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'Past Understanding' written March,2003
The 'Past Understanding' series takes place towards the end of the Final Season, 'Prize Fighters' and 'Is It College Yet' have not (yet) happened as per the storyline which can be safely set sometime in the Spring,2001.
Helen was alone in her office working on papers.
"Mrs. Morgantroper, Line One" the temporary receptionist
squawked over the speaker phone- her voice sounding like a laryngitic
" That's Morgendorffer! Hellooo! Sorry. Hello? Hello? Hello!? Damn
it, Euphemia, it's Line Seven!"Helen boiled as she tried the various
lines on the earphone.
"Well, they were all lit up, Mrs. Gropenmorger!" Euphemia
"Hello, Marianne!" Helen answered, her foul mood temporarily
" So glad you liked the flowers. . . and that you and your
son are fine after yesterday's labor. .. Don't be silly! It was no
sacrifice!" Helen insisted as she stapled the florist bill to the
expense account voucher on her desk.
"I'll line you up with someone!. ..Now don't worry about
us! As a mother, I know how important it is for you and your husband to
bond with your children so take all the time you need. ."Helen chirped.
"Mrs. Borgenmorpher. ." Euphemia squawked over the speakerphone.
" Like the next week! [click] Hello!? What, Euphemia?" Helen
"You said to let you know when your 3:30 arrived but I checked the
name and this person doesn't answer to Miss Quad Dorkengopher!"Euphemia
squawked- as she misread the words 'Miss Quinn Morgendorffer' written on the pad in front of her.
"Never mind. Just send her in!" Helen snapped.
"Could you make it quick, Mom? Sandi's in the fire lane with the
motor running! We're doing a preliminary Cashman's run today so we can strategize for the whole Fashion Club tomorrow!"Quinn explained rather flippantly-as she bounded in from the outer office.
"Quinn, between Marianne giving birth and the temp service sending
us Mr. O'Neill's cousin, I'm in NO mood for. . ." Helen thundered as she
stands up at her desk to jab her index finger to intimidate Quinn.
"OK, Mo-om, chill!" Quinn insisted as she nervously flashed her
"I'd like to chill you permanently after this letter I got in
the office mail!" Helen explained-pounding her fist at the end.
" Letter? Is this another mother-daughter fashion show? I told
them that we wouldn't be entering but Tiffany and her mom will since Mrs. Mitsubishi isn't eight-months pregnant this time!" Quinn chirped.
" No, it's from the Oui-Swyp-Ewe Credit Card Accounting
Department"Helen snarled as she extracted a letter from a very large
envelope then held up the letter to read.
"Mo-OM!" Quinn gulped as she tried to snatch the letter out of
Helen's right hand.
"'Dear Mrs. Morgendorffer, We regret to inform you that we have
failed to receive our minimum payments for your co-signer Miss Quinn
Morgendorffer's account thus we are terminating her credit card!'" Helen
boiled as she waved the letter above Quinn's head while reading it.
"But. .." Quinn gulped.
" How many times have I told you to make the minimum payments and
NOT spend more than you earn!" Helen seethed as she brought her arm down
to the desk with letter tightly clutched in hand.
"I think about ten or fif. ." Quinn chuckled.
"OOOH!" Helen exploded as she pounded the desk with both fists.
" But, Mo-om! I did my best to take care of things, honest!" Quinn
"Oh, yes! 'P.S. Enclosed is Miss Morgendorffer's 8 by 10 headshot.
Inform her that this is an unacceptable substitute for timely monthly
minimum payments. However; it was a boon to my wife's Ladies Dart Board
Tourney!'"Helen fumed as she pulled out the headshot from the
accompanying large envelope on her desk.
"[GASP] They impaled all my pores!" Quinn shuddered as she studied
the perforated photo.
"Quinn Morgendorffer, it's not just your credit that's been ruined.
I was on the phone all morning with those plastic pickpockets-
barely able to stop them foreclosing our house,"Helen seethed.
" Did you promise them another photo?" Quinn nervously laughed.
"Quinn, I had to take out a 2nd mortgage as well as virtually empty out our checking accounts and you girls' college account that your Dad and I've diligently set aside every month almost eighteen years! I don't know how I'm going to tell Daria !"Helen shuddered.
"Mo-om, how can you bring up her at a time like this?" Quinn
" Quinn, very carefully mind what you say! Let me remind you that
you are sitting in the office of a top law firm who'd pull just
about all legal angles to keep one of their best partners-to-be from
serving any time," Helen said in a low threatening voice.
"You mean. ..?" Quinn gulped as she frantically blinked her eyelids.
"That's right, Quinn. I brought you into this world, don't tempt me
to take you out of it! " Helen threatened as she sat down while Quinn
nervously did the same.
"PLEEZE, Mom! I'll do anything to make it up to you!" Quinn pleaded
as she shifted to her knees in front of the desk.
" Good! I've drawn up this contract that will dock $300 a month
from your salary until every dime's paid back- even if it means you'll
be the only senior citizen not wearing support hose to do it!" Helen
thundered as she drew out the contract.
"But, Mo-om, there's no way I can pay that much monthly with
babysitting the Guptys!" Quinn gulped as she got up from her knees.
"You had no problem spending multiples of that monthly!" Helen
"But. ." Quinn shuddered.
" I know you don't make that much with the Guptys so I've added a
few others to your babysitting rounds," Helen declared as she unveiled a
large mounted graph with detailed times and names next to her desk.
" The Landon children? Sandi's brothers? Marianne's son?" Quinn
" Frank," Helen suddenly remembered as she inked his
" Tiffany's little half-sister Orchid Mitsubishi? Mo-om, except for the
Guptys and Landons, these are all babies and brats!" Quinn groaned.
" Takes one to know 'em!" Helen sighed.
"But I won't have time to. .."Quinn gulped.
" Date the Three J's, shop, goof off or be in the . ."Helen
insisted as she counted her off her aloft left fingers with her right
"NO! I can't give up the Fashion Club! I'd die!" Quinn burst into
" You've already come close to that today! I'm not falling for
your TV movie melodramatics!" Helen insisted.
" But Sandi's waiting for me and we're going to Cashman's
Spring Near Summer Before Fall and Winter Sale!" Quinn pleaded.
"You've more clothes than most 3rd world countries as it is. I'm
keeping all credit, debit and check cards! Hand them over!" Helen
ordered- as Quinn nervously did so before Helen took out a
large pair of scissors and sliced them to ribbons.
" MO_OM!" Quinn burst into fresh tears.
"Tell Sandi to take you straight home and sit in your room until
dinnertime. And don't think I won't call up Linda to check Sandi's
" How will I live? " Quinn sobbed.
"Oh,you have plenty of things to live for- such as circling want
ads and studying to earn a good scholarship so you can get into a good
college to make good money to repay me!" Helen seethed.
"But. .." Quinn bawled.
" And if you try to charm a dime from your Dad, I'll drive you
straight to Juvenile Hall and have them feed you till you're eighteen!
I won't have you pester him-especially not today of all days!"Helen
"Umm" Quinn pondered.
"His birthday! Why d'you think I called your cell and had you meet
me here?" Helen seethed anew.
"You. ..wanted my advice on a present?" Quinn nervously chuckled and
flashed her teeth.
"You forgot!" Helen boiled.
"I didn't," Quinn stammered.
"Don't make this any harder. .." Helen insisted.
"I didn't mean to but didn't he have it a few months back?" Quinn
"Twelve! How could you forget this day?" Helen rhetorically
"Is it my fault that Cashman's didn't have its sale that day last
"Tell me you at least got something for him. You didn't!" Helen
"Mo-om! If you let me borrow one of your credit cards. . "Quinn
"No more credit cards, EVER!" Helen screamed as she jumped into her
chair's seat and flailed her arms at Quinn.
"But..Mo-om. Why punish Dad by not having me give him something?"
"Very well, but only because it's your father's birthday and
we're having guests whom I don't want seeing our dirty laundry! Here's
$50!" Helen snapped as she pounded her desk with the money.
