Spoilers: Three of A Kind. Teensie
brush with 'Like Water For Octane.'
Summary: So... What did 'Blondie' get up
to between the time he breezed off with
Jimmy and Timmy, to catch the floor show
that went along with 'the all you can eat
lobster,' before Scully arrived?
Disclaimer: All X-Files characters and
references are property of C. Carter,
Morgan & Wong, 10-13 Productions and FOX.
'...Got a little carried away with yourself,
back there, dude?' I think to myself on the
return drive to the hotel. '...Uh...'
Cin unselfishly let me hold her ride. Guess
she figured it was the least she could do,
considering what I'm about to do for her.
That, and my using her Neon's all part of the
plan we scribbled on two napkins. The plan
she kept telling me is so, 'far out'. Even
for me. She has no conception whatsoever of
how far out it can get in cyberspace, and my
previous exploits in it.
Where am I now? I happen to look up and
recognize the towering frou frou billboard
advertising yet another Sprint rip off. We
passed this ad on the way over. Cin gave me
good directions for getting back to the hotel,
but I really didn't need 'em. I didn't tell
her why, though. Been to Vegas every one of
the ten years since getting intimately mixed
up with my 'homies.'
The light flicks to green, and I start off
again. I'm behind the wheel, with hands
white-knuckled, abusing the pliable leather of
the grip-guard my mindblowing fg's put on it.
Dawn's early is about to happen any moment
now, and I'm one sleepy 'Dudley Do Wrong.'
As I cruise past gambling establishments which
cater to a lower rung of low rollers, I'm not
regretting that I offered to help her out in
the way I have in mind. Dammit, I'm gonna.
I'm gonna come through for her in a way I've
never come through for _anybody_ before.
Mulder and Scully as a package deal, included.
Hell, _myself_ even. It's just that...well,
I've admitted this to myself more than a few
friggin' times on this drive back. I'm a
little scared... Okay, I'm lyin'. Okay? I'm
'fly into the Death Star, and detonate it'
scared. I've never done something like this
before; dreamed about it, hell, yeah, but never
actually done this deed either, like the other.
Too many things could go wrong; a bazillion.
Things so hairy, I could grow another head of.
So, I tell myself, stop thinkin' about what
could go wrong.
As I pull into the hotel's boomeranged driveway
for valet parking, I know I'm gonna do it,
arguments against closed. Hell yeah, I'm
gonna do this, because, aside from wanting to
help my long lost lady love out of a sleazy
jam, and her son get a better start in this
ass-kicking world, which is a rush all its own,
if I can really pull the multiple transfunds-
crack off, even if I manage only one, it'll be
the mother of all rushes. Me and a rocket-
sonde will have a payload in common.
Cin gave it her best shot, trying to convince
me that the risk is unacceptable. 'Richie,
you can't do this...' She's naive but she's
not stupid; stealing is stealing regardless of
whether or not the intentions and the reasons
are good. If I get in trouble on account of
my trying to even the score with her ex, she
said she'd never speak to me again. Ha! Like
I'd be speakin' to much of anybody, locked
behind bars, being someone named Mitch the
Fist's 'girlfriend.' What a way to lose my
The full-bodied kiss, the real nice capper,
which Cinny gave me, started the T-minus
countdown a half-hour ago.
I wet my lips with a sandpapery tongue, and
think about getting a Coke from the machine
on our floor.
I haven't had a good rush of the cracking kind
in ages. I'm needy for it. Frohike and Byers
love steppin' on my Converse-covered toes, but
this time... "Leave the keys?" I look at the
keys in question in my right hand, before
deserting the car, then shrug. "Yeah, dude,
no hassle." And I hand them off to the
attendant who's dressed like he's Prince
Charming, or somebody equally lame.
The soda machine's fresh out of Coke, so I opt
for a ' Dew, which on second thought might be
better, taking into account the 'rain dance'
ahead of me. I feel like I'm perched on the
rider of a fifteen foot fence, peering down
into a tank of sharks. Once I get some of
this stuff in me, I'll be better able to
assess if those sharks have actual teeth, or
are all dorsal fins.
