Two Girls, a Guy and a
By The Excellent S
For most, it's just food. For Daria
Eventually they would depart
However, as fate would dictate, they would have one last,
hot, steaming, cheesy piece of business to take care of in
"Yo, you up for pizza?"
"Do I even need to answer that?"
"No. But you could give me the courtesy of giving an answer."
One quick farewell to Jake later, Daria
and Jane filed out of the guest bedroom and out the doors of the Morgendorffer house. Their favourite restaurant in their youth,
the Pizza King, was only a short drive to downtown
As they arrived there, it soon occurred that Daria and Jane weren't the only ones thinking pizza. They could recognise a couple of their high school alumni, the red-haired Wiccan Scarlett LeFaye and skateboarding enthusiast Josh Carter, waiting outside.
Because the shop was empty.
Daria tried the door handle, but to no avail. Locked. She looked up to find that the door sign read "CLOSED".
Daria scratched her head. "I should have read that first."
"That's strange," said an equally perplexed Jane, "Pizza King is never closed on a Friday afternoon. Or any time really."
"Maybe they finally found out what was in the mystery meat."
"Didn't you hear?" said Scarlett, "The Pizza King has been closed for nearly a week now."
"Well, no. We only just came back from
The four of them shuffled awkwardly, before Scarlett broke the silence. "So what do you do with yourselves nowadays?"
"Not much," said Jane, "Daria
still writes, I still paint, but we do some local midnight-to-dawn radio in
"Well Josh and I are dating."
"Congratulations, I think. I meant what do you do for a living?"
"Josh skates professionally as part of the Ultra Cola Energy travelling tour, while I travel the world looking for hidden treasures."
"So you're basically Indiana Jones? That's badass!"
"It sure is, man," said Josh, looking into his girlfriend's eyes, "But I hope that she'll settle down before she gets run over by a giant rolling boulder."
The four of them laughed. Soon, Scarlett and Josh said their goodbyes and walked off, leaving only Daria and Jane standing in front of the empty shop.
"So," said Jane, breaking the silence, "Do you want to go elsewhere for our pizza fix?"
"Depends," replied Daria, "Where do you think we should go?"
"NO. Their pizza is crap and those singing squirrels are rabid and out of tune."
"How about Pepe's then? It's a bit out of the way, but they score an 8.0 on the Lane scale."
"Never mind. I'm not hungry anyway."
With that, they walked away. They were both disappointed, but not worried. In their minds, they thought it would just be open again tomorrow.
Except it wasn't. They had planned
on at least one big pizza lunch while they back in
"What gives?" shouted Jane as she looked into the empty shop on Saturday afternoon, "They're never closed this long! Even over Christmas he is open on the 26th."
"Really?" asked Daria, intrigued.
"Oh yeah. Me and Trent have had three Lane Christmases at the Pizza King. Their eggnog and turkey sausage deluxe is delicious."
"Wait... eggnog ON the pizza?"
"Of course. Is there any other way to have it?"
Daria could feel her insides turning over. "Doesn't sound like something I'd eat."
"Oh, so our greasy peasant food isn't good enough for you?"
said Jane, without a hint of seriousness in her tone, "Your tastes have changed
since you started eating
"That's right. Nothing but caviar and baby seal eyes on my pizza slice, please."
"Seriously, though, I'm getting worried now. It's so unlike Gino for him to not have the Pizza King closed this long."
With that in mind, they walked back to the Morgendorffer house, hopped into Daria's
car and drove the ten miles out of
Then it was Sunday. The day dragged on like usual, but at least there were some classic Sick, Sad World reruns on they could watch. Sometime during the third episode of the day (Are Canine gangs running the streets? The muttley crew, next on Sick, Sad World!), Jake walked in from the kitchen.
"Hey kiddo! Hey... er... Jane-o!" he said cheerily, "Didn't hear you come down."
Daria turned the TV down. "Ninja training is finally paying off."
"Oh God! Am I paying for that too? Dammit! There are too many bills..."
As he was waving his arms around like a lunatic, Jake finally saw in his hand the reason he had come in the living room in the first place.
"Hey Daria," he said, giving her a larger-than-normal envelope, "This came for you in the mail on Friday."
"Why am I only getting it now?"
"I only just went and got it from the mailbox. I've been very busy lately, you know."
Jake sighed. He had been getting the most consulting work he had gotten in years, but it was very stressful, especially for a man with one heart attack already.
Daria and Jane looked at the logo on the envelope. It was that of the Pizza King. Somewhat confused, Daria opened the letter.
If you are reading this letter, then let it be known that I have passed on. It was most likely due to the lung cancer, but in case it was because of something, or someone, else, make sure that you catch that bastard and give him an old country whuppin' for me.
Anyway, I digress. I remember seeing you and your friend Jane come into my shop pretty much every other day for at least three years. So much so that the financial records show that the two of you have accounted for 25% of my annual monthly income at the time.
You both clearly care about your pizza, which is why I have left my shop to the two of you.
You're probably wondering why. I was never married, and I never fathered any children, so I have no family to leave it to. The Pizza King was all I had.
Enclosed within are the deed and keys to the shop. Don't worry about the rent for a while, because I was always paid up a month in advance, but after that it's up to you to make sure it's paid on time.
This pizzeria meant a lot to me, and I can tell that it means a lot to you and Jane.
Please take care of it.
Owner and Head Chef, Pizza King
P.S. I've sent this letter to Jane as well, but I'm only entrusting the important things to you. Looking at her house from the car, I get the feeling that the mail doesn't get opened there very often.
"He doesn't know how right he is, Daria!" said Jane, trying to stifle a laugh, "Daria?"
Daria gently put the letter down and looked inside the envelope. Just as Gino has written, a second piece of paper and a set of keys were inside. Jane picked up the keys while Daria looked over the deed.
Jake couldn't believe it. "Is this for real? He really died and gave you the Pizza King?"
Daria took another look at the deed, before looking over to her father. "It's real. Looks like me and Jane are the proud new parents of a bouncing baby pizzeria."
Later that night, Daria and Jane sat down with Jake and Helen around the kitchen table to discuss their new business acquisition. Helen had already gone through the deed and accompanying letter with the metaphorical fine-tooth comb and seemed satisfied that all was above board.
