|The Truth Is Really Out There
By Scott Fivelson
At the top of a long flight of municipal steps, situated barely out of the shadow of the
FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., Special Agents Fax Molder and Data Skully took a load off and sat down – the end of another utterly futile,
maddeningly frustrating, thank-God-it’s-Friday kind of week – a typical week of working on The X-thru-Z Files. Once again, their valiant efforts to
bring the truth to light had been hopelessly thwarted, checkmated, covered over with an impenetrable shroud of darkness, and seemingly done so
by the very government at whose bidding they were officially seeking the truth. Now they sat there on the steps without speaking, Molder
squinting into the setting sun, until he rose with a sigh, walked over to a news box, and returned with the Friday paper. Sitting back down next to
his partner, he regarded the front page with disgust.
“Look at this, Skully. Apology is policy. They think they can get away with anything. And they can. It’s bigger than anyone imagines…”
Skully took the paper from Molder, nodded at the front page, then casually flipped to the movie section, in the perhaps equally futile effort to give
her studly but obtuse partner a hint that maybe, it was time he actually asked her out on a date.
“Gee, Molder, there are sure a lotta new movies playing…”
Earth to Molder…
No signs of life. Skully babbled on. Somebody had to work at this relationship.
“And just look at all these films starring John Travolta. It’s amazing! A few years ago, the guy couldn’t get arrested! Isn’t it weird, Molder? I
think it’s weird. Really weird. I mean…
I think it’s weird… if you think it’s weird.”
Molder smiled, and turned toward his partner his most superior withering glance.
“Of course, it’s weird,” said Fax “Everything’s Spooky” Molder. “A man with a hit TV series and a dance-craze movie suddenly drops so far off the
map that for the next ten years you couldn’t find his career with an AWACS; then, just as suddenly, he’s back, like Lazarus from the dead, in Pulp
Fiction; and you think it’s an accident?… They’re running it all, Skully…”
“Molder – I think you’re losing it.”
“You still don’t believe?” said Molder. He stared in disbelief. “After all we’ve seen?”
“Extraterrestrials, yes. Life after death. Bigfoot. ‘Nessie.’ I buy it all, Molder. But what I can’t believe,” said trained forensic pathologist Data
Skully, rising to her feet, “is that the powers that be, whoever they are, have got nothing better to do than to sit in some little covert backroom
somewhere, deciding Who’s Hot and Who’s Not!”
“That’s right: ‘Deny everything.’ When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping, huh, Skully?”
“See ya Monday, Molder.”
Shaking her head, Skully started down the municipal steps in the general direction of her apartment, another lonely weekend, and the Ross Dress for
Less in Silver Spring, Maryland, Molder’s shouts echoing behind her in paranoid recrimination:
“Not if I’m invisible, you won’t ‘see me’ on Monday!… I’ll fax you from Mars!… The truth is out there!”
Meanwhile, just a stone’s throw away, in a little covert backroom in FBI headquarters, a secret meeting was in progress. The men who were present
were not among those one ever saw on the six o’clock news. They were the ones who, in the event of the warning of an incoming nuclear attack,
already had all the reserved seats in the first string of mining cars that would rollercoaster from the basement of the White House down into the
bowels of the earth.
Now they sat silently as one of their number finished reading from the minutes of the last meeting.
“… hybrid human/alien offspring again scoring 20% higher on both the math and the verbal; except in California, where, like their human
counterparts, the hybrids are still trailing the nation.”
The men around the conference table received this statistic with a grim murmur. Then a voice from the corner of the room said with icy solemnity:
“The next order of business?”
Identical black file folders labeled “ENTERTAINMENT,” each banded with a white seal marked “TOP SECRET,” were distributed around the
table. The seals were broken, and the files opened.
The man who was sitting kind of rudely with his back to the conference table in a comfy chair in a corner of the room now drew deeply on his
cigarette; slowly, admiringly, he exhaled an insidious stream of second-hand smoke. The one Molder referred to as That Cancer Guy addressed the
“Let us consider the matter of Travolta.”
The men around the conference table quietly turned to the appropriate documents. ThatCancer Guy puffed again on his cigarette, then inclined his
gaze toward the ceiling.
“The resurrection of Travolta has been a useful image,” said That Cancer Guy, “to the worker ants of the global village…” Another drag on his
cigarette. “Yet in some quarters it is felt that the magnitude of his comeback strains credibility… Continued support of this one-time ‘Barbarino’
may put us in danger of exposure… It just may be, gentlemen, that Mr. Travolta has become a liability…”
Before a single word could be said in regard to what measures would have to be taken, the knob on the door of this little covert backroom in FBI
headquarters began to jiggle. Instantly, meaningfully, That Cancer Guy glanced over his shoulder at the men around the table, and cleared his
throat. When the door opened, there was utter silence, of the kind one associates with the dropping of a lead balloon. It was FBI Assistant
Director Skinhead. For a moment, the chrome-domed, ex-Marine-turned-bureaucrat with the perpetually gritted teeth stood in the doorway with a
nervous, apologetic air. Finally, he shrugged and shambled over to a storage cabinet, where he proceeded to make a racket looking for something
while That Cancer Guy smoked, foot tapping impatiently. After what seemed like several administrations, Assistant Director Skinhead found what
he was looking for. He closed the storage cabinet – several times, until it finally stayed closed – and then he shambled back to the door. There he
stopped, and turned back toward That Cancer Guy. With perpetually gritted teeth, Skinhead grimaced and shrugged.
Teeth gritted, he shrugged again, then slunk out, closing the door behind him.
