Stuck in Lawndale

By Neal C.

Ch 4

A Message from Me to Me

For me waking up is an hours long process, and it comes in stages. These stages are best illustrated by the sounds I make while in them.

Deep sleep: "ZZZZzzzzZZZZ."

Doze: "mmmrph…wha?"

Waking: "mmmmgothefuckawaylemmesleepmmmm."

Awake: "Coffeeeee."

I usually switch from one stage to the next gradually. But today was different.

"mmmrph…wha?" Wait…whazzat? Damn, it’s soft, kinda like…Holy Shit!

I opened my eyes, not moving any other muscles. There was Jane lying on her back, thankfully still asleep, wearing my shirt. Then there was me on my stomach beside her. Then there was the fact that my arm disappeared upward under her hiked up shirt. I’ll give you three guesses as to the whereabouts of my hand… but I think you’ll only need one.

Shit! Shit! Shit! Aw, hell. This is definitely awkward. Catch-22, if I move I’ll wake her up and then I’ll never hear the end of it. But if I don’t move someone else is bound to find us, and I’ll never hear the end of it. It’s too early for this kind of decision. I need Coffeeeee.

And that’s how I went from Doze to Awake in under thirty seconds, and on the day after a party no less. It was definitely a new world record. I lay there and smirked at the turn of events, pondering what to do. Then the situation resolved itself.

"Like that do you?" Jane turned her head to look at me.

My eyes widened. "Jane! I uh… and well uh… I was asleep, I swear I didn’t…"

"It’s about damn time actually." She smirked and rested her hand on top of the one I had under her borrowed shirt. "Oh, rough hands. You are a musician."

"That’s my strumming hand. This is my fretting hand." I rolled to face her, without moving my right hand from its place. Then ran my left hand along her exposed side. She shivered.

"Definitely a musician. Wow." She let me slide my hand out from under the shirt. I put one hand on either side of her jaw and gently tilted her head up. I was about to kiss her when someone pounded on the front door.


"Don’t listen, maybe they’ll go away. It’s probably someone who left something in the warehouse last night. They can come back later." But the pounding didn’t stop. So I rolled off the futon and threw my pants on.

I waded through the dump that is Jesse and Max’s kitchen, toward the front door while whoever it was kept pounding. "Hold on I’m coming Dammit!" I threw the door open. "This had better be damn good. I mean ‘There’s been a brutal murder and I need a fucking phone!’ good!"

Then I looked at the visitor. He was tall, lanky. He wore a boonie hat with a white feather stuck in the hatband, round glasses and a moustache.

"You must be Neal." He sounded like a male Daria.

"Have we met?" I don’t remember him from last night.

"Not physically. But we do know each other." He stuck out his hand. "I’m Napalm Krigbaum."

"Napalm!?" I shook his hand.

"The one and only." He smirked.

"Come on in. How did you get here? How did you know where to find me?"

"I’ll explain it all in due time. But I just had a helluva trip. Got any coffee?" He looked around the kitchen and sat at the table.

"Uh sure… I hope." I fumbled around the kitchen for a minute finally finding a can of Folgers. I set up the coffee pot and started it up. Then Jane walked in still wearing my shirt.

"I smell coffee." She looked around, eyes settling on Napalm. "Who’s this?"

"A friend of mine." I said sitting down across from him


Napalm stood up and offered his hand, which Jane took. "I’m Napalm."

Jane arched an eyebrow. "Napalm?" She looked at me. "Where’d you pick this guy up?"

"Well remember all those other ‘loser’ fanfic writers…"

Jane looked shocked. "So he’s a… Like you… Whoa I gotta sit down." She thudded down in the chair to my right. "So how’d he get here?"

I shrugged. "He was just about to explain, right Napalm."

He nodded. "Right." He sat back down. "First off, I’m here because you wrote me in."

"What? I haven’t written anything, and I can’t control what happens here anyway."

"No, you didn’t. But You did. You see, you’re like… well, you’re only as real as Jane and Daria and Trent. You are part of the story. You’re a way for the real you to see how he’d react to these situations. Kind of a mental self-diagnostic. Though in my opinion it’s far to late for that."

My jaw dropped. I’m not real…so this is how Jane felt. "So I’m not real?" Jane reached over and took my hand.

