AUTHOR: truthwebothknow1 email@example.com
CATEGORY: Pre-X files MT Angst MSR
RATING: Mature reading
ARCHIVE: Sure after two weeks sole exclusivity for IMTP VS12.
Continued from Part 1
DISCLAIMER: Fox and CC own the X files. I just like messing with Mulder and Sully’s head. Good cheap therapy. I wash them feed and clean them before sending them back to Chris’s tent Mulder gets Scully comfort with me too. Cheap thrills but no profit.
SUMMARY: Looks like another Christmas will suck and the past comes back to haunt and opens up Mulder’s personal Pandora’s box.
Peccavi 2: Boy interrupted.
Chilmark 15th December 73.
Mulder Residence. After midday.
“What in the world…what is the meaning of this?” Bill Mulder’s stony face twisted alongsidehis lips as he as he opened the door to find his friend with his big 12-year-old son in his arms.
“Good to see you too Bill, now if you wouldn’t mind moving out of my way, your boy has grown since I last saw him, he’s damned heavy.”
Bill’s eyes were dark, with even darker rings showing starkly underneath them. He obviously hadn’t slept well in a while and Fox was shocked at his appearance, the faint smell of whisky on his clothes. Without fanfare or further comment, Bill moved aside to let them through. Henry deposited the injured Fox on the nearest sofa and straitened up to meet Bill with a look that Fox couldn’t read. He didn’t think it was good though. He was still reeling from the expression on his father’s face. Such a melting pot of emotions.
He couldn’t read them all. Fear, worry, grief and anger seemed to be the most prevalent. Like a good son he decided to keep his mouth shut. That way he couldn’t invite that anger to visit him. Well he hoped not. He was dismayed to find his mother was most conspicuous by her absence, his need to see her becoming urgent. He’d never rest until he had seen her. He didn’t think now was a good time to ask, so he kept quiet.
‘Don’t cry.’ He willed himself. ‘Just don’t cry, not here, not now.’
“What’s he done now?” Bill scowled directly at Fox as his eyes raked over his son’s bandaged foot. His toes had already gone a horrible purple color and stuck out the end. Maybe it was just the drugs kicking in but he couldn’t feel them at all now. He couldn’t really feel anything.
“Just a slight mishap, he took a tumble. In case you hadn’t noticed Bill it’s icy out there.”
Henry winked at Fox and he inwardly thanked his new friend for not causing him to feel anymore embarrassed about the whole sorry incident than he already was. “ Now speaking of ice, this boy could do with some on his foot to get the swelling down. A bag of peas will do nicely.”
Henry picked up the nearest pile of cushions and lifted Fox’s foot until it was gently perched on top. He gave him a smile he hoped might reassure the boy and Fox tried hard to return it. His facial muscles felt paralysed, probably an effect of the Valium, he realised. By now his father was standing by the drinks closet, pouring himself a Scotch. He added some extra ice to a second glass and found a tea towel in a drawer there.
He came back over and gave both to Henry, while he sipped at the drink in his other hand.
“Here. Use this.”
Using the uneasy silence and unspoken conversation the two older men were giving each other as Henry placed the ice bag on his foot, Fox let his eyes take in his surroundings. For the middle of the day the place was like a tomb; the curtains were all drawn and the light was minimal. As close as the approaching holidays were, his previously happy family home was completely devoid of anything Christmassy, he never really expected anything else. The room seemed colder than it was outside. The TV seemed to have gone and the whole place smelled dusty and uncared for. Unloved. A bit like him, the little voice in his head supplied. He sensed two eyes boring into the top of his head and slowly raised his eyes to his father’s.
“Hello …Dad.” He gave him a tentative smile, that felt out of place on his face after all that had happened, as a spark of hope that his father was about to give him a hug when Bill closed the distance. Instead his father’s firm grip moved forward to shake his right hand once and then dropped it like a stone.
“Hello son. Good to see you.”
That was all he offered before downing the rest of his scotch and turning his back on Fox’s burning eyes as he went to fix himself another.
Fox turned his betrayed expression to his companion, confused, full of questions tripping over in his mind and the effort not to spring from the sofa and get as far away as he could, making his throat burn and his tendons shake. Tears were not far away. The air was thick and mausoleum like, unseen blood leaking from the boy in every direction.
Henry’s eyes were nothing but apologetic and sad as he put a finger to his lips and mouthed, “Let me talk to him,” He patted the boy’s knee, watching him bite deep into his lower lip, the frantic twitch in his jaw, then followed Bill who had now retreated to the kitchen. The door slamming was his que to bolt.
