Tales From the 'burbs, Part IV
By Kara Wild
This story is set during the gap between "Dye! Dye! My Darling" and "Is It Fall Yet?"
(Mrs. Johanson stands next to her bathtub, tugging at the tie, subjecting the audience to the ghastly possibility that she might disrobe.)
MRS. JOHANSON: Yeah, I know most of you don't think I'm a prize, but long ago, men thought I was pretty fine.
(She looks into the tub water, causing it to swirl and reveal a twig-thin woman lying on the beach.)
MRS. JOHANSON: You wanna know what done me in? Chocolate Bars. <Wheez> The day the church charity came to my door was the day my life changed forever. <Wheez>
(The water swirls once more, revealing the broad face of present-day Mrs. Johanson.)
MRS. JOHANSON: Some days I wish I could do it all over again. I'd've bought two... instead of two hundred.
(Again, she tugs at her robe.)
MRS: JOHANSON: But you can't stay young. Not without paying a price...
(Her tie comes undone. Before her robe falls open, we fade to black.)
SCENE 1 (Helen's office)
(Helen stands by her desk, her back to us. Marianne, her secretary, walks over with a file, only to drop it once she takes a look at her boss.)
HELEN: (stressed) Marianne, what's the matter??
MARIANNE: Helen... your face.
HELEN: What about it?!
(Marianne reaches for a hand mirror and holds it in front of Helen's face. Helen gasps. We see on the left cheek, there is a huge wrinkle, almost a crevice. The skin just below the left eye is sagging.)
HELEN: Oh, heh-heh, I just got a poor night's sleep last night. Nothing a little make-up won't fix.
MARIANNE: But Helen, that looks really --
HELEN: (hasty) Now run along! I need to, um, practice my opening statement.
(She shoves a protesting Marianne out into the hallway and slams the door. Once alone, Helen dashes over to all her windows and shuts the blinds.)
HELEN: It can't be!
(She then goes over to an armoire and opens it, revealing several blood red candles around a bowl of water. Helen lights the candles, then stands over the alter, looking ominous by the glowing light.)
HELEN: The spell was supposed to be unbreakable! What in God's name has gone wrong?!
(She tosses some leaves into the alter water and stirs until it grows murky. Finally the murkiness dissolves to reveal an image of a young man, whom we recognize as Tom Sloane.)
HELEN: Who is this?
(The water grows murky, then dissolves to reveal Daria kissing Tom in the car.)
HELEN: Jane's boyfriend?? The boy Daria kissed behind her back, the one whom she came to me about? I don't understand.
(Suddenly her face gets a look of realization, as the scene dissolves into a flashback. Overhead shot of the Morgendorffer residence, as on the top of the screen reads ONE YEAR AGO.)
(Helen is holding brunch in the dining room for several prominent businesswomen, including Linda Griffin, Michele Landon, and Deena Decker.)
HELEN: Linda, you look wonderful! (tries to be inconspicuous.) Who, may I ask, is your collagen man?
(Linda looks at Helen as though she's bonkers, and bursts out laughing. The rest of the table picked up Helen's mumblings, and they start laughing, too. Helen blushes beat red.)
MICHELE: Collagen... she's...!
LINDA: (superior) Helen, collagen is so over. I've found a much better way to keep up my youthful appearance.
DEENA: A more time-efficient way.
HELEN: What is it?? How come I haven't heard about it??
MICHELE: Well if you'd ever gone to any of our business meetings...
HELEN: (indignant) I've had court cases up the ying-yang, for your information!
LINDA: (cool smirk) Promise us free legal advice for a year, and we'll tell you. (Bt) Not that it would do you much good.
(Dissolve to later in the flashback. Helen stands in the master bathroom that evening, preparing a large plastic bowl of herbs mixed with water. She consults a weathered, leather-bound text, entitled *The Business Woman's Guide to Successful Sorcery*.)
HELEN: (doubtful) I don't know if I'm comfortable with using external crutches to see me through life. (She then opens the medicine cabinet and sighs.) But I've tried everything else. (Pan over Helen's array of youth and beauty products.) And I've seen the way Eric has been ogling the new girl; what if he makes her a partner instead of me?!
(Now resolute, Helen closes the medicine cabinet and stirs the ingredients.)
HELEN: (looks down the page) So the last ingredient I need is "hair from a girl who is deeply in love." That's easy. Quinn has lots of hair.
(Cut to shot of Helen standing outside of Quinn's bedroom just as Quinn comes out, ear to the phone and oblivious to all else.)
QUINN: I can't BELIEVE it, Stacy! Danny's car has an EIGHT TRACK! He tried to pass it off as classic, but I was never so embarrassed in my LIFE! I wanted to DIE. I can't believe I thought he was cute!
