Title: Trespassin'
Author: mountainphile
Written: October 2003
Rating: R for language and adult themes
EMAIL: mountainphile@yahoo.com
Distribution: It's always an honor to be archived. Please tell me where, so I can visit.
Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully, and the X-Files remain the property of Carter, 1013, and other entities. I borrowed them for a jaunt and put them right back.

Summary: A story with a dash of M and S and very different flavor for Haven's October "Our House" challenge. Click on the following link to view the house picture integral to this little tale: http://xf-extensions.com/hhouse3.jpg

Acknowledgments: Thanks to Mish and Diana Battis for their always trusty beta and wisdom, and to Sybil for providing the challenge and inspirational picture of the house.

We're trespassin' here.

Ain't much harm in it, because nobody sees us and nobody cares about this old house anymore. It's a wreck, and that's no joke, but it's close to town.

Rickety as hell, busted windows. Gotta be careful where you put your foot, or you go clear through the floor. Happened to my big brother Zack the first night we got here after bein' evicted from our double-wide last week. He kicked up such a ruckus I made him shush before somebody came by and heard him cussin' and thrashin'. So we moved down into the cellar where nobody knows we're here. Where it's dark and quiet.

If he doesn't do something soon, though, I'm the one'll be thrashin' and cussin' and makin' all the noise. Won't be able to stop it.

It scares me some.

Zack says we're more like squatters than

trespassers. That we got as much right to this place as anybody. The Claussens left it after the old lady died and Lyle, the oldest boy, went missing. Pickle-Pusses everybody called 'em at school, 'cause of the brand name and all the breadand-butters, garlics, and dills the missus put up every summer. Rumor was, she went crazy and they hid her in this cellar 'til she starved or some such, all shriveled up like one of her gherkins.

We heard the whispers about the place bein' haunted, which is why nobody comes around here no more. But Zack says that's gossip and foolish talk. Mrs.

Claussen was a wrinkly old bitch with a mean temper who up and caught the flu. I don't know which is the truth, but I sure hate bein' in this cellar knowin' some old lady could've died down here.

Except it's the safest place if you don't want to be seen upstairs or go crashin' through the kitchen or bedroom floors and bustin' yourself up underneath.

Spiders give me the willies, same as those little round crawly bugs that hide under everything. Hard to keep 'em out of the food, our blankets, and my hair when I sleep. I hate rats, but Zack, bein' Zack, says we could eat 'em if we had to, as well as squirrels and rabbits. I tell him I'll pass on the rats and give the others a maybe. Truth is, I'd rather he keep on pinchin' stuff for us at night when he goes out to scrounge and have a look-see around. Restaurant in town is the best for throwin' out good food. Looks hardly touched and goes down real easy. Makes us feel fine, like we're rich folks in this part of Kanawha County.

The smell is bad down here and gettin' worse. We try to keep all our business in one corner on the other side of the cellar, if we can't make it outside. Of course Zack, like a lazy-ass boy, has gone to takin' a piss in other spots, too. The very first one he took was upstairs in what he hoped was Lyle Claussen's old bedroom. Now, when it rains, everything stinks to high heaven like garbage and rot and old house and outhouse. I can't take much more. Maybe I won't have to.

I ask more than once why we can't sneak into town to a regular doctor and skip the Claussen place. But each time Zack puts on his mad-dog face and says it's better all around if we lay low for awhile. I ask if he's in trouble or just a chickenshit, and he shuts me up real fast. We got to stick together, he hisses at me. You want me to drop you off on somebody's back stoop like an old cat or sack of spuds? My only sister and kin?

He's side-steppin' again. But he has a point somewhere in there and he's older'n me. So each time I say no and here we stay. Except now I can't help messin' it up for the both of us.

There's trespassers outside. Out-of-towners, two city people walkin' around.

We been peekin' at 'em.

My belly hurts again and Zack looks over at me.

He's worryin'. We both raised enough livestock to know what's bound to happen and needs to be done, but we don't speak of it outright. There's no reason to, except that I hope a doctor shows up real soon.