Fox was halfway to the stairs before he heard the angry shouts competing. The rising and falling tones made him feel panicked and it gave him even more impetus to get himself away from the sound. His mother was upstairs he surmised. His father hadn’t said so but he thought he heard a faint snoring from one of the rooms up there. Hobbling with weight on his heel as opposed to his sorry looking toes didn’t hurt so much but throbbed, picking up speed with his heart as the awful sounds of two men arguing—probably over him, almost overwhelmed him. He was curious as to why it sent off his inner terror—he’d heard the men who’d turned up at the house past a reasonable hour, argue and end up shouting back and forth with his parents before and his mother had also added her sorrow laden voice to the mix. His thick fluffy pillows had been a friend to him then as he smothered the sounds with his head buried beneath them. Occasionally Samantha had come in crying and they had sat and hugged each other, wondering what on earth was going to come crashing down onto their innocence.
“Fox, Fox…I’m scared. I hate the shouting. Why is this happening?”
“Don’t cry. It’s okay. I’m here and you can play with my baseball stuff if you want, or I can read you some DR SUESS.”
“But I can still hear them yelling. Why do they have to yell? Make its stop Fox!”
“Here curl up next to me and you can borrow my other pillow. We can pretend we’re in igloos where no one can find us.”
His room had been his sanctuary then against the big bad world and its odious fingers that snaked their way into his previously happy family comfort zone, threatening to destroy his and Sam’s sense of security. Had that all been only a month ago? The realisation almost toppled him right there and then. Why could he never tell her that he loved her?
He burned the sudden tears that tried to escape on the end on his sleeve, redoubling his efforts to reach the top of the stairs. Sanctuary and his mother were above him and he needed both.
Going up sideways on his ass had seemed like the best option; he could push up with his good foot and his arms could do the rest. He was sweating now and feeling dizzy, looking back behind him had been a big mistake and he suddenly swooned as the bottom of the stairs loomed up to taunt him.
Heart pounding, he wavered and clung to the banister like grim death and took a deep breath. Close call. His father would love that. Him sprawled all limbs and bloody toes in a heap at the bottom of the stairs like a broken lamp. A mess, a bother to clear up, a sharp intake of breath and a glowering look as he carried him to the sofa…or just left him there while he called the hospital. A quick trip to the ER and his dad tanking up on scotch while the ambulance arrived.
He could just hear his voice in his mind telling the driver not to bring him home again ever. If they couldn’t have Samantha, the didn’t want him back….he …Fox…the one responsible for bringing such sorrow on his family.
His heart shouted down that assumption, squeezing his breath and forcing out tears, but his mind warred with the snatches of nurse’s careless gossip when they were unaware he could hear them. His head fell to his chest as their words stung him again and he wished he could disappear. A state of non-existence would absolve him of trying to claw back the sense of safety he once enjoyed as a carefree child, one he knew wasn’t coming back, shattered forever on a terrifying winter night of shadows, light and screaming.
He pondered at the lovely side effects of these drugs he was pickled on. Most of the time they kept him hazy and numb but just when he least expected it a sight, smell or sound would trigger snatches of his worst memories of that night and beyond.
He’d never before in his life felt so unloved. Of course they didn’t want him. Would they send him away again soon? It wasn’t their fault, it was his. He was a bad person, not the loving boy he thought he was– hell he couldn’t even tell Sam in so many words he loved her. He was bad and bad kids should be sent away..he should be sent away.
The way things were going maybe that wasn’t such a bad idea. He was a constant painful reminder to them of his failure to protect his sister. Maybe Ryan Parks mother, who’d always ruffled his hair and given him a share of her family picnic at school events would adopt him. She was the most forgiving soul he’d ever come across and he was in awe of her capacity to love and care for her family. Almost like Shirley Jones had on the ‘Partridge family.’ But then no, noone not even Ryan’s mom could ever forgive him enough to take him into her home. He might loose one of her children too. She was too nice to say that of course, but she’d think it. Their eyes would betray their fear of him being amongst them. They’d always wonder. Everyone remembered the police tape blowing like some sad ribbon in the November chill around the Mulder house and the rumors, and the sight of him like a zombie being strapped to a gurney and loaded into a funny farm truck like so much garbage to be taken away.
Yeah…they’d always wonder. And if only his grandma kitty hadn’t died two summers ago. She always loved her ‘brown eyed boy’ as she often emphasised in that old European accent of hers. But he colored with shame as he thought of her, she had also loved Samantha and spoiled her rotten, what would she have said to all this? If she hadn’t already been dead, the shock would have killed her, frail old lady that she was……..
Wherever she was now, he doubted she looked down favourably on him either….and he was suddenly pierced through with the fear that maybe she might haunt him.
