Title : Freedom, Come Midnight (1 of 3)
Rating: PG-13 (Adultish in tone)
Spoiler : Bond, Jimmy Bond
Disclaimer: C. Carter, 1013 Productions, Fox
hold the rights to what's theirs. I retain
the rights to my creations.
Freedom, Come Midnight
Against their dual opinions, he'd done what
he'd wanted anyway, as always. Had done
what he wanted, when he wanted to do it.
What made them any species of 'romance
experts' in the greater scheme of things?
Byers, with his one-sided non-existent love
affair, and Frohike with his sick addiction
to those overly-developed video honies? Who
were those guys trying to fool?
Certainly not him. They, giving him dating
advice? They knew as much about the subject
as he which was painfully very little...
So he had gone ahead and had asked the new
hire at the neighborhood computer store if
he could buy her dinner...at MacDonald's.
The subsequent turn down had set his latest
land record of being rejected in less than
six seconds flat. The girl had even made a
sickened face, letting him know in no
uncertain terms how beneath her going there
was. Leaving the shop on a sturdy crest of
dejection, he had headed for his usual haunt
on his own.
What was so wrong with Mickey Dee's, he
considered at his booth, the one with his
name imaginarily on it; the third one from
the left of the 'help yourself' condiment,
soda and napkin island. The food was good
and wonderfully affordable.
Thirty bucks would have you eating like a
king or queen. There was no logical reason
for her to have said, "No." Unless there
was something about _him_ she didn't dig.
But how true was that? He couldn't have been
that far off the mark decrypting her obvious
signals she'd been giving since that first
day she'd begun working there, and which he
thought he'd read accurately. Shaking his
head, waiting for his 'Big Mac' to cool off,
he sighed, and thought how he would never
get women. In both the physical and mental
extension of the context.
Langly sighed again, fingering his food.
The sandwich had cooled off considerablely.
He picked it up and tore into it savagely.
He chewed the hefty hunk with a ferocity
that would have rivaled a venerated sire
of a pride of savannah lions. He continued
masticating well past the point of there
being even the tiniest morsel left to shred.
His swallowing was perfunctory, if not
'zombiesque.' Unblinkingly, he bit off
another bite larger than his first. No
taste sensation was registering as it would
have if his heart had been really engaged
in his normal fare, instead of its being
caught up in the maudlin exercise of his
feeling sorry for himself. He was beginning
to think that his striking out with the fair
sex on a regular basis was more than just a
knack. It was his way of life.
He slurped his 'super sized' Coke noisily,
which was immediately followed by several
prodigious burps. He slurped a second
installment of fizz and syrup with the
idential sound effects afterwards, draining
the waxy cup to its halfway mark. He
crammed a healthy handful of toasty fries
into his mouth, chewing in the identical
manner he'd inflicted on the meat, pickles,
lettuce and special sauce.
His eyes fuzzed with tears when they
chanced to fall upon a couple of high
school sweethearts seated in a booth by the
storefront. One large soda, two straws...a
lot of giggling and innocent handholding.
Langly's next breaths were long and drawn
out, as though he was breathing within an
iron lung. He sniffed up what threatened
in his nose and the lame wetness doing the
same in his eyes.
"Why can't I have some a that?" he spoke
nettlesomely to the empty seat across
from him. "Am I so big a loser that I'll
_never_ have _anybody_?" His forefinger
kicked at the Coke, each rap harder than
the last. "I'm tired of bein' so alone;
so minus any female companionship. I don't
wanna just do somebody ta get some. I wanna
love somebody, and I want them lovin' me
back, just as much. Is that sooooo hard?"
All of this had been said audibly enough
for two burly, bearded truckers to have
overheard him. They gave each other looks,
(not before having nudged each other a
great deal, and snickering about the
'nutso' girly-man) which spoke volumes,
and changed their eating venue to the tune
of heading for the opposite side of the
fast food establishment.
They could have handled Langly with both
hands tied behind their backs, but eating
with psychos was something they had made a
pact to avoid. The way Langly had carried
on with himself, they had thought it wiser
to just clear out of his way, thus avoiding
his going 'postal' so close to them.
Langly set his sandwich down and stared at
it as if waiting for the nourishment to
supply answers to his rhetoric. He removed
his glasses and pinched the sore bridge of
his nose. Nobody understood him.