The city folks outside keep walkin' around, talkin' low to each other, lookin' in windows on the ground floor. Get too close and we duck fast. Pretty soon we hear the man's foot go plumb through the front porch, so the lady calls him back to where we can watch 'em again. Also calls him by some name that sounds like "Molter." He's cussin' up a storm brushin' off his pants leg and checkin' out his fancy shoe, which of course makes Zack snort. The woman leans in and touches shoulders to the man's, real familiar-like, and laughs too. Her name must be "Scully" 'cause that's what he keeps callin' her.

Weird-ass name for a woman, my brother mumbles to me, and I agree.

Zack swears these folks are the exact ones we need, the ones who can help me. Well, the woman is, anyway. He calls it providential. Says he overheard this morning when he was sneakin' around town that she's a real doctor, except she looks more like a model or beauty queen to me. I ask him not to hurt 'em none and he snorts again in his sleeve.

I know Zack pretty well. Only person I'm certain he harmed directly on purpose was that dillhole Lyle Claussen who was trespassin' behind our trailer one night, right around the time his mama lay dyin'.

Ol' Lyle caught me outside and hurt me somethin' awful. It shamed me to tell Zack about it, but I did, since it was just him and me, and he went after him like a shot. Later I asked whether Lyle was beat up enough to learn him a good lesson and Zack wouldn't say.

Nobody saw Lyle after that, nor has ever. So, maybe my brother up and killed him after all.

Killin's a wicked sin, but what Lyle Claussen done to me ain't nothin' to sneeze at neither. It's sin and just as bad. Funny how they call 'em trespasses and sins up at the church. As we forgive those who trespass against us, the Good Book says, but I say hogwash when it comes to Lyle. A family's got to stick together no matter what. That would explain some things, the least of which is why I'm stuck hidin' out here with Zack in Claussen's cellar instead of at some doc's office.

All this trespassin' goin' on every which way, and it seems like I'm the one has got the worst end of the deal.

Why're they here? I ask, still peekin'. D'you reckon Claussens want their old place back? Maybe they're figurin' to find the old lady's dried up carcass down here.

Zack starts soundin' all uppity and educated, but I know better and roll my eyes. Routine police work stuff, Sis, he says. They're checkin' out the homestead to prove there's no foul play and it's empty or some such thing.

Well, it ain't close to bein' empty, I remind him, goosebumps poppin' big as buckshot on my arms.

Don't you fret none, he says, lookin' out the cellar window real steady. Help's here, 'cause now we got 'em where we want 'em.

I hope he's not set to kill this new feller, the nice-lookin' one with the long black coat walkin' around outside with the lady doctor. Not even on accident. Do that and she'd make trouble and wouldn't help me anyways. The Law'd be all over us for trespassin', I'd bust wide as a milkweed pod, and they'd put Zack in county jail -- or worse.

Zack says nobody knows nothin'. Lyle Claussen's kin in Charleston is who called 'em here in the first place. Complained to the sheriff when no one seen hide nor hair of that skunk for over eight months after the rest of 'em moved off. All except for the old lady, of course, who died of flu and pure cussedness.

I surely don't believe it, I say. These two people snoopin' outside are the Law? How do you figure?

Then I start hurtin' again at my middle and in my back, real bad this time, and it shuts me up.

Dumb-ass, Zack tells me. Keep quiet and let me handle this! Those folks out there are fuckin' FBI.

They got guns and radios. See their badges? They been trained how to fight. That seems to bother my brother a little, but not me. Zack is big for almost seventeen, and he could shoot the pecker off a hummingbird at fifty yards like it's nothin'. A real pro with the old rifle Pa left him when he and Ma died over a year ago, so I got no worries there.

But hearin' that gets me to peekin' again.

I can't hardly believe that pretty lady can fight or is packin' a gun under her coat. Or is a honest-toGod doctor. She's got nice red hair, I whisper to Zack, and wears lipstick and high heels! Just then she raises her arm, the coat moves, and there it is: a gun in a leather holster. Well, I'm floored and gasp, but Zack nods his head like everything's clear and he knows exactly what he'll do.

What's the plan? I ask.

