Disclaimer: Daria and associated characters are owned by MTV. This is fan fiction written for entertainment only. No money or other negotiable currency or goods have been exchanged.
Original characters and plot copyright Richard J. Lobinske. 2005.

This is the Thirty-eighth story in the Falling into College series.

Richard Lobinske

Lane Closure

Lindy Weaver sat on the sofa and balanced a telephone on her shoulder as she looked at a large catalog held in her lap. "Oh my God, Mom. You've got to be kidding...Thirty-seven-B?...Yeah, I'm looking at it...There is no way...Why don't we keep looking? I know you've got at least a dozen other catalogs to go through...Good...Okay, yeah, I've got it, gimme a sec."

The blonde girl pulled a second book into her lap and flipped through it until she found her destination. "Okay, I found the page...Item nine-twenty-six...The set looks nice, but I'm planning on only three attendants...Same with Trent...Yes Mom, they're all in the band...Because they're his closest friends...They claim that they all got in tuxedos for Nick's wedding...No, I haven't seen the pictures; Nick burned them when he got divorced..."

Lindy moved the phone away from her ear for a few seconds to let her mother's rant pass. When it had, she said, "Forget about the guys for now; we're working on my Maid of Honor and bridesmaids...Please don't start that again...Because Quinn isn't going to be here much to help, she volunteered to find the dresses...She has a great eye for clothes..."

Hearing something, Lindy pulled the curtain aside and looked through the window. "Mom, the mail's here. I'll talk to you later...Okay, bye."

She broke the connection and sighed with relief. "Saved." She looked upward. "I know I'm doing a good thing by keeping her involved, but...why am I regretting it so much? Oh, well. Maybe there's some interesting junk mail today."

"Aw, crap!" Lindy yelled when she pulled a large mortgage company envelope from the mail stack. "What the hell happened? They said that they were okay with photocopies of the payment coupons and I know I didn't miss any payments for Amanda. Hell, I've doubled or tripled most of them." She opened the envelope and found a letter.

Mr. Vincent and Mrs. Amanda Lane,

Congratulations on fulfilling your payment obligations for account number 73-443. Enclosed please find a Satisfaction of Lien statement, clear deed, and all other relevant documents for ownership of real property at 111 Howard Drive, Lawndale, MD.

Thank you very much for your business and we hope you will remember us in the future.

Lindy jumped with excitement and ran down to the pottery bunker. "Amanda! Amanda!"

Lindy's future mother-in-law continued concentrating on a delicately formed pot on her wheel. "Just a moment." Once she got exactly the shape she was after, Amanda looked up. "Hi, Lindy."

Lindy waved the papers in front of her. "Your mortgage is paid off! This place is yours, free and clear."

"Oh, that's nice."

"It's great!"

Amanda cocked her head and looked thoughtful for second. "Isn't this early? I seem to remember the nice man at the bank saying two-thousand, three."

"I hope you don't mind, but I've been paying extra for you."

"That's okay, dear." With one of her soft smiles, Amanda looked around the converted fallout shelter. "It's hard to believe I've been here for almost thirty-five years."

"Thirty-five? Oh, you must've been renting this place before you bought it."

Amanda giggled. "Oh, none of us paid rent; we just pitched in to help when needed."

"You mean, like an old commune?"

"Oh yeah, the Free Lawndale Commune. That's what we called it."

Lindy also smiled and looked around. "Explains a few things."

"That's when we first moved my pottery down here."

"Makes sense. I figure a bunch of hippies wouldn't put in a fallout shelter. Must've been here from the fifties."

"Winston's father put it in," Amanda said as she washed clay from her hands in the small sink.


"He was kinda the leader of Free Lawndale."


Amanda finished drying her hands and headed out with Lindy following.

When they went into the kitchen, Lindy asked, "If you don't mind, how did you end up in a commune?"

"I was looking for a kiln."

Dressed in loose slacks and a nice blouse, eighteen-year old Amanda crossed her arms in anger and frustration as she glared at her father. "I'm wearing pants because they're comfortable. I don't have to wear a skirt."

Still in his Building Maintenance uniform, Pete Lodzyck glared equally hard at his daughter. "Pants are not appropriate attire for a young lady to wear in the State Department offices."

"Daddy, I told you. I'm not taking that secretary job. I don't like what they're doing in Vietnam and I won't work to support it."

"Young lady, now that you're out of high school, you need to learn a little responsibility. I pulled a lot of strings to get you that job!"

"And you didn't bother to ask if I wanted it."