"Mo-om! You can't expect a Fashion Club VP to use cash at
Cashman's?" Quinn gasped.
"Take it and a sabbatical from the Club or I personally'll have
Sandi expell you from it!" Helen boiled.
"Done!" Quinn gulped as she hastily signed her contract with Helen.
"Be home for the birthday dinner by 6 sharp, gift in hand, or
I'll hunt you down!"Helen insisted in a low voice.
"Mrs. Porkenloapner," Euphemia buzzed.
"Say, how about hiring me as the temp receptionist til Marianne gets
back?" Quinn asked.
" I can stand her garbling better than the sight of you these days!" Helen
seethed- as Quinn quickly left her office.
"You keep me late and nearly give me worry lines while I have
to explain to the officer the important reason why I'm parked here, then
you interrupt me," Sandi seethed.
"Er. .sorry," Quinn gulped, in no mood to be evacerated twice in one
"Good, I'd hate to think you weren't able to concentrate on our
important research we're doing on behalf of the fashionably challenged!"
"Actually, I'm honored you're here with me because I've taken
on a mission on behalf of a fashionably challenged older gentleman- my
Dad!"Quinn said with some relief.
They entered the rather crowded Cashman's and Quinn saw a cashmere
sweater for $40 and jellyfish liquid facial foundation for $10 for a 5
ounce container and was all set to buy the two items when. ..
"That foundation would make make your skin look even more beautiful,
Ka-Winn. Do you think it would help me?" Sandi asked.
"I guess so, " Quinn replied.
"So, you're not sure that it would! Does that mean you think my
skin is beyond help?" Sandi accused.
"Don't be silly, Sandi?" Quinn replied.
"So now I'm silly! That's most ungrateful after my nearly getting
worry lines while waiting for you, before giving you a ride!"Sandi
"Since you put it that way, Sandi, I'll be happy to buy both of
us the 2 ounce foundation tubes because as Fashion Club President and
Vice-President, we should have skin that glows in the dark!"
Quinn insisted as she switched the 5 ounce bottle for the two 2 ounce
"With sales and import taxes, that'll be $49.95, miss!" Monica, the purple-haired teen
" Here you go!" Quinn chirped as she plucked the two $20 bills and
single $10 on the counter .
"Here's your change!" Monica droned as she handed Quinn the
receipt and a nickle.
"Wait!" Quinn gasped in a panic.
"Sorry,all sales are final," Monica insisted.
"But the 5 ounce jar's only $10," Quinn tried to reason.
"That's the one on sale- not the 2 ounce ! Clear the counter or
I'll have Security put you on The List!" Monica droned.
So, with a wave, the salesclerk dismissed Quinn who wished she'd remembered this was Teresa's day off.
"Gee, Ka-Winn, I hope you don't plan on further publicly shaming me here!"
"Don't worry, Sandi. There's just been a silly misunderstanding. I'll get
Customer Service to take care of all this! I'll catch up with you in a
little while!" Quinn proclaimed.
Sandi gave her a jaundiced glare and was about to insist on accompanying
Quinn when. . .
"Attention, Cashman Patrons, Nanook of Nome's Designer Mukluks are
marked off an additional 20 percent for the next half hour!" the loudspeaker
"I would help you fight this battle with Customer Service but at least
one of the Fashion Club must have these mukluks in time for winter-
you understand," Sandi sniffed.
"Don't worry, I'd never consider this a dereliction of duty. Seize the
Nome!"Quinn proclaimed as she waved Sandi off.
Quinn walked with the maroon cashmere sweater in hand to Customer
Service and held her breath. The red pompadoured 60-year-old department head Mrs. C. Sarkisian was manning the counter. Quinn dreaded her because she wore gold hoop earrings,green lady's business suit,fire-engine red lipstick, rimmed glasses with a chain and always had a pen and pencil securely poking from her pompadour, not to mention the fact that she had a very sharp jawline with a virtually triangular chin.
"Yeah, toots. What's the problem?" Mrs. Sarkisian growled while tapping
her manicured nails atop her nameplate.
"No problem, Miz Sarks! I just need to buy this cashmere sweater for
Dad's birthday and bill it to my account,"Quinn chirped.
"Sorry, Miss M, no can do. Just got this fax from your mom saying that
she'd no longer be responsible for any future billings!" Mrs. Sarkisian
snapped- as she brought up the fax from below the counter.
"But it's for Dad's birthday !" Quinn wailed.
"We don't usually encourage it but tell ya what, toots! If you can find
some suck. ..er kind soul to charge it to their account, I can let you
have it!"Mrs. Sarkisian pondered.
"Great!" Quinn beamed- as she started to whip out her cellphone.
"Un-unh! Use this one! I insist!" Mrs. Sarkisian snapped as she
suddenly lifted up a large black metallic rotary-dialed telephone from
behind the counter and slung it on her desk so hard that it rang its bell
and shook the many photos of Mrs. Sarkisian's family set there.
"But. .." Quinn gulped.
"S'matta? You've never used a phone without a keypad before?"Mrs.
Sarkisian asked- as she adjusted her earpiece so she could monitor the
"The Guptys have one but. ..you want me to put my finger where
unpopularpeople have gone before?" Quinn asked in horror.
"Here! Make it snappy!" Mrs. Sarkisian insisted as she brandished her
pencil from her towering pompadour and handed it to Quinn who picked it up as though it was from the bottom of a cesspool then gingerly used it to dial a number. Mrs. Sarkisian had a wire attached to her earjack so she could monitor the conversations.
Inside a locked desk, a cellphone was heard to ring. The desk was part
of a hospital bedtray and Jamie White tried to reach for it but his broken
right arm was in a sling being adjusted by a comely,blonde nurse with
flashing green eyes.
"Cedars of Lawndale, Jamie White's room- Nurse Irís Sepulveda
speaking!" Irís answered with a slight Barcelonan accent.
"Is Jamie OK, I need to ask him a favor?" Quinn asked.
"Ku-- inh?!" Jamie groaned and struggled to reach for the phone.
"He's been in an altercation with two others today and needs his
"Tell him I like him and I'll visit him as soon as I can find an
outfit that won't clash or blend in with the hospital walls!" Quinn
"Oh. .ay!" Jamie wanly cheered.
"Since your voice is helping his morale, I'll convey your request!"
"Great! There's a $45 sweater at Cashman's I need so if he could give
out his charge card number and consent, I'd be more than happy to kiss his
cheekbone next time I see him!" Quinn chirped.
"Oh, oy!" Jamie yelped.
"I'm sorry but neither he nor his compadres can help.
However, you might tell them to save some green scrubs til my shift ends at
eight," Irís fumed as she abruptly hung up the phone whilst the three J's in
various states of injuries wanly pleaded with her not to do so.
"I need to exchange this-" the 350-pound plus Mrs. Johannsen screamed in line behind Quinn as she brandished a red spandex tube top mutilated from bursting.
"Not now! It's an emergency !" Quinn pleaded while Mrs. Johannsen
"So's my love life!" snapped Mrs. Johannsen as she wheezed some more.
"Celeste,please catch your breath! While I'm pretending I didn't hear that,Miss
Morgendorffer can try again," shuddered Mrs. Sarkisian.
Quinn silently prayed for better luck this time while the metal dial
made its grinding sound. .
"Hello, Stacy!" Quinn chirped.
"Quinn. Is that you? Sorry I couldn't make it today but I'm busy
organizing my wardrobe to make room and. .." Stacy prattled on her cell.
"Listen, Stacy, I need a big favor. I want to buy a sweater for Dad's
birthday but I'm a little short so could you give them your charge card
number then I can pay you back?" Quinn asked while her right arm was getting
weary holding the ancient metal receiver.
"No problem, Quinn!" Stacy beamed.
"Great, this is about the nicest thing a friend's done for me!"Quinn
"Er. .. about the nicest? You mean I haven't done enough?" Stacy
"Don't be silly, Stacy! You've done more than enough!" Quinn replied
with a slight tremor.
