Some Weird Sin

By Cameragrrrl

Disclaimer and some such:
I do not have the rights to use any characters 
officially associated with The X-Files/ Lone Gunmen 
television series. I am using these characters without the 
permission of FOX, 1013 Productions, Chris Carter, or 
any other copyright owners. Of course, this is intended for 
[non-profit] entertainment only, and no 
infringement on copyrights or trademarks 
was intended by the author.

Any similarities to people, places, and other works of
fanfiction are purely coincidental.

All other characters not officially associated with 
The X-Files/ Lone Gunmen (including, but not limited to, 
Smithee and Ellroy) are property of the author 
and should not be recycled into another story without

No animals were harmed during the making of this fanfic, 
except for two mosquitoes and one waterbug.

Cost of coffee drunk while writing this: $15.82
Cost of paper used to print out draft copies: $2.38
Cost of Anne Hawley's beta-reading skills: PRICELESS

The 'present' of this story takes place a few years 
before The Lone Gunmen series timeline.

* * *

His room is stark white. A fluorescent light hums
above me, dimmed to a green glow. It seems so 
dark in here. A pretty nurse tells me it's 
because his eyes have been closed for too 
long and will be overly sensitive to stimuli, 
if he opens them - and a dark room will make 
it easier for his eyes to acclimate. She doesn't 
seem hopeful that they'll open at all, ever. 
But the fact that they're keeping the 
lights dim - just in case - gives me 
some measure of comfort. 

Like maybe, he'll get better. Like maybe 
I can ignore the mummified look to his skin. 
Maybe I can pretend I haven't read his charts 
and seen the words esophageal bleeding and liver failure -

Ignorance and denial never sounded so good. 

They might as well turn all the lights on. Point 
his bed at the sun and open the blinds. 
Hell, bring in a couple of those trillion 
kilowatt FBI-issued Xenon flashlights I've 
seen Mulder and Scully use and blast them 
directly into his eyes. 

It won't make any difference. 

I think about my mother, and then quickly 
try not to think of her, and think of her 
anyway. The words 'too late' are becoming 
a painfully familiar chorus. 

* * *

I have this nasty habit of hanging out with 
men old enough to be my father. It doesn't 
take a whole lot of psychiatric deduction 
to figure out why.

The first one was Mr. Greene - my third grade 
teacher at Saltville Elementary. He had a lisp,
which I'm sure made him the subject of teasing 
when he was a kid - so he immediately recognized 
me as a kindred spirit, a fellow victim. I 
was too young to be self-conscious about this. 
All that mattered was that he never called on
me in class, even though he knew I knew the 
answer. He let me stay with him after school 
and help tutor other students in math, even 
after I graduated from his year. He used to 
say to me, "You're the only smart one of them,
Richard. You're going to go somewhere," and 
his support and recognition made me feel loved.

Until some kids took to shoving me into a 
dumpster behind the school. They would sit
on the wooden lid, five or six of them at a time, 
and chant the ever-original teacher's pet song. 
They did that every day, for a week. But it wasn't 
the bullies that made me stop helping Mr. 
Greene - although they did tend to keep me trapped 
with the garbage until the tutoring sessions were 
long over. I was used to bullies; I was the class scapegoat.

It was the fact that Mr. Greene never noticed I 
was gone. He never asked why I didn't show up to 
help him for a week - not that I would've admitted 
to being held hostage in a dumpster. But it would've 
been nice to know he cared. 

Frohike is my old man now, as wrong as that sounds. 
Byers too, sometimes, even though we're pretty much 
the same age; he just acts older, and paternity fits 
him like a well-tailored suit. But Frohike - of 
course, we've never talked about our relationship in 
those terms, but I actually think he feels the same 
way about me: Fatherly. I mean, let's face it. Frohike's 
practically old enough to be my father. And I see the 
way he acts with Byers, who has his own royally 
screwed up relationship with his dad. Byers is more 
openly needy, so Frohike openly responds to that.

