A 'Daria' fanfiction by Brother Grimace

NOTE: This fanfic is situated directly at the end of Season Two, immediately following 'Write Where It Hurts'. It is rated TV-14-DLSV – and when I say it's rated TV-14, I REALLY mean that it's rated TV-14! (Nogginites and thin-skinned folks, you have been warned!)

First, a special word of thanks to Deref, who came up with the title for this fic, Galen Hardesty (the main plotline in 'TDIMM' springs directly from Young Daria's adventures in 'Brainworms From Outer Space'), and C.E. Forman (Sandi's latest trial is a direct result of the events in 'No Picnic'). Another word goes out to two great guys – Ron Leavitt and Michael G. Moye, the creators of 'Married... With Children'. Those two were a BIG influence on my comedic style, such as it is. Also, a nod to Invisigoth Gypsy for touching on her fic 'Conformity For Hire' (which includes one of the funniest dream sequences in Dariafic).

Finally, a nod of recognition to those unsung heroes of fanfic – the beta-readers. Thanks go out to: Canadibrit, Crusading Saint, Deref and Galen Hardesty, who weren't concerned about sparing my feelings when I made mistakes.

This fic – my very first foray into 'canon' Dariafic, not to mention comedy - is dedicated to all those folks over on the 'Scorched Remnants' message board, who rightly pointed out something that a lot of us (me CERTAINLY included) seem to forget every now and then: 'Daria' is a comedy. This one's for you, those among the masses who like to laugh. I hope I at least made someone smile...

- ACT I -


(SCENE: The Morgendorffer living room. Daria & Jane are on the couch, the frayed remnants of a sleepover marathon scattered about the room. The two girls are focused on the television.)

'Sick, Sad World' Announcer: Can the cure for insanity be as simple as eating CHOCOLATE? 'Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut, Sometimes You Don't' – a 'Sick, Sad World' EXCLUSIVE, coming up next!

Jane: Sometimes, it's really sad to see your favorite show go down.

Daria: This show never had an 'up'.

Jane: No kidding.

Daria Pass the pizza rolls.

Jane: They're cold.

Daria: Pass 'em over.

Jane: Not gonna miss a single moment, hmn?

Daria: Not a single one. (They chomp away as Quinn follows Helen down the stairs, her face locked into full 'plead-for-the-gold-card' look.) Melodrama alert. This is not a drill.

Jane: I guess we'll have to ride this one out.

Daria: I knew we should have gone over to your place when my TV went 'poof'.

Jane: Uh, let's check the reasons why we didn't go over to my place. (beat) Oh, yeah. When my brother's in sight, YOU lose the ability to operate in normal reality! (beat) Especially at night... just thinking of him all alone in his cool, dark room, lying back with his shirt off, moonlight glistening over his skin, and you just down the hall in my room, almost able to feel the touch of his body under your fingertips, the scent of him in your nostrils, and the warming of his breath making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up... (She smirks as the bowl of pizza rolls drops from Daria's hands, then reaches down and starts to pick them up, trying VERY hard not to laugh at the body-wide blush Daria's sporting.)

Daria: I hate you.

Jane: Yeah, right. You're still naming your first-born girl-child after me.

Quinn: Mo-ooom, you just DON'T understand! I HAVE to go to the mall this morning! It's important!

Daria: 'Boys R' Men' will be there for their new charity cause.

Jane: 'Pop Stars for the Poor'?

Daria: 'Boogie for Babies Born with Bad Stuff'.

Jane: Yeah – I gave to that one.

Daria: So did I. I gave my bottom an extra shake on the towel after my shower.

Helen: (more than tired already) Daria...

Quinn: Mom, I'm taking RACHEL to the mall! I'm teaching her everything she needs to know about clothes, and boys, and how to be popular! She needs to have someone like me so she can learn the proper use of moisturizer, and how to do her hair just right for any situation! (weighty, dramatic pause) Mother – she has great potential, and it's my responsibility to see that she uses what she has for good.

Jane: I didn't know coordinating colors was a superpower.

Daria: They are The Fashion Club – working the runway of a world that idolizes and emulates them, simply because they wear natural fibers.

Quinn: At least I'M doing something to give back to my community, Daria. What have you contributed lately?

Daria: I've given plenty to my community. (belches) See? Words of inspiration to my classmates.

Jane: You should see the comments she has to make when she's eaten Thai food.

Helen: (getting a sudden gleam in her eye) Daria... have you joined any clubs lately?

Daria: Well, I was considering the 'I've Got Common Sense' club, but it got shut down for lack of members, and the 'Lawndale Teens With Disturbing Relationships Alliance' turned me down flat as soon as I said that, just like other kids, I don't walk the ground my mom walks on.

Jane: You know, I painted a portrait of your friend Lurman, and now those folks just WON'T leave me alone! (beat) They think that I'm into mandrills. Don't ask.

Helen: I just had a wonderful idea...

(SCENE: The Morgendorffer's Lexus. Daria & Jane are up front, while Quinn, Rachel Landon and Stacy Rowe ride in back.)

Daria: Count on Mom to try to teach a lesson in looking out for others. (beat) A lawyer talking about civic responsibility and being a Good Samaritan. Mother Theresa's probably spinning so fast that she'll hit magma at any moment. (beat) I can't believe she made me take the car.

Jane: What I want to know is when 'in loco parentis' started applying to best friends.

Daria: At least we got lunch money out of the deal. (beat) It'll help to have something to choke on when the Baroness of Baby T's begins her lecture on the right outfit for every dating situation.

Jane: Really? What if he's got a cute brother, but the brother's got to get on a space shuttle and save the human race from an invasion of telemarketing rats from Planet X?

Daria: The little black dress, because if you add gloves, a wide-brimmed hat & a veil you can mourn in it if he doesn't come back, but if he does, you can wear it to the award ceremony with a matching jacket, and take the jacket off to go out to the club for dancing afterward.

Quinn: I AM sitting right behind you, as if it matters.

Rachel: Why are they saying such mean things about you, Quinn?

Quinn: (with a serene sigh) The uneducated mock what they don't understand, Rachel... but you must not be angry with them, because they're also afraid. Afraid of us, true, but they're also afraid of themselves: afraid of what they could be if they tried.

Rachel: Really?

Quinn: You have to understand what fear does to them, my young padawan-learner. Fear leads to anger – anger leads to hate – and hate leads... to suffering. (Quinn lifts her hand like a TV-evangelist and motions towards Daria and Jane.) Don't you see how they're suffering, Rachel? Bad hair and complexions, wardrobe choices only the ignorant could make, no cute boys anywhere in sight. They want to be like us, but they're afraid to take that first step... and they're suffering for it. (pause) Pity them, Rachel. Pray for them.

Rachel: Poor, sad girls.

Stacy: Oh, Quinn, you're such a good person!

Rachel: When I go to high school, I want to be just like you.

Quinn: No, Rachel. Always be yourself – but be fashionable. (She looks smugly forward, and Jane notices Daria's hands gripping the steering wheel VERY tightly.)

Jane: Daria Louise Morgendorffer, this car is not allowed to crash unless I'M driving it!

Daria: The cliff hasn't been found that's high enough for me to drive off now. (beat) When I'm done, they'll have to ID her smiley-T with DNA records.

Quinn: (smiling) Oh, yes. Daria was right – in the situation she described, a black dress with the accessories she chose would be perfect! (beat) You see, Rachel – there IS hope for even the most unpopular of girls, no matter how boy-repellant her clothing may be or how much she says that she thinks what we do is frivolous and trite. Remember – inside every Janeane Garofolo, there's an Uma Thurman waiting to come out, and an Ethan Hawke waiting somewhere to take her hand... (Quinn looks directly into Daria's eyes.) Or serenade her with his guitar as he sits on his bed in his cool, dark room... (She smirks at the blush that appears on Daria's cheeks.)

Jane: A certified Morgendorffer trait... slowly turning the knife.

(SCENE: Cranberry Commons. Quinn and Stacy stand at a full-length mirror in the dressing area of J.J. Jeeters, watching as Rachel tries on a sweater.)

Rachel: How about this one?

Quinn: It's not you, Rachel. It just screams '7th Heaven' when what you want is a little more 'Buffy'. You want to let people know that you're a good girl, but not a 'brownie hound'.

Rachel: You can tell that by what people wear?

Quinn: Clothing is more than just a collection of styles and trends. It's a way of life, with a language that is all its own.

Rachel: (smoothing out a sleeve) Quinn, I was wondering about something. Why did we come here? I mean, Sandi's always talking about this place and saying how cheap it is...

Quinn: And that's part of today's lesson. Someday, you might need to actually choose things off the rack – the CHEAP rack - in order to put together an ensemble that kills, and it's VERY important that you get hands-on experience so that you can still find just the right pieces. (beat) Remember – any competent cook can work with Kobe beef, but only he who can dazzle with ground chuck truly deserves to be known as a chef. (pause) No, that's just not your look. Maybe when you're older ...

Rachel: I guess I'll try the other one. (She goes into the dressing room just as Sandi and Tiffany walk into view.)

Sandi: Well, I see that we're giving out fashion tips without consulting me, Quinn.

Quinn: Oh, hi, Sandi! No, I was just showing Rachel Landon how she should dress.

Sandi: And isn't THAT a violation of Fashion Club rules?

Quinn: Sandi, she's my apprentice! Fashion Club rules say that any member can teach a younger person the ways of fashion if they show the potential to be a future member, and if we submit notes on their progress...

Sandi: (sniffing) Well, I haven't seen any notes...

Quinn: (to Stacy) Stacy, I gave you my notes to write up for the next meeting & to make copies for Sandi –

Stacy: I left them on my desk, and the new cat got it, and – I'm SORRY! (She almost breaks down in tears, but Quinn pats her on the shoulder.)

Quinn: (consoling Stacy) Don't worry, I've got everything done on my computer. (to Sandi) I'll have them for you tonight. (Rachel returns at that moment, wearing a peasant blouse and denim skirt.)

Rachel: (doing a little turn in front of them) How's this?

Tiffany: Wow.

Stacy: Fabulous!

Quinn: That's PERFECT!

Tiffany: You look so cute...

Stacy: She's SO adorable!

Sandi: Well, if Quinn's going to have her own little apprentice and, whatever, then maybe QUINN should be President of the Fashion Club!

Quinn: Oh, don't be silly, Sandi. I could NEVER replace YOU! (beat) Besides, I'm sure that YOU could get an apprentice anytime you wanted!

(Sandi scowls as the rest of the Fashion Club gathers around Rachel, showering her with compliments and tips.)

(SCENE: The Food Court. Daria & Jane, sitting at the counter, get their chilidogs and drinks when Jane looks off to the side and grimaces.)

Daria: What?

Jane: Think your sister's a loopy fashion fiend? (gestures) Here comes the Queen.

(Daria looks up as a living cover-shot from every teen magazine in existence bounces up to the counter, her perfect face, figure and lion's mane of red hair causing everything male in the area to stop and stare... and her perfect wardrobe making most females snipe with envy.)

Girl: Oh, HI, Jane! Long time no see! (She glances over at Daria.) Who's your friend, and why is she mad at the world?

Daria: Excuse me-?

Girl: Well, why else would you go out in sunlight dressed like that?

Daria: Hey-

Jane: (cutting in) Nat, this is my friend Daria Morgendorffer. Daria, this is Natalia Hedgeworth – this year's 'Miss Teen Lawndale'. Her dad's Councilman Hedgeworth.

Nat: Don't forget that he owns all of the movie theatres in town. (extends her hand) They call me Nat.

Daria: (looking at the hand) Which explains why you hang out at malls.

Nat: (looking Daria over) Morgendorffer... The redhead from Lawndale High! Are you related to her?

Daria: Yes-

Nat: (in a stunned tone) Really...? HOW?

Jane: (noticing where Daria's hand is placed) Daria, put the spork down. Put it down-! (Nat turns away and looks over the menu as Jane wrestles the spork out of Daria's hand.)

Daria: What part of Teen Hell did you intern in to be on speaking terms with THAT John Hughes creation?

Jane: Known her since first grade – and in eighth, someone gave her the idea that she could sing. Her dad gave Trent and the guys some cash and lifetime movie passes to show her the ropes – and after she started, I wanted to take one and tie her vocal cords shut.

Daria: Bad singer?

Jane: The guys kicked her out of the house on the spot.

Daria: THAT bad, hmn?

Jane: Cats only started coming back around last summer.

Nat: (turning around) Jane – I know that you're all busy and everything with your little art thing – and with your school project or whatever (she gives Daria a VERY direct look) – but it's been AGES since we did anything together, and I've got my dad's Diablo, so if you want to catch your friend a little later, how about us cruising around, and then going to play a movie at the theater and raid the concession like we used to?

Jane: Nat, I'm-

Nat: Remember that time Daddy brought that tramp to the movie and made out with her while we were watching the whole time from up in the balcony?

(Daria's expression moves from annoyed, to uncomfortable, then slightly jealous with the way Jane moves closer to Nat and laughs at her story.)

Jane: Yeah, and you just HAD to pour that whole cup of soda down on her!

Nat: Not ON her-

Jane: (finishing the sentence) –But right down her cleavage! Took a half-gallon 'Noah's Ark' and walked the stream from just below her chin and right down to her navel!

Nat: (laughing) Well, Daddy said that he always liked his girls bubbly and sweet...

Jane: You know what you are, don't you?

Nat: Yep – one twisted cruller with cinnamon on top! (She shakes her hair out as she speaks.) He was mad for weeks - and if he could have proved that we did it, he'd have had us hanging off the marquee!

Jane: No problem – with YOUR singing voice, a few notes of 'Happy Birthday' would've snapped the ropes and crumbled the metal beams!

Nat: (feigning anger) Why, 'Jane the Pain' – are you trying to say that I don't have a lovely singing voice?

Jane: (barking out a laugh) No, 'Nat the Rat' – I'm saying it straight out! If your looks resembled your singing, you could scare hungry pit bulls off a meat truck! How the HELL did you ever end up a beauty queen with THAT voice?

Nat: Easy. I play the flute, and they give me anything I want. (She laughs.) Not THOSE flutes, you tramp!

Jane: (innocently) How am I supposed to know what you've learned when you're off at school?

Nat: The same things you're learning – but with better knick-knacks on the shelves to knock over when we're making out in our dorm rooms.

Jane: Since when did you ever wait until anyone got you back to his or her room? (She stops laughing abruptly when she sees the miffed look on Daria's face.) Uh, Nat, Daria's my friend, and –

Nat: (turning and looking Daria over closely) Yeah – why ARE you hanging out with the downer queen? Doesn't she ever get any...?

Jane: Nat...

Nat: (a big smirk going across her face) So... do you ever get any...?

