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Who Did Sin

by cgb

     Subject: New (XF): Who Did Sin (PG-13)
     Date: Saturday, May 17, 2003 1:49 PM

     Title: Who Did Sin
     Author: cgb (
     Fandom: X-Files
     Category: V. Other character.
     Archive: Gossamer, etc
     Rating: PG-13
     Summary: "There are those who say she's difficult." A short
     story about Marty Glenn from "Minds Eyes" (Season 5).

At first it's nothing more than a mass of light and reflection, a stark contrast to the dull greys and dark corners she has become used to. This is all she understands about image: light and dark, corners and bends, the various hues of colours she can't put names to. It might as well be noise. She doesn't know what it is, but it seems familiar. It might be a memory, or an hallucination, because there really isn't certainty to the visions. She's pretty sure she's never been with him when he dreams and she thanks God or whichever bastard is in charge for that. She takes note of the movements of light patterns and the texture of the ground beneath him and she realises it's the ocean, it's the freaking ocean.

The experience is fleeting. He doesn't care about the ocean and he doesn't stay long.

The Baylor librarian tells her she's not the only blind prison inmate in the US. "You're not even the only one in Delaware," she says.

The librarian's name is Dorothy but she insists on being called Dottie. Marty finds her amiable and quick-witted, a long way from living up to her name. Dottie arranges Braille books to be sent from a prison in Boston so that Marty can spend her time in prison "rehabilitating through the power of literature".

"Yeah? Then why are the books coming from Boston?"

"Apparently the guy in Sussex doesn't read much."

"What'd he do?" Marty asks.

"Fraud," the librarian says. "He's a con-artist."

She asks for "War and Peace". She's not sure she wants to read it, not even sure what it's about, but she's heard it's a big book and she's betting it's even bigger in Braille. Dottie will have a fit.

"Did you know that Delaware has the fifth highest incarceration rate in the country?"

"We do our best," Dottie says. The library cart squeaks in its casters as it's wheeled out of Marty's cell. It sounds like a small animal, something rodent-like. Tomorrow is Saturday and Dottie doesn't do rounds on the weekend so it will be three days before she visits again. It's a long time to go without conversation.

Inmates are supposed to have family visit on the weekend. For those without family there are various prison outreach volunteers who are willing to listen to a desperate convict in need of an ear. She hopes she never gets desperate.

She meets Emma like this only it's Emma who exhibits all the signs of desperation. She instigates contact with Marty, asks her is she would like someone to read to her.

"You gotta be kidding me, " she answers.

"I - I just thought..." Emma is with a church group. There are several and Marty forgets which one Emma belongs to. She doesn't sound very old. Possibly in her twenties. Probably hasn't been doing this for long.

"You think I can't read?"

"No... no, I was just..."

There are those who say she's difficult. There's a woman two cells down who has screaming fits and a woman in Cell Block D who has narcolepsy and is prone to falling asleep in the shower, but they say she's difficult because she should be grateful they're all trying so hard to help the poor little blind girl out.

The poor little blind murderer. Funny how quickly that tag falls off the end.

Two weeks later Emma brings her a small stereo. It's the size of a basketball and box-like in shape. She's not good at 'thank yous' no matter how grateful she is so she rewards Emma with conversation. "So Emma, you've read the bible, right?"

"Yes." Emma sounds wary.

"Well there's a story in the bible about Jesus healing a man who is blind from birth, isn't there?"


"Jesus gives him some mud to rub in his eyes?"

"Ahm." She hears Emma shift her position. "I think that's how it goes."

Marty smiles, tries to set Emma at ease. "I like that story."

"Oh." Emma is relieved "Of course you do."

"Yeah. If you believe enough it just might happen, right?"

"Anything is possible in the Lord," Emma says.

Sometimes you don't even have to believe. Lazarus was dead. How could he have faith in anything other than his own oblivion? Still, there are probably blind people out there who deserve the gift of sight more than she does. They're been praying for it.

The next week Emma brings her a Braille bible with the story about the blind woman bookmarked. She never reads it and she sends it to the guy in Sussex when she is released.

She really is difficult but she doesn't have anything else.


Her parole officer has just seen her file. He tells her he's never met a blind murderer before. She tells him she's never met a parole officer before and he laughs. It's a forced laugh. She makes him nervous.

"No one thinks you're a flight risk," he tells her. He leafs through her files and "mmms" occasionally. "The FBI agent on your case was unavailable for comment during your parole hearing - it's a shame because he spoke very highly of you."

"They told me," she says. She wonders what happened to him. He smelt like leather and aftershave and his partner smelt like soap. It was weird having someone believe her.

"Do you have somewhere to live?"

"The outreach programme is working on it."

Blind people don't see. This is the crux of the matter. She's special and she should be impressed by that. It should make her believe or something. Believe in something.

Instead she can't help thinking of her parole officer and the way he's wishing he didn't have to do this to a blind woman.

The sound of footsteps on parquetry is unmistakable. It says 1973 in spite of the newly installed security system and the sound of rap music coming from the first floor. A sighted person would tell her that buildings from the 1970s look a certain way but they'd probably be surprised to know they have a particular sound too.

The super wears hard heeled shoes so she says, "'Morning Darryl" and smiles at the surprised silence that follows.

"Good morning, Miss Glenn," he says, eventually. He follows her into the lift and says, "blocked drain in 68".

He's friendly in that overly congenial fashion. The kind of guy that says, "how about this heat?" and "cold out today"; a propensity to state the obvious in an effort to make conversation. She hates making conversation but she's softened a little since they let her out of jail. These days she knows how to let things go.

She's not without her sense of humour, though. She chooses this encounter to tell him about her stint in prison.

He reacts suitably intrigued. "Yeah? What the hell did you do?"

He's really saying, "what could you do?" She takes way too much pleasure in telling him. "I killed a guy."

He laughs. She should have known he'd laugh.

"You don't have to believe me."

"I don't."


The lift stops at the sixth floor. It's his floor. He's halfway out the lift when he turns around. "All right, how did you do it?"

"I shot him."

He laughs again. "Right," he says.

"You don't need to see someone to shoot them."

"No," he says. "But it helps."

He steps out the lift. It closes and continues its climb up to the 11th floor.

It doesn't bother her that he doesn't believe her and she doesn't really want to be seen as a murderer.

And the point is difficult to make. How would she tell him? How would she tell anyone beyond that strangely intense FBI Agent with the exasperated partner?

She didn't need her sight to shoot him. She had his. She could see herself, see the gun, see it pointing right at him. It's not a story she gives up easily.

She hears the lift open, steps outside and bangs her cane against the wall until she's counted two doors and she's on the third: hers. The apartment is quiet. The windows are covered by curtains, which came with the flat, and she draws them open so that she can lean a hand against the glass. They tell her you can see the ocean from the eleventh floor.

The memory is fading. She tries to imbue it with her own recollections. She gives it the feel of sand beneath her fingers and the sound of the waves as they break on the shore, but it's a pastiche of different experiences, no longer reliable.

She takes her hand off the glass and draws curtains again.

She doesn't miss sight because it was only pretty once and even then she didn't know how to make the distinction between the shifting light and shadow and the ocean she held in her imagination. The images have far to go before they catch up with the world as she knows it.

Still, she wishes she could have seen the bastard's face when she shot him.


"Teacher, who did sin that this man was born blind? Was it his sin or his parents?" (John, 9:2)

This is a great episode of the X-Files and a great character. All props to Lily Taylor and Tim Minnear: love your work.


"We're a package. Love me, love MacGyver" Selma (The Simpsons)

If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to cgb

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