The Games We Play

A Daria Fan Fiction by the Alchemist

Episode #507 - Helen


DISCLAIMER – Daria and cast are wholly owned by MTV. I am merely borrowing them for the duration of this work. I try and have them back on time, but I make mistakes sometimes. What? You thought that it was MTV’s fault that they cancel Daria showings at the last minute?


Darkness. A gentle movement is seen as the picture slowly fades in. We are inside Helen and Jake’s room. Helen is slowly sitting up as Jake continues to sleep. Standing up, she slowly makes her way into the bathroom. Turning on the bathroom light, she looks at herself in the mirror. Removing a jar of anti-wrinkle cream from the medicine cabinet, she begins gingerly applying it to her face.

Helen : (thought VO) When did I start getting old?


Finishing with the cream, Helen puts the top back on and replaces it in the cabinet.

Helen : (thought VO) It was just yesterday that Jake and I were in college … and now Daria’s about to go away to college? My little girl?


Helen looks in the mirror with a sad expression on her face.

Helen : Come on Helen. Must be strong.


Shaking her head at the futility, she heads out into the bedroom to get dressed.


Fade to the laundry room. Helen has a basket of clothing, and is sorting the whites into the washing machine.

Helen : You’d think after twenty-five years that Jake could figure out how to do the laundry correctly. But no, we always end up with pink underwear and pen-stained clothing.


With the laundry machine full, Helen measures the laundry detergent into the bin and closes it, selecting a cycle.

Helen : If I didn’t know better, I’d say that he does it intentionally …


Fade to the Morgendorffer kitchen. Helen enters and removes a power bar from a cabinet, finishing it in relatively short order.

Helen : (thought VO) Ahh, breakfast of champions. But I don’t have to leave for work for another half hour …


Pondering this, Helen walks over to the counter, and pours herself a cup of coffee. As she does so, she notices Quinn entering the kitchen. Smiling slightly, she turns to Quinn.

Helen : Quinn? Can I get you something?

Quinn : No thanks Mom. I’m fine.


Quinn walks over to the refrigerator, removing a grapefruit. Removing a bowl and a knife, she cuts the grapefruit in two, wrapping one half in foil and putting it back in the refrigerator. Picking up the bowl, Quinn removes a spoon from a nearby drawer and sits down at the table. Helen watches, waiting for an opening.

Helen : So is anything interesting happening at school today?

Quinn : Oh, I don’t know. Classes and stuff.

Helen : Which classes?

Quinn : Um, the same ones I’ve had all year?

Helen : (thought VO) Great. Quinn’s becoming as talkative as Daria.

Helen : And how are you doing in these classes?

Quinn : Fine.

Helen : I won’t be hearing from any of your teachers again, will I?

Quinn : That’s up to Daria.

Helen : (warning tone) Quinn …


As Daria enters the room, both Helen and Quinn stop their conversation and look at Daria. Walking over to the cabinet, Daria rummages around briefly, removing a box of fibre-O’s. Placing it on the table, she continues searching, finally removing a box of sugar flakes. Pouring it into a bowl, she takes a spoon and sits at the table. Still half asleep, Daria begins eating her cereal dry.

Helen : Sweetie? Would you like some milk for that?

Daria : (groggily) No thanks. But if you could postpone school a few hours, I’d appreciate it.

Quinn : It’s such a beautiful day today. Did you see all the snow outside?

Daria : Great. Now I get to be cold and wet when I walk to school. My life is complete.

Quinn : Daria! Why can’t you just appreciate the beauty of nature?

Daria : Quinn, did you just use the word beauty with reference to me?

Quinn : Of course not Daria. I would never do that!

Helen : (thought VO) How can she say that?

Helen : Quinn! You’re both very beautiful.

Quinn : But mo-om!

Helen : Quinn …


Placing her bowl on the counter, Daria gets up and heads out of the kitchen.

Daria : Not to disturb this warm family moment, but I’m gonna head off to school. Enjoy your quality time together.

Helen : Daria!