Jane: (actually blushing) Nat! Not everyone's going off to fancy prep schools and giving it up to trust fund brats from the boys' dorms at the weekly cotillions!

Nat: Fielding's not like that, Jane. We only give it up to the trust fund college boys at the frat mixers they sneak us into... and I remember a few parties where a certain artsy-fartsy type snuck in while her brother's band played...

Jane: (playfully pushing her) Slut.

Nat: (pushing back) Whore.

Jane: Bitch.

Counter Dude: (annoyed) Hey – '9021-dodos'! You gonna order or start talking about 'when the cute boys are gonna come by'? (Nat just smiles at the counter dude, taking the steam out of his mad-on, and Jane turns back to Daria as Nat goes back over the menu.)

Daria: 'With cinnamon on top'?

Jane: (shrugging) We hung out a lot until her P's got the big 'D', and they shipped her off to 'Republican Hogwarts'.

Daria: HUH?

Jane: That type of money is just like magic. (pause, a sad tone) Her dad made her disappear.

Daria: (her tone almost accusing) You sounded like you didn't like her - at first.

Jane: (a sheepish grin crosses her face) Nat is... an acquired taste.

Nat: (OS) I'd like two turkey franks with light mustard and one spoonful of pickle relish, to go, please.

Daria: (ears perking up) Did she say 'turkey franks'?

Jane: Yeah, and – (sees the look on Daria's face) Daria, no. She's as gullible – no, she's WORSE than Kevin! If you pull a stunt on her, there's no telling WHEN or WHERE she'll stop running!

Daria: 'Sorry, Goose, but it's time to buzz the tower'. (turning to Nat) Excuse me, but have you ever seen Sick, Sad World'?

Nat: Yeah – it's my favorite show!

Daria: (wincing in pain) Then you must have missed one – otherwise, you wouldn't be eating those... Ever hear of 'Brainworms'? Their larvae nest in turkey franks, and when people eat them, they burrow into the spaces next to the lungs so they can get air. Then, about three or four days later... ugh... arrrgh... KER-SPLAT-SPLASH! Just like 'Alien'... if you're lucky. Otherwise, it's 'Pod People Time'.

Nat: No, that can't possibly be true. (pause) Really-?

Daria: But there is a test.

Nat: No, there isn't – you're full of it! (longer pause) There really is a test-?

Daria: Oh, you won't need it. (pause) I'm glad that you're in such good shape, too... they say it doesn't hurt as much if you've got good muscle tone. The Brainworms can just chew through muscle and flesh with no problem, but fat's harder on them. For them, it's like trying to drive through mud.

(At this point, Nat's face has gone white, Jane shakes her head in disbelief, and the counter dude looks at Daria as if he were wishing for a wooden stake.)

Daria: (continuing) It's much more painful for fat people, and the taste of human fat makes the Brainworms more aggressive, and hungrier. They don't even bother trying to take over the brain then – they just eat and eat until there's nothing left to eat. (pause) Your dad – he's got a few extra pounds... doesn't he?

Nat: (her eyes going wide) Daddy-?

Jane: (cutting in) Uh, Daria, just let this one go, okay?

Daria: (ignoring Jane) You probably eat those because he does, right?

Nat: But Daddy's never had a problem with...

Daria: The test. (to the counter dude) Take those and nuke them for 90 seconds.

Counter Dude: But they'll-

Daria: (slipping him a ten-spot) Cool it...

Counter Dude: (palming the cash) Chilled. (He takes the dogs and slips them into the microwave. After a few moments, the turkey franks quiver and begin to expand; as Nat watches with impossibly-widening eyes, the franks start to split, and little pieces start to come out as if they have lives of their own...)

Daria: Sayonara, you little brainworm bastards.

Nat: (at the top of her lungs) DADDY!!! DADDY, NO!!! (She takes off at near-light speed, disappearing from sight as Daria turns back to her lunch.)

Jane: (shouting) Nat! NAT! Nat, wait, it's not... oh, hell. (pause; she gives Daria a grim look.) You know, someday you're going to catch a bolt of lightning for stuff like that.

Daria: The hard part'll be convincing Quinn that I didn't try to get a perm behind her back.

(SCENE: The Morgendorffer kitchen. Helen sips coffee and reads through papers when the phone rings. She picks up her cell-phone – and is surprised that it's the house phone that's ringing. )

Helen: (picking up) Hellooo...? (pause) Councilman Hedgeworth, this IS an honor! How can I help you... what about your daughter? Hysterical – concerned about your weight? Well, every little girl is concerned with her daddy's health – exploding turkey franks? (Helen's eyes narrow as her face darkens.) You're about to tell me that my daughter is involved in this, aren't you? (pause) Let me see... fender-bender... and the hedges... Hysterical catatonia – ran over a squirrel – her pet squirrel? Wouldn't respond to ANYTHING for an hour? She saw you finish a turkey frank... ruined her outfit and then went catatonic? Councilman, let me assure you that Daria WILL be punished and will make restitution – Miss Lane, too. I'll – no? You have an idea? (Helen listens for several moments, a demonic smile growing across her face.) Yes, Councilman – I think that will work QUITE nicely. I'll see you Monday afternoon, then. (She hangs the phone up as Jake saunters in, a golf-bag on his shoulder.)

Jake: Honey, I'm going to – (He notices the look on Helen's face.) What is it?

Helen: Sit down, Jake. Daria's been amusing herself again.

Jake: Really? But she always seems so uptight... (He realizes he spoke aloud, and goes white as a sheet as Helen looks at him strangely.) Uh, honey? Don't you think that this is, well... a female matter that you and she should discuss in private...?

Helen: (exasperated): Oh, Jake! I said  'amusing'...

(SCENE: The LHS Cafeteria. Daria, Jane and Jodie are talking when Mack comes up and plops down next to them.)

Mack: Hey, Jodie. (beat) Hey, look - our own local supervillians!

Jane: (almost choking on her burrito) Excuse me?

Mack: Don't you folks ever watch the news? Some jerk over at Channel 18 News heard about Nat Hedgeworth and made it the top story this weekend.

Jodie: Oh, no. (beat) Channel 18 News – where 'every second counts'.

Daria: (resigned) Yeah – like the seconds on the clock before they hit the switch.

Jane: Hey, it'll get worse. Councilman Hedgeworth has a gift for payback when it comes to his pride and joy.

Jodie: (morosely) Yeah. I heard that, too. (beat) So, Daria, where did you come up with this 'Brainworms' idea?

Daria: Something I made up when I was little, back when my family lived in Highland.

Jane: And it didn't go over big there, either.

Daria: We eventually found Quinn.

Jane: Yeah, that's what I meant.

Mack: I gotta hand it to you, though, Daria. I've played some decent pranks, but I never made somebody go catatonic.

Jane: It does show that you've got skills.

Mack: Maybe you could get a job as an interrogator somewhere.

Jodie: Nah. Better keep your amateur standing in case the International Olympic Committee comes to its senses and puts this in the Winter Games.

Daria: The IOC changed the rules. I can now make a decent living for myself and still torment foreign nationals every four years.

Ms. Li: (OS; over the loudspeaker) Would the following students - Jodie Landon, Jane Lane, Daria Morgendorffer, Charles Ruttheimer - report to the Main Conference Room AT ONCE!

Daria: This isn't going to go well, is it?

Jodie: (downbeat) By the pricking of my thumbs, something stupid this way comes. (to Daria) What, you think you've cornered the market on cynicism here at Lawndale High?

(SCENE: The LHS Main Conference Room. Daria, Jane, Jodie and Upchuck sit on one side of the room, while Ms. Li, Helen and a bushy-faced, plump man in a VERY expensive suit and shoes sit on the other side.)

Ms. Li: Normally, I would be calling this meeting to order the Student Court to convene and mete out punishment for such a flagrant example of bringing dishonor to, and tarnishing the glorious reputation of – LAWNDALE HIGH. (beat) However, after discussing the situation with Mrs. Morgendorffer and Councilman Hedgeworth, an appropriate alternative has been brought to light – one which will demonstrate the administration's ability to be lenient, allow the chance for rehabilitation for those among you who have committed transgressions, and give everyone involved the opportunity to bring honor to our school. (pause) Councilman Hedgeworth – the floor is yours. (Councilman Leopold Hedgeworth stands up, straightens his clothing, draws himself up and clears his throat as if he's about to give a speech.)

Daria: Maybe we should get Leni Riefensthal to film this...

Helen: (warning tone) Daria...

Leopold: Students – I am Councilman Leopold Hedgeworth. I'm sorry that we must meet under such unfortunate circumstances, but I think I've found a way for everyone to come away from this with the knowledge that we've all benefited in some small way from what could have been a mutually unpleasant experience for all involved.

Daria: And beneath the sweet, soulful sounds of Barry White, you can just hear the sound of a zipper coming undone...


Leopold: Please – she's only being herself. (to Daria) You seem like a straightforward young woman – therefore, I'll favor you with the courtesy of also being direct. You've got a reputation as a world-class little smart-ass with an incredible talent for fanning the flames and instigating chaos & havoc – oh, yes, we've all heard the coffeehouse riot story, and I'm sure that that's only the tip of your potential iceberg.

Jodie: (softly; to Daria) Damn. They DO think you're a supervillian.

Leopold: Because of you, my daughter damaged her sports car, ruined the hedges on our manor grounds & the designer outfit she wore, ended up in the hospital for the weekend for observation, will require months of therapy AND lost her little pet squirrel – the squirrel she's had for years. Can you and your smart little mouth bring back 'Mr. Squirrel?' CAN IT? (Both Jane and Jodie wince, Upchuck looks at Daria with disbelief, and Daria wisely stares down at the tabletop.) Now, while your mother is one hell of a lawyer – I've seen the idiots who've had the bad luck to cross her path – the amount of legal firepower that I can bring forth and the finances involved would simply overwhelm her... besides which, I don't believe your mother's inclined to take the case. You didn't have to let this happen, and these events have happened because of you and you alone. (He sips from a glass of juice.) Now, I'm willing to take one of two avenues towards resolving this. One – we let Miss Landon and Mr. Ruttheimer go along their merry way, your friend Miss Lane is in hock to me until she graduates – she didn't try very hard to stop you, but she did try – and you're in hock to me until you're forty. Do you have any idea how much the hood ornament plate on a Diablo is worth? One more smug comment from you and we'll do it that way. Got it? (Daria looks at him sullenly, but says nothing.) I thought so.

Ms. Li: (leaning towards Helen) It's always so uplifting and... inspirational to watch a professional at work.

Leopold: Now – Option Two. As you're probably all aware, I own the majority of movie theatres in Lawndale and Carter counties. I'm about to open a new drive-in theatre/restaurant here in Lawndale – and I believe that all of you can help make the drive-in a success.

Jodie: You want US to promote your drive-in?

Upchuck: It WOULD be the perfect place for a date. Rowwwwwwwlll... (Even the older ladies shudder.)

Leopold: Down, boy – but that is just the response that I want for the 'Starlite Passion Drive-In!'

Jane: Now that sounds like something straight out of the 1950's.

Leopold: EXACTLY – and that's the look I'm going for. Chrome, neon, poodle-skirts – welcome to 1959, everybody! (to Jodie) Oh, don't look so down, Miss Landon! By then, they'd started integrating the schools!

(Daria's and Upchuck's hands clamp down on Jodie to keep her from leaping at Leopold's throat – and a moment later, Jodie's hand snaps out and tags Upchuck right on the nose!)

Jodie: Oh, Charles, I'm so sorry! (sheepishly, to Ms. Li) Reflex.

Upchuck: No offense taken, my sleek and dusky beauty. The Chuckster's touch can often cause women to lose all control.

Ms. Li: Mr. Ruttheimer...

Leopold: (ignoring the outbursts) Now, after speaking with Ms. Li and Mrs. Morgendorffer, I've come up with a wonderful idea that will help Lawndale High's students to raise money for LHS and show their school spirit!

Jane: What – 'Lion Night at The Movies', where LHS students work the drive-in and restaurant for 10% of the night's profits off the top?

Ms. Li: 15%, actually.

Jodie: Not bad, Lane.

Leopold: I'm looking at Thursday nights. (beat) This will be a test – and if everything goes well, several other schools have already expressed interest in this potential fund-raising opportunity. (Daria obviously wants to say something, but keeps her mouth shut.)

Jane: (looking over) I got this one, amiga. (beat) When it comes to moneymaking schemes, you guys move faster than rigor mortis.

Jodie: Isn't there a more honorable way to make money than basically renting out the students?

Ms. Li: Ferengi Rule of Acquisition #106, Ms. Landon. 'There IS no honor in poverty.' (Daria's fingernails scrape across the table as she bites her lip.)

Leopold: (to Jodie) As the head of the student government, you'll be able to recruit volunteers for 'Lion Nights'. (to Upchuck) I understand that several students, yourself included, run the A/V and studio equipment here at LHS, including the projectors for student films in the auditorium. How'd you like to operate the projection equipment at my drive-in?

Upchuck: Do I get to dress-up like my favorite '50's star?

Leopold: Now that's a GREAT idea! ALL students can dress up as their favorite 1950's star!

(Daria closes her eyes and clamps her mouth, really wanting to let an insult fly as Leopold turns to her, a smug grin in his face.)

Leopold: It hurts, doesn't it? (Daria stares a holocaust at him.) Ms. Lane, you've developed a reputation in the area as an artist of exceptional talent that's just beginning to truly develop. (It's hard to tell who is more proud – Jane, or Ms. Li.) I'd like you to paint the place – murals, portraits, 'Mad' magazine art – ever seen the movie 'Grease'? The opening with all of the '50's memorabilia? You can do the individual rooms any way you want – make the projection room into a scene from 'The Day The Earth Stood Still!' Put Elvis over every jukebox – but make sure it's 'Skinny Elvis'! Turn one of the walls in the restaurant into a mural of James Dean's last ride! Cut loose, as long as you don't go into 1960!

Jane: (slightly taken aback) Did you say I COULD do 'James Dean's last ride'?

Leopold: Hell, do Jayne Mansfield – I'll have a special section where the wannabe Kerouack-types can sit around and act above it all while they look at the decapitated head and drink sixteen-dollar cups of double espresso! (He hands her a business card.) The folks at the art store on Dega are expecting you – and do the words 'blank check' ring a bell?

(Daria sits and watches sullenly as the other students – even Jodie – eagerly talk between themselves, Ms. Li and Leopold, and Helen, observing, lets her stew for a moment before clearing her throat to get the attention of the others.)

Helen: Ms. Li – before we collectively begin salivating over the benefits and personal prestige this will bring, I think that we should remember exactly why we were all brought together – and the fact that punishment is still the order of the day. (Leopold turns and fastens his gaze on Daria, and the other kids get out of the line of fire - QUICKLY.)

