated whisper] How’d SHE get out of this?

 

SANDI’S FATHER (TOM GRIFFIN): Shhh. He’s about to start, sweetie!

 

Sandi subsides with a dark look on her face, frowning at the speaker, a cheery bearded guy—the sort that’s probably a wonderful dad in the best Walt Disney mold.

 

SANDI: [mumbles under her breath] Lucky little bitch.

 

SPEAKER (BOB): Good evening, and welcome to, “Our Daughters, Our Future: The Lawndale Princesses Weekend”! I’m Bob Bobinnelong, and we’re here to celebrate the bond between father and daughter, to strength those ties that will propel the next generation of women into the vast gulf of tomorrow with a fearless, confident leap!

 

DARIA: [murmurs to self, deadpan] With or without the bungee cord?

 

SPEAKER (BOB): In your program packets, you will find a questionnaire designed to help you fathers learn just how good—or dreadful—a father you really are! A similar questionnaire for you daughters will help you determine just how badly your dad has screwed up your life! Ha, ha! [no one in the audience laughs, but the speaker doesn’t notice] Remember, there’s almost always room for improvement, and it’s almost never too late to make things better, or so we hope!

 

Jake, now looking quite anxious, goes through his program packet until he finds the questionnaires; he hands the one labeled “Daughters” to Daria. Daria glances at hers and puts it facedown in her lap. Jake, however, begins to carefully read through his questionnaire while the speaker drones on in the background about the importance of fathers in their children’s lives. Jake gets a pen out of his shirt pocket and begins to answer the questions, using the packet to support the questionnaire.

 

DARIA: [bored already, whispers] Dad, is there a schedule of events for this train wreck?

 

JAKE: [whispers] Just a minute, kiddo. [finds schedule sheet in packet, hands it to Daria] Here you go.

 

DARIA: [whispers] Thanks. I think.

 

Daria scans the sheet. On the schedule for Saturday morning, Daria sees, “The Wonderful Miracle of Your Mysterious and Beautiful Womanly Body” at 9 a.m., the first seminar of three for daughters only. Following that is lunch, then at two-hour intervals are, “Am I Really Going to Marry Someone Like My Dad, and If So, Should I Just End It All Now?” (1 p.m.) and “Just How the Hell Am I Supposed to Cope Once I Realize That I’ve Turned Into My Mother?” (3 p.m.).

 

DARIA: [tone of dread] Uh-oh.

 

Daria continues reading the schedule. Concluding on Saturday evening is “Don’t Worry, Your Life Will Probably Be Just Fine Despite Everything You Might Have Heard Here,” for both fathers and daughters, followed by dinner and a dance. A Sunday morning breakfast concludes the weekend, with an awards ceremony for an as-yet unidentified father-daughter team “to be chosen during the weekend.”

 

DARIA: [murmurs to self] I’m sorry now that I didn’t take up hard drinking in fourth grade, as I’d planned.

 

JAKE: [reading questionnaire, whispers] Daria?

 

DARIA: [whispers] Wait, I’ll get her. [pause] What?

 

JAKE: [whispers] A lot of these questions want to know if I’ve ever asked you about your weight, or tried to make you diet, or things like that. Was I supposed to do that?

 

DARIA: [whispers] No.

 

JAKE: Oh. [pause, whispers] Was that good or bad that I didn’t?

 

DARIA: [whispers] Good. Fathers aren’t supposed to do that.

 

JAKE: [relieved] Thank God. [fills in some answers, whispers] This one. I think I know the names of every one of your friends. [pause] That’s Jane, right?

 

DARIA: [whispers] Yes.

 

JAKE: [whispers] Okay. [fills in answer, peers at next one, to self] Oh, this is good. I do make dinner as often as Helen. You’re on a roll, Jakey!

 

Daria makes a face at the unpleasant memory of her father’s many failed attempts to make dinner, but says nothing.

 

JAKE: [whispers] Oh, and the next one’s good, too. I do tell you stories about my youth. [frowns, voice getting louder] All the miserable, rotten things that my no-good jerk of a father did to me, sending me off to military school at the age of—

 

SEVERAL PEOPLE NEARBY: [to Jake] Shhh!

 

JAKE: [winces] Oops! [looks at questionnaire, recovers, whispers to Daria] Do you and I share any physical or athletic activities together?

 

DARIA: [whispers] Television.

 

JAKE: [whispers] Yeah, that’s right. [writes this down] Do you or did you ever talk with your daughter about menst—[stops instantly, turns bright red with embarrassment]

 

DARIA: [pause, deadpan] Menstruation?

 

Jake looks mortified and begins to sweat.

 

DARIA: [whispers] You bought me that book on it. Put down yes.

 

Jake does so, still looking mortally embarrassed. He reads the next question silently—but when he does, he looks horrified beyond words. The question is: “Do you ever view pornographic materials?” Daria notices her father’s silence and glances over at his questionnaire.

 

DARIA: [loud whisper] Put no. Those videos that Mom gets for the two of you don’t count.

 

JAKE: [squeaks] Eeep!

 

Too ashamed to continue, Jake hides his face behind his questionnaire. Daria looks toward the front of the room—and smiles.

 

 

12. INT: ABOUT THIS TIME, QUINN’S BEDROOM, MORGENDORFFER HOME

 

Fully dressed now in her usual outfit, Quinn lies face down on her made-up bed, kicking her legs slowly in the air. She appears to be waiting for someone to speak on her phone. Her upper body is propped up on her elbows. An open sack of barbecue-flavored fat-free chips rests on the floor beside her bed. Several open books on interior decorating lie on the bed next to her, with a large pad of graph paper and three pencils. Her room otherwise looks as it does in The Daria Diaries, with all her stuffed animals on her bed pillows, stacked up as if part of a circus human-pyramid act.

 

QUINN: [to phone, now animated] Oh, hi! My name’s Quinn Morgendorffer, and I want to get some ideas from your company about renovating an upstairs bedroom. It’s my sister’s room—I mean, it is now, but she’s going to college this fall, so then it’s free. Uh-huh. Yeah, I’ll miss her, sort of, but what I wanted to do was, like, convert her bedroom into a party room, so my friends and I can use it. We need to take down all the padding on the walls, get the bars out of the windows, all that. What? No, really. I’m not kidding. The family before us had some crazy person in there, and she—my sister—she took the room as it was. Uh-huh. Yeah, that was pretty crazy, too, but hey, she was happy, I guess. Uh-huh. Oh, I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter if she does, because she’ll be gone. Why ask? Uh-huh. Oh, my mom’s already thinking of things to do with it. She—

 

Quinn breaks off, rolling on her back to look up at her bed’s canopy. Her free hand reaches down to her bare midriff and presses lightly on her abdomen, just below her stomach. When she rolls on her back, she comes to rest almost on the edge of her bed.

 

QUINN: [to phone] Excuse me, I missed that. What? Oh, nothing, just a cramp. [short laugh] Yeah, probably. It’s gone now. What was I saying? [removes hand from abdomen to play with her hair] Oh, my mom. Yeah, my mom’s thinking about turning it into a guest bedroom, but that’s sooo common, you know? Like, I can’t come up with anything better than that, right. I’d ask my friends, but they’re all off at some dumb meeting. Uh-huh. Okay, what I need is, like, a list of things you can put into a party room, all the good stuff. Yeah, like that. Exactly. Our TVs are so small, they are just ridiculous.

 

Quinn’s free hand reaches down along the side of her bed, searching for the sack of barbecue-flavored chips. Finding nothing, she stretches harder in every direction to find it, scooting herself ever closer to the edge of the bed.

 

QUINN: [to phone] What? You’re kidding! Oh, yeah! That would be sooo cool! A kitchenette and wet bar! No alcohol, of course, but we could—oh, no, it’s not that, but yeah, I am too young, but it’s fattening, you know? Like I really need to bloat out like one of those fish with the pointy things all over it. Yeah, exactly!

 

Not paying attention to anything but the phone, Quinn makes a last effort to reach the chips, rolling halfway over toward the edge of the bed—on which she already rests.

 

QUINN: [to phone] Like, I should ruin my perfect body just for the sake of a—Waaaaahhh!

 

Quinn falls out of bed directly onto the sack of chips. The bed covering goes with her, dragging along all her books and papers and pencils, her pillows, all the stuffed animals, and the phone base and phone cord. The phone base makes a noise like cross between a bang and a ring when it hits her on the head, then hits the floor.

 

QUINN: [loudly] Ow! Damn it!

 

 

13. INT: AN HOUR LATER, WOMEN’S RESTROOM, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Daria stands in a toilet stall, arranging her clothing, ready to leave. Outside her stall, Brittany storms into the restroom, her face red. She marches over to a sink and turns the faucet on, splashing water in her face. Someone knocks loudly on the restroom door.

 

BRITTANY: [shouts] Go away, Kevin!

 

As Daria reaches for the lock on her stall door, she hears the above and freezes in surprise. The door to the restroom opens quickly and Kevin barrels in, also red-faced.

 

BRITTANY: Kevin, get out! This is the girl’s room! People are peeing in here!

 

KEVIN: [oblivious] Babe, listen, you can’t be serious about—

 

BRITTANY: [flings water at him from her sink] Get out! I meant what I said! We’re through!

 

KEVIN: [shielding face] Brittany, baby, please! We can’t end like this!

 

Daria groans softly, leaning against one wall of her restroom stall with her eyes closed. She’s trapped and knows it. Brittany stops flinging water at Kevin.

 

BRITTANY: Kevin, we not only can end like this, but we can end like this! [pause] I mean, we just did end like this! All you brought me down here for was to go up to your room and bang me on the bed! You haven’t heard anything I’ve said all night! I’ve talked to you until I’m as blue as Lawndale’s school colors, the blue part, but you don’t get it!

 

KEVIN: Damn it, Brittany, this just isn’t right!

 

BRITTANY: What’s not right? That you didn’t graduate? That I did, and I’m out of this damn dumb-ass town come August? What part of “You don’t get it” are you not getting? [pause] I think I said that right.

 

KEVIN: [leans against a sink and wipes his face with one hand] Okay, hold on. Wait. [sighs, swallows] Okay, I’m sorry. I—I just lost it. I’m sorry I threw my soup. I’m sorry I jumped on the table. And I’m sorry about that lady’s damn little dog.

 

BRITTANY: [glowers at Kevin] That was mean.

 

KEVIN: They’ll find him eventually. He was an ugly little fur ball, but I’m sorry about it anyway. I’m sorry, okay?

 

BRITTANY: [wit’s end] Kevin, don’t you see at all what I’ve been saying? Don’t you get it? Please tell me you get it.

 

Kevin is silent for several moments.

 

KEVIN: [tired voice] I get it. [softer voice] I get it.

 

BRITTANY: Okay. [pause] What exactly do you get?

 

KEVIN: [low voice] We’re . . . over. We’re through.

 

BRITTANY: [nods in relief] You got it. Finally.

 

Kevin is silent again, but appears to be thinking hard.

 

KEVIN: Well, I tell you what. I’m staying over anyway. I can’t get a refund on the room, ‘cause it was a special deal, so I’ve got it until Monday morning. May as well stick around and play with the Nintendo. Refrigerator’s stocked, too. Nothing else to do.

 

BRITTANY: Okay. Well, I’m going home.

 

KEVIN: [quiet voice] I want to make it up to you.

 

BRITTANY: Make it up? How?

 

KEVIN: [hesitates] I want to show you I’m okay about it. That it’s okay, everything’s all right.

 

BRITTANY: How?

 

KEVIN: [sighs] Please have dinner with me tomorrow night. Here. That’s all I’m asking.

 

BRITTANY: [pause] All? Are you sure?

 

KEVIN: I swear, babe. Brittany, I mean—Brittany. Sorry.

 

BRITTANY: [pause] Dinner, and that’s all. You’re not going to lose it again, right?

 

KEVIN: I swear. I’ll be all right.

 

BRITTANY: [points finger at Kevin] Hands to yourself, too. No grabbing my butt anymore when I try to sit down.

 

KEVIN: No. None of that. Just dinner.

 

BRITTANY: [pause, softer voice] Okay. I’ll have the cheese pizza again. It was good. Diet soda, too, same as tonight. Maybe dessert, if you don’t jump on the table.

 

KEVIN: Okay. Done. Promise.

 

BRITTANY: Okay. Now, get out. I have to pee.

 

KEVIN: [nods] Right. [leaves for the door] I’ll be upstairs.

 

BRITTANY: I’m going home. [pause] See you tomorrow night, then.

 

KEVIN: Okay. [leaves]

 

Brittany grips the sides of the sink with both hands and leans on it, breathing heavily.

 

BRITTANY: [after a pause] Stupid jerk. I should’ve . . . [voice dies away]

 

Brittany sniffs, washes her face off, dries off with a paper towel, and walks into another stall, shutting the door. Relieved, Daria swiftly leaves her own stall, washes her hands in seconds, and hurries out of the restroom. She hesitates at the door in case she runs into Kevin outside, but Kevin—thankfully—is nowhere to be seen.

 

 

14. INT: EARLY EVENING, DINING ROOM, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Daria and her father sit together at a table for two with a lavish display of beautiful flowers on one side. The buffet line is in the distance behind them. A large, decorative potted bush sits immediately behind Daria’s chair, blocking her view of the table behind her. Jake has a huge steak with fries, and Daria has an artichoke focaccia, something that looks like an upscale pizza with colorful vegetables on it, plus a side order of cheese fries. She cuts into her pizza as Jake cuts into his steak.

 

JAKE: [happily] Steak, by God! Good old American steak! Give me a dead, bloody animal carcass on a plate with a barrel of ketchup any day! How’s your pizza?

 

On the verge of putting a forkful of pizza in her mouth, Daria winces and puts her food down again. She carefully avoids looking at her father’s dinner as he empties a bottle of ketchup over everything on his plate.

 

DARIA: [deadpan] Uh, I think I’ll just look at it for a little longer and savor the moment.

 

JAKE: This is living, kiddo. I tell you, I remember back when I was a kid, with that miserable, no-good, lousy father of mine trying to make me eat broccoli, and—

 

DARIA: Dad? Dad, listen. [waits until Jake looks at her] Dad, let’s not talk about Grandpa, okay? Please? [pause] This is our night out. You. Me. Us.

 

JAKE: [blinks, surprised] Well, sure. Okay. [pause] I was going to say—[glances anxiously at Daria]—that I used to have to eat all these vegetables, and now I’m an adult and I don’t have to, and that’s great!

 

DARIA: Ah. Well, I don’t like some vegetables, either, but they are good for you. You should eat them more often, especially considering your heart condition.

 

Jake is about to dig into his fries, but he stops dead when Daria says “heart condition.” Swallowing, he looks at his steak, then puts down his fork and knife.

 

JAKE: I, uh, think I’ll just, um, look at my food for a minute, too. Just a pause to reflect, of course. [coughs] You know, maybe I should get a replacement. That steak’s sort of tough, really, and the fries aren’t—

 

DARIA: [pushes her plate toward Jake] Try this. It’s a focaccia, sort of like a pizza. Even the vegetables are tasty, and the cheese is low fat—I asked.

 

JAKE: [hesitates, then picks up a fork and takes a small bite of her dish] Oh. [brightens] Hey, that’s good! [looks around] Know what? I’m gonna get one of those! Be right back!

 

Jake gets up and hurries back to the serving line. Daria looks at his steak and fries, looks back at her father, then quietly reaches over with her fork and eats most of his fries in a few seconds. She puts the rest in with her cheese fries and mixes them up. A waiter comes by, and Daria hands the ketchup-soaked steak to him to take away. As she hands off the steak, Daria hears someone talking on a cell phone nearby, hidden by the large potted bush behind her chair. The audience view shifts between Mack (on the cell phone, walking behind Daria to stop by the bush) and Daria (at her table, unseen).

 

MACK: [to cell phone] Are you sure? I just wanted to see if she’d talk with me for a few minutes. . . . Oh. Oh. I didn’t . . . I see. Yes, I’m sorry about that. I didn’t know. . . . So, she doesn’t want to . . . oh, okay. No, that’s fine. I won’t call back. I’m sorry if I bothered you. Yes. No, that’s all right. Okay. Good night, Mrs. Landon.

 

Mack slowly closes his cell phone and stands in silence, still dazed from the unexpected turn of events. Daria, unseen, picks at her pizza, losing her appetite. After a moment, Mack lifts his cell phone, opens it, and thumbs a speed-dial number.

 

MACK: [tries to sound cheery, to phone] Hey, this is Mack. Is Rick there? Yeah, sure, thanks. . . . Rick, ‘sup? Yeah, nothing here. Listen, you want to get out for a while tonight? I’m down at the . . . oh. [short, embarrassed laugh] Okay. . . . Oh. Um, well, maybe next weekend, then. Sure. Hi to Sherry. Yeah. Later.

 

Mack shuts his cell phone and rubs his face, depressed and alone. He raises the phone and speed-dials one more number.

 

MACK: [waiting for phone pickup] C’mon, Jimmy. C’mon, pick it up. C’mon . . . [sighs, tries to sound cheery but fails] Yeah, hi, Jim, this is Mack. When you get in, if you want to get out for a while tonight, call me on my cell phone. I’m down at the Plaza Hotel. Nothing’s going on, and maybe we can hang out for a while. It’s Friday, nothing to do here. Call me. Thanks. Bye.

 

Mack shuts his phone and drops it into a pants pockets. He slowly moves off, hands thrust into his pockets, head down.

 

Daria stares at her pizza. After a few moments, she rouses herself and checks on her dad, who has gotten his own focaccia and is returning to their table. Daria forces herself to start eating again. Beaming, Jack starts to sit down, but he first looks around in confusion for his steak. He shrugs and sits down anyway. They talk as they eat.

 

JAKE: Heh. First time I’ve ever given up a steak. Must be getting old.

 

DARIA: Old in human years or dog years?

 

JAKE: Just old. Wait till you hit fifty. Everything hurts, everything’s running down. Not like when I was a kid, sent away to military school by that—[stops, glances anxiously at Daria]—um, where I had to do pushups all day. Boy! I ached all over, but I was in good condition. At least I had that. Best shape I was ever in.

 

DARIA: You should exercise more. Go power walking with Mom.

 

JAKE: Huh? [makes awful face] Oh, that looks so weird. People would drive up on the sidewalk to run over me if they saw me. Don’t think I could keep up with Helen now, anyway.

 

DARIA: You need to do something to improve your cardiovascular health.

 

JAKE: Cardio—[smiles]—you sound like my doctor. [pause] You always were a smart kid. Always knew your own mind. Still do.

 

DARIA: [looks as if she doesn’t exactly agree with that last statement] Mmm.

 

JAKE: [remembering] You were something. Reading the newspaper and looking at my business books, and that time in sixth grade when you helped me with the taxes. I couldn’t get that one part straight, about the withholding, but you sorted it out for me just in time. [recalls something] Oh, and your writing! That’s wonderful! I’ve always been proud of that.

 

DARIA: [looks up, mildly surprised] I thought that reading my writing made you nervous.

 

JAKE: [increasingly uncomfortable] Oh, no . . . just the parts about the, uh, tortures and vampires and things blowing up and, uh—oh, what’s this? [points to a vegetable on his pizza]

 

DARIA: Artichoke.

 

JAKE: Ah, of course. Didn’t recognize it.

 

DARIA: Yes, they look different from French fries.

 

Jake nods, missing her gentle sarcasm. They eat quietly for a few moments.

 

JAKE: [hesitant, nervous] Daria . . . do you think I know you?

 

Daria is taken aback. This was clearly not a question she imagined he would ask.

 

DARIA: Do you know me?

 

JAKE: Well, do you think I know you?

 

DARIA: Do I know if you know me, or do you know if I know that you know me?

 

JAKE: [confused] Let’s start over again. Um . . .

 

DARIA: [slight frown] I’m not sure if you do.

 

JAKE: [pained] Oh. I was reading that questionnaire and I got to thinking, there are times I know you, and times when, um, I’m not so sure. Maybe it’s part of having a teenager. Everything’s changing, you’re trying new things, nothing seems to go right, you want everyone to stay out of your closet where you hide your Playboys. [hesitates] I guess . . . I don’t want to be for you like my father was for me.

 

DARIA: [sighs] Dad, I think you’ve been spared that one humiliation. [pause] Although there were a few moments this morning after you woke me up that I—

 

JAKE: You think I know you, then?

 

DARIA: [pause as she thinks] Okay, why don’t you tell me who I am, and we’ll see.

 

JAKE: You’re Daria!

 

DARIA: [deadpan] Very good. You get a cookie. I meant, what kind of person I am.

 

JAKE: Oh. [sighs] Well, um . . . [long pause, half smile] Heh. I was thinking about that box.

 

DARIA: Box? What—oh.

 

JAKE: The refrigerator box you hid in, because—[looks embarrassed]—it brought back memories of your mother and I having that fight when you were small, back in Highland.

 

DARIA: [getting tense] We’re not going to have an instant replay of all that, are we?

 

JAKE: No, no. It’s just that, um, I was thinking about that box earlier today, and it, um, reminded me of what kind of person you are.

 

DARIA: [raises an eyebrow] I’m . . . the sort who hides in boxes?

 

JAKE: [misses joke] Not necessarily. I was actually thinking about what I saw in you, when you were little. [pause] Having you was a big responsibility. It was hard sometimes.

 

DARIA: [irked] What, Quinn was easier?

 

JAKE: Quinn’s different. Easier in some ways. Your intelligence made everything complicated. My God, your test scores. I told your mother that we were the parents of Supergirl. You understood so many things, you saw things others couldn’t see, and you had your own mind. If other kids didn’t treat you right, you didn’t see any need to get along with them. You had your principles. You knew right from wrong, except maybe where Quinn was involved. [remembers something] Integrity. I happened to look that up earlier today. You had integrity when you were six years old.

 

Startled, Daria stops eating and stares at her father. Jake looks down at the table as he talks, remembering.

 

JAKE: The integrity part, I liked a lot. I loved you because you stood up for yourself. You were the kind of kid I wished I’d been when I was small. But it’s been hard for you, too. I had it hard when I was a kid, but I gave in all the time. I couldn’t fight my dad. [raises hand to stop Daria’s protest] No, it’s okay. I won’t go on about it, but it’s true. I couldn’t fight him. I gave in. I didn’t have the willpower you have. I couldn’t stand life being so hard all the time. [pause] I can’t imagine how much crap you’ve put up with all these years, just to stay the kind of person you are now. [smiles faintly] You’re stubborn, like your mother. Comes in handy. Wins arguments, gets your way, but . . . it’s hard.

 

Jake puts his elbows on the table, hands in front of his face wringing together slowly.

 

JAKE: When I realized that you, at age six, knew exactly what you were doing, that you had the determination to not fit in, to be yourself, I knew then you were going to be just like you are now. I admired and loved you for it. I still do. It worries me that you never bend, but when I think about it . . . it cheers me up. It gets me through my day, knowing that you did me one better.

 

Daria looks stunned. She obviously never expected this.

 

JAKE: I wish you were happier, though. Quinn’s basically happy. Nothing much fazes her. You’re so different, the two of you.

 

DARIA: [looks down, low voice] Misery chick.

 

JAKE: What?

 

DARIA: [depressed and touchy] Nothing.

 

JAKE: I think it comes with the territory.

 

DARIA: [looks up, angry] What are you talking about?

 

JAKE: [tolerant smile] Did you think it was going to be easy to be you? To stick with your principles when so many other people don’t?

 

DARIA: I . . . [frowns]

 

JAKE: You’re smarter than anyone else in our entire family, your mother’s side or mine. You see things no one else does. You know when people are lying. Jane said tha—[coughs, realizes he said something he didn’t want to]

 

DARIA: [surprised] Jane said that?

 

JAKE: [gestures, acting casual] Sure. I talk to her sometimes, you know. Not much, but once in a while, when she’s around. [quickly] But it’s true, I think. You do know when people aren’t honest with you.

 

Daria says nothing, looking at her father reflectively.

 

JAKE: I’m . . . I’m not always honest when I should be. I learned to hide a lot of stuff when I was a kid. My father and all that. I shouldn’t do it anymore, but old habits . . . anyway, I’m sorry when I’m not honest with you. [smiles] And you’re not always . . . well, you are honest, but your sense of humor is sort of, um . . .

 

DARIA: [touchy] Sarcastic? Scornful? Mocking?

 

JAKE: Mmm—no, I’d say ironic.

 

DARIA: Is that the marketing talking, or you?

 

JAKE: Me. Just me. I can’t always tell when you’re having fun, messing with my head. I get too tense, don’t take time to think things out. Comes with being an adult. [grimaces]

 

Daria stares at her father, her expression unreadable.

 

DARIA: [slowly] Do you think I’m ever going to be happy?

 

JAKE: [pause to consider this] I don’t think that’s so important.

 

DARIA: [blinks, then leans forward] Why?

 

JAKE: [soft voice] All I care about is that you stay true to you. Sometimes it’s not the goal. It’s how you get there. Happy, sad, doesn’t matter. It’s how you get there.

 

DARIA: [stares at Jake, amazed] How is it that we never have talks like this at home?

 

JAKE: [pause, slowly] Um, my fault, I think. Get distracted. [looks sad] I’m sorry about that. I wish we had done more together. It’s too easy for me to lose track of things. Wish I’d done better.

 

Silence falls again. Soon, Jake picks up his fork.