Helen : (thought VO) Great.

Quinn : Mom, Daria’s just crabby in the morning. Let her go.

Helen : I don’t see why she can’t be more cheerful like her mother …

Quinn : Cheerful?

Helen : (dangerously) Quinn …

Quinn : Um, I’ve , uh, gotta get to class too. I’ll, um, see you later …


Quinn beats a hasty exit from the kitchen, leaving Helen alone in the kitchen.

Helen : (thought VO) Well, I managed to scare them both away again. Am I really such a bad mother?


Helen finishes her coffee in silence and walks slowly from the kitchen.


Cut to the interior of Helen’s car. Helen is driving slowly, a great deal of frustration in her actions. As we look through the windshield, we can see a massive traffic jam spreading out as far as the eye can see.

Helen : Dammit! Can’t you people go any faster? I’m late!


As Helen looks from side to side, considering a lane change, her cellular phone rings. Reaching down, Helen answers the phone in record time.

Helen : Hello?

(Bt) Oh, Hi Eric.

(Bt) Yes, I know I’m late, there’s a traffic jam.

(Bt) Yes, a beer truck overturned.

(Bt) No, they haven’t cleared the frat boys yet.

(Bt) No, they don’t need a lawyer.

(Bt) I don’t know.

(Bt) Because there’s traffic.

(Bt) I’ll be in when I’m in.

(Bt) Goodbye.

Helen : (thought VO) At least I don’t have a case until this afternoon …


As traffic begins to move, Helen puts the care in drive and drives about ten yards, at which point traffic stops again.

Helen : Damn!


Fade to Helen’s office. Marianne is sitting at her desk when a flustered Helen enters the room.

Helen : Two hours wasted in traffic.

Helen removes her coat, hanging it on a coat rack and heading over to her desk.

Marianne : Um, Helen? Eric wanted to see you …

Helen : Yes Marianne, I know. He called me. Thrice. As if I could do anything about the traffic.


Just as Helen sits down at her desk, her phone rings. Sighing, she answers it.

Helen : Hello?

(Bt) Yes.

(Bt) Moved up? To when?

(Bt) One hour?

(Bt) Yes, I’ll be ready. Thanks.

Helen stands up, grabbing her briefcase and coat, and turns to Marianne before leaving.

Helen : My case was moved up to this morning, one hour from now. Tell Eric I had to go, and I’ll catch up with him in the afternoon.

Marianne : (as Helen leaves) Um, Ok?


Fade to the interior of a courtroom. There is a judge sitting at the front of the courtroom, with a bailiff in close attendance. Helen sits with a college-aged girl and a silver-haired man in a business suit to the left side of the room. On the right, a pair of middle-aged lawyers look over their legal notes in preparation for the case.

Bailiff : Hear ye, hear ye. This court is now in session, the honorable Judge Stevens presiding. We call to the stand the case of the Town of Lawndale vs. Nexen Communications. Would the defense like to offer their opening statements?

Helen : (standing) Thank you your honor. The defendant, Nexen Communication, has been accused of endangering public health through the placement of a number of advanced cellular base stations which the Town Board now considers to be a potential cancer risk. At the time of installation, there were no regulations on such towers, and scientific proof on the risks to the population are to this day non-existent. My clients are the victims of a neo-luddite town council conducting an unwarranted and unjustified witch hunt.


As Helen sits down, her colleague from across the aisle stands up to address the bench.

Prosecutor : As my esteemed colleague has pointed out, this case is indeed about the growing risks of technology such as cellular towers. Over the past few years, the number of these towers in Lawndale has grown from two to almost three hundred as multiple providers and the so-called micro-cell technologies become common. And despite this increase, the defendants have willingly ignored the growing scientific evidence of the dangers of these towers. We will show that these towers present a significant risk to public health, and urge an injunction against further development until such time as we can fully assess these risks.


As the plaintiffs conclude, the young intern leans over to Helen.

Intern : (whispering) Can’t you say something?

Helen : (whispering back) You can’t object during the opening statements.