(Once Quinn's disappeared, Helen looks after her with a "Maybe this wasn't such a good idea" expression. At the sound of more voices, Helen ducks into Quinn's room.)
DARIA: I can't believe I pierced my navel for Trent. You think it's a sign of oncoming psychosis?
JANE: What isn't, these days? You're perfectly normal.
DARIA: (frowning) Except around your brother. And after I made such an idiot of myself on the way to Alternapalooza...
JANE: (teasing) At least you two spent some "quality time" alone. Don't worry, Daria: you'll find a way to break his spell.
(As the two head into Daria's room, Helen steps out.)
HELEN: (fuming) So she DID get her navel pierced! And then deliberately lied about it! Wait 'til I have a talk with her! And I don't even want to THINK about the kind of "quality time" she spent with that Tr--! (Suddenly, her face grows thoughtful.) Hmmm...
(She looks down and notices a long reddish-brown hair on the carpet.)
(Cut to shot of Helen in the bathroom, dropping the hair into her brew.)
HELEN: Daria never falls in love recklessly. Therefore, this Trent fellow could really be "the one." (chants.) Oba chukka... oba oba... oba chukka... (Her chants dissolve into giddy laughter.) And I'll stay young, forever!
(Smash-cut to present Helen, looking almost disfigured by the candlelight.)
(cut to: )
SCENE 2 (Morgendorffer kitchen)
HELEN: Daria?? What is this I hear about you going out on a date with Tom?
DARIA: What happened to your face?
HELEN: Never mind that, is it true?
DARIA: Note to self: buy Quinn a muzzle. (sighs.) Tom thought we could get together and talk.
HELEN: (still pleasant tone) Get together? But isn't he still Jane's boyfriend?
DARIA: They broke up.
HELEN: So that makes it all right? Wouldn't you be hurting Jane even more by seeing him so soon after the break-up?? Is that a nice way to treat your best friend?!
DARIA: (startled) What happened to: "It's a lousy situation" and "You didn't set out to hurt anybody"?
HELEN: (brisk) Well that was before you chose to take it a step further. Daria, as your mother, I have to tell you that I am deeply opposed to the idea. You'll only set yourself up for trouble.
DARIA: (looking disheartened) I didn't think it was such a great idea, either. I'll tell Tom not to come by.
HELEN: That's my girl. Why not go over to Jane's and try to patch things up further? (tries to be casual.) Maybe you and she can hang out with that nice brother of hers, Trent.
DARIA: Trent. (frowns thoughtfully.) Sure. Why not?
(Helen watches with relief as Daria leaves the kitchen. Dissolve to later that night. Helen stands over the sink, her back to us. Quinn and Jake sit at the table, eating the last of their lasagna.)
HELEN: It's too bad Daria couldn't join us. But I'm sure she and Jane are having a lot of fun.
QUINN: (casual) Oh, she's not with Jane. I saw her and some guy head into the pizza place on my way home from Cashman's. She's probably tutoring him, or something.
(Helen turns around slowly, still grasping a plate and spatula. We see the left side of her face with the wrinkles. Quinn and Jake look at her and gasp.)
QUINN: Mom, your face!
(Helen turns around so her entire face is shown. She has wrinkles on both sides now, and a tuft of silver hair growing out of the front of her head. Helen looks at her reflection in the spatula and numbly sends it and the plate crashing to the ground.)
JAKE: Aw honey, it's all right! I promised I'd love you even when you're old and wrinkly, and I do!
(Helen bursts into tears and runs out of the room.)
(cut to: )
SCENE 3 (downstairs hallway, night)
(Daria opens the door and heads toward the stairs, where she is immediately met by Helen wearing a cream mask.)
HELEN: Don't "Mom" me! You were with that Tom, weren't you?! Weren't you?!
DARIA: I wasn't going to see him, until you started beating me over the head about how wrong it was. No way will I let my mother dictate my relationships.
HELEN: What about Jane?!
DARIA: Tom and Jane are broken up either way. It's not like I went out on an actual date with him -- we just talked. Over pizza. Which, um, he paid for.
HELEN: Oh gee, maybe on your next "non-date," he'll take you to Chez Pierre!
DARIA: (stubborn) If you keep talking about him this way, maybe there will be another "non-date."
HELEN: Not if you're grounded, young lady!
DARIA: You mean up in my room, all by myself? (deadpan.) No, please. Don't do that. (starts up the stairs.) And even if you did, there's always school.
(Helen watches her go, looking very worried.)
HELEN: Dammit, this isn't good! Not good at all! (conflicted expression.) But wait -- my little baby girl wants to expand her social horizons, and my response is to try and thwart her?! Shouldn't her happiness matter first and foremost?
(Helen looks even guiltier, before her expression becomes resolved.)
