An alternate history of Lawndale and how it might've turned-out.
Daria (and associated characters and locations) is copyright © 1997-2000 MTV Networks.
This story is copyright © 2002 by Bacner (firstname.lastname@example.org) and has been written for personal enjoyment. No infringement of the above rights is intended.
HOW IT MIGHT’VE TURNED-OUT
Horace Sloane was dying. Painfully dying. Slowly dying. But not as fast enough as Nathaniel Sloane wanted. And also – this spoilt Nathaniel’s mood further – he was remaining coherent. Or at least, coherent enough to be judged sane by the family’s doctor.
Nathaniel disagreed. The old coot was planning to give-back their land to the country as a national forest, instead of it being developed into a real town, instead of something out of an American pioneer movie! The thought about this made Nathaniel full of hate towards his old man. If only the old bastard was dead…
"Hey boyo, what are drinking about?" Nathaniel looked-up from his wine glass, and saw a new girl in town: black hair, green eyes, and a pretty face… Nathaniel became painfully aware of his own sorry bogged-down state.
"Nothing," he admitted glumly.
"Yeah, right," the girl shook her head. "No man ever tried to drown his sorrows in a glass without a good reason. What’ s yours?"
"It’s my grandfather," Nathaniel admitted. "If you ask me, he’s gone crazy, donating all of this land back to the state. But it’s a lot of land, and so a lot of those state lawyers are whirling around him, hand and foot. In fact, the only time he’s actually alone…would be now."
"Then go and talk to him now!"
"I don’t know… he can be kind of cranky and unreasonable."
"Maybe, but what do you have to lose, other than the land?"
Nathaniel nodded. "Good point. Let’s go."
"Wait a second. Why do I have to go?"
"Moral support," Nathaniel said, and they were off.
The girl nervously waited as Nathaniel talked to Horace. Basically, she was by now unhappy that she got involved with him. "Serves me right," she thought, "chatting with a perfect stranger. Still, he is mighty rich – or so it seems. Hmm…"
Suddenly the door opened and Nathaniel stumbled-out of it. "I killed him," he gasped. "I really killed him!"
"What?" acting quickly, the girl pulled Nathaniel back inside.
And stared. There lay Horace Sloane, now fully dead.
Because he was murdered. He was choked by the pillow lying on his face.
"You did kill him!" the girl gasped.
"Yes!" Nathaniel nodded. "I feel so strange. Is that how Macbeth felt?"
"I wouldn’t know about that," the girl snarled. "Come on, let’s find the papers?"
"What papers?" Nathaniel gave away a sharp laugh. "The old fool – he never trusted nobody. He wasn’t planning to sign any papers unless on his deathbed!"
"Ahem," the girl gave a pointed glance at Horace’s corpse.
"Oh that. The doctors said that he had a few good weeks left."
"Then let’s get out of here now, before somebody returns and realizes what has happened," the girl said.
"Good point. Oh, and I still don't know you your name."
"It is Helena Kathleen Barrett," the girl said.
A short time later, the body of Horace was discovered. A great uproar rose high-up in the air, as various members of his household tried to shift the blame to each other. Nathaniel Sloane was mentioned in the investigation, true enough. However, everybody agreed that Nathaniel would never have the guts to approach the old man unless the old man gave permission first, let alone do something drastic as that. Besides, the old man was terribly sick, his lungs could’ve given-out before the expected time, and no one could’ve been blamed but the doctors, yes?
As a result, Nathaniel Sloane inherited the Sloane fortune without any big ado, and when he produced a girl named Helena Kathleen as his secret wife, no one was surprised.
And Lawnburg became Lawndale.
"How’s it going, Quinn?"
Quinn turned. Sandi Griffin. Gods, but did they start disliking each other or what? ‘Course, they might blame it all the town’s bad fortune, Quinn supposed. Ever since some old man died 50 years ago, the town was supposed to be cursed. But it was just superstition, wasn't it?
Still, it was a fact, on the other hand, that when the Griffins came to Lawndale to start their business here – and that was some time earlier before the Morgendorffers did – they did seem to have suffered a pretty bad divorce that did line the Morgendorffers’ family pockets. Helen Morgendorffer was the town’s lawyer, and on that point did a lot of things pivot.