He takes a totally different approach with me. 
He doesn't feed into my self-pity, or put up 
with my sarcasm, or back away when my temper 
explodes - all of which happen on an 
embarrassingly regular basis. He fights me, 
makes me justify it. Frohike had me figured out 
the day we met, as soon as I flinched away from 
his hand on my shoulder. Textbook case.

But Ellroy . . . Ellroy was the most influential old man. 

He was younger than my dad, but at least a 
generation older than me. And he looked more
like me - or anyway, he looked like what I look 
like now. For starters, Ellroy was the only grown-up 
in Saltville with long hair. It didn't endear him
to the right-wing locals; we're talking about a town 
that thought anything longer than a military buzz cut 
made you a Commie. Even though Ellroy kept his hair 
pulled back in a neat pony tail, my father referred 
to him as 'that damn hippie fool.'

I don't think he liked Ellroy too much. 

Ellroy was also the only person in town with 
an visible tattoo. It was faded, handwritten in 
a circle on his left forearm, just below the crook 
of his elbow:


I asked him about it once, before I knew better 
than to be nosy about shit like that, 
and he just looked kind of sad. "I got 
it after I left Omaha," was all he offered. 
I didn't ask him anything else. I recognized 
the handwriting; it was his.

On top of teaching me about electronics, 
Ellroy also got me started on my music 
collection. He dubbed most of his bootlegs 
and live shows for me. He was really into 
the NY punk scene. He had all of the Ramones' 
CBGB performances on tape - it's probably worth 
a fortune on eBay now. I heard my first Ramones 
song in his store, first Stooges, first MC5; 
he played whatever he wanted and let the 
customers decide whether to listen or leave.

I think his only redeeming quality - at 
least to the more conservative 
townspeople - was Ellroy's loyalty 
to the University of Nebraska 'Huskers. 
He was rarely without his battered Go Big 
Red! cap - and during football season, he 
made sure every TV in his store was tuned 
in to the game. He'd even stay open late 
and set up chairs and let whoever wanted 
to come in and watch the game with him.

But as far as I was concerned, the coolest 
thing about Ellroy was that he never judged me. 
I could come to his store almost any time of 
day and stay as long as I wanted, and he never 
asked why or made me leave. He was my 
escape - from bullies, from chores, from my 
parents. From what I knew of him, he'd had a 
pretty shitty life himself. He grew up in Omaha, 
poor, no father - and that was during a time when 
single parent homes were still really uncommon. 
He was never too specific about his past, like 
he didn't want to spend too much time thinking 
about it. There was just something about how 
intuitively he understood what I was feeling 
that made me think he'd seen a lot of it firsthand.

I didn't even mind so much when he called me Ringo, 
even though I asked him not to. Coming from 
Ellroy, it was almost an endearment; he really 
liked the Beatles. And when he told me Ringo Starr's 
first name was also Richard, I actually fooled myself 
into thinking the nickname was kind of cool - but 
only coming from Ellroy.

I spent a lot more time in his store after 
my mom left - being home alone with my dad became 
increasingly intolerable. The last few seasons had 
been bone dry, which was terrible for corn farms. 
And what's terrible for corn production is terrible 
for dairy farms because it means we don't have enough 
food to support the herd. We had to auction off about 
a third of the cows. Basically, we lost serious 
income - and we didn't have much to lose in the 
first place. My dad had to work double time just to 
break even. He could barely afford to pay local 
school kids to help him, and the fact that I wasn't 
much use around the farm just created all this extra 
tension between us.

He even started selling stuff around the house 
to make some extra money. He sold my bike. He 
sold my old computer. He never asked my permission. 
When I confronted him about it, he got all defensive 
and said, "If you can't help me with the work, the 
least you can do is make these sacrifices."

I really didn't care about the stuff he sold - well, 
okay, I was angry about the bike. When I was fifteen 
and carless, how else was I supposed to get around 
in Saltville? But all I really wanted him to do was 
ask me first. I would've helped him; I would've been 
flattered if he'd asked for my help at all. He just 
didn't get it. 

Ellroy helped me get through all of that by giving
me a place to go when I couldn't face going home, 
letting me vent when I needed to, teaching me cool 
stuff, feeding me music and stories about Life Outside
of Nebraska. I'm still grateful to him for that.

