daria
in
"Community Disservice"

 

NOTES:

This is a fifth-season story, taking place before "Fizz Ed" (October, to be precise). For those who have read it, it also takes place just after my story "Is Summer Over Already?" but for the most part the goings-on in that fic wonít be referred to in this one, so thereís no need to worry about reading that one first (I do ask you to read it just for the sake of doing so, however). I prefer each of my stories to stand alone.

However, readers may understand some of the references better if theyíve seen the following episodes:

"The Old and the Beautiful"

"Speedtrapped"

"Is It Fall Yet?"

 

 

INT: OíNeillís classroom

Mr. OíNeill is "teaching" while the students show their usual bored indifference. Daria and Jane sit near the front.

OíNeill: Before we get started on "A Tale of Two Cities" I wanted to ask the class about some of our feelings upon completing "Wuthering Heights". I know it was a veryÖ emotional tale, and some of our more sensitive students might have come away from it feeling a bitÖ shall we say, disturbed.

Daria: (to Jane) "Disturbed." Yes, I think that describes some of us very well.

OíNeill: Jane!

Jane: What the hell did I do?

OíNeill: Youíre an artist, Jane, and so you must be very in touch with your deepest emotions. How did this book make you feel?

Jane: Iíd have to go withÖ sleepy.

OíNeill: Huh?

Jane: (sighs) I donít know, Mr. OíNeillÖ I just couldnít identify with the lead character. I found it really hard to put myself in that kind of position, and really relate to the story. ItísÖ kind of troubling, really.

OíNeill: Oh, thatís a shame. Iíll leave you to sort out your inner turmoil. Anyone else?

Daria: (whispers) Nice save.

Jane: You donít go through self-esteem class seven times with this guy without learning what the right things to say are.

OíNeill: Moving along Ė Heathcliffe is often described as a Byronic Hero. Kevin, what do you think this means?

Kevin: Whoa, you mean he had a mechanical arm or something? Man, now I wish Iíd read the book!

Jane: You know, he can actually be kind of entertaining to watch, in a monkey-at-the-zoo kind of way.

Daria: Unfortunately, thereís a drawback.

Jane: What?

OíNeill: Daria, what are your thoughts on Wuthering Heights?

Daria: (to Jane) That.

Before Daria can speak, Ms. Li barges into the classroom.

Jane: Saved!

Daria: Guess again.

Ms. Li: Students, I have wonderful news!

Jane: (aside) Ooch, this canít be good.

Ms. Li: In cooperation with many different worthwhile organizations here in Laaawndale, your school has embarked upon an innovative and forward-thinking new program that, I am sure, will inspire our students to maximize their potential as citizens and as human beings.

Daria: (aside) Sheís been reading that list of power words again.

Jane: (aside) How intriguing and progressive of her.

Ms. Li: This program will be called "Laaawndale Outreach!" It will be a chance for you young people to bond with your community, by performing various acts of community service throughout this, er, community.

Daria: (aside) Iím feeling more communal all the time.

Jane: (aside) Da, comrade.

Ms. Li: Furthermore, the state is offering a grant to the school which shows the most dedication to the service of its community.

Daria: (aside) Ah. Funds. This all makes sense now.

Ms. Li: So, today after class, students will be asked to come down to the main office and sign up for a community service assignment.

Daria: (aloud) "Asked" as in "Compelled"?

Ms. Li: Letís have none of your backtalk, Miss Morgendorffer! Of course, participation is strictly voluntary, except in select cases where students do not choose to volunteer. However I fail to see why any student would choose not to participate in this wonderful program, which is sure to teach valuable skills to the students of Laaawndale High, foster bonding with the city of Laaawndale, and give pride to the citizens of Laaawndale.

Daria: (aside) If she says "Laaawndale" one more time, Iíll gnaw my own leg off.

Jane: (aside) Save me a drumstick?

Ms. Li: In addition, students involved in the program will receive Participation Credit, without which you cannot graduate.

Daria: Excuse me? What the hell is "Participation Credit?"

Ms. Li: It was all explained in the School Review Meeting held last Sunday. Handouts were given to attendees.

Jane: Both of them?

Ms. Li: Here at Laaawndale High, we recognize the need for students to experience the, quote, "Real World."

Jane: I donít get cable at my house.

Ms. Li: I should think you would all be thrilled to be presented with such an opportunity to help others in your town.

Daria: As a former participant in "Awareness of Others Week", I suggest that Iíve done my part and itís time to pass the torch to the underclassmen.

Ms. Li: (ignoring her) Remember! Sign up today at three oíclock! Carry on, Mr. OíNeill. (exits)

OíNeill: Well! What an exciting opportunity! I hope that you all take advantage of it and learn one of lifeís most valuable lessons: that great feeling you get when you give of yourself.

Daria: We learned all about that in Health class last year.

Mr. OíNeill goes red with embarrassment. Fortunately for him the bell rings. Everyone grabs up their books and makes for the door.

Daria: Come on, letís get to that sign-up sheet.

Jane: Quite the little joiner, arenít we?

Daria: Remember what happened last time?

Jane: (getting up quickly) I rather enjoyed it myself, but for your sake, letís move.

 

 

INT: Hallway

Sandi and Stacy are leaving class together.

Sandi: I canít believe this. The Fashion Club is a community service in and of itself. We should be exempt from this kind of thing.

Stacy: You are so right Sandi!

Sandi: Of course I am. Someday, theyíll see that.

Stacy: Uh-oh. Thereís a bunch of people going for the sign-up sheet. Shouldnít we hurry?

Sandi: Iíll tell you what, Stacy. Why donít you run in there and sign us both up for something? Thereís no reason we both have to scramble through that crowd.

Stacy: OhÖ but, Sandi, I donít think I should pick for you, I mean, what if I pick the wrong thing?

Sandi: I have complete confidence in you, Stacy. Besides, as President of the Fashion Club, it is my duty to delegate responsibility. Go now, quickly!

Stacy: Ohhh! I bet I get all sweaty! (Stacy takes a deep breath, holds it, and plunges into the crowd thatís rapidly forming around the sign-up lists)

Sandi: And donít sign up for clothes donation! (shudders) Never againÖ

 

CUT TO: Quinn and Tiffany, leaving a different class.

Quinn: Donít worry, Tiffany, Iíll make sure we get something good. As Vice-President of the Fashion Club, itís my duty to take responsibility.

Tiffany: Youíre sooo smart, QuinnÖ

Quinn: But Iím not like, you know, a brain or anything!

Tiffany: Of course notÖ

Quinn: All right, so Iím trying harder and getting better grades and stuff, but Iím still the same Quinn!

Tiffany: Thereís a different girl named Quinn? Where?

Quinn: Look, Iíll prove it to you! (she spots the three Jís) Joey? Jeffy? Simon?

Joey: Hi Quinn!

Jeffy: Hey, Quinn!

Jamie: (whiny) Quinn! That wasnít even close!

Quinn: Sure, Johnny. Listen, could you guys do me a favor? I canít get to the sign-up sheet because there are too many people in the way.

Joey: Iíll get Ďem out of the way!

Jeffy: Iíd move mountains for you, Quinn!

Jamie: Life sucks. (Quinn bats her eyelashes at him) Whatever you want, Quinn!

The three Jís plow forcefully into the crowd, leaving a hole in their wake and getting a lot of people very angry.

Quinn: You guys are the best! (she strides into the gap left behind by the Jís and makes her way straight to the sign-up sheet) Letís see hereÖ parks and recreation maintenance, not! Serving food to the homelessÖ yeah, right. Clothes donation drive Ė oh God, never again! Reading to day-care studentsÖ ick. Here we go! Animal Shelter Volunteer! All those cute little puppies and kitties need meÖ hey Tiffany, I found a good one!

Quinn signs her name and Tiffanyís to the list, then moves back out of the crowd, which crushes behind her as the three Jís lose their footing and are practically trampled.

 

 

CUT TO: Jane and Daria, arriving on the scene.

Jane: Did you ever want to see what would really happen if you went into a crowded room and yelled "Fire!"

Daria: TemptingÖ but I suggest we use more subtle methods. Just follow my lead.

Jane: I leave it in your capable hands.

Daria leads Jane into the crowd

Daria: (loudly) Say, Jane, isnít this where theyíre having the signups for the ballet team?

Assorted Football Players: WHAT?? (they run for it)

Jane: No, Iím pretty sure that this is the Chess Team tryouts!

Several Other Students: NO WAY!! (more students run for it)

Daria: Wait, Iíve got it! This is the line for summer school!

Many more students stampede out of the way.

Daria: That thinned the herd a bit. Letís go.

Jane: Iím lost in admiration.

They move forward to sign up.

Daria: (looking over the sheet) Hm.

Jane: Not much to choose from. Ballet team might have been preferable. Wait, hereís a good one! (she signs her name)

Daria: What is it?

Jane: Graffiti removal! Closest thing to painting theyíve got. Unfortunately, thereís only one opening left.

Daria: Iím heartbroken. (sigh) Letís face it, thereís nothing actually appealing here. (she signs her name)

Jane: (looking over) What did you pick?

Daria: Iíll tell you later. The crowdís coming back, I suggest we make a hasty exit.

They leave just as the crowd crushes against the tables again.

 

 

INT: Pizza Prince

Jane and Daria sip cokes while waiting for their pizza. Trent moseys in and takes a seat next to Jane.

Trent: Hey, Jane. Hey, Daria. Whatís going on?

Daria: The usual zaniness.

Trent: Whereís Tom today?

Daria: Heís out of town for a while. His parents are making him check out a few Ivy-league colleges. Judging by his experiences, I can thank my lucky stars that my parents canít afford to fly me around the country doing the same thing.

Jane: Yeah, lucky you. You get to go to Middleton.

Daria: And on that day, Satan will be going to work in a snow plow.

Jane picks up a paper in front of her and glances over it.

Trent: Whatís that? You doing homework or something?

Jane: Trent, how long have we known each other?

Daria: Itís Ms. Liís latest scheme. Weíre all doing community service projects. Ms. Li provides a free source of slave labor, in return for which she gets kickbacks.

Trent: Whoa. Ever see the Shawshank Redemption?

Daria: Thereís a difference here. In prison, thereís a chance to escape.

Jane: I signed up for graffiti removal. This is a list of some of the more defaced areas of town. I picked it up on the way over here.

Trent: Cool. What did you get, Daria?

Daria: Iím assisting at an elementary school for gifted and talented kids.

Jane: What do they need tutoring for, if theyíre so damn smart?

Daria: The way I see it, if thatís the case, I get off easy. And if not, I get to mold the minds of our future leaders. Itís a win-win situation.

Jane: Daria, when will you learn? Since when did you have a win-win situation that worked to your advantage in the end?

Silence.

Jane: While youíre thinking about that, could we get some pizza? I need some Canadian bacon.

 

 

INT: Cranberry Commons, Food Court

Quinn and Tiffany are sitting together over salads and tiny sodas.

Quinn: So then I said, Look lady, if youíre all out of salmon pink lip gloss, donít think for a moment that you can get me to buy melon pink lip gloss and think itís the same thing, because not only do I have a flawless color sense but I was not born yesterday and Iím not going to be taken in by your fast sales talk, and she just had nothing to say to that so I turned on my heel and walked straight out of there.

Tiffany: Wow, Quinn, you really Ė

Quinn: So then I just went over to Blushes and Brushes and they had just gotten a whole new box of salmon pink lip gloss and that glittery eyeshadow right off the truck that morning so I was the first one to dip into the box, but I only got a half-dozen of each because who knows what Iíd do with it next month when everything points to darker reds coming back in.

Tiffany: Really, thatís Ė

Quinn: Anyway, Iím so glad that weíre going in together on this project because itís going to be so great helping all those cute little animals find homes and besides, I really like talking to you, Tiffany.

Tiffany: Sure, Quinn. (sees Sandi and Stacy approaching, and looks happy and relieved) Hey, guys! Itís really great to see youÖ

Stacy: (ignoring Tiffany) Iím really sorry, Sandi! Iím really, really, really, really sorry!

Sandi: For the last time, Stacy, just let it go!

Quinn: What happened?

Stacy: Itís like this Ė

Sandi: (interrupting) Stacy signed us both up to assist in the annual quilting bee at the Better Days Nursing Home.

Stacy: (crying) It said there would be fabric samples! Fabric samples, Sandi!

Quinn: Oh, Sandi, thatís a shame. But look on the bright side! Youíll learn so much about sewing, maybe you can make your own outfits instead of having to go to Cashmanís all the time! (smirks)

Sandi: (scowling) And what, if I may ask, is your contribution to the community this year?

Quinn: Oh, Tiffany and I are volunteering at the animal shelter! Weíre going to help all those adorable little animals find a home.

Stacy: (stops crying) Really? Thatís so nice, Quinn!

Sandi: Too bad weíll be sewing quilts all day. Think of all the animals that wonít ever find homes because we wonít be there to help them.

With a loud bawl, Stacy resumes crying. Quinn and Tiffany glare at Sandi, who glares back for a moment. Then she notices that a number of other people, some of them Lawndale students, who have taken note of Stacyís distress, also glaring at her. Realizing that she may have gone too far, she gets a slightly ashamed look on her face.

Quinn: (getting up) Come on, Stacy. Letís go to the bathroom and fix your makeup. We canít have people seeing a member of the club go all to pieces.

Stacy: (blubbering) It s-said there would be f-fabric, Quinn.

Quinn: There, there nowÖ itíll be all right.

Tiffany and Sandi sit in awkward silence for a bit.

Tiffany: UmÖ I need another soda. (she leaves)

Sandi watches her go, and then slumps onto the table, her chin resting on her hand. Glancing around, she sees the crowd mostly going back to their business. She also notices Jodie, who focuses back down at a newspaper just after Sandi notices her disapproving look.

Sandi: What are you looking at?

Jodie: (not looking up) Do you really want to know?

Sandi: (getting riled up) Hey, how I handle Stacy is none of your business!

Jodie: I didnít say anything.

Sandi: Go on, tell me what you really think. That Iím a cast-iron bitch who treats her friends like dirt.

Jodie: (finally looking up, and getting ready to leave) Sounds like I donít need to tell you. (she exits)

Sandi looks like sheís about to say something, then collapses with an air of defeat.

 

 

INT: Quinnís room

Quinnís on the phone.

Quinn: God, that was so embarrassing! I mean, her mascara was running all down her cheeks and everything, she didnít even want to leave the bathroom.

Tiffany: (from phone) I knowÖ

Quinn: So, what happened to Sandi?

Tiffany: She just leftÖ

Quinn: Thatís weird. Anyway, itís probably just as well, I think Stacy would have started crying again as soon as she saw her. So, what do you think we should wear to the animal shelter?

Tiffany: HmmÖ thatís hard, you know? I mean, we donít know what colors the animals will beÖ

Quinn: Itís something to think about. (-click-) Iím getting another call, Tiffany, Iíll see you tomorrow.

Tiffany: Okay, QuinnÖ bye Ė

Quinn cuts her off by clicking over

Quinn: Hello? Oh hi, Sandi. (a little less enthusiastic than usual)

Split-screen

Sandi: Hi Quinn. Listen, I hope you donít mind that I had to run off like thatÖ I, um, had an eyelash in my eye or something.

Quinn: Sure, Sandi. These things happen.

Sandi: Um, Quinn? You donít think I was too hard on Stacy, do you?

Quinn: UmÖ wellÖ Stacyís just so tenderhearted, you know?

Sandi: I wouldnít want her to feel too bad about the whole quilting thing. I mean, it was just a misunderstanding.

Quinn: Yeah, well, she feels really bad about it.

Sandi: Uh, yeah. Well, I should go now.

Quinn: Sure, Sandi.

Sandi: Iíll see you tomorrow. (hangs up)

Quinn: (also hangs up) What a bitch.

Daria: (standing in the doorway) Talking to your friends again?

Quinn: Eep! Daria, donít do that!

Daria: If youíre finally off the phone, I want to call Tom.

Quinn: Daria, wait.

Daria: (sigh) Yes, Quinn?

Quinn: Did you ever know someone that youíd been hanging around with for a while, and although you knew she had a bit of an attitude at first, you thought you could live with it, and after a while it just got worse until you begin to wonder why you stay around because she just gets on your nerves?

Daria: Actually, I feel that way right now.

Quinn: Fine, just go call your little boyfriend! (chucks smiley pillow at Daria and misses)

Daria: Quinn, if Sandiís getting on your case, just tell her off. Youíre smarter than she is, you should be able to take her on in any verbal volleyball match.

Quinn: Itís not me, Daria. Itís Stacy! I feel so bad about how Sandi treats her!

Daria: If Stacyís decided to be a doormat, thereís nothing you can do for her. She has to figure it out for herself. Just make sure youíre there for her if you want her to have someone to turn to when she needs it. (she leaves)

Quinn: (sighs) Thanks Daria.

Quinn turns to the wall, deep in thought, until sheís startled by the smiley pillow hitting her gently in the back. She starts to get mad, then realizes Daria didnít throw it very hard, and smirks a bit before going back to her brooding.

 

The Next Day...

 

EXT: Lawndale Learning and Growing Facility for the Gifted and Talented

The school is an old brick building, two stories tall, with a playground out back.

 

 

INT: Classroom

Daria walks into the classroom, and stops in the doorway.

Daria: Ah. The ninth circle of Hell.