"Oh, no! If you don't think I'm the nicest, that means Tiffany barely
tolerates me and Sandi hates me with a passion!" Stacy sniffed.
"That's not true at all," Quinn earnestly replied.
"So, not only am I not a nice person, I'm also a liar! Oh, no! Now
I'll be shunned from the Fashion Club and cast into. . the . .UNpopular crowd!
What'll I do, Quinn?" Stacy burst into tears.
"Stacy. ." Quinn tried to say.
"It was good being friends with you Quinn! Save yourself from being
dragged down by the likes of me!" Stacy bawled and hyperventilated as she hung up the phone.
"Miss Morgendorffer. .." Mrs. Sarkisian thundered as she started to grab
the phone from Quinn's hands while the line behind Mrs. Johannsen was
already out the door of the department.
"One more. Please!"Quinn wailed.
"Oh, alright but if you don't get a buyer this time, I'm keeping the
sweater behind the counter and you'll have to get at the back of the line
for further service!" Mrs. Sarkisian snapped.
"Hello, Tiffany?" Quinn asked over the phone a few moments later with dozens of angry pairs of eyes glaring at her.
"Quinn," Tiffany answered as she was painting her toenails.
"I need to get a sweater for Dad's birthday today and I'm a little
short so could you give Cashman's your credit card number so they can charge
you? I'll pay them back," Quinn nervously chirped.
"Of. .course. ..I. .will . .be . .. hap- py. ..to" Tiffany replied as
she put down the polish brush and went for her credit card.
"This is Mrs. Charmaine Sarkisian, Customer Service Director at
Cashman's. I'll need your name as it appears on your card," Mrs. Sarkisian
insisted as started to type the info into her computer console.
"Su-u--ure! It's.. .Tih-fah-nnh-nny. . . Bl-l-l-uhm. .Deh-eh-eck-ler,"
"Could you spell it out?" Mrs. Sarkisian asked.
"Eye. ..Tee," answered Tiffany.
"Hah-hah-hah, I meant your name," Mrs. Sarkisian insisted with
"'T' as in. ..turquoise. .and. .topaz. .and tiara. Do you sell.
.turquoise. topaz . .tiaras?" Tiffany asked.
"I think I can manage the first name. Your surname, please!" Mrs.
Sarkisian groaned as she quickly typed letters.
"It's 'B' as in bauble. .and bubble. 'L' as in. .loungewear. .'U' as
in. ."Tiffany spelled out.
"B-L-U-M! GOT that! Is Deckler D-E-C-K or D-E-K-K-L-E-R?""Mrs.
Sarkisian snapped as getting closer to boiling.
"Um. .. .. you don't have to shout. .! I lost my place. I'll have
to start over. 'T' as in tur-"Tiffany started.
"Oh fer cryin' outloud!!" Mrs. Sarkisian exploded as she abruptly grabbed the metal
receiver from Quinn's right hand and slammed it atop the phone.
"But Mrs. Sarkisian. .?" Quinn wailed.
" I've wasted way too long with this crap! Go outside and try
to find someone on your own- then get back to the end of the line!"Mrs.
"You don't mean. .?" Quinn asked.
"That's right!"Mrs. Sarkisian replied.
"[GASP] The Doorway Bench!" Quinn wailed as Mrs. Sarkisian pointed
her to it.
" I don't want to be seen with old ladies in saggy hose waiting for
busses and brats jumping up and down waiting for their moms to finish
shopping, when will this torment end?" Quinn wailed as she left but saw no
So,she disheartenedly and slowly walked her way to the Doorway Bench
between the inside and outside Cashman store doors, taking her headscarf and
sunglasses out of her purse so no one would mistake her for anyone beside
'Quinnie O'! She looked at her Pocket Pilot and saw another name.
At that moment, in Washington D.C. Jodie Landon was happily sitting in
a prestigious auditorium. While she was honored to be there and receive her
latest commendation, she was more grateful that this meant her parents
Andrew and Michelle were too busy gloating to nag her their usual quotas
today. Jodie was next to the aisle wearing her Grandma Jessup's finest pearl
necklace in addition to her most formal dress and blouse. Michelle was in
her usual business suit but with Egyptian gold earrings seated to the right
of her elder daughter with the preteen Rachel in her Sunday best seated on
their mother's right side and the toddler Evan in sitting to his next elder
sister's right but with their black-suited and proud father Andrew resting
his left hand on his son's shoulder. None of them had any the slightest
inkling what humiliation was ready to befall them the next moment. That's
when Jodie's cellphone rang. The speaker stopped the speech and 600 pairs of
eyes from all over the auditorium glared at her. Jodie knew she had no time
to waste as she looked at the cell's display.
"Jodie, can. .?" Quinn started to say over the cell.
"Quinn, I'm in DC moments away from Maya Angelou giving me a plaque from
George Washington U. ."Jodie whispered.
"Eww! Why would you want George Washington's tooth plaque-even with a Mayan angel channeling it?", " Quinn cringed as she hung up the phone.
"Sorry, everyone," Jodie apologized in a normal tone.
"Jodie, how could you forget at a time like this to turn that cell
'off-off'"hissed her angry mother Michelle while Evan and Rachel were cracking up laughing at their oldest sibling's embarassment.
"I didn't! I forgot that Quinn's cell has 'Off-Off Override'!" Jodie
Back in Lawndale, a phone rang and a hand was seen
putting down a hair dryer. The hand belonged to Brittany Taylor and she had
been using it to dry out a pom-pom.
"Hello, Brittany? It's me, Quinn!" Quinn chirped- a little more
desperately than usual.
"Hi, Quinn," Brittany squeaked.
"Listen, I'm at Cashman's and I'm a little short of funds at the moment
and I need to get a sweater for someone so could you give out your credit
card number and buy it for me? I'll try to back you back real soon!" Quinn
"Sure ! Who's the sweater for?" Brittany asked as she started
twirling the ends of her hair.
"It's for Dad's birthday today!" Quinn explained.
"I didn't know it was his birthday!" Brittany squealed.
" Well, it is. ." Quinn replied.
"Hmm, how come you know it's his birthday but I don't?"Brittany
"Because it's for my Dad!" Quinn replied.
"So you want me to buy your Dad a present on Daddy's birthday? At least Kevin spent his own money buying his Dad a present on Daddy's birthday! Hmmph!" Brittany snapped as she hung up on Quinn.
At that moment, Daria and her friends, the two youngest Lanes of her
generation were walking down a sidewalk pulling a red wagon with several
"Shouldn't we be meeting Wally and the Beav right about now?" Daria
"Come on, it's only another block! You two could use some exersion.
Keeps the mind active!" Jane proclaimed as she continued to pull the
"Sorry 'bout the Tank dying!" Trent shrugged.
"We couldn't have fit these presents in your Plymouth," Jane
"Besides, we're probably getting back home faster this way!" Daria
"And this is a good thing, Morgendorffer?" Jane laughed.
"Whoa, Janey! Her folks are having us celebrate Mr. M's big day an'
Daria needs our support!" Trent countered.
"She knows I'm kidding," Jane laughed.
" Mom said Quinn and I could each have some friends over. I guess
she didn't want to chance me running out on them with the friends
they've invited," Daria explained.
"And since Tom's debate teams' away this week in Switzerland. ." Jane
"I'd have had you all over since Quinn's Fashion Fiends will be
there," Daria groaned.
"At least you don't have to worry about Jamie-Jeffy-Joey," Jane
"Yeah, but with them in traction, there goes half my tutoring
payments!" Daria groaned.
Quinn was desperate! It was 5:45- only fifteen minutes before she was
due back home and here she was stuck in the Doorway Bench with no gift
for Jake in hand. She saw the number and keyed it in. She knew it could
cause trouble but it couldn't be worse than what she'd have to endure
coming home sans gift.. .
"Who'd be calling? Don't they know he's in Switzerland?"Jane
"Someone volunteering for cuckoo duty," Daria deadpanned as she saw
Quinn's number on the cellphone display.