"All right," she said, "Everything looks to be legitimate, but I need to get in contact with the Pizza King attorneys just to make sure. Maybe Eric has their number."
Helen then left the room, cellphone to her ear, waiting for someone at work to pick up. Meanwhile, the home phone rang and Daria picked up.
It was Quinn, calling from
"Yeah, but it didn't become a crater like I hoped it would. Can't have everything in this world though, can we?"
"Not with that attitude. So, have you and Jane done anything interesting since you came back?"
"We inherited the number one pizza restaurant in town. That may count as interesting."
"Really? I find this hard to believe."
"Same here. Gino kicked the bucket and left it to us because, apparently, we were his top customers of all time."
Quinn laughed. "That I can believe. Well if you really do own the place, I hope you redecorate the entire shop. Those booths were tacky and they didn't go with any of my shoes."
"Then why did you keep eating there?"
"Because they were the only place nice enough to make cheeseless pizza. All the other places just laughed at me when I asked. You'll still make cheeseless pizza, right?"
"It may be a crime against humanity, but I've never turned down money in my life and I'm not about to start now."
After some further talk about Quinn's success in college, Daria passed the phone to Jake and Helen came back into the room. "Apparently one of Richard Riordan's underlings is taking care of this situation, and he says it's all legitimate."
She then hugged Daria suddenly. "I'm so proud of you. Co-owning your first business straight out of college!"
"It's nothing," said Daria as she
shifted awkwardly, "I think Jodie Landon already owns a resort in
"I heard about that place on the news," said Jane, "Isn't that where the white tigers force the humans to do tricks for a paying audience?"
"You sure that was the news you were watching?"
"Anyway," Helen continued, "All you have to worry about is
what you do. Speaking of which, what about your radio jobs back in
"Mom, you know as well as I do that it was only temporary to help pay for college. Maybe in some other alternate universe we'd be the best damn radio personalities in all the land, but in this one, we're not."
"Besides," said Jane, "This might help pay the rest of it off. Not to mention rent payments for a warehouse apartment."
"And what about your other friends?"
"They're all on their own vacations right now, but we'll definitely be staying in contact."
"So, there's nothing stopping you two from doing this?"
"I guess not."
Just then, Jake walked back in the room and sat down.
"How's Quinn doing at Pepperhill?" asked Helen, having not had a chance to talk to her.
"Quinn's doing great," replied Jake, with a proud smile on his face, "Especially in commerce, surprisingly enough. So, girls, have you decided whether you want to run the Pizza King yet?"
"Yep," said Jane, "We're going for it."
"Then can I help at the shop one day? It's not going to be easy with just the two of you there, and I feel like I've finally turned a corner in regards to my cooking."
Memories of Jake's 'cooking' came flooding through Daria's mind, sending a cold chill down her spine. She looked over to Helen with a raised eyebrow, who simply shrugged her shoulders, before answering her father.
"You seem very busy with your consulting, but we'll see how things turn out."
Jake's smile disappeared. "Oh. OK. I guess I should probably get all of that done first."
Right then, a loud ding interrupted the conversation. Helen stood up, put on a pair of oven mitts and grabbed a tray out of the oven.
Daria stared down at the all-too-familiar foodstuff placed on the table in front of her. "Lasagna, hm?"
"Some things never change."
Later that night, Daria and Jane lay in their beds in what was Quinn's room, but for the time being was the guest room. Jake and Helen had found it easier to move Daria's bed in there from her old room than trying to do the opposite with Quinn's.
"I think you should re-paint this room while we're here," said Daria, staring at the bright yellow walls.
"Honestly, I'd change the carpets first," replied Jane, "Pink shag doesn't do it for me."
Daria sat up on her bed and sighed.
Jane sat up as well. "What's wrong, Daria?"
"You know, Jane, it still hasn't sunk in yet. I did have a vague idea of what I wanted to do after college..."
"That cabin in
"There is that, but I was referring to other stuff. I don't know if I'll be able to do any of that."
"Daria, there will be plenty of time to write. We don't have to be open every day, you know."
Daria turned to Jane, her face a picture of slight worry. "Do you think we're ready to run our own pizza restaurant?"
"We owe it to Gino that we at least try. Pizza sells itself. All we have to do is make the magic happen."
"I know. Good night, Jane."
For all the nerves they had within, it didn't take long for Daria and Jane to get to sleep.
It was Tuesday afternoon when Daria and Jane decided to open up the Pizza King and take a look inside. As Daria turned on the lights, they noticed that it looked almost exactly the same as it did three years earlier. Same blue booths, albeit a little more faded. Same red-tiled floors. The soda fountains, pizza ovens and dishwasher still looked in great condition.
Daria shivered. "I think it's a little bit eerie being in here alone with no customers."
"How is it any different from the times we were the only ones here?" asked Jane.
"For a start, there was a nice big slice of pizza in front of me. Hey, let's make some!"
"No dice, Morgendorffer. The shop may have only been closed for a week, but I'd think the toppings in storage have either gone off or were cleaned out."
It was then that Jane turned to the blank wall next to the soda fountain, and her eyes lit up. "I think I've just found my personal project for the next couple of days."
"Let me guess. You're going to paint that wall aren't you?"
"Any reason why, other than satisfying your creative urges and or getting out of cleaning?"
"Nope. Got it in one."
One quick trip back to the Morgendorffers later, Jane had her art supplies and was ready to go. Meanwhile, Daria had the task of getting the kitchen clean. Gino obviously did his best, but one man could only do so much. The fact that the place hadn't been touched, let alone cleaned, in a week and a half meant that a fine sheen of dust covered every counter top.
On top of one of those counter tops, sat a worn-out looking book. Daria walked over to find that the front of the book read "Marella Family Recipe Book" in embossed golden font.
Daria felt over the cover before opening it up. "Hey, Jane! Come here!"
Jane walked into the kitchen, wiping her hands on a paint-covered rag. "How many times have I told you? Never disturb me doing my sketching phase."
"I found the family pizza recipe book. Must have been passed down through generations of Marellas by the looks of it."