The classroom is, in a word, untidy. The usual student desks and molded plastic chairs are present, but strewn about in a way that suggests that they were dropped from a great height and let scatter where they may. The walls are decorated with what is probably student art, and it makes Janeís stuff look tame by comparison. In addition, there are a number of animal cages with the tops off, and only about half of them still have the animals inside. The kids are engaged in various activities, including creating more hideous works of "art", playing with the animals, reading, writing, pulled into discussion groups, etc. There are about thirty of them and two adults, one of whom perks up and notices Daria.

Teacher: Oh, you must be Daria!

Daria: I suppose it would be pointless to deny it at this stage.

Teacher: Please, come in. Iím Marge, and Iím one of the coordinators of the Blue group.

Daria: Good. Iím feeling a little blue about this myself. (a minor explosion from a nearby chemistry kit makes her jump) Whatís going on, is this recess or something?

Marge: Oh no, we donít artificially structure the day in this facility. Our children are permitted to learn when they choose, teach when they choose, and recreate when they choose.

Daria: Does that mean I can go home when I choose?

Marge: (not paying attention) In this way, each learns at her or his own pace and at those times best suited to themselves. Come, let me introduce you to the people youíll be sharing your time with. This is Gordon, he is the other Blue coordinator.

Gordon: Hello, Daria. Itís wonderful that you could be here with us. Perhaps you could join our discussion of the cultural mores during the Wan-Chu Dynasty once you get settled.

Daria: (looks at the kindergarten-aged kids involved in the discussion) Thatís a little unsettling right there, actually.

Marge: Oh, and this is Lester, one of our promising young poets.

Lesterís about six years old.

Daria: Hey, Lester.

Lester: I sense the weight of personal regret heavy on your bosom.

Daria: Excuse me?

Marge: Oh, and this is Elaine.

Elaine (a twelve-year old girl) twirls over to Daria, makes a graceful curtsey, then spins on her toes in the other direction, letting her long hair drape over Dariaís shoulder as she does so.

Marge: Elaine is experimenting with communicating through interpretive dance. She just said how nice it was to meet you, and she hopes youíll become good friends.

Daria: How does she dance to people she doesnít like?

Marge: Youíll have a chance to meet everyone as time goes on, of course, but itís best that they introduce themselves in their own time.

Daria: As long as no one is communicating through the use of blunt objects, I think I can handle that.

Marge: Wonderful! Iím going to leave you to find your own potential as Coordinating Assistant. Feel free to join any of the discussions you see, or facilitate learning and growth wherever you can lend a hand.

Daria: Canít wait.

Marge goes back to her group of students. Daria stands in the middle of the room for a bit, looking at the scene around her with deadpan eyes. Thereís a tug on her sleeve. Daria looks down to see a little girl holding a large white rat.

Daria: Yes?

Girl: He peed on me.

 

 

EXT: City Hall

Jane and someone in coveralls with a clipboard stand in front of a brick wall thatís been liberally defaced with spraypaint.

Floyd: (thatís his name) Okay, Jen, let me give you the lowdown on this graffiti thing.

Jane: Itís Jane.

Floyd: Sure. Anyway, you start with this wall, go around the civic center until you get all this crap painted over. Then weíll head over to Lawndale Commons, and you can do the same thing there.

Jane: Easy enough.

Floyd: Hereís a gallon of white and a roller. Have fun.

Jane: Excuse me, I donít paint with (shudders) rollers. I have some pride.

Floyd: You want to do half a mile of walls with a brush, I wonít stop you.

Jane: (sigh) Van Gogh, forgive me. (she takes the roller between thumb and forefinger, holding it as far away from her as she can, and turns to start on the wall) Wow, look at this stuff. Hey, did anyone take a picture of this?

Floyd: No, and we didnít take pictures of the landfill before the Director of Public Works built his house on it, either. Just cover it up.

Jane: Yeah, but this is really cool. Look at this design. And this was all done with spraypaint?

Floyd: Itís graffiti. Get rid of it.

Jane: Itís art. I canít just destroy it!

Floyd: Hey, if you want to be an art critic, do it on your own time.

Jane: You donít get it, do you?

Floyd: Look, you can paint it white, or Iíll get someone else to do it. Itís no skin off my back.

Jane: Go find someone else, then. (she drops the roller and paint bucket and stalks off)

 

 

INT: Animal Shelter

A man (Mr. Clay) is giving Quinn and Tiffany the tour. Quinnís dressed primarily in browns, Tiffany in avocado leggings and a white shirt

Mr. Clay: This is where we keep the larger dogs. They need to be fed once a day, and make sure each of them always has something to chew on.

Quinn: Where are the cute animals?

Mr. Clay: Over here is the vetís office. We have trained people to take care of the sick animals, so you wonít have to deal with that much. Over there is where we keep the cats.

Tiffany: KittiesÖ coolÖ

Mr. Clay: They generally get fed twice a day, but they wonít usually eat everything in front of them all at once. Litterboxes should be changed once a day.

Tiffany: Why would you keep a box of trash in there with them?

Mr. Clay: (ignoring Tiffany) Moving right along, hereís the smaller adult dogs, anything under twenty pounds. The puppies are in a different room.

Quinn is distracted by a poodle which is nosing the bars. She looks at the nametag.

Quinn: Hi, Snookums! Oh, arenít you precious!

The dog noses Quinnís offered hand and lets her scratch its head.

Quinn: Thatís a good puppy! (she takes a closer look at the nametag) Hey, this tag has tomorrowís date on it. Weird. Oh well, bye-bye Snookums!

Snookums whimpers a bit when Quinn leaves, then sits back down in the back of its cage.

Tiffany: (from up ahead) Whatís that?

Mr. Clay: Itís a chinchilla.

Tiffany: ChinÖ Chin-chinÖ hmmmÖ

Quinn: Hey guys, wait up!

 

 

INT: Nursing Home

Sandi and Stacy come in through the front doors. Stacy looks as though she may start crying any moment, and Sandi looks worried about it and peeved about it at the same time. They are met by a nurse.

Sandi: Hello, Iím Sandi Griffin, this is Stacy Rowe. Weíre here to volunteer.

Nurse: Not for reading, I hope? Not to be rude, but our residents are very picky about the tone of voice that our readers haveÖ

Sandi: (frowns) Exactly what is the matter with my voice?

Stacy: (small voice) Weíre here for quiltingÖ

Nurse: Oh, wonderful! Come right this way. You wouldnít believe how hard it is to get young people interested in the art of quilting.

Sandi: (glances at Stacy) Iím, um, sure itís fascinating.

Stacy: I didnít mean to, Sandi!

Sandi: Itís all right, Stacy! You donít need to apologize any more, weíre just going to make the best of it!

Stacy: It said (sniff) there would be fabric samplesÖ

Sandi sighs with exasperation as they round a corner into the sewing room.

Nurse: Do either of you have sewing experience?

Stacy: I have someÖ I mean, I can sew a button and stuffÖ

Sandi: (hopefully) Out of curiosity, what if we donít?

Nurse: Oh, our residents would be happy to teach you, of course! Now, Sandi, this is Mrs. Peabody, youíll be working mostly with her.

Mrs. Peabody: Margaret? Is that you, dear?

Nurse: No, Mrs. Peabody, Margaret isnít here. (aside to Sandi) Mrs. Peabody always wanted a daughter, but she had eight boys instead. This week, sheís been asking for her nonexistent daughter named Margaret. Donít be concerned if she wants you to call her "Mother".

Sandi: UmmÖ

Nurse: Stacy, over here is Ms. Chaney.

Stacy: Hi.

Ms. Chaney: Well, arenít you a pretty little thing?

Stacy: (shy smile) Um, thanks.

Ms. Chaney: Oh, but Iím being such a silly old woman, Iíll bet you hear that all the time from the boys in school. You donít need to hear it from me too.

Stacy: (blushing) Thatís really nice of you to say, Ms. ChaneyÖ

Ms. Chaney: Please dear, call me Janice. If weíre going to be working together, we should be friendly with each other, donít you think so?

Stacy: Well, if you say so Ms ChanĖ Janice. (she giggles)

Ms. Chaney: Well dear, letís get right to work. Iím not getting any younger, and we need to finish this quilt before I head down the tunnel of light. I imagine that you have an excellent color sense, I can tell by your clothes.

Stacy blushes and smiles, unused to so many compliments.

Sandi, in the meantime, is speaking with Mrs. Peabody.

Sandi: So, do you have, like, fabric samples or something that weíre supposed to be looking at?

Mrs. Peabody: Do you know that you have your fatherís nose, Margaret?

Sandi: Iím Sandi, Mrs. Peabody.

Mrs. Peabody: (a bit surprised) Oh! Forgive me, dearie, these eyes arenít what they used to be.

Sandi: Itís quite all right.

Mrs. Peabody: You just look so much like your sister Margaret, itís hard to tell you apart.

Sandi rolls her eyes.

 

 

EXT: Highway

Kevin and Upchuck, both dressed in green coveralls, are standing by the roadside with a similarly dressed fat, balding man named Leon. Upchuck looks angry about something.

Leon: (talking around a cigar) Hereís the drill, boys. Ten miles that way is the city limit. Pick up all the trash between here and there, bag it, and leave it to be collected the next morning. Any questions?

Kevin: (raising his hand) Yo, dude!

Leon: Yes?

Kevin: What are all these cars doing on our highway?

Leon: (Looks at Kevin as if heís a moron) Well, Iíll tell you. A few years back, someone realized that driving on the highway was a lot less bumpy than driving on plain dirt, and the idea caught on. Any more stupid questions?

Kevin: No, I mean, isnít the highway, like, ours? I mean, we adopted it, right?

Leon: Huh?

Upchuck: Donít bother, heís dumber than the pavement heís standing on.

Kevin: Hey!

Leon: Whatever. Just pick up the trash and watch out for traffic, weíve got enough roadkill around here. (He gets in his pickup and drive off).

Kevin: (to Upchuck) Dude! That was like, really uncool!

Upchuck: Donít you know what "Adopt-A-Highway" even means? It means we pick up trash and thatís it! What kind of idiot signs up for this in the first place?

Kevin: Hey, maybe Iím not a straight C student like some people, but I know my rights! This highway is mine now!

Upchuck: Whatever.

Kevin: Hey, besides, if youíre so smart, what are you doing here?

Upchuck: How should I know? I signed up to volunteer at the YWCA therapeutic massage clinic! Someone switched my name, and if I ever find out whoÖ

A fast-food takeout bag flung from a passing car strikes upchuck in the head, splattering him with a ketchup-mustard mix. He grits his teeth and shakes his fist at the blue convertible from where the bag came.

INT: Blue Convertible

Ms. Barch: Enjoy your volunteer assignment, male scumbag! Ha Ha!

 

The next day...

 

EXT: Lawndale High

The lunch bell rings.

 

 

INT: Cafeteria

Daria and Jane sit at a table, picking at their food, not eating it.

Jane: Shouldnít we be talking about how our volunteering went, or something?

Daria: Sucked.

Jane: Ditto.

Silence.

Jane: So, why did yours suck so much?

Daria: Itís like an entire room full of Guptys.

Jane: Ooch. Bummer.

Daria: They throw these kids together into this classroom with absolutely no boundaries whatsoever. I mean, Iím all for defying authority, but when thereís no authority to defy, it kind of messes everything up, you know? Am I making sense?

Jane: Not really. Actually, it kind of sounds like growing up in my house.

Daria: So, what sucks about your gig?

Jane: They want me to paint over graffiti.

Pause.

Daria: (motions for more with one hand) AndÖ

Jane: I donít want to.

Daria: Jane, forgive me if I seem obtuse, but what did you think "Graffiti Removal" actually meant? Did you think they would move the vandalized walls brick by brick to a museum and then rebuild them?

Jane: Yeah, I know, but I figured it would be a bunch of meaningless squiggles and hearts with "Kevin Luvs Brittany" misspelled in them. Some of this stuff is real, genuine art. Just because itís on a wall in spraypaint instead of on a canvas with oils, they call it vandalism.

Daria: The nerve of some people.

Jane: You donít understand, Daria. Being raised by bohemians has taught me some important things: donít eat anything that moves; ask for I.D. when presented with so-called long lost relatives; never let anyone into the house whoís wearing a suit and tie; and, above all, respect art in all its forms. The images on these walls may be made by hoodlums with spraypaint, but theyíre talented hoodlums with spraypaint who, like it or not, added some much-needed character to our little burg. Iíve spent my life creating art. I canít just destroy it.

Daria: Jane, have you considered the consequences of failing to deliver on one of Ms. Liís pet projects during your senior year?

Jane: I can take it.

Daria: Can you take being in the same class as Quinn and her friends?

Jane shrugs.

Daria: Another year of Mr. DiMartino?

Jane looks doubtful.

Daria: Kevin and Brittany are probably going to flunk too, you know.

Jane: (shudders) That wall will be white by next Tuesday.

Daria: Atta girl.

Jodie approaches.

Jodie: Hey guys, mind if I sit here?

Daria: Before you say anything, be aware that we each already have one more extra-curricular than weíd ordinarily deem prudent.

Jodie: (a little miffed) Look, Mackís sitting with his football buddies. I just want a change of company for a bit.

Jane: Forgive my blunt friend. Have a seat.

Jodie: Thanks.

Daria: Sorry, Jodie.

Jodie: (shrugs) Eh. No big deal. So, how are things going with you two?

Daria and Jane: Sucks.

Jodie: Really? Thatís too bad. What are you doing for your volunteer project?

Jane: Reverse vandalism.

Daria: Remedial brainwashing.

Jodie: Oh yeah, Daria, you signed up for that Talanted and Gifted School. Funny, Iíd think that would be interesting.

Daria: Picture this: Take Albert Einstein, Socrates, William Shakespeare, and Benjamin Franklin. Put them all together in a room with no rules, no limits, just a lot of opportunities to learn, grow, and discover new things.

Jodie: Sounds pretty cool.

Daria: Now replace the geniuses with a bunch of kids whose parents just thought they were brilliant because they could count higher than the Cookie Monster.

Jodie: Ew. I see your point. So, Jane, what did you really get?

Jane: Graffiti removal.

Jodie: Oh. Well, I can see why that would suck.

Daria: And what are you doing, if I may ask without seeming too interested?

Jodie: Oh, Iím volunteering at the soup kitchen, the crisis center, and I signed up for an internship at Congressman Sachís office. Extra credit, you know.

Jane: Good God, woman, donít you ever sleep?

Daria: Wait a minute. Arenít those all things you were doing anyway?

Jodie smirks and folds her arms across her chest in satisfaction.

Jane: Iíll be damned.

Daria: I donít know whether to be impressed with your little scheme, or pity you for being in the position to pull it off in the first place.

Jodie: (sighs) Iím teetering between those two possibilities myself.

 

 

EXT: Lawndale High

Bell rings.

 

 

INT: Cafeteria

Sandi and Stacy sit at the popular table, in silence. Sandi looks vaguely uncomfortable, Stacy looks edgy and timid Ė in other words, normal.

Sandi: SoÖ

Stacy: Iím really sorry, Sandi! I screwed up and got us a bad assignment and Iím just so, so sorry and it will never happen again!!

Sandi: (wincing) Stacy, people are looking at us!

Stacy: (whisper) Iím sorry!

Sandi: (sighs) Stacy, give it a rest! You donít have to apologize for everything, you know.

Stacy: Iím sorry!

Sandi rolls her eyes.

Quinn and Tiffany approach and sit down.

Quinn: Hi guys! Whatís new?

Sandi: Well, we were about to discuss the pros and cons of quilting, if we could just get past the sticky point of it being all Stacyís fault that weíre doing it in the first place.

Stacy: Iím sorĖ

Sandi: (quickly interrupts) So, how are things at the pound?

Quinn: Oh, itís so great to be able to help all the cute little animals there!

Tiffany: I fed the chin-chinnyÖ

Quinn: I mean, sure, some of them arenít so cute and little, but they just look at you with those big, sad eyes and your heart just melts, and you just want to bundle them in your arms and tell them everything is going to be all rightÖ

Sandi glances over at Stacy, whoís looking at her with big, sad eyes.

Quinn: So, howís quilting?

Stacyís eyes start to well up with tears, and her chin trembles.

Sandi: Well as I was saying, Stacy and I were just talking about that, and I was just about to tell her how itís, umÖ (mumbles) not as bad as I thought it would be?

Stacy: Iím really sorĖ huh? (sheís fairly surprised)

Quinn: Thatís great, Sandi!

Tiffany: Really cool...

Stacy: But I thought Ė I mean, you didnít look like you were having a good time, with that woman who wanted you to call her mother and everythingÖ

Sandi: Well, naturally, I wanted toÖ maintain a certain emotional distance. (growing confident as she continues her line of BS) I mean, after all, it would have been psychologically damaging to that poor woman if I had actually acted like her daughter, donít you think?

Quinn: Thatís so thoughtful of you Sandi.

Sandi: Are you implying that Iíd ever be un-thoughtful?

Quinn: Of course not, Sandi!

Tiffany: Youíre a very thoughtful personÖ

Stacy: UmÖ

Sandi glares at her.

Stacy: Always thinking of others, thatís Sandi!

Sandi tries to smile, but fails and looks glum. Even sheís not so dense as to think any of itís true.

 

One Week LaterÖ

 

INT: Lawndale Learning and Growing Facility for the Gifted and Talented

Daria is in a discussion with one of the "students" who is sitting on her feet.

