Brother, When You're Found
A Sequel to "Is It College Yet?"
Jake - I didn't mean to step on Dad's contact. The next day, he shipped me off to military school.
Mr. DeMartino - My mother didn't want her dates to know she had a son, so I spent a lot of time at the neighbors. Strange, twisted people.
Jake - I know! I had the same neighbors! (From "The Daria Hunter")
Daria - Don't worry, Dad. I'm sure you're doing better than your father did. For starters, wasn't he dead at your age?
Jake - Hey! (From "Jake of Hearts")
- Jake, if you want I'll call that Mr. DeMartino. He's a bit high-strung, but
he's a fixture at that school, and he can tell us if anything odd is happening.
Jane: Wind, I don't know how to break this to you, but I don't think Mommy and Daddy will be bringing us home any new brothers or sisters.
Jane - Anyway, being in a relationship can't possibly hinge on physical intimacy. 'Cause that would mean our parents are still doing it.
Daria - Which is absurd.
Jane - No chance.
Daria - I'd join the circus.
Jane - Right behind you. (From "My Night at Daria's)
Disclaimer: Daria's a trademark of MTV. I only borrowed it for a weak attempt to continue the myth...
Ages: At the start of season one in 1997, Daria was 16; now she's 18. To calculate the ages, I decided that this all happens in 1999. Jake is 46, so he was born 1953. His father lived from 1924 to 1969. DeMartino is (according to Outpost Daria) 48 in IICY, so he was born 1951. Trent's and Jane's siblings are 28 (Summer), 27 (Wind) and 26 (Penny) years old; their parents are 46 (Amanda) and 48 (Vincent).
Continuity: This fanfic sticks to most of what happened in the series and the other official sources, but Jake did NOT graduate at Buxton Ridge (Jake's letters in the Daria Diaries) and "Mad Dog" died before Jake met Helen, so he was NOT alive when they married ("Of Human Bonding"). Also, DeMartino does not have a buddy who married his mother ("Antisocial Climbers") - at least he does not appear in this fanfic.
This story begins at the end of the movie. Daria and Jane are sitting at Pizza King, talking about college and future plans. They just brought up a toast to college...
I. Choosing Partners
As they lowered their coke cups again, Jane looked at Daria. "You know there's still one last obstacle before you can forget Lawndale High for the rest of your life: the big prom. Ms. Li made it mandatory for all graduates and next year seniors to come and to bring a partner. It's her last chance to milk us for the benefit of school security." Daria took a deep breath. "I know that. I hope it won't get as pathetic as the last dance. Ms. Li's still mad at you for using water-resistant paints for your mural, forcing her to take money from the budget to clean all the walls. One of the best ideas you ever had." Jane smiled. "But this partner thing's going to be hard. It's the first time since fifteen months that neither of us has Tom hanging around."
"Aw, that's sweet. Do you miss him already?" "Jane, please!" "Sorry. But you're right. I don't suppose Quinn could lend us two of her admirers for that night?" "Forget it. When I told her I had blown off Tom, she asked why I didn't wait until the end of the vacations to do so. Besides, she'll soon have her own problems to find a date for the dance..." Daria managed to produce a small wicked smile. Jane's eyes widened. She leant over the table. "Out with it, Morgendorffer. What rumor did you spread about your sister? If it's still the Malaysian Toenail fungus..." Daria shook her head.
"No, I'm totally innocent... well, quite innocent in that matter. Quinn told me that she would wait until the day before the dance to consider all incoming offers. I think she expects the three J's to compete for her just as they did the past two years." "And?" "Do you remember the week when Quinn decided she needed a steady boyfriend because that would be mature?" "After you told her that more or less directly? Yes, it was funny to see all teenaged males of Lawndale expect perhaps Kevin, Mack and Tom line up to be examined for their possible use as Mr. Quinn." "She really thought it would make her more mature. Anyway, she ended up by trying out the three J's one after another." "Which culminated at the day your parents made a big dinner to meet their daughters' boyfriends, right?" "Exactly. At the end, the female Morgendorffers were left back because Tom and Jeffy decided to bond with Dad by catching a squirrel and returning it to the forest." Jane laughed. "That must have been awful for Quinn and you."
"At that moment, it really was. But Quinn calmed down after my mother told her she should do what made her happy in that matter. And when Dad came back later, he was so relaxed and happy that I feared he would want to have an own son. When Tom had to sneak out of my room at 4 am because we both fell asleep two weeks later, he met my father who had a night snack after too much sake. Tom told me later he had serious fears that Dad might kill him on the spot, but Dad welcomed him and even opened the door for him. I think Dad liked Tom, and was very sorry for accidentally telling Mom he had met Tom when he returned to bed." "So you two really didn't do you-know-what that night?" "No, we did NOT do 'you-know-what' that night, Jane!"
Daria had answered very decisively to appear angry. In fact, she was nervous. She wondered if she could ever tell Jane that Tom had come to her room in the guesthouse when they visited Bromwell and that, after some smooching and talking, they had slept together for the first and only time. Jane started talking again. "You wanted to tell me why Quinn'll have problems finding a date for the dance." "Oh yes. Most of her admirers became enraged when she chose first Jamie, then Joey and finally Jeffy just because it was the easiest approach to the whole "steady boyfriend" matter. And the three J's... well, they have wooed her for two years now. It became part of their routine: going to school, football team practice, doing things for Quinn. But when she decided to focus her attention on one of them at a time, they recognized that Quinn will probably never single out one of them to be her permanent boyfriend. She's just playing with them and the whole competition is jeopardizing the friendship between the guys." "Very deep insight. But how do you know about that? Did they tell you?" "They didn't. Mack told me they had a long conversation in the locker room. They made a vow that none of them should try to get Quinn because she isn't worth the trouble." "So Princess Grace won't have a date for the dance although it's mandatory." "Yes, but there's always Upchuck to comfort a lady in distress." Jane smiled. "I'm very sorry to disrupt your illusions, but he already has a date for the dance."
one moment, Daria said nothing. Then she looked at her friend in mock fear.
"So that's a surprise. But why should Jodie ask for both names?" Jane chuckled. "Come on, you know Ms. Li. She insisted on a list of all guests to know whom to accuse for any attempts to make Laaawndale High look bad. Jodie agreed to this to get the P.A. equipment for the dance." "Poor Jodie. But at least she has a boyfriend to take to the dance."
got a mischievous grin on her face. "How
about the easiest approach?
I know two very ambitious musicians who could need a rest from practicing."
"Are you trying to hook me up with
leant back. She knew Jane for three years now and knew her way of sarcasm and
joking, so she could tell that she was not sarcastic on this. She
"You got me, Jane. I'll go to that dance with
Getting to know guys had never been her problem, but her sarcasm and very nature had driven all boys away after some days - except Tom. He wasn't put off by her art priorities, her living conditions or anything else about her. He never tried to impress her with his family's wealth or his social position. Jane had been really sad when it went down the time Daria stayed at the Lane house, and the "lady and the tiger" idea was originally - as she had confessed to herself after Tom left her - an attempt to repair their relationship. I wonder what would've happened if Daria hadn't barged in when we became passionate that day in front of my painting... She was still deep in thought when she heard a familiar voice. "Daria, can I talk to you?" It was Quinn.
The Morgendorffer sisters went home after Daria had agreed that Jane should ask the boys about going to the dance. As soon as they had closed the front door, Quinn turned to her sister. "Daria, you gotta help me! I need advice from a totally honest person." Daria measured her sister with a short look. "Is it about your clothing or about your looks?" "Daria, puh-leease! I have a really big problem and I need you." She went to the living-room sofa and sat down. Daria followed her, wondering if she should tell her sister about the vow the J's made when Quinn began to speak. "Look, Daria, you know that the school dance is next Saturday..."
Daria interrupted her. "...and you're wondering why no guy's yet asked you to go there with him." Quinn's face got an alarmed look. "What do you mean, Daria? I'm surprised that nobody has asked yet, that's right, but since I told them I'd decide on the day before the dance whom to take, they still have lots of time. Although I thought Joey, Jeffy and Jamie would ask me as soon as possible." "They will not ask you this time, Quinn. Mack told me that they decided to stop competing for you because it was ruining their friendship. But I'm sure you have enough potential candidates to replace them." Surprisingly, Quinn did not start to cry as Daria had expected. She just looked at the ceiling for a second before she turned back to Daria.
sad, but that's not the reason why I wanted to talk to you."
She took a letter from her backpack and handed it to Daria. "It
was in the mail this morning. Read it." Daria
looked at the simple white envelope and read aloud: "To
Quinn Morgendorffer, 1111 Glen Oaks Lane,
Quinn swallowed, then she began to speak slowly, as if she could wake up someone by talking at normal speed. "I... I'd like to see him and tell him how much the tutoring helped me this year. And... and I would like to ask him..." "Ask him what?" Quinn looked around the room like needing a hole to hide in. "Come on, Quinn. Tell me what you want to ask David. I'm still not capable of reading your thoughts." Quinn managed to look at Daria's eyes. "I would like to ask him... if he'd like to come to the dance with me!"
a moment, none of them said a word. Then Daria drew a deep breath. "Okay,
you would like to invite him to the dance. What's the problem?" "I
don't know how to tell him. What if he doesn't want to? What if he has got a
girlfriend at college?" Daria
barely managed to suppress a smile. "There's
only one way, Quinn. Ask him if he wants." "But
just imagine he says no! And how should you know? You haven't got much
experience with that. Just remember that
looked at her sister, surprised at the outburst. "All
right, I'll ask him. But don't tell Mom and Dad about it!" "Why
should I do that? First thing Mom would want to know is who I'm taking to the dance. It'd be brave
of you to take David with you, since your fashion-worshipping friends will
probably drop dead at his sight. Didn't he drop them when they wanted to be
tutored by him?" "Yes,
he did. Sandi's still occasionally asking me what my "brainy geek-boyfriend" is doing. If he should really agree to come to the dance, I
just got to have someone take a picture of her expression." She
laughed, then she became serious again.
"But you said that you'll take
broke off when she looked at her sister. Quinn had sworn that she would not do
anything to humiliate Daria if she helped her with the decision about asking
David, but the imagination of Daria asking
As they rose from the sofa, the door opened, revealing Jake carrying his briefcase. He set it down on the sofa table and gave his daughters a friendly smile as he picked up the remaining mail. Daria decided to start a conversation with him before he would ask what she and Quinn were doing. "Hi, dad. Anything for me in the mail?" Jake flipped through the letters. "Let's see... electricity bill, a postcard from Rita, the water bill..." He held up one letter and opened it. "Look, it's from my mother! I wonder what she wants..." He started to read it while Quinn went to the kitchen. After a minute, he looked up again. "She says she'll visit us tomorrow!"
II. Family Secrets, Part 1, Or: Sins Of Our Father
that evening, the Morgendorffer family sat in the kitchen, eating dinner. Helen
had just arrived and wolfed down Jake's new meal creation because she had to
leave again soon. Hearing that her mother in-law would come on the next day was
not her idea of a nice family dinner. "But
can't you call her to postpone this, Jake?
know that my workload is even bigger than usually because all the Schrecters are on a family reunion somewhere in
After Helen and the girls left, Jake stayed at the table, obviously deep in thought. He hardly noticed Daria who came in the kitchen to get a can of soda a few minutes later until she slammed the door of the refrigerator shut. "Oh. Sorry, dad." Daria looked at her father. "Are you worried about Grandma Ruth?" Jake turned to her. "It comes pretty suddenly. But, knowing my mother, she's just checking that Helen treats me right. It's probably better that they won't meet immediately tomorrow." He chuckled. "Will you be here tomorrow, kiddo? I could use your help in dealing with her." "I'll be here until noon, I think. Jane and I want to go see a French movie at the Megamultiplex." "Thanks, Daria."
arrived very early next morning. As Daria entered the kitchen in their
nightclothes, she already sat there, sipping coffee. After Daria had welcomed
her, Ruth continued talking with her son. "But
why couldn't Helen wait until I'd be here before leaving for work, Jakey?"
had an important case to be discussed at 8am, Mom. She said she'd be sorry not
to see you. But what was so important that you couldn't tell me by
got a letter from the Department of the Army yesterday. They want to name a
He looked at his mother. "What did you tell them?" "I told them that Dad would be honored and accepted it. You'll come there with me, right?" At that moment, Quinn entered the kitchen with her cell phone pressed against her ear. "Thank you Sammy. I'll be happy to come to your party next weekend. I suppose you also invited Sandi, Stacy and Tiffany..." Then she noticed Ruth. "Oh hi, Grandma Ruth. Anyway, can you believe that we have work to do in the vacation? O'Neill tried to prevent this because it 'might harm our unburdened souls', but the PTA head overruled him, saying 'If Anthony DeMartino can't...'"
CRASH! Jake and his daughters gazes rushed first at the cup of coffee Ruth had just dropped on the floor, then at Ruth herself, whose face had turned white. "Mommy, are you alright?" He reached over the table and took her hand as Quinn terminated her phone call with some words. "You look like you had a stroke!" Daria and Quinn also looked worried as Ruth tried to sit up straight but failed miserably. "Shall I call an ambulance?" Quinn asked. Daria went over to the sink to wet a towel and placed it on her grandmother's neck. After a minute, Ruth recovered from the shock and glanced around at the worried faces of her family.
she said. "Sorry
for that, but tell me Quinn, did you really say the name Anthony
DeMartino??!" Quinn nodded. "He's
our history teacher at
do you mean by this?"
Daria asked finally. "Well,
if your father thinks you shall hear this, I'll tell you."
She looked at Jake. "Martin
and I met fifty years ago. I was working at the local store back then and he was
an army captain, serving at
gasped while his girls just looked at Ruth. "On
the next morning, I woke up and despite my condition called at
what did you do afterwards?"
asked Quinn, who always liked a good love story with dramatic turns.
didn't hear anything about Martin until he came back in February 1953. He
hoped that with me and little Jake, he would settle down and realize all the
dreams he told me about when we met for the first time. But his war experience
and the knowledge that he had betrayed me as soon as he got the chance to
poisoned our marriage. We were neither good spouses for
each other nor good parents for Jake. After Jake's birth, Martin told me that he
did not want any more children. He found a job fixing drainpipes and he still
was a National Guard officer, but we both knew that he hated the life with wife
and child. And since he couldn't act out his anger on me, he terrorized
Now her eyes were both fixed on Jake, who stared at his feet, his brain
obviously full of bad memories. "His
only remaining dream was to make his son a perfect soldier, thus reliving his
career in Europe and
Martin's funeral, I went through his things and found some photos of a two-year
old child with black hair, sitting on the lap of a very young-looking woman. On
the back of the photos, it said 'March 1953: Nora and Anthony'
an address in a small town near
stared at her grandmother while several memories went through her mind:
encounter with Mr. DeMartino on the first day in
Ruth sighed. "He is, but I don't think he knows it. Martin sort of... well, he threatened his mother to ensure that she would never tell her son about his father. I kept silent about it for forty-eight years and wanted to keep silent until I died, but when Quinn mentioned his full name, I nearly fainted." "So the only question is: shall we tell him?" said Daria. "You know, I talked to him when we sat together at the paintball range while it rained... and he told me that his mother treated him badly... it would top things off for him if he learned that his father was an SOB without the courage to stand for what he did..." said Jake absently.
"I think we should tell him." Suddenly, all eyes were on Quinn. "Why should we tell him, sis?" Daria asked her. "First of all: I'll see him in school for another year. That means meeting him for several times each week, always thinking of him as Uncle Anthony. He may be screwed, but he's not stupid. One day he would ask me why I'm staring at him and I'd blare it out, humiliating myself totally." Daria smirked. "You told everyone that I'm your cousin. That worked for years." "Oh come on, Daria. Everyone knew it after you told the whole school at that stupid assembly. Anyway, would you like to live for almost fifty years with the feeling that you don't have a father? I'll tell him if you don't have the courage!" To his own surprise, Jake began to smile. "Relax, Quinn. I also think we should tell him all this." He turned to Ruth and his face hardened. "I don't know what part you had in this from the beginning, but Quinn's absolutely right. This has gone much too long."
