- PART II
- "He's an hirsute
maker of earthenware - her Ph. D dissertation covered psychotropic
drugs and Kant! 'Hairy Potter and the Philosopher's Stoned' - coming
up NEXT, on 'Sick, Sad World!"
- Jane lay insensate on
the couch in the living room of Casa Lane, barely watching the
television when a sound – a non-ludicrous sound – caught
- "These your
nachos?" Jesse Moreno asked, appearing from nowhere into Jane's
line of vision. "Can I bum some?"
- "Yeah," Jane
replied, her voice tinged with sadness that drew Jesse's mind off
the snack in front of them.
- "You miss her."
- Jane turned to face him
as he sat down besides her. "Yeah."
- "She took her dad’s
- “Now she won't
- She nodded in agreement.
- "She won't let you
be there for her."
- "So now you're
- Jane blinked hard; it
was as if a light went on across her face, and she sat straight up.
- "Friends let it go
- Jane's voice regained
its strength. "Yeah."
- "I'm there for you,
- "So how come you're
- Jane suddenly stood up
and dashed out of the room; she reappeared moments later, her coat
on and wrapping a scarf around her neck. Trent, seeing her flash by
twice, came into the living room just in time to see Jane jerk Jesse
up from the couch and sear him to the floor with a serious kiss
before she catapulted out the front door.
- The leather-clad young
man stood transfixed as Trent came over and took Jane's seat on the
couch. "So you helped her out with her problem with Daria?"
- Jesse turned and gave
Trent a smile that, on any other day of his life, would have earned
him a spot in the Lane backyard… deep beneath the gazebo.
- Quinn and Daria lay
against one another in the ravaged rumples of their parents' bed,
the sweat cooling off their shining forms in the brisk air.
- "Yes, Quinn?"
- Quinn turned around to
face her, brushing scarlet and auburn hairs clear to see Daria's
face. "What's going to happen to us…?"
- "We're going to
sleep extremely well tonight," Daria replied, smirking as she
stretched herself against Quinn. "If you think you're up to it,
I think we could probably manage to put ourselves out until late
- "No, we need to
talk," the redhead said. "Daria, about Dad-"
- "He blew the
mailman's head off, then he blew his own brain loose from inside,
and he's been doing demolition work on us since we were born,"
Daria said curtly. "What really terrifies me is what would
happened if we had been born boys… God, what would he have
turned us into?"
- She gripped the pillow
under her head, and closed her eyes tightly. "I heard Mom
talking on the phone a couple of days ago. The mini-strokes he had
were only the beginning - he had a major one the day before her
meeting with the legal types. They don't think he'll make it into
- What surprised Quinn
about the news was that it didn't faze her. It seemed almost as if
they were talking about someone on the news, someone who they'd
never met and never would, and whose life really didn't affect them
one way or another. She looked thoughtful for a moment, and then
dropped down and snuggled up against Daria.
- "The sad thing -
the sad thing is… Daria, I just don't care," remarked
Quinn, her voice small. "I don't know why, but it's as if Dad
doesn't matter… like the part of him inside me that mattered
so much just disappeared, and it was filled in with something that's
just there, and he never meant anything. When he… when he…"
- Quinn stopped speaking;
they lay wrapped in soft cotton blends and each other, neither
saying a word. She had never talked to either Daria or Helen about
the day Jake had snapped or how he had treated her during the event…
They both knew everything, and Quinn knew that they knew, because
the police were quite insistent on grilling her for every detail -
they had to have the interview conducted by female detectives. Weak
and shaking for the interviews that took place immediately
afterwards, Quinn’s ‘damsel-in-distress’ aura
automatically ramped up to near-lethal levels, with her tears and
quivering making male detectives balk at asking even the most simple
- "He didn't
recognize me. He just said that I was… Daria, I was nothing
to him. I wasn't his daughter, I wasn't a person, and I was just…
there. A thing. The detectives asked me if he'd tried… if I
thought he was going to rape me, but he wasn't thinking like that.