Daria: Why must you do your paintings while sitting on my feet?

Marty: Why not?

Daria: Itís annoying.

Marty: Weíre allowed to work wherever we want to.

Daria: And while I suppose I should be honored that youíve chosen my feet, I still feel compelled to recommend one of the many chairs which have been placed in this classroom for just such an eventuality.

Marty: Your boots are really uncomfortable. Could you take them off?

Daria: Iím going to say this once, kid: Donít dis the boots. And if theyíre so uncomfortable, maybe thatís a sign that you should go sit somewhere else. This place spent a lot of good money on chairs.

Lou Ann: (another student, overhearing) I just had a discussion with Gordon about experimental societies that donít use money.

Daria: Could we try to keep this discussion focused on alterative places to sit beyond my feet?

Lou Ann: Discussions should be allowed to evolve without constraint.

Marty: I think society would be better off without money.

Daria: Yes. Thatís an interesting thought. And if we had no money, there would be no campaigns for political office, since those are wholly dependent on money. Without politicians, we would need other sorts of leaders. Perhaps a leadership structure more like a corporation, with a board of directors, and a chairperson. The chairperson would likely sit in a chair of some kind, as opposed to someone elseís feet. Why donít you try that, Marty?

Marty: You have a very closed mind.

Daria: Let me try this from another angle. The leg muscles are among the strongest voluntary muscles in the human body. I estimate you weigh approximately seventy pounds. How far do you think I could launch you across that carpet with a single kick?

Marty: (glares at Daria) Violence never solved anything.

Daria: Get off my damn feet.

Marge: (from the other end of the room) Children! If I may intrude upon your time, Iíd like to introduce a new learner to our facility. Everyone say hello to Larry!

Link: (for it is he) My name is Link, you retard.

Daria: (suddenly interested) Link?

Link: (Rather surprised) Daria?

Marge: Oh, you two know each other? Isnít that wonderful! Daria, you can help with Linkís introduction to the facility!

Link: (coming over to Daria) What are you doing here?

Daria: You know me. Iím a sucker for trendy new-age learning environments.

Link: So is my mother. She figured regular school isnít stimulating me enough. (mockingly) Thatís why Iím so down all the time. It couldnít possibly be because my stepfatherís such a jerk and my damn mother spends every afternoon watching talk shows or that stupid Sick-Sad-whatever.

Daria: UmÖ sure. Well, I wish I could say that this place will work wonders for you, but so far it seems to me like "OK to Cry Corral" on amphetamines. Iíll tell you what, though, Iíll try to make it a little more tolerable for you while Iím here, if you could try to do the same for me. And look, there are thirty kids in this room, they canít all be flakes.

Link: (watching Elaine toe-dance around the carpet) Donít bet on that.

Daria: In the meantime, maybe you can help me with something.

Link: Whatís that?

Daria: Can you get this kid off my feet?

 

 

EXT: Lawndale Commons

Floyd: (remember, heís the supervisor for Graffiti removal) So youíre back.

Jane: Yeah. Ready and raring to go.

Floyd: Sure. Anyway, you know the drill. Hereís your roller. Have fun.

Jane sighs and turns to the wall.

Jane: Look at it this way, Jane. Itís a shopping center. It doesnít deserve something this good painted on it. (with obvious distaste, she starts to paint the wall)

 

 

INT: Nursing Home

Stacy is sewing under the direction of Ms. Chaney.

Ms. Chaney: Thatís very good, dear. You really do have a natural talent for this sort of thing.

Stacy: Thanks, Ms. Chaney.

Ms. Chaney: Now Stacy, weíve talked about this! Youíre going to make me feel like an old woman. Of course, I am an old woman, but thatís beside the point.

Stacy: Sorry. Janice. (smiles)

Ms. Chaney: Thatís better. Let me see what youíve done so far. (She accepts the quilt corner from Stacy and looks it over) Very nice, dear. Corner stitching can be the hardest part, and you do it so very well.

Stacy: What are we making these quilts for, anyway?

Ms. Chaney: They donít tell us. I think itís just to give us something to do, actually. Somewhere under this building there are probably boxes filled to bursting with moldy old quilts.

Stacy: Really?

Ms. Chaney: Of course not, my dear! Theyíre given to the homeless, or those in need, or theyíre sold to those who take pity on us for producing such horrid things.

Stacy: (with that droopy I-said-something-stupid expression she does so well) Oops! Iím sorry!

Ms. Chaney: What on Earth for?

Stacy: For being so stupid! I always say the wrong thing!

Ms. Chaney: No dear, Iím sorry that I made you feel that way. Forgive me for saying so, but you seem a trifle nervous. Is something wrong?

Stacy: Why would something be wrong?

Ms. Chaney: My point exactly. At the risk of seeming like an old woman spouting platitudes, living a life can be a lot like making a quilt. If you make one little mistake from time to time, itís not the end of the world. Just adjust the rest of the pattern to fit, or pull out a few stitches and start over.

Stacy: Um, okay.

Ms. Chaney: I could go on to say how life is a patchwork of experiences, held together by the thread of time, and in the end you have something warm and memorable, but then I really would sound like an old woman spouting platitudes, and as a teenager your instincts would lead you to smile, nod, and not listen to a word I say.

Stacy giggles.

Ms. Chaney: Let me tell you something else that I hope you can take to heart: Youíre not alone in being a little insecure. Most people donít have any idea what theyíre doing. Show me someone who acts all self-confident and self-assured, and Iíll show you someone whoís scared to death that theyíll be exposed as a Ė whatís the word you kids use today? Ė "Poser".

Stacy doesnít say a word, but looks thoughtfully over at Sandi.

Sandi: Ouch! Dammit, why do they make these needles so sharp!

Mrs. Peabody: Margaret! You watch your language! What would your father say?

 

 

INT: Animal Shelter, dogsí cages

Quinn is feeding the dogs.

Quinn: ÖAnd there you go, Ralphie, thatís for youÖ (she scratches the dogís head) oooh, youíre so adorable, I wish I could take you home with me! (she glances at the tag) Thatís the strangest thing, why do they have the wrong dates on all these tags? It says tomorrowís date, just like Snookumsí did last week. Oh well. Hereís some food for you Frankie, and for Dusty, and forÖ whereís Snookums?

Quinn has stopped in front of a cage that used to hold Snookums, but now thereís a different dog in there.

Quinn: Snookums must have found a home! Oh, thatís so wonderful! But Iím really going to miss herÖ Anyway, hereís one for you (checks name) Boxer.

 

 

INT: Animal Shelter, lobby

The phone rings. Tiffany answers it.

Tiffany: HelloÖ youíve reached theÖ LawndaleÖ AnimalÖ ShelterÖ can IÖ help you?

(pause)

Tiffany: Iím wearing white and avocadoÖ it goes well with the animalsÖ why do you ask?

Quinn skips by happily.

Quinn: Hey Tiffany!

Tiffany: Hey QuinnÖ (pause, then into phone) That was my friend QuinnÖ no, thereís actually four of us in the clubÖ what do you mean, threesome?

Quinn continues to an office door and knocks.

Voice: Come in!

Quinn enters. In the office is the director of the shelter, Mr. Clay.

Quinn: I finished feeding all the dogs, Mr. Clay!

Mr. Clay: Very good work, Quinn! Iím glad to see you showing so much enthusiasm.

Quinn: Well, what can I say, I love animals. And itís so nice that weíre helping them the way we are. I mean, Iíll miss Snookums, but itís nice to know she got a good home and stuff.

Mr. Clay: Snookums?

Quinn: Oh, she was this little white fuzzy poodle or something I saw here last week. Oh, and that reminds me, someoneís not dating the information cards right, some of them have tomorrowís date on them.

Mr. Clay: (suddenly rather grim) Hm. Quinn, do you have a moment? I need to talk to you about something important.

Quinn: Sure. Whatís up?

Mr. Clay: Have a seat. (he gets up and goes to close the door). You see Quinn, weíre a very small facility here in Lawndale, and we serve not only this community but everything else in a twenty-mile radius. To put it concisely, we have very little space and a lot of stray animals to care for.

Quinn: I know. Isnít it great that so many of them get adopted? I think thereís almost a dozen that were here last week that arenít here now.

Mr. Clay: (sighs) Quinn, you donít understand. There arenít nearly enough people interested in taking home new pets to keep us from getting dangerously overfilled with animals. We just donít have the resources to hold them all here until they are adopted.

Quinn: Oh. So, whoís taking them home? Iíd kind of like to see Snookums again, actually.

Mr. Clay: Quinn, we canít care for all these animals, and no one is taking them home. We are in a position here where we have no choice but to use euthanasia.

Quinn: Huh? Youíre sending them over to kids in China?

Mr. Clay: No, Quinn. WeÖ put them to sleep. Painlessly. We try to be as humane as possible.

Quinn is struck speechless.

Mr. Clay: I know this must be hard for you to accept, but understand that we really have no choice. There are simply too many of them for us to handle. I hope we wonít lose you as a volunteer, youíre one of the best people I have, and that includes the paid staff.

Quinnís chin trembles. Tears are running down her face.

Mr. Clay: I can see that youíre a very caring person. Iím sorry that this has upset you so muchĖ

Quinn: (interrupting, whispering) You killed Snookums.

Mr. Clay: Quinn, try not to look at it that wayĖ

Quinn gets up and runs out, crying in earnest now. Mr. Clay sighs and turns his chair toward the window, watching her leave.

 

 

EXT: Animal Shelter

Quinn bursts out of the front doors, barely able to see through her tears. She doesnít go far, soon collapsing in a sobbing heap on the walkway in front of the building.

after a few minutes...

Voice: Quinn?

Quinn looks up. Itís Mr. Clay.

Quinn: Go away, you murderer!

Mr. Clay: Quinn, itís not a perfect world. If I could save all these animals, I would. But we only have so much space, and so much money. If they donít get adopted, what are we to do? Let them starve, or turn them back out on the street?

Quinn: (not crying so hard anymore, but still sobbing a bit) ButÖ there has to be something you can do besides killing them!

Mr. Clay: We try, Quinn. Every week I write letters to the mayorís office and the governor asking for more funds. We hold bake sales, we get some money from private donations, and sometimes weíre able to send animals to other, better-equipped shelters. Most of all, we depend on our volunteers. People like you, Quinn.

Quinn looks up, her eyes no longer so angry.

Mr. Clay: If it werenít for our volunteer staff, we would only be able to hold half the animals we do. And the number coming in doesnít get any smaller. If you still want to go, Iíll understand, and Iíll give you a passing grade on the project. But we do need you, and I hope you consider coming back. Iíll leave it up to you.

Mr. Clay turns and heads back inside. After a moment, Quinn gets up and follows.

 

 

INT: Animal shelter

Quinn is tenderly scratching a cat behind the ears.

Mr. Clay: (calling from the lobby) Quinn! Itís time to lock up for the night!

Quinn: Iíll be there in a moment!

Deliberately, Quinn places her backpack down beside the cage, then runs out.

 

 

EXT: Parking Lot

Mr. Clay: Iím glad you decided to stay, Quinn. I know itís painful, but I think in the end youíll know you made the right decision.

Quinn: I hope so, Mr. Clay. (she snaps her fingers) Oh! I left my backpack inside!

Mr. Clay: (looks at his watch) Quinn, itís late and I have an appointment. Can it wait until tomorrow?

Quinn: No, it has my history paper in it, I have to turn it in tomorrow morning!

Mr. Clay: (digs out his keys) Go ahead, Quinn. But be quick.

Quinn: Thanks! (she runs into the building)

Mr. Clay waits for a moment, which turns into a longer moment. He taps his foot impatiently. He checks his watch again.

Jakeís Lexus pulls up, and Daria rolls down the passenger side window.

Daria: Whereís Quinn?

Mr. Clay: She forgot her backpack. Apparently, she also forgot where she left it. How long does it take?

Daria: Quinn couldnít find her left foot if you showed her the right one and told her to look for one just like it.

Mr. Clay: You must be her older sister.

Daria: Howíd you guess?

Mr. Clay: I have an older brother.

Jake: Daria, this is the right place, isnít it?

Daria: Yes, Dad. Quinnís just saying bye-bye to all the animals.

Mr. Clay: Ah, Mr. Morgendorffer, I presume?

Daria: No flies on you.

Mr. Clay: Iíd like to tell you how proud we are of Quinn. Sheís the best volunteer we have. A very caring and sensitive girl.

Jake: UmÖ thanks!

Quinn: (Running up quickly, tossing the keys to Mr. Clay) Found it! Thanks, bye!

Mr. Clay: Goodbye, Quinn. See you next week.

Jake: How was your day, Quinn?

Quinn: Dad, step on it! Weíre going to miss Fashion Vision!

Daria: Yeah, Dad. You wouldnít want to miss that.

The Lexus pulls out, leaving Mr. Clay shaking his head with amusement.

 

 

INT: Lexus

Quinn is sitting nervously in the back seat, looking over her shoulder. Her backpack is held tightly on her lap.

Daria: Itís okay, Quinn. Heís not following us.

Jake: Someoneís following us? Itís that guy who said how sensitive you are, isnít it? I knew it, heís a stalker! Those beady little eyes, that leering look! Iíll teach him to leer at my daughter!!

Quinn: Da-AD, heís just my boss. But, um, donít let that stop you from driving faster, thereís no telling who else might be following.

Daria: Uh-oh. Quinn got the paranoia gene.

Noise: Mew!

Dariaís looks up, and turns around. Quinnís backpack is wriggling.

Daria: Quinn?

Quinn stares at Daria with wide, pleading eyes.

Jake: Did you hear something, kiddo?

Quinn: Must be the radio, dad. Can you turn it up, I canít hear it very well.

Jake turns up the radio.

Noise: Meow!

Daria, still turned around, notices a kitten poking its head out of Quinnís jacket. She says nothing, however.

Jake: Iím sure I hear something. Quinn, is that you back there?

Quinn: Mew! Mew-mew! Iím, um, practicing my kitty noises. It makes the animals more relaxed around me.

Daria: Quinn, hasnít anyone ever told you itís a bad idea to take your work home with you? (She points at the kitten coming out of Quinnís jacket.)

Quinn pushes the kitten gently back inside, only to have a rabbit poke its head out the other side. Daria shakes her head with disbelief. Quinn puts a finger to her lips, desperately signaling quiet.

Daria: Dad? Have you ever tried cooking rabbit stew?

Jake: HmmÖ interesting idea, Daria!

Quinn hurriedly zips up her jacket.

Noise: WOOF!!

Jake checks the rearview mirror.

Quinn: (smiling nervously) UmÖ bow-wow?

 

 

INT: Morgendorffer home

Quinn bursts in, runs up the stairs with her backpack and holding her jacket tightly together, dashes into her room, and slams the door.

Daria follows soon thereafter, walking calmly up the stairs.

Jake comes in.

Jake: Rabbit stewÖ sounds like itís time to break out the olí crock pot!

 

 

INT: Quinnís room.

Quinn opens her jacket, allowing two kittens, a larger cat, and a rabbit out onto her bed. Then she unzips the backpack, withdrawing a small dog from one compartment, and two more kittens from the other.

Quinn: Itís okay, guys, youíre safe now. No oneís going to hurt you.

Knock-Knock

Quinn: UmÖ Iím not decent!!

Daria: Thatís way too easy a setup, Quinn.

Quinn: Daria! Go away!

Daria: Fine. Iíll just go mention to Dad that Iíve found the first ingredient for his stew up here.

Quinn: No, Daria!

She jumps up, opens the door, and pulls Daria inside, closing it quickly.

Daria: Hey! I was kidding about the stew, you know. Iíd never actually encourage him to experiment in the kitchen.

Quinn: Youíre not going to tell him, are you?

Daria: Depends.

Quinn: On what?

Daria: Well, I think ten dollars a pet will keep me quiet.

Quinn: Daria!

Daria: Of course, thereís Mom, too. Maybe I should up the price to twentyÖ

Quinn: Fine! (she whips out her purse and counts seventy dollars into Dariaís hands) There, are you happy?

Daria: (riffles through the bills) Actually, Iím impressed. I didnít think you could multiply that accurately.

Quinn: Just donít tell Mom and Dad, all right?

Daria: You know, youíre not going to be able to keep this a secret for long.

Quinn: Iíll worry about that later.

Daria: A pleasure doing business with you. Enjoy your pets.

She leaves.

 

 

INT: Dariaís room

Daria dials the phone.

Jane picks up. Split screen.

Jane: Yo!

Daria: Hey.

Jane: Hey, how was your day with our future leaders of America?

Daria: Ran into an old friend. Remember Link?

Jane: The kid with the complex? Sure. Howís he doing?

Daria: Depressed, cynical, and cranky with the world.

Jane: My kind of kid.

Daria: That wasnít the most interesting thing that happened all day though.

Jane: Oh? Do tell.

Daria: Quinn brought home a few inmates from the pound. A dog, a rabbit, and at least four cats. Sneaked them in right under Dadís nose.

Jane: Well, Jake never was one of your more perceptive people.

Daria: Sure, getting them home was no problem, but sheíll never keep them under wraps for long. If she wanted a pet so badly, why didnít she just ask for one? Dadís always wanted a cat.

Jane: Iím guessing she had other motives.

Daria: Well, apart from the rabbit, they donít seem like theyíd be very tasty.