At that moment, Helen entered in a hurry. "Hello everybody! I just have time for a microwave meal and then..." she broke off when she saw the looks of her family. "What has happened? Has somebody died? Dear God, please tell me..." Jake stood up and hugged her. "The exact opposite, sweetie. You'll never believe what Mom just told us." Helen listened with fascination as Jake repeated the story.
III. Baby, What A Big Surprise
Later that day, Jane called. The Morgendorffers had discussed about the new family member and the several ways to break the news to DeMartino - though the use of his surname had become more and more frequent during the last hours. Daria had supported the point of Jake and Quinn that DeMartino had a right to know about his origins and his half-brother. As a result, she had completely forgotten about Jane and their plan to meet for a movie. After waiting for thirty minutes, Jane went to the next phone.
reached the Morgendorffer lair. All cats disappeared after being seen near our
house are in a better world now."
Daria said. "Hello
Daria. It seems that your way to the top didn't lead past the Megamultiplex today."
Sorry I forgot it, but I went through a situation you might know from
there are so many several situations to master every day, give me a
Daria prepared for the revelation. "How
about the discovery of an unknown family member?"
always told you that you had enough intelligence for two people. So they found
your moron twin?"
my grandmother broke down and confessed that Dad's father impregnated a woman
two years before Dad was born."
the infamous 'Mad Dog' had two kids? I assume the person showed up today and
your Dad went crazy."
Quinn mentioned the name of a certain inhabitant of
For a moment, Jane was silent. When she continued, her voice was full of disbelief. "Are you sure? DeMartino is your... father's brother??!" "According to Ruth, her beloved husband had a one-night stand with an underage girl forty-nine years ago. The result was our dear history teacher. And the best part is that he doesn't know it. We had a real battle here about the question of telling him or not." "And you were against it?" "No, I supported Quinn and Dad in telling him." Daria heard someone knocking at her door. "I gotta go. Bye." "Give Uncle Anthony my regards if you see him." "I will. Bye." Daria hang up.
Daria returned to her family in the kitchen, Jane continued to stare at the
as Daria's uncle? Jeez, I know my folks are weird, but at least they wreak havoc
in other parts of the country/world than
In the Morgendorffer home, the family council (plus Ruth) reached a decision. Quinn would try to call DeMartino the next day to tell him "that she had some questions about her homework" and ask if she could visit him at his house. If he should agree, Jake would accompany her and drop the bomb on his lost brother, hoping that he would believe the story.
Jane arrived home, she went to
looked around to spot any kind of coffee mug or a trace of some kind of illegal
substance to cause this behavior, but she could see neither.
"They came from some kind of WWF event where Mom studied Asian pottery and Dad photographed wild yaks. The important fact is, they come home tomorrow, and they sent a letter." "So what? They come for their annual visit. What's so important about this? They don't bring all our siblings with them, right?" Jane looked curious at Trent, who managed to smile. "They won't bring any of our older siblings this time, Janey... but they'll bring a younger one!"
a moment, Jane was petrified. "What
do you mean, younger sibling??! Did they..."
"Now what favor do you want from me? Need a ride?" "No, not this time. But Daria and I need an escort for the school dance, and since neither of us is willing to ask Tom, I thought that you might escort Daria and ask Jesse if he wants to join us as my escort... Hey, don't smile like that!" "Sorry, Janey. Couldn't help it. So your need of an escort is not another plot to hook me up with Daria?" "Of course not. What do you think I am, a matchmaker?" "Yes, you are. And it's a pity you chose me and Daria as targets for practice. She's a nice girl, but she needs someone having the same character traits as she has. That's something I can't offer her."
fixed her brother with a steady gaze. "Thanks
for the deep insight, but will you and Jesse come? Li made it mandatory for the
senior students to have a partner with them."
we'll come. I believe Jesse has even more motivation to step on Li's toes than I
have. You know Li tried to bust him for conduct unbecoming a Laaawndale High student' after she learnt of his
moonlighting at that club for lonely housewives?"
Jane made a pained face. "No,
I didn't. That must've been some torture."
vowed to pay Li back for what she did to him, so he'll be delighted to come.
Shall I go call him..." he paused, "or
do you want to invite him, dear sis?
I think he'd like that even better."
Jane frowned. "And
you say that I'm a matchmaker. You call him now, and I'll call Daria later.
"Hello?" "Um... good morning, Mr. DeMartino. This is Quinn Morgendorffer. I've got some questions about my vacation work." "And what are these questions?" "Well... I can't give them all on telephone. Would it be OK if I came over to your house today... to ask them personally?" "But why can't you ask me now, Quinn?" "Um... eh... my parents just told me to cut down my excessive use of their phone, so I'd rather visit you at your place... that is, if you aren't busy..." For a moment, DeMartino was silent, then he answered, sounding thoughtful. "OK, Quinn. I'll be home until five, so you can come before then..." Quinn interrupted him "Thanks, Mr. DeMartino! I'll be there!" and terminated the call after finishing her sentence.
DeMartino looked at his phone, then addressed the person sitting on his sofa. "A student of mine called to clear some details about her work. I told her to come over later to talk with me personally." The person grumbled. "But you know that I wanted you to take me to the bingo at the "Olde Tea Cuppe" at 5:30. You promised me, Tony!" "She'll be gone by then. I told her I'd to leave at five, so there'll be no problems about your bingo, Mother."
On the other end, Quinn still stared on the telephone despite knowing that four pairs of eyes - Helen's, Jake's, Daria's and Ruth's - rested on her. Finally, she turned around. "He said I could come over today, but he'd leave home at five." "That's it? He didn't suspect anything?" Helen asked incredulously. Daria managed a smile. "It's nice to see that even a teacher with years of practice hasn't adopted the rough attitude to life which seems to be common with lawyers these days." "Daria!" "So, we'll visit him this afternoon?" Jake asked to prevent his wife from giving her elder daughter another lecture about life and its circumstances. "Are you sure you want to do this, Jakey? Maybe we better wait some time before we..." Jake turned around to face his mother, his face bearing a determined expression neither his wife nor his daughters had ever seen before.
"Now listen, Mom. This man's probably had a terrible childhood because his mother was used by a man who wanted some fun for one evening. A man who not only declined to support his child, but also forced the girl he got pregnant never to tell the child about his father. A man who did all this because his fiancée - YOU - had made him do so. As a result, this man grew up fatherless and with a mother who was probably too young to raise him as a child should be raised. If you would visit him to tell him about all this, he would freak out completely - and many judges wouldn't hold him responsible for whatever he would do."
His voice was stern now. "I will visit him to tell him the story you've told me and the girls yesterday. I hope that he will believe me, but I wouldn't be surprised if he threw me out." Nobody said anything for a moment. Finally, Daria spoke in a quiet voice. "He has a right to know about his origin, Grandma Ruth. I think it's better to send Dad to talk with him." "Thank you, kiddo. Quinn, we'll leave at 3:00." Jake started to walk up the stairs when Helen called him. "Jake?" "Yes, honey?" She smiled. "I'm proud of you."
IV. Brothers In Arms
Two hours later, a blue Lexus arrived in front of a modest house without much decoration or personal notes. Quinn and Jake left the car and walked up to the front door, hesitating a moment before ringing the bell. They heard some noise in the house, then the door opened and DeMartino looked at them. "Hello Quinn. Nice to see you." His gaze shifted to Jake. "Oh, hello, Mr. Morgendorffer." Jake pulled a key from his pocket and gave it to Quinn. "Wait for me in the car, kiddo. If this takes too long, drive home by yourself. I'll get a taxi then." "OK, Daddy." She turned and walked back to the car.
DeMartino eyed Jake curiously. "What does this mean, Mr. Morgendorffer? Quinn said that she'd want to talk with me." Jake drew a very deep breath, then he stiffed. "Quinn said so because I asked her to do so. I have to talk with you, Mr. DeMartino, and this was the only way to ensure that you'd listen." Now DeMartino looked even more curious. "Well, if it's about your daughters' grades, I think..." Jake interrupted him. "It's not about school, and it's also not some kind of business. As a matter of fact, it's kind of private, and I'd prefer you to sit if you hear it." He paused. "May I enter?" "Oh, sure. Excuse me for being so impolite." The two men entered the house, being watched by Quinn.
At the Lane homestead, Jane had slept till noon before having breakfast with Trent, this being a rare treat for both of them (especially with Trent buying fresh bread instead of taking whatever could be considered edible for anyone whose standards allowed food to have odd colors, toppings or shapes). Jane's amazement about her brother's behavior turned to joy as he told her that Jesse had agreed to be her escort to the dance and had even promised to wear a decent shirt - if he could borrow one from Trent, who had access to his father's wardrobe. After eating, running for an hour and a fast shower, Jane felt so happy that she had to fight her inspiration in order to phone Daria.
"Welcome to Radio Gaga. If you have a special wish, please sing it for us so we can replay it on air to humiliate you." "Hello Daria. Since I don't want to torture you with 'Old McDonald had a farm', let's skip the formal stuff." "Ah, our favorite customer. Anything new in the world of lonely loonies?" "Several things. For starters, consider yourself as the soon-to-be queen of the school dance, partying the night away with my brother at your side." Despite herself, Daria felt a smile forming on her face. "That's... nice. Will Jesse also come to keep you from stealing my thunder on the dance floor?" "Hah! You wish! Have you never seen Jesse when he worked... forget it, forget anything I said." "Jesse worked where?" Jane cursed her swift tongue. "Ask Trent or Jesse. If they tell you, it's OK, if not, please deny that I told you anything." "Alright, amiga. Now what else?" "Not so fast. li'l lady. How's Uncle Anthony?" "I don't know yet. Dad's just visiting him to fulfill the traditional family rites on the new member." "So may I come over to see Hero Jake's return - may it be victorious or not?" "Come over if you like, but first tell me the other news you've been holding back." "It's too big to tell it over the phone. I shall fill you in when I'm at your place." "Now you made me curious. I even told you about 'Dear Uncle Anthony' on the phone!" "Like I said. See you!" Jane hung up, leaving Daria with her imagination about the big news.
sat down on his sofa and looked at Jake. "Have
a seat, Mr. Morgendorffer."
no, thank you. I prefer to stand. Well... how can I begin..."
Jake cleared his throat. "Please
excuse me for asking a personal question. Who is your father?"
DeMartino stared at him. "Be
assured that I've a good reason for asking this. Do you know your
never met my father. According to my mother, he was a young soldier who died in
the Korean War before I was born."
she tell you more about him? Sorry, but I must know this, Mr.
told me that he had promised to marry her before he left for
DeMartino rose from his seat and walked to a desk standing in the corner of the room, searching for some seconds before taking out an old photograph and giving it to Jake. It showed a young man of about eighteen or nineteen in an army uniform standing in front of a huge emblem of the 36th U.S. Infantry Division. Despite his youth, the man looked aggressive and proud.
Jake stared at the man who had made his own childhood a living hell and who had ruined the life of a young girl nearly fifty years ago in one night. "What... what was his name?" "Corporal Martin M. Dylan." DeMartino noticed the look on Jake's face. "Mr. Morgendorffer? Do you need a glass of water?" Jake sat down on the sofa and looked up to the man who had just proved to be Jake's elder brother. "Yes, that'd be nice. Better bring one for yourself also. I have to tell you something very important."
When Jane arrived at the Morgendorffer's house, Helen opened the door. "Hello Jane. Have you heard about my husband's brother?" "Yes, Mrs. Morgendorffer. Daria told me yesterday. Is she up in her room?" "I think so. Have you seen Quinn on the way? Jake told me that he'd send her home to talk alone with DeM... his brother." "No, I haven't seen her. Maybe she's taking a shortcut through Cashman's." Helen turned white. "Oh my! I hope she hasn't taken my platinum card..." She began to dig in her purse while Jane went up the stairs, smirking to herself.
brought two glasses and a water bottle and placed them on the table.
yourself. Now why did you ask all this about my father?"
Jake took his glass and emptied it in one gulp. "Listen,
Mr. DeMartino. I'm sorry to tell you that your mother has lied about your
DeMartino jumped from his seat. "What?"
father did not die in the Korean War, he died in 1969. He was also not as old as
your mother, he was ten years older. He abandoned your mother because he was
already engaged to another woman."
Now DeMartino stood completely, fixing Jake with a look that most students at
Lawndale High would have interpreted as "RUN - NOW!".
want an explanation, Mr. Morgendorffer - IMMEDIATELY!!!"
Jake stayed calm and motioned DeMartino to sit down again. "The
photograph you've shown me was made 1942, not 1950. I know this because I've
seen it before. However, the man on the photo is your father, but his name is
Martin Dylan - MORGENDORFFER. When he
met your mother, he was a captain serving in
Jake had finished, DeMartino stared at him for a moment, then the realization
hit him square in the face. "Did
you say... Morgendorffer? You
mean like your name?"
The man on the photo is my - our father. He threatened your mother never to tell
you about him because he feared for his military career. Like I said, I don't
blame your mother for what she did. Martin Morgendorffer was a menace to anyone
who questioned his power. I lived fourteen years with him as father, and my
shrink still unearths new bad memories about that time in my mind every time I
Jake paused for a moment before continuing. "I'm
sorry for all the disadvantages you and your mother suffered because of that
bastard, and I hope to meet your mother to tell her the same."
Jane still grinned at her way to brush off Helen when she entered Daria's room. Daria sat on her bed, reading a novel. Her absent look cleared as she saw Jane. "Hello, amiga." She paused for a second, noticing Jane's grin. "Now I told you not to eat any kind of stuff your parents left behind. Just look at your smile!" "Gee, I'd love to do so, but you don't have one of these cute mirror thingies in here. Do you think your sister would help me out? I'll go find her..." Jane answered with a high, Britanny-like voice. Daria stood up and closed the door. "Now seriously, why are you grinning like that? Met some new boy?" "No, unfortunately not... I just broke the record for escaping your mom before being talked down again." "Congratulations, I'm so proud of you. Now what can be such a big secret that the guys bugging my phone may not participate in its discovery?"
sat down on the floor next to Daria's bed, shifting several times until she
found the right position, all the time being anxiously watched by Daria.
Finally, she started to speak slowly, but clearly. "After
we talked yesterday, I came home to tell
stared at her friend. "Are
you serious? Your mother must be about... fifty-odd or something! I mean... no
offense Jane, but is that possible?"
a matter of fact, she's forty-six. When Summer was
born, she was just eighteen. But can you imagine how I felt
Daria smirked at the thought. "Since
I have a younger sibling, I might have experienced that kind of feeling. But
Quinn's eighteen months younger than me, not eighteen years."
it. I've survived four older siblings up to now, but I can't cope yet with the
thought of a baby brother or sister which could be my own child due to the
difference in age!"
Jane sighed exasperated. "You
know the weirdest thing about it? I learnt to expect any kind of strange
behavior from my parents: they left us alone for years at a time, spending their
life with things like wanting to paint the sunset in the arctic winter or
hugging yaks in
looked at her friend again. "You
have to see the positive effects of it. Maybe both your parents and Trent will
grow up to be 'honorable members of the adult society' and learn from the
be the day! The only way to transform
After several wet towels and a sip of brandy, Nora DeMartino had regained her consciousness. Her son and Jake placed her on a seat and waited for the inevitable questions from her. Finally, she spoke, still sounding emotionally disturbed. "Excuse me... but did you really say Morgendorffer?" Jake rose from his seat. "Yes, Ms. DeMartino. I am Jacob Morgendorffer, son of Martin Morgendorffer. I'm very sorry for what my father did to you." "Who sent you here? Does... does Martin still live?" Her face had turned anxious when she asked the second question, so Jake answered quickly.
Ms. DeMartino. Like I told your son - my brother - just now, Martin died in
1969. He will never come back to threaten you."
know that it might sound hard to you, but I'm glad to hear that. But I still
don't know why you came today, Mr. Morgendorffer."
what I wanted to ask you, Mr. Mor..."
mother is currently visiting us in
why did you never tell me about my real father?"
