DARIA 2010: THE TREASURE OF ANGELA LI

by

Robert Nowall

 

 

 

 

ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY: Daria meets up with yet another familiar face from the past...and Ms. Li, too...

 

 

 

 

(I suppose most of you reading this have read the earlier "Daria 2010" stories. But itís been awhile, so maybe a lot of you havenít, so hereís what you need to know. Daria now teaches at Lawndale High. She shares an apartment with Jane (who teaches elementary school art) and her sister Quinn (who took over Morgendorffer Consulting from their father Jake and made it a roaring success.) Dariaís literary career and life hasnít exactly been the blooming success one would think...but no one can have a road map for their future, and sheís still writing...)

 

 

 

 

(opening credits)

 

Daria in "The Lost Treasure of Angela Li"

 

ACT ONE:

 

SCENE 1: LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL.

(Establishing shot of Lawndale High. The big round library building is taller, but the school building looks much the same, but maybe grungier. Itís morning and some students are walking up to the building.

(Cut to the interior halls. As the camera pans through them, traveling at a right angle to the halls, several students walk across the camera viewpoint. Several students, but not all, carry large picks. One, a husky young girl wearing a Lawndale High football jersey, carries several shovels over her shoulder.

(As the camera pans, we come across Daria. Sheís wearing a white coat like the one she wore in her fantasy sequence in "Lane Miserables," but with her regular glasses and combat boots. [Unless the outfit is specified, this is what she wears throughout this story.]

(She looks around, at the digging-equipment-bearing students now within her sight. Some surprise shows on her face. She stops one student, a ditzy-blonde "Fashion Club"-type, who doesnít have any digging utensils.)

DARIA: Shakira.

SHAKIRA: Ms. Morgendorffer?

DARIA: Whatís going on?

SHAKIRA: (mutters) Idunno.

(Shakira moves on. Daria stops another student, a Goth-looking boy with a pick over his shoulder. He stops at the sound of her voice, and looks a little frightened.)

DARIA: Stanley.

STAN: (timidly) Er...itís *Stan,* Ms. Morgendorffer.

DARIA: Sorry. Stan. Whatís this hardware for? And how did you get it past security?

(Before Stan can answer, their attention is distracted by two security guards---two really old men wearing police uniforms made in the blue-and-yellow colors of Lawndale High. They walk by, each with a pick over his shoulder.

(While Dariaís attention was diverted, Stan slipped away. Before she can stop another student, a crackling sound announces that the schoolís cheap P. A. system has been turned on.)

SANDI (V. O.): Attention, students, this is your principal speaking.

(Cut to: Sandi Griffin in her office. It looks much as it did in Ms. Liís day, but the books are reshuffled and the green Buddha is missing. Sandi is dressed much as Ms. Li used to, but slightly more stylish. Sheís wearing one of those headset microphones, and this is what she speaks into.)

SANDI: There will be no digging into the ground or breaking into the walls of--- (a Ms. Li flourish) *Lawndale High* --- (resumes normal voice) for any reason whatsoever. The Lawndale police are standing by and will make any arrests necessary. Good day.

(Cut back to Daria, who looks more confused than before. She stops yet another student, the husky girl we saw earlier carrying several shovels, who stops and turns at her voice.)

DARIA: Patty.

PATTY: Yes, maíam?

DARIA: Why are so many students carrying picks and shovels?

PATTY: Er...I swear, Ms. Morgendorffer, Iím just bringing them to someone. Iím not doing any digging myself.

DARIA: No, Patty, I mean, *why*? What are they for?

PATTY: Oh. (Pause) Last nightís "Sick Sad World" promo. Didnít you see it?

(Daria looks confused.)

 

SCENE 2: CLASSROOM, LAWNDALE HIGH.

(The classroom is empty. We see that each desk has a built-in PC terminal at it---stuff that was the catís meow when Daria was in high school, but that is archaic and painfully obsolete in 2010.

(Dariaís desk also has a terminal. She sits at it, touches a couple of keys, and begins to move the mouse around. This goes on for several seconds. The camera angle covers her face, but we canít see what sheís looking at.

(The camera finally cuts to a view over Dariaís shoulder. It focuses in on the screen.

(We see a brief scene of what appears to be former Lawndale High principal Angela Li, filling in a deep hole one spadeful at a time. Behind her, we see the familiar, "non-2010" facade of Lawndale High. An announcer---the familiar "Sick Sad World" voice---speaks.)

ANNOUNCER (V. O.): She robbed her students to keep them safe, but where did all the money really go? High-school highway robbery, next on "Sick Sad World!"

(Cut to view of Daria, who, again, looks confused. The school bell rings.)

 

SCENE 3: PRINCIPALíS OFFICE, LAWNDALE HIGH. LATER.

(Shot of door. The writing on the glass says: MS. GRIFFIN, PRINCIPAL.)

(Cut to inside. The entire staff is assembled in front of the principalís desk. Sandi Griffin sits behind the desk that used to belong to Angela Li.

(The faculty of Lawndale High stands in front of her desk. Some are faces we donít recognize, but there are several we do. Among those are Daria, Mack (wearing a green sweat suit), Andrea (also wearing a sweat suit, but in Lawndale Highís blue-and-yellow colors), Mr. OíNeill (who dresses as he usually does, but who has now gone bald), and Ms. Barch (steel-gray hair, but otherwise the same). Most of this gathered staff look a little uneasy.)

SANDI: I apologize for calling this impromptu meeting, but events required it. I apologize for the lack of chairs.

DARIA: Thatís all right. We were tired of sitting.

SANDI: Now, you may have heard of the story "Sick Sad World" will be running, on the past history of Lawndale High.

MS. BARCH: Yes, yes, we all know about how Angela Li stole from Lawndale Highís budget to pay for her foolish attempts to guarantee security. (Pause.) We were here.

MACK: So somebody thinks she buried the money out front.

SANDI: Or out back, or somewhere in these very walls.

DARIA: How ratlike of her.

SANDI: Wherever or whatever, it doesnít matter. There will be no digging up of or breaking down of school property. (Pause.) And starting tomorrow, a camera crew from "Sick Sad World" will be shooting in and around *Lawndale High* for their show.

(Daria still looks aggrieved at this.)

 

SCENE 4: DARIAíS / JANEíS / QUINNíS APARTMENT. NIGHT.

(Readers of my "Daria 2010" series may be familiar with my inadequate descriptions of what this place looks like, but in case someone hasnít read any of the other parts, Iíll try again---as briefly as possible.

(Itís a large former loft. One wall is nothing but windows, brightly lighting the living room set up here when itís daytime. The wall opposite has a Z-shaped stairway attached, with two doors up and two doors down, leading to the apartmentís bedrooms. Looking through the window to the left, is the main door. To the right is the door to the kitchen. What wall space there is, is covered with paintings, most of them apparently the work of Jane Lane. Thereís a couch facing the window, a TV facing the couch, and a coffee table between them. There are several smaller chairs and tables scattered about. Track lighting provides the nighttime light.

(Right now Daria is sitting on the couch, between Jane (right) and Quinn (left). Quinn wears a blue business suit reminiscent of those her mother used to wear, but much more stylish. Jane is dressed *exactly* as she was in high school, except her outfit is more ragged and paint-spattered. Theyíre watching TV, and we see the "Sick Sad World" logo pop into the screen.)

ANNOUNCER (V. O.): ...next on "Sick Sad World."

DARIA: What did I tell you?

JANE: Buried treasure at Lawndale High.

DARIA: So "Sick Sad World" would have you believe.

QUINN: Oh, what nonsense! If thereíd been buried treasure at Lawndale High, weídíve found it when we went there...

DARIA: There was plenty of time. Angela Li wasnít arrested until two years after you finally graduated.

JANE: You *did* graduate, didnít you, Quinn?

QUINN: Har. Har. (Pause) I wonder why theyíre poking around now?

(Jane and Quinn both look at Daria.)

DARIA: You think I had something to do with it?

JANE: Not at all.

DARIA: Theyíre probably just looking for another story on a cute angle.

QUINN: But we were wondering where they got it from.