Daria then felt a twinge of sadness come over her as she realised something. "That means, if the letter was right..."
"It stopped at Gino. Heavy."
The two of them stood silently over the book for a moment in contemplation.
Jane broke the silence. "I guess it's up to us to keep this going as well. At least for one more generation."
"It's a lot easier to pass a recipe book down to your children than it is to run a pizzeria. Now let's take a proper look at this thing."
For the next half an hour or so, Daria and Jane read through the book, getting all the basic recipes memorised in their brains.
"Well what do you know," Daria said to Jane with a grin as she turned to the sauces page, "The secret ingredient in the Marinara sauce actually was a quart of grease."
"No way. They couldn't have had grease back in the old country."
"And we won't need it here. Grease-free sauce for all."
Daria then raised an eyebrow and made a money motion with her fingers.
Jane slumped her shoulders. "Damn. I guess I owe you that $20 from 1998 now."
"You know it."
Jane, grumbling and muttering under her breath, reached into
her pocket and handed Daria a crumpled up
As she put the bill into the inside of her jacket pocket, Daria took a look at the still dirty kitchen. "This normally calls for an upbeat '80s cleaning up stuff montage. It's too bad that I don't do upbeat."
For the next week, Daria cleaned up the kitchen and storerooms and organised new stock deliveries, while Jane alternated cleaning up the seating and service areas with continuing her painting, something that she wouldn't let Daria see.
Soon it was Wednesday, nearly 2 weeks after they had officially inherited the Pizza King. Daria was busy preparing the new grease-less Marinara sauce when Jane came bursting in.
"It's finished!" yelled Jane as she grabbed Daria by the arm and dragged her out of the kitchen.
"Finally," said Daria as she saw the white sheet covering the wall, "Let's see it."
Jane carefully pulled down the sheet and unveiled her mural to Daria.
The mural depicted Gino as she remembered him 3 years
earlier, slightly balding brown hair and thick moustache, with a satisfied
smile on his face, sitting in a grand throne and wearing a flowing purple robe
and a golden, jewel-studded crown. Behind it, two flags were intertwined. The il tricolore
of the Italian flag, and the stars and stripes of the
Daria stood in stunned silence momentarily before a hug from her friend snapped her out of it.
"After all these years," she said to Jane, "I still can't believe how great your art can be."
"I know," said Jane, beaming as she let go of Daria, "It was almost as if a real Pizza King could manifest itself, he would look like this."
Jane then put an arm around Daria's shoulder. "I think we're ready to go, mi amica."
Daria took another look around their restaurant. The tables were sparkling clean, the chairs and booths had been re-upholstered with newer blue cushioning, and the soda fountains were filled and ready to serve. Back in the kitchen, all the counter tops were clean and all the ingredients were in cold storage.
"Yes we are. I just have one last phone call to make when we get home."
After locking up and driving home, Daria made that phone call.
"Lawndale Sun-Herald, Tori Jericho speaking."
"Hello, we like to place a full-page ad in your newspaper for tomorrow and Friday."
"Sorry, not my department. I can make a mention in my column though. What is it?"
"The Pizza King restaurant in downtown
"Cool. I used to eat there a bit back in my high school days. Your names?"
"Morgendorffer? That name rings a bell... any relation to Quinn Morgendorffer?"
"Oh... I remember you now. You were my Language Arts teacher for like a week when O'Neill was on strike. You weren't very popular back then, were you?"
"It wasn't exactly something we were worried about."
Tori laughed. "Still got the same sarcastic wit, I hear."
Soon, Daria said her goodbyes and turned back to Jane. "What do you know about Tori Jericho's column?"
"I have a better question. Who's Tori
"Some old friend of Quinn's and..."
"Hmm... maybe we should wait another week and get a proper ad in."
"So, you were finally opening up?"
"No, why would I do that?"
Helen stared at Daria, eyebrow raised.
"You're referring to the Pizza King, aren't you? Yes, we were going to open this Friday, But it looks like we might have to wait to get some more word on the street."
"I think you're finally realising that this isn't going to be easy. Running your own business is very hard work. Just ask your father."
Suddenly, there was a loud yell from upstairs, then a crash."
"Honey!" yelled Jake from upstairs, "We need another mouse for the computer!"
"Never mind. Anyway, I've got to go. Dinner is in the oven."
With that, Helen walked out the door to pull a late shift at the law firm. Soon, Daria, Jane and Jake were sitting at the kitchen table trying to eat another lasagna meal.
"Why is it that we always end up eating this?" asked Daria as she poked her portion around on the plate with her fork.
"It's easy and it's cheap, kiddo," Jake replied, "When your mom works as much as she does, she doesn't have a lot of time to cook."
"While you on the other hand have too much time to cook."
"I'm getting better, I swear! The last time I cooked, Helen didn't throw up at all."
"Me and Daria have a favour to ask you," interrupted Jane, "We need to get the word out that Pizza King is opening up again, and we think you might know some decent graphic artists that can design an ad to put in the paper."
"Why can't you do it yourself, Jane? Your art is great from what Daria has told me."
"Thanks, but I'm a fine artist, not a graphic artist. Big difference."
"Oh, OK. Well I'll make a few calls and see what I can do."
For the next couple of days, Jake made those calls, while Daria and Jane designed the basic outline of their ad. On Monday, they sent it away for the final graphic improvements. By Wednesday, it was on page 7 of the Lawndale Sun-Herald.
Everything was falling into place nicely.
After going to the restaurant on Thursday for last-minute tests of both ingredients and appliances, it was finally opening day.
"What's he in for this time?"
"Same as usual. Going too far at anti-government protests. He's really gotten into all that stuff after Mystik Spiral broke up."
Daria then walked over to the oven to turn it on. Only for Jane to turn it back off.
"I now declare this pizza restaurant open." said Jane in a mock British accent as she theatrically turned the oven back on, "Sorry, couldn't resist."
From the kitchen, she and Daria could see a healthy crowd of about 30-40 people waiting to get in for food. At the front of the crowd, stood Helen and Jake.
Daria turned to Jane as a bead of sweat ran down her face. "We're really doing this."
"There's no turning back now."
"As ready as I'll ever be. You?"
