Disclaimer: It goes without saying that I have no right to use the Daria characters this way. They belong to MTV, Viacom and who knows who else by now. I also am taking liberties with one of the greatest short stories of all time, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, by James Thurber. Ah well, two great tastes that taste great together. I couldn’t resist. Besides, doesn’t it explain so much?
The Secret Life of Jake Morgendorffer
Jake “Blaster” Morgendorffer deftly slid past the winger, nudging the puck imperceptibly past him. The skates making a scrooch, scrooch, scrooch sound against the ice. The Zamboni had done its job; the ice was hard, and smooth. The blades of his skates reflected in the mirror-like surface. He could feel the cold air against his face, his speed accelerating. He dodged the other winger, and headed straight for the net. He saw his opening, just to scoot by the right defenseman, and slam it in. Just as everyone thought that he was going to go right, he blitzed left, knocking the left defenseman against the boards, taking his shot at the same time. “He shoots! He scores!”
“Jake, slow down! For heaven’s sake, why are you weaving through all this traffic?” Helen shrilled from the passenger seat. “I’d like to get there in one piece.” She smoothed her skirt and adjusted her stockings, which were sagging slightly at her ankles.
“Oh, sorry dear, I thought you were late.” He eased off the accelerator and made a note of his surroundings.
“Well, just watch the road. I’m sure that a couple of minutes won’t make that much of a difference.” He pulled up outside of her office. She hauled out her briefcase and leaned in to kiss him goodbye. “Remember, you’ve got to take the girls to the dentist and pick up something for dinner. Bye-ee!” And she biffed off into the building.
“Take the girls to the dentist. What do I look like a chauffer?” He realized that he was talking to himself as he pulled out of the circular drive. He hoped that Helen’s SUV would be fixed soon. He headed back to the highway towards his office, cars honking as he cut them off in order to beat the light.
“Morgendorffer! We need you. There’s a little boy trapped on the fourth floor, and he has asthma, we’ve got to get him out of there!” Chief Patterson, clapped Jake’s shoulder and looked past the oxygen mask into his steely eyes. He could see the resolve. That little boy was as good as rescued. “Gotcha chief.” He was a man of few words. Actions speak louder than words. Jake entered the burning building. He started up the rickety staircase. The ladders would take too long to set up; he needed to get there NOW. The rafters were crackling with the sound of fire and dry wood. He could hear the wheezing and he quickened his pace. As he came off the fourth floor landing, he could see Timmy. He was holding a puppy. A golden retriever puppy. Jake knew he had to spring into action. Just as he had shouldered Timmy, and fixed his own oxygen mask to his, and the puppy’s face, the staircase collapsed in a shower of sparks. The only thing left was the ancient fire escape.
Jake looked at the rusted, ruins of that life saving apparatus. The boy’s mother was on the ground, crying hysterically. Jake tentatively stepped out onto the fire escape, and immediately heard it groan under his weight. There was no other choice. It was the only way down. Timmy was frightened, and his breathing was labored. “Don’t worry son, I do this all the time, you and Fido will be playing together in no time.” He started down the iron structure, trying not to notice as the bolts began to slide slowly out of their moorings. It was a calculation, could he get down the staircase before it too collapsed? Then he was hit with an inspiration. He hoisted Timmy onto his back, and slid the puppy into his pocket. He rappelled down the side of the building, using the hoses that were dangling from the third story windows.
The applause from the crowd that had gathered below was deafening. Jake handed Timmy to his tearful mother, who covered him with kisses. “Oh thank you! Thank you!” The puppy licked his face. “No need to thank me ma’am. Danger is my business.”
“Sir, you’ll have to move your car.” The security guard tapped on Jake’s window with the butt of his flashlight. “Sir! Are you alright?”
Jake snapped back to life. He was sitting in front of his office, but he hadn’t quite made it to his parking space. He saluted the guard, and drove over to his assigned space. “Am I alright? I’m fine, but do they care? No! They just want to make sure that the driveway is clear. Can’t even sit for a minute collecting my thoughts. Just keep moving.” He went into his office, muttering under his breath. He booted up his computer. While waiting for it to initiate, he checked his voice mail. No messages. He checked his e-mail. Spam. He looked outside, at the parking lot, to see if the mail had been delivered. No. He decided to arrange his desk.
