By Martin Ross
Category: Casefile, humor
Rating: PG-13 for language
Summary: When an old urban legend seemingly comes to life in the Virginia wilderness,
Mulder, Manville, and the Gunmen go on a potentially lethal fishing expedition.
Disclaimer: Everybody in this little fishing party except Wallace Manville belongs to
“I feel like I’m gonna hurl,” Langly murmured as he huddled by the fire with his
comrades. The Gunman’s chiseled facial features were even more jagged and haggard
than usual in the dancing reflection of the spitting flame. His eyes, ringed in evening
shadows, were haunted, troubled.
“It’s all right, Langly,” Byers assured him gently. “You have nothing to be ashamed of.
Frohike glanced up from his enameled aluminum plate. “Naw. Nothing at all,” the Lone
Gunman’s ringleader grunted distractedly.
Langly straightened, eyes flashing. “Easy for you, asshole. You’re not a killer. You didn’t
have to look into those eyes, those cold, dead eyes, knowing you’d destroyed a life.
Gutting him, dismembering him like that. I don’t know if I’ll ever be the same, man.”
“If it helps,” Mulder offered quietly, “he was really delicious. Right, Doc?”
Dr. Wallace Manville, former colleague of the notorious Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter,
nodded silently, his mineral eyes contemplating the full, pocked Virginia moon.
“God, and to think I joined in your gory little ritual,” Langly moaned.
“It was a trout,” Frohike breathed, sucking a sliver of piscine flesh from a molar. “Get
over it, Nancy. And your anguish would be a little more compelling if you hadn’t eaten
two of the damned things.”
“I am definitely going vegan,” the skinny hacker groaned. “I feel lousy, nauseous. The
guilt is eating my insides.”
Mulder tipped his canvas camp chair precariously as he retrieved a jar and a bag of
Doritos from between Langly’s Skechers. He held the jar to the firelight, scanning the
cheaply printed label. “I don’t think it’s guilt, Roland Martin. ‘Whisker-Lickin’ Cheese
Bait — Cheese, Brains, and the Whisker-Lickin’ Secret Ingredient the Big ‘Uns can’t
Resist.’ It actually says ‘’Uns.’ Langly, you finished off a half-jar of this crap.”
“It said cheese,” Langly squeaked. “It was right next to the freakin’ jerky!” He looked
down, eyes widening, and Frisbee-ed a dipped chip into the woods. “I ate bait! Jesus, I
ate fish food! Could that kill me, Doc?”
Manville continued to study the luminescent orb. “Depends largely on what kind of
brains they use. If it’s locally produced, it very likely contains swine brains. So bovine
spongiform encephalopathy shouldn’t be an issue, although I’m sure FDA guidelines of
specified risk materials would prevent–”
“BSE, mad cow disease,” Frohike chortled. He turned toward Byers, who was vaguely
ludicrous in the fresh plaid flannel shirt and stiff jeans he’d reluctantly substituted for his
customary suit. “John, you take the first shift and make sure Langly doesn’t take a header
into the lake or start mooing at the moon.”
“Go milk yourself, asshole,” Langly snapped, sinking back sulkily into his chair.
“I was wondering why you bought that stuff,” Byers said, by way of an olive branch.
“Cheese bait’s generally for catfish, carp, other scavenging fish. I actually read yellow
corn is the ideal trout bait.”
“That’s a popular Native American option,” concurred Manville, the only experienced
angler in the group. His voice seemed to float serenely on the night breeze. “A ball of
white bread or cheese also is suitable. And, of course, there’s Eisena fetida — the Red
“The Cadillac of Worms,” Mulder quoted WKRP in Cincinnati. “So, Langly, if you were
scarfing cat bait all day, what were you using as bait?”
Langly scowled and dug into the pocket of his dingy windbreaker. He displayed a bag
full of colorful, translucent annelids. “The old dude at the bait shop said these were the
“Gummi Worms,” Frohike cackled. “Jesus, Ringo, you really are Roland Martin. Wilford
Brimley was yanking your ball sack. Shit, fish probably croaked from diabetes.” The
trollish conspiracy buff frowned. “Just who the hell is Roland Martin, anyway?”
Mulder sighed, washing down the last of his trout with a shot of Dew. “Maybe this
wasn’t the hottest idea for a road trip, after all. Just thought it would be a good
opportunity for some male bonding is all.”