- Her voice broke. "When
I first tried to get away, he swung at me and missed, then he
grabbed my- my left boob, and it wasn't like he got off or was
grabbing it on purpose - it was the part of me that he could reach
and grab onto. He twisted it as he pushed me down in the living
room, and that's when the mailman kicked in the door - he saw Dad
swing at me, and he kicked the door when I screamed - oh, God, it
hurt so much, like he was about to tear it off - and that's when it
sounded like something blew up in the house."
- Daria let her talk. "I
saw it, Daria. I saw the mailman's head come apart, like somebody
threw a rock through a giant eggshell, with all the stuff inside…"
A quavering tone fluttered through her voice. "It was like a
big yellow flame came out from where Dad's hand was, and Mr.
Ceedle's face wasn't there anymore - it all just came apart…
and he… the mailman… Mr. Ceedle… he walked
backwards a couple of steps - he took three steps back and started
to turn around, like nothing happened, and then he just dropped
down, out of sight. Dad just stood there, and I looked down -
something caught my eye, and the mail was sprayed all like someone
used a red squirt gun on it, but it was starting to run down the
envelopes, and … I heard this screaming start up, like a
crazy man just going on, and on, and on, and I looked up at Dad, and
his lips weren't moving, and he just looked at me…"
- Quinn shifted position,
and lay in Daria's arms. " He smiled at me. I know why Dad
didn't kill me, Daria. I know exactly why."
- There was silence in
cool darkness; silence, and two warm bodies. "It wasn't because
he wanted to rape me, or I wasn't a threat to him, or any of the
rest of the dumb shit that they're trying to say. Dad made a choice
when he didn't kill me. It was the last real decision he ever made."
didn't kill me because he wanted me to live. He saw something in me
that he wanted to keep going - I saw it in his eyes. I saw it,
Daria. I think Trent saw it, too… I think that, deep
down, that's why he's still alive, too. Dad knew, somewhere inside,
that he couldn't kill Trent because then they'd try to get him, and
they might get me by accident…"
shuddered. "That screaming I heard? It was me. When I saw what
Dad had done, I went- I went somewhere in me I didn't know, and
brought something back, and I was so… so… angry,
and I was screaming because I couldn't let it out any other way…
He thought I had his damage, and it made him so happy, but he was
still so far gone that he couldn't bring himself back... I watched
what he did, the way he, he - the way he removed me from his soul -
and now, whatever it was that I had in me for him is gone. It's
gone, and I don't care about Dad one way or another, and I know that
this, whatever I am now… He wanted us like this, Daria. He
wanted us ruined."
- "Don't think about
him any more," Daria said, cradling Quinn close to herself.
"He's gone. We'll never have to see him again."
- There was quiet,
punctuated by breathing. "I think you're right about the
bathtub - and God knows you could use a bubble bath."
- "What did I say
about the bathtub?"
- "Well… you
were thinking how much you'd like to see me all nice and smelling
pretty, and I was thinking back that you should let me give you a
- "Promise to scrub
me down properly, Quinn?"
- "Only if you give
as good as you get."
- "We'll see how good
you are at giving…"
- Their lips met, and then
they were both quiet for a long while, holding one another more for
comfort than for any other reason.
- A voice wafted through
- "What's going to
happen to us, Daria…?"
- An answer came through
the dark minutes later… many minutes later, and the room
seemed darker still.
- "I don't think it
- They broke into his
house one night, it was so sad to say
But he who'd written
children's books had a friend he called 'AK'
Who he handled with some
skill as they found to their dismay
So the police found them
bound quite nicely on the floor where they did lay
There's justice now in
Whoville, and the Grinch should stay away
'Cause Dr. Seuss joins
the NRA, on 'Sick, Sad World' today!