"I didn’t say that. You are real, you eat, drink, breath, feel, love." He looked at Jane on that last word. "This is a real a world as our original one is. The real you doesn’t dictate your life, he just looks in from time to time to see what you’re doing. So don't do anything stupid in the shower. You know how when you’re writing the characters seem to take on a life of their own? That’s because they do… That sounds sappy."

"So we are all real?" Jane asked.

"You bleed don’t you, you can die can’t you?" Napalm said.

"I guess." Jane looked shaken.

"So if we are real. What’s that make you?"

He shrugged. "A courier. You see, my green card only allows me to stay for a month at the most. Damn immigration officials. Then you guys go about your lives."

"A courier?" I asked

"Yeah, I have a message from Neal to thee." He reached into the breast pocket of his field jacket and pulled out a small manila envelope. "Here. And if it blows up, remember it’s from you not me."

I opened the envelope. Inside were a few sheets of paper, a bundle of cards and a pair of keys. "What’s all this?"

"Dunno, I wasn’t supposed to open it. All I can tell you is it’s from the real you."

I looked over the papers. One was a letter from me.

Hey man,

I know this has to be a major blow to your world. But you gotta keep going. Enclosed in this packet are your high school diploma (you now officially graduated from San Dimas High(the football rules)), the title and keys to your new conveyance (you’ll find it in Sam’s Storage, out by Pizza Forest), and your social security card, birth certificate (You are now Neal Chaucer) and driver’s license.

That’s it… I just wanna wish you luck. Go get a job at a recording studio or put a band together. (I probably won’t have time to do either ever again.) Napalm’s gonna stick around for awhile, that’s what he wanted for doing this job and it wasn’t that much to ask so show him around. And for God’s sake treat Jane right, she’s good for you, you loser.


Neal C.

"What’s it say?" Jane asked.

"It says I get to start over." I rolled my eyes. "As Neal Chaucer"

"Sounds English, ever write any good tales?" Napalm said

"Yeah. But I would have chosen something different. So… what do we do now?"

"We should wait for everyone to wake up and introduce Napalm." Jane said.

I nodded. So we sat and drank coffee and made small talk for about thirty minutes. Each of us was enveloped in our own thoughts. Then Daria entered. She, of course, was used to being awake in the morning and was fully dressed and functional.

She looked at the motley crew sitting around the table. There I was wearing only fatigue pants. Jane was wearing my shirt. Then there was Napalm, who she had never seen before at all. She raised an eyebrow.

"Okay, now this may be sleep deprivation affecting my mind. But this is one weird setting to see first thing in the morning."

I acted innocent. "Why, whatever are you talking about?"

Daria put her index finger to her chin as if in thought. "Well, let’s see. It’s so hard to put my finger on. First there’s you wearing only your pants. Then there’s Jane, who was supposed to share the bed with me, sitting next to you and wearing your shirt. So I can only guess what that means, although I’m sure I’ll hear all about it later. Whether I want to or not. Third… who’s this guy?"

I looked over at Napalm. He was transfixed, looking vaguely reminiscent of a deer in the headlights.

"Daria, I want you to meet a friend of mine. This is Napalm."

"Napalm? He doesn’t have an obsession with fire does he?"

"Not that I know of." I kicked him under the table. That seemed to snap him out of it.

"Uh hey. I’m Napalm." He gave a slight two fingered wave.

"So I heard. I’m Daria."

"I bet you are." Napalm said transfixed.

" I didn’t see you at the party last night."

"I wasn’t at the party. My Monaco broke down, had to push it… long story." He gave me a sidelong glance.

"Then how did you know where to find Neal?"

Napalm turned to me as if to say, ‘What do I tell her?’ I put up my hand in a stopping gesture. Then said, "Well you know how I said there were other writer’s besides me."

"Yeah… Wait, you mean he’s one?"

I nodded.

"So how did he get here?"

Napalm and I looked at each other and I sighed. I motioned for Daria to sit down. Then we went about explaining what had happened for the second time today…

"And here he is." I finished.

"So what do we tell everyone else about him?" Daria asked

"We tell them the same thing we told them about me. He’s one of my friends from out of town, which is certainly true." I looked at Napalm. He was still enamored with Daria. I reached across the table and poked him. "Ain’t that right Napalm?"

"Wha… Oh, yeah sure."

I raised an eyebrow. Wow, he’s really got it.