"What’s your problem, Sandi?" Quinn said wearily. She didn't want to fight Sandi – friends were hard to come by in the small one-lawyer town of Lawndale.
One-lawyer town. And with her mother the lawyer. Their mother, Quinn mentally corrected herself, remembering Daria.
"Excuse me? My problem? My problem is that your mother helped my dad leave my mom!"
"So?" Quinn parried back. "You can visit your mom every once in a while. The visitation rules were pretty loose back then, when the whole thing was written-up, remember?"
"Yeah, but what’s your point? You try living with your aunt, Quinn!"
Quinn exhaled. Neither of them was comfortable with this argument, she felt. "Look," she said. "Can you remember why did my aunt came here in the first place?"
"Oh yeah," Sandi said. "Sorry about that, Quinn."
Sandi did touch a rather sorry point there and both of them knew it. When the Morgendorffers came to Lawndale… no, it was rather like this: Morgendorffers came to Lawndale because Helen took-up the job of being the town’s lawyer. She thought that it would be prestigious. And it was – but it was also hard, and Helen soon pretty much stopped spending time with her family altogether, leaving Quinn and her sister Daria practically on her own. To make matters worse, Helen’s husband, Jake Morgendorffer too spent more and more time at work, trying to boost his ego that he wasn’t a failure like his father prophesied him to be, and that Helen wasn’t the one who wore pants in this house.
He failed. He overworked himself and had a heart attack. And since Helen was at work, Quinn was shopping with Sandi, and Daria was too busy with her boyfriend, it remained unnoticed.
Until Quinn and Sandi decided to come to the Morgendorffers’ house to watch some TV and saw him. It was half an hour after sunset and the body was cold for a very long time now, as the forensics team identified.
Surprisingly, the Morgendorffers seemed to have actually benefited from it, since Quinn and Daria sort-of family bonded over the funerals, finally agreeing to call each other "sister".
And it had one other effect. Since Helen spent very little time at home, but didn't want her girls to remain alone either, she decided to call her younger sister Amy to move over to Lawndale and live with them. Amy complied, saying that "she wanted to spend more time with her favourite niece anyway".
And so Amy Barksdale came to Lawndale. And in Lawndale Amy Barksdale met Tom Griffin.
It wasn’t a whirlwind romance at all. In fact, it wasn't even a romance at all. It was just Amy Barksdale meeting Tom Griffin and striking a conversation with him. They clicked…and that pissed Linda Griffin off. She started a public scandal…and something snapped inside Tom Griffin and he started a divorce.
And things weren’t running very smoothly between Linda Griffin and Helen Morgendorffer, and so Helen complied very readily with the divorce proceedings. ‘Course, once the initial shock wore-off, Linda didn't cause too much fuss either. Basically, in the divorce split Sandi stayed with Tom, her brothers with Linda, but Linda was always willing enough to let the boys spent time with their father and Sandi, as she re-experienced the wonders of being single again. ‘Course, she also blamed the Barksdale-Morgendorffers for her divorce, but Helen at least was growing powerful enough to endure them with ease, and the rest – just didn't care.
At any rate, what really bugged Sandi was that her father still spent a lot of time with Quinn’s aunt. Or maybe it was vice versa – Quinn’s aunt spent a lot of time with Sandi’s father. And that led to the fact that more often than not Sandi and her brothers dined at Morgendorffer house than at their own.
"Our lives, Quinn, are something out of ‘Full House Stephanie," Sandi complained.
Quinn nodded. "I know. You try competing with my big sister and "favourite niece". Sheesh! And to think that I used to be popular in Texas!"
Sandi’s stomach growled. She rubbed it, suddenly realizing that she seemed to be gaining weight. "So where are we going to eat, Quinn?" she asked.
"We could go to Starbucks… or home. It’s your choice."
"A bagel with a coffee…or microwave food. What a choice, Quinn, what a choice."
"Don't look at me," Quinn shrugged. "Your brother would anything that’s edible, even if it is alive or smells. My sister, aunt Amy, and your father aren't that choosy about their food, either. And my mom – she seems to have stopped needing food altogether, you know?" She paused. "What about your mom, Sandi?"
"Let’s not go there, Quinn," Sandi shook her head. "Let’s go and buy some fruits instead."
"Alright, but we’ll have to wash them first," Quinn said.
