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 used to play this game with myself - who
else? - where I would go to this
little hill behind the tool shed.
I would lie on my back, my head facing
downhill, and take off my glasses and
stare at the horizon line until the sky
and the ground bled together and I
couldn't tell them apart anymore.
I could watch the whole sunset this way.
I'd stay there until my father would
yell at me to come in for supper.
I could usually tell by how said my name, how
he slurred the R, whether he'd been
drinking. After a while, I could ballpark
how much he'd been drinking. By around my
fourteenth birthday, I could pinpoint it
to the ounce and alcohol content by volume, within 10%.
What a skill. At least I knew when it was better not
to come in for supper.
I had a pretty good spread going on in the
tool shed anyway - that's where I
kept most of Ellroy's presents,
tightly under lock and key. That, and
my tape player, and my ever-increasing
collection of bootlegs. The music I listened to
depended on the mood my father was in - and
thus, the mood I was in:
If he was feeling nasty, I'd blast Minor Threat
or The Stooges, and try to lose myself in
the volume. If he'd had a good day,
I'd sit back and listen to Bowie - pre-
Serious Moonlight, of course - or Lou
Reed or something. Something mellow.
I would plug in my soldering iron - a present from
Ellroy for splicing together some wires
in an heirloom lamp - and while I waited for the
iron to heat up I'd close my eyes, and
imagine I was in New York, seeing all these bands
live. Just thinking about their energy,
just hearing it on my crappy speakers made the
hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
It didn't even have to be New York - just
anywhere but Saltville. Anywhere that
didn't have so many damn chickens
and cows and nothing else. Why did
everything I love seem so far away?
Lousy Nebraska. Square state hell. Middle of nowhere -
literally. Saltville has the distinction
of being almost exactly midway between the Pacific
and Atlantic oceans, almost exactly 1,733 miles
in either direction before you hit salt
water. Talk about land-locked!
One of the only things that made living there bearable
was the two mile bike ride from my house
to Ellroy's Electronics. It was probably the most
enjoyable twenty minutes of my day.
I made sure to go there as often as I could.
Ellroy's was always cool. I mean that both ways - I mean,
he always kept the place at a constant
65 degrees so the equipment would be happy. And
he was always cool to me. He was also one
of the only people I ever saw my mother
befriend. She used to drive me down
to Ellroy's and they'd let me explore while
she leaned against the counter and
chatted with him. When I was older, I escaped
there by myself as much as I could.
After a while, he'd just keep a box of spare
parts for me always lying around in
the back room - most of the stuff he'd give
me for free. He didn't have any kids,
and I think he liked the idea of someone
looking up to him, following in his
footsteps. He taught me basic electronics
repair and maintenance - basically,
everything I know about that stuff now
evolved from those lessons in
Ellroy's workroom. And I was prodigious. When I
got better than him, he created a token price:
He'd trade goods for services. A broken
television, busted clock-radio eternally set to 11:45,
toasters that refused to heat up,
cassette players that spit out tape, VCRs that
recorded when you hit play and played when
you hit record, whatever - I'd fix them
all, good as new, and Ellroy'd sell them
for a modest profit. And in return I'd get a pile
Well, junk to most people. Not to me.
Random gears, screws, cables, wires, sockets, circuitry,
housings, switches. Sometimes he'd give me used tools.
He gave me my first computer - an old Apple 2.
Ellroy allegedly bought it off some chump for an
absurdly low price and said if I could fix it,
it was mine; and I did. So he gave it to me as a
Christmas present that year. I think I was
twelve or thirteen at the time. Pretty young.
I remember not knowing what a chump was, and Ellroy
sitting me down in his back office, trying to explain it.
"A chump's a sucker. Someone so deadened by society
that it's easy to pull the wool over his eyes."
I must have looked blank, because he just smiled at me and
said, "You'll understand one day, Ringo."
I suddenly became very interested in cleaning a smudge off
glasses, so I wouldn't have to make
eye contact as I mumbled, "Don't call me that."
"But your dad always calls you - "
I bristled. My dad called me a lot of things that
I'd rather not have other people repeat
to my face. But instead all I said was, "It's not my
"Sure, Richard. Whatever you say, kid."
And that was that. Ellroy smiled again,
and started babbling about some new
shipment of radios and cassette players
he was getting in the next week. I tried
to be excited with him - and
I was. I needed a new tape player, too.
But mostly all I could think about what
how I hated being called Ringo and how I really
wished I understood what a chump was.
* * *