"Well it’s almost noon, I suggest that we wake up the spiral, and restore the warehouse to its original state of disrepair. Then we go pick up your wheels, Geoffrey."

I rolled my eyes. "Bad lit reference Daria. Okay, I guess your right. Time for cleanup hell. But I gotta get dressed." I wiggled my eyebrows at Jane then headed for the bedroom.

She raised an eyebrow. "And I’ve gotta return his shirt. C’ya!" She gave a half wave as she got up.

As we entered the bedroom I heard Daria say, "I guess they won’t be cleaning up."

"Okay, what happened to taking it slow?" Jane said as she took off my shirt and sat down on the bed.

"Nothing. I just wanted to leave Napalm and Daria alone. It’s my turn to play Yenta." I gave an evil grin, which was soon reflected by Jane.

"Oh, I see. You like messing with your friends’ minds."

I touched my nose like in charades. "It’s kinda like watching the way Daria used to be around Trent."

"She’s still like that, you just have to know what to look for."

I thought about it. I guess maybe it is still there… I gotta watch more closely.

"Um… I’m kinda cold over here." Jane said, crossing her arms.

"Then let me warm you up." I sat down beside her and held her close. She smiled, not a smirk but an actual smile. I’m a gentleman so I won’t describe anything that came next. But for those who want to know, no we didn’t…close, but like I said, I’m a gentleman.

We emerged into the warehouse, dressed and ready for the day, an hour or so later. By then, as Daria had predicted, the "cleanup" was done. And to my surprise there was Napalm’s ‘bluesmobile’ up on blocks in the warehouse bay. With Max, in oily coveralls, hanging halfway out from under the hood.

"Hey guys! Over here." Napalm called.

I looked over. Daria, Napalm and Trent were sitting on some crates. Trent had a small Marshall practice amp set up and was playing some basic blues while Napalm improvised on the harmonica. On our way over I grabbed Jesse’s acoustic.

"Hey Trent where’s Jesse and Nick?"

"Napalm told us about your car so they went to pick it up. Jess said something about payment for letting you drive the Tank."

I hung my head. "Aw hell." Next time don’t leave keys on table.

Jane and I sat down. Trent kept playing the twelve bar rhythm, I improvised on the guitar and Napalm improvised on the harp. We didn’t sound half bad, considering I usually play punk and Trent usually plays neo-grunge.

After a while we heard the Monaco start up. Along with a triumphant yell from Max. "I am Invincible!"

I rolled my eyes. "Now let’s hope the car is."

Napalm looked offended. "Hey that baby’s got a cop motor of four hundred and forty cubic inch plant, it's got cop tires, cop suspension, cop shocks. Whaddaya say is it the bluesmobile or what?" Jane, Daria, Trent and I just kinda stared at Napalm. "What?"

Max walked up holding a small metallic object. "Fix the cigarette lighter."

Just then we heard a low reverberating thunder. It was steadily getting closer and louder.

"I know that sound." I said. Then Jesse pulled in riding a very customized Harley chopper.

"Wooooo! Neal’s a Harley Man! Yeah!" Jesse yelled as he brought the bike to a stop. "The keys were for the gate and the door lock at the garage. Its gotta kick starter. You gotta ride with me sometime man, that thing is fuckin’ awesome."

"You own a motorcycle?" Well, I guess it fits.


"Cool… Hey Jane, wanna go for a ride?"

"Effin’ A right I do."

I straddled the bike and stomped the starter. It roared to life, I sat down and Jane jumped on behind me.

"Hold on to your butt."

"How ‘bout I hold on to yours?" She put her arms around my waist. With that I gunned it out of there with the roar of the engine and the applause of the Spiral and Napalm in my ears. Life is good for Dharma Bums like me.

Authors Notes: First off I would like to thank Napalm for all his help and for the Title for this fic. Next, are Jane and I gonna take it to the next level? I’m not telling just yet. Will Daria and Napalm hook up? I dunno. Does Daria still like Trent? Maybe. You’ll get your answers in my next fics so keep reading. As always I’m open to critiques or praise or a good bashing at And if anyone gets the Ataris (punk band) reference Email and tell me… You won’t win anything but I wanna know how many people know.

As always I have to mar my art with a disclaimer. Daria and the Daria cast do not belong to me the belong to Mtv. And I’m running out of whore jokes for Mtv and Viacom so I just won’t have one for this installment.