THE THIRD WOMAN?
by Brian Taylor
EXT. PROMENADE - AFTERNOON
It's a very public kind of place. Almost suspiciously public. Daria stands around by a railing, wearing an emerald green trenchcoat, glaring off into the city around her, when Jane arrives -- from seemingly out of nowhere. She wears a black fedora and a red overcoat, and seems awfully chipper...
JANE: Amiga! How are you?
She starts, looks around, and spots her old friend and partner-in-crime standing mysteriously at her side. She recovers pretty well.
DARIA: Hello, Jane. (deadly) I want to talk to you.
JANE: Of course you do, and -- believe me -- if I were you I'd want to talk to me, too.
Daria shoots her a "No shit, Sherlock!" glare. It might be sharp enough to peel paint.
JANE: I know you're probably angry about that whole "faking my death and leaving you in the lurch in the middle of bombed-out North Korea" thing, but I can explain. (bt) You see, I'm seriously behind in my taxes right now. Like you wouldn't even believe. I just... forgot to pay them.
JANE: For the last five years. And six months. And... well, you get the picture.
DARIA: And you thought playing dead would get you out of it?
JANE: Well, I mean, I know it's the IRS and all, but... (bt) Aw, hell. It would be stupid to say "yes" now, wouldn't it?
DARIA (nods): And what about the antibiotics?
JANE: So, you met Captain Calloway already, did you? (to Daria's stiff nod) Damn. I knew I was forgetting to take care of something. (bt, sotto voce) Note to self: next time you're going to fake your death to escape the fuzz, make sure to take care of the lead investigator first.
JANE (sheepish): Would it be too much to ask that you forget all about that last statement and we start over again? Because I've had this conversation in my head a few times --
DARIA: I'm sure you have.
JANE: -- and it never goes this badly. In fact, it usually ends with you and I walking off arm-in-arm to commit all kinds of really horrible felonies and misdemeanors for beaucoup profit.
JANE: C'mon, Daria. What do you want me to say?
DARIA: How could you, Jane? Have you seen what you're doing to the children?
JANE: Um... no?
JANE: Okay, look. I know it's wrong. It's really wrong, and if they ever catch me -- and oh please, oh god tell me you aren't shilling for the cops --
Daria shakes her head severely.
JANE (continues): Oh, thank you, merciful Christ on a pogo stick! (bt) If the federales ever do catch me, they'll probably invent some kind of new and horrible punishment for me involving chicken feathers, pepper mills, rabid fellow inmates, and the Rack. But I still serve a valuable function!
DARIA: And that would be...?
JANE: Sure. All these do-gooders going around, trying to do their fake humanitarian schtick --
DARIA: The Red Cross is faking humanitarianism?
JANE: Of course! Haven't you ever wondered why their logo is red? They're all about stealing people's blood and replacing it with Kool-Aid. Kool-Aid, I tell you!
DARIA: Tell me, Jane: are you sure you haven't been injecting your own wares?
JANE: You cut me, Daria. You cut me deep.
DARIA: Well, not yet. But the day is still young and I do have a new switchblade I feel like trying out...
She reaches into a jacket pocket.
JANE (hurried): Anyway, all of those people are trying to sell false hope. There's nothing they can really do to help out around here. I'm just... a little more honest about it then they are.
DARIA: Jane, you're selling antibiotics that have been cut with Windex to people too broke and too desperate to have any alternatives.
JANE: So? It's giving their blood vessels a guaranteed streak-free shine!
DARIA: You're killing people, and that's the best you've got?
JANE: Well, I do kind of have a secondary speech in the hole, just in case I couldn't rely on your lifelong history of anti-social behavior to convince you to join me...
Daria cocks an eyebrow. Jane takes a breath.
JANE: It's like the fella said --
DARIA (skeptical): "The fella?"
JANE: Bear with me. I'm going somewhere good with this. I swear.
DARIA: Sure. 'Cause if it isn't good, you get to go to a quiet little cell for ten years and get passed around by your roommates like coins at a collectors' convention.
JANE: Laugh-a while you can, monkey girl. (bt) You know, in most of Europe, for hundreds of years, they had wars and inquisitions. They had famines. They had the Borgias and the Georges and the Cromwells and the Hitlers. And you know what they produced?
DARIA: "The Final Countdown?"
JANE: Of course. And in Switzerland, they had 500 years of peace and prosperity, and what was the best they could do? The cuckoo clock.