Intern : (sitting back) Oh …


Cut to later in the case, during the presentation of evidence.

Prosecutor : Your honor, I would like to submit to you as evidence a compendium of scientific reports demonstrating the inherent danger in communication towers.

Helen : (rising) Objection your Honor. The Defense has reviewed these records, and most seriously objects to the majority of these ‘studies’ as evidence of fact.

Judge : Plaintiffs, will you consent to disallow the entire compendium?

Prosecutor : No, your Honor.

Judge : And Defendants, you will not consent to allow the entire compendium with a written list of objections?

Helen : That is not acceptable.

Judge : (disappointed) Then we must go through each study one by one. Plaintiffs may begin the presentation of the evidence …


Fade to later that morning.

Prosecutor : Item number seventy-five, a research study on the effects of cellular systems on human subjects.

Helen : Objection. The indicated study relates to the effects of individual handsets, not the base stations in question.

Judge : (stoic, but obviously getting tired of the proceedings) Sustained.

Prosecutor : Item number seventy-six …


Fade to still later

Prosecutor : Item one hundred eighty one, studies of the deleterious effects of cellular radiation on DNA

Helen : The defense would like to present a counter-study as indicated in our brief, that obviates the aforementioned concerns.

Prosecutor : Objection. That study is highly controversial …

Helen : So is the study you’ve mentioned…

Judge : Plaintiff, you can either have both or none.

Prosecutor : Both, your Honor.

Judge : Very well …


Fade to later, as the presentation has just concluded.

Judge : Well, now that the presentation of evidence has finished, I would suggest that we adjourn until tomorrow. Objections? Then we will reconvene tomorrow at one o’clock to continue.


As the onlookers begin to disperse, Helen stands up and begins to pack her notes.

Helen : Well Mr. Johnston, I will be seeing you tomorrow, I assume?

Johnston : One o’clock, Mrs. Morgendorffer. And may I say that so far, our company is most impressed with your legal representation. Thank you.


Mr. Johnston stands, straightening out his suit, and heads out of the courtroom. As he does, Helen turns to face the intern, who is waiting patiently.

Helen : Would you care for some lunch, um …

Intern : Carleen.

Helen : Carleen.

Carleen : Sure, that’d be great.


Fade to a cafeteria. Helen and Carleen are seated, eating a shrink-wrapped meal from the café refrigerator.

Carleen : So, I was sent here on an internship program. I’m a college junior, and I hope to be a lawyer someday. (nervously) Um, do you suppose that I could ask you a few questions?

Helen : What? Oh, sure. I don’t mind.

Carleen : The judge will decide this case, right?

Helen : Yes.

Carleen : So what’s the problem with all those studies? I mean, if they’re not reasonable, why do you go to so much trouble to keep them out?

Helen : The thing about cases is that even if God himself were to descend from upon high and render a verdict, the losing side would still claim that the decision was wrong and unfair, that no reasonable person could possibly disagree with them. So they will appeal the case.

Helen takes a sip of her coffee, and continues.

Helen : But the thing is, the rules are different for an appeal. In an appeal, you cannot present any new information with regards to the case. Because of this, we make every attempt to keep potentially unfavorable material out of the court record, and similarly make every attempt to place favorable material in the court record. Of course, the opposing side does exactly the same for their case.

Carleen : Is it always that … monotonous?

Helen : It’s usually not that bad, but every so often, you just get a case that slows to a crawl.

Carleen : Is that bad?

Helen : Not in our case. Since there is no injunction, as long as the case is undecided, the company can continue the status quo.


Carleen considers this as she continues her lunch. Helen smiles slightly, glad for a distraction, as she slowly works on finishing her coffee.


Cut to Helen’s office. Helen enters and sits down at her desk, laying her head down for a moment.

Marianne : Helen?

Helen : (raising her head, with a look of tired frustration on her face) Let me guess. Eric stopped by?

Marianne : Um, yes.

Helen : Tell him I’ll be right down.