(Daria shrugs, without much sense of commitment. For a moment or two, Jane and Quinn look uneasy, as they realize they wonít get any more out of Daria. Then Jane thinks of something and brightens a little.)

JANE: Say, Daria, remember when---

DARIA: Iíve relived some of my most unpleasant experiences whenever Iíve heard the words, "Remember when."

JANE: Then you wonít mind one more time, more or less. (Pause) Remember when *you* submitted something to "Sick Sad World"?

(Daria looks up. Her face reddens a little in both anger and embarrassment. The memory---whatever it is---obviously isnít pleasant. Weíre set up for a flashback---)

 

SCENE 4A: (FLASHBACK) ROOM, SOMEWHERE IN BOSTON:

(The room is tiny and sloppy. There are two beds and two desks. There are a number of familiar artifacts strewn around---the heart model, the cheese model, the Kafka poster, the bone collection. Thereís a TV, and itís on. But they occupy only one half of the room---the other taken up with artifacts and painting---some on the wall, some just stacked against it---all of which clearly belong to Jane Lane. Thereís also an easel, with a half-finished abstract on it.

(Daria sits on the edge of the bed. Sheís dressed in what had been her usual high school outfit---green jacket, orange shirt, boots. In her hand we see a couple of pieces of paper.

(Cut to a view over Dariaís shoulder. We see what the top paper reads. Itís a letter. The "Sick Sad World" logo is in the upper left corner; the upper right corner has a picture of a man typing at a word-processor and a thought-balloon containing a human heart on a bed of leaves. Itís on-screen long enough for us to read all of it.)

LETTER: Dear Ms. Morgendorffer: Thank you for your submission. Unfortunately we have no need for freelance submissions to "Sick Sad World" at this time. We appreciate your interest. Thank you, The Staff, "Sick Sad World."

(Thereís no actual signature: this is obviously a form letter. Cut back to Daria, who shuffles through some yellow papers. Itís a hand-written manuscript. Cut to view over Dariaís shoulder again. We see some words on one individual page. The handwriting is Dariaís, as seen in "The Daria Diaries" and "The Daria Database.")

MANUSCRIPT: Mad Hatterís tea party? This girl had a party with real rodents. Toast and marmosets for tea, next on "Sick Sad World."

(Cut back to Daria, who looks up. Cut to full view of the TV. Thereís a picture of a blonde girl sitting at a table with a tea set. Sheís pouring...and the table is swarming with what looks like rats.)

ANNOUNCER: Wild tea parties? Alice had nothing on this girl. Toast and marmosets for tea, next on "Sick Sad World."

 

SCENE 4 (CONTINUED): DARIAíS / JANEíS / QUINNíS APARTMENT.

(Everybodyís where they were. Obviously they talked while the flashback raged on.)

DARIA: Yes, that was the flaw in the lawsuit I wanted to bring. Iíd never be able to prove it was plagiarism. (Pause) Helen pointed that out to me when I brought it up.

QUINN: And at length, Iím sure. Mom could be so, er, *long-winded* when discussing legal matters. (Pause) Did they use any of your other ideas?

DARIA: Four that I was sure of, three that were probable.

JANE: Different puns.

DARIA: I quit watching after that.

(Pause, as both Quinn and Jane look at Daria with deep suspicion.)

DARIA: (with emphasis on each word) On a regular basis.

JANE and QUINN: (simultaneously) Oh.

(After a brief pause, the conversation continues.)

JANE: You know, I bet I know whoís directing this segment.

DARIA: What segment?

JANE: This upcoming "high school highway robbery" segment of "Sick Sad World," Daria! What did you think?

DARIA: I donít know. I lost interest in our conversation after I finished speaking.

JANE: Anyway, I think I know. Tom.

DARIA: Tom who?

JANE: (with some excitement) Tom Sloane! Your high school boyfriend.

QUINN: Wait a minute. Wasnít he *your* high school boyfriend, too?

JANE: Yeah, but he did Daria last.

DARIA: By the word *did,* if you mean you had any sort of sexual relationship with him, then youíve kept your secrets well. (Pause.) I havenít heard from him since my senior year at Raft.

JANE: But you do remember him.

DARIA: How can I forget someone who did us over the way he did?

JANE: Címon, Daria, even *I* forgave him.

QUINN: (to Jane) And sheís the one you stole him from. (Pause) What did he do that was so terrible? I mean, what *else* did he do?

JANE: Went on to Bromwell without her. (Pause.) And you know what they say about Bromwell graduates?

QUINN: That itís a great way to spot a trust-fund boyfriend?

JANE: Close. (Pause.) That the Bromwell diploma gives them, shall we say, a little edge in certain media jobs?

DARIA: Unlike the toilet paper that is my Raft diploma. (Pause.) Jane, how do you know Tom Sloane works for "Sick Sad World"?

JANE: I see his name, every week, in the credits. Segment Director: (makes "quotation marks" with her hands and fingers) Tom Sloane.

DARIA: (shrugs) Even if that was enough evidence to go on, what makes you sure that *that* Tom Sloane is the Tom Sloane we knew. (Pause) Sloane is a common name.

QUINN: I see it every day. (Pause.) I think of it every time I go to the bathroom.

(Daria and Jane look at Quinn, then at each other. Neither particularly wants to explore this statement. Jane shrugs and decides to ask anyway.)

JANE: Okay. Why do you think of the name Sloane when you go to the bathroom?

QUINN: Itís on the automatic flush toilet in my building.

DARIA: (suddenly less puzzled) I know those. (Pause) Like Tom Sloane, they donít work, either.

JANE: Still some lingering bitterness, I see.

DARIA: I suppose. (Pause) But I donít see why youíre so sure that *that* Tom Sloane is *the* Tom Sloane.

JANE: Call it a hunch. (Pause) But promise you wonít be too surprised when he walks back into your life after all these years.

DARIA: If he walks back into my life. Iíll believe it when I see it.

(The doorbell rings.)

QUINN: Iíll get it.

(Quinn gets up and goes to the door and opens it. Standing outside is the Grim Reaper---dark robe, hood shadowing face, scythe, the whole shebang. Quinn stands for a moment holding onto the doorís edge, then turns a little.)

QUINN: (loudly, but calmly) Daria! Itís for you! (To the Grim Reaper) Come in, come in!

(The Grim Reaper enters. Daria gets up.)

DARIA: (while moving quickly) Oh. I forgot. I wonít be a minute. Quinn, can you give me a hand?

(She hurries off and goes upstairs into her room, followed by Quinn. The Grim Reaper comes in and drops his hood---itís Mack under that robe. Jane looks him over calmly and coolly.)

JANE: Mack? Is there something about yourself that you havenít told us?

MACK: Itís Daria. Iíve come from her.

JANE: So I thought. (Pause.) Will this be a permanent departure, or will she be back in time for her morning classes?

MACK: Oh, theyíll be plenty of time for that. (Pause.) Iím trying to motivate the football team to do better in school, so Iím putting on a little theater piece to do so. Daria agreed to help.

JANE: Then this isnít a new part time job?

MACK: You havenít heard of an opening, have you? (Pause.) No, I just need to light a fire under some players about their grades. Would you believe that most of them spent all day looking for buried treasure at Lawndale High?

JANE: (smiles) Ah, yes. The Treasure of Angela Li. "Sick Sad World" has been full of it.

DARIA (V. O.): Oh, theyíre full of it, all right.

(Camera pans up the stairs as Daria comes down. Sheís now dressed as Justice---white robes, sword in one hand and scales in the other. The sword and scales look very real. The effect is somewhat spoiled by Daria still wearing her white jacket over her robes. Quinn follows behind her.)

QUINN: We were just discussing it.

MACK: Yeah, I canít believe that rumor is still going around.

JANE: I was just telling Daria that Tom Sloane is one of the segment producers.

MACK: The guy that, er, both of you dated back in high school?

DARIA: (a little off-put) Yes, but not at the same time. (Pause.) Iím not sure itís the same Tom Sloane.

MACK: Maybe. And even if it is, what are the odds heíd be assigned to this particular story?

 

SCENE 5: LAWNDALE HIGH SCHOOL, CORRIDOR, NEXT DAY.