Jane: Obviously youíve never been to Korea. But seriously, she was probably just trying to save their little hides

Daria: From what? I mean, doing time canít be pleasant, but itís not like they Ė

Pause.

Daria: They do, donít they?

Jane: If you mean buying them a one-way ticket on the Heavenly Express, thatís a big yes. There was a local controversy about it a few years ago, but then Tommy Sherman won the State Championship and suddenly there were more interesting things to talk about.

Daria is silent for a moment. She looks at the money in her hands with a guilty expression.

Jane: You still there?

Daria: Um, yeah. Listen, I need to go check on something. Iíll call you later, OK?

Jane: Whatever.

Daria hangs up, and sits for a moment with a thoughtful look on her face.

 

 

INT: Quinnís room

Quinn is petting a kitten. Thereís a knock on her door.

Quinn: UmÖ Iím not feeling well, come back later?

Thereís no answer.

Quinn: Daria? Dad? Mom, is that you?

Still no answer. Quinn moves the kitten and the rabbit off her lap, tiptoes across the room, and cautiously opens the door. Thereís a small box in the hall, which she drags in, and looks at the note attached to it.

Quinn: (reading) Dear Quinn, donít you dare think Iíve gone soft. Daria.

Puzzled, Quinn opens the box. Inside are three open cans of tuna, some chopped-up meat, a pile of lettuce leaves, and a carrot. In addition, thereís the money she gave to Daria.

Quinn: (smiling) Thanks, Daria.

 

Next Morning...

 

INT: A bathroom

Jake, in his bathrobe, enters the bathroom and looks at his face in the mirror, rubbing at his whiskers. He shakes up a can of shaving cream and sprays it into his hand. A cat jumps onto the counter and meows at him.

Jake: (sleepy) Hi, kitty.

Jake applies the shaving cream to his face while the cat watches.

Cat: Mew!

Jake: Helen, did you feed the cat?

Helen: (from bed, where sheís still almost sleeping) We donít have a cat, Jake.

Jake: Oh yeah. My mistake.

Jake commences shaving. Heís about halfway done whenÖ

Jake: (suddenly freaked out) GAAHH!!

Jake drops the razor and looks frantically about for the cat, which has moved on to other, more interesting places. In short, the cat is gone.

Jake: HELEN! Where did the cat go?

Helen: I told you, Jake, we donít have a cat.

Jake: ButÖ but there was a cat here! Right here in the bathroom!!

Helen: Yes, and last week there was a squirrel in the pantry. Jake, Iím really very tired, I was at the office very late last nightÖ

Jake: There was a cat! I know I saw a cat!

Helen: Oh, for the love of God, JakeÖ

 

 

INT: Quinnís room

Quinn is holding the cat in question while listening at the door.

Quinn: Whew! At least it was just Dad. (to the cat) Snowball, what have I told you about leaving the room while Mom and Dad are home? You know weíre all in trouble if any of you guys get caught!

Cat: Mew!

Quinn: I know, youíre hungry. Dad will be gone in half an hour, and then I can get you some food. We just have to wait a little, thatís all.

 

 

INT: Lawndale High

Daria and Jane are walking to class.

Daria: So it seems you were right. Quinnís brought all these animals home out of the goodness of her heart, and hasnít been entirely successful in keeping them under wraps. I wonder if sheíll learn the value of thinking things through.

Jane: Speaking of which, have you considered that the shelter offs a few animals every week? Quinnís not likely to stop here.

Daria: Couldnít just let me be miserable in the here and now, could you? You had to point out the black clouds on the horizon as well.

Jane: Look on the bright side. Quinnís going to get in so much trouble over this, sheíll be grounded until her senior prom.

Daria: True. The funny thing is, I think sheís doing something genuinely unselfish and decent for the first time in her life. I donít think Iíll get much satisfaction watching this one blow up in her face.

Jane: No good deed goes unpunished. Look at me Ė I sign up to remove graffiti, and they actually make me remove graffiti.

Daria: Think how I feel, surrounded by all these would-be child prodigies. At least the graffiti isnít looking for hidden meaning in the works of Beatrix Potter. If I have to sit in on one more of those ridiculous pseudo-deep discussions, Iíll probably blow a gasket.

Jane: Why not try a little creative education into the ways of the real world? We did pretty well with Guptys.

Daria: Three problems: Thereís no TV, the other coordinators would catch on and put a stop to it, and I donít have a partner in crime.

Jane: Thereís always Link.

Daria: Weíd still be outnumbered twelve to one, and the lack of TV is a considerable handicap. But it may be worth a shot. Now that weíve solved all my problems, how are things in the world of monochrome wall painting?

Jane: I die a little bit with each swipe of the roller. Other than that, peachy.

 

 

EXT: Lawndale High

Sandi, Stacy, and Tiffany stand around outside the front doors. Sandi looks very impatient.

Sandi: Where is Quinn?

Tiffany: UmÖ

Sandi: Stacy, how late is Quinn now?

Stacy: Nine minutes, Sandi.

Sandi: This is entirely inappropriate behavior. Coordination check is not something to be blown off like some math quiz. We canít possibly accessorize without everyone here for Ė

Quinn: (coming in running) Iím here! Iím sorry! I got held up at home!

Sandi: Quinn, if you arenít going to take Coordination Check seriously, please let the rest of us know so we can plan as a threesome for the day rather than as a foursome.

Tiffany: That guy on the phone said something about a threesomeÖ maybe he was psychicÖ

Quinn: Iím so sorry, Sandi! Really, I am! It wonít happen again.

Sandi: I suppose we can forgive this one transgression, Stacy.

Stacy: Huh?

Sandi: I mean, Quinn. (Sandi sniffles for no apparent reason) That habit you have of constantly apologizing for everything; it threw me off.

Stacy looks a little miffed, but says nothing.

Sandi: Anyway, Tiffany, if you would assume your duties as Coordinating Officer, we can proceed. (Sandi rubs her eyes and sniffles again)

Tiffany: All rightÖ Weíll start with roll callÖ Sandi?

Sandi: Weíre all here, Tiffany! (sniffles more forcefully. Sheís starting to sound distinctly stuffed up) Get on with it!

Tiffany: UmÖ All right. Quinn, isnít that the same jacket you wore yesterday to the shelter?

Quinn: Is it? I must have, um, gotten dressed in a hurry this morning.

Sandi: There are some things you make time for. (sniffles) Thereís no excuse for repeating any garment twice in as many days. As Vice President of the Fashion Club, Quidd, it is incumbent upon you to set an example -

Quinn: Quidd?

Sandi: I said Ė (she sneezes suddenly) Ah-CHOO!!

Stacy: Bless you.

Sandi: As I was saying, you of all people should know the importadce of takig the decessary tibe to dress id the mordigÖ AH-CHOOO!!

Tiffany: SandiÖ ewwÖ

Stacy: Whatís wrong, Sandi? Your eyes are all red!

Sandi: I dodít dow whatís wrog! WaitÖ is there a buddy aroud here?

Quinn: A buddy?

Sandi: Not a buddy, a buddy! A bud-dy! A buddy rabbit!!

Quinn: I donít think soÖ

Tiffany: We fed the bunnies yesterday at the shelterÖ

Quinn: (looking over her jacket) Oh look, thereís still some rabbit fur on my jacket.

Sandi: Quidd, Iíb allergic to buddies!!

Quinn: Oops.

Stacy: Oh no! Sandi, your skinís getting all blotchy!

Sandi: Oooh!! Ah-CHOOOO!! (she runs off)

Tiffany: HmmÖ no one else is wearing rabbit fur, so I guess that wonít be a problemÖ (she looks around) Where did Sandi go?

 

 

INT: Pizza Prince

Jane and Daria are splitting a pie.

Jane: So, tell me more about this Link character. You know, what kind of pizza does he like, what kind of music does he listen to, is he single?

Daria: Jane, heís eleven years old.

Jane: Hey, heíll be legal in five, then. Seriously, whatís the lowdown on this kid?

Daria: Well, heís a tough kid in a tough situation. His family life is really screwed up, and unfortunately heís smart enough to realize exactly how screwed up it is. Actually, I donít really know him all that well.

Jane: Sounds like youíve got some insight into his feelings. You know him well enough to know heís angry and depressed.

Daria: Anyone who talks to him for five seconds can tell that. He bites the heads off people who try to get close. Heís angry at the whole world.

Jane: I thought you said the two of you were hitting it off.

Daria: We seem to have similar outlooks on life, but his walls are miles thick. Heís got a lot of emotional baggage for someone his age. Most people arenít that bitter until they get deep into middle age Ė sooner if they become teachers. I donít know if Iíll ever really be able to connect with him.

Jane: Look, Daria, itís not easy getting to know a hard-bitten cynic with a black perspective on the world. Trust me on this one. But you never know, sometimes the effort really pays off.

Daria: (a little embarrassed) UmÖ thanks, I guess.

Jane: Of course, I got stuck with you, but on the other hand Link might be worth getting to know.

Daria: (smirks)

 

 

INT: Dariaís room

Daria flops down on her bed.

Cat: MEOW!!!

Daria: Aaah!!

The cat (which Daria inadvertently flopped down on) scrambles out of her room. Daria looks like sheís contemplating running after it, but decides it wouldnít be worth the effort. Instead, she turns on the TV.

TV: A thirty-foot jungle snake on the loose in Saskatchewan targets the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for lunch! The Mounty Python, next, on Sick-Sad-World!

Daria switches off the TV, picking up the phone instead. She checks a note on her bedside table, then punches in a number.

 

 

INT: Hotel Room

The phone rings. Tom picks it up.

Tom: Hello?

SPLIT SCREEN

Daria: Hey, Tom.

Tom: Daria! I didnít expect to hear from you tonight.

Daria: Better get those coeds out of your hotel room, then.

Tom: If I do that, the chambermaids will just figure itís their turn. Howís life in Lawndale?

Daria: Eh, same old same old. Except for the pitter-patter of little feet around the house.

Tom: Wow, Quinn works fast. Iíve only been gone two weeks.

Daria: Youíre more right than you know. Remember that community service thing?

Tom: Sure. But I didnít realize they meant that kind of service.

Daria: Quinnís working at the local animal shelter. Turns out they euthanize the excess animals, and Quinnís little heart went out to them. So we now have half a dozen new housemates.

Tom: How are your parents taking it?

Daria: They donít know about it yet. Itís only a matter of time, but meanwhile Iím sharing my bedroom with escaped cats.

Tom: Hm. You know, I remember something about that shelter. My mother was thinking of making a private donation to them last year Ė you know, tax write-off Ė but she didnít like their policies so she sent it to the Fremont shelter instead.

Daria: The Fremont shelter?

Tom: Yeah, thereís a larger facility there. And itís a no-kill shelter. My mother preferred their more enlightened attitude.

Daria: Of course, if sheíd given the money to Lawndale, they probably wouldnít have to kill the animals.

Tom: I mentioned it at the time. She wasnít impressed.

Daria: Hm. So howís the college hunt going?

Tom: Youíll be pleased to know that football is even more important at this level than it is in high school. But on the upside, the professors are allowed to use off-color language in their lectures.

Daria: Your tuition dollars at work.

 

Next weekÖ

 

INT: Animal Shelter

Quinn is sitting at the front desk, handling the phone. Sheís also going down a list of animals at the shelter, making little stars next to some of them. Once sheís finished with that, she flips through her coral pink day planner and selects a number.

 

 

INT: Joeyís room

Joeyís hanging out with Jeffy and Jamie, watching football. In one corner of the room is a shrine to the worship of Quinn, with lots of pictures and a red telephone (the "Quinn Hotline") which has never, ever rung.

The red telephone rings. Needless to say, the three boys are thunderstruck.

Joey: D-did that really just happen?

Jeffy: It canít be!

Jamie: Hang on a secondÖ

The phone rings again.

Jeffy: MINE!! (lunges for the phone)

Jamie: I GOT IT!! (similar lunge)

Joey: ITíS MY ROOM!!! (jumps over both of them)

Thereís a mad struggle for the phone, which ends with Joey on top.

Joey: Hello? Quinn? Is that you?

SPLIT SCREEN

Quinn: Well of course itís me, Joey. I mean, unless youíve been giving this number out to other girls!

Joey: Iíd never do that, Quinn! Never, never, never!

Jeffy: Whatís she saying?

Jamie: Did she mention my name?

Joey: Quiet, guys! (into phone) Sorry, Quinn, the other guys are being kind of rude.

Quinn: Oh, thatís okay, just tell them hi and Iíll talk to them soon. Listen, Joey, have you ever wanted a pet? LikeÖ (Quinn consults her list) Ö a terrier, or a cocker spaniel?

Joey: I donít knowÖ I never really thought about it, and my mother said once she wasnít too keen on having a petÖ

Quinn: Oh, thatís too bad. Thereís the cutest little dog down here at the shelter thatís about to get adopted by some Russian family whoís taking him back to Moscow, and Iíd just miss him so much! I was thinking, if only someone I knew would adopt him instead, and take him home, and take really good care of him, I could come by and see him.

Joey: I just donít knowÖ

Quinn: Iíd come by and see him a whole lot, Joey.

Joey: Iíve always wanted a dog! What do I need to do?

Quinn: Just come on down to the shelter, and Iíll set it all up for you! Thanks so much, Joey, Iíve always liked you best. Can you put Jeffy on, you know, so I can tell him?

Joey: Sure! (hands phone to Jeffy with a smirk) Quinn has something to tell you!

Jeffy: Hi Quinn!

Quinn: Hi, Jeffy! You know how Iíve always liked you bestÖ have you ever considered adopting a pair of cats?

 

 

 

EXT: City Park

Jane approaches a long wall with a roller in her hand and a camera around her neck. An almost visible cloud of guilt hangs over her head. She looks down the wall, seeing the swirls of color painted by some of Lawndaleís anonymous artists. Trent approaches behind her.

Jane: See what I mean, Trent?

Trent: Yup. Itís a wall, all right.

Jane: I wonder if I got enough pictures. Maybe I should get something from this angle too.

She takes up the camera and fires off a couple of shots toward the far end of the wall. Suddenly, sheís very angry at the whole thing.

Jane: Dammit, what am I doing? Iím not a sell-out! I mean, next year Iíll be eighteen, I can just drop out of high school and theyíll have nothing to say about it!

Trent: Come on, Janey. You donít want to do that.

Jane: Yeah, I know. But think of how youíd feel if someone told you to go to a record store and rub all the albums with sandpaper.

Trent: Hmm...can I start with the Disco collection?

Jane: (smiles in spite of herself) Oh, well. I guess the guys who painted this stuff up here didnít expect it to last anyway. I just hate being the one who has to white it out.

Trent: You know, Janey, if I were painting that wall, Iíd do it in black. It would make more of a statement, I think.

Jane: Yeah, well if I were painting it, Iíd leave these walls alone, and do a huge mural on that other wall that shows how I feel about this town and this stupid project.

Trent: Um, JaneyÖ you are painting it.

Janeís eyes go wide, her jaw drops, and the roller slips out of her hand to splash wetly on the concrete.

Jane: You know something, Trent? Youíre absolutely right. (she smiles in a crafty way) Lawndale, when it comes to graffiti, you ainít seen nothing yet!

 

 

INT: Lawndale Learning Facility for the Gifted and Talented

Link is sitting by himself in a corner of the room, playing with a checkerboard. He makes a move, then spins the board around so he can play the other side. A girl about his age approaches.

Megan: (the girl) Hey new kid, do you want to join our discussion on current events?

Link: I have a headache. That current enough for you?

Daria: (approaching from behind) Donít steal my material, Link.

Link: (looking up) Thank God, someone almost normal. Where the hell have you been?

Daria: Hey, itís a long walk. (to Megan) Link and I are going to have some one-on-one, Megan. Why donít you ask Elaine to join your little discussion?

Link: Yeah, maybe sheíll waltz some interesting arguments about conflicts in the Middle East.

Megan shrugs, and exits.

Link continues playing solo checkers.

Daria: Could you use an opponent?

Link: Are you kidding? Youíd kick my butt.

Daria: Why else would I ask to play?

Link doesnít smile.

Daria: So, is this place getting you down?

Link: Itís not home, so it does have one thing going for it.

Daria: Things are rough at home, huh?

Link: Donít play shrink with me, Daria. I have enough people doing that.

Daria: Iím not trying to be a shrink. Iím trying to be a friend.

Link: Okay, friend. Why donít you tell me about all of your problems?

Daria: Fair enough. We can start with this idiotic assignment. I signed up to be a tutor, I end up being a babysitter. Present company excepted, I donít think Iíve ever seen such a bunch of wackos. And Iíve been to High School.

Link: See? Thatís the thing. You signed up for this. You had a choice. I donít have any choices.

Daria: My other choice was clearing out the storm drains on Main Street, but yes, in a technical sense I had a choice.

Link: Whatever.

Daria: Itís a fact of life, Link. We all go through it. When youíre a child, you donít get much of a choice. It wonít get much better anytime real soon, unfortunately. But it will get better eventually. Especially since Ms. Li will probably retire by the time you get to Lawndale High.

Link: Whoopty-doopty-do.

Daria: Link, this isnít easy for me. Could you try to meet me halfway here?

Link: Whatís not easy? Being a friend, or being a psychiatrist?

Daria: I havenít got that much experience at either one. And Iím not trying to psychoanalyze you. Iím trying to get to know you.