Shame swept through him at these thoughts about the people who were dear to him. He loved them so much, how could he think this about them. He was full of love, wasn’t he? He loved his sister.. but at the end of the day he didn’t save her. He could never say sorry enough, even if he lived to be really old…like his dad.
“What are you doing Fox? Get back downstairs.” His father’s voice boomed just as he reached up to pull himself over the last gruelling step, the shock of being caught almost toppling him again.
“Mom…Please I just want to see her.”
“She’s sleeping. I don’t want you disturbing her.” The ‘You’ sounded distinctly like a dirty word when his father almost spat it out.
“But nothing, get back down those stairs or go to your room.”
“Bill, “ Henry’s voice warned from below.
“Stay the hell out of this Henry. This is my house and My son.”
“Well then take care of him like he is your son.” He exploded, but trying to keep his angry voice to a whisper. “You had two children Bill, not one. The one left behind needs you and Teena now, more than ever.” Fox watched his father sneer at the other man, barely controlled temper rippling through him as he towered over him.
“You don’t understand.”
“I understand enough Bill. “ Henry ground out, eyes darting from father to son, for a moment, Fox thought both men might come to blows right there as Henry joined them on the stairs. His expression sad and grave as he looked first at Fox, who he pursed his lips at in a small smile and then glared more disappointedly at his old friend. “Then let the boy see his mother. She’s your wife Bill, but she is his mother too. It’s the least you can do. All he wants is to see her, after all it’s been a dreadful few weeks and the boy needs her now. He hasn’t seen her for a while.” Bill scowled at Henry’s challenging tone, looking down at the other man’s hand on his arm, and then bore his gaze on Fox who was trying hard to be angry; it was better than breaking down in front of his father.
“Please dad. I just want to make sure she’s okay. Please?” He hated that the drugs slurred his voice and he was whining like a baby but it was beyond him at this point.
“Of course she’s not okay Fox,” his father enunciated each word like it caused him physical pain to have to explain it to this halfwit boy. “She will never be okay again. Now…”
“Bill, just let him see her, what harm can it do just to poke his head around the door, especially after all that’s happened. Then he can go to his room, he needs to rest too with the medication he’s on.”
“No, Fox stop being selfish. Its hard all round, don’t you see that? Come with me boy,” The next thing Fox felt was his father was gripping his upper arm and pulling him away from the top of the stairs; Henry tugging at his father’s other arm like some bizarre tug of war.
He had this mad idea that they would all end up in tangle at the bottom of the stairs in a moment. Something in him finally rose to the surface and snapped, Fox yanked his arm away from his father with more force than he expected and his father had to steady himself on the banister to stop from falling. Henry shot out his free hand to grip Bill while Fox scrambled awkwardly up and away from the two men. His need for his mother outstripping any possible wrath his father might mete on him.
He turned despite himself and was shocked by his father’s expression. Was that hurt he saw in his eyes?
His father and Henry made an interesting snapshot, frozen as they were on the stairs. Henry’s eyes told him to go to his mother while he had words again with his father. There would be hell to pay later. Fox needed no further encouragement and ambled the last few steps towards the light in the farthest bedroom. He felt like hell himself, wobbly and sick as he crept into the cocoon that was his mother’s bedroom.
His heartbeat was the loudest thing in the room as he shuffled towards her bed. He could just see her dark hair cresting the top of the eiderdown and the still corpselike shape of her body buried beneath. A muted lamp illuminated how paper thin and pale her skin was, her cheeks once full and elegant when she laughed looked like they were in stark relief now. Sucked in. Lifeless, dead.
Because he didn’t save Samantha.
Fox could see she was breathing. He wasn’t as he reached out his hand to touch the fingers covering her face from the world. There wasn’t much warmth when he touched her and he bit back a sob. ‘Mom,’ resounded in his head but the lump wedged in his throat and the galvanisation of all he’d been through in the last few terrible weeks wouldn’t let him make enough air to squeeze the words out. Little crow’s feet cracks were running all over his insides and he didn’t know how to stop them.
The curtains wavered in the breeze and he recoiled at the sibilant sound of snow hissing against glass, startled. His mother stirred gently. For a brief moment, when he looked again, she was starring straight at him, eyes very black in the dust motes and gloom.
“….Fox… beautiful …boy. ”
“…Mommy,” his voice broke apart on a painful whisper, somehow he’d dropped to his knees by the bed and laid his head next to where her hands rested. For a few seconds he thought he’d imagined her voice and that her brief lucidity was nothing more than wishful thinking, then he felt the warm weight of her hand stroking his head and his throat burned deep into the covers and his chest convulsed in silent agony, relief, sorrow against the hard edge of the bed..