Anthony asked his mother. "Tony,
you have to understand my situation back then. Many of my friends went out with
soldiers, I just wanted to do the same, having some fun and maybe have one beer
or two, so I went to town and met that... that swine. When I woke up the next
morning in a cheap motel, he was gone, leaving not enough money to pay for the
room, so I sneaked out the back door with a heavy head and few memories about
the last evening. When I realized I was pregnant, I called
last I found a corporal telling me that Captain Morgendorffer had only stayed
there for some days and had gone back in
"Martin came to see me - us in October 1953. When I asked him for money, he told me that he had left the army, was married and had another son, so he could not help us in any way. I made a mistake by telling him that it was his damn duty to pay for his child." Nora touched her cheek with her hands, trailing the bone. "He slapped me so hard that I lost my right eye vision for some days and then he told me that I could have a one-time payment of 10.000 dollars for my child's education if I promised never to tell him about his father. I asked him about a different way to handle things, but he told me that I should better take the money before he would beat me up again. He vanished after that, leaving a wad of bills. I lived from it for the next year, after that I took a job as a dishwasher in the local milk bar. When Tony first asked me why he had no Dad like the other children had, I made up a story about a young soldier who died before he could marry me."
Jake had listened silently, regarding Anthony's expression while his mother talked. His brother had looked first shocked, then angry and sad, but when Nora finished, his face looked strangely calm. He rose to comfort his mother. "It's alright, Mom. Like Jake said, he can't hurt you anymore." Jake cleared his throat. "I can only repeat it, Ms. DeMartino, I'm sorry. I must add that my mother didn't want me to come here. Her marriage was poisoned by Martin's behavior, too; since she knew that he had betrayed her one time, she never trusted him again and they grew apart. None of this is an excuse for what my parents did to you, however."
what are we going to do now, Jake?"
Anthony asked after a short moment. "Sell
this touching story to the next paper?"
had an idea on the way. It might sound somehow melodramatic, but I hope you'll
Jake waited a moment before he continued. "My
mother is visiting us currently because the Army wants to honor my - our
father's achievements by naming a barracks at
Anthony smiled slightly. "No problem with that. I'm a former member of the Army's Historical Division and a Lieutenant Colonel of the Rangers." He turned to his mother. "But do you want to do this, Mom?" Nora straightened in her seat, her eyes gleaming with enthusiasm. "Of course I want it, Tony! This swine treated me like dirt and publicly destroying his good reputation is what I've wanted for nearly fifty years!" Jake smiled. "I'll arrange it, Ms. DeMartino." He looked on his watch and rose from his seat. "I should leave before my family reports me as missed in action, but I'll call you as soon as I know anything new."
Anthony walked him to the door. "I can call a taxi for you, Jake." "Thanks, but the walk will be good for my health. Oh, by the way, as soon as my mother has left us, I'd like you to visit us for dinner. Bring your mother if you like." "Thanks, Jake. I'll gladly come." He stopped at the door. "Bye, Jake." Jake looked at him. "Bye, brother."
picked up her phone while Jane idly threw Daria's nightshirt back on the bed.
was a dancer at the 'Dirty Dancer Club'? ...Yes, I know that club... No, I've
never been there, but my dad once tried to get a consulting job there... I just
hope you haven't worked there, too..."
didn't have enough muscles for that."
Jane said to no one in particular. Daria smirked and covered the mouthpiece.
She turned to Jane. "Trent
wants me to tell you that my phone is excellent in picking up background noises
and that he will await your return to show you how to tickle annoying little
sisters without having enough muscles."
Jane laughed. "Tell
him that little sisters have to be caught before being tickled. He'll be asleep
before I come back anyway."
Daria listened to
took the receiver from her friend. "Hi,
As soon as the girls reached the stairs, they heard Ruth's voice from the living-room. "But Quinn, you really need to practice cooking before leaving school! Your mother's not the best example with that, I know..." She was interrupted by Quinn's high voice. "I know how to operate a microwave, Grandma Ruth. Besides, I can cook a bit." "But don't you think there's still much room for improvement? I could teach you how to make more sophisticated meals while I'm here... and I could also include Daria and your mother in this. I'm sure your sister would appreciate it..."
On the stairs, Jane turned to Daria. "You heard that? There's still hope for your future husband." Daria glared at her. "One more word and I'll tell her about my poor abandoned friend living without parents and proper food. Believe me; she'd love to help you." "OK, you win. Let's get out before she sees us." Both proceeded to the door when Daria suddenly tripped over a shoe lying in her way and fell on the floor with a loud noise, causing Ruth and Quinn to stop their talk and go to the corridor. Quinn reached her sister first, looking somehow exhausted. "Daria! I didn't know you were here! Grandma and I were just talking about you!"
She leant towards Daria's ear and whispered. "Help me! Grandma's on the 'women don't need education' trip again! Do something about it!" Daria turned to the cause of her fall, immediately recognizing it as part of Quinn's shoe collection. "That's why you're building traps in the house, right?" Quinn looked surprised as Ruth entered. "Hello Daria. Nice to see you're there. You can help me with making dinner now..." She stopped, seeing Jane at the door. "Who's that?"
Daria rose from the ground, brushing off some dust from her skirt. "I'm fine, Grandma, thanks for your concern. That's my friend Jane. Jane, this is my grandmother Ruth." Ruth looked critically at Jane's earrings, her boots and the rest of her clothes. "It's nice to meet you, Mrs. Morgendorffer. I'm very sorry, but Daria and I were just leaving for my house." Daria smirked at her friend's fast reaction as Ruth adopted a sad look. "But Quinn and I wanted to cook for the whole family so that we can all eat together. Your father just called to say he's on his way home and your mother'll be here in about an hour, so we can have dinner then. Maybe your little friend would like to participate also..."
Daria started to open her mouth for some kind of polite apology, but Jane was faster. "Thank you, Mrs. Morgendorffer. I'd like to have dinner with you and your family." Both Quinn and Daria looked shocked. "However, my mother's in hospital and I promised to bring them some things to the hospital with Daria's help. But we'll probably be back for the meal." Daria smiled now while Quinn's face had turned from shocked to angry. "That's right, Grandma. I'm afraid you and Quinn have to cook alone. See you later, sis." She went outside with Jane as Quinn stared after them.
they were outside, Daria turned to her friend. "Now
that was purely evil. My grandmother got the expression that you're a nice
polite girl who likes doing things for your parents and eating with my family,
but in fact you managed to pull me out of 'Cooking for future husbands 101'
while condemning Quinn to the full blast of it. And since I know my grandma can
cook, you'll get sensible food for once while
your service, oh sarcastic one.
But you just mentioned
the girls arrived at
raced up to witness the family battle, but stopped short as she heard Jane a
second time. "That's
not fair... haha, don't do that... stop, stop, I
surrender, you win!"
When Daria arrived on the top of the stairs, she saw Jane and Trent both sitting
on the floor. Jane was giggling uncontrollably while
of answering to that, Daria glanced at
apologizing through the closet door about 'making
an extremely tasteless joke'
and a quick run through her parents' clothes, Jane drove to the hospital with
Daria riding shotgun. As they parked the car and got out, Jane turned to Daria.
know you don't have to do this. If you want, you can wait in the lobby until I
come back. I just told your grandma you'd help me to save you from making
Daria smirked. "Yes,
I know that. But maybe your parents mistake me for Penny and will be happy about
her supportive daughters. Besides, my presence will give you the moral right to
leave after the usual 'hi Mom, here's your stuff and good luck with the birth'
instead of getting caught in family talk."
not every family's as screwed up about 'getting to know each other' as your
remind me please why every Lane older than 24 travels the world alone instead of
living with his 'loved ones' at
went inside and walked towards the information counter to see a bored blonde
sitting there. Jane stepped up and slapped her hand on the counter, making the
blonde look up hastily. "Hey,
I've an urgent delivery for a patient here. Can you tell me the room number of
Finally, the blonde turned again. "The room number's 209, second floor. The elevator's over there." She paused for a moment. "Say... this name Lane... we once had a student with that name here volunteering to work with sick children. She painted the whole ward with so horrible motives; we had three lawsuits from parents with traumatized children. Do you know if there's any connection between them?" Daria watched her friend as Jane's face adopted the color of her jacket. "Um, no sorry... I don't know that. Y'know, I'm just the messenger..." Jane stuttered before she strode to the elevator with Daria behind her, the latter fighting to keep a straight face.
As soon as the doors closed, Daria started to laugh. "See? It's just knowing how to answer them!" She looked at Jane whose face slowly returned to its normal color. "But why didn't you tell me you scared children with your mural? I'd have loved to see it!" Jane cocked an eyebrow. "To be frank, I didn't know it. They threw me out for my idea to paint a scalping scene. They must have tried to clean the wall with normal methods to get the Wild West scene off and discovered the oriental masks I painted underneath." She smiled as the doors opened. "I almost forgot it."
209 turned out to be the biggest one of the ward, overlooking a nice hospital
garden. When the girls entered after knocking once, Jane's father rose from the
only bed, looking anxiously at them. When he recognized his daughter, his look
became sad. "Oh, hello
I hoped it'd be the doctor..."
"Hi Dad. Nice meeting you too. Have you met Daria?" "Mhmm... you're
Jane's soul mate, right? I think I met you when we were in
When the girls returned, they were welcomed by Quinn. "Finally! I was just thinking about calling at Jane's house to ask for you!" "It's good you didn't; you'd have woken up Trent." remarked Jane. "Now who are you and what..." "Don't give me that, Daria. Dad rejected to say anything about his meeting with Anthony until you'd be here. Now come for dinner!" "Yes, Mom." The three girls went into the dining room where the older Morgendorffers were already waiting at the table. Jake looked relaxed while both his mother and wife were obviously waiting as hard as Quinn was. "Here they are, Dad. Now please tell us what he said,!" "Yes, tell us, Jakie."
smiled at his older daughter and her friend as both sat down. "Hi, Daria, Jane. Do you want to hear about Anthony, too?" "JAKE!!!" "Just
kidding, honey. Now first thing: Mom was
right, he is my brother. He showed me a picture Dad left when he returned to
bribe the girl and which she gave to Anthony. She told him that his father was a
war hero who died in
Jake glanced angry at Ruth before continuing. "His mother was there. She came in and Anthony introduced me. The poor woman fainted on hearing my surname, and when she recovered, her first question was if HE had sent me." Quinn and Helen looked shocked, Daria's face became angry and Ruth seemed helpless as Jake spoke on. "I told both of them he was dead, buried and forgotten. I also apologized to her for Dad's sins and offered them the chance to pay him back."
smiled. "Do you want them to vandalize the grave?
This should be nice to film..." "Daria!" "Nice idea, kiddo, but I thought of something
different." Jake turned to his mother. "You said the Army wants to honor Dad with a ceremony next
Jake interrupted her before she could find a suitable expression. "And I don't want you to meet them, Mom. You'll have to meet them next week at Fort King for the ceremony, but since you told me you'd leave tomorrow to participate in your local church baking sale, I see no problem." Helen sensed the friction between Jake and Ruth and tried to defuse it by small talk. "Will you go to the prom, Quinn? I met Stacy's mother today and she told me her daughter was so excited about it she could barely sleep." Daria smiled. "Of course she will. Better swallow your platinum card before she finds the catalogue of Grand Dresses'"
Quinn glared at her sister, then she smiled too. "Yes, I will go. It's mandatory for the juniors and seniors anyway... oops." Ruth smiled. "Does that mean Daria and Jane have to go to that prom also?" She turned to Daria. "How nice! Tell me all about it, Daria! Whom will you take?" "Thank you very much, dear sis. Yes, we must go and bring a partner and yes, I already have one and no, I won't ask Tom." Daria said before Helen could start with the obvious questions. "But whom will you bring then, Daria? I mean..." "Since we don't want two of Quinn's leftovers, Daria can take my brother and I take one of his friends." Jane chimed in. "And Quinn still tries to find the courage to phone David." Daria added. "Hey!" "Oh, sorry Quinn. Thought they knew that."
VI. New Perspectives
After a good and wholesome dinner (even Helen had to admit that Ruth could cook better than any member of her closer family) which included some further inquiry from Ruth about Jane and her family as well as about Quinn's friends, Daria saw her friend to the door. Once outside, they both took a deep breath and relaxed, Daria being the first to speak again. "Now that you've seen the madness of my paternal ancestry clearer, what do you think?" Jane smirked. "If old 'Mad Dog' was only half the swine you told me, it's clear why 'Jakie' went screaming into the night first chance he got, ending up as a hippie. But at least your parents dumped their ideals about twenty years ago and went for the ruthless capitalistic world while mine tried to make do with occasional jobs for symbolical pay, if any." "Now don't tell me you'd rather have my parents. I'd still prefer being a butterfly on its own than being treated like a court witness every second time I forgot to put my plate into the dishwasher or left soda stains on the carpet!"
smiled at Daria's short summary of
"You know that Quinn and I will from now on be measured
according to the high standard you showed off, don't you!" She smirked. "Seriously, that
was really clever. Telling her about how wonderful you and Trent work along to
help your poor parents with their medical problem was just amazing to see,
especially since you forgot to say that this medical problem' is the sixth baby
in nearly thirty years." "Yeah, that might have
sabotaged the touchy story a bit. But the best part was Ruth asking Quinn why
she can't manage to find such a nice friend like you did." "Including the question if
this snotty bitch with the male voice' had found a
good place for rehab." "And Quinn trying to tell
that Sandi's red eyes during Ruth's last visit were caused by an allergy against
a fascinating new peach mascara. It was really hilarious." Jane looked at
Daria returned to the dining room, Quinn and Ruth were clearing up the remains
of the meal while Jake already sat in the living room, watching TV. Just as
Daria left the room again, Helen appeared at the other door. "Daria, I wanted to talk about the prom with
you." Daria groaned. "Mom, you heard that I'll be taking
Now Helen smiled broadly. "She said that if you were ever in the situation to need a formal dress, you should rather take hers instead of buying a new one with money we would need to clothe Quinn." "Okay, that sounds like her. Where is this dress?" "I hid it in the back of Jake's wardrobe. He'd never look there." Daria looked at her father staring mesmerized at the television. "Good idea. But why didn't you hide it in your dresser?" "Well... the last time I had bought a dress for the 'Legal Limbo' at the county court, Quinn found it and gave me a thirty-minute lesson about how the Bordeaux color clashed with my hair and my shoes. I didn't want her to find the dress and assume it was mine... it wouldn't fit me, you see." "I see."
After both women had gone to the master bedroom, Helen shut the door. Daria smirked as he mother dug between Jake's suits and coats and finally drew out a big grey packet. Helen placed it on the big bed and turned to Daria. "Okay, now turn to the door." "Mom, it's not my birthday." "I know, but I want to see your face when you see it. Please, Daria." "As you wish." Daria turned to the door as Helen started unpacking the dress. "Now turn around again, honey." Daria looked on the bed to see a three-quarters length, sleeveless black dress with green ornaments at the sides and a dark blue neckband lying on it. Just as her face adopted a look somewhere between shock and joy, she heard the unmistakable click of a photo being made and saw her mother sitting on the edge of the bed, holding a camera and smiling her head off. "Sorry, Daria, but Amy asked me to do that. How do you like it?"
Daria fought between the anger about her mother's trick and a genuine feeling of happiness. Finally, she smiled at Helen. "It's beautiful. But are you sure Quinn won't want to wear it?" "She won't be asked, Daria. This is your prom dress, if you don't want a new one." "Why should I want a new one? It's..." She stopped for a moment, then she suddenly embraced her mother. "Thank you."
minutes later, they went down again after Daria had tried on the dress to learn
it fitted her perfectly. As they sat on the sofa, Jake looked up for a moment.
"What were you two doing up there?" Helen kept a straight face. "Oh, just a short talk about putting back the lid on the
laundry bin." "That's
nice. Did the dress fit you, Daria?" For the
second time in ten minutes, Daria was flabbergasted. "How did you know, Dad?"