The two friends/almost cousins finally left the school yard, passing Jodie Landon and Michael Jordan Mackenzie.
"Wonder what they are talking about?" Quinn said.
"Who cares?" Sandi shrugged.
"Wonder what they are talking about?" Jodie said, as Quinn Morgendorffer and Sandi Griffin passed them on the street.
"Who cares?" Mack shrugged. "We have our own worries."
They did indeed. Originally, the Landons came to Lawndale attracted by the possible job market in there. Initially, all went well. Andrew became a consultant, while Michelle got herself a job as the assistant of the town’s lawyer – it was a one-lawyer town – Helen Morgendorffer.
In the beginning, all went well. But the thing about the beginnings is that they are kind of brief, and soon over. So it was with the Landons. Before long, Andrew and Michelle were nuking it out, the question about Michelle’s proper place.
"You cannot possibly think that Jodie and Rachel can take care of both Evan and our house!" Andrew raged. "And Jodie has to take care of her grades, as well!"
Jodie wasn’t so concerned, to tell the truth. The education in Lawndale was more than just slightly downbeat, and Jodie often thought that some of the students were smarter than the teachers. At least that what Jodie thought of herself, and of Michael Jordan Mackenzie aka "Mack". "Mack daddy," as Mack’s charges called him. Michael Mackenzie was responsible for the scout movement in Lawndale. It wasn't particularly big or glorious, but it did help the children and the teenagers to pass the long boring hours of the day while their parents were at work and school was over. Also, as Jodie realized a bit earlier, this sometimes did more good than the school, since Jodie knew at least a bit more at least about history than that drop-dead drunk of a history teacher. The only teacher that Jodie felt was smarter than her, was the English teacher.
Another student, Daria Morgendorffer, was elected as English teacher due to some hankering in the school board. The school board cared little what went on in Lawndale High, unless it was something outrageous, like what Daria’s predecessor did. He was a paedophile, and got a student girl pregnant…Jodie decided not to discover the sordid details for herself. At any rate, though, the paedophile got thrown into the slammer, and Daria Morgendorffer got his job. It didn’t exclude her from the other classes, though, and so Daria had to do both the homework of a student and the work of the adult.
She did get fully paid, though.
Jodie sometimes felt somewhat jealous of Daria, who was quite smart, even if she did look a bit aloofish and owlish with her glasses. Then again, what could she do? One couldn't get no eye contacts in Lawndale. And the Morgendorffers’ family situation wasn't in the most flexible shape, either.
Jodie sighed. "What’s up?" said Mack worriedly.
"Nothing…just reminiscing," Jodie admitted, looking at the horizon, where the forest darkened almost everything out. "Just reminiscing."
This isn’t fair, Jodie continued silently. The Landons were as bad the Morgendorffers, too. After Andrew and Michelle had the argument, Andrew just walked-out on his family, deciding to live his life anew and alone. Michelle didn’t miss him, and neither did Evan, for that matter. Jodie and Rachel were more upset, but being in the scouts did something short of wonder to their lives. It made them feel un-lonely, and that counted a lot in Lawndale. And Jodie finally befriended Mack and got herself a steady boyfriend – and that was very good, since Mack was one of the smartest boys in this town, and probably the most handsome, if Jodie’s opinion counted for anything.
"So Jodie, have you changed your mind?" Mack asked Jodie suddenly, as they walked down street.
"Hah?" Jodie asked. "Sorry Mack, I love you and everything, but no sampling until tying the not. Female integrity and old-fashioned values – you know that, don’t you?"
Mack nodded in agreement. "I do. Some others don’t." He nodded as Charles Ruttheimer aka Upchuck approached them.
"I believe," Upchuck said mildly, "that that was directed at me?"
"Yes it was, Weasel," Mack said with a grunt. "What do you want?"
"Oh do drop the Weasel routine," Upchuck said, rolling his eyes. "I don’t call you Baboon or Gorilla in public, now do I?"
"That's ‘cause if you did, you’d regret it," Mack exclaimed.
"I don't think so," Upchuck proceeded. "Through mud long enough and it’ll stick."
Jodie rolled her eyes. If some stranger would’ve heard that conversation, he or she would think that this was two bitterest enemies arguing, and not two close friends. It surprised Jodie too, when she first learned about it.