“Sorrysorrysorry,” spilled out between his agonized sobs, but she was asleep again, he realised as her hand slid away and he pined for the loss of the warmth. Scarcely daring to breathe, he lifted her hand to his cheek, unable to stop a trail of tears from wetting her skin.
Soft snoring was all the response he had.
The door closed downstairs and he felt a surge of panic and a sudden suffocating feeling of being buried alive gripped him, knowing that was almost certainly Henry, his knight apparent, leaving.
Then he smelled the whisky before he heard his footfalls.
“Like I said, Fox,” his father’s eerily soft voice bled from the silhouette by the door. “It’s hard all round.” Fox’s hands swiped at the snot and tears as he looked up. He nodded. “Satisfied now? Come boy.”
The calm before the storm?
Right then the kinder edge in his father’s tone shook him and he wondered not for the first time what Henry had said. He hung his head, not wanting to see his own shame mirrored in his father’s booze sodden eyes as he limped past him.
Chilmark : Mulder house. 3.17am.
Tap tap..tatatatap. Tap tap..tatatatap
There was a demon trying to get through the window. It had red eyes and claws and kept tapping on the Glass. Insistent, unrelenting. Fox hid under his quilt in a foetal position and willed himself to be struck deaf. He didn’t want to hear that…whatever it was or anything else the night had lurking out there. Not for the first time he wished to be back in the hospital, at least it was safe and the nurses were okay with him most of the time. But this, this indifference, this torment and misery that leaked from his every pore and from the people he loved made him feel like he would break apart.
Especially after seeing his mother like that. Drugged to the gills and scarcely aware of anything. Thinking of the pills he was supposed to take and the way they made him feel, he wondered how long it might take him to end up like his mother, maybe that would be a blessing, block everything out, but how could he live like that? What did she see in that valium cloud when she closed her eyes? Did she hear the tapping?
“Noooo!! Stop stop…”
After Henry left, and Fox fled to the relative safety of his room, the expected showdown with his father never materialised. Instead he’d silently delivered his next dose of meds, a rather curled up chicken sandwich and a stack of school books, informing his son that he’ d lost enough schooling and needed to occupy himself with catching up. After that he left, Fox staring at his back as he closed the door. Out of sight and out of mind, back to his drinks cabinet, no doubt.
Alone with a thousand eyes and otherworldly horrors waiting in the shadows.
Tap..tatatatap. The wind howled like evil laughter and the snow took on the form of freezing breath trying to crack the glass to let everything out there lying in wait to get him inside. There it was again. Was just his imagination or was it getting louder? It a fit of hysteria he’d already torn all his posters off the wall. He couldn’t explain why, he just didn’t like the faces anymore; they stared down accusingly at him, some menacing, and others boring into his soul with cruel eyes threatening to leap out and take form, then get him.
Mr Spock didn’t look kind anymore. The Vulcan’s dark eyes seemed to follow him around the room. His mother had once commented that he looked demonic; he was beginning to agree.
The paper rustled and moved like living things, distorting those faces, the others, the science fiction posters full of nightmares he couldn’t fathom or name. All now in a screwed up heap of shredded paper on the floor.
Fox felt bone cold. It was freezing in here and he could imagine that he might turn into an ice cube by morning as he shivered under too thin an eiderdown, trying to breathe over too fast a heartbeat. The rest of the house was just as cold and he’d noticed that no one had lit the fireplace in the front room for some time. It was as if the world inside the house had turned on its axis, setting it apart from the rest of the world and rendered it impenetrable by heat or joy.
And he was trapped inside it.
Time had stood still on November 27th 1973.
A time capsule of despair.
He hated feeling so helpless, so frightened, like a little boy. And he couldn’t even bear to peer out at what was making the tapping noise. In his minds eye he kept seeing his sister, being spirited away on a shaft of light while he gurgled under the blankets paralysed with fear until exhaustion took him back to the troubled plains between sleep and light.
He’d wandered in and out of nightmare filled sleep for hours and finally awake again he’d found himself crouched, arms wrapped tightly around his chest in the corner of the room, trying desperately to get away from the shaft of bright light raking the room, looking for him. A hooded figure suddenly loomed forward in the bright glare and a silent scream tore from his throat, eyes transfixed to the spot. Were they coming back for him?
“Gnnnurr gerraway…go way!” he shrieked, scrambling around in a panic.