Man, I really am tired, I think again as I
extract my lockslip and open the door to
where we're holed-up. Can I really do this
on half-mast gray matter? I take another
swig of incentive, and head for the makeshift
setup I largely set up alone. Byers and
Frohike were too busy arguing about who was
gonna be the high roller and who got to be
waiter in the charade we conjured, which
unraveled in their astonished faces. Served
'em right. I shoulda been the player, and if
I _had_ been, I woulda had nothing but
winning hands, and I wouldn't have let those
'crap-e-zoids' at that table burn me!
"Where the hell've you been?"
Ah, yeah...there it is the blare that inspires
"What the hell's it to you, Doohickey?" I bark
back, not as much pissed with him as with his
waking up this precise moment. Damn him; he's
gonna wanna know what shit I'm up to once I
get started. If he decides to bug me, that
is. "None-a your freakin' business, man.
"Got some action, huh? At last." I gape at
him. "Losin' it in Vegas. What better
place?" he says, the leer leaping out to
arrest my divided attention. "'Bout time,
virgin man. Don't know what you were savin'
it for." And he's laughing like he's heard
the funniest joke, only it's me.
"Screw you, asshole..."
"For your first time, it musta been a lousy
lay. But how would you know? You've got
nothing to compare it with," he mutters, gets
up from the bed he was sharing with a lightly
snoring Byers, and heads for the john.
"Hasn't made your disposition any nicer. If
you paid for it, you was robbed." I hate it
when he chuckles like that; all back in his
throat and irky. Before I hear the bathroom
door close to allow for privacy, I flip him
the fickle finger of the action he's so sure I
Cin was hard to read after the kiss. I dunno
what I would've done if she'd wanted to take
me on. Check me out; like she doesn't get her
fill of dudes as it is. What she said about
just talkin' for a change sticks in my mind.
Well, that level of intimacy never
materialized, and I won't say I'm sorry it
didn't. Once we got started, if we had, she'd
have known what I still am, in a snap. She
would have called me a baby, and I'd be in all
my naked dishonor, wishing she had never found
And...there's Leese now. Don't wanna initiate
myself by bein' a shit from the start. Even
if she never found out, I'd still be hurtin'
Saying ya love someone... Hell; that freaks
me too. I haven't said it to Leese yet, and
she's so rare, she didn't press me for it
after she told me how she feels in spite of
the lack of intimacy. I'm sorta building up
to the whole enchilada the next time I see
her. I'm already scared witless just
thinking about being with her the way she
kinda expects. Am I soundin' like 'nowhere
man' here? What the hell's with me? Will I
_ever_ grow up?
Besides, for my first time, I would've felt
deeply creepy with Cin's kid right in the
next room. I can't get it out of my head.
How can she do it at her place, and her boy's
under the same roof with his mom going at it
with skeezy strangers?
The small shudder gets poured into the arc
light I turn on, and as I try to flush any
telltale, unsavory images my mind has dredged
up, I hear Byers' familiar sharp intake of
breath. Oh, damn, man. Not him too?
"Why are you booting up?" he hits me with.
He's climbed onto his elbows, and eyeing me
"You're still in dreamland..." I drop my
voice, "Narcoleptic." I let my fingers do
the talking, then pause for the desired
recognition. Not from Byers; from the
servos and their bundles.
"What are you doing? Going after another
Black Ops drop-in?"
He's growing wider awake, but I can still
downplay that. "You're only dreamin' it's
me," I bounce off him, and make with a mantra
so he takes the hint, and falls back.
No go, dammit. He's ditching the bed bent
on pestering me. I mask the access I've
just achieved, and think up something
furiously. "'Hike set you straight about
Woof. That was some bad look he just
exploded me with. It's a good thing I know
we're supposed to be through thick an' thin
friends. "I'd rather not talk about
Susanne, if you don't mind," he assures me
huffily, so I go Cro-Magnon on him. Swear,
the guy so asks for it sometimes.
"Face it, Byers, the chick's doin' ya a phat
favor. You can do a lot better than that
The bucket he was soaking his head in earlier
today is close enough to him for chucking it
at me. I avert my eyes away from the
potential missile. "If there were ever a time
for you to keep your rude mouth shut," Byers
hisses, "you should pick this one," and he
stops his advance on me.
Good, I've gotten him mad. And when Byers
gets mad, he's less likely to take anything
I do, or say seriously. Although, I had
my qualms about his hurling that bucket at
me. "Why are you still wearing your suit?"