(The cut is abrupt, to a shot looking down a long Lawndale High locker-lined corridor with doors here and there. Thereís a video camera on a tripod, with a camera man, and a big fuzzy microphone being handled by a sound guy. Theyíre dressed typically, but theyíre nobody we recognize. The camera POV is directly behind them, with their camera pointed away from it.

(The camera cuts to Tom Sloane. Yes, itís *the* Tom Sloane, the one we all know. Heís wearing a photojournalistís vest over his shirt, and a "Sick Sad World" baseball cap, but otherwise he looks the same. Heís holding a clipboard, and looking at his wristwatch.)

TOM: You rolling?

CAMERAMAN: Rolling.

(They wait a moment.

(The school bell rings. All at once kids come out from the classroom doors into the hall. They pass the camera. Some give the group curious looks, but none misbehave for the camera.

(After a moment or two, the crowd thins out, and then is gone.)

TOM: And...cut! (Pause) Good. Perfect. Now letís set up outside the principalís office.

(The cameraman and sound guy pick up their gear and follow Tom down the corridor. Partway down, Daria emerges from one of the classroom doors. Tom and Daria see each other almost simultaneously and stop dead in their tracks. The cameraman and sound guy stop a moment later.)

TOM: Daria?

DARIA: Tom? It *is* you. (Pause) Jane said you were directing on "Sick Sad World," but---

TOM: Oh, Iím just a segment director right now. (He waves his film crew on.) Principalís office. Now. Iíll catch up. (They depart, and he turns his attention back to Daria. He grins.) Itís good to see you again, Daria. What brings you to Lawndale High?

DARIA: The money and glamour.

(Tom chuckles.)

DARIA: Actually, Iím teaching here.

(Tom chuckles again, then looks suddenly shocked.)

TOM: Oh, wait, youíre serious. Youíre teaching here?

DARIA: It pays.

(Long and awkward pause.)

DARIA: But never mind about my perceived failure. What about you? How did you wind up working for "Sick Sad World"?

TOM: Oh, after graduation I heard about an opening for an assistant. I worked my way up to segment director. (Pause.) Iím hoping to do better.

(Before this conversation can continue, another man runs up, wearing a T-shirt with a "Sick Sad World" logo on the back and the words ASSISTANT stenciled above it.)

ASSISTANT: Tom? The Cannonís here. Weíve gotta go.

TOM: Damn. Sheís early. ("Assistant" runs off. Tom starts to, then turns to face Daria again.) Look, Iíve got to run. The Cannon just showed up.

DARIA: The Cannon?

TOM: (blinks with confusion, then understands). Oh. Sally Cannon. (Pauses at Dariaís confusion.) Our on-camera talent. You remember her. Blonde, a million facelifts, phony English accent.

DARIA: Oh. Sheís still alive?

TOM: Well, thereís some talk about that back at the office. (Pause) I gotta run. Catch up with you...later, somewhere?

DARIA: Iíve got a free period at 2:00.

TOM: Right. Faculty lounge, then? Weíre using that as our office.

(Tom runs off. Daria looks slightly more sour than usual.)

 

SCENE 6: LAWNDALE HIGH, FACULTY LOUNGE. AFTER 2:00 PM.

(Shot of door. Printing on it reads: FACULTY LOUNGE. Below that, somebody has taped up a handwritten sign saying SICK SAD WORLD OFFICE. KEEP OUT!

(Cut to the lounge interior. The lounge is the cruddy mess we remember from our rare encounters with it in the past, only some ten years dirtier. The dartboard is gone; the notices on the bulletin board are more current. Some "Sick Sad World" gear and boxes are piled on the floor, and some of their paperwork is strewn over the rickety table.

(Tom and Daria sit at the table, across from each other. Theyíre the only ones in the room.)

TOM: I was more than a little surprised when you said you were teaching here.

DARIA: It was something of a surprise to me, too. But one thing led to another, and, like I said, it pays.

TOM: But, from your tone, not well.

DARIA: It pays. (Pause) Nothing else did when I took it.

TOM: What happened with your writing? I always figured---well, I thought---

DARIA: I hadnít sold anything when I took this job. (Pause) I have since, but that just stocks up my Montana Cabin Fund. (Pause.) Two ghostwriting jobs. Nothing Iíd want to admit to in public.

TOM: (Grins as if suddenly realizing something.) Was one of them that Kevin Thompson book?

(This brings a slight "Mona Lisa" smile to Dariaís lips.)

DARIA: Yes, but you didnít hear it from me. Ever. (Pause.) Besides, runaway inflation eats at my capital. Iím poor as a churchmouse.

TOM: Well, this job doesnít pay any better, but my trust fund covers my room and board. I get by. (Pause.) You seeing anybody?

DARIA: Iím in a low-key relationship with someone. (Pause.) You?

TOM: Iím between people right now. How about we continue this over dinner? Tonight? (Pause.) Iíve got an expense account. Anything goes.

DARIA: You need an expense account?

TOM: (faking embarrassment) Well, I donít actually *need* it, but it comes with the job.

 

SCENE 7: INTERIOR, PIZZA PLACE.

(It looks much the same, except that now Daria and Tom are clearly the oldest customers in the place. Some of the students from Lawndale High can be seen sitting at the other tables. Their order has not yet arrived.)

TOM: (chuckling) So then what happened?

DARIA: Well, in the parking lot that night, she took a swing at me.

TOM: Oh. Did you---

DARIA: No. But I did refuse to work with her, ever again. (Pause) But she *was* the managerís daughter. And when they cut my schedule to four days a week, I walked out, never to return. (Pause.) That ended my career in the world of fast food and action toy distribution.

TOM: (smiling) Daria, you havenít changed a bit.

DARIA: Iíd like to think I have. (Pause.) Iím more interested in money than I used to be, now that my parents arenít paying the bills.

TOM: Youíre not---

DARIA: No, Iím not. I make enough to get by.

TOM: Well, Iím still stuck with the Sloane wealth. Trust funds and parents.

DARIA: The key to happiness. (Pause) You know, when you mentioned *expense account,* I just assumed it would be *expensive.*

TOM: Well, I couldíve. But I remember how you reacted when I took you to the club---

DARIA: Curses. My past follows me wherever I go.

(The waiter comes up with their pizza. Itís Artie, of course, from "Esteemsters," "The Lawndale File," and "A Tree Grows in Lawndale." His acne has cleared up, but he looks just the same otherwise.)

ARTIE: Pizza! (Pause. Artie frowns.) You look familiar.

DARIA: Iím an alien love goddess who stole your skin.

ARTIE: No, thatís not it. (Artie snaps his fingers and smiles.) I know. Youíre Daria! I used to deliver pizza to you and your friend Jane!

DARIA: (astonished, despite herself) You remember that?

ARTIE: Yeah. I admit it was pretty foolish, thinking aliens had taken me aboard their ship and probed me.

TOM: Everything has its limits.

ARTIE: But Iím past that now. (Thereís a crashing-glass noise somewhere off-camera. Artie looks alarmed and runs off.)

TOM: Prozac and lithium. They work miracles. (Tom shakes his head and grins) I just canít get over you teaching at Lawndale High. I mean, itís such a surprise, when I remember---

DARIA: I *donít* have a trust fund to fall back on, Tom.

TOM: No, no, I donít mean the job. I mean the things you said about Lawndale High, the teachers, the students. (Pause.) Why did you take the job?

DARIA: Itís the inevitable result of failure at a chosen occupation.

TOM: But teaching? I mean, er---I mean you seem so---

DARIA: (a little hostility creeping into her voice). I know what you mean. (The hostility vanishes.) When I graduated from Raft, I thought I was ready to make a living at writing. But it never happened. Not even a little.

TOM: But you ghostwrote Kevin Thompsonís autobiography. That mustíve paid something.

DARIA: Officially I didnít. And it didnít pay enough to quit my job and live on.

TOM: But, I mean, teaching!

DARIA: Is there something wrong with teaching?

TOM: What?

DARIA: (the sound of annoyance coming out strongly in her voice) I asked you if there was something wrong with teaching.

TOM: (surprise in *his* voice) No, no, nothing like that. (Pause) I mean, back when we were in high school, I never thought that *you* would---

DARIA: We canít all get jobs on "Sick Sad World."