"Darling." A medium-build woman with brown hair, Renee Lodzyck said, "A secretary is a fine way to meet nice young men. Once you marry one, you can stay home and make pottery as much as you want."

"So, is that what you want to do?" Pete leaned forward. "Make pottery?"

Forcing herself not to back away, Amanda replied, "As a matter of fact, yes."

Pete shot back, "Do you really think you can make a living at that?"

"I want to at least try."

"Then you better get to work." Pete started to walk away and said over his shoulder, "If you're not taking the job I got you, I'm expecting rent the first of July."

Amanda stretched out on her bed and stared at the hand-painted posters on the wall. She focused on one she'd made at the start of her junior year after seeing the Beatles perform on television. "Well, John, got any suggestions?"

After several moments of silence, she said, "I didn't think so, but at least you make a good listener."

"I have a good foot treadle-powered throwing wheel and know where to buy clay and glazes. I can start making things here and sell them locally. One problem: I need a kiln." She went to the window and looked out into the suburban Maryland sky. "Forget new, I hope I can find a good used one. Hey, maybe there are some ads in the art magazines."

She pushed a lock of amber-blond hair away and started looking through magazines and a couple of underground newspapers. "Hopefully what I've got in savings will cover it."

Over an hour later, she said, "Lawndale? Where the hell is Lawndale?"

"I made some tea for us while we wait for Vincent to get done developing his latest pictures," Lindy said as she placed a mug for each of them on the kitchen table. "You show up looking for a kiln, and end up spending your life here. Talk about a little thing that makes a difference in your life."

Amanda spooned honey from a jar into her mug. "Sometimes, things happen just when we need them."

"Yeah, they do." Lindy thought of how she met Trent as she sipped her tea. "They really do."

Amanda watched the younger woman and tasted hers. "I rode a train here and hoped I could ship it home. Ended up not needing to."

"So the kiln was here? In the house?"

"Oh, no. The college was selling it."

Amanda followed the small map the lady at the main office had drawn. She knocked on the door of the art studio and slowly opened it. Beyond, a bearded man with long hair was talking with a middle-aged woman. She looked up and waved Amanda over.

Amanda pulled the clipped newspaper ad from her pocket and held it out. "Hi. I'm hoping to buy the kiln you have for sale."

The lady shook her head. "I'm sorry; I just sold it to this man."

Amanda's shoulders followed her heart in sinking. "Please, do you have any more for sale?"

"No, we don't."

The bearded man said, "Hey, know how to use one?"

Amanda nodded. "Yes."

"Groovy. Could you show us?"

"Who are 'us?'"

"Free Lawndale. Oh, yeah. Hey, I'm Winston, most call me Bear. We're trying to live a natural and free life."

"What do you need a kiln for?"

"Makin' our own cups and plates and stuff, so we don't have to buy 'em."

Amanda thought, maybe I can sell them some lessons. and said," Tell you what, buy me some lunch and I'll show you how it works."

"I'm good with that."

When he walked into the room, Lindy waved Vincent over and gave him the letter. "The house is paid off."

"Really? After all this time," Vincent said as he sat down.

After drinking some more tea, Amanda patted his hand. "I was just telling Lindy about when I moved here."

Vincent looked at Lindy. "Did she tell you that the kiln down there is the very one she came here to buy?"

Lindy was surprised. "You're kidding."

Vincent shrugged. "Well, we've replaced the heating elements once, the thermostat three times, and rewired it twice. But otherwise, it's the same one. Amanda's attached to it as much as she was the day I met her."

At twenty-one, Vincent Lane had seen a lot in the three years since he'd become a stringer photographer for several newspapers. With curious amusement, he studied the large wood-framed house near the end of the street. The front yard was roughly cut and the back was planted with vegetables. Several older vehicles were parked on or around the driveway. A small sign out front said, "Free Lawndale Community. All welcome."

Vincent went to the door and knocked. A young woman in a blouse and skirt featuring an exotic print fabric opened it. "Hi."

"Good morning. I'm Vincent Lane, with Mid-Atlantic News. I'm here to take some photos of your community."

"Sounds cool. Hey, I'm Rose." The woman turned and yelled "Hey Bear! The picture guy's here!"

While waiting, Vincent could see the living room of the house featured a lot of hand-made decorations. The furniture was used and mismatched, but the posters and wall hangings were colorful and imaginative. A term that could also describe several of the individuals moving through the house.

After a tour of the house and garden, Bear directed Vincent to a door set in the ground of the back yard. "It's taking time, but we are becoming more and more self-sufficient. Down here is one of our newest residents."

