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'm sorry, dad."
"I'm sorry, dad."
"I'm sorry, dad. I'm sorry! Wake up!"
He doesn't answer. A nurse walks in and
asks me if I'm okay, do I need anything,
shouldn't I go home and get some rest,
and I say, "No, I'm not okay, but I'm
better than him!" And she backs
away like I punched her or something,
and I try to apologize but she's already gone.
* * *
Frohike was the one who found the warehouse.
He called me and Byers together for
an unofficial meeting. He drove us down
to Takoma Park, pulled up right in front
of the building and said ceremoniously,
"This is it, buddies. Our new home."
Byers and I looked at each other like, What
the hell is he talking about?
And Frohike just shoved the newspaper ad
in our hands. We had to admit, the
price per square foot was within
our budget - owing largely to the location, of
course. There was nothing for blocks but phone lines,
old factories, and homeless people.
The sort of place that always looked overcast, even
if it was sunny.
"It's perfectly inconspicuous," Frohike said. He
started poking around the corrugated steel façade. "We
can put in a camera, right here. And check
it out - free parking."
Byers looked distinctly uncomfortable. "You want us
to live here? Is it even zoned for
residential occupancy? Is it legal? Is it safe?" His
eyebrows winced up with every word; they were
practically floating above his head.
I put in my two cents. "There are separate
Frohike looked at us like we were crazy to
question him. "There will be."
So we bought the place. It was a year after we
started publishing. Our Xerox-quality
'zine was steadily snowballing into a
We actually sent it out to a press instead of
drawing straws to see who got to spend an
afternoon in Kinkos' self-service copy center. And
readership had increased to a point
where the 'zine was paying for itself. Sometimes
we even made a little profit. We were
only a few bucks shy of affording a
colorized front page; that's moving on up
in the publishing world. So what if we had
barely four hundred subscribers?
We moved into the warehouse within a month. Byers
got first dibs on the bedrooms - although, they
weren't bedrooms at the time. He picked the only one
without a view of the garbage incinerator in the
building behind ours. I guess he preferred
the giant air conditioner ducts and dying trees across the
street. My room was the smallest. All
of our walls were fashionable cinder block, ceilings
lined with exposed pipe.
Strange. But it was real homey.
Well obviously, not the warehouse itself - although
I'd like to think, in time, that we turned
it into something as personalized and comfortable
as a home. But the homey feeling came with
the fact that I was living with people I
liked - even admired. I had a job that was
totally satisfying and not illegal. I felt
like Byers and Frohike would care if I suddenly
jumped on a bus and booked town.
Some days I flattered myself into thinking they might
even try to stop me.
Of course, I never let the guys know how I felt.
Bravado and self-possession more than
covered up for my terminal insecurity. Granted,
I have to thank Frohike for pointing that out to me.
I think his exact words were, "Langly, the day you
admit your kung-foo isn't always the best
will be the day I finally get to know the guy I've
been sitting next to all these years."
Touché. Anyway, the bottom line was, I had a
safety net: People that cared about me.
Since that embarrassing stalk-session with Smithee a
couple of years ago, I hadn't tried to
contact my mom again. I'd put the photograph
away and tried not to think about it - except
I found myself reverting back to that old habit of
fixating on all the happy families I saw on
the street, and when I tried to talk
about it to Smithee he just told me to share whatever
drugs I was on. Some friend.
But Smithee was a distant memory now. I had Byers
and Frohike - my surrogate parents, pretty
much - to catch me if I fell. And I saw what losing
that Modeski woman was doing to Byers.
It was killing him. I wasn't going to let
the same thing happen to me.
So the photograph came out of my drawer. I went
back to that random intersection of streets,
sat on the steps across from her building, in broad
daylight, and watched and waited. It became a ritual
for which I went out of my way to make
myself anonymous: Pulling my hair through
the back of a baseball cap, swapping
out my glasses for prescription shades, buying
incognito jogging sweats. I even
stopped shaving until I had something
resembling a beard and mustache - although
my facial hair was too orange and
shaggy for anything as neatly sculpted as
Byers'. The end result was sort of
Suburban Yeti. I barely recognized myself.
Not taking any chances, though; I knew I didn't
exactly have the kind of face that blended into a crowd.
And it worked. I saw her.
My reaction was spring-loaded, palpable, like a
vacuum filling with a rush of air. Like I
suddenly had to laugh, cry, and yell at the same
time. Or like I could go crazy. It was
the same feeling I'd had back in my tool shed, years ago,
right after she left, when I snapped out of
my reverie and all this raw emotion
flooded my body - which promptly translated
into raw destruction.
"Mom?" I croaked out. Too softly - she didn't hear.
Now the overriding feeling wasn't anger. It
was something closer to regret. It
was like, why couldn't I have done this sooner,
instead of wasting all this time? It was like,
okay, it was unfair of her to put the ball in my
court, when she was the one who left - but
relationships go both ways, and I should've done
But I didn't have the guts to do anything.
She walked into her building and I lost her again.
So I went back. Once or twice a week, every week.
I never worked up the courage to say anything to her.