- "I really can't
believe that you actually watch that program, Anthony," Helen
sighed, turning back from the TV in Anthony's office at LHS - as
Assistant Principal, he rated an office of his own. "I really
can't believe that I let you talk me into bringing take-out Chinese
food here - or that we got it from that place. There's just
something about the 'Good Times' chain that makes me antsy…"
- "I LOVE that
place!" Anthony laughed, pulling open the refrigerator and
selecting a cola for himself. "There's a WEIRD vibe in that
place that reminds me of kids and the way ANYTHING can happen when
you deal with them! What's your pleasure, ma'am?"
- "Got anything
stronger than that cola?"
- "Well, there's
Janet's breath-" He stopped at the look on Helen's face. "I
thought you could use a laugh. I've got a few bottles of this new
beer Claire picked up - 'Bad Penguin Brew' - and there's also the
STANDARD bottle of single-malt scotch that Angela always presents to
her new BULLET-STOPPERS - "
- He stopped, and
deliberately calmed himself down. "I mean, her new assistant
- Anthony shook his head.
"I brought you here because it's actually comfortable here, and
I didn't want to take you to a restaurant or my home - that didn't
come out the way I wanted it to, either. Helen, I figured you'd like
some privacy, you wouldn't want tongues to wag about you dating one
of Jake's friends - and I didn't want you to think that I was trying
to think I was getting you to my place so I could play on your pain
and get you into bed! Now, just a moment-" He held up a hand as
Helen seemed about to protest. "Look, people think that way.
You can't deny that right now, most men see you as easy pickings -
and the smart ones will try to lure you into a sense of security and
THEN get into your pants!"
- Helen looked him over
dubiously. "You'd try to sleep with me-?"
- "Of COURSE I would!
Just what planet did YOU recently arrive from? Given a chance, I'd
be a fool NOT to sleep with you!" Anthony barked. "I'd
work you like a cotton field in the summer IF YOU LET ME! Now, since
we've gotten the business of wondering what I think of you as a
woman and the overall BOY- GIRL BULLSHIT out of the way, we can sit
down like adults, eat, and you can talk to me about how things are
- Helen had her first real
laugh in several months. "I bet Claire just LOVES being
involved with you."
- "Do you see any
rings on these fingers? No? GOOD! That means I don't have to give
any woman anything except the time of day if I don't want to - and I
certainly DON'T have to wear a leash!"
- "You actually care
about her, don't you?"
- "If the DALLAS
COWBOY CHEERLEADERS ever showed up and wanted to run a TRAIN on my
pale, SKINNY ass, well, Claire'll have to HIT the BRICKS! You,
however, DON'T have to worry about my 'lil friend!" Anthony
half-barked, half-laughed as he did a very bad 'Tony Montoya'
impression. "Now, if you tell ANYONE I said that, I'll have to
LIE and say that you're so good, you should do this for pay - and
that the guy'd better check his limit on his PLATINUM account!
- Anthony selected a
bottle of 'BPB', picked out a couple of glasses, and brought them
over to the table in the middle of the office. "It's a
microbrew from up Wisconsin, or Michigan, WHEREVER! It's actually
one of the best brews I've ever tasted-
- Helen almost gagged on
the scent that wafted upwards from the opened can like a mushroom
cloud over Japanese soil. "-Once you get past the smell. It
shames LIMBURGER- and you'd best NEVER let it get anywhere NEAR
warm! I've heard that the senior M.E. keeps a six-pack in the county
morgue to get past some of the more… fragrant visitors that
are brought in."
- "Are you
deliberately saying and doing things like this to relax me?"
- He poured the 'BPB', and
it was an interesting color of dark brown-to-black, a touch darker
than Guinness, with a truly impressive head of foam. "Unless
you've kept your constitution from your twenties, you'll only be
drinking ONE of those tonight!"