"Give me some credit, Daria. I was searching for my
blue tie two days ago and found the dress. I remember Amy wearing it back when
we drove her to her prom - and I was the one fetching her at 3 am when her
partner had tried to open it and she had knocked him out cold before walking two
miles to the next telephone. It's quite a story, but you better ask her about
it." Daria smiled. "I'll do that as soon as I'll see her again. It fitted
perfectly - and I like it. I wonder what
came in from the kitchen, wiping her hands on a frilly blue apron Helen had
received as a Christmas gift from her years before they had moved to
Quinn entered the room, still wearing Jake's long 'Kiss the cook' apron. She glanced at her parents and at Daria. "Thank you all for the big help. Wait... neither of you helped me and Ruth. Just forget it." Helen rose from her seat. "Sorry sweetie, but your father had enough stress today with his meeting Anthony, and you know I worked ten hours again." "It's okay, Mom, I know that. I meant Daria." "Quinn, you know that Daria helped her friend today." Quinn crossed her arms, looking doubtful. "She still could have helped with the menial labor. By the way, why did Jane need help, anyway?" Ruth chimed in. "Oh yes, that's what I wanted to ask this nice girl after dessert." She paused. "Of course, if it's personal, you don't have to tell."
looked around her family, feeling all eyes resting upon her. Finally, she
decided to tell them. "Jane's parents came home today
because her mother is going to have another baby. That's why she and I had to
bring some things to the hospital. Jane has promised to call if she's got a new
sibling already." Ruth looked confused. "But Jane must be your age, Daria. I mean... how old is her
mother?" "She's my
age, Ruth." Helen said. "Still it's unusual. If you think about Jane's four older
siblings..." Now Ruth's face had turned to an expression of shock. "She has four older siblings?" "Yes, Grandma Ruth. Her older
sisters are 28 and 26 and her brothers are 27 and 23. The Lanes are a big
family." "Does that
rose from his seat and gave his mother a stern look. "Maybe it is, Mom. Still I think that
minutes later, the other Morgendorffers retired to their respective rooms. Daria
was just changing into her night garments when the telephone rang. Okay, that's
either Eric Schrecter remembering that Mom hasn't had
her weekly fifty calls from him yet - or it's Jane announcing the arrival of
another Lane. She sat down on her bed and lifted the receiver. "Morgendorffer Manor?" "Hi Daria. You're speaking with the second-youngest member of the
Lawndale Lanes." "So you're a big sister now? Congratulations. What is it?" "It's a boy. My parents called
ten minutes ago and told me.
"Nice style. We didn't have a ritual, if you don't count my
throwing mashed carrots at Mom when she told me she'd found me a sister to play
with. Mom loves to tell that story on Quinn's birthday - each and every
time." "Ouch. Anyway,
now I'll need advice on being a big sister to fulfill my role properly. Can you
help me out?" "I'm
"Not much after you left. Oh, wait: I destroyed your
new-found glory by telling Ruth and the others what 'medical problems' your parents have. Ruth gave us the benefit of her
POV about eighteen-year-old mothers until Dad reminded her that her own husband
impregnated a sixteen-year-old girl.
That silenced her." Jane whistled audibly.
"Seems like having a brother works wonders with your
Dad's self-esteem. Say thanks to him for defending my parents next time you see
him." "I certainly
will. Don't tell anyone, but I like this new Dad better than the oblivious one
of the last six years." "Why six?" "It's a long story, but until I became twelve, we lived in
paused for a moment. "He hated
Jane waited some seconds after Daria had stopped talking. When she was sure that her friend would not continue, she spoke. "You never told me that, Daria." "Well, it's not the kind of story one tells lightly - not even to a close friend, Jane." Daria added to prevent Jane from saying anything. "But like you said yourself; having a brother works wonders for him. I hope he'll stay that way, for his sake as well as for my mother's." She looked around her room until her eyes were back on the dress in the wardrobe.
"But I wanted to tell you something different. After I returned from seeing you off, Mom told me that my Aunt Amy had left her old prom dress here so I could use it some day." "Let me guess. Either Quinn saw it and whined until she got it or it was hideous and now you're looking for a way to avoid wearing it." "Not exactly, Jane. Quinn doesn't know about the dress yet and it's fantastic."
withdrew her ear from the receiver because of a loud clacking sound Jane had
produced by hitting her phone with the flat hand. "Sorry, Daria, but I just heard the word 'fantastic' in relation with a dress. Quinn must have
interfered somehow." "No Jane, I said
'fantastic'. My mother showed me the dress and I genuinely like it." "That must be some garment. Shall
VII. Family Values
Jane rose very early the next morning and prepared for her usual run
before breakfast. When she went down to the kitchen, she found
After five kilometers and a quick stop at the supermarket for rolls and jam, Jane returned to her house in good mood. Her mood improved even more when she saw her father's old Volvo standing in front of the house and smelled fresh coffee as soon as she opened the door. As she passed the kitchen, she started to laugh when she saw Trent and Vincent sitting at the table, both having small eyes and scuffed hair and were holding on to coffee mugs. Vincent raised his head to look at his daughter.
"Good morning, Janey. Had a good run?" "Yes,
Dad. If you had arrived earlier, you
could've participated," Vincent smirked. "No, thanks. I know that it's been the sixth time for me to father a
child, but waiting for the birth without being able to help still wears me out.
At least Danny was born in a hospital like you were. That karmic birth helper
down at the commune might've been a help with the first two, but somehow I
prefer midwifes and doctors." Jane grinned.
One hour later, a properly showered and nurtured Jane sat down in her room to call Daria. After the second ring, someone answered. "Quinn Morgendorffer." "Hi, Quinn, it's Jane. Is Daria there?" "Oh, hi Jane. I thought... it might be David." Quinn said disappointed. "Hasn't he called yet?" "No, he hasn't. I wonder if he's already got my letter." "He'll call back for sure, Quinn. In the meantime, I'd appreciate it if you could give me Daria." "Oh sorry. Just a moment." Jane heard Quinn call through the house. "Daria! Telephone! It's Jane!" Ten seconds later, Daria's voice came through the phone. "Hello Jane. What's new?" "You mean apart from the fact that Quinn is anxiously waiting for a male being to call her for the first time in her life?"
sounded surprised. "How do you know?" "When I said my name, she blurted
out that she's awaiting David's call." "Yeah, I know. I hope he'll call her. For most of my life, I
wished that Quinn would be stood up in that kind of situation, but now,
ironically, I would pity her if it really happens." "You're getting soft, Daria."
Daria snorted. "I know. But there must be more
interesting topics than Quinn's yearning for an older man." "Sure there are. My father came
back from the hospital this morning and told us that the new baby will be named
Danny. He probably meant Daniel, but Danny sounds good also." "
her end of the line, Daria smiled. "Yesterday you
said we should meet to discuss things for the prom." "Oh yes. I told
some further prattling, the girls finished the talk and Daria went down to the
kitchen. When she entered it, she found Jake and Ruth sitting at the counter and
talking about the invitation to
noticed Daria. "Hi,
darling. Don't you want to accompany
your father to
Any further discussion of this topic was prevented by Quinn rushing into the room, waving an open letter. "Dad, Grandma, Daria! David just wrote me he'll come to the prom with me! Now I can start planning my outfit and the accessories..." She drifted off while mentally already digging through her inventories. Daria smiled. "So he really wants to see you again? Congratulations, sis. Now you'll just have to find a dress as good as mine." Quinn looked up from her letter. "No offence, Daria, but that can't be very difficult, judging from your normal style." She paused. "You won't wear that horrible bridesmaid dress, will you?" Jake attempted to say something, but Daria was faster. "Sorry, Quinn. You'll have to wait for the big evening to see, just as all the others. By the way, do your fashion friends already know about your partner for the prom?" Quinn grinned broadly. "They'll have a big surprise."
Later that day, Jake drove his mother to the station to see her off
before he stopped by at his office at Halcyon Hills. When he entered it, his
gaze fell on the family picture on the wall. It had been shot 9 years ago on a
It's funny how everything's changed in the last decade, Jake thought. In 1990, everyone looked so happy and all the problems of the nineties were so far away. He looked at the picture again and felt the usual twitch of nostalgia creeping up his neck, but then he shook his head. That's nonsense! My girls are grown-up now and as far as I know, they are happy. Daria has overcome her isolation and found good friends in Lawndale; Quinn has passed the stage of being a fashion fanatic and is not ashamed to show her intellect anymore - so I don't have to dread the day when some smartass designer comes up with a design she can not wear. He smiled at this thought. And Helen is succeeding at her career - this time without sacrificing mine for it. He eyed the old picture once again before leaving his office. If the Jake of 1990 would have been on the photo too, knowing what his family would be like nine years later, I bet he would have smiled his head off.
When Jake returned to his home, Daria stood outside waiting for him. "Hi Dad. Anthony has called and asked if your invitation for dinner tonight is still standing. He wants you to call him back." "I'll do that as soon as I've changed my clothes. Your grandmother objected to me seeing her off in casual clothes, so I had to put on my grey suit." Daria looked at his appearance as they entered the house. "Figures. It was scary talking to DeMartino as my uncle after three years of knowing him as a teacher, by the way. Are you going to invite him for tonight?" Jake nodded. "You realize that, with Grandma Ruth gone, one of us will have to cook dinner, right? Mom does have some lasagna in store, but I doubt this will be fitting for a family reunion. Of course, I could try to cook..." Jake shook his head. "Thanks kiddo, but I prefer to cook myself."
Daria put her hands to her hips in mock outrage. "Hey, I thought parents must encourage their children in trying out new things to become independent adults. My self-esteem could be permanently harmed by your distrust." Jake smiled. "Unlike your teachers, I know you since your birth, Daria. You've always had enough self-esteem for several kids - at least since the day you preferred to almost break your nose trying to learn to walk at the age of fifteen months instead of taking my hand." "Thank you for that awkward mental image. Can I at least help you with tonight's dinner preparations? I'm sure Quinn would be happy to participate also." "Sure."
Quinn was buried deep in her wardrobe when Daria knocked at her door. "Yes? Come i... mmphh!" Daria entered to see her sister sitting on the floor, looking angrily at a heavy dark-blue coat which had obviously just fallen on her head. "Damn thing! Oh, hi Daria." Daria smirked. "Are you fighting with the coat? If your clothes attack you without provocation, you should use more mothballs - or this counter curse stuff Stacy tried to poison Sandi with." "Ha-ha, very funny Daria. You know that was only Stacy's desperate try to heal Sandi from laryngitis - although Sandi deserved each second of being speechless. However, don't quote me please." She giggled. "Now why're you here? Need some advice on clothing for the prom, sis?"
Daria drew a grimace. "I told you I have a prom dress which you as well as all other people will see on the very evening, not before. No, I wanted to summon you to a joint father-daughters effort to cook dinner for tonight when Anthony comes with his mother. Dad is just calling him to repeat his invitation." "And I'm supposed to be big help in the kitchen because I wasn't fast enough to escape Grandma and her rants about the true calling of womanhood'... hey wait, did you say daughters'? You are also part of it?" "Of course I am, sis. Can't you see me working in the kitchen to prepare an edible meal?" "Given the fact one of us had to inherit Dad's illusion that he can cook, I always feared I'd be the one since you spent every chance you got - and many dollars also - at Pizza Prince." "Well, since Dad humored me by telling me how much he'd like my help, I'm somehow trapped in it. Now come on."
Two hours later, Helen returned from her work to find her family preparing dinner. Daria was laying the table in the dining-room while Quinn supervised a pan with beefsteaks a la Jake and shredded some carrots in a mixer. Jake appeared from the cellar where he had gone to fetch a good wine and some beer. When he saw his wife, he placed the bottles on the next table to embrace her. "Hi, honey. You're just on time for dinner with Anthony and Nora. They'll arrive in about ten minutes, I think, so you still have time to change clothes." "Don't you need help with the meal, Jake?" Jake smiled at her. "No, the girls have helped me already."
looked at the bottles. "I hope our guests appreciate
the wine I got from my staff as farewell when we moved to
VIII. Family Secrets Part 2, or: Join The Army And See The Worst
Anthony and Nora arrived fifteen minutes later and, after a cordial welcome, had a good dinner with the Morgendorffers. During the meal, nobody started a conversation deeper than a request to pass the gravy, the salt or the potatoes. After everyone had finished, Jake leant back and looked at his daughters sitting opposite him. "Could you please clear the table and put the remains into the fridge, girls? We'll move over so you'll can work better." While the girls started taking away the dishes and other things, the others went over to the living-room and sat down again.
When everyone had settled with a glass of wine and some crackers, Anthony was the first to speak. "Thank you for the meal, Jake. It was excellent." "Well, my girls deserve some praise too; they helped me making it. Thank you for coming, too. I was shocked when my mother told us about you and your mother yesterday; but your shock must've been much worse." Anthony looked at his mother, who sat next to him and looked quite pleased with the situation. "I was shocked, believe me. But now after I know about my... our father, I feel like having an old problem off my back. However, I'd like to know more about him and his family. Since Mom's family threw her out because of me, I never had much of a family." He looked at his mother again before turning towards Jake. "Were all the Morgendorffer ancestors like Martin, or was he just the occasional black sheep?"
Jake adjusted his position before answering.
"Dad seldom spoke about his origins, but my mother
told me after his death what he'd told her when they met each other for the
first time." He paused for a moment. "From what I know, John Morgendorffer - our grandfather - was
"When the U.S.
command realized that John knew not only the operation plans of a possible
Austrian intervention, but had also learnt about the complete German plans in
the American sector, they offered him a deal: if he told them everything he
knew, he would get a ticket to America, the U.S. citizenship and a small
allowance for his help. He accepted and arrived in
Jake took a sip from his wine glass and looked
at his daughters entering from the kitchen, then he
continued. "In 1928, John planned to return to
Jake nodded sadly. "John stayed at home, but it must've been a hard shock for
him, especially since he lost his job one year later because of the depression.
In the next years, he and his family lived at the edge of poverty. In 1934, the
department of the Army offered to take ten-year-old Martin as pupil in
Nora gasped as Jake carried on with his story.
"John committed suicide in late 1940, leaving behind a
note explaining that he killed himself because he'd failed to make a difference
in any way. His widow Susan later found work in the Pentagon when the Army
needed women fluent in German to translate enemy documents; she died in 1944
from cancer. Martin entered the Army in 1942 and was not present at his father's
funeral. He neither attended his mother's funeral because he landed in the
The DeMartinos looked expectantly at Jake, then they leant back when he did not continue his story. Helen gazed around and, seeing that they all still had some wine in their glasses, shifted her position on the love-seat closer to Jake. Anthony cleared his throat. "So our grandfather was an Austrian aristocrat? It's a pity neither of us ever met him; he seems to have been a nice man according to what you say, Jake. At any rate he didn't deserve to have such a son like... he had."
Nora smiled at her son for a moment, then she gazed towards Jake and Helen again. "I think it's our turn now to tell what our lives were like.
When I met Martin Morgendorffer, I was a normal high-school girl in
"After the end of the Korean War, Martin came to my home town to cure his sin with money; I took it only after he violently attacked me for telling him he had a son to care for and that he couldn't just throw some money at me and leave again. After the money was spent, I worked again, leaving Tony alone often for long times in our little shabby apartment. When he started going to school, I soon had to learn from his teachers that he had problems with the other children."
Anthony took over the story. "To be frank, I became a big bully feared and hated by other
kids. Mom tried to change this, but our situation forced her to work the whole
day while I had much time for boredom and mischief. At the age of 11, I broke
the arm of another boy, who was the son of the richest family in the county.
They dragged me and Mom to court for that and the judge gave me a choice: to go
to juvenile prison for three months or to enter a special institution where I
would learn discipline and rules. I took the latter and left my mother in 1962 -
it was Jake's turn to look flabbergasted. "You were
also... I mean, you went to military school during your teenager
years?" "Yes, Jake. It
would've pleased our father to know that his illegitimate son followed his path
just like you had to, don't you think?" "Like hell it would. How long did you go there?" "Wait a moment... from 1962 to
1969, seven years. After the initial shock wore off, I adjusted to it and did
what they told me. Since I went there on court order, the state paid my fees and
living until I was 16. By then, I'd grown accustomed to the school and had
friends there, so I stayed two more years since Mom had saved enough money for
the fees due to not having to feed and clothe me for five years except on
vacation. When I graduated in 1969, the government was already frantically
looking for trained men to send to
emptied his wine glass, then he continued. "I made three tours in
took me five more months to rehabilitate and to get away from the painkillers.
After my return to service, I learned that I had to spend eight more months in
the army because my months of rehabilitation did not count as having been in
the service'. In late 1976, I finally started to study history at
refilled his glass. "So you went back to the army
after you finished college?" DeMartino nodded.