“Dude, there’s hardly enough testosterone here to make a small Girl Scout,” Langly
scoffed, forgetting mad cows and Eisena fetida. “No offense, Doc.”
Manville smiled and shook his neatly shorn head.
“Just why did you invite us out here, Mulder?” Byers inquired somberly. “We’re hardly
the outdoor types — Frohike gets antsy around neon tetra. And, once again, no offense,
but the three of us and Dr. Manville, well, we’re an eclectic group, to say the least. Why
trout fishing on the Cranesnest River?”
“Yeah,” Frohike muttered, glancing anxiously into the darkness. “I can practically hear
banjo music and Ned Beatty squealing like a sodomized pig.”
Fox Mulder placed his leftovers on the grass beside him and folded his hands over his
now full stomach. Manville closed his eyes, still smiling. The agent shrugged.
“OK,” Mulder surrendered. “I wanted to borrow your expertise on a case.”
“Expertise?” Langly demanded. “I don’t think I’m gonna find a Wifi connection out here
in Deliveranceland. Why drag us all the way out here for a consultation?”
“I don’t want your technical expertise,” Mulder grinned. “I need your knowledge of
popular folklore, of American apocrypha. You guys are questionably the East Coast’s
leading experts on urban legends. Or, in this case, I guess, rural legends.”
Frohike’s eyes narrowed behind his thick lenses, but his brows beetled in interest. He
jerked his outsized skull toward Manville. “And him? I assume he’s along for some other
reason than teaching the Bassturbator here how to cast a line.”
“Eat me,” Langly growled.
“Dr. Manville here,” Mulder overrode, “is along to help us land a really big fish. Of the
“What’s the hook?” Frohike asked.
“How very appropriate,” Manville mused.
“A teen boy drove his date to a dark and deserted Lovers’ Lane for a bit of heavy petting
and labored breathing,” the psychiatrist and former CIA profiler began as the Gunmen
moved closer to the now-smoldering fire. “After turning on the radio for mood music, he
began kissing his girlfriend.
“Shortly, the music suddenly stopped, and an announcer’s voice broke in. It seems a
convicted murderer had just escaped from the state insane asylum, which happened to be
located not far from Lovers’ Lane. Anyone who noticed a strange man lurking about with
a hook in place of his right hand should immediately report his whereabouts to the police.
“The girl became frightened and asked to be taken home. The boy, feeling bold, locked
all the doors instead and, assuring his date they would be safe, attempted to kiss her
again. She became frantic and pushed him away, insisting they leave. Relenting, the boy
peevishly jerked the car into gear and spun its wheels as he pulled out.
“When they arrived at the girl’s house, she got out of the car, and, reaching to close the
door, began to scream uncontrollably. The boy ran to her side to see what was wrong and
there, dangling from the door handle, was a bloody hook.”
“Shit,” Langly murmured. “That happen around here?”
To his surprise, Frohike wheezed in merriment. “The Hook, Dweeb. You never heard that
one? Byers, you were a Boy Scout, right?”
“Junior Achievement,” the bearded former bureaucrat amended with a note of modesty.
“No one really knows the source of the folk tale,” Manville continued. “But it
proliferated in the ‘50s, most likely as a sexual cautionary tale for hormonal adolescents.
Naughty children meet unspeakable fates. The hook, of course, is an obvious Freudian
symbol – if you subscribe to Freud. One of the first public records of the story was in a
1960 Dear Abby column, where the escaped amputee was actually identified as a rapist.”
“Wait a minute,” Byers said. “Are you saying…?”
“Gus Shiveley, 63, truck driver with Parti-Tyme Snacks for the western part of the state,”
Mulder related, shifting into Bureau mode. “Disappeared from his regular route about a
month ago. Found him in a cornfield two weeks later, slashed to death — the truck was
hidden behind an abandoned barn nearby. According to the Dickenson County coroner,
the fatal wound virtually pulled the carotid artery from Shiveley’s throat. The weapon left
a distinct curved signature. See where I’m going?”
“The Hook,” Byers whispered, looking for all the world like the Scout he’d never been.
“Was this the first one?”
Mulder shook his head. “Something about the murder rang a bell with the coroner, and he
checked into the death of another trucker about five years earlier. Luckily, he wasn’t just
one of these political hacks with a scalpel, and he knew how to do a thorough p.m. The
first death was designed to look like a tire-changing accident, but the fatal wound to the
victim’s chest was consistent with Shiveley’s.