Daria: (reflexively) EEP!

Leopold: I have not forgotten.

Daria: EEP!

Leopold: Ms. Li – would you please explain Miss Morgendorffer's role in all of this?

Ms. Li: With pleasure. (pause) Miss Morgendorffer, after discussing the matter with the concerned parties, we have decided that, despite what we feel will be a spirited response by four fellow students to this call for volunteers, there will be a, shall we say, core element of the student body – those who will be compelled to serve in reparation for their misdeeds here at – LAWNDALE HIGH. (beat) After going over all of your skills and your attitude, we are all in agreement about the PERFECT way for you to begin atoning for your actions. (She nods to Leopold, who holds up a teeny-tiny gold-lame' waitress' uniform, complete with little gold-spangled box-hat and gold-spangled roller-skates.) Your fellow malcontents shall have EQUALLY appropriate positions.

(Daria looks at the uniform – and surprisingly, the uniform doesn't burst into flames.)



(SCENE: A sidewalk. Daria and Jane are ambling along.)

Jane: You don't seem entirely pleased this morning, Daria.

Daria: I have to be out among the lowing cattle. I have to serve them stale popcorn, and wear a little box-hat while I'm doing it. Best of all, in doing it, I have to show that I'm sorry about some little fleabag with a jones for unprocessed 'Jif' that bipped when he should have bopped and got a Firestone facial for his trouble. (pause) Look, I know I went over the line and lashes are deserved, but Mom's just having a field day over this – (They stop and stare in slight shock as they reach the intersection and come across a large memorial shrine to 'Mr. Squirrel'.)

Daria: You have GOT to be kidding.

(A small crowd of teens stands around the memorial, which features a large, glossy blow-up of a very cute squirrel. The photo sits in the middle of a cornucopia of candles upon candles, sympathy cards, long, streaming yellow ribbons, drawings of squirrels, various little gifts, and single acorns with little yellow ribbons tied into bows around the stems.)

Jane: Oh, wow. (As they move closer, they hear some of the teens talking)

Teen #1: I heard that Nat actually ran him over herself.

Teen #2: Poor Nat.

Teen #1: She trained him to come out to the car to meet her when she came home, but she wasn't watching out, and –

Teen #2: Yeah. (beat) I heard that she lost control of the car, tore up a lot of the hedges – and all they could find of the squirrel was his tail.

Teen #3: What was her hurry?

Teen #1: Some sick, twisted chick at the mall told her something about stuff being in her dad's food, and she went shooting off to her house.

Teen #3: Man. (beat) Poor squirrel. Going out to see the person you most love, and the last thing you see is her car rolling over you, and the last thing in your little head is 'Why? I don't understand, I thought you loved me...'

Teen #2: We need to come up with some special punishments for people like that girl. (A murmur of agreement goes through the crowd, and Daria turns to Jane.)

Daria: People have far too much time on their hands.

Jane: Well, he was a cute little critter, wasn't he?

Daria: Eh. If you've seen one bushy-tailed rat, you've seen them all. (Several teens turn and give Daria dirty looks.)

Jane: Uh, amiga, ixnay on the cute rodent issin-nay. (As she speaks, one of the teens stares closely at Daria, and her face lights up with recognition.)

Teen #1: (Shouting) It's HER! That's HER!

Teen #2: That's the girl that caused the squirrel to get run over!

Teen #3: SQUIRREL-KILLER! (Teens start to throw acorns and other nuts at Daria, and a few bounce off Jane.)


Daria: Jane, run- (As several acorns bounce off her, Daria turns to see Jane already a solid half-block away – and she takes off running, the crowd in hot pursuit!)

(SCENE: Lawndale High. A winded Jane sits on the steps of the school, coaxing herself to breathe easier and holding a bottle of ice water to her neck when a dog-tired Daria drags herself up onto the steps.)

Daria: (panting) I'll pretend... your 'fight or flight' reflex... is in permanent 'flight' mode. (She drops to the deck.)

Jane: Hey, I didn't see you doing your 'Xena' impression on any of those kids.

Daria: How could you? As fast as you were going... your vision had to... have blurred out... (She takes the bottle that Jane offers, and drains nearly half the bottle.)

Jane: Hey, take it easy on that – you'll throw it back up if you guzzle it like that now!  (She takes the bottle back, and pats Daria on the back as she starts to cough.)

Daria: Now... you've got my back...

Jane: Oh, I knew you'd outrun the unwashed villagers back there – good practice for when you grow up, become a full-fledged witch and start stealing babies for your evil purposes. (Daria gives her a look that could crack an engine block.) What?

Daria: It's a good thing that you're my friend. Otherwise, I'd have to break out the cauldron and brew you up something that'd speed you into a wall. A mausoleum wall, preferably.

Jane: Oh, now you're just being catty. (beat) Come on – let's get inside and learn our fact for the day.

(SCENE: The cafeteria. Daria and Jane nibble at their lunches as Jane goes over drawings in a sketchbook. )

Daria: (glancing over at the book) So, that's what you're working on for the drive-in?

Jane: Yeah. (beat) If I had known I'd get this kind of opportunity, I'd have driven Nat batty years ago.

Daria: (coming across a drawing) Are you really going to paint THAT?

Jane: I already painted that. (Daria draws back, shocked.) The Councilman wanted a little something special, so he gave me a photo to work from and I knocked that out over the last week.

Daria: (whistling) Someone's been spending time in the gym... and at the plastic surgeon's office... and in the bleach aisle at the Kwik-E-Mart.

Jane: Apparently, they're real. It's ALL real. (beat; shakes her head.) Super-blondes. Men see that hair color and they act like they've lost their damn minds. I went out to his office last Friday and she came in to model... and if I weren't incredibly secure in my own sexuality and ability to attract men, I'd have killed her on the spot.

Daria: More Fashion Club material?

Jane: More like a woman who's just too damn pretty to be allowed to live. (pause) He actually paid me for that – gave me seven hundred bucks and said that, as far as he's concerned, we're straight and on a clean slate. (She looks at a truly stricken Daria.) Whoops... I guess I was a little caught-up in the painting and stuff to mention it.

Daria: Yeah. (pause) I'll take a tree branch to you later. (As they eat and look the drawings over, they get differing looks from the students – Jane gets smiles and 'Thumbs-up' from passing students, while Daria gets only hostile stares.)

Daria: Geez. All these folks are missing are the pitchforks, torches and hounds.

Jane: They must be students Li's pulled in for her little popcorn-chain-gang. (beat) Damn. I didn't know Li had so many students under the gun.

Daria: Are you kidding? Didn't you see the Amnesty International observers here last month?

Andrea: (OS; annoyed) Thanks, Daria. (She comes around into Daria's view.) It's stuff like that that has Commandant Li all riled up – and this time, you pulled all of us in with you.

Daria: What?

Jodie: (walking up) It's worse than you think. (She sits down next to Jane.) Over the past two weeks, Ms. Li and Councilman Hedgeworth have been getting in touch with a lot of businesses that use a lot of teenage workers, and their 'work-for-restitution' idea's really taking off! Instead of paying them in full, the students have to give up half of their paychecks until their bills and 'fees' are paid off.

Jane: 'Consulting fee'?

Andrea: Yeah. Ms. Li and the Hedgehog have to get their cut. (beat) I'm screwed. I've been saving up to hit 'Burning Man' this year, but now, there's no way I'll make enough.

Jane: How'd you get roped into this, anyway?

Andrea: Remember the fire alarm last week? Li's got military-grade scent-detectors all over the school now, and that's why all the sprinklers went off in the girls' bathroom next to the library. I went in to sneak a smoke. Now, I have to pay for the water damage and the fire department's time for coming out on a 'false alarm'. (pause) Thanks again, Daria.

Jodie: She's not the only one Li's caught for, ahem, 'smoking on school grounds'.

Daria: Who else? (As she speaks, Kevin and Brittany walk past the cafeteria, twin downcast expressions on their faces.) Oh, no. You don't mean-

Andrea: They got caught making out in that janitor's shed on the roof. (to Daria) Hope you, Brit and 'Kevvie' all have fun working together.

Daria: You don't mean-

Andrea: I saw Li give Brit her uniform and skates, and Kevin got his usher's uniform. (She gives Daria a TRULY evil smile as she turns to leave.) See you around, Daria. Have fun at the movies.

Jodie: Daria, I know your mom helped start this, but if you told her everything that they're doing, couldn't she do something?

(SCENE: The Morgendorffer kitchen.)

Helen: I'm sorry, Daria, but you got yourself into this mess, and a lot of people are going to be affected by what you've done. I've warned you about this before. (beat) In fact, I seem to remember a conversation recently about civic responsibility and positive contributions to your community...

Daria: But as a 50's-style waitress-?

Helen: Just think of it as an opportunity to do something else with your time besides eating pizza and being above everyone else BEFORE you've gotten your high school diploma. (beat) This is what happens when you list yourself in the phone book as 'passive-aggressive agent provocateur'.  (The cell phone rings, and she turns to answer it.) Hello-?

Jane: I'm not sure, but I think that your mom just insulted you.

Daria: I'm sure. (pause) Come on. I have to go get a uniform that fits, and I may as well see your masterpieces before the ungrateful public.

(SCENE: The Griffin home. Sandi, clipboard in hand and Tiffany standing behind her, sits in the living room and looks at Courtney Lane, who lies sprawled across a recliner. Various snack foods are on display, and Courtney idly twirls a sandal strap around the big toe on her right foot.)

Sandi: Now, Ms. Lane, the duties of a Fashion Club apprentice are very important, and – (She stops, a stony look on her face as Courtney picks up a pen, pokes a hole near the bottom of a can of 'Ultra-Cola', then puts the can to her mouth, pops the tab and 'shotguns' the soda.) Ms, Lane, that will simply NOT be allowed, and- (A loud, sharp belch reverberates through the room!)

Tiffany: Oh. Gross.

Courtney: I'm done with the salsa – got any more? (beat) And what's up with the cheeseless pizza – don't you two have any 'nads?

Sandi: Ms. Lane...

Courtney: Look, I'm grateful for giving me an out of Grandma's jail, but, hey, I like guys. Shouldn't you two be off somewhere giving each other slow massages with the showerhead?

Tiffany: I... don't... get...it.

Courtney: Yeah – that's what I've heard. (beat) Why is it that you Fashion Club girls spend all of this time getting all pretty and looking so hot, but none of you really date much? Hey, if you're into each other, that's cool, but I don't flip for clam dip. (She stretches back in the chair.) Sorry, but like that gray-remover, this is 'Just For Men'.

Sandi: I – (She winces as Courtney stacks three slices of pizza together, folds them over and digs in.)

Courtney: Say – you got any brothers? (pause; waggles her eyebrows) You know any 'brothers'?

Sandi: Yes, but they're- (She is cut off as her brothers stampede through the front door and past the living room... then slowly back up to get a second glimpse of Courtney.)

Courtney: (looking the boys over) Well, well. (beat) Welcome to the jungle. We've got fun AND games...

(SCENE: The 'Starlite Passion Drive-In'. The drive-in is built on the abandoned quarry near the edge of town, with a huge, IMAX-class screen built near the actual edge of the quarry and an equally huge area for the vehicles to park. The entrance and exit are on opposite sides of the main building – a large, two-story building where the restaurant, concession area, restrooms, etc. are located. The drive-in combines the best of 50's-style nostalgia – chrome and neon in seemingly endless colors can be seen wherever one turns – alongside modern touches like video games and a couple of 'sit-down' phone booths with video and Internet hook-ups.)

(SCENE: The drive-in. Daria looks over two murals on opposite walls of the foyer. One is the final scene in 'Shane'; the other is the exploding bridge from 'Bridge over the River Kwai'. )

Mack: (OS) Not bad, hmn? (Daria turns to face him.)

Daria: It's not bad at all.

Mack: I guess something good did come out of all this. Jane should get some pretty good exposure after the drive-in opens. (beat) Man, this really is nice.

Daria: You should see the 'Imitation Of Life' homage she did in the ladies bathroom.

Mack: What's in the men's room?

Daria: 'The Quiet Man'. Jane has a very subtle sense of humor. (beat) I just realized – YOU'RE working this hellhole?

Mack: Oh, no. Jodie and I are smart enough not to make out on school grounds. (They share a smirk.) I just came by to bring a few things over for Jodie. The carrying of the Pigskin protects me from the Councilman's evil spell.

Daria: And NOT the QB?

Mack: Despite what Kevin thinks- (Mack stops and shakes his head) – the Captain of the football team ranks higher than the QB – especially one who believes ALF is real & smarter than Einstein- (He is cut off by the sight of Brittany in her 'waitress on wheels' outfit. She seems to have spray-painted the outfit on, and Mack swallows hard as she skates past them and does some fancy footwork in the foyer. As Mack and Daria watch, Brittany does a little pirouette in front of them, her outfit & skates showing off her excellent legs.)

Brittany: Ta-da! (beat) You like, Mack?

Mack: Whoa.

Daria: I am officially lost in the Twilight Zone.

Mack: (back to his senses) Oh, come on, Daria. (He looks over to see Upchuck walk in. He wears a stylish, classic tuxedo, and his hair is styled a la Cary Grant.) Tell me that you wouldn't become a real girl if Trent Lane were wearing that tux. (He leaves a very red-faced Daria behind as he goes to Upchuck.) Nice threads, Charles. Are we going to have to lock up our women?

Upchuck: (without his usual growl or lascivious tone) Michael, when it comes to your average teen male pup, there's a need to lock your women up. However, when a Ruttheimer man comes to town, you'd best be locking the lovely ladies down.

Mack: Well, all right. (They high-five, and Brittany lets a sigh out at the sight of Upchuck.)

Daria: Definitely in the Twilight Zone.

(SCENE: The 'Starlite Passion's main office. Located on the second floor, it is a large, lush affair more suited for a corporate plaza than a drive-in built out on a quarry. Leopold is talking on the phone.)

Leopold: ...And I want to feel like I need to shower for a week after just touching the thing – THAT'S how raunchy it needs to be! I want hardened Marines and Hollywood agents to pass out fifteen seconds after it begins to roll – (He sees Daria appear in the doorway.) Just send it - I need it by next Thursday! (He hangs up & turns to Daria.) Now – how can I help you this fine afternoon?

Daria: I need a bigger uniform.

Leopold: But how are you going to let the shark get you? (beat) Sorry, bad 'Jaws' joke.

Daria: (VO/thought) The bad joke is this drive-in.

Leopold: Not to mention your having to work here. (Daria blinks hard, stunned.) One of the benefits of being a career politician – you learn how to read people so clearly that you may as well be reading their minds. (pause) Do you really want to know why you want a bigger uniform? It's along the same lines as the reason I'm making you work here instead of just going after your folks for money... or doing things to help your little friend with her talents and her career...