"I graduated in 1983 with honors and got several
offers for teacher's posts in
Quinn took up the item and examined it closely before she handed it to her father. "Dad, do you know what this is?" Jake looked at it for about five seconds, then he stared at his brother. "But this is... you really received..." "It looks like a sheriff's star, Dad." Quinn said as Daria took the item up. "This is the Congressional Medal of Honor, Quinn. I never knew it's being awarded in peacetime." She looked at her uncle. "Well, this puts you in a row of American heroes like Forrest Gump." "You really received the Medal of Honor? From the Congress?" Helen asked incredulously. Anthony shrugged.
"Actually, it was a small ceremony in an office at Capitol
Hill. The Reagan government didn't want too much publicity about the
looked directly at Daria and Quinn. "Guess
who." Quinn thought about it. "Well, I'd say Coach Gibson is an ex-soldier. But that's
probably the easiest one." "Correct. He participated in the
smiled. "They look like it, I know. But not every
soldier is John Wayne with a gun in each hand and a knife between his teeth. How
about Tim O'Neill?" Now Daria laughed. "No way, Uncle
Anthony! I'd rather say Bennett or
Manson. Even that pedophile I replaced as substitute looked more army than
O'Neill. Wait... you're serious, aren't you?"
"Yes, I am. I know Timothy O'Neill for almost twenty
years now. We first met each other in 1980 when I was a major planning the
operation against the
Anthony looked at his glass, then he fixed Quinn in his gaze. "Please don't ever let him know that I told you." "But why not? Was it something illegal?" Anthony sighed heavily. "Much worse. He met a wonderful woman at college which he married in 1989. Laura and Tim were the nicest couple I've ever seen. They often invited me to dinner or for holidays, knowing that I lived alone and had no family to be with. Tim almost never drank alcohol, especially not when he used his car. Now after Ms. Li took over the post of principal in late 1993, she made a rousing party at her place in Oakwood and most people got pretty drunk, including Tim. When the party finally broke up, I offered him a ride since I'd stayed sober the whole evening. He declined it because his wife needed the car the next morning to drive to her job. Despite his inebriation, he managed to drive the whole route back and almost up to his place - but when he arrived there and accelerated to get his car up the curb to park it, he overlooked someone standing there and ran that person over. He stepped out and saw his wife lying under his car, bleeding."
Morgendorffers gasped while Nora just nodded sadly, knowing the story already.
Anthony continued. "He stood there in his stupor and
his shock, just holding her until a neighbor came out, saw them and called an
ambulance. She died that very night in the Cedars of
Quinn smiled at him. "In the name of Lawndale High's under-age students, thank you for that. If it wasn't for Li's non-fraternization policy, they might compete with Britanny and Kevin for the best make-out places. Brrr." She shuddered.
looked around the group and offered another refill of wine and soda, which
everyone declined, then she sat up straight. "Since Jake's already told you about the family origins and
Martin's parents, I think I'll complete the picture with our past life. After
Martin was killed in
Helen smirked. "I still remember the first time I met him. I ran the school paper and, being interested in politics and the current situation, had already clashed with the principal over several articles in the paper before. One day, Jake entered the room we used as office and told us he wanted to join. When I saw his formal appearance and his buzz cut, I immediately suspected the principal had sent him to replace me as editor. I soon discovered that spineless abiding to authorities was the thing he was least likely to do at that moment." "I had jumped on other people's calls for over six years at Buxton Ridge back then. The most attractive idea for me about being with the school paper was the thought that I could do - and say - what I wanted and tell things I didn't like to other people." Jake said. "Helen accepted me as writer and we became colleagues before even thinking about other relationships."
"I was part of a
liberal clique in my town which included several rich children as well as smart
blue-collar kids and some older people earning money for college. Jake became
part of it when he started to go out with a girl named Eleanor who was the
school's biology genius and a member of the group. Soon, we saw each other at
the work for the paper and after school in the only decent diner that town had.
We never thought about any romantic feelings then, especially since I also had a
boyfriend, a boy from my class whose over-religious parents had named him
Jeroboam." "Weren't there any people with cool
names, Mom?" Daria asked her mother. "No,
Quinn... oh, sorry, Quinn. Very funny,
Daria. Well, a
friend of ours had a mountain cabin at
Daria's face lit up. "So that was the famed '
Jake took over while Helen took a sip from her
wine glass. "It was a rocky time for everyone
involved. We attracted other youngsters who moved in and soon lived on the farm
with about twenty people and thirty pets or farm animals. Some people changed
their names to cement their 'transition' into a higher being, better humans or
just to escape the draft - I don't remember it exactly. Thus Eleanor and
Helen swallowed the last of her wine, then she went on. "In early 1975,
Jake and I finally admitted two things to ourselves: that we had grown very
close to each other and that we wanted more from life than the daily political
discussions and the ritual squabble about whose turn it was to give the organic
waste to the animals. We married in June 1975 in a ceremony at the next lake,
just like several commune couples had done before - including
"After we both made it through the basics successfully,
Jake earned himself a MBA with honors and we started thinking about children
although I was still in law school. Daria was born in February 1981 and Jake
became an assistant in a consulting firm in
"Finally, I applied to Schrecter
et al.' in
The DeMartinos left four hours later after more reminiscence and talk about family and school matters. While the girls went up to their respective rooms, Jake and Helen had another glass of wine before they also retired to their room.
IX. That Which Does Not Kill Us...
On the next morning, Daria woke up to the sound of her phone. She shook her head and felt her brain ache. I hate it when Mom's right, she thought. That damned wine they had last evening really isn't compatible with teenagers. Well, at least Quinn had her part, too. After a moment, she lifted the receiver just to hear a very agitated voice on the phone. "Hello? This is Stacy. I got to talk to Quinn. Is she there?" Daria drew a grimace before answering. "Hi Stacy. This is Daria. Quinn's here, but..." Now let's try out how dear little sis' digested that rotten grape juice. "...if you wait a moment, I'll put you through." "Thank you, Daria." Daria pushed the wait' button before she rung up Quinn's phone. After about ten seconds, a tired Quinn answered "...whatsehellson, Mom?" Daria put every ounce of cheerfulness she could muster in her voice. "Good morning, Quinn. You'll be so delighted to hear that Stacy's on the phone and eager to talk to you." "Cut it out, Daria. Mmmm... okay, put her through." Daria relayed the call, then she dropped the phone back on the floor and rose from the bed to collect her thoughts.
Last time I woke up in that state, I had Tom's arm - and leg - lying right over my body, she mused. I wonder if that's what he was up to when he came to my room to comfort me after my talk with that idiotic Bromwell woman. She pushed her boots aside and opened her dresser. It was a good thing he had this crappy wine with him, otherwise I would've been all over the minibar... and that might've been difficult to explain to Mom, being on college tour and all. Daria grabbed some underwear, socks and her usual t-shirt/skirt combination and went over to her desk, still reminiscing about Tom and their night together in the Bromwell guest house. On second thought, Mom would've fumed over an emptied minibar, but it still would've held less danger than the story of what really happened: Tom came to my room with a bottle of wine, we drank it, got tipsy, made out - and if Tom hadn't brought that neon-colored device with him, we might've... Brrr, that thought is just too icky to pursue it on an empty stomach. I better go occupy the bathroom as long as Quinn's glued to the phone with Stacy. She opened the door and left her room.
Daria showered, brushed her teeth and clothed in the bathroom, then she went down and prepared breakfast. After some time, her parents came down also, Jake looking unshaven, but very chipper while Helen had tired, mole-like eyes and walked unsure. Daria looked up from her cereals and smiled at her parents. "And the winner of the unofficial drinking contest between consultants and lawyers is... the consultant. Congratulations!" Jake grinned at her as he sat down on his chair. "Good morning to you too, Daria. How come you're already up and eating?" "Quinn got a call from Stacy and is still on it, I think." She noticed that her mother searched the kitchen for something. "Sit down, Mom. Your coffee is already prepared; just push the button on the machine." "Thanks sweetie." Jake put some jam on his bread and fixed his daughter in his gaze. "How did you like the wine, by the way?" Daria's answer was prevented by a disheveled but smiling Quinn entering the kitchen, who sat down and started talking immediately.
"Hi everybody. Stacy just called and told me that they were invited to the prom by Joey-Jeffy-Jamie. Sandi and Tiffany accepted at once, but Stacy wanted to clear it with me in case I had dibs on either of the three. Talk about your true friends." "And what did you tell her, honey?" Helen asked from the counter. "I told her she should choose Joey, he's the brightest of the three - and I've blown him off worse than the other two when I tried out boyfriends." "Did you tell her that you'll bring David?" Daria asked. "No way. I want Sandi to think I'll come without a date. If I told Stacy, she would blurt it out first chance she got." Quinn grinned expectantly. "I told Stacy we'd meet each other in front of the school tonight and that I had no time before that because of important family stuff."
Daria finished her meal and rose from the table. "Did you also teach her not to call other people in the middle of the night?" "Come on, Daria. You know I... wait, you had a headache from the wine too, right?" Jake grinned as he regarded his two daughters. "See, Helen, that stupid guy at the commune was right after all: let your kids try out everything at least once if you don't know for sure it's poison." "And if your kids happen to like what they had?" Quinn asked. "Depends on what you took; if it was just alcohol or something else derived from organic stuff, you're supposed to tell them about risks and side effects of the stuff." Daria smirked. "If it happened to be a sample of the advanced chemistry kit' however, go get the stomach pump and the rubber coat." Helen added hurriedly to anticipate Daria's comment about Jake's ill-timed hippie reminiscences. Daria shrugged her shoulders and stacked her dishes in the dishwasher as the telephone rang. When she took up the receiver, she heard a very familiar voice at the other end.
"Hi, Daria. Hope I don't wake you, but I wanted to know how the evening with DeMartino and his mom went." Daria went to the living-room and sat down. "Well, first you didn't wake me, I was having breakfast with my family." "Aw, how sweet, Is that what real families do?" "I think so, but don't get mushy on me, please. Anyway, Anthony and his mother were here until about twelve yesterday, and I learnt many interesting things about him - as well as things about Dad's family he never told us before. Remember when I envied you for having a surname no one ever wanted you to spell out?" Jane chuckled.
"You mean your
recitation of 101 different ways to misspell Morgendorffer'? Yeah, of
course." "Dad told us
his grandfather was a major of the Austrian army named von Morgendorffer who deserted to the
Jane whistled. "So old
DeMartino is an American hero, eh?
Jane waited for a witty answer from her friend,
but Daria was silent. "Hello? Earth to
Daria?" Daria cleared her throat. "Sorry, Jane. I just thought
Jane sighed through the line. "Listen, I know you must think that Trent was as aimless and
sloppy in school as he's now, sleeping twenty hours per day and giving a damn
about his future." "Well, I mean..."
Daria hesitated. "He wasn't, Daria. He was no Jodie
Landon - and no Daria Morgendorffer, I must add..." "I get the point, Jane." Daria said. "...but his overall performance was always satisfying if you
don't count math, which has been a mystery for all Lanes and will ever be.
Anyway, he went through high school without any problems until half through his
senior year." "And
what happened then?" "Almost all the time in high school,
Daria drew her breath audibly as Jane
continued. "Trent and Pat met at the first day of high
school and fell for each other immediately. Pat was a leading member of Lawndale
High's drama club and convinced
"Neither Trent nor Pat
herself knew that she had a rare kind of allergy against stronger alcoholics
which had never shown before - mostly because she'd never been much of a drinker
for all I know. They left an hour later after Pat told
Daria found her voice back. "So
"After learning this,
"What?! I know she's a bitch, but
that..." Daria cried
furiously. "I know that, but please have mercy with my
ear, Daria." "Sorry, Jane. What
happened then?" "When
Dad asked Li for a talk about the whole matter, it became clear that Li, who'd
never taught Trent herself, had been influenced in her decision by the math and
science teachers as well as Morris, who'd struggled with my other siblings and
had branded Trent to be just another Lane troublemaker - despite his good grades
in English, History and other subjects. After Dad proved this to Li, she had to
concede that Trent wasn't the kind of bum our three older siblings had been, but
couldn't be persuaded to give in about the graduation issue for official reasons
- until DeMartino threatened to inform the PTA and the superintendent of schools
as well as every single newspaper around here." Jane sighed. "Trent graduated with the same grades he'd had before Pat
died, but we all knew that he wouldn't go on to college after what he'd gone
through. Since then,
Daria swallowed audibly. "But why did DeMartino do this for
Jane laughed. "Poor Anthony. Just
imagine what he's missed by now:
X. Girl Talk
After some time of reading and a short brunch with her family, Daria prepared to leave for Jane's house. She was just walking down the stairs when the doorbell rang. Before Daria could get it, Quinn rushed past her from the kitchen and jerked the door open to reveal David Sorenson standing in the entrance. David stepped in and gave Quinn a short hug. "Hi, Quinn. Are you sure your friends aren't going to burn you on a pile of outdated clothes if they see you associating with me?" Quinn smiled at her former tutor. "They'll drop dead at your sight, David." She scanned his rumpled blue t-shirt, his slacks and sneakers critically. "Although they probably wouldn't recognize you in this look, I think. We'll have to get you something that flaunts your intelligence and style..." Daria called down the stairs. "You better run now, David. She's not in full predator mode yet, so you still have a chance." David looked up and noticed Daria. "Hi, Daria. Nice to meet you again and congratulations to graduating from Li-dale Hell." "Thanks. How are your studies going?" "Fine, thank you." He turned back to Quinn. "I'll promise I'll look my best tomorrow night, okay? In the meantime, I wanted to invite you to a fat-free salad somewhere to talk." "Give me five minutes, David. I'll be back." Quinn turned and ran up the stairs to her room with David looking after her. Daria smirked.
"Do you think she's
changed since last summer?" "From what she
wrote me about once a month, she has. Is it true that she's among the best
students in her class now?" "Believe
it or not, she really is. It seems like you've
created a brain-beauty hybrid, David." "My pleasure, Daria. How's your life going these days?" "School's out, life's normal and future... I've been accepted
at Raft in
David leant against the doorframe and gave a thumbs-up sign. "Count on me, Daria. I'll keep her safe and harmless at the other end of the mall if we're there." "Don't tell her I told you, but I think you're the only guy around with any chance to bring her to a mall and keep her out of the clothes shops." Quinn came down the stairs again and entered the room. "I've got to run, David; we'll see each other at the dance, I'm sure. Bye." "Bye, Daria." Quinn looked after her departing sister. "Okay, I'm ready. What did you two talk about, by the way?" "Oh, school, college, life - you know, brains stuff." "Very funny."
When Daria arrived in front of Lane Manor, Jane already stood outside and welcomed her. "Hi, amiga. Ready to get a sparkling dress worthy to be worn by me?" "Not really, but if we find some kind of fabric suitable to cover the more intimate areas of your hardly-trained body, it'll suffice." Jane hit her friend playfully on the arm. "Come on, you're just envious of my lean figure and good style." "The only envy felt by anyone will be the one our usual combinations will feel if we neglect them for this stupid dance. Now move it before I come to my senses and run away screaming. Didn't your sisters leave some dress you could wear?" "Summer got her first kid when she was still a junior and thus never went to a prom, and Penny hasn't worn a dress since her seventh birthday. She also missed prom because Li frowned on the idea of her wearing jeans and a "Satan Rules" t-shirt to the prom. Mom's got some dresses, of course, but they are either from their hippie era or have big clay stains."
"Oh, by the way,
Quinn might be at Cranberry Commons too." Daria said as they approached
the mall. Jane stopped immediately to look at her friend incredulously. "You didn't!" "Actually,
she'll be at the
Five minutes later, the two friends entered the "Memorable Days" store in the mall and were approached by the next saleslady, who showed them to a big rack of dresses in the back of the store. Jane scanned them critically, then she took three dresses from the rack and disappeared in a dressing room while Daria sat down on a chair and started to read a novel she had brought with her. After five minutes, she was so concentrated on her book that she did not notice a girl with wavy black hair sweeping past her. The girl stopped in her tracks, turned and looked directly at the sitting figure, exclaiming. "Daria! I'd never imagined finding you here!"