Link: (looks her in the eye for the first time) You want to get to know me? Fine. Iím the kid that everyone always says was such a quiet young man, never really talked much. Not the kind of person youíd expect to climb a clock tower with a machine gun and wipe out half his graduating class.

Daria: Link Ė

Link: Donít freak out on me, itís not like I could get a machine gun anyway.

Daria: Link, let me tell you something. And if you never listen to anything else, listen to this.

Link: Iím listening. (he doesnít seem to be listening very hard)

Daria: You know that Iím not one for opening up to people. We have that in common. But I learned, after a while, that you need someone in your life, even if itís just one person, whom you can trust. I can live with it if you donít think Iím that person. Just make sure you find someone. Because eventually, people stop trying to get to know you. And loneliness is everything itís cracked up to be.

Link: (unmoved) I could use a little more loneliness right now.

Daria stands up and walks away, throwing one last look over her shoulder. After a moment, Link looks up, as if heís about to say something. But he doesnít, and instead turns sadly back to his checkerboard.

 

 

INT: Nursing Home

Sandi is struggling to get two squares of fabric sewn together. Her fingers are well-bandaged by now.

Sandi: How the hell is this supposed to work? The needle isnít even straight!

Mrs. Peabody: Now Margaret, Iíve told you about that language!

Sandi: Look lady, Iíve been as patient with you as I possibly can under very trying circumstances, but my name is Sandi and Iím not your freakiní daughter!! Besides, if you had a daughter, sheís be, like, fifty years old by now!

Mrs. Peabody: Well, I never! You young people are so rude these days! You come into my home and start acting all high-and-mighty, thinking you can be discourteous to someone just because theyíre elderly! You should be ashamed of yourself.

Sandi: (a bit guilty) Um, Iím sor Ė

Mrs. Peabody: Besides, youíll be old yourself one day, and when you are youíll be sorry you were so nasty to your poor mother!

Sandi: Oooh!!

In the meantime, Stacy is putting a few finishing touches on her quilt.

Ms. Chaney: Very good, dear. I donít think Iíve ever seen anyone catch on to the art of quilting so quickly. Weíll be done ahead of schedule by a whole week!

Stacy: Well, youíre a really good teacher, Janice.

Ms. Chaney: Perhaps we should help your friend over there. She seems to be getting awfully frustrated.

Stacy: (under her breath) Good.

Ms. Chaney: Pardon, dear?

Stacy: Hm? Oh, nothing. Tell me, do you know how to sew clothes too?

Ms. Chaney: Why certainly, dear. I made clothes for all my children while they were growing up, and my mother did the same for me. Of course, the Depression was on, so she didnít have much choice. It was either learn to stitch or let the kids go naked.

Stacy giggles.

Ms. Chaney: Oh, but you donít want to hear an old woman go on about things you learn about in History class.

Stacy: No! IÖ kind of like hearing about it. I mean, you make it sound interesting, like it really happened instead of it just being all dates and places and stuff.

Ms. Chaney: Thatís sweet, dear. Itís really nice to know that kids today can sometimes remember that we were all young once, and we knew how to live. Let me tell you about the summer of í41, that was a wild one Ė

Ms. Chaney is interrupted by a loud clatter over in Sandiís direction.

Sandi: What did you just say??

Mrs. Peabody: Oh dearie, thereís no need to get all upset. Your mother just needs a little help using the commode, thatís all. Come now, it never bothered you beforeÖ

Sandi: Thatís IT!! Iíve ruined a manicure, my dress has blood on it, Iíve got some kind of rash from Quinnís stupid rabbits, and this quilt Ė (she holds up three sewn together squares of material, one of which promptly falls off) Ė this STUPID QUILT is never, never going to get done because all you do is sit in your delusional world when youíre supposed to be showing me how to sew without putting holes in my fingers, and now you want me to help you with the TOILET?!?

Mrs. Peabody: Now Margaret, youíre making a scene. Just get over here and help your mother to the bathroom.

Sandiís face goes bright red. She looks like she might explode. Finally, she does.

Sandi: AAAAAUUUUGH!!!!

She runs over to Stacy and pulls her out of her chair by the lapels.

Sandi: Stacy! I canít take this anymore!! Get me out of here, IÖ I need to shop!! (her eyes get a crazy glint) Take me to Cashmans! I need to see the new winter fashions!! I need to make Quinn feel inferior! I need to tell Tiffany she doesnít look fat!! I need a credit card Ė FOR GODíS SAKE, SOMEBODY GET ME A CREDIT CARD!!!

Sandi starts hyperventilating. Stacy, who was understandably startled, pulls herself together.

Stacy: (shaking Sandi by the shoulders) Sandi! Get a grip!! (she slaps Sandi on the face, not too hard, but enough to get her attention)

Sandi: (catching her breath) IÖ IÖ umÖ

Stacy: Itís all right, Sandi. Itís going to be okay. Just sit down here, and Iíll get you some water or something.

Sandi: UmÖ

Stacy leaves to go get some water. Sandi sits for a moment, calming down, glancing around at everyone staring at her. Her cheeks are flushed with intense embarrassment.

Sandi: (more to herself than anyone else) Iím okayÖ Iím okayÖ no problemÖ Iím the President of the Fashion ClubÖ Iím in chargeÖ I can handle itÖ

Mrs. Peabody: Well, Margaret? Arenít you going to help me? I canít hold it in forever, you know.

Sandi: (to Ms. Chaney) Save me!

Ms. Chaney: Of course, dear. Iíll get a nurse. (she starts to stand up)

Sandi: No! Donít leave me with her!! Please!!

Ms. Chaney sighs, and sits back down to wait for Stacy.

 

 

INT: Animal Shelter

Quinn: (on phone) That is so sweet of you, Corey! ÖSure, weíre on for Chez Pierre this weekend! I can hardly wait! Just come on down here sometime before six oíclock and little Bowser will be waiting for you!

Quinn hangs up the phone and slumps back into her chair. Sheís fairly exhausted.

Quinn: God, who would have imagined talking on the phone could get so tiring! Letís see now, I found homes for Daisy, Nicodemus, Vinny, Ming, Sunshine, AlexÖ and Bowser. But that still leaves two dogs, three cats, and another rabbit! What am I going to do?

Mr. Clay walks by the desk.

Mr. Clay: Oh, Quinn, there you are. I just met some of your friends, coming in to pick up some animals. Iím glad to see youíre spreading the word around. Every pet that gets adopted makes room for another homeless one.

Quinn: Iím trying so hard, Mr. Clay. I just hope itís enough.

Mr.Clay: (more serious) Quinn, I know what youíre trying to do here, and while I applaud your efforts, please realize that weíve been down this road before. I think itís commendable that youíre doing everything in your power to get more animals adopted, but in the end Iím afraid youíll find that there are more strays and unwanted pets than there are people to take them in.

Quinn: (softly) I just want to save as many as I canÖ

Mr. Clay: And thatís understandable. JustÖ try not to set yourself a hopeless task.

Quinn: Yes, Mr. Clay.

Quinn turns back to her list as Mr. Clay leaves. She sees a number of names crossed off, but an equal number that have stars next to them and are not crossed off.

Quinn: I guess I should go say goodbyeÖ

 

 

INT: Morgendorffer Home

Jake is getting ready to prepare one of his infamous dinners.

Jake: Letís see, got the wok, got the mushrooms, got the beefÖ wait a minute! This package had two pounds of meat! Who took the meat out of this package?!

Jake checks the package on a small kitchen scale..

Jake: Dammit! Only a pound and a half! Where am I going to get half a pound of beef?

Jake turns to rummage through the refrigerator. A rabbit hops leisurely across the counter behind him and starts nibbling on the shredded cabbage.

Jake: HmmÖ got some beets, got some corn, got some leftover kitchen sink stew Ė hey, I havenít made that in two months! Why the hell do we eat frozen lasagna every night when we have all these leftovers?

A dog jumps onto the counter opposite the rabbit. It growls softly.

Jake: Why donít we have any damned meat in here? Hey, hereís some meatloaf! I could make a stir fry with that! Hm, and if I add this leftover burger from the Labor Day cookout, that should just about cover it!

Dog: Woof WOOF!!

Jake: GAAAHH!! (he jumps, startled out of his wits, and bumps his head on the refrigerator shelf. An avalanche of food and drink cascades down on him) What the hell was that??

Jake scrambles to his feet and slips in the eggs, but manages to grab the counter and hang on. He looks around frantically, but the rabbit and dog have been scared off by his accident with the refrigerator. Jake runs out of the kitchen into the living room, but there are no animals to be seen.

Jake: You canít hide from me, dammit! Iíll find you!! So help me, Iíll find you ALL!!!

 

 

INT: Animal Shelter

Quinn is petting a small dog, looking sadly into its eyes as she does.

Quinn: Goodbye, Frankie. Iím going to miss you. Iím sorry it had to be this way.

Quinn is momentarily distracted by someone walking by with an armload of boxes. He bumps her slightly on the shoulder.

Theo: (thatís his name) Oh, íscuse me, miss. Didnít see you there.

Quinn: Itís all right. (making conversation) Havenít seen you before.

Theo: Oh, I just deliver the dog food. Big shipment in this week. Gotta get rid of these boxes.

Quinn: Sure. (she pauses, struck with a thought) Hey, do you think I could have a couple of those? My, um, cousin is moving up to college.

Theo: Take all you want! I sure donít mind not having to drag íem out.

Quinn: Thanks! (she runs off)

Theo: Hm. Cute girl. (He goes to fetch more boxes, whistling as he works.)

 

 

INT: Animal Shelter Lobby

Quinn grabs the phone and dials.

Quinn: Hi, Dad?Ö Yeah, Iíll be ready to leave at six-thirty... Animals? No, I haven't seen any animals around the house... Listen do you have room in the car for a few boxes? I, um, need to pack up some clothes and put them into storage, you know, to wait until theyíre retroÖ Great, thanks Dad!

She hangs up, and dials another number

Quinn: Hey, Marcus? Itís Quinn. Remember last week, how all the animals got adopted and you didnít have to come in to, you know, euphemism them?Ö Thatís what I said. Anyway, all the animals on the list this week got adopted at the last minuteÖ I know, isnít it weird? Two weeks in a rowÖ Anyway, you donít have to come in tomorrowÖ Sure, no problem, Iíll take care of the paperwork! Gíbye.

Quinn hangs up again, pulls out her list of animal names, and crosses off the remaining six. She looks back over her shoulder toward the kennel.

Quinn: I hope you guys donít mind sharing a room.

 

INT: Cashmanís

Stacyís browsing a rack full of jackets while Quinn flips through some jeans. Quinnís thoughts seem to be elsewhere.

Stacy: So I came back with the water, and Sandi was just gone. Apparently, sheíd realized what a scene she had made and ran off. I think she actually took the bus home. That would just be so humiliating!

Quinn: Mm.

Stacy: What do you think of the yellow one, Quinn? (she holds up a bright yellow jacket) I mean, would it look good on me?

Quinn: (not paying attention) Sure, Stacy.

Stacy frowns just a bit.

Stacy: How about this red one? (she keeps holding up the yellow one)

Quinn: It goes with your hair.

Stacy: Quinn, youíre not even looking!

Quinn: (finally looks) What? I mean, Iím sorry, Stacy. Iíve got a lot on my mind.

Stacy: (instantly sympathetic) Really? Whatís going on?

Quinn: Stacy, have you ever been in a situation where you had to do something, and you knew it was the right thing, but you just couldnít because no matter how hard you tried, the problem just kept getting worse?

Stacy: God, I know exactly how you feel.

Quinn: You do?

Stacy: Itís like that time I tried to put some highlights in my hair and it just came out so fake, and then I had to dye it back but that just made it worse and then Ė

Quinn: (sadly) Never mind, Stacy.

 

INT: Morgendorffer kitchen

Daria sits at the table, reading her favorite newspaper. The headline reads "Cat Lady Committed". Jakeís cooking up something.

Jake: Hey kiddo! Want to be the first to try out Jakeís Hot Ďní Spicy Hamburger Pie?

Daria: Please, father. I promise to be good from now on. Give me another chance.

Jake: Huh?

Helen comes in, on her cell phone for a change.

Helen: Look, Iíll tell you again, itís a matter of practicality. Greenpeace says you canít build there because the Warblerís Jumping Rat is endangeredÖ Well, of course we donít dispute that, the numbers speak for themselvesÖ We just turn it to our advantage! Our position will be that if thereís only one left, the species isnít too bloody likely to bounce back whether we break ground in December or not!

Daria: Besides, I think I saw that last one go into the Hamburger Pie.

Jake: You know, speaking of animals, has anyone seen anything weird around here lately?

Daria: I see weird things on a daily basis.

Jake: I meanÖ well, have you by any chance seen any animals around the house?

Daria notices a cat leaping onto the counter behind Jake. No one else sees it.

Daria: Animals? What sort of animals?

Helen: (still on the phone)Itís the perfect argument! If they do manage to find any more than that first one, it just reinforces that theyíre not all that endangered a species!

Jake: The other day, there was a cat in the bathroom! And then there was a dog here in the kitchen! And I could swear one of my bunny slippers hopped away this morning!

Daria: DadÖ you didnít actually eat those leftovers in the fridge, did you?.

The cat has been moving along the counter to a position where Helen is sure to spot it. Dariaís eyes go wide. She gets up from her chair and moves quickly to intercept the cat.

Daria: Hey, mom! Want to, um, hear about what I did in school today?

Helen: One moment, dear Ė No, not you Eric!

Daria manages to get between her mother and the cat. Jake, unfortunately, still has a clear view.

Jake: A-HA! Look, look, thereís one of them now!!

Jake dashes for the cat, which immediately recognizes its dangerous position and jumps from the counter, racing into the living room. Jake gives chase, but Daria happens to stick a foot out at just the wrong moment and trips him up. Jake grabs onto whatever he can to keep himself from falling, which unfortunately turns out to be Helen.

Helen: Jake, whatís the Ė AAAAHH!!!

Jake pulls Helen to the floor on top of him, upsetting the kitchen garbage as he does. They end up in a heap, covered in an assortment of wet trash.

Helen: (agonized) My phone!!

Jake: Dammit! He got away again!!

Daria: Iíve got to start keeping a camera in my pocket for these sort of occasions.

 

Ö the next week...

 

INT: Hallway

Daria stands outside the door to the Gifted and Talented classroom.

Daria: (to herself) Two more weeks. You can do this.

 

 

INT: Classroom

The classroom is in its usual state of chaos. Daria wades in, ducking to avoid a flying paper airplane.

Gordon: Thatís very good, Samuel. This time, letís try folding a little more curve into the upper surface of the wing, so you get more lift.

Daria: Teaching kids to make a better paper airplane. This is really going too far. (she looks around for Link) Link? Where are you?

Marty: (approaching Daria) Can I sit on your feet again?

Daria: No. Have you seen Link?

Marty: Who cares? He never joins in any of the discussions.

Daria: (angry) Some people like to have a little time by themselves. Thatís no reason to not care about them.

Marty: Heís mean. Just like you.

Daria: You know, just because someone doesnít like you, that doesnít make them mean.

Marty turns and stomps away.

Daria: (under her breath) It might just mean they have taste.

Marge: Oh Daria, there you are. I was hoping you might be able to tell me where Larry is today.

Daria: (angrier by the minute) His name is Link.

Marge: Oh, yes. Well, we were all worried about him, and Ė

Daria: Really? Which of you were worried about him? The kids over there throwing paper airplanes, or the ones sitting in a circle talking about the moral decay in the modern city?

Marge: Really, Daria, thereís no need to Ė

Daria: Or maybe itís the poser who canít even get his name right.

Daria turns and exits, her anger tightly contained.

 

 

INT: Mr. Clayís Office, Animal Shelter

Mr. Clay is doing some paperwork when thereís a knock on his door.

Mr. Clay: Come in!

Quinn: (peeking around the door) You seem really busy Mr. Clay, should I come back later?

Mr. Clay: No, Iíll be even busier later. Whatís on your mind, Quinn?

Quinn: Well, I was just thinking about some more ways we could help some of the animals here. I thought maybe we could go to the elementary schools in the area and bring some of the puppies and kitties along, and talk to the kids about how we take care of them and how important it is to adopt animals instead of buying them from a store and stuff.

Mr. Clay: Quinn Ė

Quinn: And then I thought about how we could do the same thing for the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts, and maybe all the publicity would be helpful too, to get us funding and stuff. Oh, and I wanted to tell you Iíve been working really hard all week and I was able to get all the animals on the list a home, but some people canít come and get them right away so could we keep some of the animals around a little longer that would have beenÖ you know, tomorrow?

Mr. Clay: Quinn, Iím afraid weíve got a real crisis going on right now. Itís probably best that I tell you now instead of having you find out later.

Quinn: Whatís wrong?

Mr. Clay: Maybe you saw in the paper about how the local police found that house where an old woman was keeping about forty cats and dogs. They were not, needless to say, getting the proper care. The animals were confiscated and brought here a few days ago. This is stretching our resources considerably, and when you add that to our usual weekly additions, Iím afraid weíre at almost double the safe capacity for this facility.

Quinn: (wary) What does that mean?

Mr. Clay: It means, Quinn, that we have to make some room. And Iíve explained to you that thereís only one way we can do that.

Quinn: But thatís not fair! I worked so hard and I got all these pets new homes and now youíre going to have to kill some of them anyway?