Apparently, the roots of this rather surprising friendship went-in some time before the Landons arrived in Lawndale. Both Mack’s and Upchuck’s families were down on their luck. Mack’s – because of the father’s crude behaviouristic nature, Upchuck’s – because of the father’s disturbing sexual preferences. As a result, both of the teens eventually started to prefer to spend time outside, in the forests surrounding Lawndale, rather than in the town itself.
Oh yes, there was a lot of forest surrounding Lawndale. Some time ago, like 50 years, the grandfather of today’s Sloanes planned to have this all land developed, but for some reason he didn't.
Anyways, both boys eventually discovered the similarities in their fates and family situations, and started to hang around each other. Or maybe Upchuck started to hang around Mack, and Mack tolerated it. This balance was sort-of aided by the fact that neither boy was popular in Lawndale because of their family’s situation.
The balance slightly shifted when Jodie appeared on the scene. Both she and Mack were the only Afro-American teenagers in Lawndale, and naturally both gravitated towards each other. This left Upchuck in the cold, temporarily. The friendship was disturbed further by the fact that Upchuck started to behave in a Casanova manner towards Jodie too. Things were getting heated-up when the school scandal struck, and poor Stacy Rowe got pregnant. Apparently, eventually, somehow, Daria Morgendorffer (how did she do that?) managed to hush things up before they became wide-spread knowledge, but Stacy was left with a baby on her arms.
It was Upchuck’s true, gentlemanly colours shone through, and he began to help Stacy with the child which was nowhere near his. Basically, they became a couple, nothing more, nothing less.
And the balance was restored too; even improved a bit, since Jodie liked Stacy too. Stacy was good with little kids, and was planning to be a nurse when she grew up in Lawndale hospital ran by Mr. and Mrs. Blum-Decker. Jodie sometimes wondered if the amazing Daria Morgendorffer didn't have anything to do with that. She always discarded that thought as being childish, but tonight she decided to ask Stacy about it.
"Hey guys, Jodie!"
"Hi, Stacy!" Jodie said a tad too loudly than necessary, just only to get the guys to snap out their arguing mood!"
"Hey, Stacy," Mack said to cover-up their slip-up, while Upchuck tenderly kissed his girl. "So how’s Timmy?"
"Quiet, which is more than what can I say about the other kids, if Mack and Rusty here won't get there soon with us in tow. Shall we go?"
The four young people went off, with guys in the front, and Jodie and Stacy in the rear.
"Uh, Stacy," Jodie said reluctantly, feeling foolish.
"Yes, Jodie?" Stacy said, slightly nervous.
"Tell me, am I being ridiculous, or did Daria Morgendorffer help you, well, with everything?"
"We-ll, I wouldn't call it with everything," Stacy reluctantly said.
"Can you tell me what really has happened?"
"Sure! It went like this:"
LAWNDALE, 5 YEARS AGO
"Um, Miss Daria?"
"Just Daria, Stacy, just Daria. Remember? I became a teacher only a couple of days ago and it sucks."
"The teaching gig! The only reason why did I take it was for money."
"And, well, to prevent that from repeating again," Daria admitted. "So. What did you want to talk with me about?"
"Oh, uh, you see…"
"Only I hope it’s not about your pregnancy," Daria stated.
"Eep! How’d you know?"
"I heard you in the washroom a couple of days ago," Daria admitted. "You’ve got to think of something quick, Stacy, or you’ll be in even more trouble than you are now."
Stacy shook and almost bolted to the door, but collected herself, and closing her eyes said:
"I didn't come here for that?"
"Then for what?"
"Um, uh, Tiffany! Come here!"
"Yeah?" Tiffany walked-in. "Am I too fa-at?"
"Um, uh, Tiffany, Tiffy, please count for the nice girl here?"
"O-okay. One…two…three…four…five……and one more…and two more…and three more…and four more…and five more…do you want me to count on my toes too?"
Daria’s eyes grew very round. "Is she that slow with letters too?" she quietly asked.
"Aha. She doesn't know how to write any but the first four. I tried to teach her once the second four, but she forgot the first four then."
Daria frowned. "I know that Lawndale High is pretty pathetic itself, but even it couldn't have ignored Tiffany’s mental…uh, slowness."