“The first vic, Alan Yost, was a cross-country driver for a sporting goods supplier. Also in
his sixties — coroner theorized the killer picked older, potentially weaker prey — but no
apparent connection to Shiveley. The coroner was about to let it go when they found
Dena Jo Hillock.
“Dena Jo, 74, and her husband, Fred, ran a limo service out of Baltimore — proms, visiting
dignitaries, weddings, et cetera — until their divorce 10 years ago. Dena Jo had a summer
cabin right around here — she loved to trout-fish. That’s where they found her a week ago
— on her front porch, her skull virtually split with what the coroner identified as a hook-
like weapon. That’s when he called the Bureau.”
“So your first thought for a destination weekend was to bring a computer geek, an
overweight hippie, a pasty Eagle Scout — excuse me, Byers, Junior Achiever, and a doctor
of psychology out to the middle of the woods for a game of serial killer roulette,” Frohike
“You guys said you were tired of shooting the fall foliage,” Mulder said. “Look, I am an
experienced profiler, Wallace here’s an ex-spook, and I’ve seen you three attack an extra-
large Domino’s like you were conducting a Mossad raid on a Hamas bomb factory.
Seriously, I have a theory, but it’s out there. And out there basically is where you guys
Langly scanned the nearby pines. “If one-handed serial killers are moving in, then I’m
ready to get a place in the ‘burbs.”
“You appear to be a little bit young for this guy — or gal,” Mulder reassured him. “Though
Frohike, you might want to stay close to the group.”
“Great,” the paranoid gnome rasped. “So what do you think this moron’s up to?”
“Serial killers fall into several basic categories,” Mulder began. “The first is the missionary
“Wouldn’t want to go doggie-style,” Langly giggled.
“Missionary killers believe their acts are justified on the basis that they are getting rid of a
certain type of person,” Manville amplified patiently. “Aileen Wuornos, the infamous
female serial killer, murdered men who used prostitutes. Often, the missionary is
motivated by racism, religious zealotry, or just some past abuse or slight at the hands of
an individual who becomes representative of a whole class or category.
“In this case, we could speculate that the killer lost a loved one in an on-road encounter
with a semi or came out the loser in a fight with an enraged trucker. Or given the solitary
nature of trucking, maybe we have a homegrown Wuornos — a prostitute with a heart of
steel rather than gold.”
“Hooker with a hook,” Langly breathed. “Kinky.”
“Step off, perv,” Frohike muttered. “Or maybe this freak is some enviro-kook out after
eighteen-wheeled gas hogs.”
“Diesel hogs,” Mulder corrected. “And calm down, Langly.”
“My second theory was that we were dealing with a Visionary — a serial killer who
somehow felt his deeds would achieve some ultimate societal goal. That’s actually where
your diesel hog theory would fit in. He or she’s killing old truckers for a single reason.
Maybe the killer believes they pose a greater safety threat on the highway. Maybe it’s like
the divide between the WWII vets and the Vietnam vets — the killer feels the old school
drivers are ruining it for the new kids. Except where does Dena Jo fit in?”
“She seems to be the wild card all around,” Byers suggested. “She’s a woman and has
nothing to do with trucking. Or wait. Was she ever in trucking?”
“Fred and Dena’s A-I Livery — unfortunate Flintstonian choice of names — was
incorporated in 1964. Prior to that, Dena was a hostess at a Baltimore nightspot and Fred
was the bartender. This wasn’t the kind of place where the out-of-town long-haulers
tended to hang out.” Mulder stared into the fire. “But there is at least one important link
between Dena Jo, Shiveley, and Yost — I confirmed it with the Dickenson County
coroner. Hey, time to break out the Smores. I bought dark chocolate — saw it on Iron
“Screw the Smores, Canteen Boy,” Frohike snapped. “What’s the connection?”
“Dena Jo Hillock, Alan Yost, and Gus Shiveley were all loyal, card-carrying, lifelong
members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The Teamsters is the nation’s
largest organized union — it includes truckers, rail and port workers, airline haulers,
garbagemen, and professional chauffeurs like Dena Jo Hillock.”
Byers planted his palms on the thighs of his too-blue jeans. “Mulder, are you saying this is
some kind of Mob thing, a union power grab?”