That Cancer Guy blew a long, weary stream of smoke and was about to speak. The door opened again.
It was the Assistant Director again.
“Since it looks like you’ll be staying late… uh, if you want, uh… I can take your sandwich orders—“
“That won’t be necessary, Wally,” said That Cancer Guy.
That Cancer Guy smiled an icy smile.
Teeth gritted, the Assistant Director shrugged again, bowed a little, Chinese-style, and closed the door behind him.
That Cancer Guy lit up a fresh cigarette. When the door still hadn’t opened again, he said: “Where were we?”
“’It just may be, gentlemen, that Mr. Travolta has become a liability,’” repeated the reader of the minutes.
“Oh, yes,” said That Cancer Guy. “Let us return later to that delicate matter. There are more pressing issues. Such as Pitt and Jolie… Their
marriage has served us well…” That Cancer Guy marveled as the end of his cigarette retained a precarious length of ash. “Their divorce will be
messy… Angie will be seen with Vince Vaughn; become engaged to Val Kilmer; then remarry Brad – I see… the year 2011… Let’s say, a June
wedding…” Reveling in the power, he blew a series of smoke rings.
“Now, as for that unfortunate business known to us as Colin Farrell -- we have, perhaps,
made a slight miscalculation… One that we can move to rectify shortly…” A long, hissing drag on his cigarette. “In just a few hours – at 6:05 A.
M., London time – Colin Farrell will board a commercial jetliner at Heathrow Airport bound for New York City…” His cigarette smoke hung in
the air. “Just imagine… if this plane were never to land…”
All around the conference table, heads nodded in somber affirmation. A brief strategy session followed, in which such officially denied concepts as
“wormhole” and “mother ship” figured prominently.
Maybe That Cancer Guy could smoke his dinner, but the men who ran it all were getting hungry. The continuing slow indoctrination of the
industrialized world into the acceptance of
Jim Carrey as a serious Shakespearean actor would have to wait till next they met; that would definitely take some more planning. For now, they
were content to adjourn for the week with the settling of the Travolta matter.
“It is time to shut down the operation…” That Cancer Guy blew an enormous cloud of smoke. “There is just… too much ‘buzz’… Starting on
Monday… Paul Giamatti will get all the good scripts… Sideways…,” puffed That Cancer Guy, “… has served its purpose… Now, Giamatti has
potential… as a pawn… in the larger game…
“As for Mr. Travolta…”
That Cancer Guy took one final, sucking drag on the glowing butt between his fingers, then ground it into the ashtray with terminal force.
“… he is no longer Hot.”
On an unseasonably chilly Friday evening one week later, in an unashamedly affluent, unnamed residential area in Southern California, the last rays
of the setting sun flashed, almost like some sort of Navy signal, off the windows of the home of John Travolta. A few minutes more, and the
cloak of night had spread over the house, the resulting nocturnal scene suggesting an image of tranquil contentment quite at odds with the illusion
that someone within had been signaling in distress. It was not until after midnight, when all the members of his family were finally tucked away
snug in their beds, that the unshaven, bathrobed figure appeared behind one of the living-room windows, and furtively affixed to the glass two
long, white pieces of tape, forming an “X.”
They met, as usual, in the nearest underground parking garage in the neighborhood. And, as usual, the meeting began with Travolta throwing his
only possible savior up against the wall.
“I told you not to contact me again!” hissed the black, trenchcoated agent with the salt-and-pepper beard and the furious temper, the successor to
Deep Throat whom everyone who knew him had come to think of as Angry Deep Throat. It had never occurred to anyone that if they stopped
throwing him up against the wall, he might not be so angry.
But right now Travolta had bigger problems.
“Like, I don’t git it!… I really don’t!” Travolta had him by the collar, but it was the actor who was in a cold sweat. “For a solid week, I ain’t seen
nothin’ but solid offers for films I wouldn’ta made in da eighties! I’m talkin’ Tom Arnold buddy movies – like, what’s dat all about? So now,
like, I’m thinkin’, WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL DA GOOD SCRIPTS?!”
“They’re gone! They never existed!” hissed Angry Deep Throat. “Hot streak’s over –‘Chili’!… This is your last warning: Just take your money –
and your magazine covers – AND
“Like, I really don’t git it!… You sayin’ there’s some guys, some powerful guys, got nothin’ better to do than to sit in some little, like, covert
backroom somewhere, deciding Who’s
Hot and Who’s Not?!”
“You have no i-de-a!”
“I really don’t git it… I simply do not,” moaned Travolta, his hands going limp and falling away from the vicinity of the neck of Angry Deep
Throat. The agent stalked off into the shadows of the underground parking garage, then turned abruptly and called out from below the
“There are others… Two who may help you, where I will not… Who will always give one hundred percent… Agents Molder and Skully.”
And with that, Angry Deep Throat was gone.
Like, good riddance, thought Travolta. Like, bon voyage. Like, who needed ‘im? But
ol’ Angry was probably right about one thing: If Travolta was gonna stay Hot, he would need new agents – like this Molder and Skully. Couldn’t
place the names, though: a coupla Yuppie puppies with stolen Rolodexes from one of the Big Three, am I right? Same old: just opened some little
boutique-schmoutique agency in Santa Monica? But hey – what the hell – if he got to keep one hundred percent…
As Travolta walked into the night, the silent stars twinkling above, it all sounded good…as far as it went. Yes, he would put a call in to the agents
tomorrow, this Molder-Skully, but never forgetting the one rule you always kept uppermost in the dark, forbidding sky in your mind’s eye after
over twenty-five years in the entertainment capital of Hollywood:
Trust no one.