Daria: I just want a bigger uniform.

Leopold: No, you want to go sloppy, plain, off the beaten track – in short, you don't want to be noticed for your looks. You don't want the thundering herd to see you if they can't appreciate you on your terms – for your 'brains'. (Leopold settles back in his chair, the look on his face capable of freezing stars.) And that is exactly why you WILL wear THAT uniform. You will wear the little hat, and the teeny skirt that shows off your thighs, and the tuxedo shirt and bolero jacket that shows off your flat little tummy and curvy bosom. And do you know why? Because I'm going to expose your secret, Miss Morgendorffer. I'm going to let the world know that you are a beautiful woman. (Leopold folds his fingers together.) For the rest of your high-school career, you're going to be hounded and pursued by hormonal, brain-dead boys who have no idea whatsoever what 'No, not with you' means. You're going to have other beautiful girls wanting to associate with you because of your looks alone, and other kids shunning you because they think that all pretty girls are dumb, shallow, snotty towards average folks, and getting by because of their faces. You're going to walk up to the dragon called high school, and it's going to swallow you whole. Either you're going to be more tortured and driven into the hermit lifestyle you're headed towards now, or you'll become exactly what you despise – a shallow, vain teenage girl who thinks mainly about how to maintain her popularity. (His eyes are nearly aglow with anger.) This is what you get for bothering my little girl, Miss Morgendorffer. This is why you don't screw around with me and mine. (The phone rings, and as Leopold picks it up, Daria lets out the breath she didn't realize she was holding.) Yes, she's here. You're ready? Good. I'll send her right over. (He hangs up the phone.) Go home, Miss Morgendorffer. I've got a... surprise waiting for you there. (Daria turns to leave, but turns back, a questioning look on her face.)

Leopold: Yes, Daria – I'm Sicilian on my mother's side. Her maiden name was Montfiore.

(Daria opens her mouth to speak, but thinks better of it.)

Leopold: That's because life IS a bitch, Daria. MY bitch.

(He smiles, and Daria practically runs out of the office, all but steamrolling Jane and Jodie as they turn the corner.)

Jane: Hey, easy now! Friends, remember? Friends! Here, sniff!

(SCENE: Jodie's car.)

Jodie: He actually said that? Damn, Daria... I wish I could say that it surprises me.

Jane: I told you that he had a gift for payback – and this DEFINITELY looks like a Hedgehog Special.

Daria: How was I to know that she'd buy into the Brainworms story like that?

Jodie: Because she's a pretty girl that watches the dreckiest show on TV like it was a church service and she's an altar boy? (beat) Come on, Daria – girls like Nat don't usually watch 'Sick, Sad World' unless they're dopey enough to believe the stuff, because they'd rather be out doing other, more interesting things!

Daria: (offended) Oh – you mean like Student Council, tennis, or dating football players they really don't have feelings for?

Jodie: (equally offended) Squirrel-killer.

(The temperature in the car drops below zero. Jane looks at both girls sadly as Daria stares out the window and Jodie puts the steering wheel in a death-grip.)

(SCENE: The Morgendorffer house. Daria & Jane get out, and Jodie speeds off without a backward glance.)

Jane: Well, that could have gone better. (Daria tries to glare, but can only frown.) Yeah, I know – you're tired of EVERYONE dropping down on you because of Nat and her pet.

Daria: I'm sorry, already.

Jane: The masses don't think that you really care, one way or another. (pause) But I know that you didn't mean it. (beat) I think Jodie knows that, too.

Daria: I should have kept my mouth shut.

Jane: Not in this reality. (This time, Daria manages to pull her glare off.) What I mean is, good or bad, you've got to be you. You're going to say exactly what's on your mind, no matter what. (beat) Everyone's got their quirks. Don't matter, though.

Daria: Thanks, Jane.

Jane: It's like Dennis Miller said: 'A true friend is someone who can see past your surface B.S. to the deeper, more profound B.S. underneath.' (beat) You know I've seen your B.S., especially when Trent passes you by and you manage not to jump him like Simba on a gazelle – or should I say, Nala jumping on Simba?

Daria: I hate you, Lane.

Jane: (horribly off-key) 'It's the Circle of Life – la la, la la la LA, and it moves us all...'

Daria: Yeah – moves us right to the toilet.

Jane: Or to the altar!

Daria: In your case, sacrificial.

Jane: Yeah – and think of what you'll be sacrificing... (She waggles her eyebrows at Daria, and the returning gaze makes her grin.)

Daria: See you later.

(SCENE: The Morgendorffer's living room. Daria enters the house, turns – and stares in mute horror at the sight of a single beauty-salon chair in the center of the living room... and the Fashion Club circling around like vultures.)

Daria: Oh, hell. (At the sound of Daria's voice, Quinn turns, a styling comb in hand.)

Quinn: (her voice sweet enough to cause diabetes) Oh, DAR-riaaaa...

(Daria is stopped from flight by Helen, who appears from behind and steers her back towards the living room.)

Helen: Isn't it just WONDERFUL, Daria? Councilman Hedgeworth asked your sister and her friends to give you a complete makeover for tonight! He offered to pay them, but they chose to do it for FREE!

Sandi: A project of this size and complexity will count as the Fashion Club's Philanthropy project for the semester. (She nods, and two girls come around the corner – one with a video camera, the other taking photos.) Remember, this needs to be THOROUGHLY documented. Get LOTS of 'before' photos. (pause) Tiffany – nails. Stacy – upper face – and start by making two eyebrows out of that row of shrubbery. Quinn – lower face. Work on those flappy lips. Rachel – hand me the hair care case. I'll start on the hair.

Stacy: I brought the 'Waif' Emergency Care beauty points list!

Quinn: Let's get to work. (Helen dives for cover as the Fashion Club comes for Daria like killer zombies!)

Daria: GAH-! (They drag her to the chair as Helen looks on and shudders.)

Sandi: (OS) How can she always wear skirts with furry legs like this-?

Tiffany: (OS) I... brought... the... wax.

(SCENE: The 'Starlite Passion Drive-in'. Leopold comes down the stairs when Dennis, the Assistant Manager of the drive-in, comes running up to him. Dennis is a weasely fortysomething of a man with prematurely gray hair and a soul-numbing talent for brownnosing.)

Leopold: Yes, Dennis, what's the problem now?

Dennis: Well, everything's mostly ready to go and all right. The –

Leopold: DENNIS! (Dennis flinches.) What's the problem?

Dennis: Well, sir, it's Morgendorffer.

Leopold: What's her problem?

Dennis: She's still in the bathroom.

Leopold: So?

Dennis: For forty minutes?

Leopold: Right. (They turn the corner and enter the foyer, where all of the workers are lined up.) Anybody here know what the hell Morgendorffer's problem is? (After the explosion of laughter that fills the room dies down somewhat, Leopold wipes tears of laughter from his own face and tries to speak.) I mean, why she's stuck in the bathroom?

Brittany: She just won't come out.

Leopold: We'll see about THAT. (He goes over to the door, bangs three times on it and pushes it open.) MORGENDORFFER! Get your flat ass out here! You've got work to do!

Daria: (OS) NO-!

Leopold: You owe me a lot of money!

Daria: (OS) You can bill my flat ass!

Leopold: I'll go you one better. First, I'll call your principal – collect. Then, I'll call the reporters from Channel 18 and have them come out tonight instead of waiting for the official 'grand opening' tomorrow night. (beat) And for the big finish – I'll call your mommy. (pause) NOW are you ready to get to work?

(A long moment passes, and Leopold's eyes widen slightly. He steps away from the door, and a collective 'Ohhhhhh' fills the air at the sight of Daria in her uniform, and she blinks as she is suddenly lit up by a camera flash. The Fashion Club has earned its name and more, as they've accentuated Daria's natural beauty without turning her into a painted model. )

Leopold: Welcome to work, fashion plate. Get in line. (Most of the guys' mouths drop open as Daria walks past and stands next to Brittany.)

Brittany: (whispering) You're very pretty, Daria.

Daria: Uh, thanks... I guess. (Brittany shifts her gaze to Kevin, who just can't tear his eyes away from Daria – and never sees Brittany stomp down on his foot with her skates, or the fist that backhands him and lays him flat out!)

Leopold: (turning back) What happened to him?

Brittany: Uh, gee, I think he slipped and hit his head on the floor. (twirling a lock of hair) I mean, he IS sort of clumsy, and he's wearing those slick new shoes-!

Leopold: Klutz. (beat) Well, get up, Thompson! Pretend you just scored!

Daria: (to herself) I needed that.

(SCENE: The drive-in. Both the restaurant and the drive-in are packed. Daria is very busy as she skates constantly about the area when a sudden, ear-splitting whistle gets her attention. She turns to see a man and two teen boys laid out in the back of a pickup truck.)

Man: Hey, you! Yeah, you – 'Tiny Bubbles'! (Daria looks at him angrily.) Get your sweet stems over here muy pronto – me and my boys want some snacks! (pause) Well, what's wrong with you – afraid that a little hard work'll actually put a line or two in that pretty face of yours? Shake it!

Brittany: (OS) Hey – shut your sexist traps or I'll climb up in there and do a Janet Barch on you jerks! (The man and the boys all go REALLY quiet, and Brittany gives Daria a big smile as she glides past.)

Daria: Now, can I take your order? (As the cowed cowboys meekly order, the 'Tank' comes rolling in just behind Daria and parks several spaces away from the pickup.)

Jesse: Hey, we're here. (beat) Where's my lawn chair-? (The Boys of Spiral tumble out, and Monique steps out to stretch her legs.)

Max: Hey, Trent, if the movie gets boring, can you, ahem, 'play Misty for me' – and the other guys? (A serving tray comes flying out of nowhere, knocking Max senseless! As Monique and the guys look on in disbelief, Brittany whistles past and scoops the tray up as Max tries to shake his head clear.)

Brittany: Keep it zipped, pig!

Trent: Man, they're strict here. (beat; to Max) Get up, dude.

Nicolas: (glancing over) Hey, isn't that Daria-? (The guys look over to see Daria skating along, her little skirt flowing as she moves. Monique looks at Daria, then around at the guys, then back at Daria. She looks closely at the way Trent looks at the young woman, and suddenly raps him lightly upon the head.)

Monique: Have your little fantasies about roller-skate tracks on your blankets later, ace.

Trent: Chill, babe. A date's a date. (pause) No real woman would have to get jealous if her man happened to notice a pretty woman. (Without a second thought, Monique swings and knocks Trent down right next to Max!)

Monique: (coolly) You punk me, you pay. (Brittany flashes by and gives Monique a big 'thumbs-up', while Daria glances over, blushes at the sight of Trent, and rushes off.)

Trent: (chastised as he rises) Yeah. You're right. Sorry, Monique.

Monique: Right. Now, get me a diet soda, with a little ice.

(SCENE: The drive-in, several minutes later. Daria skates up to a very fancy convertible – and stops in mid-skate as she sees Nat, along with three other girls just as attractive as she is.)

Nat: (drawing back) It's YOU.

Girl #1: (an attractive Black teen) Who is she?

Girl #2: (a beauty with short, jet-black hair) She's the one.

Daria: (taking a breath) Look, I'd like to say I'm sorry about what I did. I didn't mean to cause you any trouble, and I'm sorry about your pet-

Nat: (turning away, her voice icy) I don't know you.

Daria: (sighing) Okay, then. (pause) Can I take your order?

Girl #1: Yes – stop pretending to have good looks.

Girl #2: Although someone REALLY did a good job of building on what you have-

Girl #1: -Which isn't much. (pause; looking at Daria closely) Hey, someone did an EXCELLENT job on that face! I didn't think they had a decent salon in this town.

Nat: It must have been her sister. (The girls give her questioning looks.) Lawndale High Fashion Club? The redhead? That's her sister.

Girl #1: Oh, that Quinn something-or-other. Yeah, she's gorgeous.

Girl #2: Man, I wish I had a waist like hers.

Girl #1: And that HAIR-!

Daria: Yeah, yeah, all hail Quinn, whatever. (Nat looks back at her, a mean expression crossing her face.)

Nat: Look, you. My daddy said to tell you that if you caused any trouble with me tonight, just call and let him know. (She leans towards Daria.) GOT IT?

Daria: Got it. (beat) Good evening. May I take your orders, please?

Girl #1: Medium popcorn with no salt or pepper, and a medium diet root beer.

Nat: 'No salt or pepper'? That's sick.

Girl #1: You should hang out with more folks from down South – just wait until you watch those fools gobbling down handfuls of popcorn with hot sauce on it. You'd be surprised at the hot things they put on popcorn...

Girl #2: I'd like a box of 'Gummy Zoo Friends', a medium diet orange and a medium cup of ice – no ice in the soda, please. (They all turn to the fourth girl, who yawns and looks them all over.) Well, Lucy – give her your order.

Lucy: (turning to Daria) Please shoot me directly in both kneecaps for being in the same car as the pride of Team Mannequin. (Daria almost smiles.)

Nat: Stop being a prairie princess, Lucy.

Lucy: Get bent the bad way. (beat; to Daria) Okay – the 'John Wayne' order of chili-cheese nachos and the ''Red Sea'- sized Cherry Ultra-Cola with an extra squirt of cherry syrup. (The others look at her, wordless.) I'm seventeen, I'm a cheerleader, I already have a boyfriend, I exercise an hour EVERY day and I ride a bike almost everywhere I go. If you think I'm starving myself or care what you think about what I eat, you can all kiss my STILL-good-enough-for-soap-opera's-boy-toys butt!

Daria (to herself) There may actually be a God. (to Nat) What can I get for you?

Nat: Oh, I don't know... there's SO much to choose from, but there's SO much to watch out for... real butter, and all that sugar, and MSG is bad for you, too... (pause) Oh, just bring me something – but not something that takes a while...

Daria: (without thinking) 'Doesn't want something that takes a while. Therefore, will not be getting a clue'. (Lucy bursts out laughing, while the other girls are shocked silent, and Nat's face goes as red as her hair.)

Nat: I'll fix you. (She reaches for her phone, but Lucy takes it away.)

Lucy: Get a grip, girl. (Nat looks at her, then stands up in her seat and cups her hands to her mouth.)

Nat: (at the top of her voice) DADDY-!

(SCENE: The front entrance of the drive-in. Leopold stands next to Daria, who holds a trash can and looks like a lost puppy, while cameramen from all of the local networks film everything. Off to one side, Brittany, Jodie and other student-workers look on sadly at Daria's humiliation.)