Daria looked up to see Elsie Sloane standing in
front of her. She collected her thoughts and smiled at the other girl. "Hi Elsie. How are you?" "I'm
fine, thank you. What're you doing here?" "I'm
helping Jane to find a dress for the school's prom. She's still in there if the
clothes monster hasn't eaten her yet." She looked at the two black
dresses over Elsie's right arm. "Are you shopping for
the Starry Night Ball again?" "I'm afraid
not. You see, our Grandma died the day before yesterday and now we'll fly down
Elsie held up her hands in defense as Daria looked critically at her. "No offence, Daria. I know that he asked you about it and that you accepted, but I also know you two decided to cancel it after you broke up. The hard time I meant was in fact the one Mom gave Tom because she wanted to make sure that the chosen girl would fit to him socially, so she rejected three of his female classmates who were interested." Daria smirked. "I guess I should be honored because I would've 'fitted socially', right?" Elsie nodded. "You really should be, Daria. Don't tell him, but my parents really appreciated you and your relationship with Tom; before he'd met Jane and you, the girls he used to bring home were really bad." "Meaning that they never had a chance to become a member of the clan, right?" Elsie hesitated for some seconds, then she answered. "To tell you the truth, Mom honestly believed you two had a future, especially after she learnt of your night together at Bromwell..." "What??!"
Both girls turned rapidly to see Jane standing behind them, wearing a blue ankle-length dress without sleeves and looking totally flabbergasted at her best friend. "You and Tom did what?" Daria shushed her down with both hands and gave Elsie a look that made the younger girl flinch back from her. "Ehm..., I'm sorry, Daria. I thought Jane knew already..." Jane sat down beside them and fixed Daria in her gaze. "So you and my ex did the deed after all and you didn't tell me! Now how..." Daria interrupted her.
"Listen, Jane! First thing: lower your voice, for Pete's sake! I know several colleagues of my Mom who shop here, so hold it until we're out of the store. Second thing: Yes, I did, and I'd planned to tell you - after the prom." She turned to Elsie. "How do you know, by the way?" Elsie hesitated, then she answered. "Well, after you two and Mom returned from Bromwell, she told Dad late in the evening... just when I happened to walk by quietly for a nightly snack. I don't think they noticed me, but I overheard most of it. I didn't tell Tom, if that lightens your load." "Well, he knew anyway." Jane said and received another deadly gaze from Daria.
Elsie rose from her chair and looked straight at Daria. "Listen, I'm sorry I blurted this out. Can I invite you two to a pizza as an apology?" Jane smirked. "Aha! I sense another chance to freeload on the famed Sloane fortune! Let's go immediately!" She started to walk straight towards the entrance. When she had almost reached it, Daria called after her. "Jane, don't you think you'll be slightly overdressed for pizza, wearing an unpaid prom dress?" Jane stopped and looked at the dress. "Oops, I forgot. Do you like the dress, by the way?" Elsie smiled. "It's stunning, Jane. Buy it." "And you, Daria?" "I second that. Let's go, I'm hungry."
After Jane had paid for the dress, the three
girls proceeded to the nearest
"Alright, here's for my so-called love life." She gulped down some soda. "You remember that Tom, Kay and I went looking for colleges some weeks ago and first visited Bromwell to have interviews with the admission officer. Tom went first and dazzled the woman by mentioning about hundred of his relatives who practically built and made the place, which gave him the birthright to become a member of the chosen few to be admitted this year. No offence meant, Elsie." "None taken, Daria. In fact, you're right about the whole nepotism thing stinking like hell, but since Dad's been pushing Tom towards Bromwell for the last ten years, I guess he's accepted his fate. Carry on." "Anyway, he came out - after almost an hour of talk - and the first thing the interviewer asks me is 'Are you as full of Bromwell lore as Tom?' before I was even sitting." "Ouch" "Well, I needed some time to remove my mental blockade about the stupid questions like what I'd hope to reap from the unique Bromwell experience, then it went more or less smooth."
She took another bite of pizza and some soda to
swallow it. "I had planned to proceed to
Jane leant forward. "The 'Horatio Alger Sloane Wing? Now that's talking about influence." Elsie smiled awkwardly. "Well, like Dad would tell you..." she lowered her voice in a good imitation of Angier "...it's only a wing, Elsie; those damned Shearersons from Hyannisport actually had the nerve to donate the whole biology building." Jane laughed. "Okay, so you were stuck in Bromwell for the evening. What happened then?" "Well, Tom's mother insisted on entertaining Tom and me with stories about life at Bromwell; you know, where to eat, what to do, which places to avoid - the whole freshman program. It wasn't until quarter to twelve until we all went to our rooms." "Where at least one person didn't stay." Jane remarked. "Do you want to hear the story or use your dirty mind to imagine the details by yourself?" "Sorry, Daria. Please continue." "When I was finally alone in my room, I was so frustrated with the whole day and the Bromwell machinery that I was mad at Tom for bringing me there and mad at myself for accepting. In fact, if I'd have had a car of my own, I might've left immediately. Then someone knocked at my door and shook me out of my gloom."
Daria finished her slice and fixed the other girls. "Before I continue: no one's going to know except you two, understood? It's hard enough to tell you, but if my parents or Quinn knew, I'd be dead meat." "Sure, Daria." "Of course." Daria sighed again. "It was Tom, of course, planning to apologize for everything from the interview up to the behavior of both his mother and Professor Woods towards me. He had scrounged a bottle of red wine from somewhere as a peace offering - I'm sure from some servant who'd already organized booze for the preceding Sloane generation - and offered to drink some of it together. We killed most of the wine and... got intimate, so to say. I guess it was both the frustration and the need to hold on to something... or someone, in that case."
She held up her hand to stop Jane's upcoming comment. "Let me just answer the questions in your mind according to curiosity and dirt. One: yes, we knew what we were doing despite the wine. Two: yes, Jane, it was fun... and you should try it yourself some time. Three: no, Elsie, you're not going to be an aunt; we used protection - each time, which provokes question four: no, we did not screw around like two horny gorillas although we repeated 'it' later that night - twice, to be exact. Finally question five: Tom stayed the whole night with me before he sneaked out in the dawn to get back to his room and to destroy the evidence."
Elsie smiled. "And that's where your nefarious hormone- and wine-soaked plan failed, Daria. Did you two really think that a Bromwell servant would find some wine for Tom without checking first with Mom whether she allowed it or not? She told Dad that the man asked for her consent, and she took a lucky guess about Tom's plans. In fact, she said - but don't tell Tom, please - that if he'd ordered a six-pack of beer, she'd have declined since he would've drunk it alone in his room and caused a scandal at breakfast." "How could she be sure that Tom wouldn't court Daria with beer?" Jane asked slyly. Now Elsie grinned from ear to ear. "Mom told Dad that if their precious only son would've intended that, it would've meant that eighteen years of high-rate education had gone down the drain." All three girls laughed before Elsie pushed back her chair and rose from her place. "I have to leave now. Thanks for the insight in my dear bro's love life." "Thanks for bringing it up." Jane joked, which earned her a kick from Daria's left foot. Elsie was already two paces away from the table when Daria called after her. "Elsie, wait." Surprised, the younger girl turned. "Yes?"
Daria hesitated for a moment before she spoke. "Listen... give Tom my regards and... if he still feels bad, tell him I'm sorry. I guess I never told him, but apart from Jane, he's been the best friend I've made around here - and it's been a real pity that we didn't meet sooner. Just... tell him that if you think he needs it, okay?" Elsie frowned. "Anything else?" "Tell him Jane says hi." "Jane, you're absolutely no help. Ehm... tell him I'm already looking forward to seeing him when we return home for the vacation. Now leave before I get even mushier." Elsie grinned. "I'll be happy to. Have a nice vacation. You too, Jane." She waved as she walked away.
Jane fixed her friend. "Now that was the most emotional Daria I've seen for months. Are you sure that you're not regretting the decision to break up?" "It was inevitable, Jane. He'll go to Bromwell, where he'll continue the 'ancient and most noble tradition' of the Sloanes, and I'll have Raft and its opportunities. About the emotional side... you don't need me to tell you how nice it felt to have him around, I think." "Well, you still have me, amiga." Jane quipped. "Yeah, I know." Daria smirked maliciously. "But one day, dearie, you'll find yourself a nice gentleman and discover that men were made for a reason... even if no one's found it yet." "I'll be happy to. In the meanwhile, let's go and find some shoes to go with my new dress." "I asked for that, didn't I?" "Of course. Now move."
XI. Making An Appearance
Thirty minutes later, the girls left Cranberry Commons after Jane had found a pair of medium-heeled blue shoes to wear for the prom. Daria walked Jane home before she continued her way towards her own house. When she entered it, she faced Quinn who had run towards the entrance after hearing the sound of the lock. The redhead looked eagerly at her sister, then she frowned. "Where are your shopping bags?" Daria smirked. "Hi sis. Why do you ask?" Quinn looked outside. "When I returned from downtown with David, Dad told me you had gone shopping with Jane. Didn't you buy anything?" Daria pushed off her boots and smiled at Quinn. "Did David really drag you downtown? Remind me to give him an A for effort; I only asked him to keep you away from "Memorable Days" at the mall." "Aha! So you really were at the mall. Didn't you say you already had your dress for the prom?"
Daria went to the kitchen and took two sodas
from the fridge, giving one to Quinn. After the first sip, she fixed her younger
sister. "I do have a dress for tonight, Quinn.
However, Jane still needed one and asked me to help her finding a dress - and to
ensure that you wouldn't enlighten us with your encyclopedic knowledge about
color and style combinations." Quinn frowned again. "Sorry, sis, but you know I'm right. What will you wear, by
the way?" "I'm not sure yet, but I've
succeeded in narrowing it down to five choices. Shall I show them to
you?" Daria held up her hand. "Please not,
Quinn. I've got my share of clothes modeling today and there's still the prom to
survive." "Have it your way. Will Trent and
Jane come to pick you up?" "They won't. I was
afraid that Dad would want to immortalize this important station of my life by
ambushing us with a camera, so I told them I'd come over to
Quinn smirked. "In other words, you'll leave the whole fame to me and David. Thank you." "I'm sure you deserve it more than me, sis." "You mean because my partner's a Yale undergraduate instead of a grungy dropout musician..." she broke off when she saw her sister's pained face "...no offense, Daria. I'm sorry for that." "It's okay, Quinn. I think that's how he sees himself, I'm afraid. If we could only persuade him otherwise..." Quinn looked confused. "I'll tell you later, Quinn. Right now, I must go and pack my stuff." She emptied her soda and threw it into the trashcan. "If Mom and Dad come, tell them I've already gone to Jane. See you at the prom." "Okay. Don't do anything I wouldn't do, sis." "Likewise. Bye."
When Daria arrived in front of
As soon as Daria had entered the house, she
heard a loud thumping sound, followed by a muffled curse. Seconds later, a door
flew open and Jane appeared at the top of the stairs, in a long, paint-stained
shirt and nylons, smirking at the sight of her best friend. "Hi, Daria. Not in your fabulous dress yet?" "Not until later." She fixed Jane. "You don't seem to be either." Jane looked unhappy.
"Well, I just had a little problem...
Daria and Jane left Jane's room forty minutes
later, both wearing their prom dresses and fine shoes. Just as they walked down
the stairs, they heard loud clattering in the kitchen, followed by a baby cry
and several voices. When they had turned the corner, they saw Trent and Jesse
standing besides the refrigerator in black suits and
At that moment, Vincent entered from the living-room with a tattered blanket under his arm. "Here's the baby blanket, honey. See, I told you I'd..." he broke off and looked at the two girls. "Wow, Janey, you look fantastic. Hi, Daria; the same goes for you." He laid the blanket on the chair next to his wife and walked out again. Jane used the interruption and gestured to Trent and Jesse to leave the room along with Daria, then she went up to her mother and embraced her. "We have to leave now, Mom." She gave the baby a smile. "Hi, Danny. See you both tomorrow." Amanda smiled. "Have a nice evening, honey."
Just as the four prom-goers went out of the
house, Vincent called after them. "Hey, stop it. You
won't escape before I made one or two nice photos." Jane turned. "Please, Dad. Do we really have to do this?" Vincent
looked pleadingly at her. "Come on, Janey. You know
that your siblings didn't go to their prom for various reasons." He made
an apologizing motion to
Vincent made them stand together and shot
several pictures, then he lowered his camera again and
smiled. "See, that didn't hurt a bit. Jesse, Daria,
I'll send you some prints as soon as I'm through with developing them."
"Just don't forget that Mom and the baby might need
the bathroom, Dad." "I thought since we're back
permanently now, I might install a darkroom in the basement. That might be
better for everyone's bladders." "Thank you from
the bottom of my stomach. Let's go, folks." They entered
The parking lot of Lawndale High was already
almost full when the
Jodie pointed towards the gym. "Li made him my assistant with the special task to ride herd on his team buddies. After last year's disaster, she wanted to assure that none of the jocks will try to ruin the fun with animal waste or rotten fruits." She noticed Jesse. "Who are you, by the way?" Jane shoved him forward. "This is Jesse Moreno; he graduated with my brother and will be my escort for tonight." Jesse shook hands with Jodie. "Nice to meet you, Jesse." She grinned suddenly. "You wouldn't be the elder brother of Danny Moreno, the sophomore who tried DeMartino's patience last month by asking him to sponsor the introduction of a 'Manly Rock Music Club'?" "Yeah, I am. Did you hear that Mr. D. accepted to piss off Li?" Jodie laughed. "He didn't!"
The four turned when a huge white limousine
stopped in front of the entrance.
The three waited for ten minutes for
When the teacher released Daria again and turned away to welcome Jesse and Jane, Daria looked around and saw at once that the people most flabbergasted were Sandi, Stacy and Tiffany, who stood next to the faculty lounge door. Finally Sandi walked over to Daria. "Say, Quinn's sister... is hugging teachers a new thing among unpopular people or did I miss something?" Jane smirked. "I'd like to fill you in, Sandi, but I think it's Daria's privilege to do so." "Huh? I don't understand?" Daria smiled at Sandi (which was already enough to make the younger girl uncomfortable) before she spoke. "Please let me introduce my long-lost uncle Anthony, Sandi. I think you know him." Sandi looked as if a dinosaur had just flattened her wardrobe. "Your... your uncle? Mr. DeMartino's your uncle..., now wait just a freakin' moment, does that mean he's Quinn's uncle too?" "Since you know that we two are full sisters: yes, he's Quinn's uncle too." "But I don't understand! How can he be your uncle... I mean..."
Stacy came over to them after noticing Sandi's astonished face. "What has happened, Sandi? Can't Quinn come?" "I just told her DeMartino's my and Quinn's uncle, so she's still fighting to cope with it." Daria said. "And no, Quinn will come to the prom, but I won't spoil her surprise about who's escorting her." She gave Sandi a short push. "Go take her to the next girls' bathroom, Stacy. I think she might need a moment to digest the information." Stacy took her friend by the arm to guide her, supported by Tiffany who had approached also and the three girls walked away from Daria when they saw Quinn entering. Sandi immediately brushed off the other two, straightened herself and walked back towards Quinn, adopting a look of faux concern. "Hello, Quinn. It's brave of you to come even though no guy asked you to be his date tonight." She leant towards her friend. "You know, we could persuade Stacy to let Joey be your escort for tonight. If we tell her that his black hair clashes with her brown, she'll probably accept." Quinn frowned, then she smiled at Sandi. "Oh, Sandi. It's so sweet that you'd like to help me with finding an escort - at Stacy's expense, of course - but I don't think it's necessary." She turned and knocked at the door. "I asked a very good friend of mine if he wanted to be my escort and he accepted. I think you know him, Sandi." The door opened and David stepped in, giving Quinn a kiss on the cheek.
Sandi was petrified for a moment, before she started to stammer something inaudible and ended up just staring at David like someone trying to fight a serious hangover. David glanced over to Quinn - who visibly enjoyed every second of the situation - then he took Sandi's limp hand and shook it. "I'm delighted to meet you again, Sandi. Quinn told me that she made so much progress this year. I hope we'll meet each other again later so that you can tell me about your studies." Sandi stared at him, then she stepped back, muttering "Uhmyesl... sorry...Igottagotothebathroom." before she ran towards a door at the other end of the hall. Quinn smiled at David, then she turned to see something that amazed her even more than Sandi's reaction: the sight of her own sister in a stunning dress, laughing her head off along with everyone else present, including Stacy and Tiffany.
