[TV Guide synopsis: Amy fights to retain custody of Andrea after her biological mother pays a visit to Rutherford. But her sister Rita just might provide the death blow. Special guest voices: Wendy Hoopes as Helen Barksdale Morgendorffer and Roma Downey as Matilda Hecuba.]
SCENE 1 (Rutherford City Park, afternoon)
(Overhead shot of the park. Cut to side shot of Amy Barksdale, slumped over on one of the benches. Her eyes are red and slightly puffy, and she's sniffling. She glances at the camera, then turns around to face it.)
AMY: (husky-voiced whisper) Dammit, I don't know what to do. I just don't know what to do... (Pauses to wipe her nose with a handkerchief.) I can't believe I didn't see it coming! Now everyone's against me, and my whole world is falling apart. (stifles a sob, struggles to smile faintly.) I'm just glad there's someone out there I can confide in.
(Cut to wide shot. Amy is addressing a teenager girl who is sitting beside her, wearing a bewildered expression.)
AMY: Thanks for sticking around.
GIRL: (indignant) Like I had a choice. I don't even know you. All I came for was some advice on split ends, and now you're gonna tell me your whole friggin' life story.
AMY: Well you didn't think my services were free, did you? (The girl groans and rolls her eyes, as Amy launches into her tale.) It all began on a grim Saturday night...
(Fade-out. Fade in to:)
SCENE 2 (Barksdale residence)
(Shot of the outside. Cut to shot of Amy and Andrea climbing out of Amy's trusty red convertible. We see that Amy is scowling at Andrea.)
AMY: I just can't take you anywhere, can I?!
ANDREA: (rolling her eyes) Hey, look on the bright side: I saved you from having to sit through a dull movie with crappy love scenes and a mystery killer whose identity you knew five minutes into the bloody thing.
AMY: No! I didn't know!
ANDREA: Really? (cocks a brow.) And you call yourself an FBI agent.
(Cut to shot of front door. Amy and Andrea walk up to it, Amy fiddling around in her purse, trying to locate the house key.)
AMY: (cross) We'll never be able to show ourselves in that cineplex again!
ANDREA: (under her breath) Here we go...
AMY: (absorbed in her rant) Just one more on the list of places we've been banned from. The library, the roller rink, the ice cream parlor, th-the third floor of our house!
ANDREA: You left out the artillery range. And the Children With Cancer ward in the hospital.
AMY: (groaning) Why do our mother-daughter outings always end up in disaster?! Is it too much that I ask you lose the fangs for one evening so I can see your sweet inside?
ANDREA: That's assuming I have one.
AMY: (glaring at her, speaking deliberately) Sometimes I find myself wishing that I didn't have a daughter. (Out of nowhere, a chord of ominous music plays. Amy frowns and glances around for the source, then decides to ignore it. She turns her purse upside down in utter frustration, emptying its contents onto the ground.) Dammit, where ARE my keys?!!
ANDREA: (handing them to her) Here. You left them in the ignition.
AMY: Oh. (Bt) Erm... thanks.
(Cut to shot of the inside, all dark. The door swings open, revealing light from the outside and the silhouetted forms of Amy and Andrea.)
ANDREA: (coaxing) C' mon, that movie was so unrealistic. That one scene where the woman drank herself into a coma and then shattered the bottle. Or the one where her long-lost mother arrived, like, out of no where to reclaim her. Can we say B movie?? Those things just wouldn't happen in a boring small town.
(As she says this, Amy flicks on the light in the living room. Suddenly the viewer sees a trail of glass on the floor, with alcohol oozing from the jagged edges. Amy's eyes widen, and Andrea looks marginally surprised, as they survey the mess. The trail of glass leads up to Rita, who is sprawled across the couch. After a few moments of limpness, she finally lifts her head shakily and stares at Amy and Andrea through puffy red eyes. She then grabs her forehead.)
RITA: Wha'? H-huhh?
AMY: Rita! I can't believe I'm saying this, but you... you're drunk!
ANDREA: I certainly never would have guessed.
(Rita tries to sit up straighter, but ends up gasping with pain and sinking back down onto the couch.)
RITA: (weakly) N-no, no... I-I just had a little after dinner drink, that's all. It's n-nothing.
AMY: (charging up to her) Nothing?? Just look at yourself! (She plops down on the couch beside Rita and begins to shake her by the shoulders.) You have a headache so overwhelming, even the smallest movement is too much for you. You couldn't even get off the couch, that's how bad it is!
RITA: (looking ill) Uh-huh... right... please... stop....
AMY: And what if you'd tried to drive a car??
RITA: (now confused) But if I can't even get off the couch...?
AMY: In your pathetic shape, you'd have plowed into the first jaywalker who carelessly darted in your path. (She abruptly releases Rita, who sinks against the couch, green around the gills.) After what happened to Mom, getting hit by Corona -- who, by the way, I fully intend to hunt down in order to thwart her diabolical schemes -- one would think you knew better!
RITA: (bursting into tears) But I'm not like you, Amy! I'm not a strong person! I've never faced down evil villains and kicked their lights out the way you have.
AMY: (flattered) Oh Rita...
RITA: And I was never molded to face the world's rejection. Never taunted day after day, month after month, year after year, the way you w--
AMY: That's enough, Rita.
RITA: With a bottle of scotch, I can forget what a loser I've become. My beauty faded, no relationship, stuck in my boring home town, working a bakery job that I hate. (shakes her head, then grabs it when it proves too much for her.) Without drinking, I'm afraid to face tomorrow!
AMY: (clasping Rita's hands in hers) But you shouldn't be afraid, Sis. All you need to do is take life one day at a time. Just one day at a time. (firm.) No one day's miseries are enough to destroy you. And tomorrow is just another day.
RITA: (hopeful) Oh Amy, you mean it?
AMY: (smiling serenely) If I'm wrong, may we sue the company that issued our calendar.
RITA: (tossing her arms around Amy) I'm so lucky to have you for my sister. I was hoping you'd help me through my problems!
AMY: Well of course... when I have time. (Bt) And I'd take you to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting tomorrow if I didn't have a game of doubles tennis with Kristovo. (Rita's face falls.) Putting your life together can wait an extra day, can't it? (Rita's face falls further.) But he looks so hot in his athletic wear. (One more glance at Rita's face, and: ) Ohh... all right, all right. We'll go to that meeting, Rita.
RITA: (eyes brimming with tears) Thank you... I think that's exactly what I need in order to start over again.
(She and Amy embrace passionately.)
AMY: And Mom and Andrea... (pulls away from Rita, looks around, and frowns.) Andrea?
(Soft canned noises can be heard coming from a nearby room. Cut to shot of Andrea watching on another T.V. in the kitchen, sipping from a bottle of vodka that had been left on the counter. Amy walks in, accompanied by Rita, who's semi-recovered.)
ANDREA: Just thought I might find a better Movie of the Week on another channel. (takes a sip, notes Amy's expression.) What?
(cut to: )
SCENE 3 (Barksdale Bake Sale, the next afternoon)
(Shot of Andrea walking in through the door from the outside, holding a stack of envelopes. Amy and Rita are restocking the shelves and Ruth Barksdale, their mother, is polishing the countertop.)
ANDREA: (bored) Mail's here.
RUTH: Anything good, dear?
ANDREA: Just the usual. Bills... bills... bills... hate mail from some rabid Daria fans... bills... (She suddenly pauses on one envelope. Her eyes go wide as she surveys the handwriting, then she quickly slips the envelope into her pocket.)
(Cut to shot of Rita, nodding vaguely at Andrea's words as she continues to stock the shelves. Amy turns to look at her and does a double take.)
AMY: Rita, you keep putting up and taking down the same two bags of flour.
RITA: I do?? (looks at the two bags she's holding.) Oh yeah. I-I'm just so nervous about the meeting tonight, I can't concentrate.
AMY: (reaching over to put an arm around her) Now, now... admitting a damaging personal problem to a roomful of strangers is nothing to be nervous about. (glances at her watch.) Anyway, we'd better get going.
ANDREA: (blasé) Tah-tah. You will be missed.
AMY: (frowning mildly) We'd ask you to come -- if you weren't still in denial about your own drinking problems.
(Andrea gets a sour look on her face.)
RUTH: (neutral-toned) Well I hope you girls find everything you're looking for at this meeting. We'll see you tonight.
RITA: (accusing) And?
RUTH: And what?
RITA: And you might as well get it out of your system.
RUTH: (tinge of exasperation) Get what out?? Rita, darling, I just want you to be happy. If this Alcoholics Anonymous can bring you happiness, then that's more than enough for me.
RITA: (face softening) Oh. Thank you, Mom.
AMY: (patting her arm) Come on...
(They wave to Andrea and Ruth and start out the door. Just as Rita is almost all of the way out, she turns to look at Ruth one last time. Ruth stares at her inquisitively. Then her body starts trembling, like a dam about to burst.)
RUTH: Ohhhhhh... (grabs her forehead.) Dammit, why couldn't you be more like your sister, Helen??! She's always been completely well adjusted, never causing me a minute of trouble!