"Oh, I helped her," Stacy admitted. "And I think her parents helped too. But only now…I-I won't be able to help her much more, and I would wonder if you would help her instead… Why are you looking at me this way?"
"Stacy," Daria said slowly. "I should report this to the authorities, but I won’t. Not yet. First, you and I are going to go to Blum-Deckers’ house and talk things out."
The doorbell rang. Mr. and Mrs. Blum-Decker opened the door, looking nervous. "Uh, Tiffany’s not home," Mr. Blum-Decker said.
"That’s okay, I brought her home," Daria said quietly.
"Oh, you did? Oh, thank you, Miss—"
"Morgendorffer. Daria Morgendorffer. I suppose you have heard of me?"
"Oh yes, the new student teacher at Lawndale. Is there something wrong?" Mr. Blum-Decker was openly nervous.
"Uh-huh," Daria nodded. "Tiffany, come in."
"Tiffany, please count for your parents."
Tiffany did. In the same fashion she counted for Daria.
"Do you see my point?" Daria quietly said. "I believe she is even worse with letters. So how come she’s still in school?"
Mrs. Blum-Decker broke down entirely and fled into the kitchen. Mr. Blum-Decker just looked at Daria, looking completely drained. "I hope you’re happy," he quietly said. "Now the authorities will take away our Tiffany."
"Mr. Blum-Decker," Daria said, also quietly. "I may be a teacher, but I’m not heartless. The authorities don't know about this – yet. I’m giving you a chance to explain how this came to pass."
"They don’t know yet?!" Mr. Blum-Decker literally jumped-up from joy. "Oh, thank you, Miss Morgendorffer, oh thank you!"
"The explanation, please?" Daria said quietly.
"Oh yes, of course. Uh, um, do you know this place called Highland, Texas?"
Daria’s face froze. "I had an aunt Rita living there. She had a girl child named Erin while still in there. Erin makes Tiffany look normal. Did you live there too?"
"Yes," Mr. Blum-Decker nodded sadly. "When we found-out about the uranium in the drinking water, it was too late." He paused. "We're afraid to have any more kids, Miss Morgendorffer, in case they happen to be like Tiffany – or worse in some other way. And we don't want to report to authorities, because then—"
"I understand," Daria nodded sadly. "But let’s get back to Tiffany’s generalized situation…"
Stacy was waiting on Blum-Deckers’ front porch, looking nervous. No way Daria Morgendorffer could pull anything off.
The door opened. "Come in, Stacy," Daria kindly said. "We're finished discussing you."
"Eep!" Stacy said but complied.
Once inside, Stacy looked around. The Blum-Deckers were looking at her, not with revulsion, as she was afraid, but with pity – in a good way.
"So you’re the poor girl that that awful man was using," Mrs. Blum-Decker said slowly.
Stacy nodded, still too tense. "Miss Morgendorffer explained your situation to us," Mr. Blum-Decker said. "Of course, we’ll be happy to help you medically when the need comes, alright?"
"Thanks," Stacy said almost inaudibly.
"And another thing. Miss Morgendorffer said that you’re good with people and maybe could get a job in the hospital. From the way you helped our Tiffany we have to agree, but you’re still too young to do so – you’re not yet out of high school. And you’ve got to have a bit more practical experience?"
"So?" Stacy said.
"You how there are three kids starting sort of a scout thing?" Mr. Blum-Decker asked. "Why won’t you join it? It’ll probably provide you the experience, necessary to work in this town."
"Okay," Stacy nodded happily, and this was it.
"Wow!" Jodie said in surprise. "Daria Morgendorffer is one amazing girl."
"Well, she said her aunt is responsible. She made Daria grow a conscience."
"Even so, it is amazing," Jodie said. "One day I should meet her."
As the four teens approached the scouts, they got a loud cheer: "Hooray!"
"That’s for us," Mack said mockingly, "I'm touched."
"Heck, no sweat, Mack," Brittany said. "Anything for our pro-po-ge-ni-tors, yes, guys?"
"Yeah!" the shout came from the throats of such different people as Sam and Chris Griffin, brothers of Sandi, Rachel Landon, sister of Jodie, and Tricia and Tad Gupty, two of the smartest, though most mischievous, kids in Lawndale.
Mack indulgently sighed. "Brittany, this is a scout camp, not a church choir."