They went down the steep stairs to a small underground room. The shelves designed to hold canned food were filled with a wild assortment of ceramic creations. In the center of the room, Amanda, clad in shorts and an undersized shirt, sat on a stool shaping something on her pottery wheel. Vincent stopped and raised his camera to record the graceful vision before him.

"Need to wait until she stops, man. When she's makin' something, the rest of the world don't exist," Winston explained as Vincent continued to take photos.

Amanda completed turning up the lip of the plate on the wheel and looked up. "Hey Winston, who's our guest?"

"Vincent, he's a newspaper photographer."

"How do you like our place?"

Vincent clicked the camera shutter to capture her warm smile. "I'm starting to like it a lot."

Standing in front of his closet, Vincent opened the old portfolio and removed a stack of matted photographs. "Here they are."

Lindy took the photos and sat down on the bed in Amanda and Vincent's room to look at them. The black and white images of a teenaged Amanda at her old potter's wheel seemed to capture the spirit of the early counterculture movement. Lindy felt like she was touching history instead of looking at it.

She whispered, "These are wonderful."

"I was such a skinny girl back then." Amanda leaned over Lindy's shoulder. "Kind of like Jane."

Lindy slowly went through the photos, some of them showing Amanda in different stages of pregnancy. Near the bottom, she found one of an infant and penciled on the matt was, "Summer Love Lane. August 22. 1967."

Lindy looked at the two. "The Summer of Love. I'd wondered how she got her name." She looked down at the date. "Wait a minute...that's your wedding anniversary."

Vincent said, "Well, we thought it might smooth things over with our parents if we were married before Summer was born."

Vincent started the timer and quickly moved to sit with Amanda, two-year old Summer, one-year old Wind and tiny infant Penny.

After the camera flash, Amanda said, "Thanks. Mom and Dad like to see pictures of the kids."

"At least they came around. They do love our kids, even if they're still a little wary of me."

For a moment, Vincent briefly let his frustration at his own family's coldness get to him. We're the black sheep of the Lane family. As if my drunken brother Max or my stuck-up sister Bernice have done any better.

"Can you help me up? I'm feeling tired," Amanda softly asked.

"Sure." Vincent knelt, took Penny in one arm and put the other around Amanda's waist.

"Hey, I'll watch Summer and Wind. Stay with your old lady," Rose said from the doorway of the room. When Vincent nodded in thanks, she picked up Wind and took Summer's hand. "Come on, let's go help Maggie grind flour."

Vincent carefully helped Amanda to the small bed in their room. "Easy, you only got out of the hospital a week ago."

"I didn't like that place." She stroked Penny's cheek. "Hey Early Bird, want to stay with Daddy for a little while?"

Penny murmured and held onto Vincent's shirt. He kissed Amanda and said, "I'll take care of her; get some rest."

She pulled the sheet over her legs and curled up. "Night."

"Sweet dreams."

As Amanda's eyes closed, Vincent shuddered at the memory of those horrible minutes in the ambulance when he almost lost her. He carefully cradled his daughter. "Come on, let Mommy get some sleep."

"Whoa, I wondered where everyone was," Trent said as he walked in. "What's up?"

Lindy held up a group of pictures. "Looking at some old photos. You guys were so lucky, having a real photographer in the family."

Trent shuffled his feet and Vincent looked to a corner of the room. Confused, Lindy's eyes shifted from one to the other. "What?"

Trent put his hands in his pockets. "Have you seen many of me or Janey?"

Lindy stopped and looked at him. "No, not really."

Vincent sighed and leaned against the window frame. "We had some good years with Free Lawndale. But, eventually, a lot of people drifted away, until only a few of us were left."

On the television, Amanda, Vincent, Winston and Rose watched the line of gaunt men in loose clothes exit the military transport plane. The first one saluted and said, "We are honored to have the opportunity to serve our country under difficult circumstances...God bless America."

Winston released a weary sigh. "It's really over and they're coming home."

Rose wrapped her arms around her knees. "Speaking of over...I'm sorry Bear. It's been a great trip, but I'm headin' out."

Winston slowly rubbed his face. "I guess you got a jump on the rest of us, Rose." He looked around wishfully. "We can't keep the place going like this. My Dad willed me the house to raise a family in. I didn't raise anyone, but I've been a part of a great family. But now, I'm gonna have to sell the house. I'm figuring everyone will need to move out in a month or two."

Amanda twisted around. "I don't want to go anywhere. I'm happy here."

"I'm sorry Amanda, but I don't have a choice. I've used up the last of our money, we haven't had enough people to properly tend the garden in a year. Hell, the only thing that's kept us afloat has been your ceramics and Vin's photography."