 

JAKE: [coughs] This is pretty good stuff, this . . . whatever you called it, the pizza. You were right. Better for me than the steak. [softly] Damn it. [smiles anxiously at Daria]

 

Daria raises her glasses, rubs at her eyes, then picks at her pizza.

 

DARIA: [voice rough] Focaccia. [pause] It’s a little cold now.

 

JAKE: [taking a bite] Still pretty good.

 

They eat quietly and listen to the music in the background.

 

DARIA: [clears throat, gestures at ceiling] Mozart. That’s Mozart. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. That’s the name of the music we’re hearing.

 

JAKE: Ah. I can’t tell those old piano guys apart. They all sound alike, sometimes. [pauses, readying self to ask the big question, fake nonchalance] Um, I wanted to ask you something, a little thing. [pause] Uh, what were you up to on, uh, Thursday night? When you were out?

 

DARIA: Oh. I was out with Jane. She was shooting a video for a project.

 

JAKE: [startled, stares at Daria] A video? Like, a movie?

 

DARIA: Yeah. It was weird, but fun. We shot it in a cemetery. Jane had me dress up in black robes, do some stuff.

 

JAKE: [the light dawning] Oh, then you were making a movie, and—

 

DARIA: It’s for her college admissions, to BFAC. Boston Fine Arts College, I mean. She’s trying to get them to let her in this fall instead of waiting for the start of the spring semester. She thinks the video might sway someone. It might work. Beats me.

 

It is Jake’s turn to look amazed. After a moment, he starts to laugh, shaking his head.

 

JAKE: That Quinn!

 

DARIA: [looks up] What?

 

JAKE: [smiling to himself, waves it off] Nothing. Forget it. Just you and me.

 

Daria nods, but something else is clearly on her mind.

 

DARIA: Dad, it’s my turn to ask you one little thing.

 

JAKE: Sure.

 

DARIA: Why did you really want me to come to this seminar with you? I mean, what sparked this?

 

JAKE: [hesitates, nervous] Well, with you going away this fall, I was already starting to miss you, and I got kind of anxious about it, and then I, uh, saw this article in the paper this morning about the seminar, and I thought, um, well, you’re going off and we haven’t really, you know, um—[drops the pretense]—oh, all right. You want honesty. [chuckles to himself, embarrassed] I thought I was saving you from signing a pact with the Devil.

 

Daria freezes, a forkful of her food halfway to her open mouth. Her gaze swivels slowly until she stares at her father with a thunderstruck expression.

 

JAKE: [shakes head, still smiling] Boy, was I way off. Too much work stress. [goes back to cutting pizza] I was a dumb old dad.

 

The look of astonishment on Daria’s face can hardly be described.

 

DARIA: [faintly] You thought what?

 

JAKE: Oh, it was silly. I thought you were out in that cemetery Thursday night doing some kind of demon worship. [puts forkful of food in mouth, shakes head in amusement]

 

DARIA: [drops her fork and knife] You saw me there?

 

JAKE: Hmm? Me? Oh, no. Quinn did.

 

DARIA: Quinn. [pause, then the light dawns over her face] Oooooohhh, Quinn saw me. [further realization sets in] Oooooohhh-kaaaaaaaay.

 

JAKE: [chews in an animated way] Yeah. [swallows] Your mother and I would never have believed all that stuff she said about you killing little animals for Satan, but she had the photographs. Kind of threw me to see you with that skeleton hand. [chuckles to self] It was fake, right? Thought so. Ha! Pretty funny, looking back at it now.

 

DARIA: [flat voice] Photographs. Yes, very funny. [pause] I was with Jane at the cemetery.

 

JAKE: Yeah, you told me. Was she doing something like The Night of the Living Dead, that kind of thing? I always wanted to make a horror movie when I was a kid. Getting into movies could be a great career for you. [frowns] As long as you can keep writing while you’re making the movies, of course. And if you can keep your integrity, too. You know, Hollywood’s not the best place to—

 

DARIA: [tense voice] Did Quinn’s photos show Jane with me?

 

JAKE: [shakes head, missing her tone] Nope. None of them did. Maybe Quinn couldn’t see her. Quinn was out shooting landscaping pictures for her friends, something like that. Must have spotted you and gotten the wrong idea. [cuts into his pizza]

 

DARIA: [dangerous tone in her voice] Jane was just a few feet away from me with a video camera.

 

JAKE: Hmmm. [shrugs] You can ask Quinn about it when you get home. Probably just a big mistake. Came out well, though. [looks at Daria and smiles warmly] Daria, I’m really glad I’m here with you. I wouldn’t miss this weekend for the world.

 

Daria looks at Jake, and her face softens. She smiles for real, though it’s a small smile.

 

DARIA: Thanks, Dad. [pause, looks down, very softly] I love you.

 

JAKE: [stares at Daria, clearly can’t believe he heard that, soft voice] I—I love you, too, kiddo.

 

Jake goes on eating, though his face quickly gets red and his eyes tear up. He dabs at his eyes with his napkin, pretending to wipe his mouth, then goes on with his meal, smiling in a goofy way, his eyes puffy and red.

 

Daria, however, is lost in thought. Her gaze drifts off into space. Her smile is gone.

 

DARIA: [softly, to self] I should make up a special dish for Quinn when I get home. [pause, very soft voice] Something that I can serve cold.

 

Jake nods absently, concentrating on his pizza with a happy look.

 

JAKE: Great music. Mozart, you say?

 

 

15. INT: ABOUT THIS TIME, KITCHEN, MORGENDORFFER HOME

 

The kitchen windows are dark. Quinn sits at the kitchen table with a meal she’s made for herself. A CD player and television set make noise in the living room, and most of the house lights appear to be on as well. In a trash can in the kitchen can be seen a number of large, empty potato-chip bags (regular flavor, barbecue, hot and spicy, sour cream and onion.). All of them are labeled “Fat Free!” or “No Fat!” At the table, Quinn picks up a note from her mother: Quinn, I will be home at 10, don’t wait dinner on me, love you, Mom. Quinn shrugs and contently eats her meal, bobbing her head to the CD player’s boy-band music. Her plate contains a lot of potato chips.

 

While she eats, Quinn suddenly gets a strange look on her face. She drops one hand to her stomach and presses into her abdomen slightly, wincing as she does. She’s having abdominal cramps. The cramps fade in a few moments, and she goes back to her dinner, though eating slowly now.

 

A few moments later, Quinn picks up the nearly empty bag of honey mustard-flavored potato chips on the table beside her, and she starts to read it out of boredom. She scans the front, then flips the bag over in her hand and reads the back. She holds the bag close to her face, as the print is so small. While she reads, she winces again, gritting her teeth. Her free hand goes to her abdomen once more, holding it.

 

Suddenly, Quinn frowns at the bag. She holds the bag right up to her eyes and squints at the tiny print, reading it aloud.

 

QUINN: [voice rising in horror] “Warning: Olestra may cause abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and loose—” Eeeewwwwwwww!!!

 

Quinn abruptly doubles over, in great distress. She’s clearly in agony.

 

QUINN: [gasping] Oh, shit!

 

Quinn manages to get out of her chair and stagger out of the kitchen. Even over the TV set and CD player, the slam of the bathroom door moments later can be heard, followed a few moments later by:

 

QUINN: [VO] EEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

16. INT: LATER THAT NIGHT, CORRIDOR FROM DINING AREA TO BACK PARKING LOT, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Daria and Jake have finished dinner and are exploring the lobby around the dining room. Jake looks to one side as they pass the entrance to a small bar in the hotel. He stops short.

 

JAKE: [pointing] Hey, a couple of clients of mine are there! Edgar and Ray! Wow, what are the chances of that?

 

DARIA: [tolerantly pats Jake on the back] Go have some fun, big guy.

 

JAKE: [hesitates] Is that okay with you? I mean, if I go have a beer or—

 

DARIA: [parental tone] Go for it. Be back in the room by midnight, though. I don’t want to have to run around looking for you.

 

JAKE: [puppy-like excitement] Sure thing! Thanks, kiddo!

 

DARIA: [smiles] No problem, Dad.

 

Jake rushes into the bar, waving a hand at two guys in business suits sitting near the back.

 

DARIA: [soft voice] Parents. What gets into them?

 

Daria then sees a sign with an arrow pointing further down the hall: Video Arcade Room. She reaches up and tugs on one pocket on her jacket, which makes a jingling noise from the change within it. Her smile broadens, and she sets off in that direction.

 

 

17. INT: MOMENTS LATER, VIDEO ARCADE ROOM, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

The hotel’s videogames room appears deserted; the windows to the outside reveal it is nighttime. However, someone is present and playing a game in a corner of the room, hidden by the other machines. The person sounds like he or she is chewing gum with an open mouth.

 

Visible through the room’s glass walls, Daria wanders up to the door, pushing it open to enter from the corridor. She glances toward the rear of the room where the gum-chewing gamer is playing, then shrugs, unconcerned. She looks around and eyes one machine in particular (“Nuclear Ninja Nightmare”), then drops two quarters in it, starting play with an expressionless face. In the game, a first-person shooter, she “holds” an oversized, futuristic Gatling gun. The game starts with her appearing to stand in front of a wooden door, as shown on the video monitor. Suddenly, the door seems to become real, and—

 

 

18. ### DARIA’S DAYDREAM ###

INT: QUINN’S BEDROOM, MORGENDORFFER HOME

 

The door to Quinn’s bedroom is kicked open so hard that it is torn from its hinges, falling into the room with a tremendous crash. Quinn, on her bed and talking on the telephone, looks up in shock. Carrying a gigantic, futuristic Gatling gun under her right arm and bracing it with her left hand, Daria steps into the doorway.

 

QUINN: [to phone in normal voice] Sandi, can I put you on hold? Thanks. [drops phone, shrieks in terror] Daria!

 

DARIA: [pumping a charging mechanism on the gun with her left hand, like pumping a shotgun] Bad sisters check in, but they don’t check out.

 

QUINN: [screaming/pleading] It was a joke! I didn’t mean it! I ate a Twinkie, and I don’t know what came over me!

 

DARIA: [raises the Gatling gun] Tell it to Elvis.

 

Daria opens fire, the Gatling gun spitting flame and bullets from its many barrels in a fantastic crescendo of ear-shattering sound—but Angel Daria suddenly appears, standing in front of (and blocking most of) the scene of Daria’s violent revenge, which now looking like it’s taking place on a videogame screen behind the angel.

 

ANGEL DARIA: [waving arms, shrieking at viewer (Daria)] No! Stop it! You can’t do this, Daria!

 

Devil Daria walks on from one side and gives Angel Daria a shove.

 

DEVIL DARIA: Why not?

 

ANGEL DARIA: [off guard] Why? Because . . . um . . . wait, give me a minute. I’ll think of a reason. Uh—

 

DEVIL DARIA: So, Quinn wanted Dad and Mom to think you were into devil worship, eh? [thoroughly wicked grin] This is way too easy.

 

ANGEL DARIA: [recovering, holding up an index finger] Okay, first—if you want to go on to college, you can’t break any more than two or three laws, none of them a felony.

 

DEVIL DARIA: Screw the law. Nuke her till she glows, then find her in the dark and nuke her again.

 

ANGEL DARIA: [holds up another finger] Two, you have to consider the possibility that there’s an afterlife and a final judgment.

 

DEVIL DARIA: [disdainfully] For Quinn? Judgment Day’s here. What comes after that is her problem.

 

ANGEL DARIA: [another finger up] Okay, three: You might have to share a cell in prison with an insane axe murderess for the rest of your life.

 

DEVIL DARIA: Better that than sharing this planet with Quinn. Maybe the axe murderess will have some funny stories. Rhonda sure does.

 

ANGEL DARIA: [another finger] Four: You won’t be allowed to take any of your books to prison with you!

 

DEVIL DARIA: [hesitates, considering this, then stamps her foot] Damn it!

 

ANGEL DARIA: [equally unhappy] It sucks, I know.

 

DEVIL DARIA: [grumbles] You could still put blue dye in her body lotion, or shave her head while she’s asleep, or set her bed on fire. [grimaces] When she’s not in it, I mean.

 

ANGEL DARIA: [brightens, relieved] There you go! That’s the spirit!

 

 

19. INT: MOMENTS LATER, VIDEO ARCADE ROOM, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

About this point, the other gamer in the room stops playing and sighs loudly. While Daria plays (minus her spiritual advisors), soft footsteps are heard off-screen.

 

ANDREA: [VO] Do you have some extra quarters for a fist full of—

 

Andrea, chewing gum and in her usual Goth clothing, walks around the side of the video game Daria is playing. Completely surprised, Andrea and Daria stare at each other for a few seconds. Andrea holds two dollar bills in one hand (with the fishnet glove), and a perfect black rose in the other. Daria lets her game run out but doesn’t notice.

 

ANDREA: —Darias? [tucks gum in her cheek]

 

DARIA: [recovering] Um, yeah, I’ve got a bunch of change. No problem. [reaches in her pocket]

 

ANDREA: [also recovering] Thanks. [holds bills out to Daria, low voice] You here for that conference, the daughter thing?

 

DARIA: [nods, counts out eight quarters, they trade money] Yeah. Are you . . . here for that, too?

 

ANDREA: No. My dad’s out of town. [hesitates] I’m . . . here for something else.

 

DARIA: [looks at the black rose] That’s beautiful.

 

ANDREA: [looks at her rose] Yeah. It . . .

 

Two seconds pass. Andrea makes a decision.

 

ANDREA: [soft voice] Charles gave it to me.

 

DARIA: [nods, half expected this] As in, Charles Ruttheimer the Third.

 

ANDREA: [tense] Yeah. [hesitates] I thought you were going to call him Up—

 

DARIA: [quickly, shakes head] No.

 

ANDREA: [relieved, looks at rose] You must think I’m really weird.

 

DARIA: You haven’t seen my life yet.

 

ANDREA: [faint smile, looks at Daria] I . . . owe you an apology, you and Jane. That time you were over at PayDay, I wasn’t having the best day ever.

 

DARIA: [shrugs] It’s forgotten. If I worked retail, I’d be on death row by now.

 

ANDREA: The work’s not so bad. A little boring, maybe. The money’s okay.

 

DARIA: [looks around] Is uh—[stops herself from saying “Upchuck”]—Charles around?

 

ANDREA: No. He’s . . . [looks at rose, takes a deep breath] He’s back in our room. Asleep. [pause] We’re staying over for the weekend.

 

DARIA: [absorbs this, soft voice] I won’t tell anyone.

 

ANDREA: [relieved] Thanks. My parents would . . . [shakes head, shrug] I wouldn’t care if Jane knew. She’s okay. I know how you two are.

 

DARIA: [pause, impulsively asks] Are you happy?

 

Daria looks very surprised as the words leave her mouth, as if she cannot believe she asked that question.

 

ANDREA: [gives Daria a strange look] Am I happy? [nods, looks down at rose] You want to hear something really crazy? Yeah, I am. He’s so . . . [smiles] He makes me laugh. He’s so wild, and he can be so funny. And he treats me like I’m a queen or a goddess or something. No one ever—

 

Andrea breaks off and lifts the rose to her nose, sniffing it. When she looks at Daria again, her eyes are very bright.

 

ANDREA: I can’t believe it. This is all so crazy. He’s so nice to me. I never expected that . . . [voice fades out]

 

DARIA: Uh . . . go with it, then.

 

ANDREA: Yeah. I will. [pause] We are.

 

DARIA: It’s okay.

 

ANDREA: [looks at the quarters in her hand, puts them in a pocket] I’m going back up. I just needed to get out a little.

 

DARIA: I’ll be around all weekend, too, with my dad.

 

ANDREA: [nods, smiling] See you around, then.

 

DARIA: Sure.

 

Andrea leaves the game room, sniffing her black rose. Daria watches her go with a stunned expression.

 

DARIA: [low voice] I wonder if this is one of the signs of the Apocalypse.

 

 

 

* * *

 

SATURDAY MORNING

Part Four: Misery Chic

(a.k.a.: Goth Like Me, or, The Voyage of the Andrea-Daria)

 

 

20. INT: EARLY MORNING, UPSTAIRS HALLWAY OUTSIDE QUINN AND DARIA’S BATHROOM, MORGENDORFFER HOME

 

We look at the (closed) bathroom door for a few moments. The sound of gentle snoring comes from behind the door. Nothing stirs otherwise.

 

HELEN: [VO, downstairs] Quinn? Where are you? Quinn?

 

We now hear footsteps coming up the stairs, as well as the gentle snoring. After a moment, Helen Morgendorffer appears. She’s apparently been up for a while. She is dressed in her nightgown and wears fuzzy slippers on her feet.

 

HELEN: [walks past bathroom door, heading for Quinn’s bedroom] Quinn? You left food out last night on the kitchen table. I had to throw it out. Quinn? Where are you?

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom, very sleepy] Mom?

 

HELEN: [reappears, stops in front of bathroom door] Quinn? Are you in there?

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom, very sleepy] Yeah.

 

HELEN: You know you left the TV and your CD player on, and I turned them off when I got in last night. I’m sorry I was late. I got in at midnight. The meeting went on and on.

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom, very sleepy] Wah time zit?

 

HELEN: How long have you been in there?

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom, sleepy] Wah time zit now?

 

HELEN: Six-thirty in the morning.

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom, less sleepy] Uh . . . six . . . I was in the bathroom downstairs for, uh, ‘bout two hours, so that plus this, uh, oh, uh, I think ‘bout ten hours and twenty minutes, something like—

 

HELEN: [pause, startled, shouts] You’ve been in there ten hours?

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom] Mom, don’t yell! I had to go and I don’t feel so good, okay?

 

HELEN: [still shouting] You’ve been in there all night? Are you sick?

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom, very cross] Muuuh-ooom, don’t yell! I can’t leave! When I don’t have to go, I have to shower, and then I have to go again, and then I have to shower, and I’m stuck here, okay?

 

HELEN: [firmly] Okay, Quinn, let me in there.

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom] What? Mom, you don’t want to do that! No way!

 

HELEN: Quinn Morgendorffer, I said open the door and let me in!

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom, panicking] No! Mom, stay out!

 

HELEN: Quinn, stop that. If you’re sick, I want to come in there, right now.

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom] Muuuh-ooom, go away!

 

HELEN: [firmly] That’s enough, young lady!

 

Helen reaches in a pocket of her nightgown and pulls out a paperclip, which she bends out of shape into a lockpicking tool.

 

HELEN: [working on knob lock] I’m coming in there, like any good mother would, and we’ll get to the bottom of this.

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom] Nooo!!!

 

The lock pops open. Helen opens the door—and almost instantly backs out again, waving one hand wildly in front of her face with the other hand covering her mouth and nose.

 

HELEN: [coughing] Oh . . . Quinn!

 

QUINN: [VO, scream] Muuuh-ooom!!!

 

Helen reaches into the bathroom once more, eyes shut and holding her breath, and turns on the ceiling fan. She shuts the door and quickly leaves, heading for the stairs down to the first floor.

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom] Damn it, Mom!

 

HELEN: [VO, going downstairs, coughing hard] I’ll get . . . some air . . . air freshener . . . or something!

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom] Mom? You still out there? [pause] Mom, can you get me something to read?

 

 

21. INT: ABOUT 8:15 A.M., JANE’S ROOM, LANE HOME

 

Jane sits cross-legged on the floor of her room, looking down at a small book. A portable phone handset is pressed between her right shoulder and ear. She points to a passage in the book with one finger, reading it. Behind her, Trent, Jesse, Nick, and Max (all the members of the Mystik Spiral band) are crowded around Jane’s computer on her desk. The monitor is turned away from the viewer, but it is visible to the sleepy-eyed band members. Sitting at the computer desk, pecking at the keys and frowning a lot, is Artie, the alien-obsessed pizza guy. He wears the outfit of a Pizza Forest employee.

 

JANE: [to phone] I dunno. The Book of Revelation is so hard to figure out. Upchuck could be a plague, or he could be one of the beasts. It still looks suspicious. I should pick a religion soon.

 

DARIA: [VO, on phone] Is that your Bible?

 

JANE: [lets book fall shut] No, it was Summer’s. She dated some born-again guy in high school. He dumped her for a biker chick and went to Vegas.

 

DARIA: [VO, on phone] I promised Andrea we’d keep this news about . . . Charles . . . just between you and me.

 

JANE: No problem here. I think some people saw them at Jodie’s party, but I won’t add to the problem. [turns around to look at crowd at her computer] My room’s as crowded as the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise, but it’s an emergency. I had to call in a computer expert. Um, I think he’s a computer expert. Anyway, he and Trent and the guys are trying to help me recover that stupid video file.

 

DARIA: [VO, on phone] The one you shot of me? What happened?

 

JANE: Oh, I renamed it last night and now I can’t find it. I don’t have any copies, and I dumped the original movie. That was stupid. Wait a sec. [holds handset aside but uncovered, calls to Artie] Any luck?

 

ARTIE: [frown deepens] I’m getting an error message here, but it doesn’t make any sense. This computer’s not as advanced as the one I use at home to track alien abductions. When did you last run an error scan on the hard drive?

 

JANE: [blank look] Run what?

 

ARTIE: [sighs] Never mind. [taps keys, shakes head slowly] I don’t get this. Okay, let’s look at the directory here. [taps keys, pause, everyone crowds in closer to read the screen]

 

TRENT: [pointing to monitor screen] Would that be it?

 

ARTIE: [to Jane] Did you name the file “goth daria asterisk ay vee eye”?

 

JANE: [face brightens] Yeah! That’s it! Thanks! [to phone] Sorry. They found the file.

 

ARTIE: I don’t think you can use asterisks when you name files. Maybe that’s why you lost it.

 

TRENT: [to Artie] You gonna put a dot there instead of the little star?

 

JANE: [shrugs, continues talking to Daria] Well, keep me posted on that. I’m afraid I don’t have a lot of hope for the future of the situation you describe, if you get my drift.

 

 

22. INT: MOMENTS LATER, DARIA’S BEDROOM, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Daria sits on her hotel bed, wearing a long green nightshirt with a picture of a bowler-hat-wearing businessman with a green apple for a face (from a René Margritte painting). Her hair is mussed, but her glasses are on. The nice but bland room décor is typical of upscale hotels. In the background, the oversized TV in her room shows an episode of “Sick, Sad World” (volume turned down) that appears to be making a connection between President Richard Nixon, the Martian death machines from the 1953 movie, The War of the Worlds, and the cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants.

 

DARIA: I know. I’m going to run into Upchuck sometime today, and he’s going to hit on me like he does every time he’s seen me before, like he does with other girl in the world, and then—

 

JANE: [VO, on phone] —you’re going to hit on him.

 

DARIA: He’ll be lucky if they can find organ donors fast enough.

 

JANE: [VO, on phone] You go, girl. Make me proud. If you think about it, leave a little piece for me to step on.

 

DARIA: If I have to do hard time, please bring some of my books when you visit. And bring Quinn’s head, too. Wait, never mind—I’ll take care of that myself.

 

JANE: [VO, on phone] Why? What happened now?

 

DARIA: Quinn was watching us when you took that video Thursday evening. She took some pictures of her own, and she showed them to Mom and Dad and told them that I was in league with Satan. I must have looked the part. That’s why Dad decided to take me to this seminar for the weekend, to save me from eternal damnation.

 

 

23. INT: MOMENTS LATER, JANE’S ROOM, LANE HOME

 

Same scene as earlier. Artie is typing very fast on the keyboard. The Mystik Spiral band members watch, intrigued.

 

JANE: [astonished look on her face] Oh, then that’s why . . . forget it. Never mind.

 

DARIA: [VO, on phone] I know. Dad called you to find out what I was like these days.

 

JANE: Well, yeah, but don’t get it wrong. He really sounded like he cared about you.

 

DARIA: [VO, on phone] I know. He does. That’s okay.

 

JANE: But this does explain why your dad thought you were into demon worship and animal sacrifice.

 

Artie and the Mystik Spiral band members look up from the computer monitor, staring at Jane after this last remark. They look at each other with puzzled expressions, then shrug and go back to looking at the monitor.

 

 

24. INT: MOMENTS LATER, DARIA’S BEDROOM, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

On the TV in the background, a black-and-white still photo is shown that appears to be of President Nixon shaking hands with an alien that looks remarkably like Spongebob Squarepants. The volume is still down.

 

DARIA: [through clenched teeth] Yessss, only now I’m thinking of another kind of sacrifice. Perhaps a close family member. I can’t name names over an unscrambled phone line, you understand.

 

 

25. INT: MOMENTS LATER, JANE’S ROOM, LANE HOME

 

The guys at the computer are silent, intently watching something on the monitor. They ignore Jane.

 

JANE: Whatever you do, first make sure that you set aside all the books you want me to bring on visitation day, and any extra underwear. What kind of food do they serve in prison?

 

TRENT: [pointing to monitor] What’s it doing?

 

ARTIE: It’s supposed to be running the file as a . . . [voice dies, eyes bug out at monitor] Whoa.

 

All the guys watching the monitor look startled. Their mouths fall open.

 

TRENT: [staring at monitor, whispers] Ho-lee shit.

 

ARTIE: [hitting Control-Alt-Delete keys very fast, holding them down] Abort!

 

JANE: [turns around, apprehensive, to phone] Daria, hold on.

 

ARTIE: [banging C-A-D keys again and again] Abort, abort, abort!