He ignores me. He starts looking around
the room for something he won't comment
about. The interval affords me the chance
to lay all the passbooks off to my left.
I open them to the pages on which the
account numbers are on, and study the two
pairs of figures; three of them belong to
Scumbag...the fourth's Cin's. Of the quad,
hers is the easiest to memorize, and by the
time Byers finds the Tylenol he was looking
for, I can quote the eight-digit nomial
identifier in my sleep; backwards and forward.
"Where did you get those? Who do they belong
I splice and dice him for coming up from
behind like that, scaring the living crap
outta me. "Better back off the hell away
from me," I snap viciously, and he looks as
though I've already severed his head from
his body. That's Byers, man...
"Okay, okay," he counters, suddenly sounding
leery. Actually afraid that I might break
all over his scaredy-cat ass, finally.
Which I'd never do. Not even on a worst day,
but a healthy fear of the 'Wrath of Langly'
could go a long way for his getting off my
"I'm just curious," he pitter-patters,
finding a voice to go along with the
chastened look on his face.
"Okay, gimme a minute," I relent, "and I'll
fill you in," I lie with a face as deadpan
as they come. "They're not what you think
"This is a bankbook," he affirms, having
plucked up Cin's for closer, more thorough
examination. I'm all wide-eyed innocence.
"Like I said, _not_." I swipe it back.
"Absorb this. It's a phony."
He folds his arms over his chest. "It looks
like a real McCoy to me," he says
"I'm branching out the skills," I expansively
tergiversate. I focus my intent, all set to
really lie my ass off when Frohike breaks out
of the john, looking as ornery as when he went
"I'm hungry," he growls, and I think about
that bear. The grizzly in a woods somewhere
in Oregon I had pictured in my mind when I
was describing Fro' to Cin.
To my and Frohike's surprise, Byers says,
"I am too. I shouldn't have foregone dinner
last night." Like we don't know the reason
why your appetite got trashed, I press the
dig for the inner snipe. "I'm in the mood
for Eggs Benedict."
"And I know you're in the mood for chow,
Chewie, after your fling. So how's about I
spring for some breakfast?" I nearly fall
out of the chair. Since when does Doohickey
treat? Is it remotely possible he was worried
about me 'cos I didn't come home? _Nah_.
That'd be the day...
He'll probably help me pack, if the day ever
comes when I decide to lamb.
"Count me out, guys. I already ate." Boy,
did I ever. Cin just sorta picked, so I
helped clean her plate too.
"When?" Frohike wheedles.
"A little while ago, man. Eggs, bacon, home
fries. Buttered toast. The whole damn
works." Frohike pulls on his pants and dons
his ratty old jacket which he'd thrown over
the chair nearest the nightstand. I watch him
shrug into the jacket he's putting on over his
droopy undershirt. "Great look for ya, Doo'.
What if they require a tie?" I ace.
"Then I'll borrow John's. You comin'?" he
directs at Byers, and he nods, running a
hand over his jacket, which remarkably isn't
harboring a single wrinkle. "You're a fine
one to hassle about a tie," he razzes me.
"In all the years I've know ya, I've never
seen you saddle yourself with one." I laugh
in his heckling face.
Byers straightens his tie, then sits down to
put his shoes on, even giving them a quick
trousers buff before they take off.
Good...alone at last I revel once the door
closes. Alone with my machine 'et'
attachments, and it's all about _my_ Pentiums.
The way it's always been. The prompt waited
patiently. Good prompt; greater network.
This time, the patches are granite. Only as
good as their cords, and they're golden.
Wasn't even a matter of improvising. We came
well prepared this year, no corners cut.
I give myself several cuffs beneath the chin.
I've typed in his account number with 'Las
Cruces Federal Savings.' In less than a
minute I'm plugged into his financial history,
as zippy as you please, which pleases me to no
end. I'm gettin' the feelin', and my heart
rate responds to the varied stimuli. I'm
breathing hard, relishing each jaggy breath,
as ill-timed as they may be.
'...Get me there, take me there; anyway you
Several rapid-fired prompts later, and 'to
wire transfer to' appears. I'm quick with
Smiling, heady and ready, I double click.
The tidy sum is deposited where it rightfully
belongs. In Cin's thirsty account. I've
successfully completed my first illegal
transfer of somebody else's ill-gotten gain.