TOM: (a little annoyance creeping into his voice now) Wait a minute. I worked hard to get on "Sick Sad World."

DARIA: How hard would you have to have worked if you hadnít been a son of the Sloanes?

(A moment of awkward silence comes between them---and conversation has stopped around the pizza place, thought Tom and Daria donít notice it---before Tom speaks and breaks it.)

TOM: Look, Daria, I donít expect you to understand all I had to do to get and keep this job.

DARIA: Yes, we all donít have the advantage of a Bromwell education.

TOM: Now, thatís not fair, Daria.

DARIA: Is it? (Pause) Of the staff of "Sick Sad World," how many used to work on the "Bromwellian Nightmare"? (Pause) Not the technical people, just the writers and producers.

TOM: (still angry, but then suddenly puzzled) Er...ah...well...

DARIA: I thought so.

(Daria slides out of the booth and gets to her feet.)

DARIA: Let me not contaminate your view of the world with my non-Bromwell ideas.

(She walks out of the restaurant. Tom, stunned, watches her---as does every other pizza place patron in sight. When the door closes behind her, they all turn towards Tom.

(Tom, suddenly embarrassed, looks down at his pizza.)

(end Act One)

 

(commercials)

 

ACT TWO:

 

SCENE 1: EXTERIOR, LAWNDALE HIGH

(Tom walks along and Daria comes up to him.)

DARIA: Tom---

TOM: Yes?

DARIA: I want to apologize for last night.

TOM: (smiling) Thatís all right.

DARIA: I was rude for no good reason.

TOM: (still smiling) Forgiven.

DARIA: And I stormed out on you.

TOM: (still smiling) No problem.

DARIA: Will you at least let me apologize?

TOM: Whatever makes you feel better. (Pause.) Iím in town for the next week, wrapping this story up and visiting my folks. We can try dinner again, maybe at some place fancier than plain pizza. (Pause.)

DARIA: You mean with pineapple this time?

TOM: (grins) Youíve still got your sense of humor. (Pause.) You can even apologize again, if you feel you need to.

FEMALE VOICE (V. O.): Sloane! My trailer! Five minutes!

(Tom looks behind him, towards the source of the voice.)

TOM: Oops, gotta go. Iíve got to explain a few things to the Cannon.

DARIA: Donít let me hold you up.

(Tom hurries off. Daria watches him for a second, then moves on.)

 

SCENE 2: INTERIOR, TRAILER.

(Establishing shot of a large silver Airstrem-style shaped trailer, parked in Lawndale Highís parking lot.

(Cut to shot of trailerís door. A sign on it reads: SALLY CANNON. PRIVATE.)

(Cut to interior of trailer, which is extremely well-furnished. The camera focuses in on a small table, where Sally Cannon is sipping a can of Diet Ultra Cola in her right hand, while with her left hand she reads a script. Sally Cannon is the blonde English-accented woman weíve occasionally seen conducting interviews on "Sick Sad World." From her appearance, we can tell sheís had one too many facelifts.

(Tom sits opposite her. He looks uneasy.)

SALLY CANNON: Mmm. (Pause) Mmm. Itís shaping up as well as expected, but it still needs something else, and I know what that is. (Pause) Now, Sloane, fill me in on why we havenít been able to find this Angela Li person.

TOM: (shrugs) Itís hard to say. After she was released from prison, she dropped from sight. Her lawyer doesnít know what happened to her, the school board doesnít know what happened to her...

SALLY: What about her parole officer?

TOM: Died last year.

SALLY: My sympathies. (Pause) Who got her case after that?

TOM: Nobody seemed to know.

SALLY: (puts down the script and sighs) The staff having failed me, I guess Iíll have to do this one myself, impress them with my celebrity and all that. (Pause) Still, somebody here at the school may know something. You work that end.

TOM: Iíll keep asking.

SALLY: Do more than that. (Pause) I saw you talking to that plain girl with glasses. Does she work here?

TOM: Er...Daria? Eh...yes. Yes, she does.

SALLY: And you know her.

TOM: (Pause, where Tom fidgets with unease) Our relationship is, well, a bit complex---

SALLY: (holds up a hand) I donít need to hear it. Just pump her for information and report back if you get any results. (Pause) And I want results. Do I make myself clear?

TOM: Yes, Ms. Cannon.

SALLY: And I want to see a rough edit by tomorrow morning.

TOM: Iíll see that itís ready for you---

(Thereís a loud knock on the door).

SALLY: Oh, that must be my masseuse. Get out.

TOM: (standing) Yes, maíam.

(Tom goes to the door and leaves, as a large muscular woman comes in and stands a moment. Abrupt cut to:)

 

SCENE 3: CORRIDOR, LAWNDALE HIGH.

(Tom walks along with Daria. Daria is carrying a couple of books in one arm. The corridors are relatively deserted.)

DARIA: I just want to say I overreacted last night.

TOM: Youíre just a little sensitive about how your career went, thatís all.

DARIA: (sighs) Yes. (Pause) When I left high school, it was simple. It *seemed* simple. I was going to write. I was going to send it to somebody. I figured on a few rejections along the way, but I figured somebody would have bought something eventually.

TOM: We canít roadmap our lives out like that, Daria.

DARIA: Iím an expert on that. You donít have to tell me.

TOM: Well, donít think life at "Sick Sad World" is all one joyride after another. Itís hard work. (Pause) The Cannon---Sally Cannon, that is---wants me to pump you for information.

DARIA: Iím all about information. Iím a teacher.

TOM: I know. Iím still surprised---I mean, not in some bad way. Just given what I remember you saying about your own teachers---I mean, no offense.

DARIA: None taken. (Pause) Yet. (Pause) Iíve learned a lot about teaching from the doing of it. I realize, now, that when they talked about wanting to do something else, they werenít just saying that to be annoying.

TOM: Yes. We were all a bunch of smart asses, and all great pains to our teachers.

DARIA: If I had a chance to do it all over---

(They stop in the corridor. Daria shakes her head.)

DARIA: No. I donít think I would have done anything different, not with my teachers. I might have been annoying to them, but they were annoying to me.

TOM: (Shrugs) Still, it seems an odd chosen profession.

DARIA: (showing some burning anger) I did not *choose* education.

TOM: (hastily backing off as he realizes heís accidentally hit a nerve once again) No, no, I donít mean that, I understand, I really do. (Pause) How is it, Daria? I mean, teaching. How do you handle it?

DARIA: Very well, actually.

TOM: "Annoying" came up a while ago. Do you, a teacher, have anybody as annoying as you were?

DARIA: Oh, some come close, I think. (Pause) But Iíve learned not to let it bother me. (Pause again) Maybe Iíve grown up a little.

TOM: Adulthood does strange things to the mind, Daria. I suppose now, itís easier to face down a class of people just like you used to be.

DARIA: (flashing back to annoyed again) What do you mean, easier?

(Tom holds up his hands and shakes them in a "No, no, no!" gesture, realizing heís, again, hit an unexpected minefield with this line of thought. He starts to realize there are very few places where he *wonít* step on a mine.)

DARIA: Do you think what I do is *easy*?

TOM: No, no, er...what I mean, is---

DARIA: That teaching a crowd of young men and women who really donít want to learn anything is easier than what you do?

TOM: Not at all, I---

DARIA: We canít all coast on our family names and college contacts.

TOM: Daria, I---

DARIA: If you think itís *easy,* youíre inside a typical high school, now. Take a look around you!

(A bell rings, signaling the end of class. Students erupt from the classroom doors, as Daria stalks off, angry. The corridor is now full and Daria loses herself in the crowd.)

TOM: Daria! Wait!

(Tom gets around the students as he follows after Daria.

(Cut to: Daria. She, and several students, quickly enter a classroom. Tom comes up, and hurriedly goes inside behind them. More students come in behind him.)

(Cut to:)

 

SCENE 4: CLASSROOM, LAWNDALE HIGH.

(The classroom is the same as in Act One, Scene Two, except now it is filled with students. Daria is at the teacherís desk. The bell rings again and the last student closes the door behind him. As everyone settles in, they look at Tom. Tom grins uneasily.