 

Jane jumps up from the floor and runs to the computer, pushing her way in to see the screen. She holds the phone handset at her chest, but she doesn’t cover the mouthpiece.

 

JANE: [panicked] What the hell is that? [to Artie] What did you do?

 

ARTIE: [still banging keys] Malfunction in the hard drive!

 

TRENT: [in awe] Is that a virus? [recoils] Holy shit! Look—

 

JESSE: [staring wide-eyed at monitor] Oh, my God—it’s full of stars!

 

JANE: [shouts] What’s it doing to my file?

 

Everyone stares at the monitor screen (which is doing something new), but they back up slightly.

 

NICK: [first to recover, high and loud] Terminate, dudes!

 

TRENT: [shouts] Is this online? Are you online?

 

ARTIE: [bangs keys one last time] Negative! Abort system not responding!

 

JANE: [more panicked, hitting C-A-D keys—and more] Jesus, stop it!

 

JESSE: [backing away from the computer in fear] Oh, man, that’s just wrong!

 

TRENT: [to Max, who is closest to the power outlets] The plug! Pull the plug!

 

JANE: [near shriek] Something’s burning! I smell it!

 

ARTIE: [repeatedly hitting power button on computer] Controls not responding!

 

JANE: [shriek] Shut it down!

 

Blue flames burst from both the central processing unit and the back of the monitor. Everyone leaps away from the computer in fright.

 

ARTIE, JESSE, NICK, MAX AT THE SAME TIME: [chaotic yells, scrambling away] Fire! It’s on fire! Mayday! Mayday! Hull breech! Abandon ship!

 

TRENT: [to Max] Pull the goddamn plug!

 

JANE: [enraged scream] My file! You miserable son of a bitch computer, I’m going to—

 

At this moment, Max simultaneously pulls out both the plug to the computer and the phone jack to the portable phone base.

 

 

26. INT: MOMENTS LATER, DARIA’S BEDROOM, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

On the TV in the background, a grainy home movie shows President Nixon boarding a gigantic Martian death machine on the White House lawn, immediately after his resignation from office in 1974.

 

DARIA: [eyes wide, small voice] Hello? Jane? Hello? Enterprise, come in, over.

 

After a moment, the phone handset clicks and a buzzing dial tone comes on. Daria slowly hangs up the phone and stares sadly into space.

 

DARIA: Poor Enterprise. I guess they shouldn’t have boldly gone there.

 

 

27. INT: ABOUT 8:40 A.M., DINING ROOM, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Daria and Jake sit at another table in the hotel dining room, having a fairly normal breakfast. Around them are other father-daughter groups. Most of the daughters are quite young and appear annoyed at having to get up so early on a Saturday. Jake is looking over the schedule of events as he eats.

 

JAKE: Should be an interesting day. You’ve got . . . [turns red] . . . a class at nine—

 

DARIA: [deadpan] On the alleged miracle of my womanly body.

 

JAKE: [coughs, embarrassed] And I’ve a seminar on why I’m here!

 

DARIA: You’ve forgotten already?

 

JAKE: [puts schedule aside] Ha! No, of course not. We had that . . . misunderstanding about . . . you know.

 

DARIA: [deadpan] Dad, trust me on this one point. I would never bring Satanism into our home. I want to keep my religious life and family life separate.

 

JAKE: [relieved] Great, that’s what I—[does double take, gasps]—Daria!

 

DARIA: [stares at him, annoyed] Daaad.

 

JAKE: [pause, then chuckles anxiously] Oh, right! Ha, ha! Always the kidder! I love that about you! [chuckle ends in nervous cough]

 

DARIA: Look, when Mom was showing me how to drive a year ago, I almost ran over a dog. He was okay, but I felt horrible about it. No matter what you think is going on with me, I would never hurt anyone. Ever.

 

JAKE: That’s great!

 

DARIA: Knowingly.

 

JAKE: Wonderful.

 

DARIA: [becoming reflective] If they didn’t really deserve it.

 

JAKE: [looking anxious] Good.

 

DARIA: And if there were a reasonable chance I’d be caught.

 

JAKE: [very anxious, points to his plate] Say, kiddo, want to try this breakfast burrito? It’s got low-fat cheese, low-fat bacon, low-fat eggs, low-fat—

 

DARIA: And the victim wasn’t on my short list of targets of opportunity.

 

JAKE: [extremely anxious] Maybe I should get another one. [gets up from chair]

 

DARIA: And I wasn’t going to splatter my outfit with his—

 

Daria stops. Jake has run off.

 

DARIA: [glum, to self] I shouldn’t have done that. He didn’t deserve it. I’m a bitch. And for once I’m sorry about it. [pause] I’m glad no one heard me say that.

 

Jake reappears, holding an extra plate with a fresh “breakfast burrito.”

 

JAKE: [forced cheeriness] Here you go, kiddo! Try this! You’ll like it!

 

DARIA: Thanks, Dad. [pause] Um, sorry about being a little too open there.

 

JAKE: Ha, ha! No problem-o. We all make mistakes.

 

DARIA: [nods, tries burrito, shrugs] There was something else I wanted to ask you. [sees anxious look on Jake’s face] Not about hurting anyone, I mean.

 

JAKE: [relieved] Oh! Sure, go ahead and shoot!

 

DARIA: Yesterday morning, I was looking for a library book that was due before six last night. It was Needful Things, by Stephen Ki—Dad? Are you all right?

 

Jake chokes for a moment on a mouthful of his burrito.

 

JAKE: [gasps] Fine! I’m fine!

 

DARIA: [pats Jake on the back] Okay, there you go. All better.

 

JAKE: [clears throat, gets control of self, squeaky voice] A library book?

 

DARIA: Yeah. Stephen King. I finished it, but it’s gone missing, and now it’s overdue on my card. If you remember seeing it, let me know so I can take it back.

 

JAKE: [waves a hand as if waving the problem away] Sure, I’ll, uh, take care of it. If I see the book, that is. Not to worry, kiddo.

 

DARIA: Okay. Thanks, Dad.

 

JAKE: Hey, anything for my Lawndale Princess!

 

DARIA: [groans, soft voice] There has to be a better name for this seminar. Lawndale Hell Queens. Lawndale Badass Bitches. Lawndale—

 

JAKE: [quickly checks watch] Whoa! We’d best get underway, kiddo! Those seminars won’t wait for us!

 

 

28. INT: 9:00 A.M., CORRIDOR OUTSIDE SEMINAR ROOMS, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Daria holds her schedule of events for the weekend, looking from it to the room number of the nearest seminar room. Nodding (having found the room where her first seminar is to be held), she walks to the open doors of the room and looks inside. What she sees stops her dead. The room is filled with adolescent, elementary-school-age girls, giggling and talking nervously as they swing their feet from their chair seats. A smiling woman in a pink dress with a microphone waits at the front of the room, checking her watch and preparing to start her lecture. A huge poster on an oversized easel rests beside the speaker, announcing the seminar as: “The Wonderful Miracle of Your Mysterious and Beautiful Womanly Body.” A movie screen is set up behind the speaker. Flowers in vases line the wall behind the speaker and movie screen.

 

SPEAKER (MISS ROSS): [holds up microphone] Are we ready to begin? Good! My name is Miss Ross, and this morning we’re going to talk about an extra-wonderful and exciting part of your body where miracles take place! You know what it is? [no one answers] Yes, it’s your vagina!

 

Daria stares at the scene for one second longer, then slowly folds up her schedule of events. Betraying no expression, she turns and wanders off down the hall the way she came. She does not look back.

 

 

29. INT: ABOUT THIS TIME, INSIDE ANOTHER SEMINAR ROOM, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Jake Morgendorffer sits near the front of a room filled with very bored or very annoyed fathers. The speaker—the cheerful, bearded guy from the seminar introduction—checks his microphone and begins.

 

SPEAKER (BOB): Hello! Welcome to your first seminar for fathers, which we call, “What the Hell Am I Doing Here, Anyway?” I’m Bob Bobinnelong, and we’re going to answer that question in some detail. First, though, I want to hear from those of you in the audience. What brought you here to this father-daughter weekend?

 

The men in the audience look uncomfortable. Finally, one guy in the front row sighs.

 

FIRST FATHER (STACY ROWE’S DAD): My wife made me come here.

 

Many men in the audience nod in grumpy agreement.

 

SPEAKER (BOB): Okay, how about someone else?

 

A brief pause, then:

 

SECOND FATHER: My daughter’s parole officer recommended it.

 

SPEAKER (BOB): Good, good. Anyone else? Anyone have any other reason for being here?

 

THIRD FATHER (TIFFANY BLUM-DECKLER’S DAD): Golf course was closed.

 

SPEAKER (BOB): What course? Lawndale Country Club?

 

THIRD FATHER (TIFFANY BLUM-DECKLER’S DAD): Yeah.

 

SPEAKER (BOB): Wasn’t the Carter County course open?

 

THIRD SPEAKER (TIFFANY BLUM-DECKLER’S DAD): [sigh] My wife’s there.

 

SPEAKER (BOB): [shakes head in sympathy] Tough break. Anyone else?

 

Jake, shyly, raises his hand.

 

SPEAKER (BOB): [pointing to Jake] You, sir?

 

JAKE: [looks embarrassed and self-conscious] Well, the whole thing started for me when I thought my daughter was into animal sacrifice and Satan worship after reading a Stephen King book, so I signed us up to save her immortal soul. [chuckles]

 

One can hear a molecule drop in the silence that follows this announcement. Everyone stares at Jake with looks ranging from nervous disbelief to pure horror.

 

JAKE: [shakes head, still smiling to himself] After all that, it turned out she went to the graveyard wearing black robes and holding with those human arm bones for something entirely different. [laughs] Just call me stupid.

 

The shocked silence grows deeper

 

SPEAKER (BOB): [visibly shaken] You, uh, you, uh, you’re the, your daughter is the—

 

JAKE: Daria Morgendorffer. Brown hair, glasses, green jacket.

 

FOURTH FATHER (TOM GRIFFIN): [behind him] Quinn’s sister?

 

JAKE: Yep. [sighs happily] Great kids. They love their mischief, but they’re both great.

 

Silence for a few seconds more.

 

SPEAKER (BOB): [unable to tear eyes from Jake] Uh, okay, we’ll, uh, get back to that a little later. Uh, I was, uh, going to talk a little bit about, uh, why we’re here. [looks around the room, anxiously] Does anyone else know why we’re here? I think that was my question. Was that my question, or was it something else?

 

 

30. INT: MID-MORNING, UPSTAIRS HALLWAY OUTSIDE QUINN AND DARIA’S BATHROOM, MORGENDORFFER HOME

 

We look at the (closed) door to the bathroom, with boy-band music playing on the other side from a boom box, almost drowning out the sound of the ceiling fan. The sound of footsteps coming upstairs is now heard, with Helen’s voice growing louder, talking on her cell phone.

 

HELEN: [VO, on stairs, angry, to phone] Okay, get me your supervisor, then. I want to talk with someone about your damn potato chips!

 

Helen appears and walks over to the bathroom door. She wears a jogging sweatshirt and sweat pants, with fuzzy slippers still on her feet. She has her cell phone in her right hand, and about a dozen girl-teen, fashion, and interior-design magazines in her left hand. As she talks, she crouches down by the bathroom door and begins stuffing the magazines, one at a time, under the bathroom door.

 

HELEN: [crouching, giving Quinn some magazines] Hello? To whom am I speaking? This is Helen Morgendorffer, an attorney and a very dissatisfied customer, and I have a bone to pick with you about your potato chips, the fat-free ones with olestra. What makes you think you can get away with putting the warning labels on your chip bags in such tiny print, and on the back, no less? Shouldn’t the warning be on the front in red, inch-high, boldfaced letters? And shouldn’t you have some kind of warning about how many chips maximum you’re supposed to eat to avoid the, the, the, you know, the goddamn aftereffects? [stops shoving magazines under the door] No, it’s not me. My daughter ate five bags of your chips yesterday, and she’s locked herself in her bathroom for almost half a day now! She’s been on the toilet so long that her butt’s gone numb!

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom] Muuuh-ooom! Don’t tell them that!

 

HELEN: [to phone] How long is this supposed to last? [pause] Five bags. I told you that already. [pause, then shouts] What? How long? [pause] You’re kidding me!

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom] How long?

 

HELEN: [enraged, to phone] Has anyone ever sued you before about this?

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom] Mom? What’d they say? [boy-band music stops] How long?

 

HELEN: [enraged, to phone] The government? The government said it was okay? What the hell do they know? What did you pay them to say that?

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom] Muuuh-ooom! How long am I going to be in here?

 

HELEN: [stands up, furious, to phone] Oh, really? You don’t say! Well, buster, it’s my daughter, and I’m looking out for her, and maybe I feel differently!

 

Helen stamps off, leaving most of the stack of Quinn’s magazines outside her bathroom door. As Helen continues her argument by cell phone, she heads downstairs.

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom] Come back! Muuuh-ooom! Where are you going?

 

HELEN: [VO, going downstairs, to phone] You wait one minute while I pull a few case files that you might not have heard of, seeing as how you’ve been too busy swimming around in your gold-plated swimming pool that your dirty olestra dollars have bought you, or maybe . . . [voice fades out]

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom, really yells] Muuuh-ooom! [pause, no response] Shit! [pause, deadpan] Oh, that was funny, Quinn. Right. Good one.

 

After a few moments, the boy-band music is turned back on at a lower volume, and we hear the sound of magazine pages rustling.

 

 

31. INT: ABOUT 9:20 A.M., SATURDAY MORNING, BOOK AND GIFT SHOP, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Cutting her seminars for the day, Daria browses a gift shop in the Lawndale Plaza Hotel. Passing a display of personalized coffee mugs stacked on a series of shelves, she pauses before the mugs labeled “Tom.” After a moment, she reaches over and carefully turns the foremost mug around so that the name faces away from her, and the blank side of the mug faces out. She moves on, stopping occasionally before other personalized-item displays to hide those items with Tom’s name, or otherwise adjust them so that the name cannot be seen. Daria does this without any particular facial expression, as if it were part of her regular job.

 

Reaching the paperback and magazine section of the shop, she scans book covers until she spots a section devoted to paperback copies of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Daria stops before this section and sighs, face impassive.

 

DARIA: [thinking aloud, whispers] Hurry up and write than damn fifth book, okay? It’s been a year now, and it’s killing me. Jeez, call me and I’ll write it. Half of one percent of the take, that’s all I ask. Is that too much?

 

ANDREA: [VO, behind Daria] Sounds fair to me. You actually read Harry Potter?

 

Daria turns, eyebrows raised. Andrea, looking much as she did yesterday, walked into the shop while Daria was browsing. Andrea’s t-shirt has “Doom” printed across the front in silvery Gothic letters, advertising the computer game.

 

DARIA: [colors slightly] A secret vice. It’s like popcorn for your brain. You doing okay?

 

ANDREA: Yeah. [low voice] Charles had to run some errands for his dad. Called him on his cell phone this morning. [snorts gently, face colors, looks down] Parents have no sense of timing. What’s up with you?

 

DARIA: Nothing. It was either this or go to a seminar to discover the miracle of my vagina.

 

ANDREA: [shivers] Ugh. So . . . [hesitates] . . . are you free for a while?

 

DARIA: More or less all day. I have a late seminar and dinner with my dad this evening.

 

ANDREA: [still hesitant] Go for a walk? Can you leave the hotel?

 

DARIA: Uh, sure. [looks around the store] Anywhere’s fine with me.

 

ANDREA: Let’s get some air.

 

 

32. EXT: MOMENTS LATER, SIDEWALK OUTSIDE LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Daria and Andrea walk outside the hotel and stroll down the street through one of Lawndale’s shopping districts. The weather is pleasant and sunny.

 

DARIA: I think, in the two and a half years I’ve been in Lawndale, you and I haven’t traded enough words to make up the Gettysburg Address.

 

ANDREA: Yeah. [pause] I didn’t talk much for a long time. People used to piss me off pretty bad. I had some troubles.

 

DARIA: I haven’t really tried to get you to talk, either.

 

ANDREA: [hesitates] Until lately, I doubt it would’ve done much good. To tell the truth, I was sort of afraid you would say something to me. I dunno. I kinda looked forward to it, but I kinda dreaded it. Mostly dreaded it.

 

Daria turns to look directly at Andrea as they walk.

 

ANDREA: [still hesitant] You’re perceptive, you know. Sorry, I had to say that, but it’s true. You see stuff. I wasn’t too sure I wanted to hear what you saw in me. I get enough of . . . never mind. Sorry.

 

DARIA: [shrugs] I wasn’t too sure I wanted to hear what you saw in me, either. [pause] I liked your poem, though. The one you read at the café, about the sack of rotting flesh, or something like that, in tenth grade.

 

ANDREA: [smiles] Yeah. I liked that one. I wrote it because I was so pissed off. Everyone seemed so fake to me, empty shells, meat puppets. I wrote a lot of crap like that for a while.

 

DARIA: You did the little cartoons in the senior yearbook, right?

 

ANDREA: Yeah. Ted DeWitt-Clinton was after me to do them ever since he saw me scribbling in my notebook in some class. I’ve tried doing comics, but most of what I do looks stupid. Grew out of it, I guess. Some of it.

 

DARIA: I burned some of my poems and stories once. They pissed me off, too.

 

ANDREA: [looks at Daria with a touch of understanding] You gotta do that. Burn the deadwood.

 

DARIA: What haven’t you burned?

 

ANDREA: [looks away] Not much. I burned out last year, burned myself out. I wasn’t interested in much. I’m still not.

 

They walk in silence for a bit.

 

ANDREA: So, where’s Tom these days?

 

DARIA: Dunno. We broke up. I broke us up.

 

ANDREA: Oh. Sorry.

 

DARIA: I’m not. It wasn’t there. Burn the deadwood.

 

ANDREA: [snorts, suppressing a laugh] Well, at least you know something about me that almost no one else does. [struggles to hide anxiety] You could milk a lot of cash out of me for that. My parents would blow like Mount St. Helens if they knew about Charles.

 

DARIA: Wouldn’t they like him?

 

ANDREA: [pained look] It’s not that. It’s the sex thing. They’d go nuclear. Maybe throw me out. [pause] Might not be so bad. It’s gonna happen anyway, come August.

 

DARIA: Where are you going?

 

ANDREA: I wanted Southern Cal, but I got Denver. Graphic arts. Not so bad, I guess. It’s supposed to be good there. You?

 

DARIA: Boston, Raft College. [pause] And Charles?

 

Andrea’s face works briefly, then she shrugs.

 

ANDREA: So, like, I hear you write a lot. What’ve you been writing lately?

 

DARIA: Um . . . I’m trying some spy fiction.

 

ANDREA: Melody Powers. Loved your reading at the café, too. That was good stuff. Better than anything of mine.

 

DARIA: You write stuff besides poetry?

 

ANDREA: [hesitates] Sort of. I try to draw now and then. I like the comic form. It’s hard to come up with plots of my own. I throw a lot of it out. Some, though, I . . . [voice fades out, shrugs again]

 

Daria gives Andrea a peculiar, thoughtful look.

 

ANDREA: What else have you written? Really. I want to hear about it.

 

DARIA: Uh . . . [rubs her face] I, uh . . .

 

ANDREA: Erotica.

 

DARIA: No, not really.

 

ANDREA: Not really? [looks at Daria] How can it “not really” be erotica?

 

DARIA: [shrugs, looks away] Forget it.

 

ANDREA: [looks at Daria closely, smiles hesitantly] You’re turning red. You’re blocking. You’re writing something like erotica but not erotica? Maybe the instruction booklets for condom packages?

 

DARIA: It’s not—I don’t do that.

 

ANDREA: [smile getting broader] You’re writing for the CIA? How to make love to enemy agents?

 

DARIA: [groans] No.

 

ANDREA: Rap lyrics. You work with Snoop Doggie Dog.

 

DARIA: No.

 

ANDREA: Oh! I get it! You do political speeches. Are you George Bush’s speechwriter, or Al Gore’s?

 

DARIA: [looks offended] Hey!

 

ANDREA: I’m going to keep guessing until you come clean. You write for “The Simpsons”?

 

DARIA: [gives up] Okay, okay. All right. [pause, low whisper] I write fanfic.

 

Andrea stops dead in the street, mouth open, staring at Daria. Daria takes two more steps, then stops and looks back.

 

DARIA: What?

 

ANDREA: Oh, man.

 

DARIA: Hey, it’s not like I killed someone, okay?

 

ANDREA: [holds up both hands] Wait. Don’t tell me what kind of fanfic you write, because I know you’re going to say, “Kirk-Spock” or “Starsky and Hutch,” and I am going to scream and scream and scream.

 

DARIA: [incredulous look] Oh, jeez! No! Do I look like I write slash fanfic?

 

ANDREA: [walks with Daria again] Well, you never know. Beth, my oldest stepsister, she writes that crap. [shivers] God, you can’t imagine. [pause] Okay, so tell me.

 

DARIA: What?

 

ANDREA: You write fanfic. Spill it. What fanfic?

 

DARIA: [takes deep breath, lets it out] SSU.

 

ANDREA: [stops again, amazed look on her face] SSU? You mean, SSU dot net? “Sick Sad Universe Online”?

 

DARIA: [also stops, tone of dread] You know about that?

 

ANDREA: [stares at Daria, raises a finger, remembering] Oh, no. [points at Daria] You! You’re . . . you’re “Darker Morning!” Morgendorffer, Darker Morning—that’s you! [grins broadly] Holy shit!

 

Daria’s tense, wary expression is exactly that of a superhero who has been suddenly unmasked. Andrea closes in on Daria, her face alive with excitement.

 

ANDREA: Tell me I’m right! You’re Darker Morning!

 

Daria tries to suppress a painful smile, but fails.

 

ANDREA: [ecstatic] Yes! I knew it! You write the greatest stuff SSU ever had! You do—[bursts into brief, hysterical laughter]—you do “Kim and Dim”! The two-headed girl! You do her! Oh, my God!

 

DARIA: [looks around anxiously, low voice] Andrea, don’t tell the whole damn city, okay?

 

ANDREA: Does anyone else know? Anyone from school?

 

DARIA: [low voice] Keep it down! No, no one knows. Jane doesn’t even know.

 

ANDREA: [pointing at Daria again] Kim and Dim—that’s you and your sister, isn’t it? You and Quinn?

 

DARIA: [tense] Damn it, hush up! Look, okay, let’s go somewhere and talk. Keep your voice down. I really don’t want everyone to know this. I’m sorry I even said it.

 

ANDREA: [nodding, can’t stop smiling] Sure! Sure thing! [to self, whispering] Kim and Dim! Oh, my God! Do you know how many people on Earth read those stories?

 

DARIA: Please don’t tell anyone. I’ll never live it down. If my parents or Quinn read those, they’d have me killed, and then they’d do something really bad to me.

 

ANDREA: No wonder, with all the sex and violence you pack in. My God! That chapter about their first double date, with the Cuban porn star and the Hell’s Angel, I read that and I just about—

 

Daria puts a gentle but firm hand over Andrea’s mouth.

 

DARIA: That restaurant there. [nods ahead of them] There’s a booth in back where we can talk.

 

 

33. INT: LATER, ISOLATED BOOTH IN RESTAURANT, LAWNDALE

 

Daria and Andrea are almost the only customers in the restaurant. They share a booth set well in the back of the place, talking while eating an order of cheese fries and soft drinks. We enter in the midst of their conversation, half the cheese fries gone.

 

DARIA: . . . and the feedback’s generally been good, except for the ones who tell me I’m going to Hell. I love those. Anyway, I couldn’t keep up the pace with schoolwork, but I get a story in every three or four weeks. That’s why I have to keep them short.

 

ANDREA: You gotta tell me something. Why did you even tell me? About SSU?

 

DARIA: [pause, looks glum for a moment] A sense of balance, I guess. Knowing about you and Charles. And you’re pretty relentless. You’re as bad as Jane.

 

ANDREA: But I told you about Charles myself, willingly. You didn’t have to—

 

DARIA: [deep sigh] No. I found out by accident. Friday afternoon, I was sitting behind some plants in the hotel lobby, reading, when you and Charles . . . when you came in and met him, and—

 

ANDREA: [upset, suddenly covers her face with a hand] Oh, no. I knew that was going to happen. Damn it.

 

DARIA: Don’t worry about it. It was just me.

 

ANDREA: [still covering face] It could’ve been my parents, though, or one of my sisters. They would crucify me. I’ve really got to watch that.

 

DARIA: Not to change the subject, but I wanted to ask a favor of you.

 

ANDREA: [drops her hand] What?

 

DARIA: Stop burning your stuff.

 

ANDREA: My stuff? My comics crap?

 

DARIA: You’re on SSU, too, aren’t you? [Andrea doesn’t answer] You do “In/Out/Down,” right?

 

Andrea’s manner changes dramatically. She flinches, then looks down, clearly upset, and covers her eyes again with one hand.

 

ANDREA: That’s all crap. I stopped doing it several weeks ago.

 

DARIA: What? You stopped?

 

ANDREA: How did you know it was me?

 

DARIA: Your art style’s the same for the yearbook drawings as it is for “In/Out/Down.”

 

ANDREA: I don’t draw—

 

DARIA: It’s the same. Jane showed me. She figured it out first, then told me.

 

ANDREA: [groans] Who else knows?

 

DARIA: Just Jane and me. That’s all.