AMY: Oh Mom, please don't undermine Rita's confidence that way.
RUTH: Actually, I was talking to you, too.
AMY: Oh. (grabs Rita's arm.) Gee, would you look at the time! (She bolts.)
(cut to: )
SCENE 3 (Rutherford Community Center)
(Shot of the outside: a three-story Victorian building surrounded by a large green park area. Cut to close-up of the front. There, the viewer sees people walking up the stairs, through the door. Zoom in on the overhang, where a flier reads: "Banned From the Premises" and shows a picture of Andrea.)
(Cut to shot of the inside hallway, where Amy and Rita are walking up to a double door. Amy is the picture of calm, and is gazing at an Alcoholics Anonymous pamphlet, while Rita tiptoes behind, slowly tearing her own pamphlet into small pieces.)
AMY: (cheerful) Here we are. (glances at Rita, gets a serene, sympathetic look on her face.) Rita, this is silly. Alcoholics Anonymous isn't some cold, bloodless bureaucracy. It's an organization based on love and nurturing...
(She opens the door, revealing a bland-faced man dressed in a dark business suit.)
MAN: Good day, ladies. Please enter the line of your choice, and our service representatives will be with you shortly.
(Amy and Rita look at each other. Then Amy shrugs and walks into the room. Rita follows closely behind. Cut to wide shot of the inside, where we see a large group of people merged into several long, spindly queues whose front ends are barely in sight. A few giant monitors have been hung from the top of the wall, and are playing slogans over and over again.)
AMY: I-I don't understand -- isn't this Alcoholics Anonymous?
MAN: (stiff smile) Why yes, indeed. Alco-corp owns a vast array of support groups, including Alcoholic's Anonymous, Mother's Against Drunk Driving, Animal Rescue, and Sudden Wealth Syndrome.
RITA: "Own"? But isn't A.A. a non-profit organization?
MAN: Non-profit? In America?? (He bursts out laughing, and is soon accompanied by the rest of the room.)   These days, all non-profits are getting corporate funding -- including public broadcasting! Alco-corp has successfully peddled millions of self-help videos to the alcohol dependent. With those numbers, no way could A.A. compete. They had to (ominous smirk.) submit, instead. (Bt. sunny) Now why doncha get in line?
(Fade-out. Fade-in to a short time later. Amy and Rita are standing near the end of a long line, looking fatigued, as though they've been there for quite some time.)
RITA: (weary) What do you suppose we'll find at the front?
(Amy shakes her head and looks at the line next to them. Several men wearing cashmere sweaters and Rolodexes are trying to hold back tears.)
GUY: It started off as one million, then five million, then it just got out of control!! Pretty soon I had twenty million in the bank and stock options through the roof!
GUY 2: This "new economy" will be the death of us all! (stifles a sob.)
(Amy shakes her head sympathetically. Rita wears a "Why am I here?" expression. Just then, we see a sad sack of a man walk toward them.)
GUY 3: (feeble) Every day is a battle that I'm not sure I can win. I hope Alcoholics Anonymous will give me the strength to persevere.
RITA: (sympathetic) Oh! I know just how you feel.
GUY 3: (perking up) Actually you don't. I'm just an actor reprising my role as the forlorn drunk on the Alco-corp commercials to entertain the rest of you. (sings.) "I gotta come clean, get hip with the scene, it's time to go soooober. The bad times are ooooover!"
AMY: (clapping) Now I recognize you!
(The actor takes a bow and walks over to another group of people. Rita looks ill. Fade-out.)
(Fade-in to much later. We see Amy and Rita at the front of the line, approaching a no-nonsense looking woman behind a booth.)
RITA: (reluctant) Um, hi. My name is Rita Barksdale and I'm an alc--
WOMAN: No time for small talk, sweetie, just pick a package. (reaches down and pulls several out for viewing.) Ten-ninety-nine for the sympathy booklet and tapes, fourteen-ninety-nine if you throw in a laminated Twelve Stepper prayer sheet, twenty-nine-ninety-nine if you want all that plus a discount membership at any of Alco-corp's chain stores.
AMY: (to Rita) Oooh, the last one sounds like a winner.
RITA: (stunned) Wait a second -- don't I get to talk to anyone about my problem??
WOMAN: Save that for your sponsor, sweetie. Over the telephone. (Bt) Next!
(cut to: )
SCENE 4 (after the "meeting")
(Shot of Amy driving down the street back to their house, while Rita sulks in the shotgun seat.)
AMY: (smiling serenely) There, that wasn't so bad! Now aren't you glad you made that positive step, Rita?
RITA: (irritated) I don't know -- considering that we were there for three hours and got maybe five minutes' worth of help.
AMY: Sis, do you want to make me regret missing my match with Kristovo? Because I will, you know. (the gentler approach.) Look, even if A.A. can't carry all of your burden, you'll still have a loving, supportive family to help you. We'll make you our number one priority, Rita.
RITA: (emerging from her funk) Y-you really mean that? I'll get to be in the spotlight, for once??
AMY: (smiling) Yep. And nothing's gonna take you out of it.
(Cut to shot of Amy's car pulling into the Barksdales' driveway. Cut to shot of the inside, a few minutes later. Amy and Rita walk into the living room, where they see Ruth and Andrea sitting there, looking worn out. A letter on lined notebook paper sags in Ruth's hand.)
AMY: Hi there. (Bt) What's wrong?
(Ruth holds up the letter for Amy to see. Amy takes it and sits down.)
RUTH: It's from Andrea's mother. (Bt) Her biological mother.
(Rita and Amy gasp.)
AMY: (to Andrea) I thought you said she was dead!
ANDREA: (defensive) Hey, I said she was "with God." That's not exactly the same thing.
(A numb look passes over Amy's face.)
AMY: W-why didn't you tell us the truth??
ANDREA: It never came up. (She looks away, blushing, knowing how lame her excuse must sound.)
RUTH: (weary) Ohhh Mrs. Hecuba is very much alive, and she wishes to see her daughter. Read for yourself.
(As Amy scans the letter, her face tense, Rita settles down beside Ruth.)
RITA: (timid, mildly eager) Well my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting is over, Mom. It wasn't great, but I made it through, and I've been sober for nearly twenty hou--
AMY: HA! (flings the paper down.) I don't have to read any more of this! (She jumps up and stomps on the letter a few times.) Any mother who would come to tear her daughter out of the stable, loving home she's known for the last couple of months can only be a monster!
RUTH: Well that's not exactly what she --
AMY: No, Mom, spare me the nasty details. (walks over to Andrea, puts an arm around her.) I mean why else would Andrea run away from Lawndale??
ANDREA: (sliding Amy's arm off of her) Um, I threatened my high school principal with bodily harm, remember?
AMY: I'm sure that was just the surface reason.
RITA: (a little louder, trying to attract attention to herself) Geez, Amy, don't jump to conclusions. Andrea's mother could be perfectly fine. Whereas my problem with beating the bottle require some real--
AMY: Oh would you be QUIET, Rita?? (Rita withers under her angry gaze and slumps down. Amy turns to Andrea and looks her straight in the eye.) Do you or do you not dread the thought of facing your mother??
ANDREA: Gawd yes.
AMY: (smirking triumphantly) Well that's enough for me. (addressing her mother and sister.) If Andrea doesn't want to leave Rutherford, then we'll fight to keep her here! WON'T we?!
RUTH: (hushed voice, to Rita) You know, it would be nice to finally stop locking up the valuables at night... (She then realizes Amy has overheard, and is gazing at her with a wounded expression.) Heh-heh, I mean of course we will! We love our little doodle bug. Don't we, Rita??
RITA: (wilted expression) Yeah. Sure we do.
AMY: Wonderful! Now if we're going to fight, the first thing we'll need is a lawyer.
RUTH: (eyes lighting up) And I know just the person!
AMY: Great! (Bt. eyes fill with horror.) Wait -- not her!
(cut to: )
SCENE 5 (Morgendorffer residence, a short time later)
(Shot of the outside.)
VOICE: (offscreen VO) Hellllllooooooooooo?
(Cut to shot of the inside. The viewer sees the four Morgendorffers gathered around the dining room table, eating lasagna. Helen Barksdale Morgendorffer, Ruth's eldest daughter, speaks on a sleek black cell phone. Every inch the power woman, she wears a navy double- breasted blazer with a matching skirt. Her skin is tight -- as though she's had several facelifts and eyelifts -- and she carries herself with an air of complete control. She always speaks in a business-like tone, unless she's making an insincere attempt to give treacly advice to her family.)
HELEN: Why Mama! What an unexpected and delightful surprise!
(At the mention of "Mama," Daria Morgendorffer, her younger sister, Quinn, and their father, Jake get looks of dread.)
QUINN: NooooOOOOOOOOO! Not again!! I don't wanna DO this, anymore!
DARIA: (to Helen, irritated) They said one cameo per person. ONE.
JAKE: (whiny) Dammit, Helen, this is all your fault! She's your stupid sister!