"I know that," Brittany insisted. "And besides, you need a church to have a choir, and we don't have one."
"Um, yeah, good reasoning," Jodie said. Brittany’s logic left everybody reeling, even the famous Daria Morgendorffer, no doubt. While arriving at the same conclusions as everyone else, the route she usually took was the one at which nobody else even remotely wanted to take a shot-at. But her energy was infectious, and she was good at following orders, as well as organizing support. The school’s guidance counsellor, one Penny Lane, suggested her to the four "scout-masters" as their number one henchman in organizing activities. Upchuck and Stacy were reluctant to do so, but Mack and Jodie, who got to know each other for a bit, decided to give Brittany a chance, and all four were pleasantly rewarded, when Brittany didn’t fail the counsellor’s expectations. True, somebody had to supervise at her first, since her enthusiasm sometimes overrode her common sense and she would do something like confused poison ivy with brambles, or poison sumac with ordinary ones. And she wasn't very good with fishing either, and the fact that she was simple didn’t camp.
…There was, now, a somewhat noticeable absence of your average American teenage male. Families with male teens tended to avoid Lawndale because of one reason: sports.
"There is no sport faculty in Lawndale, because for miles around there grew the forest that was nicknamed by the Lawndalians as Sloanes’ Private Forest. ‘Course, the current Sloanes – Angier and his wife Katherine and his children Tom and Elise – had very little to do with the forest, busy running Lawndale as it was. Apparently, the original Sloane, Nathan-something, planned to sell this land to developers and have Lawndale turn into a booming town – a successful one. For some reason it didn’t float, and Lawndale never became very prominent or successful in America. Also, the country itself was seemed to be suffering from a minor economic depression, which is certainly to be passed quickly…"
"Ted! Quit reading "The History of Lawndale" aloud and join us!"
Ted DeWitt-Clinton grinned sheepishly. His parents ran a farm on outskirts of Lawndale, and paid "rent" to their "landlord", the Sloane family. Since they didn't believe in money, however, nor was money was good in Lawndale, actually, they paid the Sloanes in fresh produce, instead. The Sloanes didn't abuse the DeWitt-Clintons, however, and their daughter Elsie often spent her summers on DeWitt-Clintons’ farm, helping them with farm work. So did Ted himself, of course, he was home-educated, and spent most his life so far on the farm, venturing into the town only to help to sell his parents the vegetables and stuff in Lawndale’s fall market. However, today was a somewhat unusual occasion: the four "counsellors" managed to get permission from DeWitt-Clintons to have overnight camping on the Lawndale Lake that was, technically, on DeWitt-Clinton property. There was a bit of nervousness once, since Mack and Upchuck once tended to "poach" on the same shores the fish and crayfish found in the lake, but there were never any confrontations with the owners; still, the boys considered themselves lucky to get that permission. And, of course, they did get the permission of DeWitt-Clintons for their charges to fish and swim there. However, Ted DeWitt-Clinton was "assigned" to watch-over them, as well as a couple of extra chaperones.
"I’m nervous," Stacy whispered to Jodie, as they watched Ted talking with Brittany. The blonde was busy gesticulating while telling some scouts’ adventure, no doubt, while Ted was bemusedly listening. DeWitt-Clintons sometimes became a scouts’ adventures because there was no clear border defining where was their property; there was no border at all. Still, some rules about private property held. Even in Lawndale.
"What are you nervous about, Stacy?" Jodie asked.
"Well, uh, about those chaperons. They, like, may be total strangers."
"Actually I'm sure we’ve seen each other in school," a familiar voice said.
Stacy and Jodie turned around. Before them stood a tall brown-haired girl that seemed to be gaining weight, and a lower girl with short-cut hair.
"Um, um! I know you! Quinn and…and Sandi, right?" Stacy said.
"Yeah. And you’re Stacy, right?" Quinn said, not unkindly.
"Yeah. And that’s Jodie, and there’re Mack and Upchuck, our boyfriends."
"And there are Sam and Chris, my younger brothers," Sandi said. The mentioned boys groaned and stuck their heads into the water at lake’s shore. They instantly pulled them out, though, as a big crayfish grasped their hair. One for each boy.