HELEN: Nonsense. She has a lifetime to "get over it," while I'm in my fading prime. If she were my age and had a daughter, I'm sure she'd wish for the same thing. (further rationalization.) Besides: I'm probably doing her a favor, keeping her away from an obvious cheat like that Tom.
(Still, Helen looks worried. She goes over to the couch and glances down to see the sorcery book propping up one of the legs. Sighing, Helen removes the book, making the couch lopsided once more, and tries to assess the damage.)
(cut to: )
SCENE 4 (bedroom, next morning)
(Helen sits on her bed, the phone to her ear, book in her lap. Intercut between her and Michele Landon.)
MICHELE: You based the spell on a crush. There's your problem. (chuckles.) Those things rarely last; you should have based it on something solid... like Jodie's deep love of resenting me and Andrew.
LINDA: (O.S.) Or Sandi's deep love of her own reflection.
MICHELE: Sorry. My phone has party line.
HELEN: Well now that my business is public property, isn't there any way I can reverse this spell?!
LINDA: Yes, but it's in the 2002 *Business Woman's Guide* - available only through special order.
MICHELE: The spell has raised a few complaints.
HELEN: Now you tell me!
LINDA: We already have copies, of course. But novices like yourself, Helen, would be advised to work on your magic proficiency before attempting a dangerous counter spell.
MICHELE: Unless you've been doing your exercises like they tell you to in the first chapter. (Pause) You have been doing them, right?
HELEN: Um, I've been busy. Meetings, you know.
(Michele rolls her eyes.)
MICHELE: Try one of the more mild spells from your book, until you build confidence.
(Helen nods rapidly and flips through the pages. She spies something and her eyes grow thoughtful.)
MICHELE: And for God's sake, be careful. Magic can't be the cure for everything, you know.
(cut to: )
SCENE 5 (Trent's bedroom, next afternoon)
(Shot of Trent sprawled on his back across his bed, doing what he does best. Suddenly, a noise off screen causes him to awaken mid-snore and he gazes, unfocused, at the ceiling. Helen hovers a few feet above him, her outline shimmering with light.)
TRENT: Daria's mom? Whoa... no more Good Time Chinese food before bed.
HELEN: It's two-thirty in the afternoon!
HELEN: Trent, why are you just lying here?? You should be thinking of ways to win my daughter back from that Tom!
TRENT: Why would I do that? Tom's a good guy, and I could sense he and Daria belonged together even before he and Janey broke up.
HELEN: You could sense it?? (derisive chuckle.) With what, the wisdom that comes from being twenty-something and unemployed??
HELEN: (no-nonsense) Trent, if you want my daughter to love you again, you've got to shape up and show her you're serious about a working relationship.
(Trent sits up, looking stunned.)
TRENT: Daria loved me??
HELEN: You didn't know?
TRENT: She never told me. (hand to his head.) Wow, this like really changes things. I'm gonna have to shower before she comes over from now on.
HELEN: She could provide a lot of support for you. Your life and your music.
TRENT: No woman's really loved me before, not even Monique.
HELEN: Then don't let her get away!
TRENT: Okay. (more determined.) Yeah! You're right. If she's the only one who loves me, I can't let her get away!
(A focused look on his face, he stands up.)
HELEN: (hushed) He is a bit absent-minded, but if cleaned up properly, he could be a real asset to Daria.
(Trent falls backward onto the bed and starts snoring.)
HELEN: Well... we'll work on it.
(cut to: )
SCENE 6 (Lawndale High, Monday)
(It's after school, and the students are filing out of the building. Daria walks across the lawn, alone. Suddenly she stops, as Trent's voice fills her ears, and looks over at a van parked in the lot. It's the Tank. Trent is standing on the roof, playing his guitar and singing into a standing microphone.)
TRENT: (in song)
Last night I saw a vision
Hov'ring above my bed.
And soon that strange emission
Was screaming in my head.
It screamed to me of LOVE
It screamed to me of FIRE
It rubbed me with its GLOVE
Of heartache and DESIRE!
(As Daria nears, Trent sees her and strums his guitar loudly.)
TRENT: (speaking) Daria, I'm a changed man... and it's all because of you.
DARIA: You've finally mastered open D tuning?
TRENT: I mean I think I love you.
DARIA: You... (Sarcasm fails her.) you what??
TRENT: (in song)
I never knew you loved me
I never knew you cared
Until you went and shoved me
Into a vortex of despair!
(By now half of the school is surrounding the van. Trent beckons at Daria to climb up on the roof with him. Daria hangs back, stunned.)
STACY: (tears in her eyes) Omigod that is SO romantic!
SANDI: Even if he does wear clothes that are hopelessly mismatched with his skin tones.
UPCHUCK: Go for it, Daria my sweet. Rrrrrrrrrr...
(Daria glares at Upchuck and takes a few steps away from him. She bumps into Andrea.)