His hand closed over his baseball beside him on the floor where he’d knocked everything flying sometime in his exodus from the bed. A desperate flick of his wrist sent it hurling across the room at the advancing menace. He blinked, ready to run if it missed its target… It hit home and another shaft of light had him throwing his arms up over his eyes, panting for dear life. Almost imagining the snaky fingers clawing at his legs and pulling him into hell…. It took him a moment or two to process that everything had stopped, no sound, except the distant chuckle of wind outside.
Somehow he willed himself to look. And he laughed. Not a humorous laugh but a relieved sad chuckle that came with realisation that he’d been an idiot. Harmlessly lying on the floor was his old green hooded bathrobe. Crawling over with his baseball bat, he poked at it to make sure it wasn’t suddenly going to achieve form and spring at him. Another streak of bright light shot through the room from the window, this time not stirring blind panic but compounding the feelings of foolishness. The headlights of a car passing the house; nothing more sinister than that. Shaking his head he took a deep breath and moved to the window.
Taptap tap. A bare and gnarly old tree swayed in the wind and reached his window, branches tapping against the glass. Something that had terrified him stupid, morphed back to the natural and familiar in the creeping blanket of morning.
Silent snow and Christmas tree lights on the Mansard’s house across the street gaily blinked at him. It made him shiver and he thought he could hear Her voice, calling through the grim icy dawn. He heard her everywhere now. Damn drugs. In no time at all he’d be a gibbering monkey, back to the funny farm for good this time.
“Fox helppppp. Foooxxxxxx. “
Still staring out of the window, hands splayed against the glass, Fox felt the sweat drying on his back, adrenalin leaving as fast as it came and he shivered, teeth chattering, with cold and dread. He could have sworn he saw a small figure running away in the snow. But the blizzard showered the window with fresh flakes and when he could see clearly again, there was nothing, like noone had ever been there. But he felt her calling his soul. A lost siren. Like iron filings to a magnet and a thud in his chest that told him she was out there and that tight stricken feeling like a fist wedged there wouldn’t ever leave until he found her. Somehow he had to find a way to make her come home. He just had to.
‘Your family needs to heal’
Henry’s words came back to him, a comforting voice in his mind. But he knew as difficult and awful as the day before had been, it would only get worse if she never returned. He didn’t know what to do, all his common sense buried under a haze of medication, just like his mom.
It wasn’t living; she just existed in limbo, like not being able to breath or something. And he couldn’t bear to be like his mom.
No, he lost Samantha so he would have to find her, search endlessly if he had to till he could bring her home. No one would heal until he did. The first thing to go would be those stupid pills. No more. If his father remembered between alcoholic stupors to give him his next dose he would palm them.
The irony of this house of forever closed curtains was that the only ones open now were in his room. Just as he moved to close them something hard hit the window and two huge yellow eyes blazed flame into his. His heart almost stopped and he stumbled back, when he looked again, there was nothing there. What the hell was that?
Feathers, his brain supplied, Just an owl ..or a hawk. It seemed like the whole world, from the most gentle breeze to an innocent animal had the capacity to frighten him now. What had he become in two short weeks? A confident boy, a swim team champion and academic over achiever to snivelling, hallucinating wreck. No wonder his father couldn’t look him in the eye or speak to him without a drink in his hand.
Unsure how he had the balls to be in Sam’s room, but nevertheless that’s where he found himself, Fox closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Bare feet on the pink carpet in his missing sister’s inner sanctum of all things girly, he waited for the onslaught of memories to wash over him. He sucked in each one, allowing them to fully wash over him like a penance to a higher power. He deserved the damage it wrought and the shredding of his mind.
I lost you.
Fighting tears, he found himself crawling up onto her bed, groping around for her pillow. Covered in little print roses, it smelled of her. Lemon verbena and violets, a few strands of dark hair. He hugged it to him tightly, sank his tears into it and fought to imagine it was actually her, a living-breathing sister he’d never had time to say he loved. He wasn’t sure why he came here but it was almost like following a voice. If he strained his ears, he could almost
imagine her voice.
She wanted him to come here, he felt that with every ounce of his being, and all the hairs stood up on his neck as he lay there and looked around. Sniffing through his tears, what struck him then was that he’d never been in here before. Never had an inclination in all the years since she was a very tiny baby to come look around. Why would he, she was a girl after all. Her childish crap didn’t interest him.
They hadn’t touched it since she’d gone, since that night….
It was untouched like a shrine to her, all her things; her Barbies, stuffed animals, books…..and costume dolls. Dozens of them.
Pretty maids all in a row.
Wow, he thought.
Small faces, long faces, cherubic, cruel looking, some dolls dressed in national costume, baby dolls, native dolls. All types sizes and shapes, which she kept in some kind of weird order only known to Samantha’s little girl logic on various shelves.