Cut to a hallway. Helen is standing outside a door. Walking up to it, she knocks gently.

Eric : Come in!


Helen opens the door and walks into Eric’s office. It is liberally decorated with commendations and congratulatory letters, but demonstrates the pristine order and cleanliness of one with a light workload.

Eric : (turning in his chair) Helen! Glad I caught you!

Helen : (thought VO) Obviously not from lack of trying …

Helen : Oh, I’m sorry it was such a problem. It’s just been one of those days.

Eric : I heard good things about your trial this morning.

Helen : Oh, it was mostly the presentation of evidence. The real meat will come in the next few days.

Eric : Do you think they’ll settle?

Helen : Our clients wouldn’t accept. They’re afraid of anything that even tacitly links them to these claims.

Eric : Are the claims true?

Helen : (thought VO) This time, I did the research BEFORE taking the case …

Helen : For the base stations? No, a microwave is more dangerous. But it’s a very popular and much hyped concern these days.

Eric : Good, good. While you’re here, I need you to attend a formal presentation tonight. There’s a big reception for, oh, something or other tonight, and our firm needs a presence. And when they looked, your name bubbled to the top of their list.

Helen : (thought VO) Oh joyous me.

Eric : So would you be able to represent our firm?

Helen : I can do that, I suppose. Can I bring my husband?

Eric : Of course. What kind of a joint do you think we’re running here?

Helen : (thought VO) I’m guessing you don’t want to know …


Cut back to Helen’s office. Helen picks up the phone and dials a number. The phone rings twice, when it is answered and we move to a split-screen between Helen and Jake.

Helen : Jake?

Jake : Helen? Is something wrong? (Bt) Oh no, it’s one of the kids, right? I can be there in five minutes …

Helen : Jake, calm down. The girls are fine.

Jake : They are? Is something wrong over there?

Helen : No Jake. I need you to come to a reception tonight. Our company wants to make a presence, and I was volunteered for the job.

Jake : Is that the policeman’s ball?

Helen : I think so. Eric wasn’t very clear …

Jake : Eric? (Bt) I’ll bet there’ll be all kinds of clients there …

Helen : It starts at eight. Can you meet me there?

Jake : Sure thing Helen. … Clients … so many clients …

Helen : See you at eight Jake.


Helen hangs up the phone and returns to her work.

Helen : Marianne? Do you have the court documents for tomorrow? Could I take a look?

Marianne : Sure thing Helen …


Fade to later that night. Helen and Marianne are working with a few stacks of paper.

Helen : Do you have, um, state’s evidence number twenty-seven?

Marianne : It’s around here somewhere …

Helen : Something tells me that they’re going to be hitting this one pretty hard tomorrow. Did you find any contrary evidence for cross-examination?

Marianne : Um, I think so. Give me a second …

Helen : Oh, just tell me where it is. I’m not completely helpless …

Marianne : Of course not Helen. I never meant to imply …

Helen : Relax Marianne. Where was that evidence?

Marianne : Check in the filing cabinet.


Helen walks over to the filing cabinet, rifling through a few folders until she extracts a moderately full folder and looks through it.

Helen : (reading over the information) This is very good work Marianne.

Marianne : Thanks.


Cut to the exterior of a fancy building. Helen drives up and gets out of her car, giving her keys to the valet. After a short search, she locates Jake, who is waiting by the door.

Helen : Jake!


Jake looks up and, noticing Helen, walks over to her.

Jake : Helen! I was afraid that I was at the wrong place.

Helen : Jake, how many fancy reception halls are there in Lawndale?

Jake : Um, five?

Helen : Try one.

Jake : Oh. Ok. Shall we go in?

Helen : We might as well.


As Helen and Jake make for the door, a thought occurs to Helen.

Helen : Jake? Did you tell the kids that we wouldn’t be back for dinner?

Jake : Um, Daria’s out on a date with Tom, and I left Quinn a credit card to order a pizza or something.

Helen : Jake. You left Quinn with a credit card?