ANDREA: (toneless) If you don't take him... I will.
(That decides it. Daria walks up to the van and cautiously steps onto the front bumper, which almost cracks under her weight. Unbeknownst to her, Jane stands a distance away, gazing at her with a dark, angry frown.)
(cut to: )
SCENE 7 (Morgendorffer bathroom)
(Daria stands in front of the sink, rinsing out her mouth, while Quinn watches from the door.)
QUINN: Wow, so you're really going out with him. On a school night.
DARIA: We're just gonna talk. We've never done that for a sustained period of time before.
QUINN: But, like, what about that other guy? Ted?
DARIA: You mean Tom?? (annoyed.) It's Tom. Ted was just a one-time date. Ted broke up with me. I am not a user!
QUINN: Okay! Sheesh Daria, if you don't lighten up, this could be your last date.
DARIA: Sorry. This is just overwhelming to me. Trent was my crush for so long, and I never told him how I felt. Now he knows -- I don't know how he knows -- and he feels the same way. It's like some of the old feelings are coming back. (looks down.) As for Tom... maybe this is for the best. No more betrayals. No more guilt.
QUINN: Daria, I couldn't be happier for you than if you were popular. And if you were popular, we could double-date. But since you're not: don't get a tattoo, or anything.
DARIA: Wisdom for the ages.
(She walks downstairs. Helen and Jake are already down there. They hear a sputtering engine and heavy metal music playing off screen.)
HELEN: (hushed) Tell me I'm doing the right thing. Tell me I'm not making my daughter go out with the wrong boy just to satisfy my own needs.
JAKE: Tell me he's got car insurance, for the love of God!
DARIA: That's my ride. See you both later.
(She heads out the door. Helen rushes up to the window and watches after her, concerned. Then she looks at her reflection in the glass, and her face relaxes. The wrinkles are gone.)
(cut to: )
SCENE 8 (Helen's office)
(Helen sits at her desk, pouring over briefs. Eric stands close by, beaming.)
ERIC: I don't know what it is about you lately, Helen. You've always been vibrant, but somehow you're more vibrant than usual! No wonder all of our younger clients are so drawn to you.
HELEN: (chuckles, immensely flattered) I'm just a little extra happy, I suppose.
ERIC: (leans close to her) Before long, you'll have to beat the other law firms off with a stick!
HELEN: (more flattered) Eric, really...
ERIC: And if you don't, I will.
(He edges even closer to Helen. At first she allows him to do so, feeling pleased by his attention. But when he refuses to move away after several seconds, she finally stands up and walks to the other side of the room. Just then two twenty-something business tycoons burst in.)
ERIC: Ah Helen, meet our new clients Dylan Rosenfeld and Josh Wilkenson, the founders of uzrsRULE.com.
HELEN: A dot-com? How exciting!
DYLAN: (coming over to shake her hand) Yes, the new economy is great, isn't it?
JOSH: But not as great as being big enough to get sued by another company!
DYLAN: (to Helen) I'll bet you'd do a great job representing us. You've got such a firm grip. Not to mention attractive hands.
JOSH: But I'll bet you hear that all the time.
HELEN: Oh, um, of course.
ERIC: Now now, boys, I saw her first.
(He teasingly winks at Helen. Helen is slightly bewildered, not sure whether to be flattered or offended.)
JOSH: (to Helen) So what's your story? Do you wind surf in your spare time? Mountain climb, perhaps?
HELEN: Really... (almost annoyed.) I'm not that young, anymore.
JOSH: (teasing) Sure you're not.
DYLAN: Say Eric, we were thinking maybe our sessions could be held in less formal surroundings than the office.
(Helen and Eric both glance at each other and nod.)
JOSH: Like the arcade!
(Helen gives Eric a look.)
ERIC: They are paying us, Helen.
(cut to: )
SCENE: 9 (Morgendorffer living room, evening)
(Helen sits on the couch, flipping through the sorcery book, while Jake stirs something on the stove in the background.)
HELEN: (thought VO, serene) What was I so worried about? A simple spell here and there never hurt anybody, and some of them can even do a lot of good. Like the one I just cast to make Jake focus on his cooking instead of his scarring childhood.
JAKE: (ranting) And I would've been first string if it weren't for that rotten jerk Corporal Ellenbogen!
HELEN: (thought VO) At least he no longer rants about his father. That's progress.
(Just then the front door cracks open, and Helen quickly covers the book with legal papers. Daria walks in, looking slightly disheveled. A faint trail of smoke rises from her collar.)
HELEN: (faint relief) Why Daria, you're home early.
DARIA: At a decent hour, you mean.
HELEN: Oh ho, that's not what I was thinking. But at least you're behaving responsibly. (notices the smoke.) Daria! Your collar!