Trick 'em good, he says. Tell 'em somebody's hurt and it'll bring her on down here like a coon after sweet corn. You know how ladies and doctors are when somebody's in trouble, and lucky for you she's both. Then we'll knock 'em out one by one. When she comes to, I'll have both their guns and she'll have no choice but to help you. Him... hell, him I'll just gag and tie up in a corner.

Not in my pee corner, I warn him, or he *will* be gaggin'. And I'm not tryin' to joke about it.

Lately I've had to go around the clock, especially now that the pains have started up. They're gettin' worse again, so I sit back and breathe deep. When I let out a tiny groan, Zack steps away and heads over to the cellar door.

Where might you be headin'? I ask, goosebumps all over even though I'm sweatin' worse'n a hog.

Zack slings the gun to his shoulder and looks crafty, like when he's goin' out to track deer. He tells me it's time. The man just went to the car for somethin', he whispers furtive-like, and the lady's wanderin' around the house to the back at this exact minute. Got her right where we need her to be. Help's on the way, Sis. Don't you fret.

I watch my brother. Dang it, but my eyes start to water. He's tryin' the only way he knows right now to help me. Maybe he feels bad that he wasn't around to protect me the night Lyle Claussen showed up to jab me with his big pickle. I reckon Zack's plan is needful, but it makes me want to cry anyway.

Just don't hurt 'em bad, I say, sniffin'. Okay?

He nods and slips the gun behind his back, steppin' up into the daylight outside. I hear his boots scuff the dry leaves by the door. He clears his throat. Ma'am? he says, real respectful. Could you please come this way a minute? My little sister needs help.

What's the matter with her? I hear the red-haired lady ask, all concerned. Even her voice sounds pretty, like a songbird, not flat the way most folks around here talk.

She needs a doctor, says my brother. She's right down here in the cellar, Ma'am. Can you help her?

It seems to me like she hesitates, thinkin' about it just a hair too long. Probably wonderin' whether she should go back first and get the FBI man to come in with her. I know for a fact that Zack won't have the time or patience for her to make up her mind about foolishness like that. My brother's no slouch when it comes to pullin' off a plan, let me tell you.

I hear a thunk, a little bleat, and the sound of Zack catchin' somethin.

She okay? I ask when he carries her in. She bleedin' any? Tiny lady, no bigger than me, with shiny fingernails, hair spread like a fan, and out stone cold. Laid down on the floor close up, she looks younger, too.

Naw, not much, he says, takin' her gun and jammin' it in his own pocket. Just a ding on the head, same as he'll get when he shows up. Be wide awake in no time. Then he pretends to check her all over for more weapons, real careful. He swears under his breath that he ain't never seen a doctor like this one before.

Right, I say, narrowin' my eye at him, in a huff. I seen that look on a man before, so don't lie to me or be messin' with her.

Under the dirt Zack's face gets as red as the woman's hair. He leaves off. When he stands up I know he's shamed by what I saw, which is why I'm gettin' away with such backtalk. Listen, I ain't like that, he says, starin' me right in the face.

You hear? I ain't no goddamn Claussen, just a regular, decent man.

I tell him it's all right. I know and always did.

He's my brother, my only family left 'til this new little trespasser shows up. He's tryin' to help me the only way he can. Standin' there, Zack looks like little boy and grown-up all rolled into one. I swear we're both ready to blubber when we hear a deep voice outside call "Scully!" real close.

Just like that, we wipe our faces and Zack shushes me. He gets ready for the man to come down into the cellar, lookin' for his Scully woman.

Yeah, I think everything'll be okay.

I think even God would agree on it this time. Now that the lady doctor and the FBI man have come by just when I need 'em to, maybe God's plannin' to forgive Zack his whopper of a trespass, and has sent 'em my way on purpose.

It makes pure sense to me. Here they are, right when my belly's startin' to hurt me wicked-awful again. Like somebody's desperate in there. Like somebody's finally goin' crazy in the dark and thrashin' for all he's worth to get out.

The End


Title: Breathin' Room
Author: mountainphile
Written: October 2003
Rating: R for language and adult themes
Feedback: mountainphile@yahoo.com
Archiving: It's always an honor to be archived. Please tell me where, so I can visit.
Disclaimer: Mulder, Scully, and the X-Files remain the property of Carter, 1013, and other entities. I borrowed them for a little Halloween jaunt.