My high's buildin', and the zone I love bein'
in is babblin' my name. I go with it as
easily as I go with all the cool, no-brainer
stuff I love doin'.
Initial success had me all hopped-up for
extracting the next stash. Once I'm in his
'NorWest Bank of Nevada' account, (the branch
at 9325 W. Sahara Ave.) my eyes pop as they
embrace the sizeable sum he has sacked away
here. Mercy... Scumbag could fill his
Jacuzzies with Benjamins scores of times over.
My fingers devour the keyboard as though they
don't need any insipience from me. They've
got knowledge, acquired and tested, all their
own, instinctive and immediate. I gloat huge
once Scumbag's loot no longer resides where it
did moments ago.
Fun is a weak description for what I'm having.
What I'd begun calling a labor of love-tinged
vengeance, has morphed into one hungry turn
on. I'm so stoked, the seat of my pants is
soaked. I'm on fire down there. Would you
believe my lenses are foggin' up?
Time for the third jewel in this triple crown.
The windfall whose home's in Frisco. Exact
location, the BVB; BayView Bank. The fleet
search completes, credentialing is given the
green flag, I breathe relief. The 'window of
opportunity' I've worked like an ant hefting
a two gram crumb to raise pops up. Yeah, oh,
man. I'm staring at his net worth here at 540
Van Ness; a lusty wolf whistle of a jackpot
that's good and plenty.
The throes of moving the bulk of his hefty
fortune overtake me. I'm gonna leave him
with the harpooning two cents I've left in his
other accounts. No. Screw that. It all
goes. Like I told her...'I got the power.'
Don't I though. I am 'The Man.'
My final installment of key-in passes faster
than an instant, and my work's almost done.
Good thing too. I'm being sprayed with ID
verifiers in one to two minute increments. I
re-type what got me in, in the first place,
and that seems to satisfy the pesky 'watchdog'
for the time being.
I double click, a hesitation that's quickly
followed by CTRL-DELETE-F8 through F11, then
ALT for the SysRq... To breathe another
_WHAT THE HELL_
How was this dragged up? It's a 'par-en-
par.' The unbelievable prompt siphons the
little breath I still have trapped in my
lungs expertly away. What a trip, and I
mean it purely in the actual.
'Initiate Link With Swiss Bank Router?'
It's way hard to hear myself think over the
din of my pounding heart. Man, it's pounding
so hard its rhythm is flailing against my
damn T-shirt, and the pounds have a voice...
'go for it-go for it-go for it'. Under the
hypnotic spell, way before any better
judgement asserts itself, my right index
finger convulses in the affirmative.
'Who am I?' I've told you already. I panic,
and doubt using the same account number is
gonna work for the Swiss. A more cautious
voice, the one I more times than not choose
to ignore when I get like this, warns me to
cease and desist before my trigger-happiness
drops me in shit's creek dog paddling.
Where's Byers when I need him? _Who_? What
drugs am I on? Like he'd really help me with
this. Can't ya just hear him get as preachy
as all get out? Tellin' me I've done a bad,
bad thing. Even if it is for a cause I see
fit to call good. How much you wanna bet
Mr. Puritan would call the cops? Have 'em
arrest me and throw away the key?
Getting cute, I throw caution to the wind and
hammer: 'Remember for me.' Then a short cut
I filched off of 'Wormskull,' in one of his
weaker moments, for a 'sidewinder' which
mimics 'parapar' to give the command a
different spin. The relay is totally devoid
of a sense of humor. So, like what was I
expecting? Uncle Miltie? Gilda Radner?
Chris Rock? One of my 'knock-knock' jokes?
Cyberspace does an impression of a night at
the 'Improv'? _Not_.
I'm dumped to a 'lockout' screen, left to
stew, and it's here where I should collect my
marbles and blow. It might as well be a
holding cell. The little hour glass
stubbornly sits there, refusing to give
anything up. Again, what did I expect? Like
it was gonna be way easy, even though I am
in a tiny section of it? The Swiss Bank?
Come on. I might as well be knocking
literally on Fort Knox's door with a
gunnysack, askin' for a damn hand-out. Maybe
there is some truth to the rumor that _I'm_
certifiable more than Fro'. When I'm all
hyper like this, that is.