"It's me! Quinn! I'm sorry I got your number off of Mom's Caller ID
from the time you called to let Daria know you'd be late but since your
family's loaded and I'm broke, I REALLY need you to. .." Quinn spilled
"Quinn," Daria replied.
"And, whatever you do, don't tell Daria I called because she'd
kill me if she found out I was begging for you to charge a sweater at
Cashman's for Dad's birthday but I forgot his birthday and Mom's
already.. ." Quinn prattled on.
"QUINN!" Daria repeated.
"What happened to your voice? OMIGAWD! Daria what are you doing
with Tom's cell?" Quinn gasped.
"Tom left it with me for safekeeping while he's in Switzerland.
. Never mind that! What do you mean you forgot Dad's birthday?" Daria
" Well, with all theses sales and everything, it just flew out of my
mind. Anyway, I've got fifteen minutes before Dad's birthday dinner and
I don't have a gift so could I borrow. ..?" Quinn begged.
"No," Daria groaned.
"What? But I can't come back emptyhanded!" Quinn pleaded.
"What part of-. .?" Daria started.
"Oh, don't tell me you're going to give me that tired old 'what
part of no don't I understand' line!" Quinn snapped.
"No, I was going to ask you what part of bor-row don't you
understand? I could pay Harvard in cash if you paid back
half what you owe me," Daria grumbled.
At that very moment back at Cashman's Doorway Bench.
"Ka-Winn!" Sandi sneered.
"[GASP]!" Quinn gasped and hung up her cell.
"Calling that cousin/sister/whatever who lives at your house?"
"I was merely about to hang up on a solicitor! Are you ready?"
"Ka-Winn, save your stories for a magazine lay-out. I know all
about your preDICament! When I phoned Tiffany, she was spelling out her
name and then I called Stacy and she was apologizing for not being the
Fashion Club's best friend ever," Sandi sneered.
"You put two-and-two together from that?" Quinn asked in
" In addition, Mother phoned me of how your mother has enlisted
you to corral my monster siblings. Since you'll be sparing me of that
unfashionable yoke, I'm willing to forgive you for not coming to me with
your. . .problem" Sandi insisted- as she pushed several large Cashman's
bags in Quinn's lap.
"Oh, that's so wonderful of you, Sandi! Does this mean you'll help
me by buying that sweater for Dad?" Quinn asked.
"No, my funds are marked for more noble purposes, but I will aid you
in your quest. Come with me, Ka-Winn, before someone fashionable sees
us at the Doorway Bench!" Sandi ordered as she breezed ahead of Quinn
while Quinn struggled with the Cashman's bags.
Upon reaching Sandi's convertable, Quinn put the bags in the
"We only have ten minutes before I'm due home!"Quinn pleaded.
"If you could allow a little pay-tience, I could solve your
predicament," Sandi sneered- as she pressed a lever and opened her
"You have something in your trunk? "Quinn gasped.
"If you prefer going home emptyhanded. ."Sandi sniffed.
"No, not at all. I'm very grateful for this," Quinn insisted.
Sandi started walking towards her trunk and Quinn followed her-
hoping it wasn't going to be a spare tire or jack she'd have to give
Jake. She was relieved. Sandi had totally emptied and cleaned her trunk
of everything save for one rather large bottle.
"Since your Dad's of the 'old school', he might appreciate some
classicscent! Could I have some assistance?" Sandi asked as she
motioned Quinn to help her take out the large bottle.
" 'Paul Bunyan's Blue Ox Aftershave'? Where did you get this?" Quinn
asked as she saw the gallon-sized bottle's label with a picture of the folklore lumberjack and ox and struggled with the bottle- complete with wheels on the bottom.
"Are you questioning the source of your salVAYtion, Ka-Winn?" Sandi
asked as they set it on the parking lot asphalt.
"I'd never do that, Sandi. Was it from that three day period
when you went retro?" Quinn asked.
"Ka-Winn!" Sandi boiled," For the millionth time, I, Sandi Griffin,
have NEVER 'gone retro'. I was in that revived classic attire because of that
"It just seems odd that 'Waif' would send you a 1947 issue and
you wouldn't see the date because it being covered by the address label-
for three days," Quinn pondered.
"In any case, at the time I purchased this gift, I thought it
would go for a good cause. That's all you need to know," Sandi
sighed as she swallowed a tear.
For a few moments, Sandi thought back to that time in which
she dressed up like a 1940's movie star with a blue silk shoulder-padded dress and ankle-strap pumps and presented this large bottle to. that feodoraed, zoot-suited, vintage-snob. .. Nathan.
"Sandi,you thought that I'd like this industrial swill? Nathan sneered.
"The clerk at Forgotten Scents said that it was a favorite of 1940's
Hollywood types," Sandi pleaded.
"For grips and set builders wanting to impress their floozies at the
automat by using this to cover up not taking the time to shower! You
may look like a less-perky version of a young Lauren Bacall, but you
don't have what it takes to be worthy of being seen with me!" Nathan
sneered as he abruptly opened the door, climbed in, then revved up his vintage convertable-leaving Sandi all alone as tears rolled down her cheeks.
"Um. Are you alright, Sandi?" Quinn asked.
"Fine! We need to get this wrapped and deposit you home. Luckily, I
alwayscarry wrapping paper so when I unwrap my clothes, they'll look
even better than how the store wrapped them!" Sandi beamed as she and
Quinn wrapped the gallon-sized bottle.
"I never knew you'd purchase cologne in bulk," Quinn giggled.
"Expanded sample, Quinn! Expanded !" Sandi groaned.
"Hmm," Jane hmmed as the trio was rounding the corner.
"What? You think I should have done the sisterly thing and given
Quinn a break?" Daria asked.
"I didn't say anything. Just 'hmm'," Jane replied.
" Come on," Daria scoffed.
"Actually, I was going to ask about your cell-guard duty. Any
other odd calls?" Jane asked.
"Just a few recordings telling him he's won trips,"Daria replied.
"Speaking of trip. Wait til you girls hear what I've composed for
Mr. M's birthday!" Trent beamed.
"Trent, you want them to invite us back! " Jane cautioned.
" My folks do serve things found on the Food Pyramid!" Daria
"Okay, I'll just save it for another time," Trent groaned while
Daria gave him a fraternal pat on the shoulder.
"Dear God," Daria sighed.
"You want me to sing?" Trent asked.
"No, look who my folks invited! The Yeagers," Daria groaned as
each group came within sight of the Morgendorffer driveway and she saw that orange VW Beetle pull up.
"Those are the people you fled like they were Ebola carriers?
Never knew you were a snob! You are Quinn's sister!" Jane scowled.
"Janey, don't dis Daria so quick. They look cool, though," Trent
" I wasn't being a snob! I just knew that they and my folks
would try to fake being wild hippies- and I wanted no part of the
scene!" Daria scoffed.
"And that would explain why Helen invited us- so you couldn't flee to Casa Lane," Jane pondered.
"Daria, you sure have. ..matured since we last saw you! Who are your
compadres?" Coyote Willow asked as he got out of the car and bearhugged
"Jane and Trent Lane," Daria replied- barely maintaining her
Daria thought about bolting but. .
"Hey, you two! How was your trip?" Jake asked as he bounded out of the Morgendorffer House in a suit while Ethan was exiting the driver's side of the VW Beetle.
"Not as great as the trips we used to take!"Coyote chortled while
Jake and Helen sheepishly did their best to cooly fake laughs.
"Oh, God," Daria groaned as she covered her face.
"Um.. he meant the trips we all took to the . .. Grand Canyon!
Right, Coyote?" Helen nudged while gritting her teeth-and nudging
"Whatever turns you on. .Er yeah. .we just loved that .. Grand
Canyon!" Coyote sheepishly replied.
"Say, where's Willow?" Helen asked.
"She's not up for travelling cos she's doing a bit of prenatal care-"Ethan started to say.
"Jane, Trent Lane, these are our old chums Coyote and Ethan Yeager!" Jake
introduced- while Jane's eyes suddenly enlarged.
" We met once! Mr. Yeager. ."Trent started.
"Please, dude. It's Coyote!" Coyote insisted.