HELEN: (shielding the phone with her hand) Shut UP, Jake, you colossal MORON! I haven't had my cameo, yet! Besides, do you think I appreciate the way they rake my character over the coals in this episode, hmm?? (removes her hand from the phone, speaks into the receiver.) What's that? You need me to come to Rutherford and help you win a custody case against Amy's adopted daughter's biological mother? Why I'd be delighted! I'll be over just as soon as I can find a sitter for the girls and Jake.
(Jake gets a wounded expression on his face.)
(Cut to shot of Ruth moments later. She lays down the phone, looking satisfied.)
RUTH: I'll start preparing her room. (to Amy and Rita, stern.) Now wipe those looks off of your faces. You three may not have gotten along when you were growing up, but Helen is family, and she obviously cares about you enough to help out. (heads toward the stairs.) Gee I hope my little smoochy woochums still likes mints on her pillow...
(Once she's gone, Amy and Rita exchange wary glances.)
END OF ACT ONE
SCENE 1 (Rutherford City Park, the present)
(Shot of Amy sitting on the park bench beside the girl who has been her audience. The girl looks in serious danger of nodding off.)
AMY: (oblivious) ... So our household, normally a bastion of serene domesticity, braced itself for two invasions. Andrea's fiendish mother and (cringes.) my sister, Helen.
(Fade-out. Fade-in to shot of Ruth standing on a short stepladder in what was once Amy's room, polishing several large trophies with the name "Helen Barksdale" inscribed on them. Andrea walks in, glances around.)
ANDREA: Yo, what happened to my things?
(Ruth is so surprised by her arrival, she nearly falls off of the stepladder.)
RUTH: Oh-oh well I moved your sleeping bag and other items into the hall closet, dear.
ANDREA: And the brown stuff?
RUTH: (turning to face her, adopting a stern look) I flushed it down the toilet, young lady! I will not have you keeping that sort of substance in this house!
ANDREA: (wrinkling her nose) You mean my ant farm?
RUTH: (blushing) Oh. Um... yes, yes, of course. I despise ants.
ANDREA: Well what am I supposed to do at night?
RUTH: You could, um, sleep downstairs on the living room couch. It's perfectly comfortable.
ANDREA: For how long?
RUTH: (blushing harder) Just until Helen leaves. You see, after Amy moved away, this became her trophy room, and she would hate to find it disturbed.
ANDREA: You mean the Helen who's coming to make sure you guys keep custody of me by proving what a stable, supportive family you are?
RUTH: (wilts) Yes. That Helen. (pleading.) She's my daughter, Andrea.
ANDREA: (masking her hurt) Yeah. Sure. Whatever. (She rolls her eyes and leaves.)
PRESENT AMY: (offscreen VO) I, myself, was on pins and needles. Coffee became my elixir, the only way to keep me stable.
(Cut to shot of Amy sitting at the table, each of her hands griping a mug of coffee. As she takes turns gulping from each mug, she trembles slightly.)
AMY: Rita, I've got bigger problems right now.
(Pan over to show Rita slumped over in a chair beside her, picking at her cornflakes. She looks as though she's enduring some stage of withdrawl.)
RITA: (stony) I still think you're overreacting. And you said you'd help me out!
AMY: (defensive) I put all of the liquor bottles out for recycling, didn't I?! (Expression deadpan, Rita points to a cabinet in the dining room stocked full of alcohol.) Er... or I meant to.
RITA: All you've done lately is drain half the coffee supply in the county. (She glances at Amy swallowing another mouthful, then gets a slow smirk on her face.) If I didn't know better, I'd swear you were the one with the addiction.
(Amy spits out her coffee across the table.)
AMY: That's ridiculous. (After glaring at Rita for a moment, she tips her head back and empties a mug into her mouth, achieving a "chipmunk cheek" look.)
RITA: You were at the meeting with me, weren't you? You went through the torture same as I did.
(Amy nearly spits out her coffee again. Rita glances at her suspiciously and backs her chair away.)
AMY: I was there for moral support, and you know it!
RITA: Oh sure, you say that, but is it true? (smirks.) Maybe we're all alcoholics on the inside.
(Amy slaps her forehead and groans. Then she glances at Rita's mug.)
AMY: Are you going to finish that?
PRESENT AMY: At last Doomsday arrived. The day we would finally meet Mrs. Hecuba face to face.
(Shot of a nondescript car driving up to the curb in front of the Barksdale residence. The windows are too dark for the viewer to get a good look at who is inside.)
(fade-out. fade-in to: )
SCENE 2 (Barksdale living room, a short time later)
(Shot of Amy seated in a stuffed chair, with Ruth, Rita, and Andrea beside her on the couch. Cut to close-up of Amy, wearing a wide, frozen smile.)
PRESENT AMY: She was everything I expected...
(Cut to shot of Andrea's mom seated in a chair across from the couch. She's a plain-looking woman whose fair hair is tied up in a bun, and who wears a flower-printed dress. Her hands are folded, and she is smiling.)
PRESENT AMY: (firm) ...A person who looked like she had something to hide.
MRS. HECUBA: I can't thank you nice people enough for looking after my daughter all this time.
AMY: Well that's what we are: nice people. Just an ordinary bunch of nice people living in a nice, normal house in a nice, normal town with nice neighbors. Nice, isn't it?
MRS. HECUBA: Um... uh-huh. (A momentary look of confusion crosses her face. She leans down and picks up a package beside her chair.) Oh, I brought this gift for you.
(She holds it out to Amy, who receives it and turns it upside down and shakes it slowly, then hard, causing a loud rattling sound within.)
AMY: (insincere) Oh dear. I think it's defective. (hands it back.)
MRS. HECUBA: A flower vase is defective?? (She looks questioningly at Andrea. Andrea shrugs.)
RUTH: Oh Matilda, you seem like such a good person yourself. It's a shame we have to drag you into court and take your daughter from you.
MRS. HECUBA: (shrugging amiably) I am, too. But if that's what you want, what sort of mean old witch would I be if I tried to stop you? Our true interest should be in Andrea, for a child without a strong family unit is doomed to a life without love.
RUTH: (nodding) Yes.
AMY: And just where did you get that idea from??
MRS. HECUBA: (eyeing Amy) Um, what do you mean?
PRESENT AMY: From me! (sounding confused.) Dammit, I thought I was the only one who ever used that kind of touchy-feely language.
AMY: (cool) I mean it's interesting you say that, considering I met Andrea after she'd run away from home.
MRS. HECUBA: Ah yes... (nods slowly.) Well I suppose she was feeling a little distraught, what with our just returning from a five-year mission, and Mr. Hecuba still in one of those heathen Catholic countries trying to spread the word of God.
RITA: (surprised) You're... a... missionary?
(She, Amy, and Ruth all look at Andrea, who rolls her eyes.)
ANDREA: (to her mother)   You couldn't've just lied and said you and Dad are Hells Angels??
MRS. HECUBA: I'm sorry, sweetheart. But yes, the Hecubas have a proud missionary history, dating back to when old Zachariah Hecuba first began converting the American Indians. We consider it our duty to reach out to the less fortune and offer a helping hand and a caring voice.
RITA: (wistful) Gee, that sounds nice.
(As soon as Rita utters these words, Mrs. Hecuba sends her a gentle, probing glance. Rita peers back shyly, sensing possible kinship with this woman.)
AMY: Oh yes, a nice little back story to go with your sweet, wholesome image. Well I, for one, would like to hear about this "missionary" work you did. (chuckles sarcastically.)
MRS. HECUBA: I was hoping you'd ask. I brought pictures! (She holds up a photo album and waves it in the air. Amy's face falls.) The three of us traveled the globe, moving from city to city, countryside to countryside...
(Wavy fade-out, fade-in to shot of a snow-covered mountain. "Climb Every Mountain" from The Sound of Music plays softly. Cut to shot of Andrea and her parents standing in a village square, dressed in white robes, holding out small Bibles to passers-by. The angle of the camera cuts out most of Mr. Hecuba, except for an arm.)
MRS. HECUBA: (offscreen VO) ... where we'd preach the word of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
(Shot of Andrea standing in knee deep in a lake, preparing to baptize a convert, while Mr. Hecuba preaches from a Bible. The angle is such that the viewer can only see his back and the opened Bible in his hand. Andrea dunks the convert's head underwater, then holds it there for what seems like several seconds too long. Mr. Hecuba waves at her to let him back up. Andrea releases her hand, but all that emerges from the water are a few bubbles. She looks at them, puzzled, then turns to Mr. Hecuba and shrugs.)
MRS. HECUBA: ... Andrea was in charge of teaching the Sunday school.
(Cut to shot of Andrea standing by a blackboard which bears several very graphic images of devils. She seems to take certain pleasure in pointing them out to her pupils.)
MRS. HECUBA: But really she was the one who got an education.
(Cut to shot of Andrea standing on one side of a field at dawn, while a tall, dark stranger stands on another. As the sun rises, cut to close-up. Andrea, dressed in a kimono, rushes toward the stranger and delivers a karate kick, which the stranger deflects easily. He then delivers a blow to her shoulder, which knocks her down.)