Daria took a deep breath and wiped the sweat away. "I've never been more ready in all my life."
With that, they walked to the front door, turned the sign from "CLOSED" to "OPEN" and unlocked the door to a huge cheer from the crowd.
Pizza King was open for business once more.
First up the counter was Helen and Jake. "Hello, Jane. How are things so far?"
"We've only just opened, Mrs. Morgendorffer."
"Please, call me Helen. You're close enough to our family to have that privilege."
"Sure thing, Helen. What would you like?"
"I'll have two slices of margherita pizza, and Jake will have... what... 2 slices of supreme?"
"4!" said Jake.
"Jake! Your heart, remember? 3."
Jane, barely able to contain her excitement, turned to Daria, who was already sprinkling on toppings. "We are going to absolutely kill it, Daria!"
And on they went, as a consistent flow of customers came through the doors of the Pizza King. There were a select few people who were only curious as to who the new owners were, so they would walk in and walk out again. But in the end, their first day in charge went pretty smoothly.
Since they had yet to determine a closing time, it wasn't until that the customers stopped coming and they were finally able to shut for the night. After locking the doors and putting their earnings for the day in the safe, Daria and Jane sat in what was their favourite booth in years past and started breaking down their first day in business over a couple of leftover slices.
"Just like old times," said Jane, mouth full of pepperoni pizza, "Except we never came here after . This is new ground for us!"
"It wasn't like we didn't try," replied Daria, "We'd come here after a night at The Zon, but it was always closed and we'd end up having to go to Cluster Burger instead. Anyway, we're kind of getting off the subject."
"One we weren't even on to begin with. How do you think we went?"
"Great. But there were a few complaints."
"Let me guess... they didn't like the new Marinara sauce. We can easily fix that by putting the grease back in. Marinara classic, the key demos will love it."
Daria raised an eyebrow. "Key demos? Really? We're a pizza restaurant, not a TV station."
"Not yet we're not. Pizza King TV, all pizza, all the time, 24 hours a day right to your living room! You've got to look at the bigger picture, Daria."
Daria chuckled slightly. "Well there was that, but I was thinking more along the lines of waiting times. They could be a lot better, in my opinion."
Jane took a sip of her cup of Ultra Cola and put her hand to her chin in contemplation. "We should maybe think about recruiting another person. I know you had trouble keeping up with demand today."
"Only because you were taking the orders way too fast. I saw about 20 people off the side waiting for their pizza."
Daria and Jane then sat silently for a moment, feeling uneasy about the argument they had almost started.
"I agree, we need to hire someone." said Daria, breaking the silence briefly, only to bring on more silence.
Suddenly, Jane got up and took both her and Daria's plates to the kitchen. As she came back, she threw a sticky, beige ball of dough at the back of Daria's head, knocking her glasses off.
Daria put them back on and picked the dough out of her hair, before standing and turning to her assailant. "What the hell, Jane?"
"It was too tense in here," said Jane with a sheepish grin, "So I'd thought I'd... you know... lighten things up with a doughy ambush."
Daria couldn't help but smile.
"Oh, it's on now."
She chased Jane into the kitchen, picked up a handful of dough from the storeroom and hurled it at Jane.
The resulting doughfight lasted a whole hour. The cleanup took another two. By the time they arrived back at the Morgendorffers, it was nearly 4 in the morning. Good thing it was Saturday, and they didn't have to open until .
That day they switched roles, with Daria taking the orders and the cash register, and Jane making the pizzas. This gave Jane creative licence to arrange the toppings as she saw fit.
"Hey, what gives?" yelled Sam Griffin as he and his friend Brian Taylor received their pizza, "The toppings are arranged all... arty-like."
"It's meant to be Rodin's Thinker, Sam," said Rachel Landon, looking over it carefully from the booth next to them, "For something that has been crafted solely out of onion slices, diced bacon and pepperoni, the detail is amazing."
"Cram your knowledge up your ass, brain!" Brian yelled as he grabbed a slice, "Pizza is for eating, not for arting up."
"Easy on her, Brian," said Sam, picking up a slice of his own, "Do you want Principal Defoe to give you that lecture again?"
"Pfft! I've got something better to give."
With that, he took a huge bite out of his slice, chewed it a bit and then spat it out on Rachel's hair.
Daria and Jane watched from afar as Rachel ran crying to the bathroom.
"That runt needs a good boot up the rear end if you ask me," said Jane, shaking her head in disgust. "And I might just be the woman to do it."
With anger in her eyes and retribution on her mind, Jane walked over to the booth where Sam and Brian were sitting.
"I saw what you did, young man," she said, pointing at Brian, "And me and my friend don't like it one bit. I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
Brian arrogantly showed a theatrical expression of shock before glaring at Jane.
"Make me, bitch."
With that, Jane grabbed Brian by the ear, gave it a twist and forcefully dragged him out of the Pizza King.
"Wait until I tell my dad about this!" Brian shouted, "He'll sue your ass off!"
"My friend's mother is the best lawyer in town. I dare you and your daddy to try."
"Do you even know who I am?"
"Yeah. You're the jerk who spat up pizza in some poor girl's hair and got himself banned for life from the Pizza King. Now get out of my sight before I call the police!"
Brian stood still for a moment, before turning around and walking off, flipping off Jane as he did so. When Jane walked back inside, there were cheers from the other patrons.
She suddenly stopped at the booth where Sam was still sitting. "Were you with that boy?"
"I told him not to, I swear!"
Jane looked him up and down before giving a quick nod. "Good. You can stay."
Daria, who was standing with Rachel, was wide-eyed in shock. "Where the hell did all that come from?"
"I told you this already, Daria, art college can bring out the drill sergeant in anyone."
She then turned to Rachel. "You all right there?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. Nothing a little shampoo can't fix."
"Your pizza is on the house," said Daria, reaching for her wallet, "I know it's not much, but..."
"I appreciate the thought, but I'd like to go home now please."
With that, Rachel walked to the door and out. Daria and Jane watched her go before walking back to the kitchen.
"I can't believe that he'd do something like that!" said Jane as she took her position at the counter, "And then he has the grapefruits to ask if I knew who he was!"