" Didn't you and your wife used to sell turquoise rings with secret
compartments outside Taos?"Trent asked.
"That's right," Ethan replied.
" I remember my folks hiking with my older sisters and brother-
while Mom carried me in a knapsack like a papoose. She bought one of your
rings and I remember teethin' on it!" Trent insisted.
"Mom's always had unconventional nutrition ideas," Jane laughed.
"Come inside everyone! I've got dinner ready!" Helen invited.
"But can't I open the presents first , Helen?" Jake asked.
"Not until after dinner!" Helen insisted.
"You always make me wait for them, Christmas, Anniversary,
Father's Day! Today's my BIRTHday! Please ! Mom never put off my opening
presents. ..at least when Dad wasn't around,"Jake insisted.
"Oh, alright! We'll go inside the living room and open the presents!"
Helen boiled- not wanting the neighbors to see this scene.
The Lanes, Yeagers and all the resident Morgendorffers sans
Quinn went inside.
"What's inside the box, Helen? Come on, Helen! Don't make me guess!"
Jake insisted as he eagerly grabbed the large oblong box.
"Your dad's sure restrained,"Ethan commented under his breath to
" I wish he were !" Daria shuddered.
"New golf clubs!" Jake eagerly enthused as he grabbed one out of
"Titanium so you can't bend or break them in frustration . .Jake
NOT in the house!" Helen groaned as Jake he stopped his swing. .but not
in time to keep from shattering the fruit bowl atop the coffee table.
Daria shook her head and wished that she and the Lanes were
anywhere but there- and was jealous of Quinn for being late enough to
"Dad, here's Tom's gift!" Daria deadpanned- not knowing what it was but hoping it would distract everyone else.
" It's an 1869 Union Pacific Transcontinental Locomotive! Man, that's
going to be smokin' on the Big Jake Express! Toot Toot!" Jake yelled
and pulled an imaginary whistle chain as he opened the package with the
model inside while Helen and Daria cringed.
"Jake, here's something Ethan made that we'd like you to have!"
Coyote added as he pulled out a breadbox sized hemp bag.
"Aw, a hemp bag? That's so rad !" Jake shouted with glee.
"No, Mr. Morgendorffer, it's what's inside !" Ethan droned while Jake took out a pair of sandals from the bag.
"Wow! These take me back! I love these! " Jake
enthused as he started to take off his shoes and socks and put the sandals on.
"Er. .Jake, you're in a suit," Helen admonished.
"But it's my birthday and this'll give me a chance to recapture my
youth! Look they fit my feet like gloves. How'dja remember my size was
10D?" Jake asked as he started running around the room in them.
" Mine,too," Ethan related.
Daria shook her head and shuddered for she knew what was coming
"Say, these look just like the ones you wore last time you
visited us!" Jake proclaimed.
"Cos, they are! I quit wearing 'em when I kept slipping
in 'em while rock climbing," Ethan explained as everyone but Coyote
took notice of his bare feet.
"Cool!" commented Trent as he gave Ethan a thumbs up.
"You mean?! EWWWWW!!!" Jake shuddered as he quickly ripped the sandals
off his feet then crawled on his knees.
"I only wore 'em to funerals, weddings, family vacations," Ethan shrugged.
"Don't sweat it. He freaked over my toothbrush. Nothing personal,"
Trent scoffed while Jake had made his way on his knees to the kitchen
sink and had climbed atop it to wash and scrub his feet to Helen's
"Um.. very thoughtful of you. Jake just didn't realize how much
they clashed with his suit, "Helen groaned.
"Mom recycles and thought it would be better he'd get 'em than a
stranger," Ethan shrugged.
Jake dried off his feet then rejoined the rest momentarily while
Daria buried her head in her hands thinking the only thing to do next
"Here's something you might like,Dad," Daria said while she gave
Jake a package that he opened.
"'The New York Times Top 500 Crossword Puzzles of the 20th
Century!'- and you've done the hard parts already! Thanks, Kiddo!" Jake
enthused-having bounced back to Helen's relief.
Just outside the front door. .
"I don't think you'd be interested in Dad's birthday. His friends
are very UNfashionable," Quinn nervously chirped.
"Today, I feel that I must do my best to spread the fashion word .
Besides, are you saying that I'm good enough to risk getting worry lines
waiting for you, drive you to Cashman's then bestow upon you a gift for
your FAH-ther but not good enough to join your family inside?" Sandi
"Don't be. .."Quinn started to say before Sandi's cellphone rang.
"Mother? . .But I've just been invited to Ka-Winn's Dad's birthday
.. the Dresden china, Persian rugs. .. washing machine. .. surely Ka-Winn
could. .. No, Mother, I guess you are right about us not needing
witnesses to their DE-struction! I'll be home at my earliest
conVENience," Sandi groaned.
"I'm sorry you can't make it to Dad's birthday!" Quinn replied-
doing her best not to let on her relief over Sandi not attending.
"As long as I can provide enlightenment to your family's
otherwise pedestrian and tedious lives by my gift, it will be reward
enough- even in my absence!" Sandi grandly proclaimed as she drove off
while Quinn had just enough time to struggle with the gigantic wrapped
aftershave bottle- with its card previously attached that she had
"Mom, I'm sorry I'm late but. .." Quinn gulped as she walked
into the house pushing a large wrapped box on its wheels.
"Quinn, this better be a good present or else!" Helen
"Oh, it's something Dad will never forget!" Quinn chirped.
"Well, you missed the earlier part of the present opening so
you'll have to be last !" Helen boiled.
"Aw Helen, don't be so hard on her," Jake whined.
" Jake, being too easy on her has caused tons of problems!
We'll open Jane's present first," Helen seethed.
"Here's something from us Lanes to you Morgendorffers," Jane
enthused as she and Trent took out a very large framed package from the
Radio Flyer wagon.
"Yes, Helen," Jake sighed but then opened the outer paper and was
about to open the inner lining when. . .
"POPPIES!!" Jake and Quinn screamed with joy while Daria suddenly
froze and convulsively shook while Helen shuddered and Quinn bolted towards the
bubble wrap that Jake was already starting to pop the individual bubbles
within with their hands (and Jake with his toes).
"Jane, I know you didn't know, but the Morgendorffer gene has some
kind of defect when it comes to bubble wrap," Helen groaned.
"But, Daria isn'-." Jane said in puzzlement then Daria actually
lunged forward to the outer wrapping.
"Poh-pees/ Buh-ble wrap!" Daria sang to the tune of 'Row, Row, Row
Your Boat' and also started popping- with a cool but possessed expression on her face.
"Daria's tried to train herself to hold out but she's no match for
their magnetic pull. Well, you lasted ten seconds. A new record,honey!"
Helen groaned while Daria joined the others until every last bubble was
"HA! I popped the most because it was birthday and I could use my
toes!" Jake taunted in triumph.
"Allow me to open the rest of the package,"icily commanded Helen as
she pried the popped bubble wrap from the three genetic Morgendorffers'
"It's a painting! Thanks, Jane!" Jake eagerly cheered upon seeing the
three by two foot oil on canvas work.
"What is it?" Coyote asked.
"It's my vision of the Morgendorffer Coat of Arms! Upper Left-Hand
Quadrant has Mr. Morgendorrfer's Golf Club Over Pasta. Upper Right-Hand
has Mrs. Morgendorffer's Attaché Case Over the Scales of Justice. Lower
Left-Hand has Daria's Glasses over Book. ." Jane explained.
"Dante's 'Inferno'! I like that!" Daria beamed with her Mona Lisa
smile emerging momentarily.
"And Lower Left Hand Corner is Quinn's Compact Over Credit
Card," Jane finished while Helen glared daggers at that part of the
"We can hang it on the mantle!" Jake enthused.
"Not just yet, one thing needs finishing!" Helen ascertained.
Before anyone could think to stop her, she pulled out a red magic
marker and from the coffee table drawer and made a 'not' symbol over
Quinn's Credit card.
" Now , it's true to life!" Helen beamed while Quinn shuddered.