Leopold: ...And through my program, even social outcasts, potential disciplinary problems and teens with other problems – such as Miss Morgendorffer here – can work to pay off physical damages, and through prolonged contact with some of the fine, upstanding students who've so freely given of their time, can one day aspire to become model students and upstanding young citizens themselves.

(A crowd of onlookers applauds, and Leopold waves with one hand - and pushes Daria out of the camera's view with the other.)

Brittany: This couldn't get any worse...

Jodie: NOW you've done it...

Brittany: What did I do-?

(Scene: The dumpsters. Daria is just about to toss a garbage bag in when a BRIGHT light comes on in her face, and two men – one with a microphone, the other with a video camera and BOTH with the 'Sick, Sad World' logo on their jackets – appear from the darkness.)

SSW Reporter: She was surly, acid-tongued and withdrawn – but can a radical new program transform this teen agent provocateur into the 'Belle of the Ball' du jour? 'From 'Misery Chick' to 'Head of the Clique', on this SPECIAL episode of 'Sick, Sad World'!

(Ignoring them, Daria turns back to throw the bag in, but slips - and drops right into a puddle of gunk.)

SSW Reporter: Did you get that? Tell me that you got that...

SSW Cameraman: I got it.

SSW Reporter: YES! (beat) Goodbye, SSW, hello, 'Entertainment Tonight!' (pause) Uh, you might want to change out of that.

(A scruffy-looking squirrel runs up to Daria, and she is left sad and speechless as the rodent sniffs her and falls over, knocked out by the smell.)



(SCENE:  The Morgendorffer House, early Saturday morning. Jane comes down the hall and knocks on Daria's door. )

Jane: Daria-? Daria, open the door. It's me – one of your fellow detainees in celluloid hell... Daria, are you okay?

Quinn: (OS) Oh, she's all right – for the most part. (beat) You should have smelled the bathroom after she cleaned up Thursday night – and the smell was SO bad. Eeeeeewwwwwwwww...

Jane: Quinn, aren't you maybe just exaggerating just a little bit? (Quinn rolls her eyes at Jane.)

Quinn: Daria, you have to come out and do things with your friend. You can't be all shut-up in there – my friends will think that you're weirder than you already are, like that math guy that lived in the woods and blew up people through the mail – you know, Tim Kazurinzky, or, whatever.

Jane: Thanks, Quinn. That 'Sensitivity Training For Teens'  article in 'Waif' last month did you a whole world of good. (Quinn's eyes go wide as Jane winces, and the door opens to show a dubious look on Daria's face.) Hey, Courtney got a copy from the Fashion Club when she was here last week!

Daria: Uh, huh.

Jane: (pushing through) Well, little piggie, let me in! (She sees that Daria has a full head of 'bed hair', and she is wearing a huge bed-shirt.) And, lo, how the beautiful have fallen!

Daria: What ARE you talking about?

Jane: You, dumb head! You got more attention in the past two days than ANYTHING I've painted! It's a good thing that you didn't show up for school yesterday- (she pulls out a handful of paper scraps) – because, BOY, were the dogs out looking for you!

Daria: (looking at the paper scraps) What are those?

Jane: Phone numbers. Boys all wanting you to call, and boys who were desperate for your number...

Daria: Don't remind me. I already heard about my parents' 'adventures in telephones' from last night.

Jane: Come again?

Daria: Pull up a chair... (Time-dissolve to...)

(SCENE: The living room, the night before. Jake and Helen are lying out on the couch, sipping clear liquid from Mason quart jars and sharing silly smiles as 'Are You Experienced?' oozes out of the CD player. Jake is in a threadbare 'Pink Floyd' t-shirt and beaten-down fatigue pants, while Helen wears faded jeans and a tie-dye t-shirt that shows her bosom's... ahem... continued transcendence of gravity.)

Helen: Thank that redneck trucker you worked with for me, Jake. (She sips again.) Mmmmm... this reminds me of when we visited Willow's people in the Ozarks, the first spring break we had at Middleton?

Jake: Yeah. I never saw a still that big before. (He swigs a shot.) Mr. Stoddard was so happy that I could smooth things out with the union reps for him, he offered the two of us a week in Hawaii...

Helen: (a slight slur in her voice) And you didn't take it?

Jake: I knew you couldn't get away. (hiccup) So he cut me a nice check with a really nice bonus, and then he asked me if I knew what 'White Lightning' was... He had his boys bring up twenty gallons of the stuff in these quart jars. (beat) It's in storage at the office. (He hiccups again.)

Helen: (her inner vixen rising) Oh, Jake, you've got hiccups... (She pulls herself slowly across Jake as she comes face-to-face with him, and smiles as she feels his... reaction.) You know, there's only one sure way of getting rid of them.

Jake: What's that?

Helen: Holding your breath. (She nails him down with a kiss that could suck the blue from the sky – and the phone rings.) What the -?

Jake: (returning to THIS reality) Ah...uhmm...I'll get it. (picks up) Hello? No, Daria's not at home – she's at work. Yes, I'll tell her you called – well, that's an unusual name – like the sweet potato, right? Sorry... (hangs up)

Helen: Who was that?

Jake: Some boy for Daria. (He reaches for Helen when the phone rings again.) Hello – no, she's not here. Bowman? Any relation to the astronaut... oh, yeah, it WAS just a movie...what? Say WHAT? Look, you perv, try calling my daughter again and I'll open YOUR pod-bay doors! (slams the receiver down) The nerve of some boys! I'll-

Helen: Calm down, Jake. You'll need your strength. (The phone rings again.) Hello-? No, Daria's not at home right now...No, you're not interrupting. Yes, Mr. Hardesty, I will let Daria know you tried to contact her... why, yes... thank you... (Jake looks on in surprise as Helen curls up on the couch with the phone.) Mr. Hardesty, you DO flatter... oh, why, yes... Galen, then... (pause) I've never heard anyone describe my voice that way before... warms you all the way through, but makes every hair stand on end – does my voice really do that to you? Oh, Galen... that is such an... invigorating way of putting it... (Helen runs her fingers through her hair as she talks while Jake, FAR from being angry, takes another gulp on moonshine and watches with growing arousal.) And that's just so... yes... slow IS good... (pause) Galen, I just don't have the words- (Helen's hand touches Jake, and she comes crashing back to Earth!) Uh, umm, ah, yes, why, yes, Mr. Hardesty – I WILL tell my daughter that you called. (She puts the phone down and lets her breathing slow to normal.) That's rather odd...

Jake: What is?

Helen: It just popped into my head. I think I understand now why Daria keeps renting 'The Truth About Cats and Dogs'. (the phone rings again.) Maybe you should get that one, Jake...

Jake: (a twinkle in his eye) Gonna need a smoke over there, Helen?

Helen: (surprised) JAKE! (beat) Did that redneck give you some of that, too?

Jake: (smiling broadly) No, Helen – I said 'a smoke'. (beat) You're a bad girl with a little moonshine in you.

Helen: (stretching herself) I can be a bad girl no matter what's in me...

(Jake blatantly runs his eyes over Helen as he picks up the phone.)

Jake: Hello? Yes, this is- no she's out. (beat) Mistress of what – What's a Thea? Oh, you're the – look here! No matter whatever nasty rumors you've heard, my daughter likes boys! Goodbye! (He hangs up and turns to Helen, taking her by one hand and grabbing his Mason jar in the other.) Let's go upstairs, Helen!

Helen: Jake...

Jake: Remember our weekend out at Pearl Fingers Lake, out in Colorado, the weekend we got snowed in with the girl who was a consultant for the Nixon campaign?

Helen: Let's go. (Time-dissolve back to...)

(SCENE: Daria's room. Jane, perched on Daria's bed, is openmouthed with surprise as Daria scrubs at the top of her little box-hat.)

Jane: And they told you all of THAT?

Daria: (holding up a minicam) Not all of it.

Jane: Daria! You've got your own house bugged?

Daria: (smirking) Not all of it.

Jane: Well, at least you're thinking about something other than this whole drive-in crap. (beat) Come on – let's get something to eat.

Daria: Yeah. (beat) I need something to chew on, while I come up with a way to bury the Hedgehog once and for all. (pause) I may have it coming for what I've done, but I'm not taking it from THAT sleazebag anymore.

Jane: (brightening) Now THAT'S the Daria we all know and fear. (beat) Come on – first one's on you.

Daria: On ME? Didn't you just get beaucoup bucks for a painting?

Jane: Doesn't matter. I'm just a struggling artist, but YOU'RE a 'working girl'. (She gets blindsided by a smiley-face pillow.) Okay – explain THIS!

Daria: Sure I will. You can read all about it in next month's copy of 'Waif'.

(SCENE: The Landon home. A dubious-looking Rachel sits next to Tiffany in the living room as Sandi, pointer in hand, stands next to a mannequin and poster boards on an easel.)

Rachel: I'm not sure that I should be doing this, Ms. Griffin, because Quinn said-

Sandi: As President of the Fashion Club, it is my duty and my responsibility to make sure your apprenticeship goes along in a manner that does not dishonor all those young women who have come before us in fashion.

Tiffany: Like, that is soooo important...

Sandi: Now, since I am going to continue your training, it is important to remember some basic rules. (She removes the first poster board.) Rule #1. 'Wearing primary colors during daylight hours. NOT DONE.'

Rachel: (slouching down on the couch) Quinn taught me that weeks ago – AND we had smoothies at the mall afterward.

Quinn: (walking in) I had planned on low-fat frozen yogurt after our trip to the mall today – but first, I'm wondering WHY you're holding classes for MY apprentice! (beat) WELL-?

Sandi: Well, Kuh-WINN, I thought that I would help take some of the stress of your position off you by taking young Miss Landon under my own wing. (beat) Surely, you don't want a potential Fashion Club member to be lacking in her skills because of your own pride, do you?

Quinn: Of course not. (She walks in and takes Rachel by the hand as she leads her off.) And when we all get to meet YOUR apprentice soon, I'll extend her – and YOU – the same courtesy in all Fashion Club duties. (beat) Right now, though, my FRIEND and I are going to the mall to just relax and have ice cream in sugar cones.

Tiffany: (stunned even for her) That's... not... right.

Sandi: Quinn, are you going to flagrantly disregard the spirit of the Fashion Club by setting a bad example?

Quinn: That's the difference between us, Sandi. I SET an example because I do what I want – and because you do what you think other people want, you've BECOME one. (beat) Come on, Rach. Time for a cone. (They start for the doorway.)

Rachel: But isn't ice cream bad for you?

Quinn: Totally.

Rachel: And aren't sugar cones bad, too?

Quinn: Even worse.

Rachel: Then why are we getting them?

Quinn: Because sometimes, a girl's gotta be bad. (As they leave, a scarlet flush colors Sandi's angry features.)

(SCENE: The Lane house. Daria & Jane are sprawled out in the front room when the Boys of Spiral roll in like rats off the Andrea Doria.)

Jane: (motioning to Daria) You guys look like she feels.

Nicolas: We know. We were at the show Thursday night. (Daria suddenly turns bright red.)

Jesse: Daria – you were hot! You should wear skirts more- (Max 'accidentally' swats him over the couch with a guitar case before Trent can turn towards him.)

Max: Oops – guess I slipped.

Jesse: (lifting himself up) 'No, officer, I don't know how he got that guitar shoved way up there – and in that position.' (pause) You just became the drummer for Spinal Tap. (Very sensibly, Max runs for his life as Jesse looks to Daria.) Sorry, Daria. That was Little Jesse talking. (beat) Hey, but Trent seriously thought you were cute, and got slugged by Monique-

Jane: (QUICKLY cutting in) Hey, Trent, your copy of 'Knitting Monthly' came earlier – I put it on your bed! (Everyone turns to face Trent – and Max's head appears in the window.)

Trent: (Looking around at the stares) It helps me keep my fingers limber for playing, and I don't have to blow bucks on store-brought presents. (Everyone still stares at him.) Whatever.

Nicholas: (to Daria) So, I heard you got on the bad side of 'Hedgehog the Horndog'.

Daria: The WHO?

Trent: (distasteful) Yeah. He's a sick little puppy, and he's into the nastiest- (His eyes suddenly lock with Daria's.) I gotta go look at my magazine.

Jane: (as Trent disappears) The true sign of true love. The handsome bard displays uncommonly chivalrous behavior when in proximity to the object of his affection.

Daria: May you suddenly become a man, and inherit a home with a thousand and one rooms; and within each of those rooms, there shall be a beautiful woman, who will not have you.

Jane: If I weren't more interested in finding out more about this jerk, I'd think up a good comeback. (beat; to Nicolas) What about the Hedgehog?

Nicolas: Your friend the Councilman's got a thing for dirty movies. REALLY dirty movies – the kinds that show up in greasy old paper bags carried by guys named Paco, the 'tossed-salad' man. (A look of sudden shock and realization crosses Daria's face.)

Jane: Oh, gross! (beat; curious) The ones with women and farm animals?

Nicolas: The ones with women and ENDANGERED animals. (pause) Koalas shouldn't have to be abused in that way.

Daria: How come nobody's ever busted him?

Nicolas: The local 'seriously rich man'? There's better ways to bring trouble a-never-ending into your life. (beat) People stay out of his way. (Nicolas leaves, and Jane turns as she sees a smirk on Daria's face.)

Jane: You've got a plan, haven't you?

(SCENE: The Gupty home: Sandi and Tiffany sit in the living room, with Tricia Gupty on the couch next to them.)

Sandi: Now, while the apparel you're dressed in is, well, satisfactory for a member of the general public – a Fashion Club apprentice must dress in a more savvy, presentable manner.

Tricia: Cool! (beat) Can you teach me how to dress like Quinn does? She's SO pretty, and all the boys like her and want to take her places...

Sandi: Miss Gupty, while Quinn has her moments, I am the President of the Fashion Club for a reason.

Tricia: So you can be in charge, because Quinn's more popular, prettier and has more bounce in her hair?

Tiffany: Yeah. Quinn's hair DOES have a nice bounce to it... and it's so shiny, too... (The pencil Sandi holds snaps cleanly in two.)

Sandi: The sun DOES NOT rise and set just so it can shine on Quinn Morgendorffer, Miss Gupty. (pause) Now, let's begin by looking at the proper makeup scheme for someone of your age and complexion.

Tricia: (sipping her bottled water) Can you help me learn to toss my hair like Quinn does?

(SCENE: The Gupty's neighborhood. The idyllic peace and quiet of the area is suddenly demolished by a single, piercing, soul-rending scream of absolute disgust and resignation.)

(SCENE: The drive-in. Daria & Jane peer around a corner as Leopold swaggers across the parking lot to his car – a slinky, candy-apple red Jaguar XKE with a sunroof and a vanity plate that reads, 'MORTHNU'.