Something he'd said to Frohike and Byers a
month or so ago came banging back to mind.
The phrasing was somewhat altered, but the
sentiment behind the thinking was as biting
as when he had initially uttered the idea.
'...Would anyone even care if I bought it,
one day?' In the back of his mind where
all his nagging thoughts seemed to collect,
he told himself, 'yeah, _right_.' Jimmy,
okay, yeah, but it was _Jimmy_. That big
overgrown 'softie' would take it as a deep
personal loss if his pet frog died, and
Langly was sure their ingenuous backer had
had many amphibians, growing up. His dour
thoughts did not even bother to dwell on
Yves and her flash-frozen sentiments; she
was a foregone conclusion from that fateful
day one when she had intruded into their
It was nice to lull himself with the hypnotic
panacea that his nearests and dearests...Fro',
Bye', even Mulder and Scully would, but could
they go on without him? Not hard to answer.
Sure they would.
How many 'peeps' would show up for my funeral,
he posited. Well, Jimmy for sure. The fab
four...he nodded. Yves? He shrugged. Maybe
she'd attend only if to satisfy any ilk of
curiosity she may have had about what sort of
people had known him. A handful of his good
gaming buds, along with their wives, that at
least three of them had. Perhaps an informant
from years' past, or two.
Supposing answers to these questions churned
what he had already consumed into vinagre in
his stomach. He grabbed his Coke again and
sipped hard until he heard the drink's
rude finish, and although he did, he kept
on sucking until a sedately dressed couple
with a hefty number of wedding anniversaries
under their belts glared at him from the
"Thirsty," Langly wafted over to them
once he acknowledged their disapproving
noticing. He dumped the remainder of his
partially-eaten order into the bag, deciding
he'd finish it later back at the warehouse
while troubleshooting his existing firewalls.
When he stood, he didn't feel so well, and
it had registered on his piqued face. A
fleeting thought of how he should have
gotten his stomach pumped at a nearby ER,
instead of his downing as much Pepto as he
could stand after his siphoning stunt had
first happened, crossed his mind for the
third time this day.
He tossed the little trash he had into a
nearby receptacle, thinking that this new
wave of malaise could be a way delayed
reaction to multi-octane poisoning. This
time, maybe he wouldn't be walking away...
The curly-haired, wiry blonde with attentive
hazel eyes took in his stricken condition
not batting an eyelash. She hesitated
before saying anything, but knew she wanted
to. Heck, she had to say something. He
was one of their steady regulars. Their
cutest one at that.
Glad there was no one waiting to be waited
on to interrupt with their order, she said,
"Uh, are you okay?" She frowned when she
received no answer. "Hey, guy? Are you
all right?" '...He looks awful...'
Stumbly, scuffling steps were halted, and
Langly regarded his wide-eyed (nice
eyes, he was capable of noticing though)
scrutinizer with a 'who me?' expression.
"You say something?"
"Yeah. Are you _okay_?"
"You're askin' me if I'm okay?"
The girl grinned, but quickly squelched
any hint that she was amused. "Sure.
Unless you're not who you're supposed to
He fed her wide-eyed look back to her,
and just as he was about to retort
something snide, he remembered that she
had 'super sized' all of his purchases
except the 'Big Mac.' She always did,
without having to be asked.
"Last time I checked I was still me." He
swayed a little then, and he knew she had
seen it because the concern in her alert
eyes regrouped. "I'm okay." She pursed
her lips, telegraphing how much she believed
him. "No, really. I am. I've been pulling
too much overtime lately; need more quality
Her skepticism dissipated. "Hey, I hear
that. No one likes the late shift, but
here I am. It works out though. I'm a
cashier at the 'plex over at Long Hills
on the weekends. Till midnight too."
Gradually, he had drifted over to the
counter, not sure why he had. "Gonna be
a millionairess by the time you're
The winsome girl's eyes sparked twinkles.
"Nothing like that. And I am twenty-three.
I decided to go back to school. I'm
studying to be a physical therapist." She
began massaging her aching neck, followed
up by some brief head rolling. "I practice
They shared laughter that wasn't forced.
"Bet the next thing you're gonna ask me
is do I come here often."
"Nope. I already know you do. You're
one of billions served over and over
who're making this corporation richer
every day, and helping to pay what we
workers laughingly call our salaries."