DARIA: What? This again? (She reaches behind and brushes it off.) It practically rains cigarette ashes at those damn clubs.
HELEN: Well, um, you didn't smoke, did you?
DARIA: Aside from the three packs I took in second-hand?
HELEN: (slightly alarmed) Well maybe you and Trent can go someplace... outdoors next time. (tries to smile.) The most important thing is that you two had fun.
DARIA: Sure we did. I'm going upstairs.
(She starts to climb up. Helen, sensing something is wrong, decides not to let it rest.)
HELEN: Daria? Is something wrong?
DARIA: Can't hear you. I'm almost on the second floor.
(Daria turns around and slowly walks back down the stairs.)
DARIA: Nothing's wrong. I'm just trying to get used to being around Trent so much.
HELEN: Don't you like him?
DARIA: I don't dislike him.
HELEN: (sharp) You should give the boy a chance, Daria. He may be a little rough around the edges, but so was your father when I first met him and look how well he turned out.
JAKE: (O.S.) And that single thumb of his just mocked me... MOCKED ME!
DARIA: (reflective) For a while I'd given up on Trent, thinking he could never overcome his innate laziness and overt cluelessness. But ever since that day he sang to me in the parking lot, he's been a different guy. It's like he's trying to be the guy I've always wanted. And puzzled as I am by this sudden change, I'll admit I'm kind of touched. I wouldn't spurn his attempts for anything in the world.
HELEN: (touched, relieved) Ohhh...
DARIA: Except one thing.
DARIA: My friendship with Jane. You were right: I haven't been considerate enough of her feelings. Now she's convinced that I was just "using" Tom, and will do the same thing to Trent.
HELEN: Oh Daria, you shouldn't mind what Jane thinks. You and Trent care about each other, that's all that matters.
DARIA: Wait... now you *don't* care what Jane thinks? (hand to her head.) This is getting too weird. Any more conversation, and the doctor might declare me mentally insane.
HELEN: Daria. Before you go --
DARIA: (hands over her ears) See ya.
(As she heads upstairs, Helen watches her go.)
HELEN: Oh God, this is going to require another spell, isn't it?? (She removes the pile of papers and begins flipping through the book nervously.) You'd think one spell would do the trick, but oh no, it's never enough. You always need another. But how far should I go?! (sees a spell.) Here's one for reduced anxiety. Daria did say that Jane's been awfully stressed out about the thing with Tom and her brother. If I remove Jane's anxiety, I also remove her objections to Daria being with Trent. (Pause) It's worth a shot.
(She mumbles a list of ingredients...)
(cut to: )
SCENE 10 (Jane's room, that night)
(Jane stands at her canvas, stabbing the surface with her brush, conveying all of the rage and frustration she's been feeling since The Kiss. So consumed she is, she doesn't notice a faint green mist seeping into her room through the vent until it's wafted toward her. The next breath she takes is filled with green air. The mist enters her nose and mouth, and, for one second, can be seen in the whites of her eyes. By the time it's disappeared, Jane has become noticeably calmer, and now sits on her bed.)
(cut to: )
SCENE 11 (Lawndale streets, following evening)
(Eric, Helen, Dylan, and Josh are being driven through town in the company car.)
HELEN: Are you sure it's really the best place for us to discuss a lawsuit?
DYLAN: Any place there's loud music is a place I want to be.
(The car stops in front of the Zon.)
ERIC: (jolly) And the clients are boss, Helen.
JOSH: Besides, here we can boogey! (pats Helen's arm.) I bet you've still got quite a few moves in you.
(Helen laughs nervously as she and the three men climb out.)
(Cut to the inside. The club is crowded, not surprisingly. Helen and Eric try not to look repulsed as the two twenty-somethings lead them past groups of pierced, tattooed individuals toward the bar, which is a distance from the stage.)
DYLAN: It's places like this where you feel great to be alive! (He chokes a little on a cloud of smoke and ash.)
JOSH: They even got a band that doesn't completely suck.
ERIC: (polite chuckle) Meh heh, isn't that nice?
(Helen looks at the stage, and her eyes widen as she sees a MYSTIK SPIRAL banner overhead. Trent, Jesse, Nick, and Max are setting up.)
HELEN: (thought VO) You don't suppose Daria's at this awful place tonight, is she?
(Low and behold, standing off to one side of the stage is Daria and some of Trent's other friends, including Monique.)
HELEN: (thought VO) I'm sure she's all right. But my God, when she said "clubs," I had no idea they were like --
DYLAN: (to Eric and Helen) This must take you back to your college days.
ERIC: Oh no, I strictly avoided the sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
(A warm smile spreads over Helen's face at the memory.)
HELEN: You know, maybe it does, a little. (sighs.) Those were some great times. Too bad you can't go back.
DYLAN: Who says you can't? (as the band starts playing a warm-up tune.) You wanna dance?