Daria: That plate should read 'Oversized Load'. (They watch as he neatly slips into the Jag & takes off.)

Jane: My God, did you see how easily he fit into that teeny-tiny car?

Daria: I guess it's true – fat meat IS greasy. (beat) Come on – let's check the office.

(SCENE: Leopold's office. Daria looks over the desk as Jane checks around the shelves.)

Jane: (glancing back as Daria sits down and boots up the desk computer) What are you doing?

Daria: Role-playing 'Melody Powers'.

Jane: You're going to blow up his desktop computer?

Daria: Ha, ha. (She scrolls through the contents.) Virtual Rolodex. Journal with pathetic encryption. LOTS on names and entries. This guy never read 'The 100 Things I'd Do If I Were An Evil Overlord.' (She begins to type furiously.) Oh, look. A list of names and stars besides them.  There's a listing for 'Kringle, Kris'. It has five stars.

Jane: Must be the super-blonde I did the portrait of.

Daria: Must be the reason why 'every day is Christmas' for him.

Jane: The jerk.

Daria: Well, you painted a nude of her.

Jane: Yes, but that's different. I was capturing a source of natural beauty for art's sake, and using my natural talents in a practical manner.

Daria: You also got paid.

Jane: That's right – I did a job, and I got paid for it. Anyone who thinks that there aren't bills to be paid in an artist's world and 'art should be done for art's sake' needs to go breathe paint fumes. (pause; a little heat in her voice) Hell, Shakespeare didn't just sit around on his ass writing all day because he wanted to – he wanted to eat, keep wearing clothes and stay out of debtor's prison.

(Wisely, Daria leaves the subject alone and keeps typing as Jane continues to scan along the rows of film cans.)

Daria: Yeah... nothing like the Internet... (She works the mouse, and continues to type when Jane's audible gasp of surprise catches Daria's attention.) What?

Jane: Oh, my God.

Daria: What?

Jane: I think Nicolas was right! About the Councilman and his dirty movies, that is.

Daria: (still typing like mad) What'd you find?

Jane: (in Spanish) 'Ocho bolas llameantes del espacio exterior'.

Daria: In English, please.

Jane: (smirking) 'Eight Flaming Balls From Outer Space'.

Daria: Oh, yeah. THAT sounds like a Disney Channel original movie – if we were Sliders and just landed in 'Fire Island' San Francisco. (beat; still typing) Anything else?

Jane: Yeah, there are a few more REALLY interesting titles, but this one's brand new – it just came in this morning. (beat) Here's the mailer tag – straight from Paraguay.

Daria: Really. (Jane's ears perk up at Daria's tone.)

Jane: You have... a plan.

Daria: I have a plan. (beat) Where are the films for this coming weekend?

Jane: (looking around) Over here. 'Butterflies In Winter' – that's a chick flick – the latest 'Thunder Bikers' flick, some kid movie about a baby seal that wants to fly, a pirate/superhero movie called 'The Flying Moor' and – COOL!

Daria: What?

Jane: 'It's 'Ruthless Bunny III – Rabid RONIN Rampage'! (She sees Daria giving her a questioning look.) Uh, ah, I mean, yeah, it's the new Ruthless Bunny 'should've-gone-straight-to-video' slugfest.

Daria: Eh. They need to give her someone worth fighting. (She goes over and takes the middle reel from the 'RBIII' film can, then switches it with the middle reel from the porno can.)

Jane: You are truly twisted.

Daria: Wait until my wedding night.

Jane: Daria? Was that was a joke? (Jane reseals the cans, and they start away from the film shelves when a soap-opera-sleazy guy, dressed in 'Reservoir Dogs' style black clothes and swinging a cheap suitcase, stops at the door and looks them over.)

Guy: Hey, sweet cheeks! Yeah, you – Senorita Hot Tamale! (Daria and Jane glance at one another, and exasperated, the guy points at Daria.) Yes, you – Little Miss 'Needs to actually eat something on one of her many dates'! Daria: Who ARE you?

Guy: I'm Orlando, baby! Orlando! (He struts into the office.) You know – home of the BIG oranges?

Daria: Oh, yeah, the big SEEDLESS oranges.

Orlando: (chuckles) Hey, you're kind of saucy to be the local rich chick!

Daria: Why do you keep saying that?

Orlando: Well, I thought you'd be all stuck up and full of yourself, not even bothering to talk to the 'hired help' – you being the Councilman's daughter and all – but you don't mind giving as good as you get! (pause; he looks her over) Man, they said you were cute, but they didn't tell me you were such a knockout – love the way you're working those boots! (He moves closer to Daria, and flashes her a smile that actually has a little charm in it.) Tell you what. You're a classy chick, so if you'd like to knock those bad boys with a guy who knows how to treat a lady right, why don't you let me take you out sometime? I'll even do it right, 'cause I got the hook-up out at Chez Pierre!

Jane: (trying to hide her smile) 'And this, my pretty, is my curse fulfilled.'

Daria: What do you want? (Orlando gives her a bodice-stripping once-over that would do any lecherous soul proud.) I mean here, from this office?

Orlando: Your dad told me to come and pick up the film that came in this morning, and hold onto it until I take it to the big 'council meeting' Thursday night! (He laughs and winks in what he considers a sly manner.) He has to 'go out of town for a few days'... if you know what I mean.

Daria: Whatever. (She gets the film can and gives it to him, and he hands her the suitcase he's been carrying.) What's this for?

Orlando: You know. (beat) Those are the, ahem, 'consulting fees' from all the other business types for that school thing, and the rest – well, that's all man-stuff your daddy's taking care of, so he can keep you in all the nice things girls like you enjoy. (beat; notices her outfit.) Honey, you're blazing, 'cause you make even those Saturday work-clothes you're sporting look good!

Daria: Yeah. Get out – and if you say another word, I'm going to coat my steel-toed boots in orange pulp. (Orlando, protecting his orchard with the film can, takes off.)

Jane: I think you're back.

Daria: I think that I'm glad for what's about to happen. (They leave the office and start down the hall.)

Jane: Bring down the local porn lord and screwing with God-knows how many minds?

Daria: It's been a good day. Our work here is done.

Jane: It's almost a shame, though. Everyone loves my paintings.

Daria: The real shame is how everyone loves my painted face.

Jane: Well, you have to admit that the Fashion Fascists did a bang-up job of making you a hard-core hottie.

Daria: Complete with hard-core idiot boys, all waiting for a chance to jump me.

Jane: Hey, last week you were so hot, I'd have jumped you.

Daria: Yeah, maybe, but you'd never take me anywhere or introduce me to your friends...

Jane: If I wanted a trophy, I'd bag Jodie or Brittany. You I'd have around because you make my toes curl.

Daria: If we keep this up, they'll make one of those films about us.

Jane: Yeah – 'Daria Does Damn Near Everyone In Town.'

Daria: Oh, now THERE'S a film that could be directed by Ron Howard.

Jane: Only if Bruckheimer produces it. This one's going to be loud, wild, and action-packed. (beat) What was that...?

(The sound of sniffling catches their attention, and the twosome move quietly to the very end of the hall, where a small 'green room' is located, and they peek inside the slightly ajar door.)

Jane: (VERY quietly) Oh, man...

(They see Nat, sitting by herself and crying softly as she watches home videos on a HUGE wide screen TV. The image on screen is of Nat running around a large tree, a small, furry squirrel with a large, bushy tail half-chasing, half-bouncing happily after her.)

Nat: (VO) Help, help, the killer squirrel's trying to get me! (She backs up against the tree, and the squirrel stops, stands up on its hind legs, and actually raises its front paws up 'Godzilla'- style.) Oh, no – only one thing will stop the killer squirrel – lots and lots of nuts! (She holds up a bag, and the little beast begins to chitter excitedly.) Here you go, little guy. (She hands him a macadamia nut, and the squirrel actually sits back on his haunches and waits for Nat to sit down before he eats. He gobbles his treat, and holds out his paws for another.)

Jane: That is some squirrel. (beat) I didn't know that she had trained him THAT well... (Behind Jane, Daria's face has drained of color.)

Nat: (VO) Who's your favorite person? (The squirrel runs off a few feet, stops and lifts it's head as though it's looking for someone.) Oh, very funny. (The squirrel runs back to Nat, does a little flip, and nuzzles her hand.) And who's my favorite squirrel? (The squirrel does a little dance in front of her, and then runs to her to be petted.) I won't ever let anyone take you away from me, Mr. Squirrel. You're my best friend. (As if in response, the squirrel runs off, and then comes back a moment later, an acorn in its mouth, and he presses it into Nat's hand.) Oh, thank you!

Jane: Damn, I didn't realize she loved that little rat that much. But then again, with phony fashion-fiend friends and a dad like hers, a little guy who just loves her and doesn't do her dirt would have a real hold on the heartstrings... Daria...? Daria?

(Jane suddenly realizes that Daria is no longer besides her, or anywhere in the hall.)

(SCENE: Several blocks away from the drive-in. Jane sees Daria sitting morosely on a curb, the suitcase in her lap and her head in her hands.)

Jane: (sitting down) What happened was an accident. You couldn't have known –

Daria: Jane. Don't.

Jane: Don't what?

Daria: Just... just don't.

Jane: Oh. (pause) Daria – we can't stay here. We do need to go.

Daria: Yeah, we do. (beat) Could you come over and stick around for a while?

Jane: I can do that.

Daria: Jane-?

Jane: Yo?

Daria: I don't think I'll be good for conversation.

Jane: That's cool, too. (beat) You'll be buying the pizza.

(SCENE: The Griffin home. The Fashion Club is having a meeting in Sandi's meeting. Sandi seems down and off on Planet Sadness as the others talk.)

Quinn: I think that we should adopt a resolution banning the wearing of any animal-print outfits by Fashion Club members. Far TOO many girls are wearing them – and as you know, 'if everyone is doing it, it isn't cool'.  (pause) Not that we're trying to be, of course.

Stacy: Of course not!

Tiffany: That...would... be... wrong.

Stacy: We're trying to help people!

Tiffany: TV's... made... them... unfashionable.

Quinn: What do you think, Sandi? (pause) Sandi?

Sandi: (in another dimension) The answer is 'twelve'! (beat; back in her own body) Uh, did someone say something?

Quinn: (knowing when to say 'when') Okay, we'll pick up everything at the next meeting! (Stacy & Tiffany file out after gathering their things, and Quinn turns to face Sandi.) Sandi, are you all right?

Sandi: (her voice flat) I'm fine.

Quinn: Sandi, you don't sound fine. (beat) Look, if this is about the apprentice thing-

Sandi: (her face holding a neutral expression) You're doing a good job with Rachel.

Quinn: I'm not fishing for compliments, Sandi, I'm just saying that you don't have to feel bad if you can't- (The death's head glare Sandi fires in Quinn's direction says that she's on the verge of crossing one of THOSE lines.) You know, Sandi-

Sandi: (her face going from neutral to blank) I'm, like, really kind of tired, Quinn. I'm going to take a nap. (Without waiting for a response, she crawls into bed & turns her back to Quinn.)

Quinn: Well, if you're not feeling well... (Quinn turns off the light and closes the door. Sandi lies quietly for a long time, her eyes open and staring at the wall.) 

Sandi: (softly) I'm a failure. (As she speaks, the blank expression just fades off Sandi's features, leaving a dead world where a face should be, and she curls up into the fetal position. She remains motionless in that position, long after the sunlight has left and taken the room into complete darkness.)

(SCENE: Lawndale High: Ms. Li is in her office, sipping from her bottle of GOOD brandy and cackling with glee as she goes over the contents of several folders and ledgers.)

Ms. Li: Oh, yes... this will bring in unparalled wealth, and honor, and glory... (She slams a shot of brandy, and starts to refill her glass when someone knocks at the door.) One minute, please! (She stashes the bottle and the glasses, and downs a number of chewy mints as she stashes the paperwork.) Come in! (The door opens and Jodie comes in, followed by Mr. DeMartino. Jodie begins to speak, but DeMartino cuts her off.)

DeMartino: Angela – you've FINALLY gone TOO FAR in trying to get FUNDING for the school!

Ms. Li: What are you talking about?

DeMartino: These new RULES that you've got the students under! (beat) 'All students must do a minimum of TEN work-volunteer hours in the community'!

Jodie: Haven't you ever heard of the 13th Amendment and 'no indentured servitude'?

Ms. Li: Miss Landon, I'm far too busy to keep up with all of those new bands on MTV! (beat) This program is a fine way for ALL students to give a little something back to the fine academic institution which has imparted so much to them... Students like you should be grateful. We, the instructors and administration of LAWNDALE HIGH, are the ones who have striven, and pushed ourselves to provide the type of educational milieu that could forge a mind such as yours into one capable of rising to the forefront of the world that awaits you. (pause) I'm almost offended by your attitude, Miss Landon.

Jodie: You're unbelievable.

Ms. Li: To paraphrase a great man, Miss Landon – 'Ask not what your school can do for you... ask what you can do for your school'. For someone who's taking so much away, and stands as a shimmering symbol of the caliber of student LAWNDALE HIGH is capable of producing, you should be honored to not only give back to your school, but to show others that they, too, should do the same. (to DeMartino) And you should be happy, also. Finally, the students are making use of their time in a beneficial manner.

DeMartino: When this THUNDERING GOATSCREW of a scheme comes CRASHING DOWN, remember to save my SPOT in line to say that I TOLD YOU SO!

Ms. Li: OUT! (They leave, and she retrieves her bottle.) Oh, so much money, all for me... and LAWNDALE HIGH, of course. (beat) Oh, so much money... (She takes a long drag from the bottle.) It's going to be a goooood day...

(SCENE: LHS hallway. Daria and Jane are at Jane's locker when Typhoon Jodie comes rolling down the hallway.)

Jane: Daria – I think that Hell just froze over.

Daria: Hmn? (She turns in time to see several of Jodie's Student Council cronies run up to her, only to have them scatter in terror as Jodie drops one with a vicious left hook, smashes another face-first into a bank of lockers and makes a grab for the others!)

Jane: VERY not good. (They watch as Jodie suddenly comes across Sandi – but the thousand-yard stare in Sandi's eyes makes even a rampaging Jodie swirl around and away from her, looking for victims.)

Daria: Damn. (beat) Ostrich time?

Jane: Ostrich time. (They wisely stick their heads into Jane's locker and blend in as Jodie leaves a trail down the hall any tornado-chaser would recognize.)

Daria: (pulling her head from the locker) I've never seen her like that before.

Jane: (looking down the hall) Uh, oh. Extreme pain in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1...

Upchuck: (OS) Hey, Jodie – yaaaahhAAAAAAAAGGGGHHHHHH! The pain! THE PAIN! Oh, sweet Lord, the little Chuckster's ON FIRE! (Daria & Jane's eyes go wide.)