- Bracing herself, Helen
managed to hold her breath long enough to take a sip of the icy-cold
brew - and it was as if someone had just clipped her with a dump
truck. "My… God," she barely whispered, her eyes
wider than wide. "That's so amazing… you're actually
blurring as you move… but it's so… wonderful…"
- "It's like drinking
one of the better reds from the Simi Valley, but with a bouquet
lifted directly from the BLACK DEATH!" Anthony laughed,
scooping a healthy portion of broccoli beef onto a bed of fried
rice, then biting down into a piece of crab Rangoon. "I love
this stuff. Only part of being 'in country' that I enjoyed - the
cooking that they had."
- "You don't have a
problem with Angela, do you…?" Helen asked, her head
clearing. It was, she realized, a question that had never come up…
some veterans of the past major U.S. conflicts had developed
lifelong prejudices against any person of Asian ancestry…
- "Only when she
keeps trying to plant BUGS in here! I have a friend that comes in
every once in a while to clear stuff up… Angela just DOESN'T
REALIZE - well, she's got a part of her that can't accept that I
won't keep things from her that she needs to know, and my private
life doesn't count."
- "Anthony - don't
talk with your mouth full."
- Anthony grunted in
agreement, and devoured another piece of crab Rangoon.
- They ate in silence for
several minutes; Helen looked around the office. "Nice office.
Almost as nice as mine."
- "You're getting
- Anthony took a moment to
calm and focus - and Helen noticed that if he did that, he didn't
put emphasis on certain words as he spoke, like he usually did.
"Angela has a thing for appearances. It's why she didn't hit
the big red button the first day your daughter walked into this
building looking like she had a close encounter with the ghost of
Nolan Miller. For the first time, she looked 'appropriate'."
- Helen put her fork down.
"You don't pull punches, do you?"
- "It's obvious that
something's severely wrong with Daria. Horribly wrong. Angela's
ignoring it because now she's going to have three 4.0 students
graduating, Daria included - Landon's still valedictorian because of
her extracurricular activities and Ruttheimer's number two because
he got into the Air Force Academy - but her score on that test had
Angela dancing for days, and so she doesn't care that the girl's
heading towards the edge."
- "She could be just
trying to adapt, and not end up like her father."
- "If you BELIEVED
that, you wouldn't be sitting here right now. You'd be at home with
- "I left them alone
because I'm not worried about my girls."
- "You've been
leaving them alone because you're clueless about what to say to
them," he retorted. "I see it every day, Helen. The
parents don't know what to say to their kids when they see a
problem, even if they see what's wrong happening right in front of
them, so they don't say anything and just stop talking. The kids
don't know how to say what's wrong with them - and they damn sure
aren't going to go to their parents with something serious - they
never do, until it's far too late.
- Helen watched as
Anthony's face became stone. "The kids don't think they have
anywhere to let it all out, someone they respect enough to ask for
help because they won't get screwed over in the process or anyone
that they think cares enough to reach out to them, so whatever's
wrong - it just sits there. It festers, grows like a cancer, and one
day - it comes out in the worst way that you can see, or something
so horrible that you don't want to see it."
what I know about most men, you'd all love to see what's been
coming out… Helen thought. You'd pop a chubbie the
size of a Buick if you saw the girls the way I did… No.
That's not fair to you, Anthony. Knowing you, you'd try to solve our
problems and keep us out of the public eye while you're doing it, so
we can actually get the help we need and keep living out normal
lives without ever having everything about ourselves splashed over
24-hour TV and analyzed to death by all sorts of people, none of who
give a damn about us trying to stay together and build a future…
- Helen's eyes suddenly
- …Like you're
doing right now, at this very moment.
- Even though he was
sitting across from Helen, Anthony was seeing into another time, and
didn't notice the sudden flickering into darkness, or the apology
that flashed across her face directly in its wake. "And then,
at it's very worst - they always crawl home. Always. They want their
mommies to hold them one last time…
- "The signs are all
there, Helen. I'm not preaching to you. I'm telling you what you've
been ignoring as a parent but, as one of the best damn lawyers in
the state, you've known all along. I like you, Mrs. Morgendorffer.