MRS. HECUBA: We arranged for her to study the art of "care-ah-tey" under a renowned Japanese sensei.
RUTH: What a wonderful opportunity that must have been.
AMY: Um, um, well she would have had that opportunity here, too. I learned my karate moves from the very best there was at, um, at... (mumbles.) Crazy Yoshi's Sushi and Slaughter Barn.
MRS. HECUBA: How nice. (Bt) But anyway, just as Andrea had received her purple belt, God -- and our creditors -- called us back to Lawndale, where we settled down once more. (looks at Andrea, brow creasing with concern.) I suppose the quietude of that suburban burg was too much for our dear child to take. Why else would she run away to...
ANDREA: The Mecca that is Rutherford?
MRS. HECUBA: It wasn't because you were angry at us, was it, sweetheart?
ANDREA: (bowing her head, looking uncomfortable) No. 'Course not.
AMY: But the point is she's happy here now and doesn't want to leave. Right, Andrea??
ANDREA: (still uncomfortable)   Yeah... sure. (Bt) But y'know, it's sort of been a long time since I've seen my mom. It might be nice to spend some time with her, or whatever. If that's okay with you, Amy.
(Amy grows a shade paler at not being called "Mom," then nods.)
AMY: All right?? Of c-course it's all right. I mean it's not like I'm going to force you to stay by wr-wreaking havoc on your mother's good name!
(She laughs with abandon, as do Ruth and Mrs. Hecuba. Then Amy cups her hands to keep them from trembling. Beside her, Rita is shaking noticeably.)
RITA: Damn delirium tremens...
(cut to: )
SCENE 3 (Amy's room, a short time later)
(Close-up on the face of Amy's sensuous boyfriend, Kristovo. His head is leaned back against the pillow, dark wavy hair strewn across his face.)
KRISTOVO: (face suddenly contorting with pain) AGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!
(Cut to wider shot. He sits up quickly, gasping for breath, revealing his finely sculpted torso. Just then, Amy lifts her head from below screen. She pauses to wipe her mouth.)
KRISTOVO: I knew this wasn't a good idea when you were feeling... agitated.
AMY: (blushing) Guess I got carried away. (determined.) But you do agree with me about Andrea's mother, don't you??
KRISTOVO: That her kindness is a sham? Of course. What other explanation could there be?
AMY: In this cynical age, people are far too concerned about their own self-absorbed problems to give the slightest thought to someone else.
KRISTOVO: Although don't you usually preach that people should reach out to the less fortunate?
AMY: (irritated) Yes, but that's when I'm in a good mood. And I'm not in a good mood now, so therefore I don't have to stay true to my beliefs!
KRISTOVO: That's good. I never bought into them anyway.
AMY: So you'll set up a spy cam on Mrs. Hecuba's house? Let's see what she's hiding underneath that sweet façade.
KRISTOVO: (touching her cheek) For you, my sweet Amy, I'll also throw in infra-red lighting, phone taps, and a spy to sift through her garbage every day.
AMY: Oh Kristovo, how I love you.
(cut to: )
SCENE 4 (kitchen, during that time)
(Close-up of Rita sitting on a kitchen chair, looking nervous as she dials a phone number. Her hand trembles as she lays the phone against her ear. We hear several rings, then a click.)
VOICE: (on the other end) Hello.
RITA: Hi, are you my spons--?
VOICE: (automated) You have reached the Alcoholics Anonymous Sponsors Hotline. For membership convenience, we have eliminated the need to speak to human sponsors, and have converged all sponsorship support into an easy dial-up system. You may make a selection at any time during this recording...
(Rita gets a confused frown on her face, then shrugs her shoulders, willing to be patient.)
VOICE: For Warmth and Nurturing, press One. For Tough Love, press Two. For Friendly Cam-arad-erie, press-- (Cut to close-up of Rita's finger hitting number one.) Honey, everything is going to be o-kay. You are more than the bottle. You are a strong, confident man or woman --
RITA: But --
VOICE: (droning on) -- who does not need to drink al-co-hol for fulfillment...
(Looking frustrated, Rita presses another button, which only succeeds in scrambling the voice on the other end.)
VOICE: Jetht luuuuuurk ut yerrrrrslf ih t' murrrrrrur an'...
(Finally Rita hangs up. Cut to wide shot: we see Ruth stride in and give everything in the kitchen a critical once-over.)
RITA: (meek) Mom, I really need someone to talk to right now. Could I have a few minutes alone?
(Ruth's face softens with understanding.)
RUTH: Well of course.
(Suddenly the doorbell rings.)
HELEN: (off screen) Hellllllllllllloooooooooooooooooo??
RUTH: (calling) Mama's coming, precious!
(She runs out of the room. Rita presses her forehead against the kitchen table.)
(cut to: )
SCENE 5 (Barksdale residence, next morning)
(Shot of the outside.)
HELEN: (off screen VO, taking in her loud, fast, bossy tone) I really shouldn't be helping you, Amy.
(Shot of her pacing the dining room, wearing her typical expression of superiority, while Amy, Rita, Ruth, and Andrea watch her from their seated positions at the table.)
HELEN: I mean, why should I, a completely with-it mother of two exceptional daughters want to help my sister (looks at her smugly.), who's never been able to commit to anything in her life, retain custody of some teenage runaway??
(Amy looks at her sulkily, doesn't reply. Andrea glances at a glass of grapefruit juice at the place beside her at the table. Helen quickly scoops it up, takes a swig, then sets it back down.)
HELEN: But then I thought: surely my influence can have a beneficial impact on my sister's lifestyle choices. Did I mention that my little Quinn beat Sandi Griffin out for Homecoming Queen thanks to my advice? Or that Quinn was recently asked to model for a swimsuit catalogue?? Or that Quinn's sister made the honor role again??
AMY: (weary) Only ten times, I think.
ANDREA: I lost count long ago.
RITA: (suddenly bursting into tears) Pleeeeease, no more! I can't take any mo-o-o-o-o-ore!
RUTH: (to Helen) Oh, ignore them, Precious One, they're just jealous. (She reaches over to stroke Helen lovingly on the back. Helen tolerates it with a tight-lipped smile.) Now I hope your bed was comfortable last night--
HELEN: Please, Mama, you know I gave up sleeping when I turned fourteen. It's such a waste of time.
AMY: Besides, hanging from the rafters would be much more ideal.
HELEN: (glaring at her) Do you want me to pack my bags and head home??
(Amy pauses for a moment before responding.)
AMY: (meek) No. I need someone vicious to beat that woman, and you're the most vicious, nasty person I know.
HELEN: (smirking) Well thank you. (She reaches over to pick up her glass of juice, which now has unidentifiable brown things floating in it. Helen takes a gulp without noticing, sets the glass down.) Now we need to get some hard and fast dirt we can use on this woman in court. The harder, the faster, the better!
AMY: I've already started doing it.
HELEN: That's very good Amy, but if it's to be done it should be done well. Which is why --
(Amy looks at her sulkily, then, when Helen's back is turned, makes a face. Suddenly Helen's cell phone springs to life in her pocket. In a flash, she rips it out and lays it against her ear.)
HELEN: Helllllllllllllllllllooooooooooooooooooooo? Oh hi, Aaron! (turns to Amy and company at the table.) It's my boss, Aaron Schroeder. I NEED to take this call. (heads toward the next room, attention to the phone.) What's that? You want to screw around at the Windsor Hills Resort next weekend? Why I'd love to! Oh don't mind the fact that I have a husband -- the only reason I keep that loser around is so I can have someone to control... (voice fades as she exits off screen.)
RUTH: (adoring) My little darling's such a successful career woman!
(Amy and Rita look at her, their faces going pale, but for different reasons.)
RITA: (dispirited) I guess with her around, it's even less likely I'll get any attention.
(Andrea eyes her thoughtfully.)
(cut to: )
SCENE 6 (Kristovo's house, later that day)
(Shot of the outside. Cut to shot of Kristovo's den where all of his FBI surveillance equipment is stored. His set-up has expanded to include several view screens, each hovering over a different part of the Hecubas' house in Lawndale. Kristovo sits in a swivel chair in the foreground, with Amy curled up in his lap. Both are eyeing the view screens.)
AMY: (whining mode) Between Helen and that Hecuba woman, I feel so inadequate -- like I'm Rita, or something. I mean what's wrong with me, Kristovo?? I thought removing myself from Big City corruption would make me a better person. Why doesn't anyone LOVE me??!
KRISTOVO: (sounding put out) For the last time, you're perfect.
AMY: (groaning) Oh what's the use?? Self-pity won't get me anywhere. I may hate Helen, but at least she's working in my best interest, the way a good sister should. (looks at the screens.) So have you found anything we can use as evidence?