Mulder snagged Manville’s SIGG Anthracite thermos and poured another cup of Redbird
Estate-Grown Kona. “Dena, Al, and Gus were strictly rank-and-file, and the closest they
came to La Famiglia was the Sopranos DVD set they found in Yost’s sleeper cab. But
their age raised a flag for me, and I found an interesting tidbit in Dena’s history. I started
digging and came up with the possible link.
“Alan Yost was from Detroit, where the Teamster movement largely got its start. When
he was younger, it’s reported he wasn’t above swinging a bat or a plank on a scab or a
union-breaker. He ate, drank, and pissed Teamster.
“Gus Shiveley was a guest at a New Jersey union rally in 1962 — voice of the rank-and-
file — sharing the podium with several of the major Teamster honchos including Jimmy
Hoffa himself. He even had a photo shaking mitts with the Great Man himself on his
“And by the early ‘60s, Dena Jo and her mate had virtually locked the limo trade in
Charm City — supposedly through Fred’s early mob friendships. They were the go-to
couple when some mid-level celebrity or high-level hood was in town.”
Byers gasped. Manville smiled at the moon. Frohike’s eyes narrowed.
“You going where I think you are with this?” the chief Gunman challenged. “Hook
Man’s not the urban legend you brought us out here to catch.”
“Different legend,” Mulder admitted. “Want to hear my profile of the killer?
“He was born in the early part of the 20th Century in a small rural town. When he and his
folks moved to the city, he was tagged as a hillbilly, and he quickly learned to talk with
his fists. By the Crash of ’29, he’d gained a rep as a tough character. He dropped out of
9th grade to unload boxcars for a major grocery chain. Thirty-two cents an hour was
terrific pay at the time, but he and his coworkers got paid only when they were actually
unloading produce and meat, and the foreman was a guy they not-so-fondly called ‘Little
Bastard.’ After a group of workers were fired for going to a food cart at midnight of their
shift, our friend staged a work stoppage — just as a shipment of fresh strawberries arrived.
Faced with a carload of rotting fruit, management buckled, and a legend was born.
“About a year later, our friend got into a fight with his foreman and quit his job. Before
long, he’d landed a job as union organizer for the International Brotherhood of
Teamsters. He used Detroit mob connections to shake down a group of small grocers, and
landed his first conviction and some heavy street creds. By 1957, he was Teamsters
president; by 1964, he’d organized nearly every over-the-road trucker in the United
States. But the Kennedys — John and Bobby — were out to nab him, and soon after, he
was convicted of bribery and sent away until 1971, when Nixon offered to free him if he
promised to stay out of union activities for 10 years.
“Our man was planning to sue to invalidate that restriction in order to reassert his power
over the Teamsters when he disappeared on July 30, 1975, from the parking lot of the
Machus Red Fox Restaurant in Oakland County, Michigan, outside Detroit. He’d been
due to meet two Mafia leaders, Anthony ‘Tony Jack’ Giacalone from Detroit and
Anthony ‘Tony Pro’ Provenzano from Jersey.”
“This is incredible,” Byers breathed.
“Ever since then, hoods and hitmen looking for a name or a book deal have been claiming
to have disappeared our guy, and the feds have been pulling up planks, concrete, sod, and
even a barn to find his remains.”
Mulder stopped then, and consulted his watch. “OK. Gentlemen, I propose we call it a
“What?” the Gunmen sang as one.
“It’s 8:32. He ought to be closed up by now.”
“Who?” Frohike demanded.
Manville drained his remaining Kona and rose. “The killer. The Crane’s Haven Bait and
Sandwich Shop closes at 8 p.m. during the spring. I overheard him complaining about his
counter guy being out with the flu.”
“Wait a minute, wait,” Langly protested. “You lost me. Somewhere around ‘Want to hear
my profile?’ You trying to tell us the old asshole at the bait shop is a serial killer?”
“Not a serial killer,” the psychiatrist stressed. “We — Agent Mulder and I — suspect he
went into hiding in the ‘70s. Some of my intelligence sources suggest he’d angered some
major mob chiefs, but he didn’t dare go to the Department of Justice. Probably had
nothing sufficient to trade for Witness Protection. So he disappeared, faking his own
abduction and/or death, and bought the bait shop and a new identity away from
organized civilization. County records showed the store changed hands in 1977.”
Mulder took over. “But as luck would have it, even with his advanced age, that cheesy
thick beard of his, and the seed cap he wears to conceal his famous hairline, Al Yost must
have recognized him when he dropped off a shipment of rods or lures. Maybe it was a
facial feature, maybe it was a turn of phrase or a gesture, but Yost recognized him. Our
guy probably tried to deny it, and maybe Yost winked and promised to keep his secret,
but he got worried and, that night, tracked him down.