"Bad idea," stated Ted. "The crayfish are living close to shore, and as sun sets, they become active and grasp anything that moves. Once me and my folks went swimming, and a crayfish got my dad’s big toe. He so yelled! And it happened to be the same toe that got caught in a mousetrap just a short while ago."
"What did a mousetrap do in your house?" Upchuck asked sceptically.
"Waiting for a mouse, duh!" Ted said.
"No-no, Rusty here tried to say, didn't your dad know where the mousetrap was?" Mack explained.
"Oh, he forgot. He tends to forget, you see, anything that’s about the inside of the house."
Back in the back, Jodie and Stacy were talking to Quinn and Sandi. "So why did you volunteer?" Jodie asked the other two girls. "I didn't know you liked nature."
"Oh, me and Daria used to live in Carlsbad, New Mexico, and often camped in the camping grounds of Carlsbad Caverns N.P." Quinn grew quieter. "Back then daddy was alive and we didn't look like something out of a "Full house" show." She paused. "No offence to anyone, I hope."
"None taken," nodded Jodie, who sometimes envied Quinn, to tell the truth. She could never be really lonely, had a famous sister, and at least her father, though dead, didn't abandon them because of spite. "And Sandi came here for company?"
"Ah-ha," nodded Sandi. "Also, dad asked me, to, eh, keep Quinn company – but don’t tell Sam and Chris, would you?"
"Sure," nodded Stacy. "So, uh, do you have any idea what are you supposed to do?"
"Keep an eye on the kids and ensure they don’t take into the mouth without showing it to any of you or to those two," Sandi said. "Right?"
Jodie and Stacy nodded. "Do you think your sister will be joining us some time in the future?" Jodie asked.
Quinn shrugged. "Who knows? But maybe after the school is over. Not before."
"What has happened to my life?" Daria Morgendorffer asked her boyfriend, Tom Sloane. "One moment I'm just a typical Lawndale student, slowly sinking into the abyss of boredom, the next – I'm the new English teacher, with the double duties of a student as well. Life stinks."
"Well, as long as you don't blame the mayor for getting Ms. Li as the principal," Tom shrugged. "Dad is very grateful for you for uncovering what kind of a bastard Ken Edwards really was."
"Oh you sweet-talker, you," Daria shook her head. "Nah, I usually blame my aunt Amy for uncovering my conscience, U suppose."
"That puts you into the company of Linda Griffin," Tom pointed-out. "So now there are two people blaming Amy Barksdale for something."
"Mmm. Maybe. But Linda’s usually blaming mom, and mom’s too secure now to be worried by Linda. And Linda’s darts are only habitual, just like an exercise to keep herself in shape."
"Others could use exercises to stay in shape too," Tom said.
"I don’t like what you’re hinting at, mister!" Daria mock-bristled.
"Whoa there, tiger!" Tom quickly retreated. "Speaking of exercises, what do the poor students tomorrow will receive in their English class?"
"You’ll find-out like the rest of them, mister!" Daria mockingly said.
"Well, that makes me feel glad that I'll have to be excused from it," Jane jeeringly said, producing to Daria a note excusing her from English class.
"Gee," said Daria jeeringly, "what does your mom need your help with now?" Amanda Lane, Jane’s mother, taught art class in Lawndale High.
Jane shrugged. "You wouldn't want to know. It’s an art thing."
"In this case, I’m starting to suspect that it doesn’t have to do with your mother, but with Allison, who was passing through our town a few months ago and stayed ever since. I didn't know you swung that way, Jane."
Jane shrugged. "Since both Mack and Upchuck are taken, the only eligible bachelor in this dump is Ted DeWitt-Clinton, and I do not want to compete with both Brittany Taylor and Elsie Sloane."
"Oh yeah, now I remember!" Tom spoke-up. "Didn't some musician visit you a couple of weeks ago?"
"That musician," Jane said somewhat coldly, "is my brother, Trent. Us Lanes do not do each other Sodom-style. Ordinary style creates way too much of us already."
"How do you know that," Tom argued. "From the way you boast about your kin, we wouldn't be surprised if they didn't originate from one of old Lot’s daughters as he and they fled from Sodom and Gomorra."
Jane bristled, and Daria decided to intercede before it went too far. "I can see now why you guys never dated," she spoke-up.
"Did we start-up again?" Tom innocently asked. "Sorry dear."