(All three students Daria approached in Act One, Scene 1 (Shakira, Stan, and Patty) are sitting near the front.)

DARIA: Students. We have a guest today. (Pause) This is Tom Sloane. Heís a segment producer with "Sick Sad World." Some of you may recognize his name from the show credits.

(Utter silence from the students.)

DARIA: And heís agreed to speak to us today about what he does and why.

TOM: Daria, I---

DARIA: Perhaps heíll be kind enough to answer a few questions afterwards. (Pause) Mr. Sloane?

(Tom really looks uneasy now...heís starting to sweat.)

TOM: (facing the class) Er. As Dar---er, as Ms. Morgendorffer said, Iím one of the segment directors for "Sick Sad World."

DARIA: And how did you come to get this job, Mr. Sloane?

TOM: Well, uh, after college, I got a staff position, and worked my way up.

DARIA: (giving her Mona Lisa grin) Mr. Sloane is a graduate of Bromwell College. Iím sure some of you senior class people know how difficult it can be to even get into a university like Bromwell.

(Thereís some rumbling from a couple of the brighter-looking students, who have obviously had this very problem.)

DARIA: How did you get into Bromwell, Mr. Sloane?

TOM: (a little angry and hurt) Daria, please.

DARIA: (turning to the class) Mr. Sloane worked very hard to get in. Iím sure his parents, Angier and Katherine Sloane, are very proud of him. (Daria focuses in on one student, a pale dark-haired glasses-wearing boy, who seemed especially interested.) Yes, Lawrence. You have a question?

LAWRENCE: Mr. Sloaneís father is Angier Stone? The, er, financier?

(Daria smirks, realizing sheís gotten her point across to *some* students.)

TOM: (still a little nervous) Yes. Yes, my father *is* Angier Stone. (Now growing more calm and assured) But Iíve tried my best to, uh, *not* make use of my family connections. Segment producing for "Sick Sad World" is difficult enough, without people thinking I got my job through family or college connections. I have to say and do many things, and where I went to college isnít as important as some people would have you think. (He glares at Daria, who is still smirking.) Does anybody have any questions about "Sick Sad World," or what weíre doing here in your high school?

(An extremely pale blonde-haired girl slowly raises her hand.)

TOM: Yes. You, uh...

GIRL: Whatís Sally Cannon *really* like?

(Tom grins.)

 

SCENE 5: CLASSROOM, LAWNDALE HIGH. LATER.

(Some time has passed. Tom is still talking to the class. Heís relaxed and easy with the situation, now. Daria, still at her desk, still seems exceptionally pleased.)

TOM: Now, Iím sure all of you know how unlikely there *really* is hidden treasure within the walls of Lawndale High. But nobody really knows just what Angela Li did with the money she embezzled. In fact, nobody knows just *where* Angela Li *is,* right now. (Pause) None of you know, do you?

(The students mutter and shake their heads. Theyíre more at ease with the situation, now, too.)

SHAKIRA: But you still hope to make a good segment out of this story?

TOM: Well, we *hope* to find Ms. Li shortly. But we can make something out of this whether we find her or not. We---

(The bell rings. The class rises to go. Daria stands up and holds up her hands.)

DARIA: Class, the assignment for tomorrow are Chapters Eight through Ten on the disk. And, remember, early next week, there *will* be a quiz on these chapters.

(The class groans, and then continues to exit. Daria and Tom stare at each other, both looking pleased.)

 

SCENE 6: CORRIDOR, LAWNDALE HIGH.

(Daria and Tom walk along, and the camera moves along with them. Occasional students cross their path.

(Before either speak, the camera pans past a poster on the wall. Itís a picture of Daria, in that "scales and sword of justice" outfit, with big letters on the bottom, that say: DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Neither Daria nor Tom give any indication theyíve seen it.)

TOM: That was a dirty trick you pulled on me.

DARIA: But you handled yourself well.

TOM: I admit it. I freely admit it. Your job is harder than it looks to an outsider. (Pause) But grant me that same courtesy, wonít you, Daria? My job is harder than it looks.

DARIA: I donít doubt it. (Pause) My resentment stems from not being given the same opportunity.

TOM: Which Iím sure would have been yours if you had the right connections.

DARIA: I donít doubt that, either. (Pause) Still on for dinner?

TOM: Long as "Sick Sad World" is paying for it, Iím ready for anything.

DARIA: Good. Because I know a place where they serve food on *plates.*

TOM: You *have* upgraded your tastes since high school.

(They walk past a janitor in a blue uniform whoís sweeping with a push broom.)

TOM: Oh! I almost forgot I was supposed to pump you for information. (Pause) Do you have any idea where we can get in touch with Angela Li?

DARIA: Oooh! (shudders) No. No, I donít. I havenít seen her since graduation.

Sheís completely dropped from sight?

TOM: Near as we can tell.

(The camera freezes on the janitor as Daria and Tom walk out of frame. The camera then focuses in on the head and face of the janitor, and we see itís Angela Li herself. Sheís disguised herself with a phony black mustache, who looks in the direction Daria and Tom went, with equal amounts of anger and suspicion.

(end Act Two)

 

(commercials)

 

ACT THREE:

 

SCENE 1: "SICK SAD WORLD" SEGMENT

(The familiar logo appears on screen, and then is replaced by a "2010" shot of Lawndale High, which pans in. A narrator---Sally Cannon---begins to speak off camera.)

CANNON (V. O.): Itís not a terribly unusual situation. A high school principal...missing funds. The kind of story one hears at schools across the nation. But here in the sunny little suburb of Lawndale, things are different. The question remains...what happened to the money?

(Cut to old film of a smiling Angela Li as principal, greeting some visiting dignitary to Lawndale High (circa 2000).)

CANNON (V. O.): This is Angela Li. Principal of Lawndale High School for eleven years. During that time, millions were spent. But on what?

(Short cuts of various shots without sound, but dramatic music with beats timed to the edits. Security cameras on the ceilings. A lie detector. A fence topped with barbed wire. Security guards roaming the corridors.)

ANGELA LI (V. O. over the end of the films): The security of the students of *Lawndale High* was my paramount concern. I spared no effort to see that the learning experience was safe.

(Cut to a shot of Sally Cannon. She holds a microphone, and stands in front of Lawndale High (2010 version).)

CANNON: Yes, Angela Li spent a fortune on security. But where did the money come from?

(More short shots and music. A science lab, with an experiment on fire and an anonymous student beating on the flames. A grungy bathroom, as graffitied as the one in the Zon. The school library, after its roof collapsed in "Fair Enough." A shot of the cheerleaders in their "Ultra Cola" outfits from "Fizz Ed." A shot of Mr. DeMartino, raving away at a class (that includes the Three Js).)

CANNON (V. O.): Neglect of the facilities...questionable school sponsorship deals...teachers of dubious competence. Angela Li used all the tricks.

(Cut to Ms. Li, speaking at a press conference. Her expression is mixed anger and outrage.)

LI: I kept *Llawndale High* safe and secure! Your children have been protected because of me!

(Two sheriffs come up to Ms. Li at the podium. They handcuff her and lead her off, as Sally Cannonís narration continues.)

CANNON: Millions in tax money went to the school, and millions were spent. But, in the end, there was a slight problem.

(Cut to an owlish-looking man whose very appearance suggests: "Accountant.")

ACCOUNTANT: After all Ms. Liís, er, expenses were accounted for, there was still a gap between the allocated funds and the spent funds. Between seven hundred thousand and one point two million remain unaccounted for.

(Cut to Sally Cannon.)

CANNON: A substantial sum. Where did it go?

(Cut to the scene of Angela Li filling in a deep hole in front of Lawndale High---as seen in the "Sick Sad World" promo from Act One Scene Two.)

CANNON: There are those who say she buried it. I spoke with the current principal of Lawndale High, Ms. Alexandra Griffin.

(Cut to front of (2010) Lawndale High. Sally Cannon and Sandi Griffin stand down a little from the front steps of the school, Cannon on the left and Sandi on the right. Cannon holds a microphone in Sandiís face, which she moves back and forth as each speak. Sandi seems to have made an extra effort to be attractive for the interview.)

