Some Weird Sin
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.
* * *
I think he moved. Am I imagining things?
Did he open his eyes?
I feel guilty because I find myself eyeing a
ll the outlets in the room, wanting
to plug in my laptop. It's like a security
blanket. The familiar feeling of
smooth, plastic keys beneath my fingers,
the power to control everything linked
to that streamlined case. I hold myself back,
feel guilty for even thinking about it.
Did Ellroy leave or is he still here? No, he
must still be waiting outside because
we drove in my rented GEO and he gave me the
keys and I can feel them poking my thigh.
He's not moving now, except for the rough rise
and fall of his chest, twitching
eyes. I probably am imagining things.
* * *
Obviously there was a reason Ellroy gave me the picture.
About a week after I stepped off the bus in DC,
settling into my squatter's paradise,
still unpacking. I gingerly lifted Ellroy's
present out of my suitcase. Brushing shards
of glass off my clothes, I sat on the edge
of my bed - a mattress on the floor - and
stared at the picture. The backdrop was some
idyllic farm scene, red barn, trees blowing
in the breeze. But the backdrop itself
was marred and creased, frayed around the edges.
I'd never noticed that before.
I was three. My hair was so white, it overexposed
detail-less. I was sitting on my mother's lap;
I didn't remember ever sitting on her lap when I was
a kid. I wasn't looking at the camera,
but at something that must have caught
my attention outside of the frame - maybe some
assistant with a toy, trying to make me laugh?
I had this look on my face, like I couldn't
decide whether to laugh or cry.
At a glance, it looked like a smile; I always
thought I was smiling in that picture.
My father had a familiar deer-caught-in-headlights
expression. It's the same in almost every
photo I've seen of him; he can never prepare
himself for the flash. I was surprised by
how much I look like him. Years before his body
developed a soft, alcoholic paunch, he had the
same angular lines in his face that I saw
whenever I looked in a mirror.
He was sitting next to my mother, his hand
resting on her knee; an uncomplicated gesture
And then I saw something else I hadn't noticed
before, a blur of movement, captured and
frozen by the shutter: My mother's hand, pulling away
from my father's. He wasn't touching her knee;
he was trying to hold her hand. And she'd
yanked it away, right as the camera went off.
The happy family portrait was unraveling before my eyes.
I sat there, knees to my chest, brushing my fingers
across the pebbled photograph. I had this hot urge
to throw it away, quickly covered by something
like nostalgia. Almost without realizing it,
I started crumpling the picture up in my fist.
That's when I saw the address penciled on the back.
Handwriting I hadn't seen in years.
It was a local address, in Georgetown.
I asked Smithee where it was. He showed
me on a map, some random cross section of
streets on a piece of paper. I touched
the place on the map where the
building would stand; it seemed like I had to
touch things to make sure they were real, these days.
Maybe Ellroy was telling me the truth?
I'd been doing a damn good job of pretending I hadn't
heard what he said to me the night before I
left. I could even walk by a phone book without
wanting to look her name up. I was cruising in
a state of blissful ignorance and denial.
Maybe it didn't feel good. But it felt safe.
Better safe then sorry. Right. Right?
Unless Ellroy was telling the truth.
Eventually, not knowing became worse than taking
the risk. Even so, it took me months to work
up the courage to venture into her neighborhood. Every
time I crossed zip codes, my stomach would slip
down to my feet and I'd get so light-headed
I'd have to sit down. I wore this expression, a practiced
mixture of boredom and frustration,
the mask of someone who knows where they're going and
isn't in the wrong place and is probably late
for an appointment. But every time I passed
a woman of about the right age and hair color,
my face would go slack. My head would whip
around to follow them. Sometimes they'd give me
dirty looks and clutch their purses a little tighter.
It took me another month to walk on her street.
And the only reason I had the nerve to do
that was because Smithee was with me the first time, and
it was such an absurdly late time of night
that I knew there was minimal risk of encounter.
It was almost an accident, ending up there in the
first place. We had to pass near that part
of Georgetown on our way back from some business
meeting. I just maneuvered us a few blocks east
and acted like I wanted to visit a friend.
We stopped across the street from her building. Nice,
tree lined street dotted with brick townhouses.
Her building looked no different than the others. I
wondered which window was hers. A dog barked,
and somewhere in the distance homeless people
were banging on garbage can lids. I felt rooted to
the ground, tense, like if someone touched me I'd
explode in a thousand pieces.
"They're prolly sleeping, man" Smithee whined, shifting
his weight from foot to foot. "You gonna
call them down, or wait here all fucking night?
Cause I'm going to sleep."
"No, I'm coming," I said. Smithee was right.
I wasn't going to wait here all night - because
I was too afraid of seeing her in the morning.
I gave one last glance at the vacant windows,
then ran to catch up with Smithee,
who was already walking back home to his bed.
* * *