"I knew," said Daria, "He's
"Well I can see why she moved to
"All too well."
The rest of that Saturday was uneventful. Unlike the previous day, they managed to get everything cleaned up by .
They decided to stay closed on Sunday for two reasons. The first was so they could prepare their ad looking for a new chef. The second was simply to rest up their aching bodies. While Daria wrote the ad that put in the Lawndale Sun-Herald, Jane was designing small posters with tear-off strips with Jane's cellphone number on them, to be placed at both the Pizza King and Lawndale Mall.
By Tuesday, those numbers were all gone. Unfortunately, most of them were either prank callers asking about running fridges, canned Prince Alberts and, in one case, a telemarketer trying to sell a book of clichés.
By the next Friday morning, after exactly one week in business, they were ready to interview the only two candidates they had left.
"First is some guy named Arthur Simmons," said Jane, reading off a resume, "And this says he has years of experience in this field."
Daria laughed. "I think Arthur's got this job in the bag. What time is he coming for the interview?"
"Any time now."
"Wait a minute... Arthur. Surely not... Artie?"
The two friends looked at each other and screamed.
Daria felt a cold shiver down her spine. "I'd rather have Li work here than be around that creep!"
"I know... and that laugh of his... ugh! It makes my skin crawl."
"You know what I said before about how he has the job in the bag? Forget it, he's gone."
They both watched in horror from the kitchen as a skinny, red-haired man with freckles on freckles arrived at the door, walked in and took a deep breath.
"Finally," Artie to no one in particular, "I'm home."
He started walking towards the counter, but when he saw Daria and Jane, his jaw dropped.
"Oh my God it's you two! You're those aliens!"
Daria was dumbfounded. "Wait, what?"
"The aliens have taken the Pizza King! I must alert the authorities!"
With that, Artie sprinted for the door, pushing when he was supposed to pull, then ran screaming down the street, arms flailing wildly.
Neither Daria or Jane could quite believe what just transpired.
"That went better than I expected, Daria."
"So I guess we're going with the other applicant then?"
"Who is it?"
Jane handed her the other resume and covered her ears, expecting a tirade.
She didn't get one.
"I don't believe it. We're hiring him."
"Well, he did help us," said Jane, shrugging her shoulders, "It's the least we can do to repay him back, and if he says he's gotten better in the last 3 years, then I say let's give him a chance."
"But this isn't home cooking. This is a business. If he screws up, then we'll have lawsuits out the wazoo to take care of."
Jane glared at Daria. "Come on Daria. All our lives we've taken chances. If I didn't take a chance on the bespectacled misfit sitting in front of me in that self-esteem class, we wouldn't be here. If anything we'd still be there. If it weren't for you giving me a push to send my art to BFAC, I wouldn't have my degree and we definitely wouldn't be here. If it weren't for me walking up to Tom in The Zon..."
"We'd still be on our first friendship, not our second."
"OK, bad example. My point is, I think he deserves this chance. And I know you do too."
Daria stared at the door, and watched as the very subject of their conversation walked in.
"All right. But he has to do everything by the book. One wild jazz odyssey pizza and he's gone."
While Jane sat down with their new chef and took care of the formalities, Daria watched as she prepared that day's dough and toppings.
"Just a bit of business we have to take care of before we make it official. Any criminal convictions?"
"Are you good with children?"
"Sure! I love kids, as long as they don't cause any trouble."
"Any medical issues I should know about?"
"One heart attack about 4-5 years ago and my doctor tells me I have anger management issues. I don't believe him to be honest with you."
As Jane and the lucky applicant stood up and shook hands, Daria could only wonder what the hell they were getting themselves into now.
"I guess all there is left to say is... welcome to the Pizza King family, Mr. Morgendorffer."
It was half an hour before opening for Friday lunch, and Daria and Jane were showing Jake around his new workplace, making sure that he knew where everything was.
"So what made you want to work here?" asked Daria, "Did they finally cancel the repeats of The Dukes Of Hazzard or something?"
"I was bored with consulting," Jake said with a sigh, "I've
been doing it since we moved to
"So you're done with it completely?"
"More or less, yes. So, where do I start? What do I have to do?"
"We'll start you with cleaning and serving the customers. We switch places every other day so when you get to making the pizzas, you'll always have either me or Jane helping you."
"Can I at least do something with the food now?"
Daria wasn't expecting that. "Um... er..."
"You can knead the dough, Jake," said Jane, "That will give me some time to put the new syrups into the soda fountain. That OK with you, Daria?"
"Sure. At least the dough is already made."
Daria went to check the clock, and gasped when she saw that the big hand was nearly at the 10.
"Wow, where did all the time go? We need to get that dough kneaded fast!"
"I'll see what I can do, but I'm not promising a miracle."
Daria and Jake sprinted to where a large ball of dough was waiting on a flour covered counter.
Jake picked the ball up and looked it over. "A miracle is pretty much what we need, I think."
Suddenly, Daria got an idea. "Pretend that dough is Mad Dog's face."
Without so much as another word, Jake threw the dough down and started pounding it with animalistic fury. "Take that, old man! And that! And a bit of this! I've wanted to do this to you for over 30 years!"
As Daria watched on, Jane walked in from the eating area. "OK, Daria, the syrups are in... what's up with Jake?"
"I've found a way to exploit his hatred for his dad that benefits us all."
That day was the most efficient so far. With Jake at the counter, Daria and Jane could not only focus better on the pizza, but generally cleaning up as well. The only complaints were from people ringing up upset that Pizza King didn't deliver anymore.
The next day was Jake's first turn in the kitchen, and he and Daria were going to be making the pizzas while Jane working the counter.
"Remember, dad," said Daria, "We're taking specific orders here, so there won't be any kitchen sink stew pizzas or stuff like that, OK?"
"Got it. Wait, what if someone asks for one?"
"Tell them the sink is being fixed and it can't be used today."
First in line for service on that day was a familiar face. Stacy Rowe, the formerly perpetually-stressed member of the Fashion Club. What was once a tall, skinny young girl was now a tall, toned young woman, brimming with confidence.
"Oh hey, um... Quinn's sister's friend. I didn't know you worked here."