Jake : Yeah. She said she’d only use it for dinner.

Helen : (thought VO) And you believed her? Oh well, I’ve always wanted a Jacuzzi …

Helen : Come on, let’s just have a nice time tonight…


Helen and Jake walk up to the door, where Helen presents the tickets to the doorman. After checking the tickets, he gives each of them back their stub and lets them into the ball. The interior of the hall is a lavish, bordering on garish affair, with no detail and no expense spared. Helen and Jake take in the sights for a moment, and turn to each other.

Helen & Jake : Where’s the bar?


Helen and Jake make their way to the bar, where both Helen and Jake acquire a martini. As they are about to return to the main floor, Helen runs into Ms. Li at the bar.

Helen : Ms. Li?

Ms. Li : (turning around) Mrs. Morgendorffer?

Helen : I didn’t expect to find you here …

Ms. Li : Well, this is the policeman’s ball. And given the number of times that we’ve let them use our analytical facilities to resolve crimes …

Helen : Resolve crimes?

Ms. Li : There are only so many places that are qualified to perform DNA analysis in this state, you know…

Helen : (thought VO) And why is the school one of them?

Helen : Actually, I didn’t know that.

Ms. Li : If you’ll excuse me, I need to speak with the police commissioner. If they’re going to continue to make use of our facilities, I’m afraid that I must raise their rates …


As Ms. Li leaves, Helen looks on in concern. Shrugging, she turns back to Jake.

Helen : Well, that was interesting … Jake? Are you listening?

Jake : What? Oh, sorry Helen.

Helen : Jake, why can’t you ever pay attention?

Jake : Sorry honey. But isn’t that the Sloanes?


Jake points off into the distance, where we can see Katherine and Angier Sloane talking to another couple. Trailing slightly behind is Elsie, who is taking great measure to avoid any interaction with her parents’ and their friends.

Helen : Yes, I think that’s them.

Jake : It’s so nice of them to bring their daughter along …

Helen : Um Jake, if the Sloanes are here … and Daria is on a date with Tom …

Jake : Yeah …

Helen : Jake, what did we do when our parents were away?

Jake : But this is Daria …

Helen : And what is that supposed to mean?

Jake : Since when has Daria listened to anything we said?

Helen : (thought VO) Ok Jake, where’s this coming from? Notecards?

Helen : What’s your point?

Jake : Daria’s done pretty well so far. I think we just need to trust her now.

Helen : Jake? Where the hell are you getting this from?

Jake : (sheepishly) Well, I just take everything my father ever said to me, and say the opposite …

Helen : You aren’t worried?

Jake : Um, well … there’s a reason for that too …

Helen : Jake …

Jake : They served martinis at the door.


Helen shakes her head at an embarrassed Jake as the two walk back into the main hall.


Fade to later that night. Helen and Jake are standing across from the Sloanes, in the middle of a conversation.

Angier : So you’re a consultant Jake?

Jake : That’s right. Jake Morgendorffer of Jake Morgendorffer consulting.

Katherine : That must be exciting, starting your own business.

Jake : Yeah, you get to pave your own way, no one to keep you down …

Angier : Well, there’s the SEC.

Jake : Government bastards!

Helen : Jake honey, we like the government now.

Jake : Oh yeah. It does seem to work better for parents than kids, doesn’t it?

Elsie : You don’t say.

Katherine : Elsie, must you always be like this?

Elsie : Must you always drag me along with you? I don’t see Tom here …

Katherine : Tom had other plans before we asked him, as you well know.

Angier : Mr. and Mrs. Morgendorffer, I should apologize for Elsie …

Helen : Oh, think nothing of it.

Helen : (thought VO) Compared to Daria or Quinn in full flair, this is nothing …

Angier : You’re too kind.

Helen : Well, as nice an evening as this has been, we should probably be getting back home. Good evening to all of you.

Katherine : Goodnight. Hopefully we’ll meet again sometime …

Helen : That would be nice …


Cut to the Morgendorffer household, living room. Helen and Jake are in the living room, heading up the stairs.