 

ANDREA: [lowers her hand again] If you think you’d be in trouble if your folks read “Kim and Dim,” you don’t have a clue about the trouble I’d be in for “In/Out/Down.”

 

DARIA: [picking up another cheese fry] I bet I can guess.

 

A long pause ensures as they eat and drink.

 

DARIA: I started writing “Kim and Dim” because I read “In/Out/Down.”

 

Andrea looks up, clearly doubtful.

 

DARIA: I’m not kidding.

 

ANDREA: [looks depressed] You don’t have to be nice about it.

 

DARIA: [frowns] What is it with you? That’s the rawest stuff on SSU. I’ve been reading that strip for two years. Jane says you’re a genius. We almost built a shrine to that comic. “Sick, Sad World” should hire you to do a spin-off. It would be a killer.

 

ANDREA: I’m not a genius, and it was stupid. I shouldn’t have started it.

 

DARIA: You shouldn’t have STOPPED doing it.

 

ANDREA: [after a long pause] It’s worse than “Starsky and Hutch” slash fic. [pause] It hurt too much to do it. It just bled me out.

 

DARIA: Isn’t that the idea, though? What they say about writing? You sit down at the keyboard and open up a vein. [long pause as an unpleasant thought dawns] Um, that strip wasn’t . . . it wasn’t from real—

 

ANDREA: [low, dull voice] Yes. [covers her eyes again with a hand]

 

Daria is stunned. She stares at Andrea in horror.

 

DARIA: Oh, no.

 

ANDREA: It wasn’t me, mostly. A lot of that happened to my stepsisters and half-sisters. Things were really messed up.

 

Another long pause. Andrea looks intensely uncomfortable. She drops her hand.

 

ANDREA: It’s like this, okay? My mom and dad were both married before and had kids. I’ve got five older step- and half-sisters, two by my dad and three my mom. At home with Mom and Dad are me and Lynn, who’s the youngest. She’s three. Mom and Dad . . . well, here it is. Mom and Dad were married to other people when they met, okay? The custody battles were like World War Three. Then I came along. [takes ragged breath] This can’t be interesting to you.

 

DARIA: [stunned look] No, it’s okay. Go on.

 

ANDREA: My mom, she used to drink a lot. She’s sober now, but when she drank, she was . . . well, that’s why I showed up. [pause] I don’t know who my biological father is. I probably don’t want to know. Mom was already pregnant with me when she met Dad. They moved in together, but Dad wasn’t too happy about having this unexpected kid who wasn’t his. He sorta got over it, but it still eats at him. I can tell. I’ve heard about his real feelings from everyone, all my sisters. They hated me, and I think they still do. They’re all gone now, moved away and all that. I never hear from them. Lynn’s the only one who talks to me. Mom and Dad are all over her. She’s their baby, their only real baby.

 

Andrea pauses, looking down at her hands, which rest on the table before her, fingers interlocked. Daria looks down as well and notices that the gray bracelet on Andrea’s left wrist has slipped back a bit. Beneath the two-inch-wide bracelet are five or six long, healed-over scars running straight across her wrist. Andrea notices her bracelet and quickly moves it back into place, hiding the scars. She does not look up at Daria.

 

ANDREA: I don’t know what I am. I guess I’m here so my folks can yell at me and not have to worry about anything else. I’m twenty pounds overweight, and I smoke, or I did until Charles made me quit, and now I chew gum so much my jaw feels like it’s going to crack. And I overeat ‘cause I can’t smoke, and my nerves are bad. But at least I’m not going to get lung cancer. I guess I can thank Charles for that. [pause] Plus, he’s great in bed. [smiles to herself] I want to tell you, you really missed something there. And he doesn’t care what I look like. He acts like I make a difference to someone on this rotten planet. [pause, smile fades away] I couldn’t stand being alone anymore. It hurt too much.

 

DARIA: [pause] So . . . what do you do for fun?

 

ANDREA: [laughs a little, looks up] What do I do for fun? Have sex. This. [gestures at outfit] I picked up Goth about four years ago. I finally stopped listening to everyone, and I just did what I wanted. I let Mom and Dad yell at me all they wanted, because I had my own life and they couldn’t touch it. I have my own music, my own friends—but not in Lawndale, they’re in other cities around here—and I have some space to call my own, where no one’s yelling at me. I’m probably one of only five Goths for twenty miles around, though. Not many of us in these parts.

 

Andrea leans back in her seat, looking at the cheese fries with a depressed face.

 

ANDREA: I have to stop eating those. I could eat a ton more of them, but I have to stop. I’m going to be fat all my life, I know it. It could be a lot worse, but it won’t get much better. I’m never going to get away from reality, so I may as well face it and minimize the damage.

 

DARIA: [pause] Jett Blak said that in “In/Out/Down.”

 

ANDREA: Yeah. I forgot about that. Not everything in there is about me, though. Most of the bad stuff happened to my sisters. Bad guys they knew, bad things that happened. They’d never tell me about it, of course, but I used to hear them talking in the house when I was small. I learned to hide in closets and listen in on their conversations. They didn’t catch me very often. I was pretty good at hiding. Air ducts—you can learn a lot if you sit in the basement next to an open air duct.

 

DARIA: [clears throat] I learned a lot from reading “In/Out/Down.” It was part of the reason I broke up with Tom.

 

ANDREA: [looks up, surprised] No way.

 

DARIA: It was. It was that thing going on between Jett Blak and River that never seemed to go anywhere. They had so much trouble letting go and just getting on with their lives. I looked at that, and I looked at Tom and me, and I thought, “That’s it. Next bus out, I’m on it.”

 

ANDREA: [covers face with both hands] Oh, God. My idol, the goddess who does “Kim and Dim,” dumps her boyfriend because of me. I’m ruined.

 

DARIA: I’ll forgive you if you autograph an original picture of Jett Blak for me.

 

ANDREA: [drops hands] I’ll do that if you . . . I wanna draw a picture of Kim and Dim, and have you sign it.

 

DARIA: Done. But I want an original picture of Kim and Dim from you, signed by you.

 

ANDREA: [mulls this over] I don’t know which of us just came out ahead.

 

DARIA: I did. [looks at remaining cheese fries] Am I going to finish these by myself?

 

ANDREA: I’ll have one more, but the rest are yours. I have to stop.

 

DARIA: Let’s just leave them, and go walk.

 

ANDREA: Let’s.

 

DARIA: But we can’t talk about . . . well, I guess we should, but we can’t talk too loudly.

 

ANDREA: I have a degree in telepathy.

 

DARIA: I knew you were going to say that.

 

Both laugh, appearing relieved.

 

ANDREA: You know what we are?

 

DARIA: What?

 

ANDREA: Misery chicks.

 

DARIA: [smile fades] Why do you say that?

 

ANDREA: I’m your biggest fan. You’re my biggest fan. [pause] Get it?

 

DARIA: [shakes head no] I don’t—[gets it]—oh! [groans, but smiles] Oh, you mean—

 

ANDREA: Stephen King. Misery.

 

DARIA: Oh, no. I was thinking of something else entirely.

 

ANDREA: [wicked grin] Just keep writing “Kim and Dim,” and everything will be fine.

 

Daria hesitates, looking at Andrea. Both their smiles fade.

 

DARIA: [soft voice] You should keep drawing “In/Out/Down.” That is the best webcomic in existence.

 

ANDREA: [swallows, looks down] I’ll think about it. I had to stop. I was getting too depressed, even for a Goth.

 

DARIA: You’re afraid it wouldn’t be the same now?

 

ANDREA: [brief laugh] School’s out. I’m leaving home. Nothing’s the same now. [gets out of seat] Fresh air.

 

 

34. EXT: MOMENTS LATER, SIDEWALK OUTSIDE RESTAURANT, LAWNDALE

 

Daria and Andrea walk outside the restaurant.

 

DARIA: Jane’s going to want her own autographed picture of Jett Blak, you know.

 

ANDREA: How much are you hoping to get for them on e-Bay?

 

DARIA: Those pictures will go on e-Bay only after someone pries them from our cold, dead fingers.

 

ANDREA: Ah-ha! I knew it. They’re going on e-Bay.

 

DARIA: I want to call Jane. I have to call her and tell her she was right. I need to find a phone.

 

ANDREA: Let me talk to her, so I can tell her about “Kim and Dim.”

 

DARIA: [involuntary shout] NO! [drops voice] Sorry! No, please don’t. Let me do that. Later. A lot later.

 

ANDREA: She’s your best friend, right?

 

DARIA: [pained look] You don’t understand. It’s . . . no, I don’t want to talk about this.

 

ANDREA: [peering at Daria] Jane’s in “Kim and Dim,” right?

 

DARIA: Don’t go there.

 

ANDREA: And she doesn’t know it, right?

 

DARIA: Warning. Danger.

 

ANDREA: What—[sudden look of surprise and horror]—oh!

 

DARIA: They’ll never find your body.

 

ANDREA: No, tell me that’s not her! Tell me she’s not—

 

Stopping in her tracks, Daria quickly puts a hand over Andrea’s mouth again.

 

DARIA: I’ll pull that pretty little stud out of your nose and stick it somewhere else if you ever even breathe a word of that.

 

Daria removes her hand. Andrea’s face is still lit with childlike glee.

 

ANDREA: That is the worst pun I ever heard in my life. What you call her.

 

DARIA: I even know the graveyard where I’ll bury you. The very spot. Six feet down.

 

ANDREA: That is her.

 

DARIA: I swear. Not a word, or tonight you’ll sleep with the moles.

 

ANDREA: I won’t talk.

 

DARIA: Neither of us can talk.

 

ANDREA: Mutually assured destruction.

 

DARIA: It wasn’t such a bad way to run the Cold War after all. It worked.

 

ANDREA: [pause, looks into Daria’s face] No war between you and me. Never.

 

DARIA: Never. [pause] I’m sorry I won’t see you much after this summer. I’m really sorry now.

 

ANDREA: [sad] Me, too. [pause] Thank God for the Internet and telephones.

 

DARIA: Yeah. And jet planes.

 

 

35. EXT: LATER, SIDEWALK PAYPHONE, DOWNTOWN LAWNDALE

 

Daria dials a number on the payphone and waits for someone to pick up the other end. Andrea is looking in a clothing store window nearby.

 

 

36. INT: MOMENTS LATER, LIVING ROOM, LANE HOME

 

The telephone in the living room rings. A thin haze of smoke fills the air. Trent, looking distracted and worried, wanders over and picks the phone up. Muffled noises can be heard in the background, like thumping and yelling.

 

TRENT: Hello?

 

DARIA: Oh, hi, Trent. Jane there?

 

TRENT: [looks out a nearby window to the front yard] Yeah, she’s here, Daria, but . . .

 

We look out the window. Jane is in the front yard, hitting the burnt remains of her computer with a baseball bat. The monitor is smashed in, and she’s working on the CPU section. She is yelling, but we cannot hear exactly what she is saying. Pieces of the computer fly everywhere as she lays blow after blow into the ruins. Neighbors up and down the street watch from their windows, too.

 

TRENT: Can she call you back? She’s . . . sorta busy right now.

 

DARIA: Working on her computer?

 

TRENT: Uh . . . yeah, I guess so. Yeah.

 

DARIA: So, she managed to fix it?

 

TRENT: Uh, yeah, she fixed it pretty good.

 

DARIA: Does she have any questions about the computer?

 

TRENT: [pause as he watches Jane through the window] I . . . don’t think so. No.

 

DARIA: Great. Tell her I called.

 

TRENT: Yeah. [peers out window again] She might be done in an hour or so.

 

DARIA: Thanks. Bye, Trent.

 

TRENT: See ya.

 

Trent slowly hangs up the phone. He turns. The rest of Mystik Spiral and Artie (still in his Pizza Forest uniform) are also in the living room, anxiously watching Jane from other windows. The front door is locked, with an overstuffed chair pushed in front of it.

 

JESSE: [looks through window, to Trent] When do you think it’ll be safe to go out?

 

ARTIE: [very nervous] I gotta get to work, and she’s scaring me more than the aliens who kidnapped me did!

 

TRENT: [frowns, tries to calm things down] Janie’s just a little wound up. We’d better give her some space. [pause] Let’s go out the back. We’ll cut through the Andrews’ yard to the road from there.

 

Everyone in the room nods and begins migrating toward the back door of the house, with occasional worried glances out the front windows.

 

 

37. EXT: MOMENTS LATER, AT A SIDEWALK PAYPHONE, DOWNTOWN LAWNDALE

 

Daria hangs up the phone, and she and Andrea go window-shopping.

 

DARIA: Jane’s on her computer again. She fixed it. I’ll try back later.

 

ANDREA: I think you’re lucky, you know. Having Quinn for a sister.

 

DARIA: [looks at Andrea with raised eyebrow] Lucky isn’t the word I usually have in mind.

 

ANDREA: Well, she doesn’t give you the trouble that my sisters gave me. I remember Morgan, from my dad’s first family, the time she . . . [voice fades out in Daria’s mind]

 

As Andrea talks, Daria’s gaze drifts toward the big front window of a toy store. Filling the window is a large model railroad layout. A small freight train pulled by an old-fashioned locomotive passes by. Daria stops, starting down at the toy train.

 

 

38. ### DARIA’S DAYDREAM ###

INT: MOVIE REVIEWS ROOM

 

We look at what appears to be a small, light-colored room with a large movie screen on the far wall. Two chairs are in the foreground, occupied by Angel Daria and Devil Daria. Each has a sack of popcorn and a soft drink, and each faces the viewer (Daria).

 

ANGEL DARIA: We’re back again with another episode of, “At the Moodies.” We’re in a moderately bad mood right now—

 

DEVIL DARIA: Thanks, Quinn. And thanks, Andrea, for bringing it back up. Way to go.

 

ANGEL DARIA: —though getting closer to Dad has had a predictably softening emotional effect. And Andrea’s really been a great surprise. I’m glad you found each other.

 

DEVIL DARIA: We’re all nice and squishy inside.

 

ANGEL DARIA: Okay, let’s roll the first of our stream-of-consciousness sibling-revenge fantasies and see what’s showing “At the Moodies.”

 

The two spiritual advisors turn in their seats to face the screen, food at the ready. The room goes dark, and a movie starts on the screen.

 

 

39. ### DARIA’S DAYDREAM ###

EXT: RAILROAD TRACK IN COUNTRYSIDE

 

Quinn (screaming) is tied to a railroad track. A freight train thunders toward her. Seconds before the old-fashioned steam locomotive reaches Quinn, we—

 

 

40. ### DARIA’S DAYDREAM ###

INT: MOVIE REVIEWS ROOM

 

Angel Daria and Devil Daria turn in their seats to face the viewer (Daria).

 

ANGEL DARIA: [makes a thumb-down gesture] Yes, it does bring a smile on a gloomy day, but it’s a grossly overused scenario. It’s trite, superficial, predictable, and shows no imagination. You’ll probably get life in prison without parole, though there is a chance of a book or movie contract.

 

DEVIL DARIA: [frowns, makes thumb-down gesture] Plus, it’ll be over with much too quickly for her.

 

ANGEL DARIA: We’ll be right back after this break in consciousness.

 

 

41. EXT: MOMENTS LATER, SIDEWALK, DOWNTOWN LAWNDALE

 

Daria blinks, coming back to reality. Andrea looks at Daria with a blank expression.

 

ANDREA: What, you like toy trains?

 

DARIA: Uh, no. They’re . . . trite and predictable. [starts to walk again; Andrea goes with her]

 

ANDREA: I think they’re supposed to be. Anyway, you see why I wish I had a sister like Quinn.

 

DARIA: [knows she missed part of what Andrea said] Um, yeah. You got me there.

 

ANDREA: [stopping in front of a travel agency, points] There. Japan. That would be fun to do. I’d love to run around there for a few weeks.

 

Daria’s gaze falls on the poster Andrea points out, showing the famous volcano, Mt. Fuji.

 

 

42. ### DARIA’S DAYDREAM ###

EXT: ACTIVE LAVA-FILLED VOLCANO CRATER

 

All tied up, Quinn (screaming) hangs upside down from a steel cable dangling from a giant construction crane. She is being slowly lowered into a sea of bubbling molten lava inside the crater of an active volcano. Daria stands on the lip of the volcano crater, throwing all of Quinn’s new clothing and fashion accessories into the lava sea, making Quinn scream all the more.

 

 

43. ### DARIA’S DAYDREAM ###

INT: MOVIE REVIEWS ROOM

 

Back in their little movie studio, Angel Daria and Devil Daria (still holding soft drinks) again turn in their chairs to face the viewer (Daria). Their popcorn sacks rest on the floor, with bits of popcorn spilled all around.

 

ANGEL DARIA: [shakes head with regret, makes thumb-down gesture] This shows potential worthy of Peckinpah and Kubrick, but once again there’s the element of predictability. Moreover, the scenario is way overblown, too far over the top, and you’ll still get life in prison. On the good side, your chances for multiple book and movie contracts are strong.

 

DEVIL DARIA: [glum, makes thumb-down gesture] Forget it. There aren’t any active volcanoes within two days’ drive of here.

 

ANGEL DARIA: [to Devil Daria] Hawaii has one.

 

DEVIL DARIA: [glum] The airfare would kill you, plus you’d have to rent a crane and get it up the slope.

 

ANGEL DARIA: Uh, not to play devil’s advocate, but you’ve got a credit card.

 

DEVIL DARIA: [glum] With a five-hundred-dollar limit. Because of Quinn’s screwing up Dad’s platinum card that time she was at Cashman’s with—

 

ANGEL DARIA: [pained expression] Okay, okay, I forgot. Sorry. [looks at viewer (Daria)] We’ll have more in a moment. I hope.

 

 

44. EXT: MOMENTS LATER, SIDEWALK, DOWNTOWN LAWNDALE

 

Andrea and Daria are still in front of the travel agency window, looking at the posters. Daria’s gaze now falls on a colorful nightlife shot of the Las Vegas strip.

 

 

45. ### DARIA’S DAYDREAM ###

INT: SMALL WEDDING CHAPEL

 

Quinn, once again, is screaming, but a gag muffles her screams. She wears a white wedding dress and is tied to a chair at the altar of a small chapel done up in the best (worst?) Las Vegas style. The minister wears a red-velvet tuxedo and has all the charm of an oily cockroach. Standing next to Quinn is Upchuck, wearing a groom’s black tuxedo. However, Upchuck is ignoring the proceedings and is passionately kissing Andrea, who is dressed in a solid-black Goth wedding gown. Seated in the pews are a wino drinking from a bottle in a paper sack, and former President Bill Clinton, looking very solemn, his lower lip sticking out.

 

MINISTER: [overplayed] Dearly beloved, we are gathered here this day to unite this wretched young girl, Quinn, and this morally depraved young man, Upchu—I mean, Charles—in holy—

 

ANGEL DARIA: [standing up in front of the movie screen, waving arms at projectionist in a dispirited way] Okay, cut! Just cut it. Stop the film. This isn’t working.

 

 

46. ### DARIA’S DAYDREAM ###

INT: MOVIE REVIEWS ROOM

 

The movie stops, the lights go on. The floor is littered with popcorn and soft-drink spills, plus an empty pizza box. Devil Daria’s chair is empty, her soft-drink cup on the seat.

 

DEVIL DARIA [VO, sounds like she’s talking from behind a door] Call me when you get a good one. [sound of toilet flushing]

 

Angel Daria glances at the viewer (Daria) and waves in a glum, half-hearted way.

 

ANGEL DARIA: Later.

 

 

47. EXT: MOMENTS LATER, SIDEWALK, DOWNTOWN LAWNDALE

 

Daria shakes her head, as if waking up.

 

DARIA: [to Andrea] Let’s walk some more. The pizza must be getting to me.

 

ANDREA: Sure. [they walk on] You seem to be spacing out a bit.

 

DARIA: I’m probably not spacing out enough. [pause] I have to ask something. You don’t have to answer it.

 

ANDREA: I’m not into Satan.

 

DARIA: [groans, smacks her forehead] No, no, no, not that. It was about Charles.

 

ANDREA: [pause, looks away] Oh.

 

DARIA: [hesitates, unable to frame the question] Has he said anything . . . about, you know, after the summer . . . [angry with self] I’m sorry, that was really stupid.

 

ANDREA: [low voice] It’s okay. I don’t know what we’re gonna do. He’s got his life, I’ve got mine, I guess. He’s a wild guy, but I don’t think he’s seeing anyone else. I hope not, anyway. [pause] Wouldn’t be any of my business if he was. [pause] I don’t know where he’s going after the summer. He hasn’t said. [pause, takes a ragged breath] Well, at least it was fun while it lasted.

 

DARIA: [soft voice] While it lasted?

 

ANDREA: [low voice] It won’t go on forever. Nothing does. Everything dies or goes away. That’s life.

 

They walk in silence for a bit.

 

ANDREA: I wish . . . I wanted to talk with him when I got in yesterday. I wanted to ask about what’s going to happen, where we’re going, process out all that crap like everybody else always does, but I couldn’t do it. I don’t want to know. I just want to have some fun and feel like someone likes me for a little bit. That’s all. I can live with everything else if I have that.

 

Daria makes no reply, but she swallows and looks down as they go.

 

 

48. INT: ABOUT 11:20 A.M., CORRIDOR OUTSIDE SEMINAR ROOMS, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Just out of his first seminar, Jake is speaking on a pay phone in the corridor outside his seminar room.

 

JAKE: [cheery] Helen! Hi, sweetie. How’s it . . . um, what? When? [pause, surprise] From eating potato chips? What potato chips? How long is this . . . oh, you’ve got to be kidding me! [pause, angry] Damn the federal government anyway! What the hell am I paying my taxes for? What do they think they . . . you did call them? Oh, that figures. Big, bloated corporate bureaucracies! Sucking the life out of us every day, that’s what they’re . . . uh-huh. [concerned] How is she doing? Damn. That really stinks! [pause, surprise] No, wait, Helen, I wasn’t trying to be . . . no, it’s just a saying. Really. I know. I feel bad about it, too. I wasn’t making fun of . . . no. I swear, Helen, please . . . Okay, I understand. No, really. I won’t, ever again. No. No. [swallows, pause] Oh, we’re fine here. Daria’s gone off to lunch with some of the other daughters, I think, and I’m getting a sandwich and a beer with the guys here. Lot of really nice people around. Everyone wants to know about Daria. I didn’t think she was that popular, you know, but they’re asking all sorts of things about her—what’s she wear, does she carry knives, is she—oh, that reminds me, uh, you know that book, the, uh—[drops his voice to a whisper]—Stephen King book? Yeah. Uh, I think it was a library book. We might have to, uh, return it. [pause, winces] I know, I know. I’ll take care of it. Don’t worry. You keep on making those potato-chip barons pay through the butt. [winces again] No, no, I’m not making a joke about that! I’m not, Helen! Never again, I promise you. I swear to you. Look, Helen, it’s just a saying, you know—people say, “That stinks!” or “He’s gonna pay through the butt!” and that just means that . . . Hello? Helen? Hello?

 

 

49. EXT: A WHILE LATER, ON SIDEWALK, DOWNTOWN LAWNDALE

 

Daria and Andrea are engaged in an intense, animated conversation as they walk. The downbeat tone from earlier is gone.

 

ANDREA: Why won’t you try it?

 

DARIA: Because I don’t need to.

 

ANDREA: But try it! Didn’t you ever wonder what it would be like?

 

DARIA: This is as bad as Quinn trying to give me a makeover, I swear. And you’re the anti-Quinn.

 

ANDREA: Look at me. No, look at me.

 

Daria stops and looks at Andrea, who holds out her arms, showing how she’s dressed.

 

ANDREA: Your favorite color is . . .

 

DARIA: [reluctantly] Black.

 

ANDREA: [triumphant] The shop’s right down the street here, four doors away. “Damnation Alley.”

 

DARIA: At least they’ve got good taste in store names.

 

ANDREA: The owner is pretty weird, but he’s great. I don’t remember his name. He’s got an incredible sense of—

 

DARIA: [stops, looks down the street on the other side] Uh-oh.

 

ANDREA: [also stops, looks] What?

 

Daria points to a distant figure wearing a blue-and-yellow Lawndale Lions football outfit.

 

ANDREA: Who’s that? I can’t . . . oh, no.

 

DARIA: Why does Kevin dress like that? [rolls eyes] Why do I ask questions like that?

 

ANDREA: Must be shopping. We should get in the store before he talks to us.

 

DARIA: Well, it’s not like he’s—[again stops herself from saying “Upchuck”]—the Angel of Death or something.

 

ANDREA: [snorts] He’s a moron. I feel bad for Brittany. She’s got no sense, but she deserves better anyway. Here’s the shop.

 

As Daria and Andrea open the door and hurry into the little shop (“Damnation Alley”), Kevin walks up the street on the other side. Kevin never notices Daria and Andrea; he goes into a small “Quickie Photo” shop across the street from “Damnation Alley. He stops at a cash register by the door, gives over some money, and gets a large manila envelope in return. He takes this, leaves the shop, and heads in the direction of the hotel.

 

 

50. INT: AT THIS MOMENT, “DAMNATION ALLEY” SHOP, LAWNDALE

 

Daria and Andrea watch Kevin from the shop’s front-door window.

 

ANDREA: What’s that all about? Is he into photography now?

 

DARIA: Maybe he’s gotten more photos of himself to hang in his room.

 

ANDREA: I should buy one from him for my dartboard.