" Can we open my gift now?" Quinn asked as she pulled the large
wheeled box into the room.
"Sure, my baby! That's some package there!" Jake beamed- as he opened the card.
Daria and Jane saw it and gulped. It depicted Nathan looking in a mirror accompanied by the written words 'Here's looking at me,kid!'
"I got it at Cashman's and. ." Quinn started to explain as Jake
unwrapped the gigantic bottle of Paul Bunyan's Blue Ox After Shave.
He started to look a little puzzled and confused.
"Jake, it's aftershave. Though, I've never seen men's aftershave in
such a huge bottle before," Helen tried to explain.
"I'm not . .sure about this, honey," Jake paused as he went a bit
"Just push down the damn pump on top and squirt it into your
hand," Helen insisted.
Jake did so with disastrous results.
"GAH!!" Jake gasped- along with everyone else in the room at the sickenly strong stench.
" Please no, Daddy! Mah-mee?" Jake called out in a tiny voice much
higher than before.
"DAD?!" Quinn screamed.
"Jake, speak to me!" Helen ordered but in a panicked tone.
"Dad? You okay?" Daria worriedly asked.
Jake suddenly sat down on the floor next to the bottle but didn't say
"What's happening?!" Quinn screamed as she burst into tears.
"Oh, man! He's gotten himself into a bummer!" Coyote shuddered.
"Dad, didn't you once say he told you something about his
dad's doing something awful after he gave him cologne?" Ethan asked.
"Oh, yeah. Helen. Me and Jake were smoking her. . herring and
he said something about his old man REALLY going off on him when he was
about six after he gave his dad a present! I'd forgotten it was
cologne," Coyote shuddered.
"Jakey! Your father's dead, you're safe with me and all of us
here love and care about you!" Helen forcefully shouted.
Jake just stared blankly ahead.
"Dad, we've made all your favorites ! Have some manicotti and mint
chocolate chip cake!" "Quinn pleaded through her tears as she ran from
the dinner table with those items.
Even after Quinn blew their aromas into his nose, Jake still
just sat there.
"Looks like you've checked out of this world into one of your own.
I have to admit that sometimes tempts me but. ." Daria started to say.
"Daria! " Helen shouted,"She didn't mean it, Jake!"
At that moment the portable phone rang and Quinn quickly rushed to
"Grandma Ruth! How's your canasta cruise and. .." Quinn nervously
asked before Helen grabbed the receiver.
"Oh fine, sweety! Is my Birthday Boy Jakey there?" the white
haired Ruth Morgendorffer holding a portable phone and wearing a muumuu,clogs and lei shouted over oil-drum calypso music on the party deck.
"Sorry, Ruth, but Jake's in a state of shock after getting some bad
aftershave as a gift from. .." Helen started to explain while Quinn
shook her head and waved her hands begging Helen not to say her name
"Someone here besides me, Daria, the Lanes and Yeagers."Helen
"My poor baby boy!" Ruth cried.
"Anyway, he's not speaking or eating and we were wondering if you
might have any details or insight. Coyote Yeager seems to think it had
something to do with a bad event with your late husband and aftershave
when he was six," Helen asked.
"I can't really say! You know I'd move Heaven and Earth to help
out my Jakey but this cruise is pre-paid and nonrefundable so I'll
have to suffer alone without my family here. Anyway, when all else
fails, Jakey'll eat. .." Ruth explained.
"Apricot JelloÒ with extra skin!" Helen and Ruth said in unison.
"You remember! Now, can you put the phone up to Jakey's ear for
me?" Ruth asked.
"Jake, it's your mother! PLEASE try to say something!" Helen
"It's Mommy! Happy Birthday, Jakey! It breaks my heart to hear you're like this but
remember that Mommy loves you no matter what- even more now that you
can't backtalk. ." Ruth beamed over the phone to Jake's total
" LIMBO!" someone on deck was heard to call in the background.
"Gotta go,Jakey! They've just lowered the limbo bar to 5 foot six
so I won't hit my head. Remember when it rains to wear your rubbers!"
Ruth exclaimed as she hung up and joined the limbo dance in progress.
"Eww!" exclaimed Quinn who could hear her.
" Galoshes , Quinn! That's Grandma's word for galoshes !" Daria
"Whoa! I gotta split!" Trent shuddered.
"Trent, come back here, deadbeat!" Jane snarled as Trent left.
"I'm sure Trent has his reasons," Daria tried to explain.
"Oh, yeah! Typical. He just walks out and leaves us high and dry.
.." Jane ranted.
"After 22 years with nothing to show for it but the corns on your
feet and a rash. ." Daria countered doing her best Barch imitation imaginable.
"Oh, God! Did I go Barch ?" Jane asked.
"It's okay! Now I can hold this over you instead of doling out
hush money!"Daria quipped.
At that moment, Trent burst into burst into the room out of breath
but carrying his guitar.
"Trent how'd you run to our house then back here carrying your
guitar?" Jane asked.
"It's an emergency so I did what I had to," Trent replied.
" But it's blocks away," Daria noted.
" Hey, I don't believe in streets, sidewalks and fences so I took
a shortcut!" Trent responded.
"Please, give it a try!" Helen pleaded.
Trent strummed a few cords on his guitar then sang:
"I know you want to stay where you are/
But we don't want you to go too far/
We want back here with us Mister M/
Please come home and let us know ya again!"
For the next half-hour, Trent sang to everyone's desperation then. .
"Please no, Dad! Mah-mee?!" Jake uttered in his most childish
"Jake, you're back!" Helen cheered as she, Quinn, Coyote and
Trent all hugged him.
"Dad?" Daria asked- as she realized he was still stuck in that
"You know 'LA Woman'?" Coyote asked Trent.
"Dad, I think that's a few years after Mr. Morgendorffer's
memory," Ethan explained.
" I know but it'd have been cool to hear again!" Coyote mused.
"Jane, Trent, I want to thank you for all you've done trying to
help Mr. Morgendorffer out of this but. .it may be more than any of us can handle.
Here's some manicotti for you to take home!" Helen insisted as she put
two large plastic containers in their hands.
"Thanks for trying, Trent,"almost everyone else echoed.
"No, thanks, Mrs. Morgendorffer. I just can't eat right now,"
"Me either but it couldn't hurt for us to take it home when our
hunger DOES overpower all other thought!" Jane considered.
"Thanks for your gifts and for being here!" Helen sighed.
"Before I go, Quinn. Just out of curiosity. Where did you get
that. . unusual card?" Jane pondered.
"It came with the bottle. Why do you ask?" Quinn asked.
"No reason. Just wondered if you'd have been interested in
someone like him," Jane shrugged.
"Schoolbus yellow coat and hat, greasy hair? EWWWW! Puh-LEEZE!
I can't even imagine Daria being such a total and desperate loser as
to want that ! Hello! Worse than tweed with elbow patches!" Quinn shuddered.
" I can't thank you enough for your insight," Jane icily replied.
" Jane, Trent, sorry we had to meet like this but it was good
meeting you two," Ethan said as he shook the Lanes' hands.
"Cool. Keep the faith, man!" Trent replied as he was shaking
"Likewise, maybe we'll meet again!" Jane pondered with a noticable
" I'll get back when I can," Daria insisted as the Lanes
sadly left the house.
"Quinn, do we have the JelloÒ ?" Helen asked.
"Skin and all, Mom!" Quinn replied as Helen put a spoonful to
Jake's lips- and he actually did take it in his mouth, swish it around
and swallowed it but without the slightest change in his vacant
"At least you won't starve, Jake!" Helen consoled.
" Should we make a DependsÒ run?" Daria asked.
" I have an idea! Coyote, Ethan, would you carry Jake up to our
bedroom so we can. . talk!"Helen insisted while giving her daughters a
"Sure! Ethan, you know what to do," Coyote insisted as he
stretched his arms overhead,grabbed his hands together while Ethan
lifted the seated Jake off the floor, flung him headfirst over his
right shoulder while grabbing Jake's knees with his elbow, then started
walking towards the stairs.