(Helen finds herself nodding, and Dylan takes her arm and leads her closer to the center of the room. He starts rocking and bopping to the music, while Helen watches him, somewhat perplexed. Then she starts swaying along in a manner that grows increasingly less awkward.)
HELEN: Jake wouldn't mind one little dance...
(Dylan places his arms gently on her shoulders, startling Helen some more. After a few moments, she relaxes.)
DYLAN: (leans forward, croons in her ear) When you're young, the whole world's ahead of you.
HELEN: (nodding) No cares, no regrets...
(Dissolve to a short time later. Trent and the band have just finished the song, and Trent is climbing off stage.)
TRENT: (to Daria) Whew, all that playing really makes you tired.
DARIA: I'll bet. I mean it's not like you're in a band, where practice would have built your stamina.
DARIA: (flushing a little) Sorry. Groupie humor.
MONIQUE: (a bit snide) Yeah, Daria's just full of laughs.
TRENT: Yeah, she is. (He comes over, puts his arms around her.) Thanks for coming and watching me play.
DARIA: (flushing more from his touch) Hmm, no problem. It's what I've been doing every night.
TRENT: Yeah. (Bt) Have your ears stopped ringing?
DARIA: Just about.
(Cut to Helen and Dylan, now standing side by side in the crowd.)
HELEN: (reflective) There are so many things I would do over again if I could. Some days I wake up and wish I had stayed a public interest attorney, so I could feel good about what I do. I would be less success driven, more family-oriented. (sighs.) I don't know why I feel like looking young will get me that second chance. I guess if I look young, I can convince myself I am young enough to... have enough time to do everything I want. (laughs.) That, and I don't want anyone else to keep me from what I want simply because of my appearance.
(A few seconds pass as Helen waits for Dylan to reply.)
DYLAN: Huh? (apologizes.) Sorry, my mind was somewhere else.
HELEN: It's all right. It's kind of silly, actually: we'll never ever have enough time to do all that we want, will we? And when it comes to the few things we do want, no one can keep us them by based on our appearance alone. If it happens, it's because we let it happen.
DYLAN: Yeah, sure.
(Suddenly Helen catches him eyeing her breasts.)
HELEN: My God, you've been ogling me this whole time, haven't you?!
DYLAN: (startled) Oh... no!
HELEN: (disgusted) Ever since -- I mean lately, it seems like that's what every man has been doing! Not to mention a few women...
DYLAN: (recovering) Oh come on, don't tell me that isn't the main reason you want to stay young.
HELEN: What are you talking about?!
(Cut to shot of Daria, Monique, and Trent. Monique is offering Daria a joint.)
MONIQUE: So Daria, you want a hit? Makes you feel like you're floating.
DARIA: No thanks. I like to aware of my decisions when I make them.
(Trent, who's been puffing a joint, quickly pulls it out of his mouth, looking embarrassed.)
TRENT: Should've told you Daria's not into that stuff. And I'm not really much, either. (tosses the joint onto the ground, steps on it.)
MONIQUE: Since when?
TRENT: Since, um... for a while. It slows you down and keeps you from hitting your creative peak. Right, Daria?
DARIA: Uh, sure.
MONIQUE: (disappointed) Aw Trent, where's your sense of fun?
(Trent suddenly smiles.)
TRENT: Right here.
(He goes over to Daria and lays his arms around her.)
(Cut to shot of Helen. She shoves Dylan away.)
HELEN: How DARE you suggest such a thing?!
DYLAN: (remorseless) Ah come on. A woman doesn't have much time before she's too unattractive to... (makes a suggestive sexual gesture.)
HELEN: Oh honest to God! (She buries her face in her hands.) This has turned out all wrong! To think of what I've put Daria through just so I could get ogled by louts who see me as nothing more than talking female organs! I put my ambitions before my daughter's happiness. And I was trying so hard to convince myself it was the right thing to do, I didn't even know it!
DYLAN: (looking bored) Geez Helen, why do you have to make such an issue of it?
HELEN: I have to tell her...
(Daria flushes at Trent's closeness. Arms still around her, he leans closer and closer, and finally presses his lips against hers. Then suddenly:)
MAX: (comes over) Trent, buddy, you okay?
TRENT: Ma thongue!
(Trent holds his mouth with one hand; we can see blood seeping between his fingers. Daria watches, stunned and mortified.)
DARIA: Trent, I'm sorry! I didn't think you were gonna -
MONIQUE: (pissed) Jesus, how else do you think people kiss?!
DARIA: (quiet, hurt) I'm sorry. I didn't mean to.
(Trent smiles weakly at Daria and tries to reassure her, but soon gets a pale expression and runs off to the bathroom. The rest of the band comes over.)
MONIQUE: One of us should go help him.