"I like what they've got." He summoned
up a little nerve, sensing that it wasn't
going to be like pulling teeth. "What's
"Gina," she said, pointing to her utilitary
tag. Matching his forthrightness, she
wanted to know his.
"Richard, but I like Langly. That's my
last name," he lobbed, "that's what I
like being called better."
"So your last name's more like your
"I guess you could say that," Langly
addressed, keeping his true nickname under
wraps for the time being. Having started
to feel a little better, he smiled more
conclusively. "Thanks for throwing in all
that 'super sizing.' It's cool of ya."
Gina performed some modest eyelash batting
then. "Can't say we-uns here at Mickey
Dee's don't know how to take care of our
own. Best customers merit special attention."
She was becoming more aware of just how blue
and beautiful this 'regular's' eyes were. He
wore no rings which was a good sign, but by
no means one of the surest ones that he was
The rhythmic pulsating centered in her chest
picked up several more beats. "You're always
in here alone," she stammered a bit, suddenly
tongue-tied, wondering where she was heading.
"Doesn't your g-girlfriend...or..." Suddenly,
her head went swirly inside, but there was no
turning back from this line of questioning.
She'd been dying to know one way or the other
for the longest. "Or your wife 'deserve a
break today' along with you?"
Langly tried another 'who me' look on her
for size. Why was _he_ blushing? He
started shaking his head as though he
were trying to cool himself off. "I'm
"I do the solo thing," he said evenly,
watching her closely for any indication
that that was what she wanted to hear.
"You?" he arched, admiring boldness he
rarely possessed when it came to flirting
(was that what he was doing?) hell, yeah,
Langly thought, turning that novel thought
over, with pretty young things like present
She had intended to sound coy, but with his
intense, open stare, she offered up simply,
"Free as a bird, but unlike that bird in the
song they're playing to death, who's always
flying away, I'm here in D.C. to put down
roots. I come from a pretty large family
back in Virginia, near New Market in the
"Seven brothers, two sisters; I'm one of
The whistle he made, made her shrug. "Me
"You too what?"
"From a large family."
"A Blue Ridge chick..."
"You believe in aliens?" She pointed at
his 'True' T-shirt, grinning.
"Personal experience," Langly said proudly.
He made believe he was strumming a six-string.
"'Almost heaven,'" he squeaked off-key.
"That's _West_ Virginia," Gina nimbly plugged.
'...Bet she would be almost like heaven...'
He scanned her with lingering eyes this time
from her face down to her trim waist where
the counter obstructed the remaining view.
"One earth, same sky. Boundaries are
She had to think about that last conjecture.
Not taking forever to draw a conclusion, she
said, "Point, yours." It had been trimmed
expressively, with an easy-goingness, and
dusted lightly with a drawl that possessed
the give of a bouncy three-meter springboard.
"Although, the hill people in the Smokies
might be a harder sell." She had him smiling,
practically on cue now. "So-o-ooo," she drew
out, "when did you start believing in aliens?"
"How are you getting home?"
A non-sequitor kind of guy, she thought.
"Usually my roommate, Theresa, picks me up.
She works a late shift at Kentucky Fried, not
far from the strip mall, but she's home sick
with a bad cold, so I was gonna catch the
"Let me drive ya. On the way, I'll explain
why I converted."
"Will that be in your car? Or your spaceship?"
She raised her eyes heavenward. "After every
'Star Wars' I've ever seen, I've always
wanted to go for a test drive."
"No, I don't own the Millennium Falcon, but
my Volkswagon bus has been known to leave
the roadbed sometimes," Langly said, taking
his time with his words. "So, whaddya say?"
Thinking it a good idea, he added, "Don't
worry, I'm not a serial killer."
"Got proof?" she said, rolling her eyes.
"What kind would you like?" he challenged.
"What kind do you have?"
Going with the flow, Langly whipped out
his driver's license, handing it to her.
"Make a photocopy, tack it on the message
board here with a note underneath stating
that at such and such time late this night,
you went off with yours truly."
Gina shook her head; her shiny ringlets
jigged. "That won't be necessary, Langly.
You look like a mighty fine upstanding
citizen to me. You've got yourself a
taker," Gina accepted, then gratefully
said, "thanks," handing him back one of
his more accessible forms of ID.
Or a keeper, Langly thought, and snuck a
peek at his watch to see how much time her
shift had left.