“Now this is a delicate situation.” The lieutenant informed him. “He hasn’t had his medication today, so he’s completely irrational. He’s got two hostages, his wife and daughter. I know you can do it, you’re the best we have.” Jake surveyed the situation. He looked at the blueprints of the house, and over at the sharp shooters. “We won’t be needing you boys, I’ve got this covered.” The SWAT team nodded at him, confident in his abilities.
He took the bull horn from the Captain. “Jones, this is Jake Morgendorffer, I’d like to talk to you. Pick up the phone.” In the house the ring of the telephone could be heard. It rang nearly eight times before it was answered.
“Why can’t you leave us alone?” Jones wailed into the receiver. “All I want is a bowl of stew and a cold beer.”
Jake could see that the man had lost touch with reality. “Yeah, I know what you mean. Sometimes the simplest thing is so hard. Just a hot meal, and cold one, a little peace and quiet.”
“You understand.” The man said, his voice breaking with tears. “You really understand.”
Jake motioned to one of the uniformed officers. “Go to the diner down the street, get today’s special, and a beer. HUSTLE!” The cop ran off to get what was needed.
“I do understand. We men have to stick together. I’ve got one of the fellas getting you that meal. You want to come out and have a beer with me? It’s imported.”
Jake could hear sobbing on the other end of the phone. Jones had broken down. They could storm the building and save the hostages, but that’s not how Jake Morgendorffer does business. “Yeah, I know Buddy. It’s hard being a man today. Come on out. The stew’s nice and hot. The beer is ice cold, just like you like it.”
He could hear the man set down his weapon. The door opened, and Jones appeared, he slowly walked down the stairs. “Hold your fire!” Jake ran up to him and helped him down the stairs. The other officers went into the house to check on the hostages. He sat on the curb with the man, watching him eat, and making sure he got what he wanted before they took him to the hospital.
As the ambulance pulled away, the man’s wife came up to thank him. “Oh Sergeant Morgendorffer, thank you so much for saving our lives. He just gets like this when he doesn’t take his medicine.”
“I’m just happy I could be here.” He patted her arm, and walked off towards his car.
Ring! Ring! Ring! The phone was insistent. Jake picked it up. “Talk to me.”
“Dad?” It was the younger one…Quinn. “Dad? We’re outside the school waiting. Remember? The dentist?” Right, the dentist. Damn!
“Okay, kiddo I’ll be right there.” Jake went to the parking lot for the Lexus, and headed over to the school. He knew that they’d make it on time.
“It’s you and me Balto. The lives of thousands depend upon our getting this serum over that pass.” Jake stroked the lead dog.
“Arf!” He replied. The love that only a dog can have for his master, shone in his eyes.
Jake checked the harness, and the dogs. They were all set. “MUSH!” He shouted, and they were off in a flurry of powdery snow, and the crack of the whip. The dogs were barking enthusiastically, their yelps echoed through the snow covered valley. The sled careened through the pass, a lesser man might have lost control, but not Jake Morgendorffer. He kept his eye on the team, and his feet planted firmly on the runners. Balto checked back, as if to affirm that his hero was still there. Jake nodded at him from beneath the layers of fur. He knew that they were going to make it. Just as they slid into the remote Alaskan town, one voice could be heard above the crowd.
“It’s about time Dad. I feel like such a geek standing out here waiting. At least we won’t be late.” Quinn sighed as she got into the front seat. As usual, Daria climbed into the rear, her eyes never leaving her book.
“Well, Daria, do you have anything to say to your old man?” Jake turned to his eldest, waiting for the inevitable sarcastic comment.
“Hi Dad, thanks for picking us up.” She said distractedly as she continued to read.
“Well, no problem, you’re welcome.” Jake turned the car onto the main road, and they quickly arrived at the dentist’s office.
Jake sat in one of the chairs in the waiting room. He knew there was something else he was supposed to remember. What was it that he needed to do after this? Something to do with the kitchen. He mused on it, as Daria was called into the back. She had that dreamy look on her face, like she usually had when she was particularly engrossed in her book.
She looked down the corridor. Daria Morgendorffer was now to answer for her crimes. The priest followed the prisoner down the long row of empty cells, to the room that contained…THE CHAIR. The footsteps rang in the cellblock as the priest asked, “Do you wish to make a confession, and to receive absolution?”
“No, it’s confessing that got me here to begin with. Let’s just get this over with.” She turned her eyes to him for one last time. What he saw there frightened him.
She quietly sat in the chair, resigned to her fate. The last thing she saw was a white light. The last thing she heard was a whispered prayer before the inevitable. She smiled in the face of death. She was undefeated, even at the last.