 

Kevin now out of sight, the two turn and look around. The dark shop is impressive, jammed from floor to ceiling with every article of strange, unusual, bizarre, and offbeat clothing imaginable, some of them period costumes. Accessories of every sort hang from hooks and racks. In plastic and glass cases, and on shelves, are unusual items, things that look like crowns, metal gauntlets, metal boots, animal-hide belts, and so on.

 

At the far end of the room, sitting behind a wooden countertop, is a very tall, gangly individual, a longhaired albino man who appears to be about thirty, though possibly older. His face is almost handsome in its ugliness; his features are sharp, and his eyes are sunken. He rises from his seat and raises a hand in greeting to Andrea. His voice is deep, with an oddly rough quality.

 

SHOPKEEPER: Good to see you again, my dear.

 

ANDREA: Yeah, hey.

 

SHOPKEEPER: [looks at Daria] You’ve brought a new friend.

 

ANDREA: This is Daria. She’s cool.

 

The shopkeeper nods, looking at Daria’s face in a detached way.

 

DARIA: [to shopkeeper] Daria Morgendorffer.

 

SHOPKEEPER: I’m pleased to meet a friend of Andrea’s. This is your first time here.

 

DARIA: [looks around] Yeah. Andrea wanted me to come in and look around.

 

SHOPKEEPER: [nods slowly, gestures to the shop] Be my guest.

 

Unable to think of anything new to say, Daria and Andrea begin looking through some of the clothes in the store. After a brief period, Daria stops and just looks around, taking in the range of items in the store.

 

ANDREA: [to shopkeeper, still standing at the counter] Uh, could you help us with something?

 

SHOPKEEPER: Of course. [walks slowly around the counter toward the two]

 

ANDREA: [points to Daria] Um, Daria and I were talking, and she was curious to—

 

DARIA: [low voice] YOU were curious.

 

ANDREA: —to see how she looked in something Gothic.

 

DARIA: [mildly anxious, to shopkeeper] You’re not going to measure me, are you?

 

SHOPKEEPER: [looks down at Daria without expression] What are you interested in seeing?

 

DARIA: [sighs] Oh, well, something like what Andrea has. Something Goth. Just to see what it’s like. That’s all.

 

ANDREA: [whispers to Daria] What are your dress measurements?

 

DARIA: [a little touchy] They’re not for public consumption. That’s the problem. I don’t have a figure such as this civilization thinks a figure should be. I’ve been through this already with all sorts of people, starting with the disaster-dress I wore to my cousin’s wedding. [to shopkeeper] Do you have anything in black, like a Hefty bag?

 

The shopkeeper ignores her remark and looks her over. His gaze is penetrating but cold, with nothing in the least sexual about it.

 

SHOPKEEPER: [speaks slowly and quietly, to Daria] You are Autumn.

 

DARIA: [disappointed frown] Yeah, I hear this from my sister. I’m an autumn. Browns and reds and greens, match my green eyes, blah blah. Burlap’s brown, that’s okay with me, too. Make it a large sack.

 

SHOPKEEPER: [unperturbed, speaks slowly and deliberately as he surveys Daria] I meant autumn as in the season, not the fashion. [pause] Autumn is the time of transition. The colors of life, the brightness of summer, all are ending. The green leaves are dying. The trees grow naked and cold. Winter—[he glances at Andrea]—is approaching. It’s the time when fear gnaws at the hearts of lonely people. They cower in their homes by the fading embers. They sense their mortality. The wind whispers in their ears, in the empty hours of darkness, and they hear—[whispers]—”Remember, you are mortal. Winter is coming.”

 

Daria stands perfectly still, listening. Several times during the above, she is on the verge of saying something sarcastic, but she never does. She and Andrea appear equally surprised at what they hear.

 

SHOPKEEPER: [slow, deliberate voice] Autumn is the herald of winter. It is the harbinger, the final trumpet before the end is upon us. When the winter comes, death descends. The change is complete. All are destroyed. But it is the autumn that the people fear most, when they see the dying all around them, the dying inside them, and they cannot stop it. It is the autumn that people fear most, before the sword of winter plunges through their bodies. It is the anticipation that wrings them dry, as they scream in your pitiless hands. [stops in front of Daria, stares down at her with an impassive face] You are Autumn.

 

Breathless, Daria stares up at the shopkeeper. Her face is flushed with self-consciousness.

 

DARIA: [unsteady voice] So, you think there’s something I could wear? Goth, I mean? Something Goth?

 

The shopkeeper’s lips almost twist upward into a smile.

 

SHOPKEEPER: You already are Goth.

 

The shopkeeper’s long, pale fingers reach for Daria’s jacket lapels. He gently lifts one, feels the material in his fingers.

 

SHOPKEEPER: You’ve worn this outfit many times. The edges are almost threadbare. I’ve no doubt your closet is filled with duplicates of this jacket, that t-shirt, the skirt, and even your shoes. Every day you go out, you look the same as you did the day before. Such disregard for custom is almost unheard of. It is a pretense, an affectation, but the rarest one. You wear the same outfit so many times, your normality is a slap in the face of the normal. [pause] You aren’t lazy. You know exactly what you are doing. You hate being normal. You despise it. You view normality with the worst contempt.

 

The shopkeeper releases Daria’s jacket lapel and steps to one side, looking at her face in profile.

 

SHOPKEEPER: You’ve known enough angst, I would guess, to fill several normal lives. Andrea would know more, but compared to the range of the normal, you both fall into the extremes. You don’t fit in. You are preoccupied with death and violence, but your visible lives are moderate and even quiet. You are angry and depressed in alternation. You are intellectual, but moody. You keep yourselves as islands, and your bridges to other islands are few and far between. You care, but you wish that you didn’t. Life would be so much easier if you didn’t care.

 

DARIA: [unsteady, dry mouth, low voice] I’m supposed to be like that. I’m a teenager.

 

SHOPKEEPER: You are more than that. [pause] You are Autumn, just as she—[glances at Andrea]—is Winter. You are an invisible Goth, but a Goth nonetheless.

 

Silence fills the room. Daria looks up into the face of the shopkeeper, who looks coolly down at her.

 

DARIA: [low voice] H-how much would it cost to try something? Goth, something black. I mean, if—

 

SHOPKEEPER: For you—[glances at Andrea]—just as for you—nothing. For the moment, trying on a new persona appears to be the thing you need.

 

DARIA: I just want an outfit, not a new persona.

 

SHOPKEEPER: The persona comes with it. It always happens the first time someone tries on a new set of clothes from my shop, a new expression of identity. It won’t last long. Enjoy it while you have it.

 

DARIA: And this is free? I can try it out for free?

 

SHOPKEEPER: [smiles crookedly] The pleasure is all mine.

 

With a final gaze at Daria, the shopkeeper walks over to a rack of clothing and sorts through it with spidery fingers.

 

ANDREA: [leans close to Daria, with big eyes, whispers] What did I tell you?

 

DARIA: [blushing, catching her breath at last] I think I need to lie down. That was too much.

 

ANDREA: You look like you could use a cigarette. So could I. Damn Charles anyway.

 

DARIA: [fanning her face with a hand] A cold shower would help.

 

SHOPKEEPER: [pulling something from a rack, his back to Daria and Andrea] Let us see how you would look in . . . this.

 

The shopkeeper turns around, holding a full-length dress in his arms. The dress is one from a dark fairy tale: ash gray highlighted with diamond-like sparkles and vibrant patches of orange and red, like dying fireplace embers. The dress is not particularly elaborate, but it has a remarkably clean, almost regal, look—something that a queen of autumn from a fantasy universe might wear. Daria sees the dress and gasps. Andrea gasps as well.

 

SHOPKEEPER: [to Daria, in a quiet voice] Your Majesty.

 

 

51. EXT: A SHORT WHILE LATER, OUTSIDE “DAMNATION ALLEY” SHOP, LAWNDALE

 

Sandi, Stacy, and Tiffany are outside the costume/clothing shop, trying to peer in through the windows. They have their hands cupped around their eyes to block out external glare.

 

SANDI: I can’t see a darn thing that isn’t pressed right up to the glass. The window must be tinted. Or the lights are out inside.

 

STACY: Why are we even looking at this stuff? It’s so gross!

 

SANDI: [sighs as if Stacy has missed the obvious] We have to examine and experience the dark side to appreciate the light, Stacy. Duh.

 

STACY: [looking at Sandi with awe] My gosh! Where’d you hear that?

 

SANDI: Star Wars, I think. I forget. My dad was watching it, and he wouldn’t turn the volume down.

 

STACY: [looks inside again] So . . . [lowers voice to a whisper] . . . do you believe what your dad said about Daria?

 

SANDI: [frowns] Eeewwww. If her own father thinks she’s burying people alive so she can dig them up later and consume them for hors d’oeuvres, I guess it MUST be true.

 

TIFFANY: [makes a terrible face] That is sooo groooss! Eeewwwww!

 

STACY: [same awful expression] Barf city!

 

SANDI: She’s probably incarcerated this very second. Poor Quinn. The humiliation must be terrible.

 

TIFFANY: Sooo, you think anyooone’s in here?

 

SANDI: If there is, they’re welcome to stay in there forever and keep the rest of the city pristine and fresh.

 

The door to the shop silently opens. Only Stacy notices this. While Tiffany and Sandi continue to peer through the shop window, Stacy sees who comes out of the shop: Daria, in her Autumn Queen gown. Daria’s face has been highlighted with makeup, but only a small amount around her eyes and cheeks; her glasses are gone. She sees the ex-Fashion Club members, particularly Stacy (the nearest), and she smiles grimly down at them as she descends to the sidewalk. Stacy’s eyes grow to the size of moons, the white visible all around her irises. The color runs from her face and lips, she stops breathing (much too frightened even to hyperventilate), and she appears only seconds from fainting. She steps back, almost bumping Sandi.

 

At this moment, Andrea quietly comes out from the shop as well. She’s changed clothes and now wears what looks like a black Goth gown of highest fashion (for the 17th century), highlighted with stripes of red. The effect is like that of rivers of fresh blood running down her dress. Stacy begins to shake violently.

 

SANDI: [still looking in the shop] I can’t believe anyone would want this stuff. Only dead people would shop here.

 

TIFFANY: [still looking in the shop] Reeeally? Deaaad people? Like in the mooovies?

 

Tiffany turns to Sandi, but unfortunately she now faces Daria, who is on the other side of Sandi. Tiffany’s eyes snap open, and her jaw drops. She inhales sharply and deeply, filling her lungs for a really incredible scream.

 

SANDI: [turning from shop window to Tiffany] Tiffany? What’s wrong? [turns around and sees Daria and Andrea right next to her]

 

Tiffany screams first, with Sandi and Stacy joining in to create a horrific, heart-stopping, ear-shattering shriek that echoes up and down the street for blocks, stopping pedestrian traffic cold. The sound is like no other. Even Daria and Andrea flinch when they hear it. In the next instant, all three girls flee down the street at the fastest possible speed, screaming like the damned. They are gone from sight in mere seconds.

 

Andrea and Daria stand outside the shop for a few moments longer, looking in the direction the ex-Fashion Club ran away. The street noise slowly returns to normal.

 

DARIA: [soft voice] Hmmm. That went well.

 

ANDREA: [soft voice] Know what? I feel . . . beautiful.

 

DARIA: [savors the moment, then turns to go back into the shop] My work here is done. No point in going for the anticlimax.

 

ANDREA: [follows Daria] Not good to get too much of a good thing. Except maybe sex.

 

DARIA: Thanks. Go ahead and rub it in, whydoncha.

 

They reenter the shop.

 

 

52. INT: EARLY AFTERNOON, UPSTAIRS HALLWAY OUTSIDE QUINN AND DARIA’S BATHROOM, MORGENDORFFER HOME

 

We once again look at the (closed) bathroom door. From under the door snakes an extension cord that runs down the hall to a wall socket. From behind the door, the music from a boy band plays, coming from boom-box speakers. The ceiling fan adds more to the sound level. In addition, Quinn hums to herself, adding non-words like “bop bop” and “lah-dah-dah” to the music. After a few seconds of this, we hear the boy-band music stop, then the electronic pop of a TV set being turned on by remote control.

 

TV SET: [VO, in bathroom] Can lesbianism be transmitted by kissing? These four high-school girlfriends say yes, and the older sister of one says that even watching lesbians kiss causes lesbianism! What does this mean for the future of the Republican Party? We have the shocking answers! “The Really, Truly, No-Kidding-This-Time Gay Virus”—tonight on “Sick, Sad World”!

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom] Eeewwww.

 

The TV makes channel-changing noises.

 

TV SET: [VO, in bathroom] Tonight, a CBS News special report: Erotic Eyewear! Does what you put on your face actually make you better in bed? Or have the optometry industry’s marketing tactics gotten out of control? Tune in for our shocking investigation, “Who Makes Passes at Nerds Who Wear Glasses?” with our special guest, former President Bill Clinton.

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom] Eww.

 

The TV makes channel-changing noises.

 

TV SET: [VO, in bathroom] —the shocking story of how a young girl’s obsession with fashion led to her taking a high-paying job as a phone-sex operator.

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom] Yeah, I could see that.

 

TV SET {VO, in bathroom] You and your loved ones must see this special report, “A Passion for Fashion,” on ABC News tonight, with our special guest, former President Bill Clinton.

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom] Eww.

 

The TV makes channel-changing noises.

 

TV SET: [VO, in bathroom]

[Man’s voice] —and welcome to the Jerry Spaniel Show. Let’s introduce our first guest, who—well, I think you can explain it better than I can.

[Young woman’s voice with West Virginia accent] Well, see, my family moved to this new town and I met this girl who became my best and only friend, and then I had an affair with her older brother until he turned gay with my girlfriend’s boyfriend who was in the same rock band as him, so then I had an affair with my girlfriend until she dumped me for this evil guy who then dumped her and had an affair with me, and then I dumped him and had another affair with my girlfriend, but then she got bored and killed herself, or my sister did, I’m not sure which, and I was put in this nut house and while I was there my dead girlfriend’s brother became a male prostitute and had an affair with my mom, who was having an affair with her boss, who I think turned out to be my real father but not the father of my long-lost wealthy brother or maybe half-brother who was really the son of my mother and the guy I thought was my father, though maybe he was my father, but my mother and the guy I thought was my father got divorced right before he fell off a water tower and had a heart attack after he learned my dead girlfriend had come back from the dead and wanted to marry me, the night after I went through the back of my dead girlfriend’s brother’s closet and went to an alternate universe where we was all Democrats.

[Audience catcalls and boos]

[Man’s voice] Okay, and why are you here today?

[Young woman’s voice with West Virginia accent] Well, see, my current boyfriend, he’s what you call a computer geek—

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom] Eww!!!

 

The TV makes channel-changing noises.

 

TV SET: [VO, in bathroom] —and stay tuned to Cartoon Network for our feature-length special, “Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn,” starring everyone’s favorite blue canine, Huckleberry Hound! Be a joiner and join in the fun, right after this commercial break!

 

QUINN: [VO, in bathroom] All right! Trent told me about this.

 

As we listen to a TV commercial for a breakfast cereal (“Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs”) that involves a small boy screaming his head off while he’s being chased by a tiger, we hear the boy-band music come on again at low volume. Quinn resumes humming—and “bop bopping”—along with the song, waiting for the movie to start.

 

 

53. INT: EARLY AFTERNOON, LIVING ROOM, LANE HOME

 

The living room looks much as earlier in the day, but the smoky haze has cleared away. The phone rings three times before Jane (looking worn out and depressed) appears and picks up the handset. We now see a split screen, with Jane on one side and Daria (at a secluded hotel lobby payphone) on the other. Andrea is not with Daria during this conversation. Daria is back in her normal outfit, makeup removed. A paper shopping bag is slung over one arm.

 

JANE: Yo. Lanes.

 

DARIA: Jane! How’s it going?

 

JANE: Hey. Trent said you called earlier.

 

DARIA: Yeah. He said you were working on the computer. I didn’t want to bother you.

 

JANE: [sits in a nearby chair] Just as well. The computer burned up, and I lost my temper.

 

DARIA: Burned up? You mean, completely burned up, or—

 

JANE: Daria, let’s go into this later. I’m in a really lousy mood right now. I apologize, but my project’s ruined, and I’m really out of it.

 

DARIA: Oh. [pause] You think you need to get out?

 

JANE: I need to get out by myself right now, but later on I might drop by, if you’ve got some free time.

 

DARIA: Um, sure, I think that will work. There’s a seminar I have to attend with Dad, and a dinner, but Dad and I both want to cut the dance part. Do what you have to, then come on by. Leave a message at my room. You still have the hotel number?

 

JANE: Yeah, it’s around here somewhere. Anything funny you can tell me?

 

DARIA: Actually, yeah. You know what you suspected about “In/Out/Down”? Who does it?

 

JANE: Andrea?

 

DARIA: You were right. She told me about it today. It’s her.

 

JANE: That’s pretty wild. You tell her about “Kim and Dim”?

 

DARIA: Yeah. [shout] What?

 

JANE: “Kim and Dim.” You tell her about—

 

DARIA: [aghast] How did you know?

 

JANE: [smiles] Oh, come on, Daria. Kim talks just like you do, and Dim talks just like Quinn. Actually, I’ve had my suspicions for the last few months, but bless your heart, you just confirmed them.

 

DARIA: [pause] Oooh, I hate you.

 

JANE: Did you tell her that I’m in there, too?

 

DARIA: [gasps] Augh! Oh, no! No, no, no, no!

 

JANE: [chuckles] I like that part. It’s sort of like The Vagina Monologues. I’m Virginia, Kim and Dim’s “Answering Cervix,” right?

 

Her face scarlet red, Daria drops the payphone handset, too embarrassed to go on. She walks off, leaving the handset swinging below the payphone.

 

JANE: That’s such a really terrible pun, but it makes me love it all the more. Sort of . . . hello? Daria? Hello?

 

After a pause, Jane slowly hangs up the phone and leans back in her chair. We go back to a single screen.

 

JANE: [smiles to self] Well, that was therapeutic. [pause] I ought to do something on SSU, too. I really should.

 

Jane rests for a moment more, thinking, then reluctantly gets out of the chair.

 

JANE: But first . . . finish what you start.

 

Looking more at peace, Jane reaches down, picks up a (scarred and chipped) baseball bat from the floor, and walks out of view. We hear the front door of the Lane home open, then shut. Silence reigns.

 

 

54. INT: LATER THAT AFTERNOON, CORRIDOR BESIDE THE GIFT SHOPS, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Daria and Andrea are talking and window-shopping again. Daria still has her shopping bag, which seems to have something heavy in the bottom.

 

ANDREA: I’ve still got a couple hours until Charles comes back. With any luck, we’ll have the rest of the weekend to ourselves. I may go up and take a nap before he gets in. The walk was good, but I always sucked at phys-ed. No stamina.

 

DARIA: I suppose it depends on the, uh, activity.

 

ANDREA: [gets it, smiles] Oh, yeah. Well, if it involves a bed and Mister Ultrasuave, I’m good to go.

 

DARIA: [shakes her head] It’s funny, but I was just thinking about that tall guy at “Damnation Alley.” What he said about trying on new personas.

 

ANDREA: Oh, that. Yeah, he said that to me, the first time I went there a year ago.

 

DARIA: I thought he was being . . . really pretentious. People don’t say things like that in clothing stores, even weird clothing stores. [pause] His delivery was good, though.

 

ANDREA: Well, maybe he’s got a point. When you put on a different outfit, you put on a different way of thinking, sometimes. Different persona.

 

DARIA: [pained look] That’s sort of lame. I can’t believe that. I sure don’t feel any different.

 

ANDREA: [shrugs] It happened to me once, first time I went there. I tried on a dress, a real bitch-Goth thing, super-dominatrix, and man, did I get an attitude later on. [shivers] Told off my oldest stepsister, Beth. It was cold. [pause] She stopped picking on me, though. Hasn’t talked to me since. Probably just as well.

 

DARIA: And this. [raises the shopping bag she has in one hand]

 

ANDREA: Yeah, I was sort of wondering about that, too—why you got it.

 

DARIA: [looking in the sack] It came off a suit of armor, I think. It was cool. I wanted to take it home and look at it, maybe try it on.

 

ANDREA: His rental fees for stuff are pretty reasonable. I go there sometimes when I really want to get fixed up.

 

DARIA: [looks in sack] I don’t think I could wear this on a date.

 

ANDREA: Mmmm, well, you could, but—

 

DARIA: I wouldn’t have many dates.

 

ANDREA: True.

 

DARIA: Not that my social calendar is jam-packed with male companionship as it is.

 

ANDREA: If you notice any aftereffects, you know, new personas or anything, you let me know.

 

DARIA: Sure thing, but don’t hold your . . .

 

Daria’s voice fades out as she and Andrea walk past a cookware shop. Daria’s gaze immediately falls upon a set of professional-quality steak knives in the window.

 

 

55. ### DARIA’S DAYDREAM ###

EXT: MIDNIGHT, OUTSIDE INSANE ASYLUM

 

A huge, forbidding structure is briefly seen, illuminated in the darkness by prolonged flashes of lightning from an electrical storm overhead. Thunder crashes and rolls. In the immediate foreground, also illuminated by lightning, is a sign that reads: Lawndale State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.

 

 

56. ### DARIA’S DAYDREAM ###

INT: DARK CELL IN ASYLUM

 

A slightly built human being is tied up in a vertical position, in a straightjacket and white hospital pants. The figure has a strange sort of wire mask or muzzle over the lower part of its face. Lightning flashes from a window in the tiny room reveal that the tied-up person is Daria; her hair, glasses, and eyes are visible. She glances at the stormy window, then looks down. We see her arms working under the jacket. Suddenly, a knife blade slices through her straightjacket from the inside out, guided by a hand that she’s managed to work free of the jacket sleeves.

 

 

57. ### DARIA’S DAYDREAM ###

EXT: SHORTLY THEREAFTER, OUTSIDE INSANE ASYLUM

 

Police cars and ambulances are everywhere on the asylum grounds, sirens screaming. Heavily armed SWAT officers are searching the grounds in panic. Cries of “Where is she?” and “Where did she go?” and “Call the FBI!” fill the storm-tossed night.

 

 

58. ### DARIA’S DAYDREAM ###

INT: SHORTLY THEREAFTER, QUINN’S BEDROOM, MORGENDORFFER HOME

 

Quinn, dressed in a long pink nightshirt with a teddy bear on it, is reading an issue of Waif magazine. The phone rings beside her, and she picks it up by reflex.

 

QUINN: [still reading Waif] Hello, Fashion Basics Indoctrination. Miss Morgendorffer speaking.

 

DARIA: [VO, on phone—in a pleasant but eerily familiar tone] Hello, Clarice.

 

QUINN: [still reading Waif] Sorry, wrong number. You want the other FBI.

 

DARIA: [VO, on phone] No, I was calling for you. Come downstairs. I’d like to have you for dinner.

 

QUINN: [still reading Waif] Got any fat-free potato chips?

 

DARIA: [VO, on phone] Let me check. [pause] Certainly. In any flavor you want.

 

QUINN: [tosses magazine aside] Be right there. [hangs up, hurries out of bedroom]

 

 

59. ### DARIA’S DAYDREAM ###

INT: KITCHEN, MORGENDORFFER HOME

 

Quinn hurries into the kitchen to find the kitchen table set with elegant and expensive dishes and silverware—but no food is present and only one person has a place setting, with a filled wineglass. No one else seems to be present in the room. The walls and edges of the room are shrouded in darkness.

 

QUINN: [annoyed, fists on hips, looking down at table] Hey! I don’t drink wine! And where are those chips?

 

Behind Quinn, we become aware of a figure walking silently out of the darkness. It’s Daria, eyeing Quinn in a dreamy, crazy sort of way. Daria smiles broadly to reveal sharp teeth, her canines especially pointed and long like vampire fangs. Quinn, oblivious, frowns downward at the table as Daria comes up behind her, mouth opening wide, clawed hands spread to grab her sister, and—

 

—we hear a loud shriek, then hacking and coughing. Someone’s hands wave madly in front of the screen, blocking out what comes next.

 

 

60. ### DARIA’S DAYDREAM ###

INT: MOVIE REVIEWS ROOM

 

Angel Daria, standing up with her arms in the air in front of the (now dark) movie screen, is coughing and choking on something, probably after inhaling her popcorn. She’s also spilled a dark-colored soft drink all down the front of her outfit. Devil Daria jumps up and down in ecstasy, pumping her fist and screaming; she has lost her usual deadpan affect. The floor is littered with popcorn bits, empty soft-drink cups, and pizza boxes.

 

DEVIL DARIA: [screams, delirious] Yessss!!! Yessss!!! You did it!!! [suddenly beats her chest and gives a very loud, perfect Tarzan yell]

 

Still choking, Angel Daria pushes past Devil Daria toward the viewer (Daria). She weakly waves her arms in warning at the viewer, rapidly shaking her head no, but she turns blue and falls facedown on the floor, out of the picture. An arm enters the picture from one side, handing the crazed Devil Daria a huge gold Oscar.

 

DEVIL DARIA: [clutches her Oscar, half-crying, half-laughing, wiping her eyes] I want to thank the members of the Academy; my father, for believing in me; my new friend Andrea—oh! And the Prince of Darkness, of course! And—

 

 

61. INT: MOMENTS LATER, OUTSIDE COOKWARE GIFT SHOP, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Daria stares at the steak knives without expression. Andrea leans close to Daria, peering at her face in puzzlement. Daria does not respond, so Andrea waves a hand in front of Daria’s face.