Summary: A conclusion to Trespassin', with a bigger dose of MSR than the previous story.

The reader will benefit by taking them in sequence.

Written for Haven's October "Our House" challenge.

Click on the following link to view the house picture integral to this little tale:


For a better understanding of Zack's regional dialect and vocabulary, visit this entertaining site: http://www.hillbonics.com

Acknowledgments: Many thanks to fellow Museans Diana Battis and Mish for ever-enthusiastic beta. Kudos to Diana for rocking my boat at the eleventh hour and suggesting this

We ain't trespassin'.

Like I told Sis, we're squatters here because it ain't permanent. Just settin' for a spell 'til things quiet down, leastways that was the plan when we first moved into the old Claussen place. It's a far piece from town and broke down enough for folks to forget about it bein' here. I need some breathin' room, so here we stay.

Now it looks like my sister's set on messin' that up for us. Not that she can help it any. She's ready to pop that youngun out, but it sure is aggravatin' the situation.

It started when me and Sis got evicted last week and somebody else moved right into that rat-trap trailer.

Weren't nothin' I could do about it, since rent was owed and pert near all we have in the world is the clothes on our backs. Everything else we sold to get by since Pa and Ma passed on. Like folks say around these parts, we don't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of.

Two things happened then.

One, I recollected the old broke-down Claussen place.

It made perfect sense. Rent free and with my sister in her condition, so to speak, we needed a good hidey-hole closer to town and food. Don't matter to me who it belonged to first. I ain't particular.

Second, the Law was afoot and up to no earthly good.

I seen officers all over town and weren't too concerned 'til the blame FBI showed up sudden-like.

Two of 'em, a lady and a man, nosin' around and stirrin' up trouble. Like I said before, a feller like me needs breathin' room. So here we stay, holed up at Claussen's.

Sis was scared of this old cellar at first. She believes all them damn stories about Missus Claussen bein' stuffed somewhere down here after she up and died. Ain't none of it the truth. Just the flu and folks spreadin' lies after drinkin' too much hooch, I tell her. Still, she ain't convinced.

The bugs and stink don't help neither. Sis weren't able to get outside much, even for a breather of fresh air. Now, not at all. Just stays down here in this piss-pot from hell, peekin' out the cellar windows and holdin' her belly. She's bein' a real good sport about it, yet I'm sorry for it all the same.

Either way, we're just bidin' our time and doin' what's needful, on account of what I done. I think Sis knows. She ain't sayin' much, except to ask if I'm plannin' on killin' every dang person we run into. Zack, don't hurt 'em too much, she keeps beggin'.

That ain't the plan by a long shot.

No, it warn't supposed to happen this way, all halfassed and backwards. If that baby'd taken its sweet old time we wouldn't need help so fast. But then, there'd be no reason to be here if it weren't for that bastard Lyle Claussen.

Pa taught me since I was a youngun that family's got to stick together. Nothin' goes over the Devil's back that don't come out from underneath his belly, he said. An eye for an eye. Well, I ain't told Sis exactly what happened that night last winter, but nobody's doin' her that way and gettin' off scot free. Nobody.

Ma always swore that dreams about death meant somebody in the family'd end up havin' a baby. Said she'd seen it time and again. I can't lay claim to any death-dreamin', though I reckon I done my part in sharin' the guilt by not bein' there the night Lyle showed. And for doin' what came after.

Truth is, I took Pa's rifle, tracked that polecat Lyle to the swamp, and waited for my chance. Then I plugged him in the head right through his toboggan and pushed his carcass down under the ice. What's left of him has been feedin' fish, snappers, snakes, and bugs all spring and summer long.

The Law's on my tail now, I reckon. Guilty before God and my fellow man, as Ma would say. These here outsiders pokin' around the house is proof of that.

Sis keeps on asking me not to hurt 'em or kill that FBI feller, so I reckon she figgers what I done to Lyle weren't just fun and games. She got that one right.

I was dead serious then and Lyle's serious dead now.

Don't know how I get in these pickles, but there's Claussen writ all over it everywhere.