(Cut to close-up of one view screen: a fuzzy black and white shot of two dark clothed agents sifting through garbage cans alongside the Hecuba house. Pan over to another view screen, showing more agents on the front porch, peering through the window, dusting the doors, checking under the Welcome mat. Pan over to another screen showing an agent climbing down the chimney, using a grappling hook. Pan over to yet another screen showing an agent picking up a cat and checking its underbelly for clues.)
KRISTOVO: (off screen VO) The cameras have been rolling for thirty-six hours straight, and our agents have combed every inch of the property and even some properties they weren't supposed to. But so far... nothing.
AMY: (off screen VO) Wait! Someone's coming.
(Pan over to the farthest screen, showing someone coming up the block, carrying a mysterious dark package. Cut to shot of Amy, who turns to Kristovo and nods decisively. Kristovo adjusts the microphone headset he's wearing.)
KRISTOVO: (into the microphone) Unidentifiable person headed your way at ten o' clock. (checks his watch.) I mean twelve-fifteen. Check him out... but try not to draw too much attention to yourselves.
(Cut to shot of the screen. Suddenly four agents jump on the stranger and pin him to the ground. One tears open the package, two others tear off his shirt and pants, while the fourth agent pats him down. Kristovo groans off screen. Cut to shot of him and Amy watching. Amy has leaned forward, her eyes nearly glued to the screen.)
KRISTOVO: (into the mike) Ease off of him, men. He looks innocent.
AMY: (wide-eyed) No! Make them do a full cavity search!
KRISTOVO: (looking at her with concern) Amy, he's a Fed-Ex employee.
AMY: You don't know that!
(Kristovo points to the screen. Cut to shot of the screen, where we see one agent holding up the shirt, revealing a prominent Fed-Ex label, while another leafs through what was in the package -- a Bible. Cut to shot of Amy, her shoulders slumping with concession.)
KRISTOVO: (drawing her closer to him) My sweet Amy, I don't think we're going to find anything.
AMY: (alarmed) We can't give up! That woman must have a dark side. She must!
KRISTOVO: (tipping her chin) Don't you think you could be overreacting? That you're feeling jealous and threatened by a woman who probably loves her daughter and just wants to visit her in her new home?
(Amy looks crushed by his implications, but then sobers up. Her eyes narrow as they lock with his.)
AMY: Kristovo, do you want to have sex with me tonight or don't you?
KRISTOVO: (meek) I'll keep looking.
(fade-out. fade-in to: )
SCENE 7 (late that evening)
(Shot of the outside of the Barksdale residence. Cut to shot of Amy slumped over on the couch, looking at photographs. Cut to close-up of the photos. In each one, Amy's standing there smiling radiantly, her arm around Andrea, who looks sulky and embarrassed. Cut to shot of Amy. She sighs with pleasure at the memories these pictures conjure up. Then her face grows melancholy. She's just laying aside the photo album when, off screen, we hear the click of the front door opening. Amy leaps up and rushes over, just as we see Andrea turn toward the stairs.)
AMY: (forced cheerfulness) Hi there, honey! Did you and your mother have a good time?
ANDREA: (eyeing her warily, shrugging) It was all right.
AMY: Where did you go??
ANDREA: Just to the Fisherman's Alley for some half-baked shrimp and even more half-baked music.
AMY: (stunned) Fisherman's Alley? But isn't that on your list of "banned" places?
ANDREA: Yeah... but Mom had a little chat with the owner, told him I'd be a better kid from now on, that I was going to watch my ways, blah, blah.
AMY: (with some triumph) She obviously doesn't know you as well as I do.
ANDREA: No. I will.
(Amy's face registers shock.)
AMY: Um, er, well, I could have done that, too, you know.
ANDREA: Then why didn't you?
AMY: (eyes narrowing) Don't talk back to me, young lady!
ANDREA: (rolling her eyes) I wasn't --
AMY: And don't roll your eyes, either! I suppose your real mother's too wonderful to ever get that kind of treatment.
ANDREA: (sheepish) Well she is cooler than I remembered. You can talk to her about stuff. And when she and Rita --
AMY: (angry, hurt) Then I'm just wasting my time trying to take you away from her!
ANDREA: Jesus, Amy --
AMY: Why don't you just go back to Lawndale and live with your mother in a nice, happy nuclear family if that's what you want!
ANDREA: (defiant) Hell, maybe I will. No one else here seems to want me around.
AMY: (desperate) Andrea, that's not true! We all love you!
(Suddenly she gets an uneasy expression on her face. Cut to shots of other areas of the house, serving to confirm her and Andrea's thoughts. Shot of Helen submerged in a bath, still gabbing away on her cell phone. Ruth walks in and pours a bucket of hot, sudsy water into the tub.)
HELEN: So Aaron, when we get together, what sorts of flowers and champagne do you plan to have ready for me? (Pauses to talk to her mother.) Mama, have your cleaned up my trophy room thoroughly?
RUTH: (a tad weary) Yes, Precious Pie. And Mama even applied an extra coat of polish to all of your trophies. Took me all day, but everything looks as good as new.
HELEN: I can't believe you let Amy keep that street rat in there. It's just like her to want to sully all of my great achievements. (A dark shadow falls over her face.) But just wait until I -- (to the phone, cheery.) No not you, Aaron!
(Cut to shot of Rita in her room, huddled on her bed, ear to a cordless phone. The automated Alcoholics Anonymous "sponsor" drones on the other end.)
VOICE: ("tough love") Now you pick yourself up by the bootstraps -- you pathetic excuse for a human being! You're letting your friends down, you're letting your family down, you're letting your community down, you're --
(Rita sniffles as she tries to take comfort in these words. Cut back to shot of Amy and Andrea.)
ANDREA: Helen hates me and of course your mom's gonna agree with her. Rita feels more neglected than ever... and it seems like the only reason you took me in was so you could convince yourself you weren't the world's biggest basket case. Well thanks but no thanks.
ANDREA: Aw c'mon, you know I'm just a big pain in your rear end. Now I can finally do you a favor and blow out of town.
AMY: But then you'll have to admit to your mother the real reason you ran away in the first place.
ANDREA: Nuts! You're right. Well... good luck with the custody case, then.
(She and Amy look at each other awkwardly for another moment, before Andrea finally heads upstairs. Amy wilts. Her face then crumbles and she buries it in her hands.)
PRESENT AMY: No amount of sarcasm could see me through this crisis. I was at the end of my rope! I felt as though the bottom had fallen out of my world and I was going to come tumbling -- hey! Wake UP!
(Cut to shot of her sitting on the park bench with the girl. She watches with irritation as the girl stirs from her nap.)
AMY: Dammit, you weren't listening!
GIRL: Sure I was. You're whining 'cause your bitchy adopted daughter who you're holding hostage from her real mom --
AMY: (indignant) If you want to get technical about it.
GIRL: -- doesn't want to live with you 'cause she secretly craves your approval and is tired of letting you down. (yawn.) Great story. A lot of laughs...
(She starts to get up, but Amy restrains her.)
AMY: Well it's not over! The really juicy stuff hasn't happened yet. Just stay right there and listen!
GIRL: (wary) So now you're holding me hostage?
END OF ACT TWO
SCENE 1 (Rutherford City Park)
(Cut to close-up of Amy sitting on the park bench, still gabbing away.)
AMY: (ominously) Finally our court date arrived...
(Fade-out. Fade-in to outside shot of the Rutherford County courthouse. Cut to shot of Amy sitting at the plantiff's table near the front of the room, fidgeting nervously while we hear Helen talking loudly off screen. We see Ruth sitting right behind her, enraptured by her favorite daughter's poise under pressure. Cut to shot of Helen pacing around in front of a husky, middle-aged judge, grilling witness, Mayor Danziger.)
HELEN: So you claim that Amy Barksdale is an irresponsible woman?
DANZIGER: (dignified manner) Well she did concoct a special dough that creates hallucinogenic affects when you digest it. "Happy dough," she called it. It sparked a riot at the county-wide bakeoff, which spread throughout the town, and that was before her former boyfriend the mobster showed up. Plus it gave people terrible hang-overs that made them very cranky.
(Cut to shot of Amy. She leaps up, revealing a skirt to the viewer that leaves little to the imagination.)
AMY: (outraged) I object! It wasn't a hallucinogen, it was a stimulant!
(Cut to shot of Helen and Danziger. Helen frowns a dark "I will handle this" and waves at Amy to sit. She faces Danziger with a superior expression.)
HELEN: Mr. Danziger... there never was a happy dough, was there?
DANZIGER: (confused) Well... of course there was. She just admitted it. And it was all over the papers and the evening news --
HELEN: (leaning closer, harder tone) I said there never was a happy dough, was there??
DANZIGER: Yes there was.
HELEN: (eyes narrowing) No there wasn't.
DANZIGER: I assure you, there was!