Daria: I've never seen an Indian rope burn do that before.

Jane: Stop, drop and roll, Charles! (beat) Oh, no – he's running.

Daria: Kind of reminds me of an Olympic torch-bearer. (pause) Except for that whole knees-unlocking-and-falling-over-in-pain thing. (The sound of Upchuck's screams turning into gurgles of pain reaches them.) You have to give Jodie credit. Even when she does her impression of a Valkyrie on crack, she still finds a way to be a good citizen.

Jane: She really should have used a fire extinguisher.

Daria: Yeah. Stomping out the fire – not a good idea.

Jane: I guess Upchuck won't be running the projector tonight.

Daria: We're talking about Ms. Li. She'll give him an aspirin, an ice cube, an aloe leaf and put him back to work. (They start off in the other direction.)

Jane: You know, this is almost ironic, considering the 'movie' for tonight.

Daria. Not really. Consider it a sneak preview.

(SCENE: The Griffin home. Sam & Chris sit in the living room, their eyes flickering from the TV to the stairs every few minutes. They sit on the edges of their chairs, as if they're ready to flee at a moment's notice – and as Linda turns the corner, they literally scream and take off running!)

Linda: STOP! (The brothers see their mom, and stop in mid-flee.) What the hell's been going around here the past few days? What's wrong with you?

Sam: (looking at his brother) Mom – Sandi's gonna kill us all!

Linda: And since when are YOU TWO afraid of your sister? (beat; laughs) 'She's gonna kill us all...' Please. Your sister's barely aware that you exist – especially with that whole Fashion Club thing- (She catches the look between brothers, and ice suddenly touches the base of her spine.) What-?

Chris: The Fashion Club girls haven't been here in days. They've called, trying to talk to Sandi, but she doesn't look at the phone or pay attention to us if we mention them!

Sam: Quinn's been by every day, but Sandi won't even open the door of her room! (beat) She said that they only see Sandi in classes – she won't even look at them or speak to anyone – and when some Lurch of a football player bumped her lunch tray, the look she gave him made him pee all over himself!

Chris: (gripping his mother's arm) Mom – the clothes she wore this morning weren't ironed. (Linda looks at her son with utter disbelief when the sound of Sandi's door opening CREAKS LOUDLY through the suddenly too-quiet house, and the sound of her footsteps can be heard!)

Chris: She's out of her room, Mom!

Sam: (grabbing around Linda's waist) Mommy, don't let her get us!

Linda: Boys, we have to go-! (The boys right at her side, Linda bolts through the front door and towards her car as Sandi reaches the bottom of the stairs!) Get in-! GET IN! (Linda slams her door shut and fumbles with her keys as Sandi, puzzled, comes to the front door.)

Chris: (hysterical) She's at the front door, Mom! (Sam starts to scream, and Linda turns the ignition key!) Hurry up, Mom, HURRY UP!

Sam: Mommy – I DON'T WANT TO DIE! (As Sandi steps out the front door, Chris also starts to scream!)

Chris: Start the car start the CAR START THE CAR START THE CAR GO GO GO GOGOGOGOGOGOSHE'S COMING OUT THE DOOR!!! (Linda drops the hammer down, and her car burns rubber for a full block as she races the car in reverse, then fishtails in an intersection and races away, screams of abject terror trailing behind!)

Sandi: Like, what was that all about? (beat) I guess THEY don't want to be around a loser, either. (She goes inside and slumps down on the couch, going fetal after a few moments. She lies there for several minutes when she hears a soft, almost cautious knock at the front door.) Go away. My family isn't here. (The knock comes again.) Who is it?

Small Voice: (OS) You probably don't remember me, Miss Sandra. You were over at my house several days ago, talking to my sister.

(Very curious, Sandi stands up, opens the front door and sees nothing – until she looks down to see Tad Gupty, looking slightly forlorn in the 'little Caucasian boy of the 1950's' outfit his parents dress him in.)

Tad: Yeah – down here.

Sandi: You're very short.

Tad: Yeah, but I always eat my vegetables. Dad said that someday, I'll be six feet tall! (beat) Can I come in? (Still a little confused, Sandi lets him in.)

Sandi: Now, what do you want?

Tad: (very chipper) I want to be your apprentice!

Sandi: WHAT? (beat) You can't!

Tad: How come?

Sandi: You're a boy!

Tad: Boys can't be fashionable? (Sandi stops dead in her tracks.) Don't boys need to know how to dress well, and know the things that make them look good when they go out with a pretty girl like you?

Sandi: But you're a BOY! Nobody's EVER had a male apprentice in the Fashion Club!

Tad: Then YOU'LL be the FIRST, Miss Sandra. (pause) A babysitter I had once told me to think for myself, so I did – and since my sister doesn't want to learn from you, I want you to teach me.

Sandi: (almost hesitantly) Why don't you ask Quinn-?

Tad: Because you're the leader, Miss Sandra. You know more. You actually do stuff. Quinn's pretty, but people like her just because she's Quinn. You had to do stuff so people would know who you are. You can teach me stuff, so people will know who I am when I grow up.

(Sandi walks towards the living room, and Tad follows just behind her. She sits down, and motions him to a chair. She looks at him for a long moment before she speaks.)

Sandi: Your shoes. (pause) They're not stylish at all – but you keep them very nicely polished. The first thing a girl REALLY notices about any boy when she first meets him – once she gets past the physical stuff – is his shoes.

Tad: I always polish my shoes before I go to bed, and I have a shoetree!

Sandi: A wise decision. (beat) Jackets. You will learn to wear them. No girl wants to be seen with a guy who looks like a model for the Chess Club, and what you're wearing... (She shudders.)

Tad: I always wondered why Heather didn't want to talk to me when the other girls were around...

Sandi: Just because you're a young man doesn't mean that you have to dress like a little boy. Now, if you're going to be fashionable, the first thing you always have to remember is that you aren't doing it for yourself, but to show all of those other boys out there what they could become, too – if they wanted to try. Do you understand?

Tad: I think so.

Sandi: Then you don't, not just yet. Understanding fashion isn't thinking with THIS- (She touches her right temple) – but knowing with THIS. (She puts her hand to her heart.) Stand up. (They both stand.) Let's begin... with 'Level Flight...'

Tad What's that?

Sandi: (smiling for the first time) It's something from a very good book I once read. (beat) Now, the way your clothes hang is VERY important. We'll need to get you a full-length mirror for your room at home...

(SCENE: The 'Starlite Passion Drive-In.' The sun is setting, and cars are lined up to get in. On the giant screen, movie trailers, various snack and drink ads, and ads from local stores continually run.)

(SCENE: The foyer. Dennis, his foot tapping in annoyance, watches from a window as the girls serve orders on wheels. His eyes linger a bit too long on a still-fuming Jodie, and he recoils in shock as a horseshoe sandwich splatters across the window – a perfect hit, had it been open. Dennis creeps away, keenly aware of the patrons watching and laughing at him.)

(SCENE: The drive-in. The 'Tank' sits among the many vehicles. The side door opens, and Jesse steps out, followed by Max.)

Jesse: Dude, we came out here at the right time! Good parking spot, so we can see the screen AND Daria!

Max: She's HOT! (Nicolas sees the way Trent grips the door handle as he starts to get out.)

Nicolas: (pointedly) Hey, we came to watch a couple of flicks, not stare at underage girls – understand, brainscram?

Max: (motioning with his head at Trent and winking) Yo, Trent, her birthday's gotta be coming soon – what are you getting for her? Probably a good, sturdy helmet, cause once she gets that dream shot of taking a ride on Trent Lane, it's gonna be one hard, long and VERY bumpy ride! (He gives Jesse a 'high-five', and thus never sees the fist that slams into his bald head and drops him cold – right on the ground in front of Brittany, who's skated over moments before & heard and seen everything.)

Brittany: I guess you'll only need three sodas instead of four – and two of those'll be 'Noah's Ark's'. (She glares at Jesse.) Jerk. They'll be getting those for free, too, while they decide what else they want. YOU can sit, go thirsty, and think being a pig over.

Nicolas: (as Brittany skates away) Serves you right. (to Trent) You need to watch that temper. Somebody might think that you like Daria more than you let on.

Trent: Yeah. (down to a very unconscious Max) Sorry, dude. (Jesse leans down to raise Max's head up and work his lips.)

Jesse: (imitating Max) No sweat. When you're a criminale, you learn how to take a punch like a man.

Trent: (to Jesse; smiling) You're not right, man.

Jesse: (still working his Max-puppet) I'm sorry, dude. Jesse is, too. We're just messing with you – don't mean anything by it.

Trent: Just watch your traps, okay? (He laughs, then coughs, as Jesse makes Max's head nod.)

(SCENE: The drive-in's Projection Booth. Upchuck is lying out on the couch, a bottle of painkillers on the table next to him and an extra-fluffy pillow on his lap when Dennis comes in, film cans in hand.)

Dennis: Get up, Charles – Mr. Hedgeworth wants the movies to start at EXACTLY seven minutes past dusk, and the sun's almost down! Hurry up, hurry up, you have to spool these films up and get them ready to run! Why didn't you come down to the office and get the movies for tonight?

Upchuck: I don't feel too good, Mr. Dennis, and-

Dennis: Just remember, Mr. Hedgeworth and Ms. Li both said that that if ANYBODY shirks off and doesn't do their share, then the money that the school would have gotten for their work is withheld! You have to pull your weight!

(Upchuck rises from the couch, more tired of Dennis' voice than disabled from his own pain.)

Upchuck: Yes, sir. I'll put them on now. (He takes the films, and readies them for setup. As he looks the films over, he immediately notices something wrong.) Sir, I think-

Dennis: Who told you to? Mr. Hedgeworth and Ms. Li didn't! Mr. Hedgeworth wants these movies playing right away! Nobody wants any of your backtalk – now spool these films up and PLAY them!

Upchuck: (too out of it to argue) Yes... sir. (He readies the films, starts the projector and tries not to wince or screw up with Dennis constantly hovering over his shoulder.)

Dennis: I'll be back to check on you later. (He leaves, and Upchuck locks the two HUGE deadbolts on the heavy door – which also acts as a fire door - before taking several of the pain pills.)

Upchuck: No, you won't. (He sets the projector to play in a continuous loop, and then hits the main lock and the flat-bolted lock at the top of the door.) Now I can get some rest... oh, the pain... (He drops onto the couch, and is asleep before his head hits the pillow.)

(SCENE: The drive-in's 'pick-up' window. The second movie is underway, and Jodie & Brittany relax on a bench when Daria skates over. Jodie sees her and starts to rise, but Brittany stands up.

Brittany: (checking her watch) Oh, look, I have to get moving – time for you two to apologize to each other! (She sits Daria firmly down next to Jodie, gives them both a withering glare, and glides gracefully away.)

Daria: I have to learn that move. It would really come in handy with my mom.

Jodie: I can see being able to do that my senior year, when my parents start trying to force-feed me the Ivy League. (They both sit quietly for a moment.)

Daria: I'm sorry for making cracks about you and your intramurals stuff – and about you and Mack. It was rude and callous, and I... (Jodie looks at her with something akin to awe.) What?

Jodie: It's just that... I mean – Daria Morgendorffer actually apologized for something she said. (pause) Now, if we can just get everyone off Ms. Li's 'work for the school treasury' hook, we might be ready to deal with that pesky Arab-Israeli peace treaty, and the teensy problem of making cold fusion work.

Daria: (looking at her watch) Um, hmn...

Jodie: (narrowing her eyes, yet pleased) What did you do, Morgendorffer?

Daria: 'I have no idea of what you're talking about, Senator. I have no idea why I've been called before this committee this morning...'

Jodie: Right. (pause) I'm sorry I called you 'squirrel-killer'. (beat) I understand now that you were getting it from all sides... and maybe I should have been a little more forgiving.

Daria: (after a long moment) I saw a tape of Nat with her squirrel. (beat) She really loved her little pet. (pause) I never meant to hurt anybody, and I hurt someone in a way that I can't ever fix, just because I didn't listen to Jane. She told me not to play any mind games on Nat – and now...

Jodie: I wish I knew what to say, except for 'from now on, watch out for innocent bystanders'. (pause; a strange look goes over her face.) Oh, yeah – 'and listen to your friend, the artist. She's your conscience.'

Daria: Sounds reasonable.

Jodie: She's also smart, talented, funny, and very - That's not coming out of my mouth!

Daria: Hmn? (She follows Jodie's gaze – right up to the pick-up window where Jane is holding up a poster board like a cue card, but ducks as Daria's head turns.) Excuse me. I have to help an artist discover her source of inspiration.

Jodie: (smiling) The old-fashioned way. Pain and suffering.

(SCENE: The far side of the drive-in. Jane has several cans of paint stacked next to Trent's car, and stumbles through a side door with a few cans on a dolly when she trips, stumbles several feet as she tries not to fall – and looks back to see a waterfall of paint hit the spot where she stumbled!)

Jane: Oh, crap! (calling out) Jeez, Daria, didn't anybody tell you that sometimes you just don't think and you go just too far? Why can't you be that way with a boy, like any normal girl – and really, it doesn't matter what boy it's with! God, please, make it any boy you see! (pause; softly) Maybe it would mellow you out a bit...

Daria: (OS) I heard that...

Jane: (noticing dabs of paint on her clothes) You're paying to get this cleaned – did you hear THAT?

Daria: (OS) Whatever happened to 'Never fear paint'?

Jane: When it's watercolors like the stuff we use at school, that's one thing – when it's mural-formula acrylic – like THIS is - it RUINS stuff!

Daria: (OS; after a long pause) Sorry.

Jane: Oh, just get down here and make yourself useful, before I cut you off from your daily dose of Trent!

Daria: (OS) I have an anvil and a safe up here, too.

Jane: Get to stepping, missy! (Jane's gaze follows Daria's footsteps off the roof; Daria appears from around a corner several moments later, roller-skates in hand.)

Daria: (walking over to the car) So, where are you running off with all of this?

Jane: Remember the words 'art store' and 'blank check'? (She smiles as she sets the cases of paint down.) This is nothing. I've got enough stuff stashed in my mom's bunker and the basement to keep me in art supplies for the next six months.

Daria: (looking at the can) Hey, this is watercolor paint! (She looks at the other cans.) These are ALL watercolors – what gives, Lane?

Jane: (looking sheepish) I had the store send everything here – but I ordered stuff I could use...

Daria: And the little show you just put on?

Jane: Was I wrong?

Daria: Point taken. (beat) The Hedgehog paid for all of it?

Jane: Yep.

Daria: Serves him right. (beat) Trent loaned you his car?

