Tightrope

Debra Fran Baker



There is a fire inside of me that frightens me as much as any flame would. It's always been there, a rage that seethes and boils beneath the surface, the Fox Mulder that I don't want to admit exists, who only comes out when I'm too tired or too frustrated to do anything else. I watch him lash out, break things, yell, hit - a child with the size and strength of a man screaming at the injustice of the world, and wonder when he'd remember that I'm armed. So far he hasn't, but one day...maybe that's why I keep losing my gun. It's safer that way. I've aimed it more often at myself or Scully, or noises in the dark than at suspects anyway.

My father never needed a weapon. I never knew when his rages would take him and he would go me, belt and fists and words like daggers. Anything could set him off, drunk or sober. The only difference was that when he was drunk, I could sometimes escape him and anyway he wouldn't remember. I don't know why he hated me, or what I did wrong. I was the best son I knew to be, even if I wasn't the son he wanted. I never told him my deepest secret, but there are times I wonder if he knew. My mother just hid - in her room, in her pills, in her silence. I had no one to depend upon. There cannot be a God, because then the universe would be determinate, not random, and it would not be such a house of horrors. There are monsters and demons out there, not angels and fairies, and certainly no all-powerful being that has sway over our lives.

So I find myself today with a choice of fathers, and if I could I'd choose neither, and I'm left without knowing who I am.

I know who I am. I'm Fox Mulder, Special Agent of the FBI, Dana Scully's partner. Spooky Mulder who doesn't forget anything and who makes strange leaps in logic and who believes in goolies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night. Who can get inside the head of serial killers; who one day woke up afraid that he couldn't get out so he ran to an office in the basement and filled it with posters and souvenirs and all those files.

Scully. Scully who keeps me on this tightrope between madness and despair by giving me something to lean upon and to push against. For a long time, she was the steadiest thing in my universe. I knew she would counter my wildest argument with something equally wild from her safe, logical world. She grew up in a world that made sense. When her father disappeared, she knew where he went and that he would do his best to return. Her siblings didn't go away one day in a flash of light and terror, and her mother didn't retreat into a chemical and emotional neverland. Scully lived in Paradise. No wonder she has faith in angels and saints - she knows they respond to prayers.

She's brilliant and beautiful and if she's skeptical and sarcastic, she's also kind and skilled. She's my best friend. I know if I call in the middle of the night, she'll show up. I know if I get lost, she'll find me and patch me up and yell at me. I know she'll care. I've come to depend on that.

I try not to let her see the other Mulder, the one who rages and hurts. When she does, I see the disappointment on her face. Scully has no weakness and expects the same of others. She makes me stronger.