So the Law's outside the house sniffin' for me. Then Sis let's go with a gullywasher under her skirt, soakin' everything good. With this dad-burn baby bustin' out, too many things are happenin' all at once, too fast for me to handle. I feel busy as a one-armed barber with the hives and that's no joke.

Maybe the Good Lord's got a mite extra slack for a trespasser like me. I believe deep down it's providential that the woman doctor come around to this particular old house right when we need her to help Sis.

As for those two FBI folks, it weren't more than a ping on each of their heads. First her, then him after. Expected her to wake up and take care of my little sister right away. Him, I don't give shit about except for keepin' him shut up in a corner and pinchin' his gun. I got it right in my pockets with his little-bitty phone, same as hers, and my rifle aimed directly at the both of 'em.

But, dang it to hell -- here he is, all waked up and pressin' at his head and the lady doctor's still out cold. I let him crawl over on his elbow and crouch over that red-haired Scully woman, but no further.

Meanwhile, my sister keeps moanin' and cryin' like a stuck pig, beggin' for help.

I'm all in a sweat.

You a doctor, too? I ask him. Might as well, with things gettin' plumb desperate around here.

He's busy checkin' over the woman, touchin' her cheek first real gentle-like, whisperin' to her. I see him give Sis a long careful look, then he's back at the woman again. After he feels her hair and finds a smear of blood on his fingers, he twists himself towards me, quilled like a copperhead waitin' to strike.

Easy does it, I order, lookin' from them to my sis and back again.

Way to go, wise-guy, he says, all disgusted. We're Federal Agents. Try thinkin' with your brain next time, instead of with your ass. He talks a heap more, except he uses biggity words that go way beyond my schoolin'.

I put on my mad-dog face and remind him of the question.

No, he answers, lookin' mean right back. Also tells me if I had any smarts in that punkin I call a head that I'd get Sis to a hospital right away. He moves too fast for me, like he's set on grabbin' at my gun, so I take aim again.

Right then the Scully woman awakes. She's tryin' to sit up with one hand and holdin' her head with the other. Callin' his name distracts him. It's different now that I'm hearin' it close and clear.

Mulder, she says again, lookin' like she's about to cry, which reminds me of my own ailin' little sister.

Just meant to ding this pretty lady, not hurt her too much. It shames me.

She the wife? I ask him. Which would explain all their shoulder-touchin' on the front lawn before and why he's so protective and pullin' her into a snuggle now. Well, they both quit what they're doin' and stare at me. Hell, even if she ain't the wife, reckon I can see what's between this FBI feller and the Scully woman.

Right then Sis lets loose a blood-curdlin' yell that makes us all jump like farts on a griddle.

My voice shakes. Ma'am, I say, I'm powerful sorry for whackin' you before, but I didn't know what else to do. My sister needs help this exact minute if you're truly a doctor. There's towels and plastic jugs of water over yonder for the birthin'.

She tells the Mulder feller it'll be all right and she's fine, so he backs down. Then she nods her head at me and scoots over next to Sis. She checks out the linens and I can see she ain't too cheerful 'bout how clean they look. She begs me to use their cell phone to call a hospital.

With a lump like coal in my throat I gotta say no.

Then Sis commences to thrashin' like the dickens.

Well, the Scully woman don't have time to argue with me after that. Just turns to Sis and 'tends to work, whisperin' to her nonstop and callin' her sweetie and such. Real comfortin'. She sounds so much like Ma used to when we was little and took sick, that my eyes start to water.

Where's the father? The Mulder feller asks.

It ain't none of his business. Truth is, it don't matter no more, but I don't say so. This is Sis's baby, her flesh and blood. It's one of ours now, or will be when it's borned. I tell him nevermind and to plug his piehole.

Damned if he won't take a hint. Explains to me in a low voice that I'm doin' Sis more harm than good.

Endangerin' her life. All kinds of shit like that.

That I'm also in big trouble now for strikin' federal agents of the government and holdin' 'em at gunpoint.

I take out both their guns and phones from my pockets and lay 'em nearby, where I can get to 'em easy.