Jane: The guys all went off somewhere in the 'Tank' – heck, they might be here! (beat) Besides, with what's on the menu for tonight, I thought we might need a quick way off-planet – and the 'Millennium Van Winkle' fits the bill quite nicely.

Daria: 'Millennium Van Winkle'? I thought you were 'Janvin, The Paranoid Android?'

Jane: I'd be quiet about THAT dream if I were you. That little outfit you're sporting about is a very acceptable stand-in for a gold bikini, and all we need now is for Jesse to lend Trent his vest – and a trip to the pastry shop, so we can slap some cinnamon buns upside your head. (Daria moves closer to Jane, and looks for a moment at her hair, which has taken a few splatters of paint.)

Daria: That paint makes your hair look like a white leopard's fur on drugs. (beat) Somehow, it works on you.

Jane: Before we start acting like we're in the Fashion Club, can you give me a hand loading this stuff up?

Daria: Yeah – and we'd better hurry. Don't want to miss the show.

(SCENE: the drive-in. Kevin, a bag of popcorn in hand, chews away outside the door to the restaurant when Jodie and Brittany skate up to him.)

Jodie: Kevin – what are you doing?

Kevin: Oh, ah, nothing.

Brittany: Kevvie-!

Kevin: But, babe, the place is like, dead and empty inside at the candy stand, and babes, this is, like, the Bunny! The Ruthless Bunny! She kicks serious buttockia just by talking, and when she actually puts her paws up – oh, babes, it gets real!

Jodie (looking at the screen) Excuse me – but that doesn't look like the Bunny – unless she forgot what electrolysis is for...

(SCENE: The drive-in. On the big screen, the sight of a bearded Latino man in police garb has replaced the action film. He walks down a hall and opens a door onto a very large, opulent bedroom – and stops in shock at the sight of a llama, its legs tied as it lies on its side on a huge, four-poster bed with a man sitting next to the bed and rubbing the llama's stomach. The cop's mouth drops open as the llama lifts its head and speaks to him.)

Llama: (in Spanish, with subtitles) Please help me, senor – this gentleman and his female companion are accosting me... (The cop turns to see a woman with alien antennae and sparkle-slime coatings over her body – and NOTHING else - enter the room.)

(SCENE: The 'Tank'. The Boys of Spiral, really into the 'Ruthless Bunny' film, are now at, well, full attention, with the appearance of the alien woman – until the camera pulls back to fully reveal her figure.)

Trent: Holy.

Max: Mother.

Jesse: Of.

Nicolas: God. (Their eyes all follow down to just below the woman's bellybutton.)

Max: (screaming) THE PROM! THE PROM! (He falls back in a dead faint, and Trent's eyes are wide open.

Trent: I won't be sleeping for a while.

(SCENE: The drive-in. The viewers are screaming and shouting in disgust and horror at the beyond-lurid images being projected on the screen.)

(SCENE: The restaurant door. Jodie and Brittany are open-mouthed with shock at what they on the screen – and Kevin scratches his head, somewhat confused.)

Kevin: Brit, why is that girl wearing a fire hydrant in front of her like that... and why is it painted black?

Brittany: (sadly) That's not a fire hydrant, Kevvie.  (The sound of a llama screeching in agony rolls across the area – and Kevin grabs at his eyes as he drops to his knees.)

Kevin: (at the top of his voice) AAAAAAAUGH! I'M BLIND!

(SCENE: The drive-in. All hell has broken loose as vehicles trying to leave have started smashing into one another like a giant demolition derby.)

(SCENE: The hall outside the projection room. Dennis, his hair, face and clothes soaked in sweat, tries in vain to get into the projection room.)

(SCENE: The projection room. Upchuck, unmoved from his spot on the couch, sleeps blissfully in the arms of heavy medication.)

(SCENE: Outside the projection room. Unable to open the door, Dennis pulls away – and his face brightens as an idea comes to him.)

Dennis: The main power cut-off switch! (He rushes downstairs, through the lobby, out the main doors – and right into the spotlight-illuminated path of the world's largest SUV – the HUMMER...)

Dennis: (stuck in the headlights of the Hummer like the deer he was really meant to be) AAAAAAHHHH!

Driver: AAAAAAHHHH! (Without thinking or looking, the driver cuts a hard turn, punches right through the doors Dennis just came through, torpedoes the concessions stand and smashes through the entire length of the restaurant! In the back seats of the Hummer, the driver's twin teenage sons and their dates start to cheer.)

Kids: (in unison) BITCHIN'!

(SCENE: Just outside the foyer. Dennis looks at the gaping hole in the wall, the flames beginning to lick upwards from the ruins of the concession stand, and the general destruction, mayhem and chaos about him. He looks down, drops to his knees, and begins to cry.)

(SCENE: The roof of the drive-in. Daria and Jane are joined by Jodie as they watch the havoc below.)

Jodie: (to Daria) And you do this for fun.

Daria: Tried ant farms. Lost the thrill. Ants have more common sense. (beat) Oh, look, there's Kevin.

Jane: I wonder if he sees that- (They all wince as a warbling scream of pain comes up from below.) Oops – guess he didn't.

Jodie: (glancing off to one side) Oh, look, there's the Channel 18 news truck.

Daria: I wonder how it got here.

Jodie: I think it had something to do with the little wheel-thingies going round and round, making it go wherever they point the front end.

Jane: Li REALLY annoyed you, didn't she?

Jodie: All I know is that this still goes on my college application. (beat) Who's up for pizza?

Jane: You buying?

Jodie: Seems fair – because you're driving and SHE'S talking.

Daria: Sounds good to me.

(As they leave, the three girls fail to notice a familiar Lexus, FAR off to the side of the drive-in. The windows are thoroughly steamed up, and the car gently moves in a barely-noticeable rocking rhythm.)

(SCENE: Lawndale High. School has just let out. Students pass by Daria and Jane, who sit on the school steps as they read the 'Lowdown and the 'Lawndale Sun-Herald'.)

Daria: Listen to this. (As she starts to read, Andrea 'accidentally' bumps into her.)

Andrea: Oh, sorry – didn't see you sitting there. (beat) I'm just a little tired... all the extra hours I've got to work, so I can make up the money for my trip. (She keeps going, and Jane shrugs at Daria's confused look.)

Jane: Just let it go, kid. Even when your team succeeds in a 'Mission: Impossible', the public can never know. (beat) What were you about to say?

Daria: (reading aloud) 'With all of the outstanding charges against him, and ongoing investigations from several agencies, including the state's Attorney General's office, the U.S. Commerce Department and the ASPCA, Councilman Hedgeworth's political career is in serious jeopardy. Over 4,000 signatures so far have been gathered on a petition to force a special recall election, and the first of what will almost certainly be a torrent of civil suits has been filed against him seeking damages for the events at the 'Starlite Passion Drive-in', where an extremely graphic pornographic film was exhibited. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the Councilman may be forced to file for Chapter 11 protection of his assets, including over one hundred theatres throughout the state.'

Jane: Sounds like someone's not-so-narrow butt is in a crack! (beat) Did you hear that they might just force him to resign? Seems that he was planning for the Mayor and some of the council folks he didn't like to get caught with that film...

Daria: Damn. And I was counting the days until I could register to vote and cast my ballot for him.

Jane: You mean 'at his head'. (beat) Hey, check this out! According to the Lowdown, the school's not accepting any money from 'Lion Nights at the Movies', and they're giving the students in the 'work for restitution' plan their money back.

Mack: (sitting down next to Daria) Yeah, because that gets Ms. Li off the hook for going in with the Hedgehog on that plan. Man, she's steamed about having to give up all that cash...

Jane: I'll bet.

Daria: Hey.

Mack: Hey. (beat) How's your mom taking all of this? I know she wanted you to learn a lesson...

Daria: And after she read through his computer files, she let me off the hook and put the Councilman right on it in my place. (beat) I don't think that I'll have to worry about the Hedgehog coming after me anytime soon – Mom already talked to him about that. I've never seen anyone go that white and that red all at the same time.

Mack: I guess that I should have gone to the movies on Thursday, if for nothing more than to know what in the world happened to Kevin. Every time he sees a fire hydrant, he goes all curled up like a baby and can't speak! (He sees the look that passes between the girls.) I really don't want to know the story about that – or about how your mom got the Councilman's computer files, do I?

Daria; No more than we want to know the story behind THAT. (Mack follows Daria's finger, and sees a meeting of the Fashion Club on the lawn. Rachel sits next to Quinn, and Tad sits next to Sandi, dressed very nicely in a dark-toned outfit and nicely-styled hair.)

Mack: Gotcha. Later. (He takes off.)

Jane: Uh, Daria... something I was wondering about...

Daria: Yes?

Jane: That suitcase...

Daria: I put it to good use.

Jane: Do we need to worry about assassins overrunning the school?

Daria: No. (beat) I pretended that I was listening to you.

Jane: Daria... is this about Nat?

Daria: Not exactly. (pause) When I was listening to your voice, one thing I heard you say was that sometimes you can't make up for something, no matter what you do. In those cases, all you can do is help make sure that one day, people can remember the good things.

Jane: You know, I'd say that you've got a good friend there. Better keep doing what she says.

Daria: As long as the words 'Trent' and 'Matrimony' don't enter the conversation.

Jane: Don't worry – this time, it's just about sex.

(Daria takes one look at her friend, then picks up her things and leaves without another word, Jane following close behind.)

Jane: Oh, come on! He hasn't been able to sleep a wink since Thursday night, and the way I figure it, an hour or two of you two doing the dirty hamster dance should put him out like a light. (beat) Hey, it's not as if you don't fantasize about it every other second... I've got it! To help get him in the mood, I'll show him a photo of you from the first 'Lion Night'!

Daria: (stopping dead in her tracks) WHAT photo-?

Jane: (still strolling along) Remember when the Hedgehog made you come out of the bathroom? I was there getting shots of my works, and I figured, since the Fashion Club's already paid me to get photos of their masterpiece...

Daria: You didn't...

Jane: They paid me three hundred dollars and have me on the books for three free makeovers, whenever I want. (beat) Hey, I might actually meet a boy who's worth the effort someday.

Daria: Oh, you'll meet a boy or two – in HELL! (Daria takes off chasing Jane, who holds up an 8x10 glossy of Daria in her uniform for the world to see.)

Jane: See, everyone? It WAS Beauty that killed the Beast!

Daria: Oh, shut up and stop running - it'll only make me kill you slower when I do catch you!

Jane: Yeah – and THEN your dream switched back to Trent in a Navy uniform, carrying you out of school and into the sunset!

(SCENE: 'Serene Whiskers' Resting Grounds. Nat, wearing a black outfit, kneels down beside the still-fresh resting place of her pet - and notices the beautiful headstone at the head. It is pink marble, and inscribed with the words, 'Mr. Squirrel. A best friend who will never truly go away.)

Nat: (confused) Who...? (She sees a groundskeeper, and waves him over.) Excuse me, sir – where did this come from?

Groundskeeper: (looking down at the stone, then looking up, his face brightening) Oh, YOU'RE the girl! (beat) From an anonymous donor – sent a HUGE donation to pay for the headstone, and for all of these trees.

Nat: The trees? (She looks around, and sees that the area has been landscaped with many young oak trees.)

Groundskeeper: Over a hundred. The note said that it's so the squirrels could have a nice place to themselves. I heard that the local pet shelter also got a huge chunk of money, to help with their 'no-kill' shelter and take care of the animals there, too. (They watch as several squirrels run up and around the new trees as they chase after one another, while other squirrels sit back and eat their dinner of fresh acorns.)

Nat: That was very nice of someone.

(She stands at the tiny grave for a moment, and starts away when she sees something dart behind a tree. She stops to watch, and sees a scruffy, hungry-looking squirrel look out at her, then duck back behind the tree.)

Nat: Oh, hello, little guy. You don't look like you've been doing too well. Would you like a little treat? (The squirrel peeks back out as it sees Nat searching through her pockets, and it starts towards her. It is really starved, and is missing its tail.) I know that I had some in this jacket... (As Nat finds a small plastic bag of nuts, the squirrel runs up to her... and holds out its paws.)

Nat: (REALLY stunned) Oh, my God. (She hands the macadamia to the little creature, and he looks at it but doesn't eat... until Nat lowers herself to sit besides a tree. As she watches, he gobbles the treat and holds his paws out for another.) No, but you're... Who's my favorite squirrel? (A shocked Nat watches the squirrel do a little dance in front of her, and her eyes begin to water.) And who's your favorite person? (The squirrel runs off a few feet and mimics looking around for someone, and Nat laughs despite the tears that are beginning to flow.) Oh, you're very funny. (The squirrel does a little flip, then cautiously comes to Nat and allows her to touch him.)

Nat: Oh, God... you're so thin and dirty... and your tail... (Her tears flow freely as she empties the bag of nuts on the grass and watches Mr. Squirrel eat.) You're back...

(Nat breaks down completely as Mr. Squirrel stops eating to pick up a nut... and offer it to her.)


(FADE TO END CREDITS: Music: 'Bring Me To Life', by Evanesence.)

-         Alter Egos of the cast:

Janet Barch as an Imperial Grand Moff, holding a riding crop.

Brittany as a 'Starship Trooper', blasting away with a BIG F****** GUN.

Andrew and Michelle Landon, Kevin and Sandi as Morpheus, Niobe, Neo and Trinity.

Trent and Jesse as Han Solo and Chewbacca

Tiffany as the Iron Chef Chinese

The Fashion Club as the Sirens, luring men in.

Helen lounging in a TINY bikini top and a sarong, with the Three J's as her servants.

Jake as Yami Yugi and Andrew Landon as Seto Kaiba, both pulling cards from their dueling decks.

Mack, Jodie and Monique as 'Undercover Brother', 'Sistah Girl' and 'White She-Devil'

Quinn and Upchuck as Raggedy Ann and Andy.

The Gupty family as the family from 'Spy Kids'

Mr. O'Neill as a satyr, and Ms. Barch, Ms. Defoe and Ms. Li as three wood nymphs dancing around him

Mystic Spiral as the 'Cantina Band' from 'Star Wars'

The 'Three J's' as the 'Agents' from 'The Matrix'

Mr. DeMartino as 'The Lord Of The Dance'!

Mrs. Johannsen as Jabba The Hutt, with Ms. Li in the Princess Leia gold bikini.

Adrian & Courtney Lane, Tad & Tricia Gupty and Rachel Landon as The Children from the 'Village Of The Damned'.

Tom Sloane and Jodie as James Bond and Jinx. (Okay, so it's S4 material, but I wanted to use it!)

Jane as a 'Green Lantern'.

Mr. O'Neill as Eminem.

Daria (in normal attire) sitting on the Throne of Hell.


                                                          THE END

9 July 2003