The more Fox stared at them the more he felt like they were watching him, damning him for loosing their owner and he had this odd urge to declare he was sorry. Which of course he was.
On one shelf there was a gap. That was his clue.
He vaguely remembered a conversation with his sister from a few months back, mostly one sided on her part, about a new doll she had wanted. She had waved a picture under his nose torn from one of those girly books his mom indulged her in about imported dolls from Europe, all excited and screechy. He hadn’t wanted to listen at the time for she went on and on about it, bending his ear incessantly and he’d been too engrossed in tinkering with his chopper bike to bother really listening. Beyond answering with a disinterested ‘Yeah yeah yeah.’ Finally, after enduring her nagging long enough, he rolled his eyes and gave the picture a quick once over.
“She’s wonderful Fox. I want her. If I can have her that will complete my set., I will never want another thing again as long as I live. I’d do anything to get her.”
“Yeah right, it’s just a doll. You have tons of the stupid things.”
Samantha thumped his arm; “ You’re the stupid one, messing all day with this bike. Looking at Steven Payne’s father’s bad magazines when you’re up at his place.”
“Well at least its better than making silly faces at dolls. Does she have any panties on under that frock? “
Sam scowled at his laughter and kicked his bike. “ She looks like me, look at her hair Fox….stop laughing…..gross boy.”
But he’d kept laughing…..and he’d made her cry.
He blushed with shame now, a tear sliding down his face as he recalled telling her it looked like a waxy dead version of her …and to get her dumb picture out of his face. Predictably she had gone off crying to their mom in outrage; while he dawdled down the beach to get away from her…
“Sorry Sam, I’m sorry”, his quiet voice bled into the heavy air as he hugged his ribs against the pain of his memories. If only he could take those words back. If only he could make it up to her.
And then he had an idea. He’d get her the doll for Christmas. She’d come back for sure then. He wasn’t sure how or where he would get the money but he knew he had to do this. She’d come home for this doll. She’d do anything right? She’d come home and it would be sitting under the tree waiting for her on Christmas morning, her eyes would light up and she would be happy again. Then everyone would be all right. His family would be back the way it was and all this would just be an unpleasant memory. They wouldn’t hate him any more.
He swiped the tears from his eyes. He could do this, he knew he could. He just had to figure it all out. Ten days, he had ten short days…But then people said he was a bright boy, didn’t they.
“Don’t lose sight of that no matter what,” Henry’s words bolstered him.
Time to start showing it.
After loosing Sam, it was time for him to bring her home.
And this time, he would tell her how much he loved her.
It was surreal having a bowl of breakfast cereal put in front of you while being asked if you murdered your sister. Just a routine interview the cops said as they stared at him like two starved timber wolves waiting to pounce. Timber wolves that ate too many doughnuts, the devil inhabiting his brain suggested. They had been waiting two weeks for this and now they were going to make a meal of him; the little trapped Fox.
Fox stared into the sickly looking oatmeal; sure everyone in the room could hear how loud his heart was beating. Face flushed with an almost numb terror, and his father standing off to his left side, exploded at their opening ‘routine’ question. His quietly menacing tone talking about lawyers and snowstorms, some big words that probably meant something to everyone in the room but him, so he let it all go over his head.
Strange how this morning, there was no drink in his hand. Black coffee seemed to be the order of the day.
A spoonful of oatmeal found its way into his mouth but it tasted like ashes. He hadn’t been able to eat the sandwich left for him last night either. Especially after it seemed to have been crawling across the plate during that psychotic attack he’d had.
It was though someone had taken his stomach away while he was in hospital. He had no desire to eat, just going through the motions so he wouldn’t get shouted at. His father handed him two happy pills and a glass of milk. Damn, he couldn’t palm these; there were too many eyes on him.
“Answer the question Fox,” the first cop with thinning hair, prompted impatiently, tapping his pen against his notepad and swapping telling looks with his cohort. Up till now Fox had been too stunned and sleep deprived to form coherent answers. “Do you know what happened to Samantha?” His eyes found his father’s and the older man gave him a terse nod. He pushed the bowl into the middle of the table with one finger, decidedly sick to his stomach now. His mind was racing, trying to formulate what on earth he could say and not being ale to get the words out.
What could he say to make them believe what had actually happened, the truth that his sister had been stolen on a sea of light. Things had got a bit sketchy after that and he couldn’t be sure what happened. He wouldn’t have believed him either on the basis of that.
“No…she…something took her.”