Mr. Clay: We might be able to keep those few that youíve arranged for already, but that still leaves almost thirty animals that we have absolutely no room for.

Quinn: Th-thirty?

Mr. Clay: Perhaps it would be best if you went home now, Quinn. I know this is very difficult for you. Thereís no need for you to stay around and become even more upset.

Quinn: NO! We have to do something! This isnít right!!

Mr. Clay: Quinn, Iíve explained to you, we have no choice. I really feel you should go home now.

Quinn: ButÖ

Mr. Clay: Itís for your own good, Quinn. Iíve already sent your friend Tiffany home. I can call your parents to come get you, if you like.

Quinn: (with an air of defeat) No. Thank you, Mr. Clay. (she gets up and leaves, the tears dropping off her face)

Mr. Clay watches her go, then sits down, shaking his head sadly.

 

 

INT:  Morgendorffer Living Room

Helen is standing by the door with some suitcases.  Daria is watching TV.  Jake is crouched behind the suitcases, glancing around nervously.

Helen:    Now Daria, I need you and Quinn to be on your best behavior while we're gone.

Daria:    Yes, Mommy.  We'll be good little girls.

Jake:    Helen!  There's a little dog over there behind the chair!

There is, but Helen isn't looking.

Helen:    Of course, dear.  I'm serious, Daria.  Your father desperately needs a weekend out of the house, and we just don't have time to arrange for you and Quinn to go stay anywhere.  I don't want to come home and find a mess.

Daria:    I'm not cleaning up after that dog.

Jake:    See!  Daria sees the dog!  There is a dog, Helen!!

Helen:    Daria, please don't feed your father's paranoia.  We'll be back on Sunday night.

Helen takes the bag and starts to lead Jake out the door.

Jake:    A cat!  There's a cat on the sofa!!

Helen:    Come on, Jake!

Jake and Helen leave.  Daria reaches over to the cat next to her and scratches it behind the ears as she watches TV.

 

 

INT: Dariaís room

Daria is in her bed, reading. A pair of cats are curled up on her lap, and she supports the book on them. The loud slam of the front door makes her wince.

Quinn: (from downstairs, and frantic) DAAARIA!

Daria winces again. The cats jump up and run off.

Quinn: (coming up the stairs) DARIA! Where are you??!?

Daria: Sheís not in here!

Quinn: (bursting into Dariaís room. Her face is streaked with tears) Oh, Daria, this is awful! I was at the shelter today and I tried to talk to the manager and tell him that he couldnít kill those poor little puppies and kitties and he said something about (sobbing breath) how they didnít have any choice and that I should just go home and thereís over thirty of them and theyíre going to kill them tomorrow and what do I DO?? (she drops onto the foot of the bed, narrowly missing a small rabbit)

Daria: (puts her book aside) Um, QuinnÖ I think youíve really done all you can. I mean, take a look around. You did manage to save some of them, even if we donít know what to do with them all. And Iím sure Dad will someday forget all about his brush with madness.

Quinn: But itís not FAIR! Those dogs and cats and things never hurt anyone, and theyíre all so sweet and cute and everything! I mean, Iíd take them all home if I could, but I canít because thereís just too many of them and I canít sneak them out!

Daria: (genuine) Iím sorry, Quinn.

Quinn: (suddenly angry) Thatís not good enough!

Daria: Huh?

Quinn: Daria, remember that one time when I did that huge favor for you and you said you owed me a favor in return with no questions asked? Well, Iím calling you on it! Youíre really smart and I know you can find a way to do this. (desperately) Please, Daria, I donít think I could take it if we just sit back and let it happen!

Daria: Quinn, I want to help, but Ė

Quinn: (stands up) NO! You have to at least try! You have to try, Daria!

Daria: (sighs) All right. Iíll try.

Quinn: Oh, thank you! (she steps forward)

Daria: No hugs! I need ten minutes alone. No distractions. I need to clear my head. When I come out of my room Iíll have a plan.

Quinn smiles hopefully, picks up a cat, and leaves the room. Daria lies back on her bed and stares at the ceiling. Her pose is relaxed, but her eyes are intense.

 

 

INT: Morgendorffer Living Room

Quinn is lethargically playing with a cat, trailing a piece of string in front of it.

Daria: (from the stairs) Get in the car, Quinn. Weíre taking a ride down to the shelter.

Quinn: They wonít listen, DariaÖ

Daria: Doesnít matter, Iíve got nothing to say to them. But if weíre going to break a couple dozen dogs and cats out of there tonight, I need to do a little reconnaissance.

Quinn turns and stares at Daria, her expression a mix of surprise and hope.

 

 

INT: Jakeís Lexus, parked outside the shelter

Daria: All right, Quinn. You stay low. Iím going to go in and ask about a puppy or something. I take it youíve never mentioned having a sister to any of the staff?

Quinn: Why would I do that?

Daria gets out of the car and heads in.

A FEW MINUTES LATER:

Daria gets back in the car.

Quinn: How did it go?

Daria: Quinn, you didnít tell me that among the dogs on death row are a pair of fully-grown Great Danes and a St. Bernard.

Quinn: You mean Moose? Isnít he cute?

Daria: I donít think the Lexus is going to work for this. We need something with cargo space.

 

 

INT: Lane Residence

The doorbell is ringing. Trent answers it to find Daria and Quinn.

Trent: What is it? Oh, hey Daria. Hey, um, you.

Quinn: Quinn!

Daria: We need your help, Trent. Can you get your hands on the Tank tonight?

Trent: Uh, I guess so. Are you moving out, or something?

Daria and Quinn: I wish.

Daria: (glares at Quinn) Actually, we should talk about this inside. Itís a little complicated.

 

 

INT: Lane household

Quinn is looking around nervously at the usual Lane atmosphere. Daria calls upstairs.

Daria: Jane! You up there?

Jane: (pokes her head around the top of the stairs) No time to talk, big, secret plot going on up here!

Daria: Same thing going on down here!

Jane: Cool! Iíll be right down!

Daria: Bring a big piece of paper, OK?

Daria leads the group into the kitchen. Trent makes use of the coffee maker, and Quinn gingerly sits down as if afraid to touch the chair more than necessary.

Jane: (coming in) Where should I put this?

Daria: Here.

Jane puts the paper on the table, where it picks up a couple of stains.

Daria: Okay. Youíre probably wondering why I asked you here today.

Jane: (indicating Quinn) Iím more curious about what sheís doing here.

Daria: A necessary evil. Remember when we were talking about the animal shelter, and how they were about to send some of the inmates off to join the choir invisible?

Jane: Vaguely, yes. Is this going to take long?

Quinn: Daria has a plan to save them!

Silence.

Trent: Cool. (sips coffee)

Jane: Sheís not kidding, is she?

Daria: As much as I wish she were, no. Tonight, weíre busting two dozen flea-bitten mutts and other assorted creatures out of the pound.

Jane: I see. Letís ignore for a moment the fact that youíve lost your mind. Once we have them out, what do you intend to do? Build an ark and hope for rain?

Quinn: We can take them to the other shelter in Fremont, you know, where they donít kill the animals.

Jane: Quinn, thatís over a hundred miles.

Trent: The Tank can make it.

Jane: Thatís questionable, but letís move on. How do you plan to get inside in order to get them out? I mean, itís not Fort Knox or Lawndale High, but I assume they lock the doors.

Daria: Not all the doors. (She starts to draw a floorplan on the paper) Hereís the basic layout of the place. Front room, vetís office, cages, and the dog run outside. Thatís our way in.

Jane: You meanÖ

Daria: The dog flap. Exactly.

Jane: And who exactly is going to crawl through there?

Quinn: Youíre about a size two, arenít you?

Jane: (eyes widening) Forget it. No way. This is beyond insane.

Trent: Come on, Jane. Itíll be fun.

Daria: Besides, havenít you always wanted to do a scene with a poodle?

Jane: Look, aside from the fact that I think youíre all off your collective rocker, I happen to know for certain that I wonít fit through a dog flap.

Daria: From experience?

Jane: Donít go there. Besides, I have my own agenda. As much as Iíd like to get arrested for breaking and entering, tonight was going to be more of a vandalism night.

Quinn: But you canít not help us!

Daria: Relax, Quinn. Thereís no way Jane would turn down the opportunity to witness an event like this. Is there, Jane?

Jane: (frowning) Damn your insidious logic, Morgendorffer. All right, Iím in.

Quinn: Oh, thank you Jane!

Jane: No hugs!

Quinn: Ewww!!

Daria: All right, we have to wait until dark to make our move. In the meantime, Quinn, I need you to drive back home and start packing up your little zoo. Meet us at the animal shelter at ten oíclock. Oh, and bring some money.

Quinn: What for?

Daria: We need to gas up three vehicles tonight for a two-hundred mile round trip, and one of them sucks more fuel than a battleship. No one said this plan would be cheap, you know.

Quinn exits

Daria: We should head over to Maxís place and pick up the Tank. It is in reasonable working order, isnít it?

Jane: I donít think the hot glue has fallen off yet.

Daria: Oh, terrific.

Jane: Listen, I need to get a few things for my own little project tonight. Why donít the two of you take Trentís car over and steal the Tank. Itís about seven oíclock right now, you should make it back here by ten.

Trent: Itís only eight blocks.

Jane: This is the Tank weíre talking about.

Trent: Thatís a good point. Come on, Daria, we donít want to be late.

Trent exits

Daria: What are you cooking up, Jane? Because if this is about getting me and Trent alone for a while, Iím really past that.

Jane: You wound me, Daria. Seriously, I do have my own plans that have nothing to do with you. But youíre right, I wouldnít miss this little adventure for anything. Can I take Polaroids?

Daria: Remember that episode of Sick, Sad World where the three guys broke into a lingerie shop and took video of themselves trying everything on? Remember how that video was used against them at their trial? Remember how we couldnít believe how stupid they were?

Jane: All right, youíve made your point. Go with Trent before he falls asleep.

Daria exits

 

 

INT: Morgendorffer home

Quinn is running after her animals, trying to get them put into boxes without much success.

Quinn: Come on, Frankie, we have to go now! Oh, Flopsy, get back here!

Quinn chases a rabbit behind the couch. Thereís a loud screech from a cat, and she stumbles and falls, dropping the puppy she was holding.

Quinn: OopsÖ sorry, Matilda.

 

 

INT: Lane Home

Trent and Daria walk in on Jane, whoís packing cans of paint in boxes.

Jane: Took you long enough.

Daria: We stopped for gas. I thought it would be better to get it now, as opposed to when the van is full of dogs.

Jane: Good plan. Well, Iím just about ready to go here. You guys go get a head start in the Tank, I need to load this into Trentís trunk.

Daria: What are you up to, anyway?

Jane: All will be revealed in the fullness of time.

Trent: Is there any food around here?

Daria: Weíll get drive through.

Trent: The Tank doesnít fit through most of them.

Daria: Weíll manage. See you at the shelter, Jane.

Jane: You do have a backup plan for when I donít fit in the dog flap, donít you?

Daria: Iím working on it. (as she turns to leave, her face gets an expression of defeat. She has no idea.)

 

 

INT: The Tank

Trentís driving, Dariaís staring out the window.

Daria: Um, Trent?

Trent: Yo.

Daria: Do you think Iím totally crazy for trying to do this?

Trent: Hey, me and Jesse did a lot crazier things than this back in high school. And we didnít usually get caught.

Daria: Thatís reassuring.

Trent: You want some more fries?

Daria: Mm. Trent, do you have any idea how weíre going to get in?

Trent: Donít worry Daria, weíll think of something.

Daria: The best Iíve come up with is to tie the Tankís rear axle to a doorknob and try to pull the door open. But knowing this thing, weíd probably pull the axle off instead.

Trent: Yeah. I donít want to go through that again.

Daria looks sideways at Trent, and decides not to ask. She returns to the window.

Trent: (squinting ahead) I wonder what thatís all about?

Daria: (not looking) What?

Trent: Thereís a midget with a suitcase up ahead.

Daria: Huh? (she turns to look. Her eyes go wide with surprise) Trent, pull over!

The van pulls to a stop next to the "midget"

Daria: Link? What the hell are you doing out here?

Link: (not stopping or looking up) Leave me alone. I donít know who sent you, but youíre not talking me out of this.

Daria: What are you talking about? Nobody sent me. (she gets out of the van and jogs a bit to catch up with Link) Where are you going?

Link: I donít care. Anywhereís better than here.

Daria: Youíve never been to Highland, Texas, have you?

Link: Look, just go away, all right? (Link is so angry he doesnít see a crack in the sidewalk ahead. He trips and falls, scattering the contents of his suitcase everywhere and skinning his elbow.) Dammit!

Daria: Did you hurt yourself?

Link: (sniffling, on the verge of tears) Iím fine! Go away!

Daria: You know I canít do that.

Link: Youíre not taking me back there. Iím never going back.

Daria: Okay, weíll work something out. But you canít just sit here bleeding all over the sidewalk. Come on, Iím sure we have some bandages in the Tank.

Link: The what?

Daria: The van, here. Let me help you.

Link: I donít need help!

Daria: (losing patience) Link, I have a lot going on tonight, and I really donít have time for this. You and I both know that eventually youíll get tired of arguing with me and get in the van. So why donít we just save ourselves some grief.

Link: What are you doing thatís so important? Big date, or something?

Daria: Actually, weíre driving down to the animal shelter to rescue a bunch of cats and dogs from certain death.

Link: Funny. You should have your own TV show.

Daria: Link, if you donít come with me, Iíll be forced to call the police and report you as a runaway. Neither one of us wants that.

Link: (sits and thinks for a moment) All right. But if you try to take me home, you know Iíll just sneak out again.

Daria: Weíll burn that bridge when we get to it.

Together, they gather up Linkís belongings and head back to the Tank.

Trent: Hey, Daria. Whoís your friend?

Daria: This is Link. Heís running away from home. Link, this is Trent. Heís got experience in that field as well, Iíd imagine.

Link: (wrinkling nose) This van stinks.

Trent: Thatís funny. We just hosed it out last July.

Daria: Letís move on, Trent. Come on, Link, thereís a first-aid kit in the back.

 

 

EXT: Animal Shelter

Quinn waits impatiently in the parking lot, tapping her foot, looking at her watch every three seconds. Distressed animal noises come from the Lexus.

Quinn: Come on, DariaÖ

A car pulls up. Itís Jane.

Jane: (getting out) Hey, Quinn. The Tankís not here yet?

Quinn: No! And theyíre almost late!

Jane: Maybe theyíre fashionably late. You should be able to relate to that. Come on, letís get some of those flea hotels moved into Trentís car. Theyíll be a little less upset if theyíre in dirtier surroundings.

 

TIME PASSES

 

As Jane and Quinn finish the transfer operation, the Tank finally arrives.

Quinn: (running up to the window) Itís about freakiní time! Where have you been?

Trent: We had to stop and pick up a hitchhiker.

Daria: (emerging with Link) Sorry to say, heís not a cute cowboy.

Link: What are we doing here?

Daria: I told you, but you wouldnít believe me.

Link: Wait a minute, you really are setting a bunch of animals loose? (He smiles a bit for the first time) Cool!

Quinn: Are you crazy, Daria! What are you doing dragging a kid into this?

Link looks at Quinn for the first time. His jaw drops open.

Link: Whoís that, Daria?

Daria: Thatís Quinn. My sister. Sheís the reason weíre out here in the middle of the night about to commit a felony.

Link: Thatís your sister?

Daria: Or distant cousin, depending whom you ask.

Link: SheísÖ sheís soÖ

Daria looks down at Link, and recognizes the stare, blush response, and sudden perspiration.

Daria: Oh, lord.

Quinn: Well, weíve wasted enough time, letís get started! (she stalks off toward the building)

Link: Hey, Quinn! Wait for me! (he runs after her)

Daria: I canít believe this.

Jane: Come on, Daria. You should be able to identify with that kind of behavior.

Trent: Huh?

Daria: Choose your next words very carefully, Jane. They may be your last.

 

 

EXT: Just outside the Dog Run fence.

Link: So, whatís the plan?

Daria: We need to get in through the dog flap. Originally, I was going to have Jane do it, but sheís probably not going to fit.

Quinn: Link could do it! Wow, Daria, what a great idea to bring him along!

Daria: Hold on, now. Itís one thing that weíre doing this, itís another to drag a child into it.

Link: Who are you calling child?

Daria: I donít think itís a good idea.

Jane: Look, Daria. Weíre already getting into conspiracy, breaking and entering, burglary, and transporting animals across state lines without a permit. Whatís a little contribution to the delinquency of a minor after all that?

Daria: Yeah. As long as the ropeís around our neck, we may as well jump off the horse.

Quinn: Itís the only way.

Link: I can do it, Daria.

Daria: (considers) All right. But before we do anything, listen to this. This is our last chance to back out. We can walk away right now and pretend this never happened. If we get caught, we will likely spend the night in jail. Quinn, this means a serious drop in your popularity. Link, youíll likely get sent to a whole string of new therapists. Jane, since your parents arenít around, youíll probably be put in a foster home for the next six months until youíre eighteen. Trent, I donít need to tell you that since youíre the only legal adult here, you could be risking prison. Are we all ready to do this?

Quinn: (swallows hard) Ready!

Jane: Born ready.

Trent: (indifferent) Sure.

Link: (pulls out a pair of shades and puts them on) Letís rock.