"Wow! You sure are strong, Ethan! How are you able to carry Dad so
easily?" Quinn gushed while Ethan started climbing the stairs.
"Practice," Ethan laconically replied while momentaily shooting
Coyote a steely glare.
Helen followed them up the stairs, with her daughters and Coyote
"Ethan, just put Mr. Morgendorffer on the bed and close the door
behind you on your way out while we talk ! Quinn, why don't you and
Daria play Trivial PursuitÒ with the Yeagers for a while," Helen ordered
as she slammed the door shut.
"Mo-om, I don't wanna. .." Quinn pleaded.
In a moment, Ethan exited and suddenly was heard Jefferson
Airplane's '(Don't You Want) Somebody to Love' blasting from the
parental stereo in their bedroom.
"DARIA! CAN YOU AND ETHAN TEACH ME HOW TO PLAY?" Quinn shouted with intense discomfort and embarassment.
"SURE, SIS! WHAT COLOR PIE WHEEL DO YOU WANT?" Daria asked.
"GREEN!" shouted Ethan.
For the next fifteen minutes, the girls and Ethan played the game
while doing their best to shout their moves over the repeated playings
of 'Somebody to Love'.
"Something bugging ya besides Mr. M's shut-down?" Trent asked Jane as they
were walking back to Casa Lane dragging the wagon behind them.
"Trent, I know you meant well but thanks for nothing with your
caterwauling!" Jane sneered.
"Whoa, Janey! You'd better be careful not to say what you don't mean!
" Trent snapped.
"But I do mean it! There Mr. Morgendorffer was all vegged out and
you had to croak and twang," Jane boiled.
"Music's my life and I thought I could grab onto Mr. M's soul
before it went over the edge. I had to try ," Trent groaned.
"Trent, there's a time and place for everything and. .." Jane
" You want me to bury my soul when it could save someone we care
about?" Trent gasped.
"Oh, yeah, something that barely gets your foot in toxic dives'
doors on amateur night's gonna do that," Jane scoffed.
"Janey, you of all people know that art's not done to bleed the masses but to free the soul," Trent pleaded.
"There you go with 'soul' again! What a thankless night this
turned out to be," Jane fumed.
"Everyone in that house who could did thank me for doing my best
to help Mr. M- even Daria's sister," Trent snapped.
"Real cool, Trent! Putting Quinn on a pedestal above me-
even after you heard her call me a bigger loser than Daria!"Jane
"Daria's no loser and neither are you, Janey- even now but you put
out feelers by asking her if she'd go out with Nathan,"Trent
" Just can't get enough of your support, Trent,"Jane groaned.
" Hey, things'll open up for you real soon and. ." Trent started
" Don't need pity, Trent- and I don't need you ! Your 'music' holds me back! I can't count the sculptures and paintings that got shattered and streaked by that noise" Jane exploded.
"Whoa! I've never complained about your paint fumes but, if that's how you want it, you won't have me around to dump on anymore. I'm moving out!" Trent countered- as they entered Casa Lane and Trent slammed the door in her face.
Jane unlocked the front door then stormed to his locked door.
"How? Where? You think I care ? You're wrong, Deadbeat! I've
taken care of us both since I could walk and I can take care of me solo
without you banging around!" Jane boiled as shouted to the locked door.
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE CORRECT ANSWER IS BELGIUM?"Quinn shouted in reply to Daria's reading the Trivial PursuitÒ card.
"DON'T ARGUE WITH THE. ..!" Daria started to shout but at that
very moment the endless loop of that Jefferson Airplane song stopped
blasting from the stereo in the parental bedroom- over six hours after it had started.
The Morgendorffer daughters along with the Yeagers froze in
anticipation despite their intense mutual discomfort at trying not to
imagine what might have been happening behind that bedroom door.
"Don't you WANT somebody to LOVE, JAKEY!?"Helen wailed as she was
heard bursting into tears.
"In spite of my serious revulsion at what I might see, something
tells me I need to go upstairs and . . knock,"Daria gulped as Ethan,
Coyote then Quinn followed her singlefile.
"Uh, Mom, Dad? May we come in" Daria asked.
"The door's unlocked. No point in delaying picking up the wreckage
of a beautiful bond," Helen sobbed.
Daria slowly opened the door and saw Helen quickly tying the sash
of her knee-length red silk robe and sobbing on the bed. Jake was still
on the floor with his suit somewhat more wrinkled than before but an
unchanged expression while Helen looked entirely drained- emotionally
"Mom, are you alright?" Quinn gulped.
"No! I did my best, girls. ." Helen started.
"Eww!" Quinn and Daria replied simultaneously while shaking
their shoulders to shudder.
"But all your father did was repeat that phrase 'Please no, Daddy!
Mommy?'- in 37 minute increments," Helen groaned.
"Man, that's some flashback!" shuddered Coyote.
"Not that you would have personal knowledge of one, right
Dad?" sarcastically sighed Ethan.
"Ethan, at least your father's with you," Helen berated.
"Hold on, now. Helen, I think the boy's got some idea and. ."
"I'm sorry but I'm going to have to get professionals on this
one first thing in the morning. This has been just about the WORST day
of my life. Goodnight, everyone!" Helen groaned as Quinn and, yes, Daria
actually came up to her and hugged her tight.
Even Daria could see that Helen needed that reassurance.
"Goodnight, Dad. We're here for you even if you aren't,"
sniffed Quinn as she and Daria clutched his lifeless hands.
"[SIGH]!" sighed Quinn.
Daria was roused from her half-sleep she'd had in the sleeping bag
on Quinn's floor but tried to ignore Quinn.
"Ahem, [SIGH]!" sighed Quinn even more loudly than before.
"Okay, Quinn! What is it?" Daria snapped.
"Are you asleep?"Quinn asked.
"No, I'm racing huskies in the Iditarod over Alaskan tundra but the one thing that's keeping me going is thinking how to dump you into the nearest crevasse if you don't let me sleep," Daria groaned.
"I just need someone to talk to," Quinn sighed.
"Alright or I'll never get any sleep and you won't see another
sunrise!" Daria groaned.
"Do you think that, at this moment, Ethan's dreaming of me?" Quinn
" Oh, Dear God. Just when I think there could be a limit to your
solipsism. .." Daria shuddered.
" I mean, here I am just across the hall and- in spite of all
that's happened tonight- I can't help but think of him," Quinn
"Quinn, why are you interested in him? Your Fashion Fiends would
burn you together at the stake and his disdain for footwear wouldn't get
him past the front door of Chez Pierre or Cranberry Commons," Daria pondered.
" But didn't you see how he so easily carried Dad up the stairs
and wasn't he smart at Trivial PursuitÒ ?" Quinn beamed.
"He hardly said more than three sentences to you the whole evening-
and he even talked to Trent more, "Daria considered.
"You think they were talking about me?" Quinn asked.
Daria gave Quinn her best glare in spite of the two being in
near-total darkness and Daria's vision being naturally blurred sans
"I'll grant that he was quite helpful,"Daria
"Daria, are you interested?" Quinn gasped.
"Just because Tom's in Switzerland this next week doesn't mean . "
"That's good to hear because we'd make a very good-looking
couple. He's sent me a token of his affection, you know, " Quinn giggled.
"Quinn, Mom's shut herself with Dad in their room , Dad's vegged
out and God knows what's going to happen to him tomorrow. How can you
just think drivel at a time like this?"Daria shuddered.
"Because if tomorrow's going to be bleak beyond our control what else
isthere to do tonight? Pleasant dreams. ..Sis!" Quinn sighed.
"Goodnight, Quinn," Daria sighed and considered that Quinn might
actually have a valid point after all.
Hours later, Daria dreamt that Tom had opened the door of her
room,then soundlessly and wordlessly walked up to her bed, bent down with puckered lips and was about to plant a kiss when. .Daria opened her eyes- and, in spite of
her naturally blurred vision, realized that she was on the floor in
Quinn's room. Quinn was tossing and turning and quite restless.
"So that's how the other half-percentage sleeps, " Daria thought.