Jane laughed. "It's OK, a lot more people than you think call me that. To answer your question, I don't. I'm actually the co-owner."
"Oh cool! Anyway, can I get four slices of meatlovers pizza. With extra meat please."
"Depends. Do you have money?"
Stacy handed over a couple of paper bills. "This should do, I hope."
"Wait wait wait," interrupted Daria as she started spreading sauce on Stacy's pizza, "Meatlovers pizza? I thought you'd be on permanent diet because of the whole Fashion Club thing."
"Pfft! No way. We broke up at the end of junior year. Didn't Quinn tell you?"
"Probably, but I might not have been listening at the time."
"Anyway, I need to get plenty of protein in me because I need to build up muscle for my racing career."
Jane's jaw dropped. "Racing? Muscle? Did you switch brains with a man in the last couple of years or something?"
"No, I'm finally chasing my dream. I'm going to be the first woman to win the SCUSA Cup!"
"Well we're rooting for you, girl," Jake said, before turning to Daria, giving a thumbs-up, "Your pizza will be ready in 10 minutes."
"Thanks!" said Stacy, before taking a seat at a table near the Pizza King mural.
Daria, meanwhile, was staring off into the distance. "I used to have a dream once."
"What was that, kiddo?"
"Nothing. Now let's get to putting those toppings on."
Under Daria's watchful eye, Jake started putting on the toppings carefully, making sure that he was putting on enough of everything.
"OK... make sure there's plenty of bacon... yes that's the way... pepperoni... lots of that... now put on some ham and beef... good job... you could be going a little bit faster you know."
"Daria, I'm going as fast as I can!"
"Sorry... sorry. Just the cheese to go now... there we go...now put that into the oven... and we're done!"
"Yeah! We made a pizza, Daria!"
"Don't get carried away, Dad. We do this about a hundred times a day so one pizza means nothing in the end."
Jake's smile disappeared. "Oh. Well let's start making the next one then."
Again, the day went smoothly. That night, the three of them sat in a booth over some pizza to discuss their progress.
"Let's be honest," said Daria, "We've been flying by the seat of our pants since we opened up nearly 2 weeks ago. We had no earthly idea how to operate a pizzeria then, and not much has changed."
All three of them started to chuckle, with Jake starting to cough in the process.
Daria continued. "But, we've managed to make it work. Rent is getting paid on time, and according to the financial records, profits are a little bit down, but in store revenue is slightly above that of this time last year."
"And now that we have Jake on board," said Jane between sips
of her cola, "We might actually be able to get a night time delivery service
"Hey yeah!" said Jake excitedly, "I'm proving to be a quite a difference maker for you two, aren't I?"
"Indeed you are," said Daria, "But one thing you have to start doing is getting the pizzas made faster. I told you about that today and I don't think I should have to keep reminding you."
"I'll try, but I haven't got youth on my side like you and Jane. Hey, while we're here, I have a suggestion for a new item on the menu..."
"But you didn't..."
"It's not you Jake," said Jane giving Daria a dirty look, "It's just that we're going to stick with the existing menu for the first couple of months. Ain't that right, Daria?"
"Uh... yes. That's the reason."
"OK, sorry to bother you about it, kiddo."
The next day was Sunday, so the Pizza King was closed. However, that didn't stop Jane from confronting Daria.
"I don't get it, Daria. Why are you being so hard on Jake?"
"I'm just trying to make sure that nothing goes wrong," Daria said in reply, "You know what his reputation is like."
"I think you're just refusing to believe that his reputation might have changed for the better, and I can't for the life of me understand why."
Daria sighed, as a clap of thunder rumbled outside. "I know he's better than ever with his cooking, Jane. But I just can't shake the feeling that something is going to wrong eventually."
The next day, the rain came down hard as Daria, Jane and Jake went back to work. Again, it was Daria and Jake working on the pizzas with Jane at the counter.
"All right, we have an order for three slices vegetarian and two slices margherita," Jane said to her two chefs, "Let's get them out here!"
Daria passed the sauced base to Jake and watched him put on the other toppings. "OK... there's the onion... tomato... the... hey, watch what you're doing!"
By then it was already too late. Jake had put a handful of bacon on the vegetarian pizza.
"Great," yelled Daria, picking up the pizza tray and slamming it down with a metallic clang that startled everyone in the store, "Now we have to start all over!"
"I'm sorry, Daria, I swear it was an accident..."
"Well, let's be glad that I caught it before it got served," she said as she started preparing the next pizza.
They wouldn't say another word until they were finished.
After the pizzas had been served, Jane turned to Daria.
"I thought I told you not be so hard on him!" she yelled, "Why are you still harassing him?"
"He keeps stuffing up, Jane! I just knew he would!"
"You don't even give him a chance to stuff up, or do anything!"
Their talk would go unfinished as they were interrupted by a woman's frantic voice. "Ariel are you OK? Ariel?"
Daria, Jane and Jake watched in horror as a little girl fell out of her booth, gasping for air.
Her mother was beside herself with anguish. "She's choking! Somebody help her, please!"
As Jane dialled 911, Daria ran over to the scene. "Does she need the Heimlich or something?"
"No! She swallowed it all right... maybe it was an allergic reaction!"
Daria's first instinct was to pick up the vegetarian pizza. "Was this hers?"
"The vegetarian was mine! She was eating the cheese one!"
Daria picked up a slice of the pizza and took a bite. Daria almost instantly spat it out, having encountered an unexpected taste.
"This one has hot chili sauce on..."
"Wait, did you say chili?"
"Oh no, she's allergic to chili! Her throat closes up and everything! Who would make a mistake like that?"
Daria started to feel sick in her stomach. It was then that she remembered that she was the one who puts the sauces on.
She was the one that screwed up.
All of a sudden, Daria ripped off her apron and ran to the door, trying to ignore all the stares from the other customers.
"Jake, you stay here for the ambulance!" yelled Jane as she followed her out.
By the time she got out the door, Daria had already disappeared into the rain. She fumbled for her cellphone and rang Daria's number, only to get a message that the number could not be reached.