Helen : Come on Jake. Let’s get you to bed.

Jake : But the car …

Helen : We’ll pick up your car tomorrow, when you’ve had a chance to burn off those martinis …

Jake : Ok dear …


Morgendorffer residence hallway, just outside of Helen and Jake’s room. Helen closes the door, leaving it barely cracked open.

Helen : Ok, now I just have to check on Daria and Quinn, and I can finally get to bed.


Helen walks down to Daria’s room, opening the door slightly to peek in. Shortly thereafter, she opens the door completely. The room looks as usual, except that Daria is nowhere to be found.

Helen : Daria? This had better not be a trick.

Helen walks over and checks the closet, but aside from a few clothes, it reveals nothing new.

Helen : (thought VO) She’d better have a pretty good explanation for this one …


With a purposeful stride, Helen walks out of Daria’s room and down to Quinn’s room, opening the door a bit more quickly than she intended. A groggy Quinn sits up in confusion.

Quinn : Mom? Wha … The credit card’s on the kitchen table. I didn’t use it.

Helen : (thought VO) What? She didn’t … Oh yes, Daria.

Helen : Quinn, do you know where Daria is?

Quinn : In her room?

Helen : No, she’s not?

Quinn : Then I don’t know. Maybe she’s at Tom’s?

Helen : She never came back from her date?

Quinn : I don’t think so. (Bt) Can I go back to bed now? I’m really tired …

Helen : Fine Quinn. Sorry to wake you.


Dissolve to the Morgendorffer living room. Helen is sitting angrily on the couch, leafing through a copy of Crime and Punishment.

Helen : (thought VO) She doesn’t even want to know how many rules she’s broken tonight …


As Helen distractedly looks through her book, she hears the doorknob turning. As the door opens, she puts down the book and turns to face Daria, who is hanging her coat in the closet.

Helen : Young lady, do you know what time it is?

Daria : I’m sorry. I fell asleep.

Helen : (leading) With Tom?

Daria : (resigned) Yes, with Tom.

Helen : So your excuse for being late is that you were sleeping with your boyfriend? Even Quinn never tried that line on me.

Helen : (thought VO) I can’t imagine what my mother would have said. After she forbade me from ever seeing a boy again …

Daria : Mom, you don’t need to worry. Nothing happened. If you’re really worried, call Mrs. Sloane. She and Elsie found us asleep on the couch in the first place.

Helen : (thought VO) She what?

Helen : And if I decide to call her?

Daria : (yawning) Then I’d recommend doing it in the morning. (Bt) Mom? Could you just punish me in the morning? It’s late, I’m tired, and I have to get up for school tomorrow.

Helen : Fine. But you’re giving me all night to think of an appropriate punishment you know.

Daria : Then I will see you tomorrow morning. Good night.


Daria heads up the stairs in a semi-awake state as Helen watches with a pensive look on her face.

Helen : (thought VO) Why couldn’t she just be intransigent? Now I’m starting to feel bad for her too … Damn kids!


Cut to the next morning, inside the Morgendorffer kitchen. Through the windows we can see that it’s still quite dark outside. Helen can be seen fully dressed, pouring herself a cup of coffee. Placing the carafe back on the burner, she rummages briefly to find a lid.

Helen : Damn early meetings.


Reaching up into a cabinet, Helen removes a powerbar and drops it into her pocket. Putting the lid on her coffee, she heads out of the kitchen.

Helen : (thought VO) Maybe I should wake Daria and bring her along to the meeting. That seems like a reasonable punishment, doesn’t it? (Bt) Oh yeah, damn eighth amendment …


Cut to Helen’s office, later that morning. Helen enters with a strained expression on her face.

Helen : (thought VO) I love useless morning meetings. Such a productive use of my time …


Helen picks up her phone and dials a number.

Helen : Hello? Is this Katherine Sloane? This is Helen Morgendorffer.


Split screen between Helen and Katherine Sloane

Katherine : Helen! What a pleasant surprise. What can I do for you?