SANDI: I can definitely tell you, Ms. Cannon, that no hidden money, no treasure of any kind, is buried in Lawndale High.

CANNON: Can you be sure?

SANDI: I *am* quite sure. (Pause.) Ms. Cannon, I *happened* to have been a student at *Lawndale High* when that particular video was shot. Ms. Li is burying a time capsule, nothing more.

CANNON: And this capsule doesnít contain buried treasure?

SANDI: (chuckles) Nothing of the sort. We came across it last year, while we were installing a new and improved sewer line. It contained nothing more than items donated by the faculty and students of Lawndale High in 1999.

CANNON: Did Angela Li donate an item?

SANDI: Only a jar of fingerprint powder, which, given her, um, peculiarities, is not really a surprise, now, is it?

(Thereís a momentís pause here.)

TOM (V. O.): And...cut!

(The camera pulls back to reveal the "Sick Sad World" film crew, consisting of cameraman, sound guy, director with headset, and a couple of PAs. Tom is behind all of them, looking over a clipboard.

(Itís now late afternoon, after school has let out for the day. Still, thereís a crowd of students and teachers milling about. We see Daria among them, but attention is not drawn to her.

(The janitor / Angela Li is also there, behind them all, pushing a garbage can along.

(Sally Cannon walks towards the film crew and hands her microphone to the sound guy.)

CANNON: Sloane! I want a report in five minutes on why we havenít been able to find Angela Li for this segment! (Pause, as she moves out of shot.) Somebody get me a diet soda! Iím parched!

(Tom comes up to Sandi.)

TOM: Thank you, Ms. Griffin. You handled that well.

SANDI: (smiles) I have some prior experience with television. (Pause.) Have we ever met before, Mr. Sloane?

TOM: Well, Iím *from* Lawndale, originally, so I suppose anything is possible.

(Just then Daria comes up. Sandi gets an "oh, yes" expression on her face.)

SANDI: Thatís it. You used to---well, never mind.

(Sandi leaves and goes inside the school. The milling crowd is dissolving, and Tom goes over to Daria.)

TOM: Daria---

CANNON: Sloane!

TOM: Oops! Gotta go. Still on for dinner?

DARIA: As long as you can afford it.

CANNON (V. O.): Sloane!

(Tom hurries over to Sally Cannon, who now has another diet soda can in her hand.)

CANNON: Have you found Angela Li yet?

TOM: No luck yet. I have a few feelers out---

CANNON: (holds up her hand without the diet soda) Donít bore me with details. I hear youíre taking that teacher to dinner at our expense.

TOM: Uh...yes. (Pause) If anybody knows where the bodies are buried at Lawndale High, sheís your woman.

CANNON: Well, I hope youíre man enough to handle her. Carry on.

(Tom returns to a now-displeased Daria---Sally Cannonís last remark had been loud enough for her to hear it clearly.)

DARIA: Maybe working at "Sick Sad World" wouldnít have been that much fun, after all.

TOM: Oh, she didnít mean anything. (Pause) Meet you at six thirty?

DARIA: Make it six thirty-five. I like to prepare.

 

SCENE 2: GOVERNORíS PALACE.

(Itís the restaurant seen in "Is It College Yet?"---a classier rival to Chez Pierre. Itís fairly full up. Except for Daria and Tom, thereís no one around we recognize.

(Their food has long since arrived, and theyíve mostly eaten it. Thereís an open bottle of wine on the table and their glasses are full, but they donít seem to have taken more than a few sips.)

TOM: So there I am, interviewing these four college students, who each claimed that he was the one beamed aboard this giant UFO, but that the other three were lying. Now, how do I write a tag line for a story like that?

DARIA: "Four stories of a four-story flying saucer, next on ĎSick Sad World.í"

TOM: Maybe...gee, I wish youíd been around when we were working on it. You tried to sell some tag lines to us?

DARIA: Tried and failed.

TOM: Oh. (Pause) Well, maybe this is your big chance. You now know somebody who works inside. Iím your contact!

DARIA: Could I do that? (Daria seems to think about it.) No.

TOM: But itís entry!

DARIA: Iíve got entry. I ghostwrote two autobiographies.

TOM: But your name wasnít on them.

DARIA: But I was acknowledged. (Definite pause here.) Look, Tom, after all this time, I donít crave the attention. I just want to write.

TOM: You donít mind not being credited?

DARIA: In some ways it was an advantage.

TOM: Well, Iíll keep the door open for you.

DARIA: I donít know that it would have been better. (Pause) I did submit some story tags to "Sick Sad World."

TOM: Really? When?

DARIA: Back in my college days. I sent a dozen pages or so with a resumé.

TOM: (grins) Hey! Thatís how I got in!

(Daria pauses, as something suspiciously awful pops into her mind.)

TOM: Daria?

DARIA: What?

TOM: You seem lost in thought.

DARIA: Er, Tom...the last time I heard from you, I was at Raft and you were at Bromwell.

TOM: Weíre not going to start *that* again, are we?

DARIA: Tom, please. This is important. And when did you start work at "Sick Sad World"?

TOM: The fall after my graduation. (Pause) Where is this leading?

DARIA: Be assured that this *does* have a point, Tom. Do you remember a segment with a tag line that involved, uh, "toast and marmosets for tea?"

TOM: (grins broadly) Hey! That was one of the first ones of mine they used! (Suddenly not grinning, and realizing precisely where Daria is going.) But you didnít bring that up just off the top of your head, didnít you.

DARIA: No. No, I didnít. Did I ever e-mail you a copy of my submissions to "Sick Sad World"?

(Both of them stare at each other. The camera cuts to a shot of Tom, looking grim; then to Daria, looking grim; then to a shot of both of them, looking at each other while looking grim.)

 

SCENE 3: SUBURBAN STREET, LAWNDALE.

(Daria is walking through a non-descript Lawndale suburban residential street---nothing we recognize. Itís night now and streetlights are lit. As the scene begins, there isnít anybody else around. Daria is alone, deep into her own thoughts, and her face is set in a deep frown. Through the magic of television we can hear her thoughts through a voice-over. Thereís some variation in her frown and squints as each thought occurs to her.)

DARIA (V. O.): Connections. Connections. Not how good you are, but who you know. My stuff was good enough to get someone else a job at "Sick Sad World." What was so wrong with me that theyíd take him and not me? I have talent. Wasnít that enough for them? Did Tom Sloane really have that much of a leg up over me because of where he went to college? Why am I asking myself this question? What do other people think? (Stops.) Since when have you ever cared about what other people think? Why not ask someone else? Anyone else.

(Two guys wearing Lawndale High football jerseys wander into view. Unlike the mild idiocy of the Lawndale High football team circa 2000, and possibly from the night lighting, these guys seem somehow more menacing and threatening.)

DARIA (V. O.): What about them?

(As they approach, Daria raises one hand and moves to speak. Before a word pops out of her mouth, the two football players gasp and cringe away from her. The "menace and threat" they had before slips away, and they seem even more stupid than their Y2K counterparts.)

FIRST FOOTBALL PLAYER: Itís the teacher with the sword and scales!

SECOND FOOTBALL PLAYER: Letís get out of here!

(Both run away.)

BOTH FOOTBALL PLAYERS: Aaaaaahhhhhhh!

(Daria looks more put out than before.)

 

SCENE 4: DARIAíS / JANEíS / QUINNíS APARTMENT.

(Shot of the buildingís outside: itís now nighttime.

(Cut to the interior. Itís dark save for some exterior light from the large windows on one wall. We can barely see anything other than a few shapes here and there.

(The door opens a crack, and thereís enough light from a source outside the door for us to see Daria coming in. The camera focuses in on her. Sheís tiptoeing and making a great effort not to be seen. She closes the door and turns---

(Only to find herself directly in front of Jane. Jane has one hand on the light switch, which she has just flicked on to brightly illuminate the apartment. Sheís wearing an outfit similar to the one she wore for bedtime in "Lane Miserables."

(Daria jumps back in surprise.)

JANE: All right, Daria, what happened?

DARIA: Jane. Is your life so empty that you have to pump me for details of *my* empty life?

JANE: Yes. Now talk.

DARIA: He asked me out. I went out. I came home. (Pause) That enough for you?