He was the one in charge that night; of course he was the scapegoat. It must have looked real bad for him to be sat there on the living room floor in a puddle of piss and holding his dad’s gun and hyperventilating. What a hero. Fox Mulder, his sister’s champion. Yeah right.
“I didn’t hurt her. …I couldn’t.” Barely a whisper, fingers white knuckled around his spoon. He ground his bad foot into the linoleum so he could savor the pain. It was better than tears that were building up like a dam as he relived the scene over and over.
“You don’t seem sure on anything young man, you sure about that?”
“No…..I mean…..She ‘s my sister. I love her.”
“Really. And what kind of love is that…exactly?”
“For heaven sake he’s a 12 year old boy!” His father exploded again, Fox was focused on the veins in his neck, mesmerised, expecting some impending blow out at any second as he tuned out the heated exchange going on around him, watching his lips moving but not registering the bitter words.
Anything was better than tying to wrap his head around the implications the cop was making.
Asshole. Knowing he hadn’t done anything to his sister, the whole magnitude of what had been implied was too painful to bear. Fortunenately the hated pills were kicking in and he was starting to float off down the rabbit hole of oblivion he had often sought solace in lately.
A little bubble formed in his mind and surrounded him so that no one else could penetrate– their cruel and mindless accusations merely flashed off the tungsten surface of the bubble without ever creating a flesh wound.
Maybe if he babbled like a monkey and left a little drool on the table that would convince them to put away that notepad leave him the fuck alone.
His hands slid forward across the table and he rested his head on them, studying the wood grain. That morning when he’d looked out of Samantha’s window and saw the flashing squad car lights it had struck more terror into him than being found by his father in her room. He had known this was coming; who they would try and blame.
His father had been strangely quiet all morning when that door opened and found him there. Instead of a tirade Fox was met with an uneasy silence and he was speared by the sadness and underlying emotions in his eyes, almost as if he’d made the same mistake he had in imagining Sam would there tucked up in her bed, her long dark pigtails strewn across the pillows. Dismay evident that all he found was the one person responsible for her absence.
They both shared a moment of that invisible knife slitting them open again. He’d held the door open wider as a gesture for him to come out and said evenly, almost as an apology, “The Police are here Fox, Go strait down, there, I want to check on your mother. I’ll join you in a moment.”
Unable to breath, he’d shuffled awkwardly, jelly legged down each step like a prisoner going to an execution, each heartbeat bringing him closer to something nameless and terrifying, not because he feared them or their questions; that was only part of it, what he’d really feared was having to relive it over and over, knowing no one would believe his boy’s adventure tale. The ramblings of a 12 year old on a knife-edge, babbling about bright lights floating sisters out of windows and Bill Bixby’s familiar grin. The rest of it had all counter sunk into the gaping holes in his normally fantastic memory.
He was dead meat.
It was quite clear they had dug up the garden. Henry had tried to shield his eyes from the newly turned over mounds of earth the day before, so stark against the still falling backdrop of snow. They even dug up his dead dog; that poison arrow had penetrated the steel bubble and left him bleeding inside. Duke the border collie, who had been run over by a delivery van the summer before, who if he’d been alive would have been another ally, the trusting faithful honey eyed friend who gave unconditional love but like everyone else seemed to have abandoned him. Damn not now—his eyes were wet again.
How he missed him licking his hands and carefree nuzzles but nothing was sacred to these people thirsty for a resolution to this mystery and now his poor dog’s last resting place and little wooden cross, he carved from driftwood for him had been pulled into the undertow of the Mulder family tragedy.
It was a pretty safe bet no one would call here and sing carols this year. Too scared to knock on the door of the house of screams and foam mouthed 12 year olds with wild stories and big brown holes in the back yard. Police tape for a festive reef and ‘Christmas is cancelled oozing from the rafters.’ With that thought slithered away his hope to bring Sam back. She always loved this time of year. Jumping up and down like a yoyo with excitement. Her eyes gleaming with reflection of Christmas lights and baking with their mother.
Mostly likely he’d be thrown in jail this afternoon.
“What….?” God, would this nightmare ever go away? He could do better than drool he thought and he did.
He threw up.
Hands were on him then, dragging him away fro the table. The chair falling over with a clatter as he was whisked up and out of the room, still vomiting, gasping in between heaves. Limp in his father’s arms, he heard the frustrated volley of dialogue going on over his head but it was short-lived and he never understood a word. He felt his body gently unfurled down on a soft surface, rolled onto his side by strong hands and a blanket hurried thrown over him and a cold plastic thing that must have been a bowl shoved under his chin. After what seemed like eternity his stomach calmed and all went quiet. Just the deeply cold bite of an icepack against his head and someone wiping his face. Like a kitten seeking the sun’s warmth he leaned into the touch, whoever’s it was and gratefully passed out.