Helen : Well, Daria got in late last night, and I just wanted to check with you …

Katherine : Oh yes, when we got back from the ball, Daria and Tom had fallen asleep watching a movie. It was actually rather cute, but don’t let them know I said so …

Helen : (thought VO) Well, I guess her story checks out …

Helen : Well, thank you …

Katherine : Didn’t Daria tell you what happened?

Helen : (slightly embarrassed) Well, yes. But, um, as her mother …

Katherine : (reassuring) Don’t worry. I understand completely.

Helen : Um, thanks. I’ve got to get back to work …

Katherine : Well don’t let me keep you from it. It was nice talking to you!


Collapse back to Helen’s office, where Helen is sitting at her desk, pondering the phone call.

Helen : Leave it to Daria to come up with something totally innocent that strikes fear in a mother. Just wait until she has children of her own …


Helen picks up a court briefing when a thought occurs to her.

Helen : (thought VO) But, if Daria has children, that would make me a … grandmother?


Pausing for a moment, Helen clears her head of such thoughts and returns to her work.


Cut to a courtroom. Helen, Carleen, and Mr. Johnston are all seated at their desk once again as the bailiff enters the courtroom.

Bailiff : Hear Ye, Hear Ye, this court is now called to order. All rise for the Honorable Judge Stevens.

From the right side of the room, the judge enters the courtroom, dressed in the traditional black robes. Walking slowly and deliberately, he takes his seat.

Judge : Good afternoon everyone. Would the plaintiffs like to continue with the presentation of evidence?

Prosecutor : I believe that we have concluded our presentation of written evidence, and would like to proceed to witnesses, with your permission.

Judge : Proceed.

Prosecutor : For our first witness, we would like to call Dr. William O’Malley, currently working at Medical Research Associates as an associate investigator. Dr. O’Malley?


A young man approaches the bench and takes a seat in the witness stand.

Bailiff : Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help be God?

O’Malley : I do, your Honor.

Prosecutor : Dr. O’Malley. Would you care to enlighten us on your current position?

O’Malley : I am a researcher at MRA. Currently, I am the lead on a project investigating potential carcinogenic agents in the environment to try and track down the increasing number of deaths due to cancer in many locations.

Prosecutor : And in your research, have you come across data suggesting that cellular stations are potentially dangerous?

Helen : Objection your Honor! Question is leading, overly general, and soliciting speculation.

Judge : Sustained.

Prosecutor : Dr. O’Malley. Have you uncovered any scientific evidence as to the dangers of the cellular systems in question?

O’Malley : Yes, I have. A detailed report was submitted into the case record. I believe it was number twenty-seven?

Prosecutor : That is correct.

Helen : (thought VO) Gotcha!

Prosecutor : Could you summarize your research for us?

O’Malley : Well, our group has been studying many communities with increasing cancer rates over the past ten years or so, in an attempt to determine the cause. This research has many different angles, and we employ people to investigate suspicious chemicals, dangerous medical practices, and perform statistical analyses.

Prosecutor : And what have your results shown?

O’Malley : There is a high correlation between the placement of the new micro-cellular towers and cancer in a frightening number of towns.

Prosecutor : And would you explain why you believe that this evidence is significant?

Helen : Objection!

Judge : Overruled. The witness is considered to be an expert witness. Proceed, Dr. O’Malley.

O’Malley : Thank you. Statistically, a single occurrence of a data pattern is very unreliable, especially if we are considering a small sample size. But repeated examples of highly similar patterns are generally indicative of an overall relationship between the two factors. Based on well-established statistical techniques, we can show that there is a high probability of a relationship between the two …


Fade to later in the afternoon, as the Prosecutor is just finishing up with the first witness.

Prosecutor : Nothing more for this witness, your Honor.

Judge : Would the defense like to cross-examine?

Helen : We would, your honor.


Helen stands and walks to the front of the witness stand.

Helen : Dr. O’Malley. In your research, you make the claim that there is a definite relationship between these towers and the incidence of cancer, is that correct?

