: All recognizable characters are owned by Glenn Eichler and MTV; no infringement is intended, and no money is being made.A/N
: While not specifically set in any time, the series is shifted enough that Massachusetts has legalized gay marriage.
It was unseasonably cold in Maryland that winter, but Rita could not have said, of her own experience - she had been held since late June, when neither her mother or daughter would post bail for her. "My goodness, Rita," her mother had said, "I'm quite aware of what you've done, no matter what face you want to put on it. You tried to make money off of Daria, against her explicit, expressed wishes." She had held up her hand as Rita tried to speak. "Save it for your trial. We both know that you tried to run a scam on family, more than once. With that said, how can I trust that you won't just up and run, leaving me on the hook for a quarter million?" That had been the last time that she had seen her mother.
And now she was having an unscheduled meeting with her lawyer. She could only see that as very bad, since they had lost the case last week, and the sentencing phase would begin in mid-January. She sighed and went through the doors when they buzzed. Finally, she came to the area set aside for prisoner-lawyer conferences. At this point, it held five things: two chairs, a table, an A/V cart, and her lawyer. The A/V cart was new. As soon as the guard closed the door behind her, she sat down.
"So what's going on, Janet?" As soon as she had been booked, her lawyer had showed up and gone over her case with her. Just as quickly, he had withdrawn from the case, citing "personal reasons," which to Rita, translated as, "You're going to lose this case big time, and the fines are going to wipe what little you have out after you do your time." Janet was young, just out of law school, and a bit naive, but she worked hard, and had a very positive attitude that Rita lacked; and it scared (and almost nauseated, once she thought of the reasons) Rita to think that the woman with the long brown hair was likely to be the best looking person she would see until after she served her time.
Ignorant of these musings (happily, in Rita's case), Janet looked up and smiled. "Well, I don't have any new angles on your sentencing, yet. I'm getting a bit stonewalled. But a representative of your family came by last week, and dropped off this. They asked that I wait to view it until you could, and that it would be to your benefit if you would."
Rita shrugged, and said, "Well, it's not as if I don't have time to see it," making Janet grin, as she pressed "play," on the remote.
The DVD opened on a scene with all of the people from the extended family meeting, early last year, as well as a few people she didn't recognize, surrounding her niece and the little slut who had wormed her way into millions that belonged to Rita, both of who were wearing what she had to admit were lovely dresses, Daria in emerald green, and the slut in cherry red. All of them were sitting on some kind of bleacher set up, including Mother and Erin. Dirty turncoats.
As she looked over the rest of the group, Daria began to speak.
"Hello, Aunt Rita. We thought that you'd like to know that at least one of the things that you were going to say in that tell-all was true," she said while she and the slut held up their left hands, showing the rings on the third fingers of each hand. "I'm Mrs. Daria Lane, now, and Jane is my wife. I would
like to note that none of it was true when you and your ghost-writer wrote it. I was still deeply in denial at that point. Jane and I have both done well in our first semester at our respective schools, as has Erin." Daria paused, and Erin spoke up.
"Hi, Mom. I've got a four-oh for my first semester of nursing school. I'm really having fun learning how to help people, and it's such a blast!" She smiled as she sat back down.
Daria smiled at her cousin, then looked back at the camera, all traces of it gone. "Now that we have the niceties out of the way, not that you care what happens with Erin at this point,"Got that right, bitch
"- let's get to the meat of the matter. After that, Mom and Amy want to have a word with you." Daria took a breath, ready to say more, but paused when her hand was squeezed, and made a "go-ahead" gesture.
The slut looked straight into the camera. "Hi. I'm Jane, though you probably call me something like bitch, slut, or whore." She rolled her eyes. "Funny calling me that, since I'd only had sex with two people, maybe one, when I got married, and you've had it with how many?" She moved, obviously as a result of being elbowed in the ribs. "All right, all right, so not the point." She looked back at the camera. "Anyway, we were married this morning, and we just got word that you were convicted. We haven't enjoyed having to go through this little episode, and so we've tried to find a way to deal with it on a permanent basis."
"Before Jane goes on, I want you to know that the idea for this didn't come from her, and that everyone here agreed with this. Grandma, Erin?"
"I agreed with this way of dealing with the matter. You disappoint me, Rita."