"But I where would I put my kiln?"

"Winston." Vincent kneaded his hands together. "Would you consider selling the place to Amanda and me?"

The loan officer carefully pointed to each number on the paper as he talked. "Here's the loan amount of fifteen thousand dollars, your interest rate of seven percent, loan period of thirty years - meaning the contract will be fulfilled in April twenty-oh-three, and your monthly payment will be ninety-nine dollars and eighty cents." He shifted his eyes to Amanda and Vincent. "Any questions?"

Feeling uncomfortable in the suit he hadn't worn since moving in with Amanda, Vincent fidgeted in his chair, but said, "No."

The banker thrust a pen into Vincent's hand and placed a stack of printed paper in front of him. "I'll just need your signatures on a few forms. We can start here and here."

Vincent slumped to the floor and worked to catch his breath after getting their bed into the master bedroom from the room they'd used upstairs. When he was ready to get back on his feet, Amanda came in, followed by their children.

She said, "The children are so happy to have rooms of their own."

Summer hugged his legs tightly. "Thanks Mommy, Daddy! I've got a room like a big girl."

Wind pushed on his older sister. "Yeah, now I don't have to share with icky sisters."

Penny pushed Wind. "No, you're icky."

Amanda looked down. "Children."

Vincent told them, "Go up and start thinking about what you want in your rooms."

The three youngsters shouted with excitement and rushed upstairs.

Vincent embraced Amanda. "Having a place for a darkroom and a guest room will be great."

"And my kiln is safe." She warmly kissed him. "Thanks. I know I'll always have a home."

He held her closer and closed his eyes. I hope so. I lied through my teeth about how much we earned.

The man behind the desk set the portfolio down and took his reading glasses off, placing them into a shirt pocket. "Impressive work, Mr. Lane."

Once again in his old suit, Vincent slowly released his held breath. "So, you think it's up to your magazine's standards?"

"Close enough for me to offer you a trial assignment. If it passes muster, American Geographic will take you on as a regular."

"That's great." So is what they pay.

"I hope you don't mind travel."

"I got used to it when I was a stringer photographer."

"Good, because you're heading to Nome, Alaska."

Lindy and Trent sat together in bed, propped up on pillows. Lindy curled comfortably under Trent's arm and adjusted the blanket over them. "Didn't you ever feel a little weird sleeping in your parent's old room?"

"Hadn't thought about it."

She playfully turned and kissed his cheek. "You wouldn't."

"I've always known it as my room." He kissed her forehead. "Now it's our room."

"Trent...have you thought about finding a place of our own?"

"This is our place."

"No, I mean find a house for us."

"Hmm. But who would stay here?"

"Your Mom and Dad?"

"Um, yeah. But who would stay here?"

"Oh, never mind."

"Okay." Trent brought his other arm around her. "But, a little more room would be nice.'

Vincent slowly went up the stairs and down the hall to Summer's room. The door hinge emitted a small squeak when he pushed it open and looked inside. His 'big girl' was grown up and had started a family of her own.

"Dad, I'll be fine. Yeah, I know my ex was a big mistake, but now that I've got the court order to garnish his wages for child support, I found a place of my own again," Summer told her father while she packed a suitcase.

"I know, but your room will always be here for you."

"Yeah, yeah, Mom and her butterflies."

"Hey, does this mean I don't have to keep getting shanghaied into baby sitting?" Thirteen-year old Jane quipped from the hallway.

"Yeah, you're off the hook for now." Summer closed the suitcase and looked up with a smirk. "At least until you have kids of your own."

"As if. Anyway, I'm off to the park. See ya later." Jane waved and jogged down the stairs.

"There are times I still don't believe I'm a grandfather." Vincent sighed and closed the door. He went to the room across the hall and entered. He ran his finger along the relationship self-help books that filled the small bookcase.

Vincent adjusted Wind's tie and tuxedo collar before stepping back. "There."

"Thanks, Dad." Wind beamed and hugged his father. "I'm so excited. Claudia is perfect! We'll be together forever."

When Wind released Vincent, Amanda stepped in to embrace her son. "Wind. You look so happy."

"I am. Though also a little sad. I'll miss this room."

Amanda said, "You're always welcome."

"I'll remember that. But we're off to California after the honeymoon. Don't know if we'll have a chance to come back any time soon."

Vincent shook his head, stepped out of the room and down to the next door. The mixed Latino motif of Penny's room brought a smile to his face. "You were always the dreamer out to save some part of the world."