O’Malley : It is.

Helen : And is it your claim that the earlier towers are also cancer risks?

O’Malley : No, it is not.

Helen : But surely, since the older towers operate over greater distances and at much higher power levels, we would expect them to demonstrate a greater incidence. Or am I mistaken?

O’Malley : That would be an issue for the scientific department, not the statistical department.

Helen : So what you’re saying is that your report is based purely on a statistical analysis?

O’Malley : That is correct.

Helen : Your Honor, if I may have permission to pose a hypothetical situation to the witness …

Judge : For what purpose?

Helen : To demonstrate the pitfalls in a purely statistical analysis.

Judge : Very well. Proceed.

Helen : Dr. O’Malley, would it be accurate to say that people suffering from cancer tend to have significantly more health problems than the average American?

O’Malley : That is correct.

Helen : And is it always possible to predict the occurrence of specific symptoms?

O’Malley : No, it is not.

Helen : So, it would be reasonable to expect a cancer sufferer to want a device such as a cellular phone in order to assure timely medical treatment?

O’Malley : I believe so, yes.

Helen : Now, if the general incidence were increasing, attracting more oncologists and other doctors who also tend to use cellular phones, we could expect to see an increase in overall usage, couldn’t we?

O’Malley : (warily) That would not be unreasonable …

Helen : Now, it is well known that the ‘micro-cell’ systems in question permit a larger number of phones in a given area. Is it possible that these systems are not the cause of the increase, but rather a result?

O’Malley : I don’t think …

Helen : Mr. O’Malley, yes or no. Is this a possible interpretation?

O’Malley : Yes. It is possible. But …

Helen : No further questions, your honor.


Helen takes her seat with a smile as the witness is excused. Across the aisle, the prosecuting attorney looks none too happy at the result.


Cut to the Morgendorffer Residence. Helen is in the kitchen, removing a tray of frozen lasagna from the freezer. She places it on the counter, peeling back the plastic covering and tossing it in the trash. Picking the tray up, she opens the oven and slides the lasagna onto the middle rack, closing the oven behind her. From behind her, we hear Quinn’s voice.

Quinn : (VO) Mom?

Helen : Oh Quinn! You’re back from Cashmans? (confused) I don’t see any bags …

Helen : (thought VO) Unless they’re in the car and you need help carrying them all?

Quinn : Um, I’m kind of short on money right now …

Helen : (thought VO) And the true motives are revealed.

Helen : And you came for a credit card?

Quinn : Actually, I wanted to ask for a larger allowance …

Helen : A larger allowance? Why?

Quinn : Um, because then it’s my money I’m spending and not yours?

Helen : (thought VO) Wait. This has to be a trick This … isn’t Daria. Since when does Quinn care?

Helen : Well … I suppose you HAVE been doing better in school … I guess we can try it, contingent on continued scholastic performance, of course.

Quinn : Thanks mom!

Helen : Um, Quinn? Why didn’t you take the credit card last night? I know Jake left you a gold card …

Quinn : Well, dad said it was for dinner. I didn’t want to get in trouble …

Helen : (thought VO) That never stopped you before …

Helen : Why sweetie, I’m so proud of you!

Quinn : Um, thanks mom.


Quinn heads out of the kitchen as Helen looks on with an appreciative gaze.


Cut to Helen and Jake’s room. Helen is dressed in her robe, and Jake is sitting up in bed, reading a book. Helen looks at Jake for a moment, a smile on her face.

Helen : Do you realize how well our girls are doing?

Jake : Huh?

Helen : Daria’s, well, still Daria, but she seems to be reaching out more. Just like her mother, working to make the world a better place.

Jake : But … you’re a lawyer?


Helen skewers Jake with a nasty look before continuing.

Helen : And Quinn seems to be realizing her full potential. I’m so proud of them both.


Helen sits down next to Jake and leans over on his shoulder.

Helen : Now, if they would only talk to me …


Fade out and roll credits.