XII. Dancing With Stars In Your Eyes
Fifteen minutes later, the Morgendorffer
sisters stood at the buffet with Jane, Trent, Jesse and David. Daria took a
glass of punch and toasted towards her sister. "To
Quinn Morgendorffer, who has silenced the great
Daria gave Quinn and David a last look before
she turned to her friends. "I still wonder if he's
got any serious designs about her, but even if he has, he'll treat her better
than all the boys of her age." Jane laughed. "Are we jealous that Quinn got herself a nice college student
as dance partner?" Daria rolled her eyes. "Nah, I rather dance with
Fortunately for Daria (and Trent), the DJ was just playing something easy to dance to, so they managed to dance for several minutes without making bigger mistakes. Jesse and Jane were visibly enjoying themselves and, since Jesse was really an excellent dancer, they were the center of attention after the first song. When the music stopped for a moment, neither of them realized it until the people around them started applauding - and a camera flashed. Jane looked at the source of the flash and immediately saw the camera in Daria's hands. Jane scowled for a moment, then she grinned at her friend. "Tell me you caught my best side." Daria smirked back. "Regarding how Jesse spun you around, I think I photographed your rear - so yes, I caught your best side."
Before Jane could produce a suitable comment to
her friend's witticism, Anthony came over from the buffet where he had been
standing talking with Mr. O'Neill. "Nice dancing, Ms.
Lane. Did you learn this when you were a cheerleader?" Daria burst out
laughing, but was silenced by her friend's glare. "Actually I'm a natural when it comes to dancing, Mr.
DeMartino. Would you like me to show you?" Anthony smiled. "Only if you start calling me by my first
name." He glanced at Daria. "Do you
mind?" "Not at all,
Uncle. I'll wait for my escort. I
believe he's gone off to some corridor reminiscing." Anthony's face became serious. "That's something I wanted to ask both of you. Is
Anthony looked down. "It's really a shame. You both know I don't tend to praise
students..." Both girls nodded. "...but
Several hours later, the party came to a close
and the four friends went back to
She leant back in her seat as the pictures of the night passed through her mind: Sandi had mysteriously vanished after her first dance and left Jamie free to stalk other prey while Stacy had danced for hours with Joey and they had left together practically hanging onto each other - they were probably at Lover's Lane now, Daria mused. Tiffany and Jeffy had also gone their separate ways soon after the first dance, Tiffany leaving later since two of her friends had already gone and Quinn had been inseparable from David for the whole evening. Maybe there is something between them, Daria thought for a moment, but it seemed more like her sister had - finally - found a real friend like she had had all the time in Jane. Her thoughts wandered to her fellow graduates. Britanny had danced with Kevin, but everyone present who'd seen before through the past years could tell that her heart was no longer in this - and Kevin must've felt this too, Daria thought, since she'd seen him leaving later, looking rather downcast.
Sad though this was for the former lovebirds, it had given Jodie and Mack the chance to enjoy the evening without riding herd on anyone. Daria had known Jodie for three years now, but she had never seen her friend as happy and relaxed as an hour ago when Jodie and Mack had been elected Prom Queen and King - make that announced, Daria corrected herself. Small chance of anyone else winning this even when Kevin and Britanny had still been a real item - these still had made second place for old times' sake. The big surprise of the whole election had been the fact that the third place had gone to Upchuck and Andrea, who had obviously enjoyed themselves and - as strange as it sounded even to herself - Daria had to admit that she was happy for them. I was also a loner when I came here, but then I met Jane, Trent, Jodie, Mack - and Tom. Andrea and Upchuck - Chuck, she thought - had always been on their own because of their special personalities and their behavior; it was comforting that, in the end, they had found each other.
Jane looked over to her friend and, when Daria kept staring out of the window, nudged her gently. "Hey, amiga. Penny for your thoughts?" Daria turned her head slowly and smirked. "I'm just reminiscing, Jane. Now that the nightmare's over, we've got to start idealizing high school as 'the best time of our lives'." "You mean rather than telling the next generation: 'I was young and needed the degree?' You aren't going mushy on me, are you?" "After all that's happened, maybe. Still, if I start saying things like 'this day is the first day of the rest of my life', please make sure that the rest of my life is limited to this day." "I'll be glad to."
The car stopped in front of the
XIII. The Day A Legend Died
When they arrived at
The captain waved at two seats on the podium. "That's where you will be sitting during the ceremony, Ma'am." He turned to Jake. "Oh, by the way. Colonel Blunt asked if you would like to speak a few words about your father to the audience. It would be a wonderful gesture, Sir." "Don't worry, Captain Fox. Please tell Colonel Blunt that I'll be happy to say some appropriate words about my father's merits." He smirked. "I've got another question, Sir. The colonel wants to introduce you, and I couldn't find out whether you had also served in the army. If you did, it would be nice to mention something about that, too." Now Jake looked slightly amused. That's for you, Dad. "I did not serve in the Armed forces, Captain." And soon you and about 1000 other people will know why.
Fifteen minutes later, an old Volkswagen sedan arrived at
"That's nice, corporal, but we wanted to visit the ceremony
at the base." "Sorry, Sir, but this is a non-public ceremony. You can
only enter with a personal invitation." I bet this old
idiot thinks it's like the cookie-sale at his local church. Go see The Longest
Day' if you want to have a look at the
man had finished searching in his wallet, took out a small rectangular item and
turned to the corporal again, who sighed inwardly. "This should be enough to let us enter." Now he's surely showing me some photo from
A split second later, the corporal had opened the gate and snapped to attention. He did not dare to relax his position until he could hear that the car had not only passed him, but had also crossed the next street and left his field of vision. Then he drew a very long breath, took off his helmet and wiped off his sweat. I'm pretty sure that NEVER happened to John Wayne.
After a short performance by
colonel made a short pause before continuing. "In
1950, Captain Martin Morgendorffer was transferred to the 25th
Infantry Division in
Blunt turned and gestured at Jake and Ruth, who both rose and got a short applause before they sat down again. "In spite of his regular work, Martin Morgendorffer always kept a keen interest for the army and his country. When the 99th National Guard Brigade was founded in 1956, he played a vital role in its induction and held several important posts in it: after being its first operations officer, he took over the command of the first battalion and finally became deputy commander of the brigade in 1964. One year later, his country called him back to service and for the third time in twenty-four years, he answered the call without hesitation." He looked up for a moment, then he spoke again. "Lieutenant-Colonel Morgendorffer, as he was by then, received an extremely difficult command: a garrison in the Mekong Delta, which was infested with enemies fighting a guerilla war against the South Vietnamese. For three years, Martin Morgendorffer held this garrison with American and ARVN soldiers and proved the truth of his nickname "Mad Dog". This earned him another Silver Star, two more Purple Hearts and a full colonelcy. In 1969, his name was on the list for promotion to the rank of brigadier general in spite of being a National Guard Officer of 45 years. One week before his assignment would have ended, Colonel Morgendorffer died in a VC bomb trap which was laid out for him personally."
Now the colonel took a deep breath. "As a young private, I was a member of Colonel Morgendorffer's 'Task Force Firebird' and had the privilege to meet him as well as to experience his handling of critical situations. He became one of the reasons I decided to stay with the army and become an officer. Today, I'm standing here as CO of the unit Colonel Morgendorffer built up almost from scrap. It is a great honor for me and every day, I'm trying to follow his example of leadership and courage." He turned around to the gigantic picture behind him and saluted. "Thank you, Sir. I wish our country had more people like you." The audience clapped as the colonel looked at Jake, giving him a sign to step towards the microphone.
Jake rose slowly, scanned the audience as he adjusted the microphone and smiled as he saw Anthony and Nora sitting at the end of one of the middle rows. Let's start the show, he thought as he looked at the people in the audience who were now waiting for him to begin to speak. Now we'll have some honest words about your merits, Dad. That's for all the years of mistreatment.
"Thank you for your
warm words about my father, Colonel Blunt. I think you were able to present his
military achievements and merits better than I ever could." He cleared his throat. "Ladies
and Gentlemen, you just heard that my father entered the army at the age of
eighteen and died at the age of forty-five while being on duty in
Jake readjusted his hands before continuing his
speech. "Indeed, when I was a boy, I never understood
why my father had ever left the place he called 'the perfect work for him' whenever he talked with me about his time of service.
Those of his friends who had stayed in the army after the
Korean War and who visited us occasionally, never understood this either, as far
as I could gather from their talks with my father. He always said that,
as a guard officer, he still was a part of the army, which meant he would be
present if his country needed him. But his friends saw as well as I did that a
few weeks of duty each year could not make up for a past where every day had
been dedicated to the army. Therefore, my mother and I were happy for him when
he was sent to
A woman in the audience stifled a sob, an elder
man who wore a shabby coat with several medals wiped his face to hide a tear,
and even Ruth, who knew what her son would say next, felt touched by the speech.
Jake surveyed the audience with a short glance. I have them where
I wanted them. Now for the honest part of this.
"It was not until ten days back that I
learnt the real reason why my father left the army in 1953. Back in 1950, my
father was subpoenaed for a trial at
Despite the almost collective gasp of the
audience, he continued. "On the next morning, he left
before the girl woke up, 'forgetting' to pay the bill
on the way. Three days later, he went back to Korea without having left Fort
Campbell a second time and without another contact to the girl, who found out
two months later that she was pregnant." Now the audience was a beehive
of whispering and mumbling as Jake looked on his notes. "My father had only made one mistake: he had mentioned his
name to the girl and, Morgendorffer being a very unusual name, she remembered it
even two months later. However, when she called
Colonel Blunt rose from his seat in the first row. "Mr. Morgendorffer. Don't you think you should finish your speech now and leave the microphone?" "I'll need just two minutes more to give the audience an idea about the true values of my father, colonel." Jake gave his father's portrait behind him a short glance, then he focused on his notes again.
"When my father
returned from Korea in 1953, my mother met him and gave him a choice: either he
would marry her, leave the army and find a way to make the girl forget him and
his crimes forever, or she would contact the girl herself and ensure that he
would have to face punishment both from military and civil justice for what he
did. He chose the first way and asked for release from active service and
transfer to a National Guard outfit, which my mother accepted as a compromise.
Then he went down to
"My parents married
in 1953, shortly before I was born. By then, my father had got work as a rain
pipe mender and we settled down near
Jake glanced through the audience. The higher officers looked shocked about his speech, but the lower-ranking people and almost everyone in civilian clothes seemed sad and touched about his words. And here comes the crowning detail, he thought as he cleared his throat to signal that his speech was not finished yet. "For almost fifty years, I could not understood my parents' actions against me or each other, not knowing about my father's crimes which doomed several people as well as himself to live a sad life." He raised his voice to prepare for his next words. "Please let me introduce two people on which Martin Dylan Morgendorffer inflicted an even more terrible life than on his lawful wife and me, needing just one night and a short visit three years later to do so. This is Miss Nora DeMartino from Roaring Spring, Kentucky, and her son Anthony DeMartino, who was born in 1951 - nine months after Captain Morgendorffer used his mother as a cheaper alternative to a prostitute and then chickened out of his responsibilities."
Both Nora and Anthony rose from their chairs; Nora looking very awkward, her son with a determined expression. Jake smiled at them before he concentrated his gaze on the colonel in the first row who had turned his head as well as many other people, looking totally flabbergasted as Jake addressed him directly. "Colonel Blunt, dear members of the Armed Forces, ladies and gentlemen. My half-brother, his mother and I hereby ask you to reconsider the idea to honor Colonel Martin Dylan Morgendorffer by giving his name to a military building or institution. There may be a reason to acknowledge his purely military acknowledgements during the Second World War, the Korean War or the Vietnam War, although I can not imagine that his leadership in training and combat will have been different than his behavior towards his wife, his son and Miss DeMartino as well as her son Anthony."
He cleared his throat. "Let me say just one more thing: For forty-six years, I wished that my father had stayed in the army because I thought that he might have been a better father and husband if he had continued the only career which ever satisfied and pleased him. When I learned, ten days ago, why he had been such a failure in civil life and what he had been capable to do even while being part of his beloved army, I could only imagine which atrocities he might have done if he had lived longer and risen to the rank of general, commanding thousands of men in peacetime or war. I am sorry for wrecking a celebration for which many people must have worked very hard, but I can only repeat what I said before: Martin Dylan Morgendorffer was a ruthless man who never cared for others except if they proved useful for his military or private aims. His premature death saved me and my mother from a lot of grief, but he nevertheless used his time to cast at least four people into decades of despair."
Jake nodded to the colonel and returned to his
seat. The colonel rose slowly like he had to concentrate on each single motion,
then he went on the podium and took the microphone. "Ehm... thank you
for your speech, Mr. Morgendorffer. I think it gave us all some previously
unknown information about Colonel Morgendorffer and his nature." He paused for several moments before speaking again.
"In the light of these new developments, the
XIV. The Power Of Free Speech
When Jake and Ruth descended from the podium, they were awaited by Nora and Anthony who had pushed their way through the leaving audience. Much to the surprise of the others, Nora embraced Jake who just smiled at any uniformed person passing by. "Thank you so much, Jake. I waited fifty years for that." Anthony looked around at the crowd, then he also embraced Jake shortly. "That was excellent, Jake." Several civilians passing by gave them a friendly nod or a smile, which made Ruth look awkwardly around herself; once or twice, she even tried to hide behind Jake.
Suddenly, Jake got a hard slab on the back from behind. When he turned around quickly, he faced an older man with many medals and ribbons on his green uniform and a murderous expression on his face. The man looked at the DeMartinos for a moment, then he fixed Jake again. "Good evening, Morgendorffer. Do you remember me?" Jake measured the stranger for a moment, then he shook his head. The man grinned and waved a thumbless hand. "Last time I saw you, I told you we'd meet again. Still not able to climb a rope, I think?" Jake stared at him. "Ellenbogen!" The old man snarled at him. "So you remember me, don't you! What do you think you just did out there?" Jake looked to his companions, then he smiled. "Well, you just heard it yourself, Ellenbogen. What do you think it sounded like?" Ellenbogen made a step towards his former pupil. "You defiled your father's oath and his honor, you punk! If he'd still live, he would..." Jake cut his former instructor off with one motion of his hand.
"He doesn't live
anymore, thanks to some VC who spared me the task of doing it myself. Why do you
think did he order you not to let me participate in weapon practice? He damn
well knew he was the only man on earth I'd use a gun against - apart from
you." Ellenbogen fumed. Just as he drew back his
arm to strike Jake, Anthony stepped behind him, blocking Ellenbogen's move and pulling back his arm. "Sorry, Mister, but I can't have you attack my
brother." Ellenbogen looked back to him. "You're his half-brother, right? Leave me alone, you little
bastard!" He spat out towards Nora, who had
watched the encounter silently behind Jake. For one moment, Anthony's eye became
bloodshot, then he shoved the other man away. Before
Ellenbogen could stop his momentum, he tripped over Jake's right leg and landed
on the ground with Anthony towering over him. "Your
name, please?" "Corporal J. Walter Ellenbogen, former instructor at
"Corporal, eh? Nice to see the ladder of promotion is still as slow as it used to be." Ellenbogen rose and brushed off his uniform pants, then he looked at the two men. "It's First Sergeant now, Morgendorffer. You're way behind the news." Anthony looked at him almost pitifully, then he pushed the old NCO back on the ground before he pulled him up by his jacket collar again. "Okay, First Sergeant Ellenbogen. You've insulted my brother, my mother and me and you also tried to attack my brother - as an army member on army terrain. Either you apologize for that at once or I'll go over to Colonel Blunt and demand at least two of your stripes for that." Ellenbogen laughed. "And how do you want to do that, you damned civilian?"