"Want another Coke? On the house."
"Nah, I had enough," Langly pitched over
his shoulder as he went to sit down at a
table, facing her. When he was, two fast-
walking men who had entered the restaurant
were in her face, presumably all set to
place their orders.
Both of the young men were wearing denim
jackets, baggy jeans, and matching black
bandanas on their heads, 'do-rags' under
them; untied construction boots which had
the uncanny ability to shod running feet,
to sell 'the look.' The taller, cagier,
florid-complexioned guy was wearing
sunglasses, the other was without, but he
had a pair suspended from the collar of
"Welcome to MacDonald's," Gina politely
offered to the sunglassed one, "may I take
your order?" She watched the shorter of
the two make a beeline back to the doors
they'd come through. Langly's eyes darted
along with him, aware of the bad vibe he
was picking up. The guy appeared to be
checking out the parking lot.
"I ain't hungry," Gina's customer flung
"O-kaaay," she said, still sounding patient;
service-oriented minded. "Something to
Langly shot up, his greasy bag which he'd
had in his lap fell to the greasy floor.
Before he made it to the scene of
confrontation, the man had a pistol stuck
in Gina's shocked face. Langly glanced
around and saw, to his panick, that the
guy at the door had his out too, gripping
the stock with both hands, and was aiming
for his head.
"Easy, dude," he advised Langly, and then
in a louder voice rasped, "nobody'll get
hurt if you do what we say."
Langly's hands automatically shot up.
"Yo, Gina," her assailant spat at her,
and seemed proud of the fact that he'd
read it off her tag, "where's the Manager?"
"Right here, buddy. Let's be reasonable,
huh? All the money's locked in a safe
even I don't know the combination to."
He motioned for his three co-workers
who had come running from the back of
the store to the front to stay back.
"Not _all_ the money. Hey, you think we're
stupid? We've kept tabs on this place
for hours. The registers are overflowing,
so we'll start with them." Gina's
threatener ordered her to get busy cleaning
them out, putting every scrap of paper
money into shopping bags. She fed her boss
a questioning look, and he nodded for her
to comply. "Yeah, girl. Do it, only you
don't take orders from him. You take 'em
The pasty man at the door had since
ordered the total of eight other patrons
to lie on the floor face down. Langly
gulped, and seemed frozen to his position.
The man's eyes cut him down, and he warned
him to hit the deck or he'd help him do it
"Hurry up with the Benjamins, Blondie, or
I start poppin' people." Since Langly
was closest to the counter than any other
patron, the robber momentarily aimed his
gun away from Gina, training it dead
center on the sweating hacker's back.
"Pop, pop," the gunman simulated, and
Langly felt his heart kick before it
actually felt as though it had stopped
beating. The gunmen tossed their grating
laughter back and forth to each other.
While that was going on, the Manager had
edged undetectedly towards the silent alarm
stategically located under the ledge behind
the coffee machine. His thumb pressed three
times while he rendered up a hushed prayer.
"Okay, look alive, bitch. You better be
done, 'cos I'm gettin' real impatient."
"He-here," Gina said, handing him a single
bag which was a little less than half filled
with bills of all denominations; a smattering
of hundreds, fistfuls of fifties, torrents
"Sweet," gunman number one praised, mezmerized
by all the green. He motioned to the Manager
with the gun. "Now the safe."
"I _told_ you the safe can't be opened." His
voice was a desperate plea.
"Bullshit," gunman number one spat. "Get it
open somehow, you son-of-a-bitch. You don't
she gets it between the eyes."
Gina gave him a terrified look, as though
he couldn't possibly have meant her as her
eyes filled with fear. "N-No," she gagged.
Langly sprang to his feet, and guns or no
guns, lunged at the man who had yelled at
the top of his lungs, much to the harrowing
consternation of the MacDonald's personnel
and the patrons.
His intent was firm, but maintaining sure
footing on the filmy floor wasn't. Skidding,
he lost his balance, and came up short.
Out of nowhere, sharp burning pain erupted
deep within in his gut. The roar of a
thousand living things filled his ears, but
it was Gina's shrill scream, the loudest of
everyone female, that drowned out all those
As Langly's knees buckled beneath him, he
crumpling, toppling to the floor, her
deafening screams were the last sounds he
To be continued...