 

ANDREA: Ground control to Major Morgendorffer.

 

DARIA: [blinks, looks at Andrea] Oh. Sorry. [pause, then blurts] Are you really hungry?

 

 

62. INT: A SHORT WHILE LATER, DINING ROOM, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Daria and Andrea share a booth in the hotel dining room. A waiter is at their table, setting their orders before them. Andrea has a small focaccia, almost exactly like the one Daria ordered for dinner on the previous evening. Daria, however, has a petite-cut steak with French fries. As the waiter leaves, Daria picks up a ketchup bottle and proceeds to dump its contents over her food. Andrea looks on with a mixture of disbelief, anxiety, and gastric revulsion.

 

ANDREA: [looks from Daria to her meal, low voice] You’re not pregnant, are you?

 

DARIA: [unperturbed] Huh? No. [cuts into her steak]

 

As Andrea watches, Daria takes a bite of her steak, then closes her eyes and sighs, savoring the taste. Andrea shrugs and begins eating, though keeping a close eye on Daria.

 

ANDREA: [with a touch of concern] Remember to tell me about aftereffects and new personas.

 

DARIA: [mouth full] Mmm-hmmm. [swallows] Say, did that guy at the shop ever tell you how he got into the clothing business?

 

ANDREA: Not really. He said he just enjoys selling or renting needful things.

 

Daria nods absently, her mind elsewhere.

 

DARIA: [chewing] This steak is pretty good. Really rare. How’s your focaccia?

 

 

63. INT: A SHORT WHILE LATER, BOOK AND GIFT SHOP, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Looking bored and depressed, Mack browses one of the hotel’s gift shops, the one Daria was in earlier in the day. Passing a display of personalized coffee mugs stacked on a series of shelves, Mack pauses to turn around a mug that apparently has no name on it. The reverse side of the mug, however, shows the name “Tom.” He shrugs and puts the item back—the name again reversed. As he looks at other personalized-item displays, he finds more hidden or reversed items with the name “Tom” on them. He frowns, puzzled, but he leaves the rest of these items alone. He hesitates when he finds a key chain with the name “Jodie” on it, and he holds this in his hand, looking at it sadly.

 

Behind him, Brittany comes through the door of the gift shop. She appears cheery, one finger curling up the end of her right-side ponytail. After glancing around the shop, she spots Mack in surprise.

 

BRITTANY: Hey, Mack?

 

MACK: [turns, also surprised] Brittany? [quickly puts “Jodie” key chain back on rack]

 

BRITTANY: [walking over] Hey, big guy! What are you doing here?

 

MACK: [uncomfortable] Uh, looking around. Nothing up. What’s with you?

 

BRITTANY: Lemme tell you, that’s a weird story, but it’s a good one, you know? Is Jodie around? I can tell her, too.

 

MACK: [hesitates, strained voice] No, she’s, uh, not here right now.

 

BRITTANY: [looking closely at Mack] You have a fight?

 

MACK: [looks down, depressed] We . . . Jodie said that she . . .

 

BRITTANY: [eyes widening] You broke up?

 

MACK: [rolls eyes, very quiet voice] Yeah. I . . . she said that—

 

BRITTANY: [shocked] Oh, Mack, I’m so sorry! You know, she’s a smart girl. She’ll come around. Give her some time.

 

MACK: [looks down, very depressed] I don’t think that’s going to happen. She said we weren’t, um, heading in the same direction. Guess I didn’t fit into her plans. [pause] It’s really over.

 

BRITTANY: [pained look, really sorry] Oh, Mack.

 

MACK: [clears throat, looks around the store] So, where’s Kevin?

 

BRITTANY: [cheery again] Hey, that’s my good news! We broke up! I’m single again, just like you!

 

MACK: [stares at Brittany in disbelief] You broke up?

 

BRITTANY: Yeah! Isn’t that great? We were eating dinner here last night, and I explained to him that he and I weren’t heading in . . . [hesitates, looks at Mack and realizes what she’s saying] . . . in, um . . . the same . . . [gives up, embarrassed] . . . you know.

 

Mack nods yes, looking down and saying nothing.

 

BRITTANY: [tries to recover] So, listen, Kevin and I are having a last dinner together, later tonight. We’re sort of saying goodbye to each other, you know, before I head off to Great Prairie State, and he . . . well, sticks around here. Wanna come sit with us? He should be here in a couple hours. I’m just shopping.

 

MACK: [shakes head no] Nah. I’d be in the way. [gestures vaguely to one side] I was gonna . . . go and—

 

BRITTANY: Hey, walk around with me, okay? We can shop for a while. I’m trying to find something for my stepmom’s birthday. You’ve met Ashley-Amber, right?

 

MACK: Uh, yeah, after the final game. She and your dad—

 

BRITTANY: Great! You know what’s she’s like. Help me pick something out, and you can tell me what’s up with Jodie, okay? Or not, whatever, you know?

 

Mack nods in reluctant agreement. Brittany takes Mack by the arm and leads him out of the gift shop.

 

BRITTANY: Let’s go over there to that lingerie place first. I need a man’s opinion on a really cool nightgown, you know, something kinda hot but really cool, you know what I mean?

 

MACK: Uh, Brittany, that’s—

 

BRITTANY: Then we’ll go over to . . .

 

The conversation fades out as they walk off together down the hotel corridor.

 

 

 

* * *

 

SATURDAY AFTERNOON

Part Five: The Devil Daria Rides Out

(a.k.a.: Creep’s Show, or, Is It Autumn Yet?)

 

 

64. INT: MID-AFTERNOON, UPSTAIRS HALLWAY OUTSIDE QUINN AND DARIA’S BATHROOM, MORGENDORFFER HOME

 

As before, we see the look at the (closed) bathroom door. Five extension cords and a phone line run from under the door to a jammed surge protector, which runs to a wall socket down the hall, with another phone wire to a phone jack that’s off screen. From behind the bathroom door, we hear the ceiling fan, boy-band music from a boom box, and low unintelligible conversation, punctuated with moans, from a TV set with the volume turned down. Quinn is singing along in a soft voice with the boom box, but her words cannot be made out clearly. Magazine pages rustle now and then. After a few moments, we hear a female voice (computer synthesized) speak.

 

COMPUTER: [VO] You have e-mail!

 

QUINN: [VO, multitasking] Probably Jeffy. Yep.

 

The sound on the TV suddenly drops even lower. We hear the sounds of a touchtone phone being dialed.

 

QUINN: [VO, lively] Hello, Commodes Are Us? Yes, I found your website, and it is just the most wonderful thing. I love the little dancing make-up mirror! Uh-huh. Yes, what I want to do is get an estimate for remodeling an upstairs bathroom. Yes. Well, I was looking at it today and thinking that it looks sort of, um, boring, you know, kinda drab, nothing interesting there, and I want to do something just a little bit different with it. Tweak it here and there, perk it up. Um-hmm. Well, for starters, I was thinking about maybe putting in a larger tub with a Jacuzzi, a separate shower stall, maybe a sauna, a bigger outside window with stained glass, a skylight, marble countertops, gold faucets and handles—not real gold, but something that looks just like real gold—yeah, exactly, and mirror lights, lots more mirror lights, and I was reading your website about these odorless toilets. Oh, you do? Really? Do you have any with a particular fragrance? Oh, that’s great! Just send me the whole list.

 

COMPUTER: [VO] You have e-mail!

 

QUINN: [VO] Oh, and more cabinet space. Lots more cabinet space. Anything you have that would help me out there. I’d also like a wall-mounted TV, something you can see from the bathtub, but far enough away so it won’t fall in the tub, you know, and electroshock you. I’d like color, at least thirty-six inch, cable—no, make that satellite, voice control, and . . . [disappointed] Oh, really? Darn. Well, maybe I can order it from somewhere else, and you can build the place where we’d put it. Right. Mmm-hmm. Right, exactly. My family intents to do this right after my sister leaves for college this fall, and we need to get started now on the planning. Oh, and ceiling fans—I need a quieter ceiling fan, one that doesn’t rattle all the time. It does get on your nerves.

 

COMPUTER: [VO] You have e-mail and photos!

 

QUINN: [VO] Tile floors, I also want to know what you have in tile floors, maybe with some fluffy carpets to throw down on it. That’s it exactly! You’re reading my mind! And most importantly, everything has to match my eyes. Blue, but it’s a special kind of blue. I’m a Spring, and my eyes aren’t the usual kind of blue that Spring redheads—yes, exactly. Exactly! Oh, that’s wonderful! Does this come with a video? Yes! I knew this was the right place to call! Okay, I need everything sent to the following address: Quinn Morgendorffer, at—oh, Quinn, Q-U-I-N-N, Morgendorffer, just like it’s pronounced, but with two f’s, at eleven eleven, that’s one one one one, Glen Oaks Lane, Lawndale. Express mail, please. Right. Well, thank you! I’ll be looking forward to it! You bet! Bye! [beep as portable phone is turned off] Okay, that’s four now. Two more proposals, and I can call it quits.

 

HELEN: [VO, downstairs, shouting upstairs] Quinn? Quinn, are you out yet?

 

QUINN: [VO, whisper] Damn it! [shouts] No, mom, not yet! [hasty movement as a videotape pops out of a VCR, and TV channel is changed to a sitcom, laughter faintly audible]

 

HELEN: [VO, downstairs, shouting upstairs] Have you seen my laptop? I need it for work! I have to go in and finish a case!

 

QUINN: [VO, shouts] Mom, I need it! I’m working on something! I thought you’d already left!

 

HELEN: [VO, coming upstairs, shouting] Quinn! You can’t use a computer in the bathroom! Those things cost thousands of dollars, and if you get it wet, it’s ruined! And what if you get electrocuted?

 

QUINN: [VO, shouts] Mom, I really need to use the computer right now! Please let me use it!

 

HELEN: [now in view, wearing her usual lawyer outfit] No, Quinn, I need it. Besides, I’ll only be gone for an hour or two. You can use it when I get . . . [looks down, notices power cables] Quinn, what are all these cords? What do you have in there?

 

QUINN: [VO, shouts] Muuuh-ooom! I need this all stuff!

 

COMPUTER: [VO] You have e-mail and photos!

 

HELEN: [shouts] Quinn, log off and give me that computer!

 

QUINN: [VO, shouts] I can’t even get out of here to make my own dinner!

 

HELEN: [shouts] You can get out of there long enough to steal my laptop! Is the door unlocked? [tries doorknob] Unlock this right now, before I get a paperclip!

 

QUINN: [VO, shouts] Muuuh-ooom! Wait! [pause, doorknob lock pops, thump as someone sits down on toilet again]

 

Helen tries the doorknob and goes into the bathroom, almost closing the door behind her. We can hear sounds in the bathroom more clearly.

 

HELEN: [VO] Quinn! What is all this? What have you done? Damn it, this has to go! Everything has to go! For starters, put that back in the closet!

 

QUINN: [VO] No, Mom! Please, my feet are cold!

 

HELEN: [VO] Well, wear slippers! The heating pad isn’t for that! [boy-band music shuts off] Where’s the remote for the TV? Why are these lamps in here?

 

QUINN: [VO] Please, Mom! I’m really bored in here! There’s nothing to do except go to the bathroom all the time! And the lamps are here ‘cause it’s so dark! It’s like a cave!

 

HELEN: [VO] You’ve got almost a dozen things plugged! This’ll blow out a fuse!

 

QUINN: [VO] Okay, okay, I’m sorry. I can unplug some things, but please leave everything in here! And please let me use the computer! Please?

 

HELEN: No! Get yourself cleaned up, and go downstairs and get something to eat. We have plenty of lasagna in the freezer. You can get out long enough to use a microwave if you can get out long enough to grab all this!

 

QUINN: [VO, shouting] Are you kidding? I have to go every five minutes! I feel like I’m totally empty, and I’m still going!

 

HELEN: [VO] Is that the VCR? What are you doing with the VCR in here? What tapes are those?

 

QUINN: [VO, panicked] Nothing, Mom! They’re from Daria’s room! No, don’t—

 

HELEN: [VO, gasps, shouts] Quinn! Oh, my God! Where did you find these?

 

QUINN: [VO] Mom, no! Mom!

 

HELEN: [VO] These were in my closet! You’re not to watch these, you’re underage! These are for adults only, to help Ja—they’re none of your business! You’re not to ever—[aghast]—oh, my God! These were rewound when—Quinn! You watched all of them! Did you see them all? Oh, God, no!

 

COMPUTER: [VO] You have e-mail!

 

QUINN: [VO] Oh, Muuuh-ooom!

 

 

65. INT: MID-AFTERNOON, FIRST-FLOOR ELEVATORS NEAR HOTEL LOBBY, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Daria (still carrying the sack and its mysterious contents from “Damnation Alley”) talks to Andrea by the elevators. Andrea pushes the “up” button.

 

ANDREA: That was fun. Thanks for running around with me. I’m gonna crash until Charles gets back from helping his dad. That focaccia is about to put me to sleep.

 

DARIA: I’m going to roam, kill some time. [gaze wanders toward the lobby] And maybe some other things.

 

ANDREA: You’re seeing your dad later?

 

DARIA: Hmmm? [looks back at Andrea] Yeah. He gets out of his last all-male-bonding seminar an hour and a half from now, then we go to a meeting at five for one last hour of regimented father-daughter quality time. I plan to fall asleep during the lecture. After that’s dinner, then . . . we skip the dance. I’ll probably go to the room and watch the late rerun of “Sick, Sad World,” while Dad hangs out in the bar with his buddies.

 

ANDREA: [wistful smile] Family togetherness.

 

DARIA: Dysfunctional families can stand only so much quality time.

 

ANDREA: [snickers] You’ve got that right. [pushes elevator button] If you see Charles, send him on up.

 

DARIA: Will do.

 

Andrea gets into the next elevator up and waves goodbye with a smile. Daria raises a hand in farewell.

 

DARIA: [low voice, to herself, after elevator door closes] If I see Charles and he makes a pass at me, I certainly will send him on up—the very second my right boot connects with his butt.

 

Our point of view suddenly closes in on Daria’s green right eye, her face rapidly filling the screen. We seem to fly through Daria’s glasses, into her dark pupil, and then—

 

 

66. ### DARIA’S DAYDREAM ###

INT: BRIDGE OF THE U.S.S. ENTERPRISE

 

We see what appears to be the bridge of the starship U.S.S. Enterprise, from the original 1960s TV show, “Star Trek.” Sitting in the captain’s chair is Devil Daria, in a gold-and-black commander’s uniform. To one side are four angels, dressed as emergency medical technicians, crowded around a winged figure lying on the floor: Angel Daria. The angelic EMTs work very fast, shouting to each other as they try to revive Angel Daria, who does not respond to treatment. Odd equipment sits next to the EMTs. No one else is present.

 

ANGEL EMT #1: Her phlogiston count is falling! One point six million over point seven million!

 

ANGEL EMT #2: Cardionuclear activity down to five point one three billion electron volts!

 

DEVIL DARIA: [frowning at EMTs from captain’s chair] Let’s keep the noise down, shall we? Some of us are trying to work.

 

A loud beeping whine comes from some equipment the EMTs are using. One angel holds two silver paddles aloft, with wires running from the paddles to the whining equipment.

 

ANGEL EMT #3: [shouts] CLEAR!

 

The other angels pull back, and the third EMT plants the paddles on Angel Daria’s chest. There is a loud bang and Angel Daria jerks, but remains still. Devil Daria rolls her eyes and tries to ignore the EMTs.

 

ANGEL EMT #2: She’s not responding! No telepathic carrier wave!

 

DEVIL DARIA: Okay, enough frivolity. [punches button on arm of chair] Navigation, set course for . . . oh, hell, anywhere. Let’s go joyriding at warp factor one.

 

ANGEL EMT #4: [puts hand over mouthpiece of golden cell phone, shaky whisper] I’ve got Gabriel on the hot line, and is he ever pissed!

 

This scene suddenly recedes from us, and we fly out—

 

 

67. INT: AT THIS MOMENT, FIRST-FLOOR ELEVATORS NEAR HOTEL LOBBY, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

—from Daria’s right eye. Daria drops her hand and walks off toward the main lobby and its shops. She passes a Lackluster video rental store, which at this very moment is showing a scene from a classic “Star Trek” episode, “Mirror, Mirror.” The bearded Mr. Spock from the evil alternate universe is speaking to someone, but we cannot hear what he says. Daria walks past him without a single look, carrying her shopping sack.

 

 

68. INT: ABOUT THIS TIME, KEVIN THOMPSON’S HOTEL ROOM, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Kevin lies on his queen-size bed, watching a movie on the TV’s Forecast Channel (“The World’s Worse Hurricane Parties”). He’s changed back into his Lawndale football outfit, minus the shoulder pads, and is eating from a bag of barbecue-flavor potato chips (not the fat-free kind). When the movie breaks for a commercial, he glances at the bedside clock and swings his stocking feet off the bed.

 

KEVIN: [to self] Better get ready for little bitch Brittany. [pause, thinks] Little Bitchany. [nods] Yeah, Little Miss Too-Good-For-You Bitchany. Yeah. See how that act goes over after she sees these.

 

Kevin reaches down by his bedside and picks up a large manila envelope stamped with the words, “Quickie Photo: We’ll Print Anything! Just Ask Us!” He pulls out a set of 8-by-10-inch color glossy photos and begins looking at them, lying back on the bed. We cannot see the photos very well, but what we do see indicates they are all of Brittany Taylor—nude. Kevin sighs in contentment. As he looks through the photos, a packet with the negatives falls out. He absently drops the packet back into the manila envelope, then stuffs the photos back in and puts the envelope down by his bed again.

 

KEVIN: [to self, watching TV again] She’ll come around. Either that, or these hit the world-wide net. [pause] Interweb. [pause] Whatever. [pause] Share the joy.

 

 

69. INT: A SHORT WHILE LATER, OUTSIDE A SEMINAR ROOM, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Jake Morgendorffer stands at a wall phone, down the hall from a seminar room in the Lawndale Plaza Hotel. In his hands, he fumbles with a miniature tape recorder, trying to get a miniature tape to load. He has the telephone handset pressed to one ear, held up by a shoulder. A ringing noise can be faintly heard from the phone.

 

JAKE: [low voice, grumbles at little tape recorder] Damn it! Come on, fit in there! Damn cheap-ass overseas knock-offs! Why the hell—[flips tape recorder over, reads label]—oh, great! Damn cheap-ass domestic knock-offs! Why the hell can’t anyone make something that works the first time? All I want to do is record the damn meeting so I can improve my role as a father! Is that too much to ask? No wonder this country’s on a downward spiral into hell! We—oh, ah, yes, hello, this is, um, Jake Morgendorffer. My daughter Daria checked a book out from your library about a week or so ago, I think, and the book is overdue. Daria, D-A-R-I-A. Morgendorffer, just as it sounds, but with two f’s. [pause] Right, that’s her. She checked out a copy of Stephen King’s Needful Things, and wouldn’t you know it, the silly book’s gone missing. Well, no, I don’t think it will be. See, um, it was, uh, damaged in a fire. Yes, it was awful. Sort of ironic, given that it was by Stephen King. Right. Thank you, I appreciate that. Anyway, the book’s gone to book heaven, and I want to pay for it. Can I use a credit card? American Master-Visa Club? Great. How much was the book? It was a paperback. [winces] Oh, okay, sure, I’ll pay for the overdue fee, too. [surprised] Nine dollars? Isn’t that a little much to ask for a paperback? Oh. Well, I guess you’re the library, you can charge what you want, suck out my blood, whatever. [makes a rude face at the phone] Okay, here’s my card number. [pause] Damn, can’t I just give you the number . . . oh, all right. I’ll be down there Monday morning and pay for it there. It’s time out of my job, but sure. [hangs up] Nazis. [examines tape recorder, pushes buttons]

 

TAPE PLAYER: [playing back clear recording of Jake’s voice] Damn it! Come on, fit in there! Damn cheap-ass overseas knock-offs! Why the—

 

Jake clicks another button, and the tape player shuts off.

 

JAKE: [smiles in relief] Finally! Maybe America’s got a chance on the world market after all! [walks off to seminar]

 

 

70. INT: A SHORT WHILE LATER, UPCHUCK AND ANDREA’S HOTEL ROOM, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

The room is dark and empty. Clothes (from Upchuck and Andrea) are strewn about on the unmade bed, floor, and furniture. Several dozen black roses are scattered around the room, and many black rose petals litter the bed. The door clicks, and Andrea walks in; the door shuts behind her automatically. She pockets her plastic door key.

 

ANDREA: [looking around] Charles? Charles?

 

She sits down on the edge of the bed with a sigh, then leans over and unstraps her pointed-toe boots, kicking them off. She wears black socks, of course. She then gets up, humming a tuneless song, and takes off her two necklaces, carefully laying them on the small dresser by the bed. The dresser top also holds a digital clock, lamp, a photograph of her (taken at school), some chewing-gum wrappers, and numerous condom packages, some unwrapped and empty. Andrea sniffs, swallows, reaches behind her to scratch under her bra strap, and wanders toward the bathroom. On the way there, her stocking feet become entangled in a pair of Upchuck’s slacks, and she reaches down to pick them up. As she does, the crackle of paper is heard. Andrea examines the pants and finds a piece of folded paper sticking partway out of one pocket. Andrea hesitates, glances around the room, then walks over and looks in the bathroom (where she turns on the light). Certain that she is alone, Andrea unfolds the piece of paper and reads it, standing near the bathroom light. The paper reads:

 

                   Saturday a.m.—Jenny to call (cell phone) when ready, must

                   pretend to be Dad, 3-4 hrs out & back to Oakwood + 1 hour?

 

Andrea blinks as she reads the note, going over it several times and checking the (blank) back. Her free hand comes up to grip the note and hold it still. Her breathing becomes quick, irregular, and shallow, and her lips part. After a few seconds, she wobbles on her feet, and one hand reaches out to steady herself against the bathroom doorway. She swallows, her expression anguished. She looks around dully at the dark room, reads the note again several more times, then leans with a thump against the doorframe to the bathroom. Finally, her left hand (holding the note) lowers to her side, and she stares at the floor. Her breathing is so low as to be undetectable. Her face is blank, devoid of even life.

 

 

71. INT: ABOUT THIS TIME, VIDEO ARCADE ROOM, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Daria is in the hotel’s videogames room again. The windows to the outside reveal it is mid-afternoon; a clock in the room shows it is 4:30 pm. Original recordings of 1960s and 1970s rock songs play from overhead speakers. She stands before an advanced game console labeled: “Aliens vs. Predator: The Final Smackdown!” The sack from “Damnation Alley” is on the floor beside her. After fishing in a jacket pocket for change, she picks out two quarters, drops them in, and readies herself to play. Just before play begins, the speakers overhead go silent, then softly play the eerie opening cords to the Rolling Stones’ hit, “Gimme Shelter.” Daria’s eyes become glazed as she selects armor and weaponry for her Colonial Marine character, who oddly enough has the smirking face of Devil Daria.

 

Something else happens, too. Unconsciously, as she works the game machine, Daria begins to move to the Rolling Stones music. She starts by gently tapping a foot and bobbing her head slightly as she clicks the game controls. Then she begins to bounce slightly up and down on one foot in time with the music, hips shifting, shoulders moving, head nodding, as the opening chords reach their crescendo. She begins game play at the moment the crescendo is hit, her whole body moving in perfect time to the music but not so much as to disturb her play. Her hands fly at the controls; light flashes and explosions boom out from the machine as her character plunges into battle, her face betraying no expression except intense excitement.

 

The door opens behind Daria as a tall, teenage male walks in, wearing a tank top and pants so baggy that the upper three inches of his butt crack can be seen. As he walks past Daria, he drops one hand and brushes against her posterior, almost like an accident except that he gooses her at the last moment. Daria jumps, but doesn’t lose her place in her game. The newcomer then takes the videogame next to Daria, which is positioned so Daria actually stands two feet behind the newcomer. Though she gets red in the face, Daria barely looks at him as he grins at her, shrugs, and begins playing “Nuclear Ninja Nightmare.”

 

Once the newcomer is absorbed in his game, however, Daria glances at him several times, studying him from top to bottom. She notices the top of a tool or implement can be seen in one of his pants’ back pockets, next to his wallet. Shifting her stance to come closer to the newcomer, Daria suddenly crouches, leans in close and reaches for his back pocket. Her fingers deftly catch the item and pull it from his pocket. It’s a long-handled switchblade knife. Daria quickly drops it into an inner pocket of her jacket. He never notices this, as his pants are so loose. Daria gives him a second glance, notes how intent he is on his game, and leans over a second time. This time, she pockets the newcomer’s wallet, coolly going back to her game.

 

Finishing his own game, the newcomer saunters past Daria, who carefully moves out of reach (dancing again) as he again reaches down to grab her rear end. He snickers and walks out, leaving Daria alone. Moments later, Daria looks back, sees that he’s gone, and stops playing her game. She checks the newcomer’s wallet, pockets a wad of cash and a plastic hotel door key, and stuffs the wallet inside a soft-drink cup with a lid, which she pulls from a trashcan. She quickly throws the cup back into the trashcan alongside other garbage, and she continues play on her game, as if nothing at all had happened.