Anthony took out his ID card and waved it in
front of his opponent's face. "Don't underestimate me,
Ellenbogen. I'm a Guard officer who knows the laws about struggles with
civilians. Tomorrow the local newspaper will say that
After Anthony had finished his tirade, Ellenbogen stayed in his sitting position and looked up to the other man, his face white now. Then Jake stepped towards them and smiled at his brother. "Now I have to return the compliment, Anthony. That was excellent." He turned to his old nemesis. "Get up, Ellenbogen. It's a shame to see you sitting there like that!" Ellenbogen rose slowly. "Now listen. We won't complain about you now. You've got one week to hand in a resignation due to age and exertion to the Colonel. If you're still here next Sunday, we'll have your rank and your decorations for what you just tried to do and what you did to me back at Buxton. The choice is yours, but like my brother just said: Don't underestimate us." Anthony grinned at the old soldier as he laid his arm around Jake's shoulders. "You heard him, you blockhead. Now drop dead." Ellenbogen nodded hurriedly to the women before he walked off at a fast pace. Nora laughed and even Ruth smiled now as the four continued their way through the crowd.
Five minutes later, the four arrived at their cars. Just as Jake pulled out his key, he heard an exasperated voice calling "Mr. Morgendorffer!" from behind. He turned to see the young captain who had led him and Ruth around hurrying towards him. The officer stopped in front of them and paused for a moment, then he spoke. "Thank God I found you, Mr. Morgendorffer. Colonel Blunt sent me to ask you if he could speak with you for a moment." Anthony looked at him critically. "Does he want to talk with me, too?" "Of course, Mr... DeMartino, right?" "Yes, Captain Fox. Is this about my brother's speech?" Fox hesitated. "Well... it will be, I think." Jake looked over to Ruth and Nora, the he turned to Anthony. "What about our mothers? I don't think we could drop them off at the next PX for a coffee." "I don't want any coffee, Jakie!" Ruth called from the car. "OK, then you stay here, Mom." Jake winked to Anthony. "Let's take your car to the colonel's office. We can drop your mother off at the next coffee shop. Captain Fox, can you drive with us to show us the way?" "Sure, Mr. Morgendorffer." Ruth looked after the car until it turned at the next corner.
After a short drive on the main road and a stop at a small mall to leave Nora there in a café, the three men arrived at the headquarters building and walked up to the CO's office. Colonel Blunt already stood in front of his office door and awaited them. "Ah, Mr. Morgendorffer, Mr..." "DeMartino, Colonel. Lieutenant Colonel DeMartino, to be exact." Blunt looked surprised, then he shook their hands. From behind, Fox said something inaudible which made Jake turn to him. "What did you say, Captain?" Fox's face became red. "It answers the first question Colonel Blunt had: how Mr. ... sorry, Lieutenant Colonel DeMartino and his mother could enter the base without an official invitation for the ceremony." Blunt led the other three into his office and gestured to a group of seats, then he took a thick file from his desk and handed it to Fox. When everyone had settled in a seat, Blunt addressed Jake.
"First of all, I must express my surprise about your speech, Mr. Morgendorffer. It might've been better if you had told Captain Fox or me about the contents before the ceremony. If we'd known that..." Anthony finished the sentence. "...you could've rescinded your friendly invitation towards him and his mother to control the damage. Pardon me for saying this, Colonel, but I spent enough time in the army to know how you and your staff would've handled this situation: total silence to the media, no acknowledgement whatsoever to my brother or his family and - after some months - another honorable officer from one of the many American wars of this century would've replaced Martin Morgendorffer as the All-American Hero a thankful country honors with a building."
Blunt looked angry for a moment, then he calmed his expression. "Maybe, but still it wouldn't have been such a scandal like today. Whatever your father did to you and your mothers, gentlemen, he still served his country loyally for many years." Jake leaned forward. "That's exactly what I came here for also, Colonel. Our father was an active member of the army for fourteen years and spent thirteen more as National Guard officer. If his character was only half as rotten as I remember, he must've violated army regulations more than once - especially in the treating of subordinates." Captain Fox opened the file Blunt had given him and looked up. "To be exact, fifty-three times." Blunt's head darted to him. "Captain Fox! How the hell can you reveal classified information to civilians!" Anthony smiled like a cat which just found a crippled mouse. "Thank you, Captain." He turned to Blunt. "Fifty-three violations? The only similar case I heard of was discharged dishonorably after thirty violations of army laws and regulations. Either he must've had pretty influential friends at G1 or he had photos of the JCS in a gay orgy." Jake laughed, then he also fixed the colonel who had shrunken in his seat while Captain Fox still looked nervously at the file in his hands.
Finally Blunt straightened himself and drew a
deep breath. "The truth is that your father was
really prosecuted fifty-three times for several kinds of violations against army
regulations, but in all trials except four or five, other soldiers leapt up to
his defence and swore that the respective accusations
were wrong." "Meaning that he
had either very dedicated enemies or dedicated friends,
Colonel. I accept that this can happen
five times, maybe ten. But fifty-three times? Did
anyone ever think that when there's smoke, there's fire'?" Fox looked into the file again. "Actually, some did. When your father left the army in
1953, he benefited from a law that officers transferring to National Guard units
received an amnesty from every present or future investigation against them for
crimes committed while in the service. That law was rescinded later, but it did
apply to your father. Moreover, thirty of the charges filed against him are
about his role in
He gazed towards Blunt, who stayed silent, the he continued. "The truth is: being charged for what he did to Ms. DeMartino in 1951 would have been one of the few things which could've removed him from service at once. The early fifties were a different age, for the military as well as for civil life. Being accused of - if I remember correctly - giving an underage girl alcohol, then taking advantage of her and, on top of that, first weasel out of the consequences and then coercing the girl to keep quiet would've reduced General MacArthur himself to the rank of colonel in 1953; a young captain risen from the ranks doing that would've been busted with a dishonorable discharge after five minutes trial - and the sheriff's men would've waited for him at the gate, I guess. By consenting to leave the army, he ensured at least that he could maybe return one day with a clean record."
Jake nodded thoughtfully. "Thank you very much, Captain. Did you study law, by any chance?" "Yes, sir. When I leave the army, I'd like to enter a law firm." Jake pulled out a card. "Call me then, please. My wife is a lawyer and, after what I saw in the last half hour, she'd be happy to help you." "Thank you, Mr. Morgendorffer." "No problem, Captain." Colonel Blunt cleared his throat audibly. "Excuse me, but weren't we talking about something else here?" Anthony smirked. "We were, Colonel. If I remember correctly, you were just starting to give me and my brother an explanation what you - and the army - will do now that you can't name your new buildings after a man who proved himself to be unworthy of wearing his country's uniform." "Well... I think... maybe..."
Jake cut him off. "Listen, Colonel. Since you seem a bit unsure about what to do now, let me help you. My brother and I give you a choice: either you advise the Pentagon to give Ms. Nora DeMartino a financial compensation for her treatment by an army officer and drop the idea to honor our late father once and for all; or you stick to the Colonel-Martin-D.-Morgendorffer-Complex', in which case I guarantee you I'll have every left-wing and liberal newspaper in front of your gate by the end of next week as well as make an official complaint to your superiors for lack of investigations about the officer you wanted to honor." "And please don't be so stupid to depose of Colonel Morgendorffer's file or anything like that." Anthony added. "I still know several high officers at Pentagon - like the Chief of the PR Division, who doesn't like possible disasters like this here at all."
Blunt looked helpless at Jake leaning back in his seat, at Anthony regarding him sternly across the table and at Fox still holding the open file, then he sighed. "All right, gentlemen. I'm not comfortable with it, but it looks like I don't have a choice here. Tomorrow I'll recommend my superiors to support your proposal to cancel all present or future plans to honor Colonel Morgendorffer in any way. I'll also inform the local press that the plan to name the new installations after your father has been drawn back since new information has come up which proves him unsuitable for giving his name to a military structure. Do you agree with that?" Anthony and Jake looked at each other, then Jake rose from his seat and shook Blunt's hand. "We agree, Colonel." He turned to Anthony, who had stood up also to thank Blunt. "Let's go. I can't wait to tell my mother about this."
XV. Ghost Busters
days later, two men walked across a cemetery somewhere in the
Dylan Morgendorffer, Colonel
Half an hour later, another man went through the same row. He was an old man making his annual visit to his brother's grave which had become routine for him. As his gaze went across the tombstones and their inscriptions, he wondered about the two men he had passed on the parking lot. Usually people were quiet and subdued when they came to the cemetery, but these two had looked happy and satisfied. From the corner of his eye, he had seen the older one pulling out two cans of beer, passing one to his friend.
They might've been bums, but they had looked very respectable and well-off... One of them had even worn an army uniform with many medals and several rows of combat ribbons which showed when his coat opened from the wind. Maybe a former war buddy... He shook his head to stop thinking about total strangers as he reached his brother's grave. Everything looked like it should be; some flowers, the stone recently cleaned and the rim trimmed. Not like the grave to the right, he thought. From his visits, he knew that it belonged to an army colonel who had died approximately about the same time as his brother.
he kneeled down towards his brother's grave, he noticed a newspaper lying on the
other grave. The paper's headline said: '
Yep, must've been a war buddy of the dead colonel, the man thought as he examined the second photo which showed a man and a woman in the mid-forties along with two teenage girls; a family picture obviously. He identified the man on the photo as the second stranger from the parking lot. The woman - his wife, probably - smiled into the camera with a look of true happiness while embracing the girls with one arm each. The red-haired girl on the photo - quite the poster girl, the man thought - gave the camera a professional smile while the other girl, with brown hair and thick-rimmed glasses, looked aside, seemingly uninterested. The old man examined the photo closer for several seconds before he discovered that the girl did not just look aside: she glanced at her father with an expression that showed her pride and care for him and for the other members of her family around her.
old man laid the photos back on the grave and stood up. Those
two men must have loved that colonel very much,
he mused, to
place photos on his grave which showed
their achievements in work and life.
He smiled as he started to turn back to place the flowers he had brought with
him on his brother's grave. Wait,
there was something new about that grave itself,
he suddenly thought. It was still pretty messed up, but the headstone looked
different. He started to read the inscription.
Epilogue: Fifteen years later...
journalism and law at
2007, Tom returned from
Daria and Tom visited Jane after their honeymoon to surprise her, they were
shocked by Jane's true fate and promised to help her; first by getting her a job
as museum guide in the Bromwell art collection, then by lending her money to buy
a partnership in the "New York Modern Art Gallery", where she could exhibit her
works as well as manage the place with some other people. After some successful
deals and the chance to show her art at the
graduated from Lawndale High in 2000 and went to NY University to study for her
MBA. After getting it in 2005 and some months of unsuccessful job-hunting, Jake
offered her to return to
Ruth Kent Morgendorffer lived for five more years before she died from a heart attack caused by diabetes. Her last wish included having a photo of her husband in full dress uniform to be put into her coffin. Jake respected her wish in a special way: after her death, he destroyed all remaining pictures of his father in uniform except one - the one destined to be buried with his mother.
endured three more years as history teacher under Angela Li's rule before he
finally managed to get her fired for several charges of using book funds for
security measures as well as for neglecting urgent reconstruction programs. As
Li's deputy, he became principal himself and immediately started a thorough
reorganization of Lawndale High. Over the next two years, DeMartino changed the
school significantly and also finished his doctoral thesis about war crimes of
the U.S. Army in the Korean War. In 2004, he was recalled to active service in
the Army Historical Division with the rank of Colonel, where he worked on
violations of the
After the Bush administration stepped down following the landslide democratic victory at the 2008 elections, he quickly ascended the promotion ladder to become Major General and Chief of Military History in 2009. In the same year, he was appointed deputy chairman of the Clark Commission, which investigated the direct involvement of the Bush administration in several scandals and war crimes. The final report of the commission and DeMartino's testimony in front of the Congress were instrumental for the decisions to ratify the Rome Statute concerning the International Crime Court at The Hague and to prohibit the use of mercenaries as substitutes for US armed forces in future conflicts; the heads of the mercenary forces used for the 'dirty work' in Iraq were extradited to the ICC in 2011 and are currently serving long-term sentences in Scheveningen or Leavenworth.
Lieutenant General Anthony D. DeMartino, PhD, finally retired in 2011 after two years as army member of the U.S. Foreign Affairs Group. His mother Nora died in 2007 from cancer after living eight years from the compensation money the Army paid her due to Martin Morgendorffer's behavior towards her.
Timothy O'Neill used his new-found backbone to assume a greater role in the school policy with the help of Anthony DeMartino and Claire Defoe. His relationship with Janet Barch came to a sudden end when DeMartino had to fire Barch along with gym teacher Ada Morris in 2003 after they made a joint attempt to drug and then castrate star quarterback Chris Griffin. After DeMartino went back to the army, O'Neill took over as principal and continued his friend's reorganization program as well as hiring new teachers. In 2008, he married his deputy Claire Defoe after living with her for three years. Their wedding was especially remarkable for its best man and maid of honor: a former colleague (now brigadier general) and a former student (now gallery owner). In 2014, Timothy O'Neill is still principal of Lawndale High and loves his profession so much that he sent his former superior a letter to Leavenworth, enclosing a photograph of the whole faculty holding a "We DON'T Miss You, Angela"-banner and the annual superintendent's report, declaring Lawndale High to be "the best-led school the district ever had".
two years of substituting,
Lane stayed in
graduated from Fielding in 2001 and went to
For the next two years, she lived from the tiny rest of the Sloane fortune that Kay had managed to hide from the official confiscation, later from occasional jobs as secretary and as clerk at J.J. Jeeters. In early 2008, Daria and Tom pulled a few strings among relatives and friends to get Elsie into the Sun-Herald, where she soon managed to become a regular writer on local politics and social matters: her series of articles about the traditional families of Lawndale and their darker sides has earned her the dubious fame to be the first person who has become officially persona non grata on the whole area of Crewe Neck.
his senior year at Lawndale High, flunked it again and left the school. His
relationship to Brittany Taylor ended the day she left
J. Mackenzie went
her senior year at Lawndale High. Two days before the final exams, she realized
that her overall scores were disastrously low and that she needed an A in
literature to avoid flunking. Since her ability for concentrated learning was
virtually nonexistent, Sandi used the assets she had - she tried to seduce Mr.
O'Neill to get the A. Unfortunately (for her), Ms. Barch overheard Sandi's "come and get me"-talk as well as
O'Neill's negative answer before she entered to face Sandi. After two weeks,
Sandi was released from hospital only to learn that Ms. Li had announced by P.A.
what Sandi had done. In the same night, Sandi fled from
friends and family didn't get any news about her until her father set out to
find her in 2006. After five months of following cold traces and vague hints, he
found her - in a hospital for mentally-disabled people. He was told that his
daughter, who worked as a prostitute in
from Lawndale High in 2000. For the next five years, she studied politics at NY
University. After finishing her MA, she returned to
Tiffany Blum-Deckler failed her senior year at Lawndale High and left the school after the first three weeks of her second senior year to work as a waitress at the local "Good Time" Chinese restaurant. When she got fired after constantly forgetting what the guests had ordered, she applied at Cashman's for a job to fill racks. Her habit to give advice about clothes to the "fashionably challenged" earned her a quick promotion to assistant manager after only two weeks; after her second year, she became chief manager for Cashman's Lawndale shop; after three more years, she became county chief manager. In 2010, she topped her career by changing to the Cashman's central as assistant director for styling and design. Tiffany Blum-Deckler is known throughout the clothes industry both as an expert on fashion and style and as incredibly uninterested in every other possible topic (which makes her a rare guest on cocktail parties and similar occasions).
Brown and James "Jamie"
graduated from Lawndale High in 2000 and went to Big Tree College. After one
year, both were fired because of their permanent stalking of a fellow student
with reddish hair ("she looked remarkably like a school crush of ours", they
said at the trial) and joined the army. Corporal White was severely wounded in
an infantry assault on
Sergeant Brown died in the first days of the
short war against
were together for two years while he studied in Yale for his MBA and she took
Medieval History and Creative Writing at Connecticut State College. In 2003
Charles was forced to take over the family's newspaper chain after his father
died from a heart attack in a hotel room he shared with his 'secretary', a girl
of Charles's age. Due to his sudden life change and the need to move to
ruled Lawndale High for three more years until the PTA had finally enough
material to bring her to court. Facing the choice of resigning on her own or
going to prison, she chose the first option and took up her National Guard
commission as POW interrogator at Guantanamo Bay. In
2010, she was discharged dishonorably from the army to be tried at the
J. Walter Ellenbogen,