But it just made what he did even worse. 

He'd been helping me plan my departure for a while. 
He was the one who convinced me to go to Washington, 
arguing that the cost of living would be easier for 
me to handle than in NewYork. He also pointed out,
as delicately as possible, that DC's smaller, 
somewhat-Southern hospitality might be an easier 
adjustment for a sheltered farmboy to make. Plus, 
he knew people in DC. He introduced me over the 
phone to some friends of his, including Smithee. 
It was settled: I'd go to Washington. 
I'd have a job. I'd have a network of people that knew 
me; or at least knew someone that knew me. There 
were telecommunication jobs popping up in cities 
all over the place - even in Omaha - so I 
never doubted there'd be similar opportunities in DC. 
For once in my life, I had Real Plans.

He gave me a going-away present the night 
before I left - with a clear warning not to 
open it until I arrived in DC. It was plainly 
wrapped, flat, kind of square shaped. I thought 
it was some vinyl, and I knew it would be nice 
and loud, whatever it was. I hugged him tightly, 
went home, set up my record player, and opened the 
present. Ellroy wrapped it with one of his old 
'Huskers shirts - on which he wrote with black magic 

It wasn't vinyl. It was that missing family 
portrait. The one my mother took with her 
when she left. Expensively framed - which was 
a shame, because I was so shocked that I dropped 
it at my feet, promptly breaking the glass.

I ran the two miles to Ellroy's store - he lived 
on the floor above. I was dripping with sweat. 
I pounded on the door. When that didn't work, I 
threw pebbles at his upstairs window. I was 
about to start throwing rocks. Finally a 
light went on, and his face appeared in 
the window. He winced; he wasn't happy to see me.

"Shit, Ringo," he called down. "I told you 
not to open it."

"Yeah? Well fuck you!"

"She told me to give it to you when you left 
Saltville. Don't kill the messenger."

"Fuck you," I shouted again; clearly, 
I was on a roll. "How long?"

"How long what?"

"How long have you been fucking my mother?"

"It's not like that. We aren't fucking," he said. 
I couldn't tell if he was lying, but I 
suddenly felt nauseous hearing him use 
that word. "I'm helping her. Like I help you -"

"Where is she?" I screamed so loudly my voice cracked. 

"She's not even in Nebraska. She's been 
living in DC for a while."

"DC?" I repeated dully. I thought about the 
one-way ticket sitting on top on my suitcase, 
in my room. Ellroy and my mom?

"Why the hell do you really think I wanted 
you to go out there? Do yourself a favor, 
and talk to her. She misses you, Ringo, 
she feels bad -"

"Bullshit. I don't need your help anymore, 
you hippie fuck." I was losing it, getting 
choked up, hysterical. Stay angry, man, 
stay angry, he's lying to you, he betrayed 
you, don't think about what he's saying.

She misses me?

It had to be a lie. Because if she really 
felt bad she could've called, she could've 
come back any time she wanted.

Hah! If she really felt bad, she never 
would've left.

"Listen," he called. "I was there when 
she needed someone. And I was 
here when you needed someone. Now it's
between you and her. I'm sorry. I didn't 
want to hurt you. Okay, Ringo?"

Through gritted teeth, "Don't fucking call 
me that ever again."

And I stormed away. At least, I'd like to think
I stormed away. In reality, I just didn't want him 
to see the twisted look on my face from trying not
to cry, and not being able to stop. Sometimes I do 
wish I was more like my dad - he wouldn't have cried 
at all. He would have just gone upstairs and beat 
the shit out of Ellroy. I bet he'd feel a hell of 
a lot more satisfied than I felt right then.

I just felt numb, helpless. The way I imagined 
my dad felt when he sold the farm.

It took me an hour to walk home. I raided my 
dad's supply of Old Thompson. I don't 
remember much after that, except that I cut 
the bottom of my foot on the glass from the broken 
frame. And I remember thinking just before I passed 
out, well, at least I can do something as well as my dad.

It would be a long time before I missed anything 
about Nebraska. 

* * *