Despite everything else, I liked your husband, and I think your
Daria is one of the best students I've ever had!
- He finished his cola in
one gulp. "I'd like to think that I'd retire someday, rather
than die in front of a class from a heart attack. If I do, they'll
probably give me a crappy retirement party - and I'd like to see
your daughter there. Kids like her… they make it easy to deal
with the rest of the bullshit. They make it all worthwhile. Hell, I
even like your other kid - she's starting to pull away from that
Griffin girl and buckle down… the new math teacher is crazy
- "Really? Quinn's
good at math? "
- "When it comes to
numbers, the child is not without skills," he continued. "Some
solid work over the next year might pull down a scholarship offer
for her. Helen. Go find your girls - and look around inside
yourself. Find the words that you need to say to them - and then, go
and get some help for yourself."
- "What makes you
think that I need therapy?"
- "I said 'help', not
necessarily 'therapy' - and because for the first time that I can
recall, you did not take charge of the conversation - especially
since your girls were the main subject, and because I was just
telling you what you should do in the area of parenting. If you were
your normal self, you'd have chewed through half my ass by now."
- Helen went quiet as she
speared an exceptionally large broccoli floret, and she chewed as
Anthony waited for her to talk; forgetting what was waiting, she
reached for her glass and slammed its contents down -
- Before that final
moment of clarity exploded, fragments of self-restraint and
hard-earned logical thought fluttering away through the suffocating
blanket that her need had become, Helen noted that being with Daria
was about touching, about feeling, about becoming; at the last, it
was spiritual, ethereal… the connection that, someday, you
prayed that you would make with someone, the bonding that made you
feel like a princess in a fairy tale, swept up and away in Prince
Charming's arms, and he'd never let you go…
- Being with Quinn was
savage reality. Quinn, so tanned, long and lean… Quinn, the
screamer... Gripping and solid, wet, sliding, sticky and smell,
scratching, pulling, flinching, giving just a bit… Being with
Quinn - that was getting your freak on.
hair all over… scarlet and chestnut and softness and silk
rolled together hard and hot and pin-lines of the thinnest blood,
screams frying through the dark and the heat, the salt and the
sweat, refusing to slow the fiery, headlong rush to drowning
inside them, pulling wet, bridle-length hair, rough friction
becoming sweet pain and sharp dullness; being pulled and crushing,
the whimpers, the grunting - escaping squeaks of air as you can't
want to stop the grasping and grinding from drilling straight
through and pushing down to feel it all filling into you so full and
fast and over and over and all around and oooh, nipping, nipping,
nipping - scream, bitch! This isn't about love! Spread me
wider and wallow - push in! Push IN! NOW!
- Now I can breathe.
- you think its that easy
to let go its more like a slight sunburn and it'll heal on its own
but not right away and you'll have to scratch you'll want to scratch
and you know that you shouldn't but it'll feel so good and who cares
what happens tomorrow and you do because you'll have to live there
but not right away and it'll sneak up one up on you and you're old
enough to know better and why don't you let them lay you can't fuck
your kids what's wrong with you wanting to feel that tongue over all
your bendy places and they will point why is your ankle hurting he
would fuck you but is that all you know from the books and he made
you want to change and there's nothing wrong with money slathering
all over you and lying in it while they kiss you all over i ache so
much what about the i'll get there what does it mean when she goes
guh i don't should cry more for him what about the radishes i have
to be the daddy because he's a bitch with balls who else wants to be
the mommy i'm so cold don't take my wings i can't yet smell the
grass who's the liar you're both supposed to be better than me it
binds us all down and the blood the blood the blood won't stop the
bad blood he won't stop reach down for me I can't make it RIGHT-
- get on your knees
- jake lying in the
marriage bed and the blood from his period flows you can't even hit
- its over.
- eat the eggs
- they're good for you eat
the eggs have some more
- But I don't really
- eat the eggs