NICK: Man, we're almost ready to start the next set!
MAX: We'll need another lead singer.
MAX/NICK: No, ME!
DARIA: God. Can this get much worse?
(Just then Helen appears.)
DARIA: Of course.
HELEN: I need to talk to you about Trent.
DARIA: The bite was unintentional, so I doubt he'll sue.
HELEN: Huh? No, it's about your compatibility. Daria, I was wrong to push you together, and if you don't want...
(She continues speaking, but the rest of her words are drowned out by a swell of music leading into the next song. Daria looks at Helen with a deadpan, uncomprehending stare, until frustrated, Helen signals that she's going outside.)
(cut to: )
SCENE 12 (outside the Zon, night)
(Helen walks into the alley along the side of the club. She hugs her chest to try and keep warm, all the while pondering how she can make amends.)
JANE: (O.S) You feeling okay, Mrs. Morgendorffer?
(Helen glances over to see her on the sidewalk, looking into the alleyway.)
HELEN: Oh I'm fine, Jane. I was just mumbling to myself.
JANE: (coming over) They say that's a sign of impending psychosis. But then, what isn't these days?
HELEN: (faint smile) I appreciate your concern. (motherly.) And now hadn't you better get inside out of this cold?
JANE: In a minute. Just gotta do some preparation first.
(Jane removes a small, dark object from her pocket.)
HELEN: What a cute little make-oh my GOD, it's a gun!
JANE: A gun? (examines it.) So it is.
HELEN: Jane honey, w-what do you plan to do?!
JANE: Well first I thought I'd cock it. Then I figured I'd just let the momentum carry me.
HELEN: I don't understand.
JANE: Oh, I think you do. (eyes narrow) You Morgendorffer women. Find the right rationalization, and the world is your oyster. Kissing Tom "just happened." "It was no one's fault." Just like dating Tom "just happened." Good ol' Jane won't mind because she's Tom's ex girlfriend now.
HELEN: But Jane, that was Daria, not me. Besides --
JANE: Who gave birth to her? Who taught her how to think -- in spite of what she says about the alien mind control? You made her see that the end justifies the means.
HELEN: (weakly) But I --
JANE: Well I'm sick of it. Good ol' Jane has had to put up with selfish Daria's crap for way too long. And it's one thing to hurt me, but quite another to hurt my brother just because she decides Tom doesn't meet her standards after all.
(Jane cocks the gun and levels it so that it's pointed at Helen.)
JANE: Trent may not be the smartest or most talented guy, but dammit, when he cares about you, he puts in his whole heart and soul into it. He's always been there for me, which is more than I can say about Daria OR Tom!
HELEN: But my spell -- I mean! I thought you would be less anxious about the Tom thing by now.
JANE: Wellll, I was feeling pretty anxious about these dark feelings I was having. Y' know: "Omigod! Fix things with a gun -- am I crazy??" Blah, blah, blah. But then one night when I was painting, I had this moment of clarity, and the anxiety just vanished. I knew what I had to do.
HELEN: Oh no. Oh God.
JANE: It's payback time.
HELEN: (half-whisper) Jane, please. Put the gun down.
JANE: (sadistic smirk) Don't worry, I'm not gonna kill you. I'm gonna kill Daria... and make you watch.
(Helen gasps and lunges toward Jane. Jane quickly fires a shot at Helen's shoulder, sending her against the wall. The loud music ensures that no one heard her. Helen struggles to stand upright as Jane darts inside the Zon.)
(cut to: )
SCENE 13 (the Zon)
(Daria stands by the stage, her face etched with concern.)
DARIA: I ought to go see how Trent's doing. Some girlfriend I am.
(On the other side of the room, Jane pushes blindly through the crowds, the gun concealed inside her jacket. Meanwhile, outside, Helen examines her shoulder and sees that the bullet has just grazed her. She rushes inside after Jane.)
HELEN: I've got to get my spell book! Where on earth did I leave it?!
(Cut to shot of the bartender leafing through pages at the bar.)
BARTENDER: These are the craziest drink recipes I've ever seen.
(Shot of Helen working her way through the crowd. She glances in the direction of where Eric and their clients were standing, but then, as the spotlight waves across the crowd, Helen spies an angular black head rapidly making its way toward the stage.)
(Cut to Jane's POV. In the dim light, she sees a dark-haired figure walking toward Trent as he returns from the men's room. Jane waits until she's semi-concealed, with a clear shot, before firing off a few rounds. Two of the bullets go astray, but one finds its target. The dark-haired figure drops to the ground, dead from a shot in the skull.)
HELEN: Oh God, NOOOOOO! No! No! (A sob rising in her throat, she buries her face in her hands.)
TRENT: NOOOOOOOOO! MONIQUE!
(He rushes over and puts his arms around her. He shakes her gently, trying to revive her.)