JUDGE: Actually, I remember it quite clearly as well --
HELEN: (leaning closer) There never was a happy dough. It was all just a figment of your imagination, wasn't it?? Just a little something to brighten up your dull life and make you feel all warm and fuzzy. Well let me tell you, Mr. Danziger, that life is not about feeling warm and fuzzy, and if you think I'm being out of order by saying so then you're out of order. This whole lousy SYSTEM is out of order! And I, too, have come to superficial realizations by hugging complete strangers on mountaintops, but when you tell yourself over and over again that you really, really ARE okay after all, it's going to come as a shock when someone ELSE doesn't agree with you! And if it doesn't fit, you must acquit -- isn't that right, Mr. Danziger?!
(Pause. We see Danziger cower and start to tremble.)
DANZIGER: Nothing you just said made any sense... but I admit it! There never was a happy dough! Amy Barksdale is a socially responsible woman! Now please (bursts into tears.) leave me alone.
JUDGE: (looking confused) Erm, I guess I was wrong, too, then.
(Helen turns to the audience in the courthouse to await their reaction. We see several regulars among them: Principal Tingle, Ryan, Andrea's would-be suitor, other teachers and prominent business people, etc. They all start clapping. Helen pretends to act surprised, then takes a bow. Cut to shot of Amy and Ruth.)
RUTH: Why I think she just used that Johnny Cochran defense I've been hearing so much about. The way she's mowing them over, she'll hand you a victory in no time.
AMY: (with grudging admiration) Yeah.
RUTH: To bad Rita had to leave and stop by the drugstore to pick up some antacids.
AMY: (fuming) On my big day, too. Some family she is.
(Helen walks over, her eyes shooting knives at Amy.)
HELEN: Dammit, I TOLD you to stay quiet while I was grilling the witnesses. And to wear a longer skirt!
AMY: (leaping up with indignation) What do you mean?? All the female lawyers on television wear skirts this short! I thought it would make me look successful!
HELEN: Yes well I'M the only female lawyer in this courtroom, so if anyone's going to wear skirts made for people half her age, it's going to be me!
(Suddenly Amy's tongue shoots out of her mouth, stretches outward, and wraps around Helen's throat. As Helen struggles to free herself, the tongue noose grows tighter and tighter. Helen starts to turn blue...)
JUDGE: (off screen) Ms. Barksdale, your attorney is correct.
(Poof! The image of Amy strangling Helen shatters, and is replaced by one of Amy just standing there, glaring at her. Cut to shot of the judge pounding on his gavel, looking stern.)
JUDGE: One more unprovoked leap upward, revealing your ripe, curvaceous body, and you'll be escorted out of here!
(Amy glares at him defiantly, and her normal-sized tongue starts to flicker out, but she catches herself in time and sinks back down in her seat. But before she's seated completely, she spies Andrea sitting in the back of the courtroom, near the door and under, ironically, one of those "Banned From the Premises" posters. Cue the melancholy music. Cut to close-up of Andrea's face, reluctant and uneasy and looking like she doesn't want to be here. Cut to close-up of Amy's face, special focus on her moistening eyes and trembling lips. They look at each other, neither speaking. Then: )
JUDGE: (offscreen) Well since Matilda Hecuba has refused to appoint an attorney, or to cross-examine, I will call in her final witness: Margaret "Rita" Barksdale.
(Cut to wide shot. Amy gets a beyond shocked look on her face, as does Ruth. Helen manages to stay composed. We see Rita walking up the sidelines of the courtroom, her eyes lowered, looking ashamed, but determined. She takes the witness oath, sits on the stand.)
MRS. HECUBA: (to Amy, sounding genuinely concerned) I hope this doesn't harm your relationship in any way.
(Amy shoots an enraged expression at her, then turns to face Rita on the stand. Cut to close-up of Rita speaking slowly, sound muted, as the present Amy speaks over her.)
PRESENT AMY: Rita, my own sister was working against me! She proceeded to launch into every thing I've done wrong since I came back to Rutherford. My late nights of sex... the risks my job as an FBI agent posed... the way I left water puddles on the bathroom floor after I finished showering! But the worst of it came when...
(Zoom out to show Helen interrogating Rita, her face pinched with impatience. Clearly her intimidation tactics haven't had any effect on her sister.)
HELEN: You say Amy has a substance abuse problem??
(A gasp from the the audience is heard off screen.)
RITA: (nods her head meekly) She attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting with me a short while ago. (to the audience.) I, too, am a member of A.A., but I would never take care of a child when I wasn't sure I could take care of myself.
AMY: (pounding the table) OBJECTION!
HELEN: I'm the one who says objection. And I object! (to Rita) Just where is your evidence??
(Rita reaches down and hands Helen a video tape. Brief close-up shows: "Alco-Corp Security Cam. Footage" written on a strip of tape across the top. A deputy wheels over a television and VCR, and pops the tape in. Amy and Ruth watch with their mouths agape as image after distorted image of Amy appears on screen, waiting in the Alcoholics Anonymous line. Helen appears floored as Rita continues to speak submissively.)
RITA: I mean what if Amy broke down and had a few beers one evening, and was too drunk to drive Andrea home from one of her Goth raves? Or what if Andrea came home and found her mother a drunken wreck?? Think of what kind of effect that could have on her.
(A somber air falls over the audience. Cut to shot of Andrea, looking impassive. Cut to shot of Amy. She bolts upright.)
AMY: OBJECTION!!! (to Helen) Dammit, say something!
(Helen just stands there, looking hamstrung. The judge pounds his gavel furiously.)
JUDGE: I warned you! Flash that round, firm tush one more time, and you'll be dismissed from this courtroom! (takes a deep breath to cool himself off.)
(cut to: )
SCENE 2 (outside the courtroom, recess)
(Shot of Rita walking outside into the hallway, gazing about timidly. Once she sees the coast is clear, she starts to walk with a little more confidence. Suddenly Amy leaps out of nowhere and grabs her by the collar. Before Rita can make a sound, Amy has forced her against the wall and is gazing at her menacingly.)
AMY: You LIAR! LIAR! LIAR! LIAR!!!! (with each utterance, she slams Rita against the wall.) You knew I wasn't a substance abuser and yet you made them believe -- h-how could you??! (more slamming.)
RUTH: (rushing on screen to break them up) Amy -- don't! You'll kill her!
(Amy releases Rita, who slides to the ground, looking dazed. The moment she's down, Ruth starts getting on her case.)
RUTH: (angry) Rita, how dare you go against your own flesh and blood this way! Don't you realize how important this case is to Helen??
RUTH: I mean Amy. Amy.
RITA: (defiant) Why should I look out for my own flesh and blood when she won't do the same for me?? (gazes at Amy.) Has she given me any support with my substance abuse problems? Nooooo... for that I had to appeal to a perfect stranger.
AMY: (surprised) You mean Mrs. Hecuba?
RITA: (sarcastic) No, the mailman... as well. But Matilda saw right away what was wrong, and she took me to a church picnic this past weekend. There, I received warmth and caring from real people, not machines. The warmth I was supposed to be getting from my family -- but you've been so busy fighting for custody of Andrea, I've barely even registered on your radar!
RUTH: (sighing) Oh Rita, why must you say such things?
RITA: (bitter) Out loud? (Bt) Matilda's such a sweet woman, it just felt wrong to me that anyone but she could be Andrea's mother. So I followed my conscience.
AMY: Your conscience? (Pause. Then Amy's face becomes enraged again.) A pox on your conscience! (She reaches down and pulls Rita up by the blouse, then starts shaking her.) What about my feelings?? What about my needs?! My --
RUTH: (firm) Amy, let go. (Reluctuantly, Amy lets Rita slide back down to the ground.) Now look, sweetheart -- (Her voice takes on a gentler tone as she lays a hand on her middle daughter's shoulder.) -- I know I shouldn't be saying this, but... could it be you're letting your anger and fear get in the way of what's best for Andrea? (Amy frowns -- this sounds familiar.) Perhaps her place really is with her biological mother. Think of what a genuine show of maturity you'd be making if you allowed Andrea to be with her.
(She pulls away from her mother and tears off down the hallway. We see her pass Andrea, who looks as though she's been observing this entire exchange. Andrea, again, gets a thoughtful look on her face. She then turns and walks back into the courtroom.)
(Cut to shot of Amy running wildly down the stairs of the courthouse, blind with grief. She streaks across a busy street, nearly causing two cars to collide into one another. Cut to shot of the park across the street. Amy runs right through a picnic spread without seeing it, inviting a lot of shots of protest. She runs through a bucolic scene of children feeding ducks, upsetting the ducks and turning them against the children. Finally Amy finds a park bench, which she collapses on tearfully. Fade-out.)
(Fade-in to close-up of the present Amy, who's been sitting on the park bench this entire time, telling her story. Tears run down her face.)
AMY: Andrea's the best thing that h-happened to me since I came here. Sh-she gives my life m-meaning, and I thought I was helping her, too. (heaves a sob.) But if her mother can give her everything she needs, then what does she need me for?? Now she'll go back to Lawndale, and her life will be fine, but mine will be so... so empty.
(She turns to face the girl, hoping for a hug. Pan over to show a cocker spaniel sitting in place of where the girl had sat. Once Amy realizes that she has been abandoned, the tears start flowing harder.)
AMY: (wailing) Ohhhhh... I can't hold onto anything!!!