He's got me feelin' powerful uncomfortable, though, with Sis wailin' and thrashin' over there in the shadows.

A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do, I say.

So, where's the man? he asks, sneerin'.

That'd be me, I hiss back, since Pa and Ma died and there's just my little sis and me left. The feller that used to live here caught her out alone and give her this baby by force.

He butts in, What's his name? Where's he now?

It don't matter, I answer, takin' a spit near his fancy shoe. I took care of it like a man should, doin' what had to be done afterward.

If I could kick my own ass I would.

Tryin' to talk myself up big, I end up tippin' too much of my hand, but it's water under the bridge now.

The Mulder feller rubs his chin and narrows his eyes at me before askin', you're tellin' me Lyle Claussen raped this girl? Your sister?

Well, Sis's constant moanin' and this feller's questions are both gettin' me in a bad way. I'm blabberin' like a dang fool and cookin' my own goose.

Something wrong with your ears? I shoot back.

Mister, you ever had a little sister to watch after, you'd understand where I'm comin' from.

Well, that gives him somethin' to chew on for a spell, 'cause his face gets plumb serious. We eye each other until the Scully woman starts up suddenlike.

My God, I hear her blurt out, Mulder! So he asks what's wrong. She's completely dilated, she says in wonderment, and the baby's startin' to crown already.

Which makes me proud as punch of Sis for gettin' this far into the birthin' on her own. First baby and all, and without any old doctor's help.

Atta girl, Sis, I call over to encourage. That earns me a dirty look from the woman and a snort from the Mulder feller.

Yeah, that'll help, Big Man, he tells me. Whyn't you let me call the hospital and end this foolishness? I shake my head no, nervous as a long-tailed cat in a roomful of rockin' chairs. Then he wants to know again where they can find Lyle. FBI's been lookin' hard for him and come to his old house to check it out for foul play.

You'll be lookin' 'til kingdom come, I reckon, I answer. There she goes again, mouth runnin' off before my brain's in gear, like always.

Obstructin' justice and puttin' your own sister at risk are considered crimes, even in these parts, he zings back.

I can tell he's workin' me, gettin' me all het up on purpose. Tryin' to pull my guard down with big-ass words and actin' like he's my Pa or somebody official I oughta be skeered of.

Listen, Mister, I say, swallerin' a lump, that dog don't hunt around here. You don't know nothin' about us or how the folks in these parts survive. We got our own brand of justice for punishin' the guilty and them that deserve it. Right proud of it, too. Put that in your fuckin' FBI pipe and smoke it.

Easy now, take it slow, whispers the Scully woman.

We both look over. I figure she's coolin' us menfolk down some, but it's just Sis she's tendin'. Without meanin' to, I see my sister's skinny white legs and a bloody towel all bunched up between 'em. She's breathin' awful hard, big gulps, like she did the night she ran out cryin' to tell me what Lyle done to her.

Comin' full circle, from then to now.

I turn away when Sis starts up that holy screamin' again, and the Scully woman kneels over her and blocks my view.

Well, it don't seem fair. Nothin's fair in this world right now, for her or me.

The Mulder feller shakes his head. Likely pities me for bein' nothin' more than a poor, mixed-up grit on the run. Or maybe he thinks I'm just dumber than dirt and can't handle shit. Son, this isn't the answer, he says.

And I'm like to blow up at him. I'm so flustered I'm like Sis, breathin' hard and fast.

So who asked you anyways? I holler, steppin' closer.

Suppose some polecat sonuvabitch came sniffin' around *your* little sister and she was too weak and skeered to fight 'em off and he got her when you weren't there? What would *you* do after?

I know I sound like a crazy man foamin' at the mouth and spittin' out my words. Like Pa made me do when he wore me out for somethin' I done wrong. I feel like a no-account little kid again, ready to cry buckets.

Here I am explainin' and blubberin' before God and these FBI folks so I can't hardly see worth a plug nickel. Just that quick it happens: a kick at my foot, whack upside my head, and I'm flipped over on the floorboards like a turtle on its back. Fallin' ass over tin cup.

Lookin' up at that Mulder feller and smack dab into the barrel end of Pa's rifle.