Penny put her arms through the backpack straps and pulled it up onto her shoulders. "Mom, Dad, face it. Your generation tried and failed. Now it's up to mine to try and make a difference."

Vincent puffed on his pipe and said, "If you insist on going down there, remember this one piece of advice: always keep enough local cash for a good bribe in a safe place. You'll never know when you'll need it."

"Dad, that is so euromale-centric."

Amanda hugged her and kissed her cheek. "Have a nice trip. We'll keep your room ready for you."

"Like I'm coming back here any time soon?"

"Well, you never know," Amanda admonished.

"Yeah, I'll think about it. But there's a big future in teaching hemp fiber cloth production. I've got a vision. Give the oppressed survivors of Old World colonialism the means to economic independence from our vacuous merchandise. So, I better get going, my bus leaves in half an hour."

Past Penny's room, Vincent saw the sliver of light under Trent and Lindy's door. He stopped before it. "Trent, you look the most like me, but have more of your mother in you than all the others."

Vincent lowered his head. "Including her loyalty. We doted on the others and almost abandoned you and Jane. You two always seemed to be able to handle things on your own. So while we traveled, you stayed here for Jane and now you're staying here for us so we have a home to return to. We owe you."

Vincent turned and opened the final door across the hall. Unlike the others, Jane's room seemed deserted. The walls were unadorned except for the myriad of small paint splashes that had accumulated over the years. The old chair was still there, but the bed was stripped, the closet emptied and the shelves bare. He walked to a window, pulled the drape over and tapped the plywood in place of the glass. "I never did take these out and replace them when we converted my darkroom into Jane's room. She never complained, so I never remembered."

Walking back to the bed, he sat down and felt the old mattress sag. "I wasn't here when she left. I don't even remember where I was then." He bitterly laughed. "And that was after she had to remind me that she'd graduated months earlier."

He noticed a T-shaped wear spot on the carpet, with a U-shaped wear facing it. "That's where she kept her easel."

The sight of the empty space slowly pulled up a realization in Vincent's mind. "She'll visit, but Jane won't be moving back. Why should she? We taught her to live on her own."

Vincent made his way through the darkened house and lay down on the bed next to his wife. "Amanda, there's something I think we need to do."

"Yo. Lane, Myerson and Morgendorffer. Paintings, pets and prose," Jane Lane answered the telephone in her South Boston apartment.

"Hey, this is Lindy. How are you?"

"Been freezing my skinny ass off, but otherwise doing pretty good. You keeping my brother out of trouble?"

"Only when he's asleep."

Jane laughed and said, "So, what's up?"

I wanted to run something by you. Please tell me exactly what you think."

"Um, sure."

"I mean it."

A little apprehensive, Jane said, "Um, okay."

"We got a notice from the mortgage company that the house was paid off."

"It's paid off? Wow! There were times I wondered if the place would be foreclosed. Ask Trent about the time right after Daria moved to town that we had to barricade the house against some foreclosure servers until I could forge Mom's signature on a check." Jane laughed and said, "If I haven't said it before, I'll say it now. Thanks for helping keep an eye on things since you moved in."

"Hey, my pleasure. Besides, making double house payments here was still cheaper than what I was paying for rent as a student."

Jane groaned. "Tell me about it."

Lindy chuckled.

"So the house is truly Mom and Dad's. Wow."

"Yeah. Um...Jane. That leads to the part I want you to be honest about."

"Go ahead."

"Your folks promised to let Trent and me buy the house as a wedding present. They'll stay here, but the house will be ours. They'll be cutting us a pretty good deal."


"You're okay with it?"

Surprised, Jane said, "Yeah. That place is too much a part of Trent. Taking it away would be like taking away his music. I was hoping something like this would happen."

"I'm glad you understand."

"Eh, he's my brother. I think I know a few things about him. Just leave me some holiday crash space until I graduate." Jane laughed. "Boy, with a wad of cash like that, who knows where Mom and Dad will go."

"That brings up the second part. This one I know you'll like."

"Hell, I liked the first. Go ahead and shoot."

"Amanda and Vincent are putting the money in a trust fund for you. So you can finish college."

Stunned, Jane stammered, "What?"

"It'll cover all of your tuition and school costs, plus some extra."

Lightheaded, Jane sat down. "I...why?"

"The only thing your Dad said was, 'I hope it makes up for all the photos I didn't take.'"

The news broadcast quoted Capt. Jeremiah A. Denton, USN, on his return to the US following North Vietnam's release of American POWs.

Thanks to Kristen Bealer, Ipswichfan and Mr. Orange for beta reading.

August 2005