RITA: (offscreen) Amy?
(Amy lifts her head out of her hands, puffy-eyed and teary. Rita comes over timidly, sits at the far end of the bench.)
RITA: I'm so sorry. What I did was awful, you were right. I was just so mad at you.
AMY: (exasperated) I was going to help you through your alcoholism, you know -- however many weeks or months after this custody battle ended. You just had to be patient.
RITA: You were?
AMY: Yes. But you expected me to push everything aside just so we could focus on your problem. I couldn't do that.
RITA: Well actually, I was just hoping for some encouragement. The occasional "It's okay, Rita." "We love and accept you for who you are" kind of thing.
AMY: You see?? That's just too much pressure!
RITA: (with realization) Omigod, you're right! (regretful.)   I'm sorry for being so selfish, Amy: I'll never act like my problems are of equal importance to yours ever again.
AMY: (face softening) Aw well: you live and you learn. (She leans forward and hugs Rita.)
RITA: I should have never listened to Helen. But, you know, she was acting like the only family member who cared about me and --
AMY: (pulling back) What do you mean "listened to Helen"?
RITA: Well when I came home from the church picnic, she asked me if I liked Mrs. Hecuba. I told her about how she wanted to help me fight my addiction, and how my conscience was bothering me with this custody case. Helen told me I should follow my conscience --
AMY: It was Helen's idea for you to take the witness stand against me?? (Rita nods.) I'm going to have a talk with her.
(She leaves Rita on the bench and streaks away.)
(cut to: )
SCENE 3 (a unisex bathroom in the courthouse)
(Shot of Amy bursting inside, looking around frantically for signs of her hated eldest sibling.)
AMY: HELEN! I know you're in here! I've checked every inch of this courthouse, and this is the last place to look! (She goes over to a closed bathroom stall and starts beating on it.) Dammit, open up!!
(She beats open the door, revealing the judge standing over the toilet bowl, zipping up his pants.)
AMY: (giggling nervously) Heh heh, so I guess judges do wear something under their robes. (The judge glares at Amy, then quickly forgets his anger once he notes how long her legs are in her short skirt. As soon as he's moved past her, out the door, Amy goes over to the next closed stall and beats on it.) Dammit, Helen! You turned Rita against me on purpose! You wanted me to lose custody of Andrea, didn't you?! What did I ever do to deserve this??
(The door flies open and Helen walks out, cool as a cucumber, a smug look on her face.)
HELEN: (chilly tone) You mean you really don't know?
AMY: (sniffling) It's bad enough that I've always had to live in your shadow! Always being told how wonderful you are and how pathetic I am! But now you try to take away the one important thing in my life... (eyes narrowing.) You were jealous of my growing success as an F.B.I. agent, weren't you?? You were afraid I'd out-do you!
HELEN: (smirking wickedly) Oh please. Why would I be jealous of someone stuck in a job that puts her in physical danger every night and always has her at another's beck and call? (Amy gets a wounded look on her face.) No. Mine was a mission of revenge.
AMY: For what??
HELEN: (face darkening) For Daria.
(Cut to shot of Andrea and her mom walking up a grassy hill in the park.)
MRS. HECUBA: So what did you want to talk to me about, sweetheart?
ANDREA: (lowering her eyes) Mom, it's been really cool seeing you. Even cooler than, like, when I lived with you.
MRS. HECUBA: I've enjoyed being with you, too. You've grown so much since I last saw you, inside and out.
ANDREA: (shrugging) Well running away and babysitting a house full of wackos will do that to a person. Which is why I wanted to ask... would you be really upset if I said I wanted to stay with the Barksdales? (Mrs. Hecuba doesn't respond, but her benevolent expression remains unchanged.) I mean, in spite of what I just said and what you saw in court, Amy's actually pretty responsible.
MRS. HECUBA: Oh?
ANDREA: I've never seen her drunk... other than on happy dough. Which wasn't really her fault. (Bt) Trust me, she couldn't hurt a fly.
(Cut to shot of Amy and Helen standing a short distance apart in the bathroom. Ominous music plays as they speak.)
AMY: (stunned) I've never tried to hurt Daria. Haven't you been listening all those times I called her my "favorite niece"?
HELEN: (eyes narrowing) You did the very worst thing you could possibly do to Daria. (Bt) You made her cynical.
AMY: Oh, she'd have turned out that way, anyway.   Maybe.
HELEN: (vicious glare, walking closer) You deliberately undermined my control over her. Where I told her to accept the status quo, you made her question everything and ask for change. When I tried to teach her that nothing is more important than being Number One, you gave her philosophy books that questioned the value of success! She has high moral and ethical standards now, and it's all because of YOU!!
AMY: Oh yeah. (smirking proudly.)   Nothing but the best for Mom's favorite daughter's darling offspring.
HELEN: (ominous) I'll make you eat those words.
(Cut to shot of Andrea and Mrs. Hecuba.)
ANDREA: And I think Amy needs me. I'm practically the only thing that keeps her from blowing her bank account on years of therapy. (Bt. shy) And it's kind of cool to feel needed, you know what I mean?
MRS. HECUBA: (smiling, nodding) Yes.
(Cut to shot of Amy and Helen in the unisex bathroom.)
AMY: Well there's nothing you can do about it now. Daria is her own person, with her own thoughts and feelings. (angry.) You're not going to be able to reclaim her just by wrecking my relationship with Andrea!
HELEN: Oh? (smug, wicked smirk.) I intend to do both, actually. Daria's de-cynicizing has already begun.
HELEN: Ohh yes. Little by little, I'm pulling her off of the path she's chosen, and putting her on one that will lead to social success. First there was the story she wrote for English class about wanting to have a happy family. (Amy swallows, tries to contain her horror.) Then there were the contact lenses she wanted to try --
AMY: Oh my God! When she asked me for my opinion on them, I never thought --!
HELEN: That it was all part of my great scheme? (wicked chuckle.) Of course not. Then there was the economics project, where Daria shed her uncompromising values and actually apologized for calling her partner a hypocrite. But the final stroke came when I presented her with a boyfriend: one Tom Sloan. A boy so mainstream even the band "Hanson" looks cynical by comparison. (Bt) Oh, and I rigged it so the Buffalo Bills will never win a Superbowl, but that's another story entirely.
AMY: I can't believe you! And I thought Andrea's mother was the monster!
HELEN: Daria will return to the conformist fold. (poisonous look.)   My reputation for being a perfect working wife and mother will not be undermined.
AMY: It will if I have anything to say about it!
(She reaches back and slaps Helen hard across the face, causing her to practically fall over. Helen straightens up and slaps Amy across the face with equal force. Once Amy recovers, they both let out primal screams and lunge at each other.)
(Cut to shot of Andrea and her mother. Mrs. Hecuba puts her arm around Andrea.)
ANDREA: Maybe someday I'll come back to Lawndale, but for now, my place is here.
MRS. HECUBA: I understand, sweetheart. All except for one thing: why did you run away from home in the first place?
ANDREA: Well I claimed it was because I threatened Ms. Lee. (Mrs. Hecuba nods.) But the real reason... I've been afraid to tell you...
(Andrea's face becomes a shade paler as she turns to face her mother. She gazes down at the ground, twisting her hands with uncertainty. Finally she takes a deep breath and looks her mom straight in the eye.)
ANDREA: (reluctant) It was the hardest decision in my life, but I've embraced Satan as my Saviour. I really feel he's the one who can give me the guidance I need.
MRS. HECUBA: Oh.
ANDREA: I was afraid of how you'd react to the whole rejecting-God thing, so I took off. (pleading.) Please, Mom, don't get upset. The Barksdales are comfortable with my turn to the Dark Side. And... I hope you will be, too.
(Mrs. Hecuba looks at her for a minute, then embraces her.)
MRS. HECUBA: Oh honey, of course! And if the Barksdales accept you for who you are, then they must be wonderful people.
(Cut to shot of Helen stalking around the bathroom, inspecting the floor of each stall. Amy is nowhere in sight.)
HELEN: (cautious, ominous) Amy? Where are you, Little Sister? Let's kiss and make up.
(She opens the door of the last stall, revealing it to be empty. As she does so, we see Amy creep over the top of the stall farthest from her. When Helen's back is completely turned, Amy leaps down on top of her.)
(So strong is Helen that Amy's leap doesn't even send her to the ground. Instead, she plows into the wall, trying to knock Amy off. But Amy wraps her arms around Helen's face and doesn't let go. Helen blindly crashes into a second wall, jarring Amy a little. As Helen plows into the wall again, Amy loses grip on her face and reaches for her hair out of desperation. Finally she falls off onto the ground, taking the hair with her. Helen's triumph is soon overcome by shock as her hand brushes against her bald head. Amy gazes at what is now revealed to be her wig. Brief close-up of a clothing tag on the inside.)
AMY: Latex. I knew it! No wonder not even a sonic blast could muss your hair!
HELEN: (annoyed) Oh like you wouldn't know anything about synthetic body parts! (Bt) I had my real hair laser-removed years ago. It just took too much damn time to take care of!