Stomach on fire and shaking like a leaf he lay there, taking painful breaths that ripped up his throat and chest like he’d swallowed broken glass. Unable to form any kind of thought other than to inhale and exhale like asthmatic bellows.
His eyes flickered open and met the inscrutable wildness of his father’s gaze. “It’s okay Fox,” his voice intoned in that way he could never ignore, Fox’s hearing distorted by surging narcotics so it made him sound like a wound down recording, “You were a bit out of sorts. You just rest. That’s it, take deep breaths.” A hand nervously patted his shoulder, almost like an afterthought then his father stood and moved away, still talking. He blinked trying to assimilate the sound with the speed his lips were moving and failing, it made him too dizzy. No words came from his mouth when he opened it to speak and he swallowed against the bile still clinging like acid to his throat. Blackness descended on him like a dark suffocating shroud to the long drawn out ringing of a phone somewhere a million miles away.
Outside the snowflakes gathered momentum and fell like frigid tears, as if seeking to act as a salve to the sorrow below on a community wounded by the incalculable loss of an 8 year old girl and the people who loved her.
Fox awoke in a panic, burning lips and eyes, weak as a kitten, not knowing where he was, then he heard a little noise at the peripheral of his consciousness. It took a moment to realise it was two people speaking softly in another room. An undulating conversation probably not meant for his ears. He lay very still listening, eyes shut against the glowing demons of the fire that someone had lit in the hearth. It matched the fire in his body. There was something wet across his forehead, that took the edge of his pain. Where was he? Oh yeah, on the sofa downstairs. No handcuffs, no jail cell. He let relief flood his senses, exhausted and listless as he was.
“When is the doctor coming to see Teena?” His heart tumbled in relief at the sound of his unlikely angel. Henry hadn’t abandoned him after all.
“This afternoon, he had an emergency up in Aquinnah.”
“ Then you better get him to look at Fox. I can’t believe you left him in that state for three days. What were you thinking? “
“ Not that it’s any business of your’s but he was fine. I bathed him, kept his temperature down. He was never in danger, just a bit sick, that’s all. “
“ He’s a child in distress Bill, you do realise this, don’t you? Especially after what those poor excuses for detectives put him through. My god, he’s just out of the hospital. To traumatise him like that…” A sharp intake of angry breath. The sound of a coffee cup being banged down hard on a surface.
“We are going through….a difficult time. …they had a job to do I guess.”
“ Yes I know full well and I understand Bill, these times are very hard on everyone; you won’t be the first and certainly not the last. But we have to care for those who are still here. You still have a son.”
“They…they came right out and asked if he’d killed her.”
A sharp intake of breath. “What? And you stood by and let them?”
Fox fought back tears as the shock of those accusations returned to stab him again. If he’d had the strength to get up then he would have run to the ocean and thrown himself into the freezing waves to drown to away the filth that still clung to his soul.
“Dad?….dad! “ A rustle of clothing told him that someone was in the room and sure enough when he was brave enough to open his eyes, two sets of eyes were regarding him. Somebody was ruffling his hair. Henry smiled down at him, while his father just looked at him like he’d sprouted antenna.
“Are those cops coming back dad?” With a tongue that felt so thick and lips so dry it was hard to form words but he needed answers.
“No Fox. I don’t think so. “ Fox didn’t seem quiet convinced. His father and Henry exchanged glances, a whole silent conversation with just one drawn out look. A few heartbeats later his father sighed, Fox noticed that the whiskey tumbler was back in its usual place, in his father’s hand; alongside the tremor he hadn’t noticed before.
“I would never hurt Sam, you know that don’t you dad…I….?” His voice got buried under the groundswell of tears that rose in his throat, making the last come out as a raw squeak. A few tears spilled as he felt Henry squeeze his shoulder in reassurance.” He screwed his eyes shut tight but when he opened them again, he stared directly into his father’s troubled face.
“I know you didn’t son. Rest now, the doctor will be here soon.” And with that he got up and walked away. Henry shook his head slightly before turning back to the boy.
“Don’t pay him any attention, Fox. You know how bad you feel, all upset inside and scared; well he’s feeling pretty bad about things too. “
“I know…..I just wish…doesn’t matter.”
“Oh but it does Fox. You do matter, maybe he can’t show you at the moment…and your Mom,… well you saw her so you know she is….” Fox watched his father’s friend frown, sifting through his internal lexicon for the right words. “Indisposed right now…but I have a little idea I’d like to run by you. “ He tilted his head sideways with a careful grin.
To be continued in part 3.
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