Then Daria herself went back to sleep and hoped to resume her dream
but fate wouldn't be so kind this time.
Sometime later, Daria heard the front door slam shut- and, quickly crawled to the bed then nudged Quinn while hurriedly trying to remember where on the floor she'd
put her glasses. Quinn peered out her window and saw two men carrying the prone, expressionless Jake into a van decorated with balloons, lassos and the words 'Birthday
Buckaroos!' on the side while Helen was walking with him and climbing
into the van. The Yeagers' Beetle was no longer parked in the driveway.
"Dad?! Mo-om?! What's going on?" Quinn bolted out of her room and
down the stairs in her pink nightgown while the van screeched away with her
"Quinn, what's happening?" Daria in her t-shirt and boxers asked in a panic after she
found her glasses that she had put on Quinn's nightstand and ran downstairs to join Quinn.
The two Morgendorffer sisters stood barefoot in their driveway
in stunned silence.
" Where's Ethan?" Quinn gulped.
" I guess the Yeagers left before this happened. Right now we
need to. ." Daria attempted to order as they both reached the driveway
empty but for Helen and Jake's vacant vehicles.
" He left without saying goodbye?!" Quinn said on the verge of tears.
"Dad would have if he. .QUINN! Dad's been taken by goons at
Mom's command and you're thinking about some guy who barely talked to
you? Hit me so I can wake up from this recurring nightmare!" Daria
Quinn did so.
"OWW! Those carrot sticks must have more iron than I thought,"
Daria gulped as she rubbed her newly sore left arm.
"Daria, I love him! Opposites distract!" Quinn boiled.
"They sure do ! I'm in no mood to argue. We need to get back
inside and plan how to find Dad again!" Daria groaned as the two padded
back inside their house.
"And soon after that, Mom called on her cell and told us one of
her clients did her a 'favor' by committing Dad with no publicity. All
weekend, we tried to pump her for info but she wouldn't budge,"Daria
explained to Jane that Monday between classes in front of their lockers.
"Well, Jake sounds in good hands being kept by folks who needed
a law firm to save their butts!"Jane snapped.
"That's what I tried to tell Mom but she's convinced that a few
days of their therapy and feeding him Apricot JelloÒ with extra skin
should do the trick- and refuses to listen to us,"Daria groaned as
she took Burke's 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' out of her
"Anything else happen?" Jane asked.
"Nah, Quinn spent the whole weekend on a killer babysitting spree.
I rarely saw her. Thus, I could do my term paper without having to
listen to her moon about Ethan's departure," Daria scoffed.
" The Yeagers left early?" Jane queried-a bit tensely..
" Sometime in the wee hours before Dad's alien abduction. What a
weekend. Who'd have thought that working on that term paper would be my
only escape and Dad's birthday party would be the nadir?" Daria
"Funny how expectations rarely pan out," Jane scoffed.
"Side-splitting hilarious!" Daria groaned.
"So you've not had the chance to find Jake since the Roswell twins
beamed him away," Jane pondered.
"Despite my snooping through Mom's legal briefs about her clients-no. I wish I could find out something," Daria groaned.
"Well, it may not be too long before I'm gone myself. The
minute I've got diploma in hand, I'm taking off to sketch my way
across the country carrying only my sketchbook, a change of underwear and hygiene items in my backpack," Jane pondered.
"We don't own a car so that rules out us Thelma and Louise-ing,"
"Who said it was 'we'? I'm going solo- at least as far
far as New Mexico- then become the 21st Century Georgia O'Keefe!" Jane beamed.
"Solo? We could spend a few weeks on a road trip before college
and," Daria considered.
"College? You'll find a good one and hook up with pods of fellow brains. Me? I don't have the grades and I sure as Hell don't have the funds. If I don't do this, my Lawndale careers will be 'paper or plastic' or 'fries with that'! I've gotta find a new muse. There's no one here for me anymore!" Jane snarled.
"Jane. .." Daria started to say.
"I know you're here but come September, you'll go to your new
life and I'd be all alone here. Ironic,eh?" Jane laughed in a
" Look, I know your folks are even more clueless than mine but
what about Trent?" Daria asked.
"He can go to Hell!" Jane snapped.
"What?! Jane. ." Daria sputtered.
"I don't wanna talk about it," Jane seethed.
"Okay, we can. .." Daria started to say.
" We got into a major blowout after the party and he moved out!"
"Moved out?" Daria asked.
"To the garage. He thinks I'm going to break down and beg him to
come back into the house but I don't need him!" Jane snapped.
"Jane!" Daria exclaimed in a rare tone of shock.
" He's working on something out there," Jane replied.
"What?" Daria asked.
"How the Hell should I know. I don't care if they're planning the
next Bum-Aid Concert and I couldn't care less what he and his
deadbeat cronies are doing- at least while Jesse's visiting his
grandparents' Ecuadorian hacienda," Jane scorned.
"Jane, don't throw away. . ." Daria started to say.
" Oh, Miss Sister Slash Cousinhood is going to tell me how to
live! That's just jiggy, amiga ! "snarled Jane as she ran off and left Daria
even more alone than before.
"Dad, I wish there was a way to reach inside you. You don't know
how much I miss scoffing at your nonsense," Daria said aloud to herself
as she closed her locker.
"Daria?" a voice called out.
"Who's that?" Daria asked as she turned around and saw a blonde
girl with a large bang over her right eye and patched jeans approach her.
"Karen Disher, " Karen replied.
"I've. . .never heard you speak before. Sorry but I was having a
private conversation with. . .myself," Daria groaned.
"Daria, I know I've been in the background this whole time at
Lawndale but don't count us background folks out. You say you want to
get your Dad back? Meditation might be helpful. My boyfriend's heard what happened and can help," Karen insisted.
"Your boyfriend ?" Daria asked.
"You'd be surprised the kinds of lives we background people lead.
Did you know Andrea can do 300 birdcalls?"Karen insisted.
"Oh, God! Why. .?" Daria considered.
"I don't have much time before my next class but I have nothing to
gain by lying or misleading you. I'll give you a ride to where my
boyfriend's at after school," Karen pleaded.
"I know that I shouldn't logically be going with someone I've
never talked to before to a place I've never been to meet someone I
don't even know but maybe just this once I should just let faith guide
me. Dear God, what an unbelievable character development I've had here!"
" I know quite a bit about character development and direction," Karen laughed.
" I'll meet you in the parking lot after school. Don't you have
something to produce?" Daria asked.
"Directly," Karen insisted as she walked off.
Daria was about to go to Mr. O'Neill's class when Ms. Claire DeFoe
"Daria, could I see you for a minute?" Ms. DeFoe asked.
"But I'm not in your class anymore, "Daria protested.
" I know but maybe you could help shed some insight. I had planned
to ask Jane but I can't find her anywhere," Ms. DeFoe explained.
Daria followed the single teacher who was simultaneously
competant and sincerely caring for her students' welfare at Lawndale
back to her classroom.
" I assigned the class to sketch this cluster of grapes but Jane
did something additional, "Ms. DeFoe pondered as she pointed to a cluster of black seedless grapes suspended from the ceiling by a wire.
The two of them stood before Jane's fresh colored-pencil sketch with mouths agape.
Jane had sketched herself as Cleopatra standing over the corpse of the
deposed pharaoh- her brother Ptolemy XIII clutching a lyre to his chest. Ptolemy's
face was Trent's. Cleopatra and Marc Anthony each had a foot on Ptolemy's
torso and Marc Anthony was thrusting a knife through Ptolemy's back that
went clear through and pierced the lyre. Cleopatra was simultaneously
feeding Marc Anthony the cluster of grapes while sneering at Ptolemy's
corpse. Marc Anthony's face was that of Ethan Yeager.
"I know Jane's art is supposed to be a safe venting of her
strongest emotions into an inspiration but this is somewhat disturbing,"
Ms. DeFoe gulped.
"Yeah, Jane forgot that it was Caesar instead of Anthony
who offed Ptolemy for Cleo!" Daria gulped.