You'd think I'd know better about having that
sixth sense and all, at this stage of the
game. Which, when it's all boiled down, it
is to me, always has been, guess always will
be. Still all fired-up like this, and forced
to cool my jets. So not easy.
'Re-enter previous account #'...
I read and obey, all itchy. Knowing I
should give this up, but just as stubborn
to break through as the system is determined
to keep me out. I employ another ploy. It
tells me to type the account number again.
Yeah. The bells are clanging non-stop, but,
mentally, I mute 'em.
I wanna see what goes down. I'm on the line
and I'm rollin'. Goin' with the reel-in.
Hook, line, sinker. If I sink, I'll rip out
connection, leave the guys an encrypted
message, haul this rig-up and my ass outta
here faster than a speeding Miranda bein'
Somehow, it's not feeling real now, like I'm
gonna wake up any sec in a cell minus padding,
and my worst nightmare, Mitch, is flexing his
bi's and tri's with a freaky come hither look
in his eyes. Bummer. All outta 'Dew.' I
need a bracing hit, and a soft drink won't cut
it; make it Boone's Fuzzy Navel instead. Not
that hard, but not so soft either. I've been
on the wagon for a while now; tryin' to be a
Some funky permutations are going on in the
system tray. I gulp, not liking what that
could mean. So...what am I waiting for?
Time to bail-- _No_! Give it another--
Please... Okay; but now what? Every nerve
I possess strains as I wrestle with myself to
hold it together. I must be nuts. Instead
of asking for it, I should be in Cin's car,
heading back to her place, pick her up for
the trip to her bank so she can close her
Fight to hang tough, or opt for flight? I've
never had an adrenaline rush like this ever,
adding to the fact that I've never had such a
spooky feeling before either. I'm gonna
auto-destruct. I tickle the hard plastics;
(if this 'greaser' doesn't cut it, I'm out)
and chant nice.
Oh, shit! GO AWAY!! Is it the fuzz?
I didn't order anything, my mind ripples, as
my heart recovers from savage palpitations.
I ignore the second rattling set of bangs,
and mutter under my breath, "Go the hell
away..." After knocking three more times,
the dipwad finally takes my unuttered
suggestions and cluefully splits.
I gotta get outta--
MY Kung Fu, baby. The system's warlords
have seen fit to grant Lord Manhammer access
to Scumbag's Never, Never Land, for whatever
reason I'm down on my knees for. Talk about
Nirvana, man, to the tune of more dough than
I've ever laid eyes on, or ever will again.
Yeah, well, guess what? I'm _never_ doin'
anything distantly-related to this ever
again. I guess. Hell yeah. This is much
too much excitement.
Maybe twenty years ago I would've handled
this more calmly, like a grades-changing
hack. Course, I never did anything like
that; honest. Tempted to, sure, but I never
changed my grades or anybody's. Not even
Cin's, and changing her mid-term grade of
eighty in Trig., without her knowledge, to
a ninety-five was something I saw myself
doing a couple of times in my dreams.
I fill my lungs with air, point, click, and
the bread's converted into U.S. currency.
Slap me senseless. Talk about mass
conversion, part and parcel of autonomic
generation. And this booty's all for you,
Cin. Hell, for you and that nifty baby boy
of yours, I would go through this again. It
is possible to survive terminal nervous
prostration, and live to tell.
Call me quirky, but this time, I don't make
off with all the loot. Feeling charitable
has nothing to do with it. I let Scumbag
keep a thou. I'm overtired, wrecked and wanna
get this the hell over with, and me out of
this cyber'hood like since yesterday. I've
pushed the envelope as far as I want to.
Hey, it was real cool doin' business with ya,
SB, BVB, NWBN and LCFS. I know; it's
understood. I'll be sure not to make this a
habit for the sake of my continued sanity,
I've been insanely lucky, shovin' my slippery
Kung Fu aside. If I took this up as a serious
hobby, sooner or later I'd mess up and have no
one to blame but my own half-assed self when
the cell door slams.
I've returned to Cin's account, and it's
lookin' real good. I smile contentedly, and
flex my hands. My work's done here. So's
what's left of my mind...
My hands shaking the way they are, and the
fact that I need a whole fifteen minutes to
stand is a litmus indication of how little
there is left to mess with.
End Part 5