 

 

72. INT: ABOUT THIS TIME, LOBBY, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Brittany and Mack walk in through the revolving door in the hotel lobby. Mack carries two shopping bags and has a hat box under one arm. Brittany has one shopping bag and chats away as they enter.

 

BRITTANY: Last stop, I promise, then we put everything in my car.

 

MACK: [tired voice] Man, I never knew you could power shop like that.

 

BRITTANY: [laughs] Oh, you can keep up with me. You’re a big, strong man. You just don’t have shopping in your DKNY.

 

MACK: [mild frown] I think you mean DNA.

 

BRITTANY: What?

 

MACK: [sighs] Never mind. Where are we going now?

 

BRITTANY: I decided to get Ashley-Amber that red nightgown, the one you liked. This will only take a minute. My car’s in the back lot anyway, so we have to walk through the lobby to get there.

 

Mack shakes his head and smiles, following Brittany into lingerie shop again.

 

 

73. INT: MOMENTS LATER, LINGERIE SHOP, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Brittany and Mack enter, Mack trailing. He stands near the entryway, eyeing the displays but appearing lost, as many men typically do in lingerie shops. Brittany goes to the counter and signals to the clerk.

 

BRITTANY: Miss? Yes, I’ve decided to get that nightgown over there. That one, yes.

 

CLERK: All righty. [takes nightgown down, begins to wrap it]

 

BRITTANY: [turns to Mack, indicates nightgown] So, you like this one? Gets your blood going? Good, it’ll be perfect for her. I always say it pays to have a man’s opinion on certain things.

 

Mack glances from Brittany to the sales clerk, looking embarrassed. The clerk smiles as she folds the nightgown and boxes it.

 

CLERK: [to Brittany] Cash or charge?

 

BRITTANY: Charge. [pulls credit card out] Here you go. [turns back to Mack] You know what? While we were out shopping, I was thinking about all the times you’ve helped me through big problems in my life.

 

MACK: What times?

 

BRITTANY: Oh, you know. That time last winter when Kevin was being such a jerk, mooning after that Italian exchange student, and I went looking for Jodie but I found you and told you all about it, and you told me that Kevin just needs to appreciate how much good I bring into his life? You remember that?

 

MACK: Oh, yeah. That—

 

BRITTANY: And when I fell down during cheerleading practice that one time because I got a charley horse, and I was yelling and screaming because it hurt so bad, and you helped me work that cramp out? I was in such agony, but you came over and it felt so good when you rubbed my leg and got that knot worked out of my calf. [pause, distant look, smiles] Wow, I remember I couldn’t believe how big your hands were.

 

The store clerk suddenly coughs, trying to hide the smile on her face.

 

MACK: [mortified] Brittany, that’s okay. We don’t have to go through—

 

BRITTANY: I mean, really, they are. You have huge hands. Here, give me your hand.

 

MACK: Brittany—

 

BRITTANY: [takes Mack’s hand, still holding a shopping bag, and puts her hand next to it by comparison] See this? Huge. I never told you this, but—[laughs]—when you were massaging my leg, I felt like I was a little lump of bread dough, like that little round Pillsbury guy, and you were this gigantic baker, you know, and man, did that feel good! [shivers] I never did tell Kevin about that. He would’ve been jealous. He was always that kind of guy.

 

Mack, embarrassed, cannot think of anything to say. He shrugs and looks away—facing by accident into a lacy push-up bra display only inches from his nose.

 

BRITTANY: [pulls gently on Mack’s arm and turns him around again] Oh, don’t be embarrassed about it. We’re friends. [pause, looks at Mack] You’ve been a great friend to me, Mack. I don’t know much, but I do know that, and I’m really glad for it. Just walking around with me today got me to feeling better. I did the right thing, breaking up with Kevin. [shakes head] Can’t say that Jodie did the right thing in breaking up with you, though. She’s a great friend, but I think she goofed up bad there. [shrugs] Her loss, someone else’s gain. Man, are the girls going to be all over you at Vance. You’re going to Vance, right?

 

MACK: Yeah. Thanks.

 

BRITTANY: Sure. Vance. How far is that from Great Prairie State, do you know?

 

MACK: Uh, they’re not really that far from each other, but it’s still—

 

Brittany turns, signs the charge slip, and picks up the new shopping bag with the nightgown in it.

 

BRITTANY: Follow me for a minute. [leaves store]

 

MACK: [hopefully] Are you going to the car? [follows her]

 

Brittany heads for the gift shop in which she met Mack earlier in the day.

 

 

74. INT: MOMENTS LATER, BOOK AND GIFT SHOP, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Brittany enters the book and gift shop, heading for a rack holding various maps. She pulls out a map of the United States and unfolds it, just as Mack comes in behind her, trying not to bump into various displays with the assortment of shopping bags and boxes he carries.

 

BRITTANY: [points to unfolded map] Here you go! Right there! Vance is just . . . what is that, half an inch? Look. Vance is there, and Great Prairie State is there.

 

MACK: [sighs, looks at map] That’s about a half-day’s drive. Three or four hours.

 

BRITTANY: Hey, great! At least someone I know will be nearby. [puts map back on rack] We should double date or something. Maybe you can show me around Vance, and I can show you Great Prairie. We’ll be each other’s tour guide.

 

MACK: Great. And now . . . the car?

 

BRITTANY: Oh, sure! If I don’t see anything else . . . [wanders toward exit]

 

Mack follows Brittany with a tired but tolerant smile.

 

 

75. INT: MOMENTS LATER, CORRIDOR LEADING TO VIDEO ARCADE ROOM, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Brittany and Mack walk along the corridor together. From overhead speakers comes the last part of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.”

 

BRITTANY: You know what would be fun sometime? If you would explain some of that Shakespeare we did in Mr. O’Neill’s class. Wasn’t that a weird name, Shakespeare? Remember when we did “Othello and Juliet”?

 

MACK: [sighs] We did Romeo and Juliet, and we also did Othello. You meant one of those two?

 

BRITTANY: Yeah. They’re so much alike, aren’t they? I mean, everyone falls in love and dies right afterward, poisoning each other and stabbing themselves and getting strangled—it was so romantic!

 

Mack gives Brittany the eye, not sure he heard her correctly.

 

BRITTANY: But there was a lot of stuff I didn’t understand about Shakespeare, what he was saying, you know? He talked so funny, not like we do. I wanted Kevin to read it to me so I could figure it out, but he didn’t like that. [turns to Mack] Would you read some of that Shakespeare to me? This summer?

 

MACK: [taken off guard] Uh, sure. Yeah, that would be okay. We can rent a video of one of them, too. There are some good editions out. Hamlet was pretty good.

 

BRITTANY: [stops and looks at Mack] Hamlet? Oh, you’re kidding! I love him! Did Shakespeare make him, too? I thought the WB Network did that! Did they get the idea from Shakespeare?

 

MACK: [totally confused] Hamlet?

 

BRITTANY: That little pig! I think he’s Porky Pig’s cousin or maybe his little boy or something.

 

MACK: [laughs and groans at the same time] Oh! No, not the pig! I meant . . . [voice dies off]

 

Brittany turns and notices that Mack has stopped. He stares through a large set of windows into the hotel’s video arcade room. Mack looks as surprised as a human being can get. Brittany looks into the arcade room as well. Standing at a videogame, her back to the windows, is Daria. She plays a videogame with great intensity, the screen flashing wildly and explosions booming out even through the windows. This is nothing new. Daria, however, is dancing in place as she plays, her body swinging in perfect rhythm to the Rolling Stones song. Stunned, Brittany and Mack watch Daria play for a few seconds more. Mack finally recovers and begins walking down the corridor again, throwing looks back over his shoulders as he goes. Brittany does the same until Daria is out of sight.

 

 

76. EXT: MOMENTS LATER, REAR PARKING LOT, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Mack and Brittany leave the hotel, occasionally looking over their shoulders to see if Daria has come outside as well (but she doesn’t). They walk to Brittany’s car.

 

MACK: [looks back briefly] That . . . that was weird.

 

BRITTANY: Well, maybe she just has hidden talents, you know? I mean, everyone does. I think. Dancing, maybe she likes to dance, and we just never noticed.

 

MACK: I dunno. [looks around the lot] I kinda thought I knew her. I just . . . [shrugs] Whatever. Where’s your car?

 

BRITTANY: There, the little red Mazda right over there. It’s Ashley-Amber’s. She lets me use it sometimes.

 

They walk to the car and Brittany pushes a button on her key chain. The car’s lights flash as the doors unlock. Brittany opens the trunk with a key, and she and Mack carefully set her purchases inside.

 

BRITTANY: [putting bags and boxes in trunk] Here, put that over there. I can fit this one in . . . like that. There.

 

MACK: [checks everything, then shuts the trunk] There you go. Do you have time to take all this stuff home before you meet Kevin for dinner?

 

BRITTANY: I should, shouldn’t I? Don’t want it to be out here for anyone to steal. [drops keys in pants pocket, grins up at Mack] Thanks, Mack. You’re the best.

 

Brittany steps up to Mack and gives him a wraparound hug. Her arms go inside his school jacket, around his waist, and she presses against him, eyes closed, smiling softly. Mack hesitates, then puts his arms around Brittany, pulling her closer. Because of their height difference, Mack’s mouth is even with the top of Brittany’s head. He lowers his head, pressing his face to her hair. Brittany sighs and turns her face into Mack’s chest, her face hidden inside his open jacket, inhaling through her nose.

 

BRITTANY: [muffled] You smell good. What is that? What cologne?

 

MACK: Just me. Nothing else.

 

BRITTANY: [muffled] You don’t wear cologne?

 

MACK: Not right now. [pause] Sometimes I do.

 

BRITTANY: [muffled] God, you smell good.

 

Mack slowly inhales, his nose against Brittany’s hair. Brittany’s arms are now completely inside his jacket.

 

MACK: You smell good, too. [pause] You smell like . . .

 

BRITTANY: What?

 

MACK: It’s a flower. I can’t think of its name.

 

BRITTANY: S’perfume. [pause] Forgot which one it was.

 

MACK: It’s a good one. [smells hair] It’s beaut—it’s wonderful.

 

They stand quietly for a few moments in the late evening sunlight, holding each other, breathing softly.

 

BRITTANY: [moves head to speak more clearly, soft voice] Mack, you remember when we were in seventh grade, when you asked me to dance with you? At that spring dance, in junior high school?

 

MACK: [pause, soft but sad voice] I remember.

 

BRITTANY: [pause, low voice] I’m sorry I said no.

 

MACK: [soft voice] It’s okay.

 

BRITTANY: [low voice] No. S’not okay. I’m sorry. [pause] I wanted to. [pause] I liked you then, but I was chicken. I wanted to dance with you.

 

MACK: It’s okay. That was a long time ago.

 

BRITTANY: [presses face into Mack’s chest, voice strained] I was afraid of what the other kids would say. [pause] I’m really ashamed of myself. I’m sorry, Mack. It’s bothered me for years, and I—

 

On impulse, Mack raises a hand and gently presses Brittany’s head close to him, then he kisses the top of her head. The kiss draws out over several seconds, during which Brittany stops breathing.

 

MACK: [very soft] It’s gone now. It’s okay.

 

Another long pause. They are so close, there is no space between them. A moment later, both suddenly become aware of this.

 

MACK: [reluctantly pulls head back from hers, hands releasing her] You should get all your stuff—

 

BRITTANY: [arms slowly releasing Mack] I should go home and put my stuff away.

 

The two pull away from each other and stand apart. They look as if they’ve awakened from a deep sleep, moving uncertainly, looking at unfamiliar surroundings. They avoid looking at each other.

 

MACK: Dinner tonight with . . . [voice trails off]

 

BRITTANY: Yeah. [shakes head, blinks] Yeah, I should . . . I should get ready.

 

Mack nods.

 

BRITTANY: [brief glance at Mack] Sure you won’t join us?

 

MACK: I’d . . . be in the way. I’m going to, um, go to dinner later. By myself.

 

BRITTANY: You’ll be in your room?

 

MACK: [nods] Yeah. May as well enjoy having satellite TV.

 

BRITTANY: When do your folks get back from their cruise?

 

MACK: Ah, Tuesday. Tuesday afternoon. I get them at the airport.

 

BRITTANY: [nods] Okay. [looks up at Mack] Thanks, Mack.

 

MACK: [looks at Brittany] You, too. Drive carefully.

 

BRITTANY: Yeah.

 

They stare at each other, on the edge of saying more.

 

BRITTANY: [swallows] Um, bye. [half waves hand]

 

MACK: [nods, raises hand to wave back] Drive carefully.

 

BRITTANY: Okay. You, too.

 

MACK: [smiles] I’m not driving anywhere tonight.

 

BRITTANY: Oh. [smiles] Oh, right. Yeah. [looks down, fishes car keys out of pocket, looks up smiling] Bye.

 

MACK: [smiles] Bye, Brittany.

 

Brittany turns, opens her car door, and gets in. She sits for a moment, unsure of what to do next, then waves again at Mack and shuts the door. She starts the car, turns on the air conditioning, and waves again through the window. Mack waves back. Brittany drives away, and Mack watches as her red car leaves the lot and disappears. He stands in the parking lot, his smile fading, and looks after her with a strange mixture of joy, sadness, and pain on his face. Finally, he turns and walks back to the hotel, his head down.

 

 

77. INT: LATER THAT AFTERNOON, KITCHEN, MORGENDORFFER HOME

 

The kitchen appears deserted, all lights off. It is late afternoon, and shadows are long. The sound of shuffling feet is heard, and Quinn appears in the kitchen entryway from the living room. She wears a bathrobe and fuzzy slippers, and she clutches a large stuffed animal (smiling green Triceratops with felt sunglasses). Her face is very pale, and dark circles are visible under her eyes. Her hair is shower-wet and uncombed. She walks stiffly and with obvious discomfort. Putting the stuffed animal sitting upright on the kitchen table, Quinn shuffles over to the kitchen radio and turns it on, setting it to a pop-music station at medium volume. She then goes to the refrigerator and looks inside. After a moment, she pulls out a clear pitcher of grape juice and takes it to the table with an empty glass. She starts to sit down, grimaces, and pushes her chair aside, standing at her usual place instead to pour a glass of juice.

 

The phone rings, and Quinn puts down the juice to answer it.

 

QUINN: [flat, cheerless voice] Morgendorffers. [voice perks up] Oh, hi, Stacy! How’s the, um, whatzit, the father thing? Yeah? No, I never did get out to shop. I, uh, decided to catch up on some ideas I had for remodeling the upstairs, after Daria leaves in August. I didn’t get out to . . . What? What are you talking about? Daria? Oh, wait a minute, wait. Stacy, that’s all a joke. No, seriously, listen to me. That’s not true. I know because I . . . Stacy, wait a minute. She . . . she did what? Daria? Are you kidding me? Stacy, that just can’t be. Listen, I . . . what? Stacy, calm down. No, wait. Calm down. Hold your breath. Now. Hold it . . . hold it . . . okay let it out, now hold it again . . . that’s right. Slow down. Let it out. Now, once more . . . wait, what are you saying? Andrea was with her? Stacy, that just can’t be right. I’m trying to explain what happened. Stacy, hold your breath again. Stacy! Stacy, you’re going to . . . Stacy? Hello? Stacy, are you still there? Hello? Sandi, is that you? Sandi, what’s going on over there? She did? Did you catch her before she did? Oh, is she okay? Oh, damn.

 

Quinn picks up her glass of juice, but she doesn’t drink from it yet. She listens to the phone intently, facing away from the living room, her back also to the radio speakers.

 

QUINN: Okay, now wait a minute. Sandi, this is getting out of control. I was the one who got all this started. Daria is not a vampire. No. No, I don’t care what you saw, she’s not. I took . . . Dad didn’t say that! No way! He . . . well, okay, that he might have said, but I set it up that way! It was a joke, Sandi! No, listen to me. Just listen to me, damn it!

 

Unseen by Quinn, Helen Morgendorffer quietly walks up to the kitchen entryway from the living room, apparently home from work. The loud radio covers the sounds of her approach. She stops, listening to Quinn’s conversation.

 

QUINN: Sandi, I took some pictures of Daria in a graveyard, but she was with Jane. They were making a video movie. It was all a joke, you understand? I showed the pictures to Mom and Dad, and they thought Daria was sacrificing animals or something to the Devil, you know? It was all a joke. Dad took Daria there to that father-daughter thing, and that’s how it all happened, okay? She’s not really possessed by the Devil.

 

Helen’s eyes narrow and her expression turns grim when she hears this. She crosses her arms and leans against the entryway, still listening.

 

QUINN: Sandi, what are you talking about? What do you mean, she . . . oh, Sandi, she’s just messing with you. I would know. I’m her sister. She’s just messing with you. Andrea must be messing with you, too. Don’t worry about it. Daria’s not a vampire. She sucks sometimes, but she’s not a vampire. Get it? [raises glass to her mouth to drink]

 

HELEN: [smoldering voice] I get it.

 

Quinn jumps as if touched by a live cattle prod, coughing grape juice all over the place. She spins around and sees Helen, who looks back at her with a stony gaze.

 

QUINN: [trembling voice, to phone] Sandi? I-I have to go. I-I don’t know when. Yeah. Okay. Bye.

 

Quinn, hands shaking and face white, carefully hangs up the phone, facing her mother all the while.

 

QUINN: [swallows] You’re home early. [smiles anxiously] Want some juice?

 

 

78. INT: LATE AFTERNOON, INSIDE A SEMINAR ROOM, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Jake and all the other fathers sit in a seminar room, looking toward the front where Bob, the speaker from earlier scenes, is speaking—very nervously. To one side of the speaker is an easel with a huge sheet of paper tacked to it. On the paper is written, “Saturday 3 p.m.: Respecting Your Daughter’s Privacy.” Some of the following fathers appeared in scene #29, earlier this day, and are identified as such. A wall clock shows it is now about 4:30 p.m.

 

SPEAKER (BOB): [anxiously answering someone in the audience] I understand what you’re saying, sir, but you really can’t bring drug-sniffing dogs into your daughter’s bedroom twice a week and expect her to thank you for it.

 

SECOND FATHER: [standing, angry] Then she can move out and live on the street with the rest of her no-good, dope-fiend friends! My house is my castle, damn it!

 

Numerous other fathers call in their agreement with the Second Father. Jake Morgendorffer listens to the arguing in disbelief, turning to see who is speaking.

 

SPEAKER (BOB): [horrified] You can’t be serious!

 

SECOND FATHER: [standing] Hell, yes, I’m serious! If my daughter wants to get high, I can take her out to the airport and tie her to a jet! [sits down to scattered applause and laughter]

 

SPEAKER (BOB): But in order to gain your daughter’s trust, you must trust her first!

 

FIRST FATHER (STACY ROWE’S DAD): Ronald Reagan had it right: Trust, but verify!

 

SECOND FATHER (AND OTHERS): Damn right! Yeah!

 

FIRST FATHER (STACY ROWE’S DAD): I trust my daughter, but I read her diary every week! I know what’s really going on in her life, no matter what she tells me!

 

SPEAKER (BOB): [clearly frustrated] Unless your daughter shows clear signs that she’s absolutely not trustworthy, you have to—

 

THIRD FATHER (TIFFANY BLUM-DECKLER’S DAD): [stands up] My daughter’s not the brightest bulb in the refrigerator, if you get my drift, and if my wife and I didn’t search her room every single damn day, we wouldn’t know what the hell was going on with her! We’ll just damn lucky she’s not smart enough to fool us! [sits down]

 

FOURTH FATHER (TOM GRIFFIN): [shouts] Hide a webcam in her room! My wife put two webcams in Sandi’s room, and she can monitor everything that kid does, twenty-four seven, right from her office at work!

 

FIFTH FATHER: Hey, can dogs sniff out boyfriends? Or anything that a guy who might be a boyfriend has touched? Can they tell if some boy’s touched my daughter?

 

SIXTH FATHER: Can dogs find diaries and read them?

 

SEVENTH FATHER: Can they sniff out beer? Hell, I’d love a dog that could do that!

 

There is general laughter and agreement with the Seventh Father, among other fathers present. Jake raises his hand, looking upset and desperate.

 

SPEAKER (BOB): [in despair, pointing to Jake] Yes?

 

JAKE: [stands up, extremely nervous] Now, wait a minute! Maybe I’m not the best father in the world, but I trust my two daughters!

 

FOURTH FATHER (TOM GRIFFIN): Didn’t you just say your oldest daughter Daria was a Satanist?

 

JAKE: No, she’s not! She isn’t! I thought she was, but all I had to do was talk to her! I had it all wrong!

 

SECOND FATHER: You said you’ve got photos of her out in graveyards, eating dead people, and you TRUST her? Did I hear you right?

 

JAKE: Yes, I do! It was all a mistake! I swear it!

 

OTHER FATHERS: You idiot! All a mistake? Bull! You’re crazy!

 

JAKE: It WAS a mistake! She was shooting a movie with a friend! The bones were all props!

 

FOURTH FATHER (TOM GRIFFIN): Have you ever gone through your kids’ rooms and looked for drugs, guns, all that illegal stuff, just checked them even once to find out if your girls were on the level with you? My wife does that all the time!

 

JAKE: [hesitates, turns red, comes clean] Yes, I did! I searched Daria’s room yesterday, and I regret it now! I was being as bad to Daria as my father was to me! He didn’t trust me, and it drove me crazy! I’m not screwing up my daughters’ lives the way my father screwed up mine!

 

FOURTH FATHER (TOM GRIFFIN): Do you know your daughter Daria is out running around Lawndale right this moment, dressed like a witch and scaring the living Bejesus out of my Sandi and her friends?

 

JAKE: [suddenly angry] That’s a lie! How dare you!

 

THIRD FATHER (TIFFANY BLUM-DECKLER’S DAD): Jake Morgendorffer, I swear I thought I’d never say this, but you’ve got your head six feet up your ass!

 

SPEAKER (BOB): [panicking] Gentlemen, please!

 

JAKE: [really pissed] I’m not the one with my head up my ass! I don’t spy on my girls like some kind of degenerate Nazi pervert!

 

Huge outcry as many outraged fathers rise to their feet to shout insults at Jake.

 

OTHER FATHERS: [shouting] You moron! Get a clue! Idiot! How’d you like your face flattened? You’re stupid, Morgendorffer!

 

JAKE: [furious, to crowd] You wouldn’t know a clue if you found it stuck to your shorts!

 

SPEAKER (BOB): [panicked] Please, listen to me!

 

JAKE: [furious, to crowd] My kids are the greatest, and I trust them! [throws down his seminar paperwork] To hell with this! And to hell with you! [walks out of room]

 

OTHER FATHERS: [as Jake leaves] Loser! Dumb ass! Beat it!

 

SPEAKER (BOB): [yelling, completely ignored by all] Just shut the hell up, everyone! Time out! Time out!

 

 

79. INT: ABOUT THIS TIME, LACKLUSTER VIDEO RENTAL SHOP, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Daria has wandered out of the games room and into the Lackluster video store. She scans the rows of videotapes, while overhead a TV set shows a scene from The Exorcist, where the possessed girl’s head spins around. Moments after starting down one aisle, Daria looks up to see that Kevin Thompson is there, too, looking at a selection of adult videos with mild interest. Kevin looks up, surprised, and sees Daria; as he does, he starts to put away the video box he’s holding (“Two-Timing Hillbilly Love Slaves”). He then stops himself and shakes his head, going back to reading the back of the box.

 

KEVIN: So, what brings you to the Plaza?

 

DARIA: [deadpan] Drug deal fell through. Just killing time, now.

 

Kevin looks up for a moment at Daria with some concern, then uneasily shrugs it off.

 

KEVIN: [holds up video cover to show Daria] You should expand your world. Check this one out.

 

DARIA: [deadpan] You could expand your world by crawling out of the cesspool and evolving your own brain.

 

Kevin looks at Daria, his eyes hardening. He puts the video box back on the rack, looking away.

 

KEVIN: You always had a big mouth. Got anything else to say?

 

DARIA: [eyes glitter] In fact, I do.

 

Kevin looks at Daria. He’s clearly not in a joking mood.

 

KEVIN: So, let’s hear it. What’s the brain got to say?

 

DARIA: [pause, meaningful tone] Winter is coming.

 

Kevin hesitates, then laughs, shaking his head. He saunters out of the video store, still laughing.

 

KEVIN: Jeez, I don’t have to ask how your meeting with the brain suckers went, do I?

 

Daria watches his back with narrow eyes, then goes back to exploring the video selections.

 

 

80. INT: ABOUT THIS TIME, GIFT SHOP, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

We first see Andrea’s face, staring at something. She is in one of the assorted gift shops by the Lawndale Plaza Hotel lobby. Her expression is shell-shocked, non-reactive. We then see that she is looking at a display of personal-use items for forgetful travelers, such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs, etc. The section that Andrea stares at is for shaving items—in particular, cheap plastic safety razors.

 

 

81. ### ANDREA’S MEMORY ###

INT: MESSY BATHROOM

 

In black and white, we see through Andrea’s eyes. Her two hands, without rings or bracelets, use a pair of pliers to tear away the plastic around the razor portion of a disposable safety razor. She uses the closed lid of a toilet for her workspace.

 

 

82. INT: AT THIS MOMENT, GIFT SHOP, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

In color in the present, we again briefly see Andrea’s face, closer than before, still without expression. We then see the display of safety razors, also closer than before.