Maybe I'd do the same, he says, starin' down at me hard enough to bore a hole without the bullet. I barely realize I'm hearin' Sis carry on like a banshee, with the Scully woman babblin' away to her a mile a minute.

I'm that stunned.

How we doin' over there, Scully? he asks. He don't move his eye from me, but he's talkin' at her just the same.

We hear a shuffle, a quick smack, and a youngun squallin' over and over in the shadows.

It's a girl, she says, soundin' happy and tired, like she's the one who just done all the pushin' and work.

Mother and child doin' fine under the circumstances, but we need to get 'em to a hospital. And she tells him to make the phone call quick, 'cause Sis needs stitches and the afterbirth's gonna deliver.

Then the Scully woman sighs and stares up at him.

The light from the window hits her. Kneelin' like that on the floor and restin' with her hands folded, she looks just like an angel. Eyes blue-glassy with tears and a red halo around her head.

The Mulder feller must think the same thing as me.

He gives her a wisp of a smile, picks up his tiny phone, and makes the call.

Sniffin', I see Sis layin' there alongside her with an armful of bloody baby in a bunched-up towel. It's twitchin' and cryin' up a storm, and my sister's blubberin' along with it. Happy or sad, I can't tell which thing any of us is truly feelin'.

As for me, I'll prob'ly be settin' in jail awhile for dingin' the two FBI agents in the head. Maybe we'll be charged for trespassin' at the Claussen's and me for stealin' all over town. More like, I'm lookin' at a long spell in prison for takin' the Law into my own hands and riddin' the world of Lyle's wicked ass.

Maybe worse.

And that's right when the Mulder feller begins actin' strange-like.

Stay put and keep your mouth shut, he tells me when the Scully woman goes back to carin' for my sister and the baby. He crosses the cellar in the almostdark with the rifle, peerin' this way and that.

Shifty, like a fox in a henhouse. I swear he's prowlin' around for somethin'.

I don't say a word when he stops in the corner where we do our piss and business. Serve him right to find out the hard way, I tell myself. He kicks at old boxes of cannin' jars and other Claussen trash, breathin' through his mouth from the stink. Gives me a squint for a warnin' to stay back. Then usin' his fancy shoe, he pries up some rotten old boards from out the floor, smack dab where Sis's been waterin' them down.

I hear him whistle low, triumphant-like, so it must mean some kind of pay dirt. Before I know what's what, he's poked down the barrel end of Pa's rifle under a soft piece of wood and up comes a long bony turkey claw.

Well, it don't take me but a second to see that it weren't no bird at all, but old dried-up Missus Claussen herself. Switched if she ain't been keepin' me and Sis company in this cellar for pert near two weeks.

I gasp, please, Mister, don't let my sister see this here. She'll either faint dead away or vomit all over that new baby, for sure.

The Mulder feller nods. He explains that it's evidence they've been huntin' for. Son, he says to me, Lyle Claussen's wanted by the police and FBI because of his mother and other family members disappearin' under unexplained circumstances. There could be other victims, besides the assault he made on your sister. Didn't you know that?

I shake my head, not sure if I'm gonna laugh, puke, or cry.

He crouches down beside me now, touchin' my shoulder, lookin' real plain-spoken and serious. Tells me I flap my mouth too quick for my own good and that takin' the Law into my own hands is risky and plain wrong. That I got a lot of growin' up to do.

Well, that ain't news, I agree, wipin' my nose.

After takin' a quick peek over at the Scully woman, he says that he's caught my drift, but to keep it under our hats for the time bein'. Looks me in the eye and says it sounds like justice has been served and the taxpayers should thank me for savin' them a heap of money this time around.

Still, there's no tellin' where it'll all end up yet.

Looks like our red-haired angel of charity is set on findin' a safe, clean place for Sis and the new youngun. So I reckon there's hope for me, too, if this Mulder feller has any say at all in it. Calls himself a profiler, whatever that is. I asked him on a hunch if he has a little sister, but he won't say nothin' back. Seems like the memory must smart too much, so I don't push it.

Everybody needs breathin' room now and again.

And it don't surprise me a lick to find out that Fox is his given name.

The End

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