HELEN: (lifting her face) Monique...?
(Daria watches from a short distance away, by the stage. She sees Monique collapsed against Trent, but doesn't know how it happened.)
JANE: (softly, lowering the gun) Monique...
TRENT: (cradling her) No, no... I love you. I love you!
DARIA: He loves her?? (sighs.) Well, that takes away my guilt over wanting to break up with him.
(The rest of Mystik Spiral has stopped playing and is watching from the stage.)
NICK: Dammit, Monique was MY girlfriend, and I've lost her! (sniffles.)
MAX: Your girlfriend?! I thought she was mine!
NICK: Remember the sharing arrangement?
MAX: Oh yeah. (Bt) Jess, you realize there's a bullet in your forehead?
JESSE: Really? (feels his forehead, and a thin trail of blood trickles down.) Wow, I didn't notice.
(He promptly collapses, unconscious.)
(Jane, meanwhile, has come to her senses. She rejoins the crowd, looking at the damage she's done. Strangely enough - or perhaps not - most of the revelers don't seem aware of what's taken place, and continue to dance in a semi-stoned manner. Trembling, Jane pockets the now-empty gun and runs out the Exit door into the alley. Helen tries to catch her, but by the time she's navigated the thick crowd, Jane has vanished.)
HELEN: (softly) At least Daria's all right. But I have to do something to fix this.
(cut to: )
SCENE 14 (Lawndale Community Center, night)
(Michele and Linda are just heading out of a Lawndale Business Woman's Alliance meeting, in the direction of Michele's car, when Helen jumps into view, disheveled and covered with blood.)
MICHELE: Good God Helen, what happened?!
HELEN: Never mind that! One of you has to give me the counter spell!
LINDA: Helen, I wouldn't --
HELEN: I don't care if I'm not ready; I've done so much damage, I've got nothing to lose!
(Michele and Linda just look at each other.)
MICHELE: Helen, I don't know how to tell you this: there is no counter spell.
HELEN: What?! But there has to be! You said --
LINDA: Helen, *The Businesswoman's Guide* is a fake.
MICHELE: It's a gag gift that I gave the women at a Halloween party.
HELEN: (color draining from her face) But h-how...? Why?!
MICHELE: (looking down) It was just a joke, to get even with you for not showing up at our meetings.
LINDA: And because we love to mess with your head.
MICHELE: That we do!
(She and Linda break into fits of knee-slapping laughter, much to Helen's fury.)
HELEN: STOP IT!
MICHELE: (contrite) When you complained about the broken love spell, we figured you were overreacting to the effects of Mother Nature and decided to take it a step further. We thought you would figure it out eventually.
HELEN: But it can't be! The aging I underwent was not natural. And what about when I levitated above Trent Lane's bed?? What about that anti-anxiety cloud I made for Jane Lane?? That was real magic!
(Michele and Linda look at her dubiously.)
MICHELE: Well geez, Helen, maybe you're a real witch.
LINDA: Instead of just a proverbial one.
HELEN: (disgusted) Real witch, my hide! Something's going on, and I intend to find out what it is! But with my brains, not some instant fix.
(She walks away, tired, angry, and for the moment, a little wiser.)
(cut to: )
SCENE 15 (Sloane residence)
(Shot of the outside. Cut to shot of Tom seated in a rec room chair, watching television. The phone rings.)
TOM: (speaking into the receiver) Hello?
VOICE: (O.S.) Mr. Sloane, everything went according to plan.
TOM: Daria Morgendorffer broke up with Trent Lane??
VOICE: She sure did.
TOM: Excellent. Dylan, my man, you've done an admirable job as look out. You and your partner can take the rest of the week off.
(He lays the phone back on the cradle and turns his chair away from the T.V., so that he's facing a large table of potions, cauldron, and other relics of the dark arts.)
TOM: I am the puppet master.
(He stands up and walks over to a swirling bowl of water, which reveals the other characters in the aftermath of the shooting.)
TOM: (proud) Now Daria's gotten every single last impulse to be with Trent out of her body. Jane is so remorseful about her behavior, before too long, she'll practically force Daria to go out with me. And Daria's mother knows it's not right to live out her vain desires through her daughter, and so should be much less meddlesome than she otherwise would be.
(He walks over to the window, looks out at the crystalline sky, and smiles.)
TOM: M'wahahahahaha! It's great to be me!
(Dissolve to a shot of Mrs. Johanson, who is scrubbing herself in the bathtub, her body mercifully covered over with bubbles.)
JOHANSON: Like you anti-Tommers didn't see that coming! <Wheeze> Too bad with all his magic, he can't predict the future <Wheeze> or else he'd wonder if this was worth the crazy relationship he'll have with that Daria girl. <Wheeze> I guess there're just some things magic can't fix.