 

 

83. ### ANDREA’S MEMORY ###

INT: MESSY BATHROOM

 

In black and white, we again see through Andrea’s eyes. Andrea’s right hand empties two-dozen pills from a bottle into her left hand. The hand with the pills rises to what would be the viewer’s mouth, reaching next (without pills) for a nearby glass of water, which also rises to the viewer’s mouth. The hand puts down the glass (most of the water now gone) and reaches again for the pill bottle.

 

 

84. INT: AT THIS MOMENT, GIFT SHOP, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

In color in the present, we see Andrea’s face, very close, looking into her unblinking eyes. A small package of safety razors appears next, hanging from its rack.

 

 

85. ### ANDREA’S MEMORY ###

INT: MESSY BATHROOM

 

In black and white, we again see through Andrea’s eyes into her past. She gets into a bathtub. Water pours from the faucet, and steam rises from the bath water. The damaged safety razor rests on the side of the tub. The viewer kneels, her hands resting briefly on the bottom of the tub until she sits back. The viewer looks at the water pouring into the tub, which is over half full, then looks down at the damaged safety razor. The viewer’s right hand reaches down and picks up the safety razor, examining it. The viewer’s left hand comes up, palm (and wrist) turned up. The right hand presses the safety razor’s blade to the left wrist, pressing it in to leave a long impression once the blade is removed. The viewer’s right hand grasps the head of the safety razor firmly and makes a slight cutting motion against the fleshy part of the left hand, at the base of the thumb. This leaves a pale scar from which a thin line of blood wells up. The viewer’s perspective changes slightly, as if a deep breath was taken. The viewer’s right hand again grasps the head of the safety razor firmly and presses it against the left wrist. The muscles in both hands tense visibly, and the right hand makes a sudden downward slashing motion, from which we cut to—

 

 

86. INT: AT THIS MOMENT, GIFT SHOP, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

In color in the present, we look directly into Andrea’s eyes. She flinches, blinks, and shakes her head. Her right hand comes up to rub her face, brushing her dark bangs from her eyes. She blinks and shakes her head again, looking very sad, then looks down at her left hand. Her hand is turned palm up. She can see a couple of grotesque long scars across her wrist, peeking from under one edge of the gray bracelet. After a moment, she shakes her left hand so the gray bracelet covers the scars again. Andrea looks up once to the razors on display, then slowly shakes her head, swallows, and walks off. She almost passes the counter on the way out of the store, but stops and looks past the counter clerk to the cigarette display on the wall behind.

 

ANDREA: [points to cigarette display, depressed voice] Pack of Femlites.

 

Andrea reaches into a pocket in her skirt, pulls out her driver’s license, and shows it to the clerk. The clerk gets a pack of cigarettes for her, she drops a bill on the counter, she gets her change from the clerk, and she leaves, head down, wandering aimlessly.

 

 

87. INT: ABOUT THIS TIME, UPCHUCK AND ANDREA’S HOTEL ROOM, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

The room is dark and empty. Clothes (from Upchuck and Andrea) are strewn about on the unmade bed, floor, and furniture. The door clicks, and Upchuck walks in; the door shuts behind him automatically. Upchuck has something stuffed into one pants pocket, making the pocket bulge out a bit. He looks around the room, but he sees no one.

 

UPCHUCK: Andrea, my feisty queen of mystery and delight? Goddess of the erotic arts? [walks to bathroom] Andrea? [looks around] Andrea?

 

Upchuck shrugs and walks back into the main room. He spots the picture of Andrea on the bedside dresser, and he picks it up.

 

UPCHUCK: [kisses picture with passion] Rrr-rowr-rrr! You are hot!

 

Upchuck puts the picture down and reaches into his pants pocket, pulling out a small black box. He opens the box a fraction, peeking in, then puts it back in his pocket. He holds still for a second, thinking, then turns to the bed, as if addressing Andrea there.

 

UPCHUCK: [acting suave, overplayed] Ah, my dear, no doubt you’ve wondered what trivial business I had earlier today, called away from the burning throes of passion to drive to the distant micro-metropolis of Oakwood and serve the mind-destroying forces of the mundane. Ah-ha! Such was not the case! You see—[reaches into pocket again, casually pulls out box]—among my many relatives in this area is a magnificent aunt on my father’s side, a goldsmith of no small repute, and she . . . [drops suave tone, thinks aloud] No, that’s not right. Um—[suave tone] I was called away by someone pretending to be my father, none other than my aunt—[drops suave tone] No, no. Um . . . [puts box back into pocket, kneels and faces bed] Andrea, glory of my existence, dark angel, my love, would you please—[stops to pull box from pocket, drops it, groans, gets up] Damn, Mister Ultrasuave can’t screw this up. It has to be right. I have to do this exactly right.

 

Upchuck stands and thinks, but frowns and puts the box back into his pants pocket.

 

UPCHUCK: I hope I don’t scare her off. This is going to be tricky.

 

Upchuck sighs and thinks. He shrugs, then walks back to the door and goes out, the door shutting behind him.

 

 

88. INT: LATE AFTERNOON, KITCHEN, MORGENDORFFER HOME

 

Helen sits at the kitchen table, still dressed in her lawyer outfit but with her vest unbuttoned. Her arms are folded on the table before her; she appears to be waiting for someone, her fingers twiddling a bit. The distant sound of a toilet flushing goes through the house, followed by a door opening, soft footsteps, and Quinn’s reappearance in the kitchen. She gingerly sits down in a chair across the table from her mother.

 

HELEN: [clears throat] Well, thank you for being honest with me for a change. I suppose the only thing I have left to ask is, why did you do it?

 

QUINN: [sullen, hesitant] She made fun of me.

 

HELEN: Oh, for goodness sake, Quinn, you’re practically a grown woman, and you tell me that Daria made fun of you? That’s why you started this whole mess with the graveyard photos? Give me a break.

 

Quinn starts to say something, but she thinks better of it. She frowns down at the table instead.

 

QUINN: She just insulted me. [mumbles] Dim, the stup—[stops herself, exhales heavily] Never mind.

 

HELEN: [shrugs] Fine, it doesn’t matter much what started this anyway, I suppose. The deed is done. I don’t know what your father’s going to say about this when he finds out, but I know what I’m going to say. [pause, stares at Quinn] Rather, I did, but the situation has taken care of most of the punishments I could conceive of. You ate all those olestra chips and grounded yourself quite effectively until next Tuesday or Wednesday, which is when those side effects start to wear off.

 

QUINN: [looks up in horror] Tuesday or Wednesday? No!

 

HELEN: [calm] That’s what the chip company told me. I’d sue them if I could, but it wouldn’t fly. They’re covered. Anyway, it could take a week after that for your system to straighten out again. [pause] I wouldn’t wear anything expensive, if I were you. I’ll get you some cheap cotton panties. I definitely wouldn’t go more than thirty feet from a bathroom, in any event.

 

QUINN: [red faced] Damn it!

 

HELEN: So, the grounding’s taken care of. I also seem to recall handing you a large amount of money, and I think you should—

 

QUINN: [looks up, angry] Muuuh-ooom!

 

HELEN: Don’t you raise your voice to me, young lady! I want it back, every dollar of it, and everything your father gave you as well!

 

QUINN: [verge of tears] Muuuh-ooom! No!

 

HELEN: What did you expect me to do, reward you? [pause, thinks] Although, actually, I wonder if I should.

 

QUINN: [confused, less angry] What are you talking about?

 

HELEN: [shakes her head, smiling] When I spoke with Jake earlier, he was so pleased to be there with Daria, he was about to burst. It sounds like the mess you created has worked out extremely well for your sister and your father.

 

 

89. INT: AT THIS MOMENT, MORGENDORFFERS’ HOTEL ROOM, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

The central living room for Jake and Daria’s suite is shown. One table light is on. An open suitcase (Jake’s) sits on the couch. The TV set is on (to a commercial), but the sound is low. The door clicks, then opens. Daria enters, still carrying that sack, and pockets her cardlike plastic door key. The door closes slowly behind her as she surveys the room, sets the sack down, and walks to the TV. Before she can locate the remote, she hears a noise from her father’s bedroom; the door to it is almost shut.

 

JAKE: [VO, from bedroom] Bastards. Who do they think they are? Little tin gods.

 

The hotel room door shuts with a thump.

 

JAKE: [VO, from bedroom, startled] Daria? That you? I’ll be out in a little while.

 

Daria looks toward Jake’s bedroom, frowning. It is clearly dark in that bedroom.

 

DARIA: Dad, you ready for the last seminar? Or should we cut it and watch the tube?

 

JAKE: [VO, cheerless, from bedroom] Ah, just a minute. I’ll be right out.

 

Daria hesitates, then walks toward Jake’s bedroom door and pushes it open. The room lights are out. Jake sits on his bed, looking downcast. He sees Daria and slowly gets up, appearing at loose ends. His face is red, and after the initial glance at Daria he avoids looking at her.

 

JAKE: [low voice] Hi, kiddo. [more nervous] Ah, about the last seminar, um . . .

 

DARIA: [frowns] Is something wrong?

 

JAKE: [flustered] No, nothing. I . . . [swallows] I was just tired, and—

 

DARIA: Don’t lie to me, Dad. I hate it when you lie to me.

 

Jake glances at Daria again, looking ashamed.

 

JAKE: [nods, dispirited tone] I, uh, had a misunderstanding with some . . . some other . . . buttheads . . . fathers, I mean, but they were buttheads, in my last meeting. [shrugs in defeat] I’m sorry, kiddo, but Jakey didn’t do very well this afternoon. I . . . don’t think I can go down for the last seminar. Not a good idea. Didn’t make a lot of friends.

 

DARIA: [frowns] You got into a fight?

 

JAKE: Uh, sort of. [tense] Would have liked to put my fist right into . . . [shoulders sag, looks away] I walked out. I walked out and came up here. [swallows] Not a very good dad after all. I’m sorry.

 

DARIA: What are you talking about?

 

JAKE: [becoming agitated] Some people . . . some people don’t seem to like us. I don’t know what their problem is. Screw this stupid seminar thing. I told ‘em off. I stood up for yo—for us. Stood up for us. Jerks. [pause, rubs face with both hands] I’m sorry, Daria, but I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I just want to be by myself for a while. Maybe later, if you want, we can order something, eat in the room, watch some TV. Just you and me. Morgendorffer and Morgendorffer. If you want. [pause, drops hands, looks at Daria] You’re my Lawndale prin—[grimaces]—you’re my kid. I’m proud of you. I always will be. [tense again, low voice] Screw those bastards. [pause, calmer] Excuse me.

 

Jake slowly walks off into his bathroom and shuts the door. Daria stares at the door in the silence that follows. Her expression changes as if she has comprehended something, but the knowledge upsets her. She looks around the bedroom, her attention focusing on her father’s bed, where she sees a small tape recorder. Daria walks over to the tape recorder, picks it up, and walks out of the bedroom for a moment. She puts the tape recorder on a table near the TV, behind a flower vase, then walks back to her father’s bedroom.

 

DARIA: [calling to Jake, in bathroom] We’ll eat in the room tonight, but I want you to take a hot shower first. Relax.

 

JAKE: [VO, in bathroom] What?

 

DARIA: [loud] Take a hot shower, or better yet a bath. Maybe have a nap. Then we get room service and watch some TV. Okay?

 

JAKE: [VO, in bathroom, depressed] Okay.

 

DARIA: [loud] I’m going out for a while. You get some rest.

 

JAKE: [VO, in bathroom] Okay. [pause, depressed] I’m really sorry about all this. I shouldn’t have lost my temper with those idiot rat bastards. [voice lowers] The nerve of them. Where do they get off telling me . . . oh, forget it. I’m the idiot.

 

Daria stands in the bedroom doorway a few moments longer, then leaves. She gets the tape recorder on her way across the central TV area, heading for her room. The TV is showing a scene from the movie Dr. Strangelove. The insane U.S. Air Force general, Jack D. Ripper, is speaking to the British officer Mandrake by phone.

 

TV: [Ripper] Very well, now, listen to me carefully. The base is being put on Condition Red. I want this flashed to all sections immediately.

[Mandrake] Condition Red, sir. Yes. Jolly good idea, keeps the men on their toes.

[Ripper] Group Captain, I’m afraid this is not an exercise.

[Mandrake] Not an exercise, sir?

 

Daria closes her door to her own bedroom, shutting out the TV noise. She holds up the tape recorder and reads the buttons and dials. She then thumbs the button marked “Rewind,” waits for a short while until the recorder clicks, then presses “Play.”

 

 

90. INT: LATE AFTERNOON, DINING ROOM, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Mack sits in a small booth by himself in the hotel dining room. He appears distracted and isn’t eating, though he has a plate of cheese nachos on the table before him with a tall glass of soda. A young waiter, as old as Mack, walks over and stops by his side.

 

WAITER: Can I get you anything, sir?

 

MACK: [comes out of his reverie] Uh—nah. Thanks. Just waiting on my steak.

 

WAITER: I’ll check on it for you. [leaves]

 

Mack sighs. He picks up his cola and takes a drink, sets it down, then starts to wipe his hand off (covered with moisture from the outside of the iced glass). He stops, then uses the moisture on his fingers to write on the tabletop. He first writes J-O-D . . . but doesn’t finish it. He wipes the word out. After a pause, he then writes, B-R-I-T . . . then wipes that out as well, rolling his eyes with a sigh.

 

MACK: [whispers to self, amused grin] Get hold of yourself. Damn, son.

 

He starts to reach for a nacho when he hears voices coming from behind him. Kevin and Brittany enter the dining area and take a table behind Mack. The walls of his booth block Mack’s view of the couple, and they likewise cannot see him—but he can hear them and knows they are there. Kevin holds a manila envelope under one arm.

 

WAITER: [puts two menus on table] Here you go. I’ll be right back for your drink selection. [leaves]

 

KEVIN: [pulls chair out for Brittany] There you are, Miss Taylor.

 

BRITTANY: [sits happily] Oh, Kevvy, thank you! You’re so sweet! Are you going to tell me what’s in the envelope?

 

KEVIN: [sits, puts envelope against chair leg] Of course! Dinner first, though. Just pick out anything you want, and it’s yours.

 

BRITTANY: Anything? [looks at menu eagerly]

 

KEVIN: Yep.

 

BRITTANY: Anything at all?

 

KEVIN: [nervous] Uh, yeah. Anyth

 

BRITTANY: Personal cheese pizza, then, and a cola. [puts menu down]

 

KEVIN: [relieved] Good choice. I’ll get a burger.

 

BRITTANY: I love this place! It’s so exciting! People come here from all over the world, even from places around here! You wouldn’t believe who I met . . . [voice trails off, shakes head, perky again] Anyway, it’s just so cool to eat in a hotel! Gives me a thrill.

 

KEVIN: A thrill sounds good, babe.

 

Brittany eyes Kevin, some of her joy fading. Kevin catches on a moment later.

 

KEVIN: Jeez, sorry. Brittany, I meant, you know, not “babe.”

 

BRITTANY: Oh, that’s okay. You are very sweet. All forgiven!

 

Kevin nods absently, looking in the distance for someone.

 

KEVIN: [confident] Let’s see if we can get that waiter back and get on with the evening.

 

 

91. INT: ABOUT THIS TIME, MORGENDORFFERS’ HOTEL ROOM, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

The door to Daria’s room opens. She walks out with a look of pure, white-hot rage on her face. She grips the miniature tape recorder in her left hand so hard that the device makes creaking and popping noises. On the TV set, the volume very low, is a scene from Dr. Strangelove. The B-52 pilot Major Kong is putting on his cowboy hat as he and his crew prepare to attack their assigned targets in the Soviet Union.

 

TV: [Major Kong speaking to B-52 crew] Well, boys, I reckon this is it. Nuclear combat, toe-to-toe with the Rooskies.

 

Daria turns the TV off. Her face churning with emotion, she looks into her father’s darkened bedroom. She can hear the sound of a bathtub filling from the bathroom across the room. Her face softens momentarily, and she pulls the door shut without making a sound. The intense rage then returns to her face, then changes into a cold, tight-lipped fury. Daria now moves with resolve and purpose. She walks toward the door of the room, picks up her “Damnation Alley” sack, and leaves silently.

 

 

92. INT: A SHORT WHILE LATER, LOBBY, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Appearing to be searching for someone, Daria walks through the hotel lobby past the shops and boutiques, carrying her “Damnation Alley” sack. At one point she passes by the windows of the Lackluster video-rental shop, where a TV set plays a videotape of the 1956 sci-fi classic, Forbidden Planet. The scene showing at the moment is that of the “monster of the id” attacking the crew of the saucer-shaped United Planets spacecraft. A crewman screams as the monster kills him. Daria stops briefly near the TV, not looking at it, before she walks on, eyes still searching.

 

Daria stops to look at the newspaper headlines outside a newsstand/novelties shop, then looks into the store itself. She stops in surprise. Upchuck is inside at the magazine rack in back, standing before the adult magazine section. He appears to be reading one of the men’s magazines, turning the magazine sideways at one point to see the centerfold. Even at a distance, Daria can hear Upchuck’s growling as he admires the centerfold’s subject. Daria’s expression changes once more to a look of white-faced fury, her teeth showing for a moment before her deadpan look takes over again.

 

 

93. INT: MOMENTS LATER, LOBBY, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Daria walks into the store, slowly and quietly. A young male cashier—the only other person in the store—watches “The Simpsons” on a miniature color TV by the cash register, paying no attention to anyone or anything around him. Upchuck is hidden from the cashier’s view by various racks of books and merchandise. As Daria passes a rack holding various dull-edged (but full-sized and solid steel) replica swords for sale, her right hand grasps a sword hilt and she pulls the replica weapon free of the rack. She advances on Upchuck from behind.

 

Upchuck’s appreciation of unclothed feminine pulchritude is interrupted when Daria’s long sword is thrust between his legs from behind, immediately below to his crotch. The sword point jams deep into the magazine rack, running through the head of a laughing man on the cover of a news magazine. (The man, holding a martini and wearing an expensive smoking jacket, illustrates the cover story: “Is the Playboy Era Dead?”) Upchuck jumps, startled, then looks down. Daria presses herself close to Upchuck’s left side at the same moment, her right hand gripping the sword hilt and her left hand reaching across her chest to hold Upchuck’s left bicep, so he cannot escape. Daria has set her “Damnation Alley” sack on the floor beside her.

 

UPCHUCK: [sees the sword next to his crotch, high squeaky voice] Eeep!

 

DARIA: [soft deadpan from here on] Hello, Upchuck. Library closed today?

 

Upchuck makes a few high-pitched squeaks and squeals while trying to breathe, rising up on tiptoe to bring his crotch away from the sword edge. His face goes white.

 

UPCHUCK: [squeaky whisper] Miss D-d-d-daria Morgendorffer, what a pleasure! Lovely to s-s-see you!

 

DARIA: Wish I could say the same, Upchuck. How’ve you been?

 

UPCHUCK: F-f-f-f-f-fine, j-just f-f-f-fine. [swallows] And you?

 

DARIA: [frowns absently] I was doing pretty well, Upchuck, pretty well, until this weekend. I saw Andrea here. I hear rumors that you two are seeing each other.

 

UPCHUCK: Uh-uh-uh, yeah, in fact, yeah, w-w-we are, uh, uh, s-s-s-seeing each uh-other, k-k-kind of in s-s-secret. Hush-hush, you know. The parents. Th-they never seem to understand. [tries to calm self] If you were l-l-looking for a date, I m-m-might know—

 

DARIA: No, no, Upchuck. I’m not looking for a date. [pause] Not with you.

 

UPCHUCK: [weak smile] Th-th-that’s marvelous, see, b-b-because Andrea, I mean, I—

 

Daria lifts the hilt of the sword, causing Upchuck to rise up higher on tiptoes, the blade lightly pressing into his groin.

 

DARIA: Why don’t I come to the point?

 

UPCHUCK: [sweating, looks down at the sword point jammed into the news magazines] Uh-uh-uh-uh—

 

DARIA: Upchuck, I like Andrea. She’s a good person. One of the best. You agree?

 

UPCHUCK: Y-y-y-y-yes, she is, definitely. So strange you should ask, b-b-because I, we’re—

 

DARIA: And if anything bad happened to Andrea, if someone were to hurt her, some miserable rotten low-down bottom-feeding jerk, if this scum-sucking worthless cretin were to hurt her in any way . . . [voice drops almost to a whisper] I would feel bad.

 

UPCHUCK: Oh, yes, absolutely! I would feel b-b-b—

 

DARIA: [cold whisper] And if I felt bad, I might . . . dooo . . . something bad.

 

Daria pulls up harder on the sword hilt. Upchuck emits a nearly supersonic squeal, dropping his girlie magazine and grabbing the magazine rack in front of him to pull himself up farther. His face is etched with panic. The slack-jawed cashier, watching “The Simpsons,” notices nothing.

 

DARIA: [whispers] That would be bad . . . wouldn’t it, Upchuck?

 

Upchuck nods his head violently in agreement.

 

DARIA: Then, let’s you and I make an agreement. Nothing bad of that sort is going to happen to Andrea, is it, Upchuck?

 

UPCHUCK: [shakes head violently] N-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n—

 

DARIA: That’s good. It’s rare that you and I ever agree on anything. That’s . . . strange, but good.

 

Upchuck again nods his head violently in agreement.

 

DARIA: Good. [pats Upchuck on the left shoulder with her left hand] Okay, Upchuck. Reach down and grab hold of my friend here—[wags sword slightly]—very carefully.

 

Upchuck slowly reaches down to grab the sword blade—with great care—with his hands.

 

DARIA: Very good. I’m going to leave now. You wait until I’m gone before you do anything, okay? [Upchuck nods] And you and Andrea have a great weekend here, okay? [Upchuck nods] Oh—let’s keep this little meeting to ourselves. It’s our little secret. You okay with that?

 

Once more, Upchuck nods his head violently in agreement.

 

DARIA: Good. See you around. [pause] On the other hand, I hope I don’t.

 

Daria releases the sword hilt and pats Upchuck on the back in a friendly way.

 

DARIA: Oh, and Andrea said she’ll be in the room, taking a nap. Tell her I said hi.

 

Upchuck appears puzzled but wisely nods his appreciation for the news. Daria then picks up her “Damnation Alley” sack and walks out of the store without looking back. Upchuck looks up and sees in a store security mirror that he is alone again. Then he sags, sweat running down his face, and he tries to pull the sword from the magazines into which it is stuck. The magazines won’t come off, so he carefully sets the sword upright beside the rack, straightens his clothing, and walks out of the store as casually as possible. He stops and nervously looks in every direction as he does, however, searching for Daria—who has disappeared. After a moment, a strange smile comes over Upchuck’s face as he shakes his head in wonder.

 

UPCHUCK: [with relief and admiration] Wow! I always knew she was feisty, but not that feisty! Grrrrrr!

 

Upchuck starts to leave the shop, but he sees a rack of items he hadn’t noticed before, with the label “Costumes” over it. He thinks, then walks over quickly—with one last look behind to see if Daria is nearby. Glad to be alone, he begins looking through the rack with great eagerness—finding one box he likes especially well.

 

UPCHUCK: [clutching box] Perfect! Yes!

 

 

94. INT: LATE SATURDAY AFTERNOON, DINING ROOM, LAWNDALE PLAZA HOTEL

 

Depressed, Andrea enters the dining room, screened from view behind a large crowd of newcomers. She doesn’t wait for the waiter to seat her, instead walking over to sit by herself at a dark, secluded table by a pillar. She rests her head on her hand, elbow on the table, and stares at nothing. Finally, she reaches behind her for a hidden pocket in her Goth outfit, and she pulls out the pack of cigarettes she purchased earlier. She unwraps the package and looks around the dining room. To her surprise, she spots Kevin and Brittany sitting barely thirty feet away. They face each other across a small, well-lit table, sitting so that Andrea sees Kevin’s right side and Brittany’s left. The two have finished dinner (pizza for Brittany, hamburger for Kevin) and are talking in low tones. Andrea watches them sadly and picks up their conversation.

 

KEVIN: That was a great dinner. They make the best hamburgers in the state.

 

Andrea gently snorts but says nothing. She looks down at her tabletop, trying to appear nonchalant as she pulls a cigarette from her pack of Femlites and puts the pack away.

 

BRITTANY: Kevin, that is such a relief. You have no idea. I was really afraid of how this would come out, you know? You scared me a little last night when you—

 

KEVIN: [waves the issue away] I know, I know. That was stupid. I don’t want to do anything stupid anymore. I’m gonna do smart stuff from now on.

 

BRITTANY: [blushes] Thanks, Kevvy. That means a lot to me, you know. You’ll always be special to me.

 

KEVIN: [spread arms grandly] Hey, I’m the QB! ‘Course I’m special! [drops arms] But you’ll always be my high-school cheerleader, the only one who mattered.

 

BRITTANY: Oh, Kevvy. [pause, anxious look at Kevin] You’re not going to ruin this by asking me to go up to your room, are you?

 

KEVIN: Time for your surprise! [picks up manila envelope from floor, hands it to Brittany] I had some pictures made especially for you.

 

Andrea produces a butane lighter, but she hesitates before lighting her cigarette. She frowns at Kevin, watching him closely. On the other side of Kevin and Brittany’s table, sitting in his high-walled booth by himself with a half-eaten steak dinner before him, Mack also frowns, listening. Neither Kevin, Brittany, nor Andrea can see him.