“God knows how many old Teamsters he’s slaughtered over the years. Maybe just Yost
and Shively, the potato chip guy who usually dealt with the sick counter man. From
rumors I’ve heard, Dena Jo Hillock may have had even more intimate insight into our
man’s behavior and quirks.”
“But, but he’s at least 90, unless the smell of death was that huge cigar he was smoking,”
“Actually, more like 95. But a burly, well-kept 95. He’d have to be, in case some old
wiseguys stopped in for a Red Wriggler.”
“So what now?” Frohike asked. “We call in the cavalry? Confront him at the store?”
“Not necessary,” Mulder smiled. “See, Skinner wasn’t too wild about my theory, and
Scully suggested ‘a little snipe hunt with the guys’ might help me unwind. And what’s
old Fish Breath going to say if we show up with a pair of cuffs and a wild story?
“No. We’re going to put out the fire and turn in. C’mon, boys, bedtime, or no smores
Melvin Frohike cracked his spine, yawning, as he loosed a steady stream of urine on a
Virginia pine. He’d been unable to sleep after Mulder’s strange campfire tale, and fish
seemed to work on his bladder.
The Gunman shook some dew from the lilly, and zipped up. Then a beefy arm ringed his
neck, and he felt cold metal on his bristled cheek.
“Hey, pal, you ever hear of a comfort zone?” Frohike croaked.
“Shut up!” The voice was gravelly, cold, ancient but steady. “You guys shoulda stayed in
the city. All kinda danger out here in the sticks. Arggh!”
The source of the bait merchant’s argghing was a sudden inundation of light — the
halogen lights Manville had rigged at the edge of the clearing. The old man staggered
back, releasing Frohike, and Mulder stepped forward, gently tugging an object from his
rough, liver-spotted fingers.
The agent examined the tool. “A souvenir from your old Kroger days, unloading crates of
apples and sides of beef? Came in handy when Al Yost and Gus Shiveley threatened to
blow your secret. Did you feel any regret at all when you split Dena Jo’s melon?”
“I don’t know none of them people!” the old man grunted as he shielded his eyes. His
cap had fallen off, revealing a familiar Sgt. Carter crewcut. “You punks don’t know what
you done. I know some guys — some rough characters.”
“Me, too,” Mulder grinned, flashing his ID. “Assume the position, if you can do it
without breaking a hip.”
The old man began to curse, using language Langly later vowed to add to his everyday
lexicon. When the state police arrived, he gained his second wind, and sulfur remained in
the air after he departed.
Mulder displayed the meat hook he’d confiscated from the killer. As he turned it in the
halogen glare, the Gunmen stared at a pair of carved initials: J.H.
“How’d you know he’d come for us?” Langly asked.
“I dropped my line in the water this morning,” Mulder said. “See, when we stopped for
bait and snacks — or in Langly’s case, snack bait — I pulled a little switch.” Mulder
reached into his Eddie Bauer jacket and withdrew a plastic Ziploc. Inside was a short,
turd-like object with one rough-cut, burned end and one end chewed nearly to a pulp.
“Shit,” Frohike laughed. “You lifted his stogie.”
“No doubt saturated with his DNA which I intend to run through Quantico. But don’t be
shocked — I left him something in return. It took me a few days to locate an Internet
dealer and have it overnighted. I left it in his ashtray, where he’d put his butt.” Mulder
pulled out a quartered piece of paper. Frohike unfolded it and stared down at the
“You bastard!” the Gunman howled, handing the paper to Byers. Langly craned over his
shoulder, studying the picture of a weathered, yellowed restaurant matchbook. On its
face, in elegant Old English script, was a single word.
Scully blinked as the front door opened. She’d stayed up late to watch Deliverance on
AMC, but had fallen asleep before Burt and the gang could meet up with their rural
“You’re back early,” she murmured, switching off the TV and rearranging the couch
pillows as Mulder deposited his recently purchased tackle box on the kitchen counter.
“How’d it go?”
Her partner held up two hands roughly a foot apart. “I caught a trout this big. Langly ate
a jar of bait. Frohike is convinced he has West Niles. Oh, yeah. And we found Jimmy
Scully nodded. “Wonderful. You know those boots are going in the dumpster, right?”