Daria would keep running and running, through the bucketing rain, past an ambulance heading in the opposite direction, until she was back at home. There, she ran up the stairs and into her old bedroom, her sanctuary of the past, which was now empty except for a few boxes filled with her clothes and books.
At that moment, Daria kicked off her boots, sat down against the padding and started to cry.
Jane didn't see Daria again until she returned from the Pizza King. She slowly opened the bedroom door to find her, sitting in the corner of the room, still in her damp clothes.
"I've just gotten off the phone with her father," said Jane quietly, "You remember Nick that used to be in Mystik Spiral, right?"
"Ariel is his daughter to his ex-wife. He said that her mother won't press any charges of negligence as long as we cover Ariel's medical bills."
"The Marinara sauce and the chili sauce should never have been next to each other. That's on me."
"Daria, these things happen. It's OK..."
"No it's not OK!"
The sudden loudness of Daria's response had Jane jumping in shock. "Daria, it was an accident. You had no idea that she was allergic to chili."
"I was so focused on what my dad was doing, telling him not to screw up and do everything properly, that I forgot to watch what I was doing."
"So you made a mistake. These things happen..."
"A girl nearly died, Jane! That doesn't just happen."
Daria sighed, trying not to let her emotions overcome her again. "She nearly died because of me. Not because of Dad. But because of me."
She failed, and she started crying again. Jane knelt down beside her and gave her a hug.
Neither of them noticed that Jake had been standing behind them the entire time. "Daria, are you OK?"
"Nothing a bullet wouldn't fix."
Jake walked into the room, reached out his hand and helped Daria to her feet, before giving her a handkerchief. "Come on now. There's no need to say stuff like that."
Daria blew her nose into the hankie and folded it away into her jacket pocket. "Thanks. I know, I just feel like crap right now."
"Now you don't have to answer me if you don't want to, but why do you feel like you have to be so... how do I put this... hands-on with how I cook?"
"I don't mind. Cooking for your family is one thing. Cooking for a bunch of strangers is something completely different. I just didn't want anything to go wrong."
"To be honest, I don't blame you for thinking that I'm some sort of buffoon in the kitchen. I mean, I've cooked some absolute disasters in my time. That penne a la pesto? What was I thinking?"
Daria tried to stifle a laugh. Jane didn't.
"But that's why I spent all my spare time trying to get better," Jake continued, "So I wouldn't have my family become physically ill at the mere idea of ol' Jakey's cooking."
Daria took a breath and turned to Jane, then to Jake.
"Dad, I'm sorry I was so hard on you at work."
"I know. You were only doing what you thought was right in your mind."
Jane watched as father and daughter embraced in the moonlight shining through the barred windows.
"What is it, kiddo?"
"Can you let go, please? I can't breathe."
As Daria and Jake let go of each other, Jane was trying to stifle a laugh.
"Keep it to yourself, Lane," said Daria, raising a fist to her friend, "Or else you'll see how funny it is when your next pizza is served to you in a cup."
"I heard you say the other day that you had a dream once," said Jake, "What did you mean by that?"
Daria wasn't expecting that question. "I don't know really. I mean... the last thing I was expecting to do with my life after college was run a pizza shop."
"Did you want to run it?"
"Then why did you decide to go for it?" asked Jane, "More importantly, why didn't you say anything to me?"
"I couldn't let Gino down. He entrusted his entire livelihood in our hands, and like you said, we owed it to him that we at least tried. That, and the money isn't too bad either."
"Yeah. That warehouse apartment down payment has been well and truly covered now. I can quit and paint all day for the rest of my life if I want to."
"No you can't. Three weeks of pizza money won't even last 6 months."
"Whatever, I'm going to bed."
With that, Jane left the room and walked down the hall into the guest room/Quinn's room to go to sleep. Daria and Jake weren't too far behind her.
Daria, however, had one more question, "What was your dream, Dad?"
"Me? Well... it's changed a lot over the years. Some of them came true, like marrying your mother, becoming a father and outliving my fath... um... some did and some didn't. But I only have one simple dream to fulfil now. Then I can die a happy man. Wait... that's a poor choice of words isn't it?"
"What is it?"
"When it happens, you'll know. Good night, Daria."
Jake shut the bedroom door, leaving Daria alone to change out of her damp clothes and into a loose shirt and shorts, her normal sleeping attire.
"Everything all right now?"
Daria nearly fell down, Jane's voice startling her. "Jane! Were you awake that entire time?"
"Don't worry. There's nothing you've got that I haven't got. Except for that."
Daria picked up a pillow and hurled it at Jane, hitting her with a soft thud.
"I was talking about the glasses!"
It wasn't long before they were both asleep.
The next day was, thankfully for Daria, a whole lot less eventful than the day before. However, she was noticeably downbeat. Even more so than usual.
An hour before closing time, Jane finally got some spare time to talk to her.
"You're still feeling down about yesterday, aren't you?"
"No. I'm over that. Just got a lot of other stuff on my mind."
Jane put a comforting hand on Daria's shoulder. "I think there's something you want to do, isn't there?"
Daria looked into her friend's eyes, then over at the mural of Gino.
"It's OK," said Jane, "He'd understand."
Daria walked over to the kitchen sink, where Jake was busy drying plates and cups from the dishwasher.
"What is it, Daria?"
"I'm... giving you my stake in the Pizza King."
Jake dropped a glass into the sink in shock. "Wait, what... why... who?"
"My heart's just not in it anymore. It never really was in all honesty."
"But... all your plans for the future! What will happen to them?"
"It's because of the future that I'm doing this. I want to move on to other things, maybe get some use out of that degree I spent three years of my life working for."
"You sure this is want you want?"
Daria took off her apron, gave it to Jake and sat down in a booth.
"Daria?" said Jake.
"Thanks. You have no idea how much this has all meant to me."
"So, what are you doing now?" asked Jane.
"May as well wait for you guys to finish up. Besides, where else are you going to get a ride home at on a Tuesday?"
Jake put his arm around Jane. "Looks like it's just you and me now, Jane-o."
"We will need to replace Daria eventually."
At that moment, the door opened and Claire Defoe, the former art teacher at Lawndale High, walked into the Pizza King. Normally a wearer of sundresses and big jewellery, Defoe was dressed in a manner more befitting her new role as Principal.