DARIA: I suppose being home to the most secure bank accounts on the face of the Earth would be a secondary concern when compared to novelty timepieces. Or cheesy arena rock. (bt) Since when did you start reading history, anyway?
JANE: What can I say? A girl has to have some hobbies.
DARIA: You mean aside from riding random enlisted men to previously-unsuspected peaks of ecstasy and making millions hawking lethally watered-down medications to broke-ass suckers on the black market?
JANE: Well, yeah. Come to think of it, reading history is kind of boring, isn't it?
DARIA: You know, when you put it that way... I've spent all those years writing bad romance novels, and it's only now that I realize I've been wasting my life.
JANE (grin): Ah, chin up, amiga. There's plenty of time to make amends for that. Why else do you think I invited you to this sinkhole? To watch you try to hook up with my flighty actor love interest, threaten to kill you on a Ferris Wheel, and then lead you and the police on a wild goose chase through the sewers that ends with you plugging me twice in the head?
DARIA: That would be unlikely, wouldn't it?
JANE (thinks): Depends on how many Pyongyang Plinkers I had to drink beforehand, really. And how handsome the actor was, and whether or not he was skilled in the art of sensual Asian co --
DARIA (interrupts): Damn you and your hormones, Lane.
JANE: Now, now. There will be plenty of time for cursing me and my sex drive to the depths of Hell later. (bt) For now, what say we go off to my office and I cut you in on this sweet, sweet racket?
DARIA: I thought you'd never ask.
So saying, she hooks her arm through Jane's and the two begin to stroll away down the promenade.
DARIA: You know something?
JANE: What is it, kiddo?
DARIA: I can't help but get the feeling that we're forgetting something...
EXT. BRITISH CEMETERY - AFTERNOON
We see a tombstone that reads "Graham Greene." From beneath the Earth comes a faint rustling sound that we quickly discern is -- yes -- the esteemed and legendary British author, screenwriter, and critic rolling over in his grave .
DARIA AND JANE
JANE: Like what?
DARIA: I dunno... Some kind of high-minded statement about man's inhumanity to man in the name of profit, or the importance of ideals in the face of war and desperation, or... something.
JANE: Bah. Ideals are for suckers without simolians. Do you know how much moolah I'm raking in on a weekly basis?
DARIA: Well, not yet.
JANE: Let's put it this way: I could use Benjamins for toilet paper from now until the day I finally snuff it --
DARIA: As part of a weird sexual experiment with Sven the Swedish Masseuse, no doubt.
JANE: Quiet, you. (bt) Where was I?
DARIA: Being erotically asphyxiated in a hotel penthouse?
JANE: Scoff all you want. You know you're jealous. But as I was saying, I could use greenbacks for Kleenex from now until the day I finally snuff it and barely even leave a dent in my pocket change. How has life been treating you?
DARIA: I write crummy romances about royal Eurotrash under the unlikely name of Muffy St. Valentine.
JANE: Ouch. Waitaminute -- that Peak of Passion's Pyramid book was you ?
Daria looks at the ground, ashamed. Jane pats her shoulder reassuringly.
JANE: Selling doctored medicine on the black market would be a promotion for you, then.
DARIA (nods): And it didn't even pay well. (bt) I drive a twenty year old Geo Metro, Jane. It has a broken transmission and flattened brake pads, and it smells like old cheese fries inside.
JANE: Well, that's not so bad...
DARIA: All the time, Jane.
JANE: I withdraw the last statement. No wonder I didn't have to twist your wrist much.
DARIA: Well, I'm already going to hell for thinking up a thousand clever euphemisms for sex in print. At this point, I figure I may as well be rich before I get there.
JANE: That's the spirit. Now, what's say we go blitzed and hit on the servicemen in the American quadrant?
DARIA: Lead on.
Four years on, I return. With a simple, direct, short, and altogether inauspicious "new" story that's kind of a parody of The Third Man. Thanks to the various people on the PPMB who assured me that this was both funny and self-contained enough to be worthy of sending around to all the sites.
Daria and Jane are copyright 2004/2005 -- and a whole bunch of other years -- by MTV. The author of the above makes no claims to owning them. Harry Lime and Holly Martins and Captain Calloway were created by Graham Greene in 1949; the author knows not who currently holds the copyright, but assumes that they're really, really nice people who wouldn't sue over a lark such as this.
8 April 2005