JANE: No. (Pause) What did he have to say?

DARIA: Nothing I want to talk about. Goodnight, Jane.

(Daria walks around Jane and starts to climb the stairs. Jane turns and watches her until sheís halfway up.)

JANE: He called.

(Daria stops and turns.)

DARIA: Oh.

JANE: Three times. (Pause) I know all about it, Morgendorffer. So you might as well come clean.

(Daria comes back down.)

DARIA: Whatís there to say? (Pause) I talked about "connections" and "colleges." How was I to know it was true?

JANE: Tom sounded pretty shook up when he called. And called. And called.

DARIA: (*very* bitter) Iím sure it was a shock for him, too.

JANE: Be pretty sure it was, Daria. He thought his talent got him in.

DARIA: You sound like youíre on his side.

JANE: There are no sides here. You tried to sell something to "Sick Sad World" and failed. Tom Sloane tried to sell something to "Sick Sad World" and succeeded. Simple as that.

DARIA: And if Iíd gone to the college heíd gone to, I would have succeeded, too.

JANE: Do you really think so? Are you that sure?

DARIA: No. No, Iím not. (Pause) I donít mean to be offensive---

JANE: So itís your poor people skills thatís at the heart of this.

DARIA: I mean itís none of your damned business.

JANE: Oh. Then *you* can talk to Tom when he makes his next call.

QUINN (V. O.): Donít bother.

(Daria and Jane are both startled and turn; Jane somewhat less than Daria. The camera cuts to a reverse angle, and we see Quinn, rising from the couch and standing up. Sheís dressed in a glamorous black outfit that suggests she just came in from an evening date.)

DARIA: How long have you been there?

QUINN: Long enough to hear everything. Oh, and also to take another call from Tom while Jane was in the bathroom.

JANE: Weak kidneys.

QUINN: Anyway, he told me what happened. Now...and when you were in college, too.

DARIA: Iím not talking about this.

(Daria begins to climb the stairs again.)

QUINN: Oh, and I told him to come over here and talk to you in person.

DARIA: What?

(Daria turns and walks slowly towards an unmoved Quinn, past an obviously-pleased Jane. She doesnít stop until sheís almost nose to nose with Quinn. Thereís a moment of silence before she speaks.)

DARIA: (slowly) How dare you.

QUINN: If thatís supposed to intimidate me, forget it. Heíll be over here in a few minutes.

JANE: (grinning) Itíll be nice to see him again. I wonder if heís still single?

DARIA: Heís between relationships. (Pause, as Daria turns to glare at Jane) Something *you* are not, as I recall.

JANE: (still grinning) A crushing end to an old fantasy. (Suddenly serious) Look, Daria, we know all about this. We know all about how Tom Sloane got a job at "Sick Sad World" because of your one-liner and his Bromwell diploma.

QUINN: And we know all about your feelings of, uh, (hesitates) inadequitudity, because you went to Raft instead of Bromwell.

DARIA: You mean (makes quotation marks with her hands) "inadequacy."

JANE: I think (also makes quotation marks with her hands) "inferiority" would be better here.

QUINN: Whatever. The point is, you have to get over it. (Pause) I mean, itís not like *our* family connections didnít help us some.

JANE: (grins very broadly now) Thatís true! Quinn wouldnít be where she is today if it hadnít been for your fatherís connections!

QUINN: Exactly. Now--- (Pause, as she turns to face Jane.) Wait just a frickiní minute. I worked hard to make Morgendorffer Consulting what it is today!

JANE: Quinn, dear, weíre supposed to be bothering Daria now.

QUINN: But youíre implying that---

(The camera cuts to a picture of a wall intercom, next to the front door, as a buzzer sounds, then cuts back to the scene at hand. Daria steps over and presses a button on it.)

DARIA: Yes?

VOICE (V. O.): (slightly distorted) A gentleman to see Ms. Daria Morgendorffer.

DARIA: (wearily) Send him up. (Turns away from the intercom, then turns back.) Wait a minute. Why didnít you just send him on up?

VOICE (V. O.): Itís after ten, maíam. House rules.

DARIA: House rules. (She cuts the connection and turns away.) Okay. You get your wish. Tom and I will talk and the two of you will get whatever ghoulish pleasure you can from eavesdropping on us.

(Thereís a knock on the door. Daria opens it, and steps back in surprise again.)

DARIA: Mack!

(The camera cuts to an over-the shoulder-of-Daria shot. Mack, wearing a sweatshirt and jeans, stands there.)

MACK: I saw the lights on.

JANE: Shouldnít you be out gathering the souls of the newly dead or something?

MACK: My career as the Grim Reaper is on hold. Daria made a better impression as Justice. (Pause) Anything wrong?

QUINN (V. O.): (shouting) Dariaís date with Tom didnít go well at all!

(Mack enters the apartment, as Daria steps aside slightly to let him pass.)

MACK: Really?

DARIA: My sister understates things.

JANE: She just found out that her view of the world was correct. More than she realized.

MACK: Oh? (shakes head) Iím confused.

DARIA: What theyíre saying, is that I found out that Tom Sloane---

QUINN: Dariaís ex-boyfriend.

MACK: I know.

DARIA: (somewhat strained) ---that Tom Sloane--- (relaxes back to her normal monotone) ---used a "Sick Sad World" story tag, that I wrote, to get his job at "Sick Sad World."

JANE: Heís on his way over right now. It should be interesting.

MACK: I see. I can see youíre upset by that---

DARIA: And that I, with that same story tag, could *not* get a job there.

MACK: Oh. (Almost a groan, as it connects with him.) Ohhhhh. (Pause) Well, you know how I feel about your obsession with the difference between your dreams and your life.

DARIA: I am not obsessed with my failures---

QUINN: (cheerily) Sure you are! (Pause) Just as Iím upset that Jane thinks I got ahead in the consulting business because my father started the company!

JANE: I never said I thought you got ahead because of your father. (Pause.) You got ahead because you have an evil power to manipulate men.

QUINN: (smiles) Thatís better. (Frowns.) Wait a minute---

DARIA: (loudly) As I was saying--- (softly) I do not need to remind everybody in this room that none of their lives also did not work out as they planned, either. Think about *that* before you criticize me. (Pause) Anybody else have anything to say before Tom arrives?

MACK: Could we send out for something before he gets here? Iím starving!

JANE: Thereís this spaghetti place two blocks down, but you have to pick up.

(Cut to a closeup shot of the intercom again, as it buzzes again. Daria is still the closest, and answers it again.)

VOICE (V. O.): (slightly distorted) Another gentleman to see Ms. Daria Morgendorffer.

(Daria leans over the intercom and presses its buttons.)

DARIA: Okay, who is it, this time? (Turns to glare at the others.) I donít want the whole world up here discussing this.

JANE: Maybe your parents. Maybe we can settle this fatherly influence issue.

QUINN: Now, look---

TOM (V. O.): (slightly distorted) Itís Tom. Tom Sloane.

VOICE (V. O.): Itís Tom--

DARIA: Send him up. (Pause) And donít call again unless you get a name first.

VOICE (V. O.): Yes, maíam---

(Daria cuts the connection before this conversation goes much further.)

DARIA: Well, itís only a minute or so before he gets up here. Tomorrow morning, we shop for blackout curtains.

JANE: No can do. I need all the light I can get for my painting.

QUINN: And Iím at my best in natural light.

DARIA: So itís two against one, is it. (Pause) If you wonít go for curtains, could all of you at least go hide in the kitchen while you listen in on our personal conversation with great glee?

(Jane, Mack, and Quinn all head towards the kitchen.)

JANE: At least we can get something to eat in there.

QUINN: If youíre cooking it, Iím not eating it.

MACK: Anything so long as itís edible.

(They enter the kitchen through the swinging door, which swings shut as the camera cuts to the front door. We here a KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK! sound. Daria opens the door. Itís Tom.)

TOM: Daria, I---

(Daria holds up a hand.)

DARIA: You donít have to apologize again.

TOM: Thatís good, because I really donít think I have to. Not for everything.

DARIA: (folds arms across her chest) I see. And what do you mean?

TOM: Well, obviously, I used your tag line in my submission to "Sick Sad World."

