"Mulder, It's Me" by Stuart Buck

When I was 14 I bought a photo of David Duchovny reclining nude on a kitchen counter. It was signed D. Duchovny but to me it was F. Mulder. I grew up watching the X Files. Every Sunday night at ten I would wait nervously on the sofa with my parents. The deal was this; I could watch any episodes that didn’t have a content warning beforehand. By nine o’clock I was a mess. I yearned for this show. I had to see the two most important people in my life, battling their own demons as well as the literal monsters. The split was about seventy/thirty in favour of me being able to stay up until eleven and watch. But every now and then that dreaded female voice would come on and tell my parents that ‘the following programme contains scenes that may not be suitable for a younger audience’ or ‘the following programme contains violent scenes’.

Then came my thirteenth birthday and a plethora of merchandise. T-shirts, folders, a hat. A HAT! But the best present of all was my parents ignoring the content warnings. One particular episode about two weeks after my birthday, called Home, was particularly disturbing. The content warning read something like ‘strong scenes of distressing violence’. I froze on the sofa. Would I be sent upstairs? The programme began and I was still sat down. I turned to my dad, who just smiled and carried on watching.

A breakthrough! A beautiful breakthrough. The episode was horrendous by the way, all buried babies and limbless incest. Awful dreams followed. But that is another story.

Contained in my birthday merchandise was a small red catalogue with an alien on the front. It was the merchandise list for one of the companies that my parents had used to buy me my t-shirt. This was before the internet, so these lists were your number one way to find stuff you just HAD to have. The list was fairly standard stuff with a few put it together yourself style models of some of the monsters from the show, an extensive range of t-shirts and videos, books and companions to accompany everyone’s favourite agents.  Towards the back however the list took a turn for the esoteric. Scripts signed by minor players on the crew. A few comic books, a few signed photos. And there, right at the back, were two listings that made my heart race.

1624000 – Signed Nude Photo D. DUCHOVNY

16240001 – Signed Nude Photo G. ANDERSON

I had to read through it a few times to be sure, but it definitely said nude.

Nude photo.

Of D. DUCHOVNY.

Who was Fox Mulder.

And of G. ANDERSON.

Who was Dana Scully.

From The X Files.

My show.

I still had birthday money from my grandparents and the back page of the catalogue was a cut out form for ordering via post, so I stole an envelope and a stamp from my parents and hid them under my pillow. Now came the big question. David or Gillian? Fox or Dana?

I wasn’t gay. I had had tender moments with both girls and boys so far (tender moments for a fourteen year old back then was a kiss, a cuddle, a lingering hand where it maybe shouldn’t have been) but I was straight as far as I knew.

So why did I not just order the G. ANDERSON nude reclining photo and be done with it. Why was the envelope and stamp still under my pillow three weeks later, three episodes later?

I wrestled at night with the decision. I was fourteen so masturbation was relatively new to me, but I was quickly becoming an expert through persistence. I tried to imagine both pictures.

There was Scully. A monolith of common sense but blind to what everyone else could clearly see. There were her curves, soft cloud like skin that I had only peeked at before. There was her strawberry blonde hair, the way she pushed it back when Mulder annoyed her. She was the girls at school, the sweet fruit scents of perfume, the short skirts and the unattainable touch of their skin.

Then there was Mulder himself. There was his square jaw, his boyish good looks, his blind faith and his love for his sister. There was his hairy chest (it had to be hairy right?) and the soft path down to his whispered secret. He was the boys at school. The roll on deodorant, the sports socks, the loose shirts and the filthy language.

I didn’t imagine any sort of genitalia for either of them. They were Ken and Barbie, smooth and plastic down below. I don’t think I really understood what was down there anyway, my masturbatory fantasies were created by my slightly autistic mind, kissing the shoes of the class bully, being naked in front of my friends.

The decision didn’t come. I spent weeks trying to decide. I would look at my male friends and pretend they were Fox. Would I place my hand upon them? Would the roughness of their kiss make me happier than the soft, delicate tongue of the girls? I could taste their breath, the boys all mint and testosterone, the girls full of Juicy Fruit and a slight blossoming.

I briefly thought about buying both. Having both naked bodies pressed against me at night while my parents slept soundly next door, unaware of their child’s transformation. To them I was flat, grey and ignorant of everything except what was directly in front of me. But inside I was flourishing, a multi-coloured explosion of wet, silky confusion.

The dream I had a few days later won me over. I was investigating a haunted house with Fox, but I wasn’t me. I was Dana Scully I was no longer skeptical. I was scared. Terrified. But I believed you Fox. At last I believed you. I believed in the unexplained. I believed in the fantastical. At last I believed. The house was indeed haunted. As the dream came to a close and the credits rolled, you held me while I wept.

I woke with a familiar warmth between my legs and walked to the post-box in the darkness.