 

 

EXT: Rear of building, Animal Shelter

Music: Mission Impossible. Trent backs the tank up carefully to the fence, bumping it slightly. He shuts the motor off and gets out. Links accepts a boost from him and climbs on top of the Tank.

Link: (a little scared) Itís kind of a long dropÖ

Quinn: You can do it, Link. I know you can.

Link turns to smile at Quinn, loses his balance, and slips off the van into the pen.

Link: Ooof!

Daria: Link! Are you all right?

Quinn: Link?

Jane: Talk to us, kid!

Link pulls himself up on the fence.

Link: Piece of cake.

Suddenly, thereís a loud barking from inside the building. A large Rotweiller bursts out through the flap and growls at Link.

Link: Eep!

Daria: Quinn, what the hell is that?

Quinn: Oh, no. Thatís Crusher. I didnít know they let him roam free at night.

Link: C-Crusher?

Jane: Quinn, the appropriate time to mention lethal guard dogs was at least an hour ago.

Link: Help meÖ

Quinn: Daria, Trent, Jane, help me up!

Daria: What are you doing?

Quinn: I think I can calm him down, but I have to get in there! Now help me up!

Using Trent as a stepladder, Quinn scrambles to the top of the Tank and immediately falls into the dog run.

Daria: Quinn!

Jane: Quinn!

Trent: Are you okay?

Quinn: No! I landed in a big pile of Ė

Link: Crap! Heís getting closer!

Quinn: Itís okay. Donít let him know youíre afraid. Come here, CrusherÖ come on, you remember me, right?

Crusher growls a bit more, but itís a little less threatening.

Quinn: Come on, puppy dogÖ thatís a good boyÖ

Crusher comes up close and sniffs at Quinnís hand. His growling stops.

Quinn: Oh, good puppyÖ (she scratches behind his ears)

Link: Puppy?

Daria: Link! The door!

Link: Uh, sure. There arenít any more Crushers in there, are there?

Quinn: No, just him. Isnít that right, you precious little darling!

Crusher rolls over and lets Quinn rub his tummy.

Trent: Thatís just wrong.

Jane: Donít knock it, it worked.

Facing Crusher the whole time, Link slides around behind Quinn and crawls up to the dog flap. He crawls in head first Ė itís a tight fit, but he makes it.

Daria: All right. Letís head around to the front door. You okay in there for a moment, Quinn?

Quinn: When I get home, Iím throwing away this outfit.

Daria: Naturally. Youíve worn it once, after all.

 

 

INT: Shelter

Link creeps through the dark building. The animals are rousing themselves and taking interest in this unexpected activity. A few cats start mewing. The dogs, for the most part, are pressing their noses against the cages. Linkís nervous, but keeps going until he reaches the front door, where he lets Daria and Trent inside.

Jane: Nice work, Link. Weíll make a hoodlum out of you yet.

Link: I could get to like this.

Daria: Jane, youíre not helping. Okay, we need to get Quinn back in here, and lock up Crusher somehow. Then we figure out which of these guys are getting the axe tomorrow. Weíll need some pet carriers and some leashes for the big dogs. I hope Quinn knows where theyíre kept.

Link: Iíll ask her! (runs off)

Daria: What is up with that?

Trent: Come on, Daria. Havenít you ever had a crush on someone?

Daria: I donít know what youíre talking about, Trent.

 

TIME PASSES

 

EXT: Dog run

Quinn comes out the door with a large ring filled with keys. She flips through them, selects one, and applies it to a padlock on an outside gate. The lock pops off.

Quinn: (whispering) Come on!

Daria emerges with a couple of carriers, followed by Link with smaller carriers. Trent brings out two Great Danes on leashes.

Daria: Put the small ones in the back seat of the Lexus. The big dogs go in the Tank.

Jane: What about this chinchilla?

Daria: Do I have to solve everything? I donít know, stick it in the Tank or something.

 

A BIT LATERÖ

 

Quinn comes out with the St. Bernard. The dog follows her halfway into the Tank, then sits down, yawns, and starts scratching.

Quinn: Oh, great.

Trent: Here, let me try. (Trent tries to push the dog up into the van, but it just wonít go.)

Daria: Trent, you might as well be pushing the Rock of Gibraltar.

Trent: (perks up) Hey, that would be a great name for a band.

Link: No, youíre doing it all wrong. Hey, Moose!

The dog slowly turns to look at him.  Link jumps up into the van and holds out a large biscuit.

Link: Come on, Moose! Come on up here!

The dog rises and hops up into the van.

Link: Got him! (He jumps out and Trent closes the door)

Quinn: That was great, Link!

Link: (blushing) It was nothingÖ

Daria: All right, weíve taken too long here already. If someone saw us, they might have called the cops. We need to go now. Trent, you get started on the way to Fremont. I need to get Link home.

Link: I want to go with you!

Daria: I canít take you on a hundred-mile road trip, Link. Do you know how much trouble Iíd get in?

Link: (scowls) Oh, but having me jump over a fence, face down a killer dog, break into the city pound and set loose thirty cats and dogs is all fine and good.

Daria: LinkÖ

Link: Iím not going home. You canít make me do it, you know. Iím faster than you.

Daria: Youíre not faster than Jane.

Jane: Hey, leave me out of this.

Quinn: Come on, Daria, we have to go!

Daria: If we get caught with you Ė

Link: Iíll say I was running away and you picked me up. Itís the truth.

Daria: How do we explain the animals?

Link: Thatís your problem. Youíd have to explain them whether I was there or not.

Quinn: Daria! Letís GO, for Godís sake!

A ruckus erupts from inside the Tank.

Trent: Uh, Daria, the dogs are getting nervous.

Link: I didnít want to have to do this. (He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small silver object) This is a dog whistle. I lifted it while I was inside. You let me come with you, or Iíll blow this thing so hard those dogs will be breaking down the doors.

Daria: Thatís a pen.

Link: Damn.

Quinn: Uh, guys, I think the reason those dogs are so upset could be those sirens in the distance.

Jane: ALL RIGHT, Janeís in charge as of now. Trent, drive the Tank. Link, get in there with him and do what you can to keep the dogs quiet. Quinn, Daria, get in the Lexus and make tracks. Iíll take Trentís car. Move-move-move!

Everyone moves. In moments, theyíre pulling out of the parking lot. Seconds later, a police car goes by on a cross street, heading in the opposite direction.

 

 

INT: Lexus

Mews and whimpers from distressed animals in the background.

Quinn: (breathing a sigh of relief) They didnít see us.

Daria: That was way too close. Well, we have a long way ahead of us with a lot of nervous creatures. This was certainly how I planned to spend my Friday night.

Quinn: Come on, Daria, itís not like you had a date or something.

Daria: Look, why donít you try to get some sleep? You must be tired.

Quinn: Since when do you care?

Daria: I donít. But youíre a lot quieter when youíre asleep.

Quinn: Fine! (she turns on her side, facing away from Daria)

silence

Quinn: Daria?

Daria: Your teddy bear is at home. Use a cat or something.

Quinn: I just wanted to sayÖ thanks.

Daria: Mm. (she checks to see if Quinn is looking, then smiles.)

 

 

INT: Trentís car (Janeís driving it)

Jane: (singing along with the radio, badly) Oh lord, wonít you buy me, a Mercedes BenzÖ my friends all drive Porsches, I must make ay-mendsÖ

 

 

INT: Tank

Trentís driving, one arm out the window. Link is watching the telephone poles go by out his side. Thereís a long silence, broken only by the various noises being made by the dogs. Link looks over at Trent, as if expecting him to say something.

Link: Well?

Trent: Well, what?

Link: Arenít you going to ask me why I was running away?

Trent: Nah.

more silence

Link: Why not?

Trent: Your business, not mine.

pause

Link: Daria said you ran away before.

Trent: Kind of. I moved into the back yard for a few months.

Link: Thatís not running away.

Trent: Itís all how you look at it. I was trying to see if someone gave enough of a damn to invite me back in. I might have run away for the same reason.

Link: I donít want to go back.

Trent: Bummer.

Link: Hey, youíre not making me go back, if thatís what youíre thinking.

Trent: I meant, itís a bummer things suck for you so much that you donít want to.

Link: You got that right.

further silence

Link: So, what happened with the back yard thing? You still living there?

Trent: (laughs and coughs) Nah. Janey asked if I could come back because she was scared of this lightning storm. We were pretty young then, though. I was about your age, I guess.

Link: At least somebody wanted you around. No one at my house cares if Iím around or not.

Trent: I guess youíre kind of doing them a favor, then.

Link: UmÖ yeah. (he looks uncertainly back out the window. He might be about to cry, itís hard to tell)

 

 

INT: Lexus

A large truck sweeps by the driverís side window, blowing its horn

Daria: Eep!

Quinn: (jumps awake) I didnít take your nail polish, Sandi! (realizes where she is) UmÖ never mind.

Daria: (squinting ahead) Uh oh, we have to pull over.

Quinn: God, Daria, it was just a truck. I thought you were over the whole timid thing.

Daria: Itís not that. Janeís stopped up ahead. I think sheís got car trouble.

 

 

EXT: Side of the road.

Janeís kneeling by the left rear tire. The Lexus pulls up behind, followed by the Tank. Everyone gets out.

Jane: Relax, Iíve got it covered.

Daria: Whatís the problem?

Jane: Flat tire. But I can handle it.

Trent: Aw, man, I knew I should have gotten another tire.

Daria: Trent, are you saying the spareís missing?

Trent: Nah, itís in there. But itís got about six holes in it.

Jane: Oh, perfect. What the hell do we do now?

Daria: How did you get six holes in a tire before noticing it was flat?

Trent: Well, Monique and I had just broken up, and Ė

Jane: This is really a story for some other time! Dammit, what are we going to do now?

Quinn: Canít we put all the animals into just two cars and leave thisÖ thing here by the side of the road?

Trent: Ouch. Thatís my car youíre talking about.

Daria: It wouldnít work anyway, we canít fit everyone into two cars. Maybe the spare from the Lexus will fit. (Daria starts to head back to the car, and notices Link wandering slowly and thoughtfully a few feet off the side of the road.) Uh, Jane, can you take care of it?

Jane: (noticing Link as well) Sure.

Daria walks over to Link, whoís found a large rock to sit on.

Daria: Hey, you all right?

Link: (sourly) Oh, Iím great. Iím an eleven-year-old runaway in the desert in the middle of nowhere. My life sucks. But otherwise, Iím fine.

Daria: (sitting down as well) Link, I wish I had some answers for you. I donít. Sometimes life isnít fair. Most of the time, actually.

Link: At least your parents want you around. Oh, I know mine will come and get me, but itís just because they have to. Just like youíre going to have to take me back.

Daria: So, you are coming back with us then?

Link: Donít treat me like Iím stupid or something. Iím coming back with you because I donít have a choice. Iím just a child, remember?

Daria: (standing up) Iíll let you know when the tireís fixed.

Daria heads back over to the cars, where Jane is getting the tire attached.

Jane: Itís not an exact match, but itíll do as long as we keep the speed down to forty-five or so. Sorry, this trip just got longer.

Daria: More good news. Hey Trent, can I talk to you for a second?

Trent: Sure thing, Daria. You donít need any more help, do you Jane?

Jane: "More" help would indicate that youíd provided some help in the first place. Iím fine, thanks.

Daria and Trent walk some distance away.

Daria: Youíve probably noticed that Linksís not doing terribly well.

Trent: Heís just mad at the world. Hates his family. Weíve all felt like that one time or another.

Daria: Yeah, but heís in a really bad way. I mean, what if we hadnít found him tonight? Who knows what might have happened to him?

Trent: I know what you mean. The world can be a pretty scary place sometimes. Iíve seen some weird stuff out there.

Daria: Trent, Iíve tried, and I canít make a good connection with him. Can you talk to him? Maybe he can relate to another guy a little better.

Trent: Whoa, I donít know, Daria. I mean, Iím not exactly a role model.

Daria: Donít sell yourself short, Trent. You can be a pretty together guy when you want to.

Trent: I donít think he likes me much.

Daria: He doesnít like anyone right now. Thatís the problem. I know Iíve already asked a lot from you tonight, but can you try to talk to him? Iím worried about what he might do next if he doesnít get some help from someone.

Trent looks over at Link, whoís hanging his head down low, picking up small rocks and letting them drop from his fingers.

Trent: Okay. Iíll try.

Jane: Yo, lovebirds! Letís get rolling!

Daria: (walking past Jane to the Lexus) You know Jane, a body left out here might not be found for weeks.

 

 

INT: The Tank

Back on the road. Most of the dogs are napping. Link is just sitting being angry. Trent keeps looking nervously in his direction, wondering what to say.

Trent: Wanna hear some music?

Link: Your van.

Trent: Actually, itís my drummerís van. But I actually seem to drive it a lot more than he does. Weird, that.

Link: (showing some interest despite himself) Youíre in a band?

Trent: Yeah. Weíre Mystic Spiral.

Link: Ever thought of changing that name? (pause) Are you any good?

Trent: HmmÖ I never really thought about it.

Link almost cracks a smile.

Trent: Here, Iíve got a recording from a show we did in Fremont. That tripís a story all its own, actually. (Trent pops a tape into the dash)

Tape: Iíve been working on the railroad, Every pointless day! Iíve been working on the railroad, While my life gets pissed away!

Trent: (stopping the tape) Whoa. I didnít know we recorded that. Let me fast forward to the real show.

Link: No, wait. I kind of liked it.

Trent shrugs, and starts it up again. As he leans back into his seat, a chinchilla crawls onto his head. He takes no notice.

Link: Whoís singing with you?

Trent: Thatís the guy who said he met Jimmy Hendrix.

 

 

INT: Trentís car (Jane driving)

Jane: (singing along with the radio, badly) Stand by your maaaaan! Give him two arms to cling to! And someone warm to come to Ė wait a minute, I hate this song. (changes the station)

Radio: NearÖ farÖ wherever you areÖ I believe that the heart Ė

Jane: Nah. (changes it again)

Radio: If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wifeĖ

Jane: Uh-uh. (changes it again) Got it! (singing along) Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O! And on that farm he had some cowsÖ

 

 

INT: Lexus

Quinn: Daria?

Daria: Yes, Quinn?

Quinn: Whatís the deal with this kid?

Daria: He has a rotten home life, so heís running away from it. (sighs) The thing is, I donít know how serious his situation is at home. I know running away isnít the answer, but I really have to wonder whether itís such a good idea just to bring him back.

Quinn: (small voice) You think maybe someoneís hurting him?

Daria: I never saw any bruises on him. He doesnít seem scared of home, itís more like heís angry about it. My guess is that heís telling it like it is, that he just doesnít feel like heís wanted there, or important enough for anyone to give a damn.

Quinn: Thatís so sad.

Daria: And the thing is, thereís not much that can be done about that. Itís not like heís being beaten, or locked in the closet, or something. Heís just, wellÖ

Quinn: Heís not being loved.

Daria: Um, yeah.

Quinn: Kind of like all these guys in the back seat.

Daria: I guess so, if you want to put it that way. (pauses) You know, heís got a serious crush on you.

Quinn: Oh, I know that.

Daria: You do?

Quinn: God, Daria, donít you think I can tell by now when a guy likes me? This is just the first time itís been a friend of yours.

Daria: Well, try to let him down easy. And please, donít make him get sodas for you.

Quinn: I have people to do that. Donít worry, I can handle it.

Daria: I wonder what he and Trent are talking about up there?

 

 

INT: The Tank

Trent and Link are singing along with the radio. Link is banging his head, Trent is pumping his fist

Both: Who let the Dogs out?

Woof! Woof-woof!

We let the Dogs out!

Woof! Woof-woof!

One of the larger dogs in the back gets interested in all the excitement, and throws himself up onto Trentís lap.

Trent: Whoa!

The Tank starts to skid. Link grabs the dogís collar and pulls him off of Trent, who regains control.

Link: Easy boy, calm down.

Trent: (turns off the music) Maybe we shouldnít do that anymore. We donít want these guys getting riled.

Link directs the dog back into the rear of the van, then sits back down. He glances over at Trent, and grins.

Trent: What?

Link: Youíve got something on your head. I think itís a chinchilla.

Trent looks at himself in the rearview. He does indeed have a chinchilla on his head.

Trent: (shrugs) Well, he seems happy enough up there.

Silence. Trent glances over at Link, seemingly remembering what Daria asked him to do.

Trent: So, LinkÖ

Link: You know, Trent, youíre pretty cool. I wish I could hang around you more.

Trent: Hey, thanks. Youíre pretty cool yourself.

Link: You know whatís really cool about you? You donít ask me whatís wrong. Everyone I ever talk to asks me whatís wrong with me, why Iím so mad all the time. (starts getting angry, just talking about it) Maybe thatís just the way I am, you know? Maybe Iíve just got something to be mad about!

Trent: Hmm.

Link: You know why I got left alone this week? My grandpa died.

Trent: Whoa. That sucks, man.

Link: Yeah. But the thing is, my mom and my stepdad flew out to the funeral and left me here. Sure, they told the lady next door to look out for me. Sheís been over twice in the past two days. Made sure I was still alive and then left.

Trent: Bummer.

Link: And you know, I really wanted to go. (seems to be trying not to cry) I kind of liked my grandpa. I didnít see him that much, but h-he was really nice to me, you know?

Trent: (doesnít know what to say) UhÖ

Link: I used to wish I could go live with him instead. But now I c-canítÖ (turns away to look at the window. Heís crying quietly)

Trent: Hey Link, itís gonna be okay, you know? Things work out.