"Ms. Defoe! What are you doing here?"
"Please, call me Claire. As for what I'm doing, I would like 2 slices of supreme and a small soda, please."
Jane reached into the oven and pulled a couple slices of pizza, before handing her a cup. "You don't mind eating a third, do you? I won't charge you for it."
"Not at all. How did you end up here, Jane? I thought you would have gone further with your painting."
"I did get a degree from BFAC, but then the old owner of this place died and gave it to me and Daria. You remember Daria, don't you?"
"Of course," Defoe replied, giving Daria a wave. Daria sheepishly waved back.
"So, what about you? You look great, by the way."
"Thanks. I became principal at Lawndale High about a year ago when Ms. Li mysteriously vanished. Since then I've gone through a whole lot of art teachers, trying to find the right one to replace me."
"Sounds like a job offer."
"No... I can't make you quit this job... Jane..."
Before Defoe had a chance to finish her sentence, Jane had taken off her apron and handed it to Jake.
"Wow," he said to himself, "I'm going to need some more chefs."
"I wouldn't necessarily do that yet, Jane," said Defoe, "There's still an interview process to go through. But between you and me, if you're still half as good as you were 3 years ago, you'll be a shoe-in."
With that, Defoe picked up her plate of pizza and her cup, and went over to the soda fountain to fill it up.
"Jane," said Daria, "You know you forgot to charge her for the pizza."
"Dammit I did too... ah, don't worry about it. One meal won't ruin us."
Jake walked up to the two girls, still holding their aprons. "So I take it I'm sole owner now?"
"If I get this job at Lawndale High," replied Jane, "Then yes."
"All right! I own my own restaurant! All by myself!"
Jake threw the apron and pointed a fist to the ground. "You hear that, old man? That's the sound of little Jakey becoming a bigger success than you!"
Daria and Jane took one last look at the mural of Gino, then back at Jake.
"Do you think he'll be all right, Daria?" asked Jane.
At that moment, Jake saw the girls looking at him. His angry face turned into a happy one as he waved at them.
They both waved back. "He'll be just fine."
With that, Daria and Jane left the Pizza King for the last time as its owners, got into their car and waited for Jake to finish up.
"Mom! Dad! Daria! I'm home!"
"Quinn! You made it for Thanksgiving!"
Quinn dropped her suitcases and embraced her mother. "Mom! I wouldn't miss it for the world. You know that! Hey, Daria."
"Hey," said Daria, looking up from her writing, "How was the flight?"
"The seats were way too small, the water wasn't even cold, and the movie they showed on the plane was terrible, with no romance in it whatsoever!"
"In other words, nothing out of the ordinary."
Quinn sat down next to her sister and gave her a hug, which Daria accepted reluctantly. "So how's your new job?"
"It's all right. Writing for Sick, Sad World isn't overly inspiring, but the money's good and there is plenty of room for career advancement."
"And how's Jane?"
"Why ask her, when you can ask me?" said Jane, walking into the room.
"I'm doing great! The kids at
"Now don't you be knocking Kevin," said Daria, "He may be a moron, but he makes some damn good ice-cream."
"I hear that. As I was saying, there are some idiots, but there are a couple of kids there that really have a mind for art. Sometimes, they even inspire me in my artwork."
"Great. I never thought you'd want to go back there, though."
"You'd be surprised how much of that was associated to how Li ran the place. Defoe's iron fist is well manicured and a lot more pleasant."
Quinn saw Helen standing off the side of the room, watching the three girls converse. "How's retirement from the law firm treating you, Mom?"
"Well, I'm not fully retired. I still pitch in at the Pizza King somedays for your father. He's doing unbelievable business there, you know."
"How good? Maybe I can help him out and triple his profit margins or something."
"I'm sure he'll love that."
At that moment, Jake poked his head through the doorway. "Dinner's ready! Hope you brought your stomachs!"
The four women walked into the dining room, and their jaws collectively dropped.
On the dining room table in front of them sat a large turkey, cooked to perfection. On plates surrounding it were cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potato and gravy, assorted vegetables and a large pumpkin pie.
Quinn rubbed her eyes, in an almost-cartoonish manner. "This is great, Dad! I can't believe how good you are at cooking stuff now."
"I can hardly believe it myself," said Daria, "To think, only a few years ago the man had trouble cooking toast. Now he's cooked a Thanksgiving feast."
As the Morgendorffers took their seats around the table, Jake walked in with a large fork and carving knife, ready to go.
"Is there anything anyone would like to say before we start eating?" asked Helen.
"If you wouldn't mind," said Jake, "I have a few words."
He looked over the table, his loving wife, his two wonderful daughters and a woman that had become almost like a third daughter to him. It took everything in him to stop himself from crying.
"I'll keep it short, because I know how much you're all looking forward to this. I'm thankful for having such a wonderful loving family. And that includes you Jane."
Jane blushed slightly. "I know where you live, Morgendorffer."
"As of right now, I can finally say that my life cannot be any better."
As he started carving the turkey, Daria got a good look at her father's face. She could never remember seeing him so look so happy in all his life.
She could tell then and there, that his dream just came true.
The names Ariel Campbell, Richard Riordan, Scarlett LeFaye and Tori Jericho originate from fics written by authors other than myself. No harm was intended by my use of these names.
All pre-existing Daria characters, locations and products are trademarks of MTV Networks and Viacom International. All other characters, locations and products were created by me and are completely fictional. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead, by any of my fictional characters is unintentional and purely coincidental. This parody of Daria is copyright (c) 2011 by The Excellent S and was written with no intentions for future profit. This parody was written for www.outpost-daria.com and may not be redistributed or reposted on any other website without the permission of the author.
Special thanks to Martin Pollard for hosting this story at his website and to Charles RB, Dark Kuno, DIsaac, Ixmythot, Jim North, Kristen Bealer, LadieT, Lord Yellowtail, tafka, thatLONERchick and VPrad at The Paperpusher's Message Board for their feedback.
If you would like to send some feedback and questions about this or any of my other Daria projects, please contact me at the PPMB.
NO REGION 4 DARIA DVD SET,
NO PEACE WE WON!
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