Didn't want to rock the boat - it was enough, for now,
to know she was accessible. She was a real person
again, not just some memory. It was like fast
forwarding a movie and watching a character age
fifteen years in five minutes. I could see
her hair was more grey than blonde, now. She'd
gotten a little fatter, a little more stooped. She
seemed to like the color blue - in her
wardrobe, anyway. I became familiar with her
schedule, with the other people in her
building, with the people she nodded to in the street.
Sometimes I saw her with bags of groceries.
Sometimes she looked like she was going to work,
well dressed, with a purse and nice shoes.
Sometimes I didn't see her at all. I made up
stories about where she was going when she left,
what her apartment looked like. I imagined
she had pictures of me hanging on her walls,
and I hoped she felt guilty every time she looked at them.
Sounds desperate, but it really felt good just
to know that I had the power to reach out
to her, talk to her, tell her who I was - if I wanted to.
Or not. My choice.
Power. Choice. She took those things from
me when she left. If she was forcing
me to make the next move in our relationship,
I had to reclaim them. I mean, it's not
like anyone asked me what I thought when she left.
No one came and said, "Okay, Richard,
you decide: Your mom stays, or she leaves."
She sure as hell didn't. So why did she deserve better
Was I bitter? Yeah. Stupid? Hell yeah. And it's easy
to say if I knew what I know now,
I'd have done everything differently. But I was
only twenty-two - what did I know from hindsight?
I don't even know what the guys thought about what
I was doing. I just sort of snuck out
when whenever I could without arousing too much attention.
It was hard to sneak anywhere around them. Byers seemed
to think I'd taken up smoking. He kept
lecturing me about it. I would find these anti-smoking
brochures slipped under my door, strategically
placed warnings about Joe Camel in my e-mail. Good
for him. I let him think whatever he wanted.
It was kind of funny, actually.
Frohike was harder to convince. He muttered stuff
about dissension in the ranks every time
I went out. One night, he just stayed up and waited for me
to come home. He was sitting on our ratty
old sofa, arms folded across his chest like an
"So who lives there, huh? Blonde? Redhead? Informant?
"Whoa, slow down there -"
"I think I deserve to know if my coworker - nay,
housemate - is a Judas."
Coworker, housemate. I noticed he left off
friend. "Are you going senile? You followed
me around, confront me about something you know
nothing about, and you're saying I betrayed your trust?"
He just shrugged like, well, did you?
I threw my hands up in the air. "Time out. This
isn't fair. You're - you're bribing me. You're
saying if I don't tell you what I'm doing - with
no guarantee that you'll even believe me - then
you get to keep thinking I'm a - a - what the
hell did you call me?"
"Judas." But he didn't say it like he was
answering my question. He said it like
that's what I was.
"Fine," I huffed, dripping sarcasm. "Get ready for
this, because it's a real front page
conspiracy: My mother lives there."
He was real quiet for a second. Then he
snorted, "Sure, Langly. And Area 51 is
giving public tours now."
"See! See, that's exactly what I mean!" I was
pacing around the room, picking stuff up
and putting it down again in a completely different place.
Nervous habit. Frohike was
eyeing me. "Is this what hell is like? My mother
really does live there. I'm -" Stalking.
"I'm trying to get in touch with her."
"You call spying on someone from across the street
getting in touch with them? No wonder you're
having a dry spell with the ladies. So, out with it.
And put that disk back where you got it.
There's stuff on it for next week's issue and I
don't want it to get lost." He folded
his arms, expectantly. "Well?"
I was glad for the beard, so Frohike couldn't see
how angry red my face was. I dropped the
disk on our couch, and told him to come to my room. I
pulled the family portrait out of my
drawer, slapped it on the desk.
"See. That is my mother," I said. I was almost
shouting. I flipped the picture over and
shoved my finger at the address. "And that is where
"Oh." He cleared his throat. At least he had
the decency to look embarrassed.
"You're damn right, oh!"
He cleared his throat again. "Langly, if you don't
mind me asking, why are you stalking your own mother?"
I turned away from him, arms folded tightly
across my chest. "I'm not stalking
her. It's just, I haven't seen her
since, you know, since I was thirteen, and
I'm just trying to talk to her, and it's hard. What
do you suggest, Doohickey? Just ring her
doorbell and say 'Hi, I'm your son!' and hope she
doesn't call the cops?"
He pointed at the address. "If that's her
handwriting - yes. It sounds like she's expecting you."
I suddenly felt tired. I carefully replaced the
picture in my drawer. "Is the Spanish
Inquisition over? Because I really, really don't
feel like talking about this."
He looked like he was about to say something,
then changed his mind. "All right. All
right. Can I just give you one piece of advice?
Lose the peach fuzz, man. The beard and
mustache thing only works on ex-narcs and Santa Claus."
He sort of patted my shoulder, and left.
I stood there for a second, then went straight
to the bathroom and shaved my face.
Frankly, it was looking like peach fuzz
gone amuck, and it itched like crazy.
But I didn't miss what he was saying between the
lines. Not lose the beard.
* * *