Daria rolled her eyes. "You better do good tomorrow in English class, mister, or your parents will receive a note from the teacher about your behaviour! And Jane, speaking of notes, why must you be excused tomorrow from the English class?"
Jane sighed. "It’s Summer. She’s supposed to visit tomorrow with her kids, and mom would like my help with them, to protect her precious kiln."
"The scouts?" Tom pointed-out.
"Please. It’s not so easy. They’re sick. Trent, when they ran into each other passed onto them either stomach flu or plain diarrhoea."
"Well, as long as it isn’t gonorrhoea," mumbled Daria.
"Daria! Come on! Gonorrhoea isn’t contagious!" Jane protested. "What is gonorrhoea?"
"An STD," Daria willingly supplied.
"Eew! Gross! Trent is not a debaucher!" Jane protested. "Besides, if this is an STD then they got it probably from Summer herself."
"So nice to see that the Lane sisters’ feud lives on," Daria said.
"Hey, I didn’t start it – Summer and Penny did," Jane protested.
"What happened?" Tom asked curiously.
"Summer accused Penny of being a square, and Penny called Summer a Moulin Rouge wannabe all the way to the trashy wardrobe. Summer retaliated by calling Penny Moulin Huge, and Penny then went-on in trying to make Summer’s face look like abstract art."
"And where were you?"
"Sitting with Allison on the benches, cheering on the gladiators," Jane said.
Daria looked at Jane over her glasses. "You know, someday Penny and Summer may make peace and turn on you with your tattling."
"Unlikely. They first have to talk with each other first. And besides, that’s how they communicate all the time," Jane replied breezily.
"That reminds me. Don't you have another brother, Wound or Unwound or something like that?" Tom asked.
"That’s Wind. And I think he is hiding. From alimony-searching ex-wives."
"Now who would want to marry Wind? Or to think that he has money for an alimony?" Daria said. "Doesn't he live in a houseboat off the coast of Florida?"
"Nah. After he was almost swept into Atlantic by a hurricane, he changed his ways."
"He now calls himself Ahab, has an artificial leg, and hunts that elusive white sperm whale," Tom said.
Daria laughed, while Jane looked indignant. "Would you lay off Moby-Dick already?"
"Not since that painting of your mother’s," Daria said. "Your mom is either crazy or has a crazy sense of humour."
"Speaking of crazy relatives, what did your aunt pull-off lately?" Jane asked.
"Nothing. She’s quite content with her previous mischief, and merely proceeds to guide us with her illuminating light."
"Your other relatives?"
"Neither hide nor hair. They probably can't find us. Lawndale isn't number one tourist attraction, you know?"
"You came. From New Mexico."
"True. Only ‘cause my mom was searching and found this lawyer-wanted ad on the ‘Net. Exceptions only underline the rule."
"Not undermine the rule?" Tom said slightly.
"No. Don't try to pull-off something like this tomorrow."
The door opened and closed. "Kids?" Amy Barksdale’s voice called-out.
Daria, Tom and Jane appeared in the living-room. "Hi, aunt Amy, hi Mr. Griffin," Daria said.
"Uh, Daria," Amy said rather slowly. "Do you think you could sleep-over at Jane’s tonight?"
"Why not?" Daria said, almost leering. "Jane, you game?"
"Mmm. Mom is in her moods again, and I don’t like to be alone with her. Let’s go."
"I'll accompany you," Tom said, and they were off.
Horace Sloane was dying. Quickly now, because Nathaniel Sloane was choking him with a pillow, and Horace’s old lungs didn’t need much to break-down, as they were doing now. But Horace had one last speech to give.
"Nathaniel," he wheezed. "You're coming into your inheritance through cunning and murder, and for the sake of dollar you’re willing to lay those forests to waste. This will not be! With my dying breath this curse I say: the dollar will have here no sway. Though rich you’ll be, but poor you’ll stay, and the rest of Lawndale will follow this way, and America’s turn to change heart come may. So remember Nathaniel: for this you will pay! A dying man’s curse always runs true!" With those words Horace Sloane died.
Nathaniel Sloane looked up from the corpse, then at his pillow-holding hands, and then stumbled through the door into the waiting hands of Helena Kathleen. "I killed him!" he gasped. "I really killed him!"
But of the curse he said nothing.