"I agreed, too. Oh, mother!"
Jane cleared her throat. "Our legal experts are predicting that you will get the maximum sentence - a term of no less than ten years, and no greater than fifteen, with a fine big enough to wipe you out completely. If that happens, when you go free, you'll be a woman in her late fifties to early sixties, with nowhere to go, no form of income, and no skills to secure that income. We estimate that you'd be dead three to five years after you were free. What very little goodwill you have with us makes that outcome - what was that word, Daria?"
"Right, distasteful. So here's our offer to you. And the best part is, you don't have to do anything, either to agree or to keep your side." Jane cleared her throat. "Assuming that your sentence is anywhere close to our estimates, Daria will set up an annuity for you, two years from now. That annuity will deposit thirty thousand dollars a year into whatever account you wish, until one of two things happen - your death, or you try to contact any of the people that you see here." Jane took a breath. Either of those occurrences stops the annuity immediately, and leaves you with what you have."
Erin spoke up. "If you're in the time that we expect, you'll have enough to set you up in a house and car when you get out, and to live comfortably the rest of your life. You'll never be rich, mother, but you'll never have to worry about money, either."
Daria cleared her throat. "This is it, Aunt Rita. The last straw, the last chance. This is the last time that I'm going to attempt to deal with the problems that you make with kindness. If you throw this into my face - again - then all of the resources that I have will be focused on making sure that you never become a problem for me and mine again."
"Oh, please, take what's offered and let that be enough, Mother!"
The scene abruptly shifted. Where there had been twenty or more people, there were now just her two sisters. As always, Helen was the first to speak. "All right, Rita, truth time. And the truth is - everything that everybody said was the absolute truth."
Amy looked into the camera. "I agree." Rita was shocked.
Helen shook her head. "I always thought that you were more lazy than anything, Rita, because Mother and Daddy gave you everything on a silver platter. The way that you've acted this past year has caused me to rethink that. Rita, no matter what your goals, you acted stupidly." Rita frowned at this. "You could have had so much from Daria, money-wise, had you just played by her rules. See, Daria doesn't care about money, as long as she has a roof over her head and is fed. She cares about being able to trust people. And you showed that she couldn't trust you - both by trying to con her out of her money, and by not trusting her to be straight - if you'll excuse the expression - with you. If you haven't figured it out by now, that first meeting was designed to get our and Jane's families - some who had been barely scraping along for a long, long time - back on our feet, and at a point where they could decide what to do without the pressure of having this month's mortgage payment due."
Amy polished her glasses. "But like Helen is saying, you went stupid. First off, by getting that quickie mortgage and trying to pass it off. Like Helen said at the time, do you think that she
wouldn't double check on little facts like that before paying? And then when she asked you, straight out, if you needed anything. Apparently you did, because you tried to get more from her. I mean, sis, even after the meeting, all you had to do was to pay the money back. If you had done that, Helen wouldn't even have charged you interest or closing costs, nothing! But you didn't, and then you got into a snit, and decided to attack Daria for money. What was so important that you threw away your family for it?"
Helen shook her head again. "I guess we'll never know, because, no matter what you do, this will be the last time that we contact you, ever, Rita. It's just too expensive, both in money and effort, to do so. I urge you to accept Daria's offer and to leave us the hell alone
. Goodbye, Rita."
Amy looked sadly into the camera. "Goodbye, Rita." The DVD went blank.
Rita looked up, tears in her eyes, to see Janet looking at her with compassion. "Have you decided what you're going to do? I need a bank account number, unless you aren't even going to try."
"Do? I guess I've got to at least try to live up to my bargain." Rita wiped her eyes. "Janet, I-I- It just occurred to me that I'm going to be behind bars for a long time, and with some very nasty people. I know that your contract to represent me is up after my last appeal, and that there's really nothing to appeal, anyway, but - would you visit me some times, just to remind me that there are people that aren't nasty?"
Janet smiled. "I guess I can agree to represent you, apart from my public defender duties. My retainer will be a thousand dollars a year." She rubbed Rita's back. "And that means that I'll have to keep you from contacting your family, doesn't it?"
Rita nodded glumly. She had just lost her family, and it didn't feel good at all. She looked up at Janet, and the faintest hint of a slight smile crossed her face. Maybe I can have a new one?