DARIA: Obviously.

TOM: But that might have gotten me an entry into "Sick Sad World"---

DARIA: ---And failed to get me entry.

TOM: Yes. *Maybe* because you *didnít* go to Bromwell---

DARIA: Maybe.

TOM: ---But you also should know, that I worked hard to get where I am right now. Your work may have---gotten me in, but it didnít keep me there.

DARIA: (sighs and uncrosses her arms) I agree.

TOM: You do?

DARIA: (sighs again) Tom. Sit down.

(With a wave of her arm she indicates the couch, and they go and sit there. The camera angle is such that the slightly-ajar kitchen door can be seen.)

(Cut to shot from just inside the kitchen door. Itís dark in there, of course, and we canít see too many details, but we can see Jane, Quinn, and Mack well enough. Mack crouches down behind the door near the floor. Jane stretches to see over Mack. Quinn stands behind them, arms crossed over her chest, peering around both of them.

(Janeís expression is one of intense interest. Quinn looks severely disgruntled. Mack seems neutral about it all.

(Mack is also eating a banana.)

QUINN: (softly) I mean, I donít think you have any idea how *hard* I worked to get where I am---

JANE: (turns a little to face Quinn) Shh! (loudly) Shh! I canít hear what theyíre saying!

(Cut back to Tom and Daria.)

DARIA: Tom. I realize that youíve been able to stay at "Sick Sad World" on your own merits. And I realize that I probably wouldnít have been able to do the same. Iím not the easiest person to get along with.

TOM: No, I--- (shakes his head, realizes heís trying to be polite, but remembers heís said things just like that before to Daria, and drops it.) Well, yeah.

(Cut to kitchen shot of Mack, Quinn, and Jane.)

MACK: (whispers) Well, he didnít have to be so quick to agree.

JANE: Shhh!

(Cut back to Tom and Daria.)

DARIA: So, even though my dumb puns clearly played a role in your getting a job at "Sick Sad World," it was you who ensured you stayed there.

TOM: Youíre not going to let me beg forgiveness, are you?

DARIA: Only if you feel like it.

TOM: I wasnít really inclined. (Grins without humor.) How do you think I feel, finding out, after all this time, that it really was where I went to school. and who my family was, that got me in.

DARIA: (sighs) I suppose if you had come by Lawndale High looking for a teaching job, you would have gotten that instead of me, too.

TOM: Probably.

(They pause for a moment.)

TOM: So now what?

DARIA: We go on, and I hold this over your head every time we meet from now on.

TOM: Sounds good. Every few years is all I could probably take.

(Daria turns her head)

DARIA: (shouts) Come on out, everybody!

(Cut to shot of Jane, Quinn, and Mack. Jane leans forward a little too much, and slips and falls. She knocks Quinn over, who knocks Mack over. All of them fall on the floor with a variety of yelps and groans.)

DARIA: I believe you know Jane and Quinn. And, as I recall, youíve met Mack, too.

 

SCENE 5: INTERIOR, TRAILER.

(Shot of Lawndale High in the early morning. Cut to: shot of Sally Cannonís trailer in the parking lot. Cut to: Interior.

(Tom sits across from Sally Cannon. Sally Cannon again sips a diet soda and reads a script: the whole setup is virtually identical to the previous scene in the trailer.)

TOM: So we talked it out, and came to some agreement about our post-college careers and the reasons things worked out.

CANNON: You say this Daria Morgendorffer can write?

TOM: Oh, yes. And quite well.

CANNON: And youíre living proof of how well she can write. (Pause) Well, if she can work up some more tag lines we can at least look them over.

TOM: Thatís up to her.

(Sally Cannon flips a page in her script, then sighs.)

CANNON: Weíll wrap this up today sometime, and put together something back at the office. Too bad you failed to find Angela Li.

TOM: When a person doesnít want to be found---

CANNON: So be it. (She puts down the can of soda and, still holding the script, stands up.) Sloane, Sloane...Bromwell got you here. If youíd gone to Oxford or Cambridge on a Rhodes Scholarship, who knows where your family influence would have put you by now?

TOM: Maíam?

CANNON: Never mind.

 

SCENE 6: CORRIDOR, LAWNDALE HIGH.

(Daria and Tom walk along. No students are in sight.)

DARIA: So youíll be back to the glamorous world of segment producing and gone from these halls?

TOM: If you mean back to the sweatboxes of editing rooms and childish behavior and inane antics of the staff and talent, then, yes. (Pause) We never did find Ms. Li. There were a lot of questions that were never answered.

(They walk by "the janitor" again, sweeping the hall.)

DARIA: Why donít you ask her now? (Pause) Hey!

(They both stop and turn.)

DARIA: Ms. Li?

(Ms. Li jumps, enough to slightly dislodge her phony mustache. She then drops the broom and runs off.)

TOM: (holding up one hand) Ms. Li! Wait!

(Tom runs after her. Daria watches them for a moment, then walks away.)

 

SCENE 7: FRONT STEPS, LAWNDALE HIGH.

(Ms. Li, still in her janitorís uniform but now without her phony mustache, is now being led away, her hands cuffed behind her back. Two large Lawndale policemen are escorting her. The camera pans along with them.)

MS. LI: There is no money hidden in Lawndale High! I spent it all! I kept the children safe, damnit! You should thank me!

(The camera pans past Sally Cannon, who stands with a microphone just next to a squad car with open doors. As the two cops place Ms. Li inside the car, Sally Cannon speaks.)

CANNON: There you have it. From the mouth of Ms. Li herself. Thereís no hidden treasure within Lawndale High. She spent it all. (Pause) But, then, if thereís no treasure, why did she secretly return to the scene of her crimes? Why did she jump parole and risk further jail time? Why did she disguise herself as Feodor Sergeievich Pavlov, the janitor of Lawndale High?

MS. LI: (muffled, within the car) I needed the work!

CANNON: We may never know the answers. (The doors of the squad car slam behind her, and the car drives away as she continues to speak.) This is Sally Cannon, for "Sick Sad World."

TOM (V. O.): And...cut!

(Sally Cannon relaxes, as the camera cuts to a new angle, showing the camera crew. We also see a few students on the steps of Lawndale High, as well as Daria.)

CANNON: Thatís a wrap. (She hands her microphone to a waiting crew member, then speaks as she walks off.) Weíll finish back at the studio. Deal with the sound problems then. And pull up some info on this Pavlov janitor. Where is he?

(Tom walks over to Daria.)

TOM: Weíll be out of your hair in about an hour. Then things can get back to normal around here.

DARIA: As normal as they can get around here. (Pause) Good-bye, Tom. Or is it "Till we meet again?"

TOM: I didnít know you went in for sloppy sentimental good-byes, Daria. (Pause) Iíll be back in town sometime soon. My parents still live here. Iíll give you a call then. (Pause) And in any case I want to see a dozen tag lines from you as soon as possible. This time youíll get a *personal* rejection.

DARIA: Been there, done that. Of course you Bromwell graduates can afford to brush us common people off.

TOM: Daria.

DARIA: What?

(The crackle of the cheap school P. A. system is heard. Both Daria and Tom turn as the voice speaks.)

SANDI (V. O.): Your attention please! This is your principal speaking!

 

SCENE 8: PRINCIPALíS OFFICE.

(Cut to a head-shot closeup on Sandi Griffin, as she holds a microphone to her mouth.)

SANDI: You may have heard that our *former* principal was arrested on campus while trying to find her lost treasure. I remind all of you that this treasure does not exist. There will be *no* further excavation or exploration of any part of *Llawndale High* now or in the future. This will be *strictly* enforced! (Pause) That is all.

(The camera pans back as Sandi lifts a sledgehammer. She has a little trouble hefting the sledgehammer, but she manages to put this on her shoulder and walks out of shot.)

(END CREDITS)

 

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This parody of "Daria" is copyright © 2003 by Robert Nowall. It is not intended to profit the author in any way, and may not be distributed without permission of the author. (That means please donít post or circulate this without getting in touch with me first.) For the time being, Robert Nowall can be reached at: RobtNowall@aol.com

Written 6/30/02 to 11/6/03.

 

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