AMY: If you ask me, the baldness is an improvement.
(Helen looks enraged, and tries to stomp on Amy, who rolls out of the way and hops upright.)
AMY: Sarcasm: it's a great way to deal. (to the camera.)   You didn't actually think I'd go an episode without saying that, did you?
(cut to: )
SCENE 4 (Kristovo's place)
(Shot of the outside. Cut to shot of his den, where Kristovo sits, looking as though he hasn't moved since Amy last saw him [or at least since they had sex that night]. A faint beard covers his face, and his eyes are bloodshot and hovering over dark shadows. Several empty food containers lay on top of open files. At the moment, Kristovo is at the computer, looking up details on Mrs. Hecuba over the Internet. Suddenly his face registers shock.)
KRISTOVO: (low voice) Oh my God... we've got her!
(cut to: )
SCENE 5 (the unisex bathroom)
(Shot of the courthouse. Cut to shot of Amy delivering a karate kick to Helen's hip, which Helen manages to deflect. Amy groans with frustration, then does a somersault in the air and lands behind Helen. Puts her arms around her neck and holds on tight.)
AMY: (through gritted teeth) After this case, I'm going to tell Daria the truth about you! Then I'll go after your precious Quinn!
HELEN: (choked) No-o-o-o! (coughs.)
AMY: But first, I have to ask... why did you even pretend to try to win my case? You could have just flubbed it right from the get-go, without even using Rita!
HELEN: (slightly choked) But turning sister... against sister just... made it more fun. Besides... (cough.) I have a reputation... as a successful lawyer (cough.) to uphold!
(Amy squeezes harder. Just then, a deputy enters the bathroom, observes the activity.)
DEPUTY: (blandly) Court recess is over. Court is back in session.
(He leaves. Amy releases Helen, who slides to the ground in a crumpled heap. After making sure she's just passed out, Amy leaves her there.)
(cut to: )
SCENE 6 (courtroom)
(Wide shot of everyone taking their seats. We see Amy sitting in hers, looking nervous. Just then, Mrs. Hecuba walks back into the room, toward her seat. Cut to close-up of Amy, a melancholy expression on her face.)
AMY: (echoing thought VO) (Kristovo) "A woman who probably loves her daughter"... (Rita) "It just felt wrong to me that anyone but she could be Andrea's mother"... (Ruth) "Think of what a genuine show of maturity you'd be making"... (Amy) "And I thought Andrea's mother was the monster!" (The thoughts repeat themselves over and over, until Amy grabs her head with frustration.)
MRS. HECUBA: (noticing, coming over) Is there a problem, dear?
AMY: No. (Bt) Yes. (voice takes on a shy tone.) Mrs. Hecuba, by all accounts, you seem like a very sweet, sincere woman. Maybe (lips trembles slightly.) it really... would be in Andrea's best interest if --
KRISTOVO: (off screen) Stop everything!!
MRS. HECUBA: If what, dear?
AMY: Never mind. (sighs with relief as Kristovo charges up to her.)
JUDGE: (stern) Young man, we haven't even started yet!
KRISTOVO: (flashes his badge) I'm special agent Kristovo Martinez, and I insist that you not award custody to this woman! (points to Mrs. Hecuba.)
JUDGE: Sir, all of the witnesses have been called to the stand. It wouldn't be prudent for me as a judge... aw hell. We're all dying of curiosity -- why not??
KRISTOVO: (solemn) Because she's committed a terrible crime. (more solemn.) Her church missionary society is listed as a tax exempt religious institution. Yet it's been distributing pamphlets urging people in the community to vote for politicians who support its views. (long Pause) Um, that's a bad thing, folks.
JUDGE: (bristling) You mean instead of being neutral, they're using my tax dollars to campaign for some nut whose views I might not agree with?! (to Mrs. Hecuba) You sick, twisted woman!
(A gasp is heard from the audience. Mrs. Hecuba blushes and bows her head meekly.)
MRS. HECUBA: It's true. We just wanted to do our part to encourage young people to vote. I guess it just went too far...
JUDGE: Well even though this should be dealt with in a separate criminal trial, I'm passing judgment against you right now! You're going away for ten to twenty, sister -- which means by default, Amy Barksdale wins custody of Andrea Hecuba. (pounds on the gavel.) Case dismissed!
(Throughout the room, people stand up and cheer. Amy looks stunned and happy beyond belief. She leans back and hugs Ruth, then Rita, then turns around and locks lips with Kristovo.)
(fade-out. fade-in to: )
SCENE 7 (courthouse parking lot, a short time later)
(Shot of Amy and Andrea standing with Mrs. Hecuba.)
MRS. HECUBA: (kindly, remorseful) I hope this doesn't lower your opinion of me in any way.
AMY: Oh, that could never happen. (puts a gentle hand on Mrs. Hecuba's shoulder.) Come over and visit us any time you're free.
MRS. HECUBA: (smiling) All right.
VOICE: (off screen, gruff) Let's go, lady.
(Cut to wide shot. We see that Mrs. Hecuba has been in handcuffs this entire time, and is now being led by a cop into the back of a police car. Andrea reaches over and gives her one last hug.)
ANDREA: Bye, Mom! I'll visit you often! (wistful) Man, jail's gonna be so cool.
(She and Amy wave and wave until the police car drives out of sight. Just then, Ruth and Rita walk up to them.)
RUTH: I'm sorry I ever doubted you, sweetheart. You knew all along that selfishness and stubbornly sticking to your guns against all reason was the right thing to do.
AMY: (cheerful, leaning over to hug her a little) From now on, you've just gotta have faith.
RUTH: (glancing off screen, scathing) And as for you -- (Pan over to show Helen approaching them, looking groggy from having spent so much time passed out, her wig on crooked.) -- I want you out of my sight the instant we get home! I'm ashamed that I gave birth to you!
(Helen's face goes pale with shock at her "Mama"'s harsh tone. Her eyes roll upward and she faints again. Rita catches her before she falls and lays her on the ground.)
AMY: (stunned) Wow Mom, your favorite daughter. So you know that Helen was the one who turned Rita against me and that we had big struggle over it in the bathroom??
RUTH: (surprised) Why, no. (Bt) A sudden change of heart just seemed appropriate for this situation. I'm not sure why.
(All four women laugh, and Ruth and Andrea share smirks.)
RITA: (to Ruth, hopeful) Does that mean I'm your favorite, now?
AMY: Well I know who's my favorite. (faces Andrea with a wide smile that instantly embarrasses her.) Remember when you said you were a big pain in my ass? Well it's true -- but you're my big pain in the ass. I don't care how much of a trouble-maker you are -- as long as I can attempt to change you time and time again. A mother doesn't have to be one of flesh and blood, Andrea.
ANDREA: Well from the way ol' Grandma Ruth blew off Helen, I guess not. (She shrugs, then submits to a hug from Amy, while Ruth and Rita dispense the "Awwww"s. Finally she pulls away.) Just don't make a habit of your public displays of affection. (Bt) Mom.
(cut to: )
SCENE 8 (Barksdale residence, late next morning)
(Shot of the outside, where a cab waits out front. Cut to shot of Ruth and Rita in the kitchen. Rita's ear is to the phone to one of Mrs. Hecuba's church friends, while Ruth sits at the table, flipping through a catalogue.)
RITA: (sympathetic) ... Oh, I'm sorry you have to go to prison, too! You were all so nice to me at the picnic. (Pause. face brightens.) Yes! I'd be happy to take charge of your sobriety program while you're gone.
RUTH: (murmuring) So would Andrea prefer an oak wood frame for her bed, or pine?
RITA: (briefly overhearing) Probably any frame with a lot of sharp spikes.
RUTH: (searching for one) Hmmmm... (Then, realizing the violent possibilities with such a bed frame, her face darkens.) Hmph. I wonder how Amy and Andrea are doing with the clean-up?
(Cut to shot of Helen bursting out the front door, lugging two heavy suitcases, her hair piece crooked once more. The expression on her face, as she heads toward the cab, is absolutely poisonous.)
HELEN: (muttering) I can't wait to get the hell out of here!
(Just then a strange, foreign object falls on her head, knocking her hair even more askew. Helen lets out a cry of pain, then gazes at the culprit on the grass: one of her shining gold trophies. Stunned, she looks up. Cut to her POV: another trophy comes whizzing toward her, too quickly for her to get out of the way. It strikes Helen, causing her to veer backward and just miss getting hit by yet another trophy. Cut to shot of Amy and Andrea in the window of what is now Andrea's room, tossing trophies out into the front yard with abandon.)
ANDREA: This oughta get the place cleaned out in no time! (sings.)   "Ding-dong, the witch is dead!"
AMY: (singing) "Which old witch??"
AMY & ANDREA: "The wicked witch!"
(The "Abruptly Amy" theme song starts playing. We see Helen from their POV in the front yard. She glares menacingly at them, then hightails it over to the cab. Amy and Andrea high-five each other in triumph.)