Link: Sure they do. Now I have to go back home and deal with my jerk of a stepfather and my lousy mother until Iím eighteen and I can finally just leave without someone saying I have to go back. And then I have to hear about how I should be grateful that I have a roof over my head and food on my plate, because thereís so many kids who have it worse than I do. Things will work out just fine.

Trent glances out the window. A sign goes by that says "Fremont: 3 miles".

Trent: Weíre almost there.

Link doesnít respond.

Trent: Hey Link. I know youíre hurting. Iíve been there. And things worked out okay for me. Thereís no guarantees, but things might work out okay for you if you can hang in there.

Link: How did you get through it all?

Trent: I had my music. That helps a lot, you know. You need a way to let this stuff out.

Link: Why? So I can get sent to another stupid therapist? No thanks.

Trent: Hm. My parents never would have bothered, I guess. I didnít see them much.

Link: I wish I had your parents.

Trent: You know, sometimes I wish I had my parents too.

Link: Huh?

Trent: They had kind of a hands-off style. We kids kind of took care of ourselves. My sister Penny was more of a mom to me than Mom was.

Link: Do you have a younger brother?

Trent: Nope. My brotherís older than me. Of course, thereís Janey.

Link: Iíll bet youíre a good older brother.

Trent: (a little embarrassed) Yeah, well, I guess I donít do too bad.

Link looks back out the window, no longer looking angry, just sad. Trent looks much the same way. He scratches his head, and notices that the chinchilla is still there. He decides to leave it.

 

 

EXT: Highway

The Tank passes a sign that reads "Fremont City Limits" followed by the two other cars.

 

 

EXT: Fremont Animal Shelter

The various cages are lined up in from of the shelter. Jane and Quinn are opening cans of food and giving one to each animal. Trent is busy tying the dogs to whatever he can find.

Link: Think theyíll be all right?

Daria: Better than they would have been. Seriously, itís a warm night, and Iím pretty sure this place opens at six AM. Theyíll be okay for a few hours. Most of them are already going to sleep.

Link: Cool. Iím, uh, going to go help Quinn. (he runs off)

Daria heads over to Trent.

Daria: Did you talk to him?

Trent: Heís a really sad little dude, Daria. But I think heíll be all right.

Daria: Thanks, Trent.

Trent: Hey, no problem. Glad I could help.

 

A BIT LATERÖ

 

The cars are parked outside a convenience store. Everyoneís sitting in the van, taking a rest.

Jane: I canít believe we actually pulled it off. We are just too cool.

Link: (yawns) I guess we have to go home now.

Daria: I wish there was some other way, Link.

Link: There isnít. But, maybe things will work out.

Quinn: (sitting next to Link) We couldnít have done this without you, Link. (she kisses him on the forehead) Thank you.

Link: (blushing furiously) UmmÖ uhÖ wow.

Jane: On that note, I need to get going. Like I said, I have my own agenda tonight. (she jumps out of the Tank and heads off to Trentís car)

Daria: You ready to go, Trent?

Trent says nothing, for he is asleep

Daria: At least he waited until the van was parked.

Quinn: Whatís that on his head?

Link: (yawning again) Itís a chinchilla.

Daria: Letís just leave them be. Itís probably not safe to let Trent do any more driving tonight anyway. And I doubt itís the first time heís spent the night in this thing in a strange town a hundred miles from home.

Daria, Quinn, and Link leave the van and pull out in the Lexus.

 

 

INT: Lexus

Dariaís driving. Link is asleep in the back. Quinnís leaning on the windowframe, watching the landscape go by.

Quinn: Whatís going to happen tomorrow, Daria?

Daria: Who knows? But we should probably be grateful Momís a lawyer, just in case they figure out who did it.

Quinn: (glancing back at Link) Do you think Link will be okay?

Daria: I think he knows that there are people he can turn to now. That helps.

Quinn: Yeah. (smiles a bit) Itís nice knowing that when you have a real problem, there are people you can go to for help.

Daria looks over at Quinn, who looks back. They have a brief, silent "moment" before turning away.

 

 

EXT: Linkís house

Dariaís carrying Linkís bags, Quinnís carrying Link, whoís still asleep. Daria gets the door.

Daria: I figured he wouldnít have locked it. Probably hoping there would be a break-in.

Quinn: That only happens at coffee shops and animal shelters.

Daria: (tiny chuckle) Spending time with me and my friends is rubbing off on you, Quinn.

Quinn: (eyes going wide) I just appealed to your sense of humor, didnít I?

Daria: Yup.

Quinn: God, just get me home so I can put on some makeup and watch Fashion Vision.

Quinn lays Link down on the couch.

Quinn: Goodnight, Link.

Link: (mumbling in his sleep) Ökiss me again, QuinnÖ

Quinn: What?

Daria: Hey, donít wake him up. Iím betting he doesnít want this dream interrupted.

Quinn: Thatís just weird, Daria.

Daria: Whatever. Letís get home. Iím bushed.

Quinn: By the way, what was Jane being all mysterious about?

Daria: Sheíll tell me tomorrow, Iím sure.

 

 

EXT: City Park

Jane approaches a clean wall with a few cans of paint. From inside her jacket, she takes a palette and a large brush.

Jane: Paint over the walls, they said. Iíll paint over their walls, HA HA HA HAAAA!!

FADE OUT on Janeís sinister laugh.

 

Two Days Later...

 

INT: Unknown

A newspaper page fills the screen:

BREAK-IN AT LOCAL ANIMAL SHELTER

Animals and equipment found at Fremont Shelter 100 miles away

Mr.Clay: So, Quinn, what do you have to say for yourself?

The newspaper is lowered. Quinn is sitting across from Mr. Clayís desk. She looks a little scared, but is keeping control of herself fairly well.

Quinn: Well Mr. Clay, it seems you wonít have to, you know, unitize them anymore. Isnít it great that someone found a new home for them all?

Mr. Clay: Look, Quinn. Thereís going to be an investigation, and Iím sure that some kind of evidence will be found. For instance, the tire marks on the pavement as three vehicles pulled out of here at high speed. Or the footprints left in the dog run, the fingerprints on the cages... Do I need to go on?

Quinn: (looking a lot less confident) UmÖ

Mr. Clay: Unfortunately, it seems that someone hosed down the tire marks this morning, blurring them beyond recognition. The footprints in the dog run seem to have been stomped over. And the only clear fingerprints on the cages are yours, which makes sense, as youíve been feeding the animals regularly for the past few weeks. There doesnít seem to be much in the way of physical evidence left.

Quinn: (confused) Huh?

Mr. Clay: It also appears that the publicity from this event has resulted in plans for a substantial increase in our budget, ostensibly for more security equipment. A little creative bookkeeping should allow that to go toward more and larger animal enclosures, more food, and more help, all of which should allow us to finally become the no-kill shelter weíve always strived to be. In addition, we have about a dozen new volunteers ready to start next week.

Quinn nods, her expression one of complete surprise.

Mr. Clay: Which brings us back to you, Quinn. In light of the fine work youíve done here over the past few weeks, Iím pleased to award you with an A on this project. Iíll be sorry to see you go, but in light of recent events Ė meaning, of course, our large number of new volunteers Ė it would probably be best if you found another area in which to volunteer your time from now on. I trust you understand?

Quinn: Yes, sir.

Mr. Clay: Now, off the record, I have to say I admire whomever our mysterious visitor was, for his or her commitment and courage, and I would thank that person - if I could - for doing more for this shelter in one night than any other single person has in the entire eight years weíve been open. On the record, however, Iíd have to warn that that sort of behavior could get someone into serious trouble someday. Do I make myself clear?

Quinn: Yes, Mr. Clay. AndÖ thank you. For my grade, I mean.

Mr. Clay: (smiling) Of course, Quinn. Youíre quite welcome.

 

 

INT: Lexus

Daria is sitting in the driverís seat, reading a magazine. She looks up when Quinn gets in the other side.

Daria: So?

Quinn: (closes the door and leans back against her seat, sighing with relief) Everything is cool.

Daria: (smirks) Damn. You being led away in handcuffs is something Iíve always wanted to see.

The car drives away.

 

 

INT: Stacyís room

The Fashion Club is gathered together, having a meeting.

Sandi: And so, in conclusion, I suggest that it would be most prudent in the future for the Fashion Club to avoid any and all extraneous Community Service projects. All in favor?

Hands go up one by one, first Tiffany, then Quinn, and, most reluctantly, Stacy.

Sandi: Motion carried. And, Iíd also like to mention that rumors of my supposed nervous breakdown have been greatly exaggerated.

Quinn: Of course, Sandi.

Tiffany: Exaggerated...

Stacy smirks knowingly, but says nothing.

Sandi: On that note, I declare this meeting closed. Thank you, Stacy, for being our hostess.

Stacy: Oh, Sandi, it was the least I could do. Youíve been under so much stress lately.

Sandi frowns, but leaves without further comment. The other club members follow.

Stacy shuts the door behind them, then goes to sit on her bed and read Waif. After a moment, she pulls a patchwork quilt over her legs, running her hand over it and smiling as she does.

 

 

INT: Dariaís room

Daria is on the phone.

Daria: Okay, maybe in a small way I kinda sorta missed you.

Tom: (through the phone) Aw, donít make me blush. So, what have you been up to while Iíve been gone?

Daria: I could tell you. But then, of course, Iíd have to kill you.

Thereís a loud ruckus from downstairs that sounds a lot like a primal scream from Jake.

Daria: Uh, Tom, Iíll have to call you back. My father has gone off the deep end.

Tom: I heard that from here. Let me know what happens.

Daria hangs up and goes out to the stairs, looking down on the living room.

Jake is crouched behind the sofa, dressed in camouflage and black-streaked face paint, carrying a large net.

Jake: All right, where are you little devils?! I know youíre here somewhere Ė I can feel your presence!  I can smell your fear!

Daria: Thatís just leftover kitchen sink stew.

Jake: AAAHH!! Oh, Daria, itís you! Get down, there are vicious creatures all over the house! Your mother wouldnít believe me, but I know theyíre here!

Daria: Uh, Dad? Where is Mom?

Jake: Your motherís fine, I left her at the hotel. Itís better that way, this kind of work is best left to a professional!

Daria: Yes, I think this situation definitely calls for a professional of some kind.

Jake: Quiet, kiddo. They can hear youÖ

Jake takes a sudden flying leap over the sofa and rolls to a protected position beside the TV. He then crawls on his stomach across the living room, looking for prey.

Jake: Come out here, you little verminÖ

Helen bursts in.

Helen: Jake, just what the HELL do you think youíre doing!!

Jake: Helen! I can explain, really!

Helen: You barricade me in the bathroom, take my car, and drive all the way back here on some wild search for rabid animals Ė I had to take a cab all the way from Middleton, do you have any idea how much that costs? Ė and just where the hell did you get that ridiculous outfit??

Daria: It probably wasnít Cashmanís.

Jake: Helen! Youíve got to believe me! There are wild animals in the house!  Dozens - no, hundreds of them!  They're sneaky.. .they're hiding... they're everywhere!!

Helen: Jake, there are no animals in the house. Now put down the net and let's talk about this rationally.

Jake: Iíll prove it to you! Come with me!

Jake grabs Helen and starts dragging her into the kitchen.

Helen: Really, JakeÖ youíre making an ass of yourselfÖ

Quinn comes in.

Quinn: Whatís going on?

Daria: Dadís searching the house for animals. Itís not a pretty sight.

Jake (from the kitchen) Dammit! I know there was a dog in here!!

Daria: But it is awfully entertaining.

 

 

EXT: Linkís house

The front door fills the screen. A hand knocks at it.

Link answers. His scowl softens to almost a smile when he sees whoís there.

Link: Hey, what are you doing here?

Trent: (for it is he) I was in the neighborhood. Your parents home yet?

Link: (frowns) No. Unfortunately, theyíll be here in about two hours.

Trent: Ah, well. Hey, I wanted to give you something.

Link: What?

Trent hefts a box punched with holes.

Trent: He wouldnít last long around my house. I thought maybe you could take care of him for me.

Link looks in the box. Itís the chinchilla.

Link: Cool! ButÖ my mother probably wouldnít let me keep him. Forget it.

Trent: Hey, from what I understand, she'll probably never notice. 

Link: Good point.

Trent: And if you ever want guitar lessons, we could probably set that up. As long as you donít want to learn open D-tuning. Never did figure that one out myself.

Link: Youíre on, Trent.

Trent: You could come over to my place after school.  I'm usually awake by then.  Maybe Wednesday?

Link: (smiling like weíve never seen before) Thanks a lot, Trent. Oh, and will I see Daria at your place?  She's not so bad. 

Trent: Yeah... but you probably won't see her sister much.

Link:    Oh well.  She's not really my type anyway.

Trent:    See you later, Link.

Trent heads back to his car, and drives away with a satisfied smile.

 

The Next Day...

 

INT: Lawndale High, hallway

Daria and Jane are walking through the hall.

Jane: So we actually got away with it? No repercussions, no charges filed, no night in Juvy?

Daria: The shelter got enough publicity out of the event to make up for it. Quinn got off the hook scot-free, the rest of us were never even suspected.

Jane: Dammit! How am I ever going to get a record going if people keep cutting deals every time I have a brush with the law?

Daria: It would all be cleared anyway when you reach eighteen.

Jane: Thatís the point. Iíve only got a few months left to do something criminal and get away with it.  Besides, I could have taken those Polaroids and gotten away with that too, dammit!

Daria: Speaking of criminal acts, how did your little vandalism project go?

Jane: All will be revealed at the proper time. In the meantime, I got my B, and they canít take that away now. Howíd you do?

Daria: Marge said she didnít believe in grading. She thought I should give myself the grade I thought I deserved.

Jane: So, what did you get?

Daria: I got an A. Iím not an idiot, you know.

The loudspeaker comes to life.

Ms. Li: Attention, students! It is my sad duty to report that those bastards Ė excuse me, thoseÖ peopleÖ over at Oakwood High have been awarded the grant for highest participation in the Outreach program. However, due to our own fifth-place ranking, Laaawndale High has received a check in the amount of twenty-five dollars, which should go a long way toward replacing the soccer ball lost during last yearís faculty/student sports tournament. Resume learning!

Daria: At least we know that all this was for a good cause.

Jane: Yeah, the good cause of seeing Ms Lidemoralized and watching her evil plans rent asunder.All's well inLawndale.I do wish I could be there for the unveiling of my masterpiece, but that probably wouldnít be a good idea.

Daria: Unveiling?

Jane: (checks the clock on the wall) Right aboutÖ now.

 

 

EXT: City Park

The walls are all painted a smooth, pristine white, with no trace of their former defacing.

The sprinklers activate.

Slowly, the white paint drips off the walls, revealing the graffiti still perfectly preserved underneath. In addition, the City Hall itself loses its outermost coat of paint, revealing a monstrous green face with slavering fangs and burning red eyes, all done in Janeís trademark style.

 

La la la, la, laÖ

 

CLOSING CREDITS

 

 

the end

 

end notes

 

As always, Iíll keep Ďem brief.

This story turned out to be very, very long, long enough so that I came very close to losing interest completely. In the end I posted the first chapter alone, hoping that it would give me incentive to finish it. It ticked a few people off doing it that way, but the job got done.

After having planned and started this story, I discovered a disturbing similarity between its premise and that of "The Old and the Beautiful" Ė an episode I hadnít actually seen, but once I discovered this plot had been done before, I decided to refer to it. I think the stories ended up dissimilar enough to prevent accusations of plagiarism.

Holding a School Review Meeting on Sunday is, of course, a take from the Fizz Ed episode (which happens after this story) in which Ms. Li pulled the same stunt. I assumed sheíd probably done it before.

The Shawshank Redemption, based on a work by Stephen King. Itís about a guy in prison, and thatís all Iíll say about it because those who havenít seen it shouldnít know the plot in advance. I highly recommend the film. I havenít read the book.

I realize Iím guilty of a little Sandi-bashing here, but I tried to at least make her a sympathetic character.

Trentís description of how he got back into the house after six months in a tent is borrowed from Ruthless Bunnyís short story "Intense". I recommend that story as well as everything else R.B. has written.

Daria owes Quinn a favor after my previous story, "Is Summer Over Already?".  While I generally try to make each of my stories stand alone, this was a case where a plot point was most easily resolved by referring to an earlier incident.

Of course, season five shows no indication that Trent and Link are hanging out together. But, it doesnít show that theyíre not either. I think Trent and Link would get along very well, mostly because Trent wonít pass judgement and Link needs someone whoís an adult but also totally non-threatening. His crush on Quinn was purely for comic value, but hey, wouldnít any eleven-year-old boy be smitten with her?

Thanks to everyone for their encouragement toward the final stages of this story, thanks to Glenn Eichler and the rest of the Daria crew over at MTV, thanks to the webmasters who posted this story.

And most of all, thanks to my wife Rachel who is nothing short of the finest beta-reader any writer could ask for. Sheís cute, too.

Daria and crew are not my creation. They are owned by MTV, I think.

This story, with the specific words placed in the proper order as shown, is my creation, Copyright 2001 by Mike Yamiolkoski, and may only be reproduced in its entirety with this notice intact.

Questions, comments, scathing reviews, FAN ART? E-mail me at MikeYamiolkoski@cs.com.