Rent Money

Title: Rent Money

Author: Everly Dawn



Feedback: Yes!

Status: Stand Alone

Category: Gen, Humor

Rating: PG  (some language)

Summary: Just how far would Langly go for the rent money?.

Archive: Ask me

Disclaimers:  As always the characters aren’t mind, just the twisted scenes, situations and ideas.  I don’t do this for profit only amusement.  No copyright violations intended.


From across the room Frohike could hear Byers grumbling under his breath.  It was that time of the year again.  John would sit for hours on end sorting out their finances.  Byers really didn’t like letting them sit unattended for so long but most times he didn’t have time to deal with them as often as he should.  Needless to say, when he finally did make himself sit down and do it, there was enough to keep him busy for a few days.

“What’s wrong John?  Are we bankrupt?”  Frohike said over the rim of his glasses.

“Not yet, but close.”

“Ah.  We’ll be okay, we always scrape by.”

Byers sighed.  “Yeah Mel, I know, but for once it would be nice to see a number that’s settled a little less precariously to the negative end of the budget don’t ya think?”

Frohike grinned at Byers.  He was glad to have Byers dealing with the money.  Those kinds of things always got his blood pressure boiling.  And he sure as hell didn’t want Langly doing it, that boy would probably have them homeless he thought.

“So, how long do we need to work to save up enough this time?”


“Hey guys!”  Langly said as he came in the room.

“About time you got up.”

“Shut up Fro.  I was up late last night fixing something for you.  The least you could do is give me a break on sleepin’ in.”

“Langly, I’m glad your up,” Byers said--getting to the point, “we need to talk about finding jobs again.  We’re dangerously low on funds.”

“That’s cool.  I can find a couple odd things, there’s always people who need their computers fixed.”

“Well, I’m afraid we’re in need of a little more money than those kind of jobs can produce.”

Frohike stopped typing and looked up.  “We’re in that deep huh?”

“Unfortunately, yes I think we are.  I’ve paid all the immediate bills, but there are a few more minor ones we still need to pay such as the rent for next month.  We’re finally caught up and I don’t think we should miss another payment for a while.  The money just isn’t there.”

Langly smiled and flopped down into one of the desk chairs--his demeanor apparently as laidback as his posture. “No, problem guys.  Frohike has connections.  If I know you,” he said while gesturing at Byers, “you have a few things lined up already just waiting for a situation like this, and I have a job from way back that pays the big bucks.  I don’t like doing it all that much but I left on good terms with the guy who got me started and kept contacts.  I’ve worked a few times since I’ve known you guys so I know I’m welcome back anytime.”

“What kind of a job is this Langly?” Byers asked, cutting him off.

It surprised Byers to find out Langly had a job that would pay “big money” as he put it and he hadn’t mentioned it before.

“Ummm, it’s just a job.  I’d rather not talk about it.”

“Langy…” Frohike inquired.

“Just leave it alone Fro, I don’t want to talk about it.”

Langly’s once lax appearance and carefree mood was becoming stiffer by the second.  Frohike knew it was pointless to continue interrogating him for right now.

“Alright, Alright…sorry.”  Frohike said defensively.

Langly walked over to stand beside Byers.  “So, how long till we have to pay up?”

“About a month.”

“Piece of cake.  Just let me make a few phone calls.  I’ll have us hooked up in a couple of days.”


A few weeks passed and no phone calls for him. Langly was worried.  Maybe he’d been out of the loop too long.  He’d never waited for a call before.  Usually he’d get the word out he was in business again and the phone would ring off the hook.  He was getting older he thought, and most of the people he used to do jobs for had moved out of the area.  Finally, while he was thinking about all of that and much to Langly’s relief, the phone rang late in the evening.  Byers reached to answer it.

“Lone Gunmen newspaper group; Byers speaking.”

“Ah, yeah.”  The man on the other end of the line said.  “I was given this number a year or two ago for a friend of mine.  His name’s Richard but he usually goes by Ringo…does he still live here?”

“Yes he does, who may I say is calling?”

“Oh, I’m…an old friend.  Tell him its Phil.  He’ll know who it is.”

“Sure, hold on just a minute while I go get him.”

Byers walked into the other room, “ Langly the phone is for you.  Some guy named Phil? He said…”

Langly cut him off.  “Phil!!  Oh my gosh, I haven’t talked to him in years!”

He picked up the phone with enthusiasm and spoke to his friend.  Meanwhile, Byers, being curious, listened in on the conversation from across the room…

“How are you buddy?  I haven’t talked to you in a long time.”  Langly said to the man on the other end of the line. 

John listened intently as a scene unfolded in his mind.  Langly’s words painted a picture John wasn’t sure he could believe.


Yeah, yeah sure, I still do that.  I put in a few calls a couple of weeks ago.

Well, it’s been a while but I guess you never really lose it.  If ya got it then ya got it, know what I mean? 

Lately it’s just been when I need a little extra cash.  With the rent and some other bills coming up soon I started calling around to say I was in the business again, but I didn’t think it would make it the whole way out to you already! 

Oh, I see.  You moved.  Where to? 

Really!  Wow, so you’re like, in town.  You wouldn’t happen to be calling because you have some work for me would ya? 

That would be great!  You don’t know how great that is!  I was startin to wonder if I’d been away too long.

Yeah, I haven’t had a call for over a week.

I know I know, I was amazed too…seems like just yesterday when I had to take the phone off the hook at night just so I could get some sleep!

I’d love to work for you again.  You always were my favorite customer, especially when I’d been out of practice for a while.  You understand how hard it is to get back in the groove of things.

Money can be negotiated.  It all depends on what you’re going to want me to do and how long you’ll need me to stick around.  Depending on what stuff I’ll need it might take a little time to find the stuff.


Ummm, how many people are we talking here?

Oh, okay.  Three or four is fine. I was just making sure there weren’t going to be a whole lot.  You know I get embarrassed sometimes when I have to do all that showy stuff in front of more than a few people…I do have an image to keep. 

Alright, I guess we should talk about exactly what kind of song and dance you’re gonna want…Then we’ll figure out how much it’ll cost.


Mmmhm, oh yeah that would be nice.

No way man, I don’t think I can do that!  I’m way too out of practice.  I wouldn’t want to risk it.  How about the…

Yeah, you read my mind!  Man, this is great!  Even after all these years we’re still on the same page huh?

Well, I learned from the best!

How long is this thing gonna take?

Uh, sorry dude, but thanks for the invite.  As much as I’d love to indulge, I really should come back here after. I can stay for a little while but I can’t stay all night, I’ve got stuff that needs to be done here.

So that’s about four hours, and one special request, with the stuff I’ll need and my going rate estimated into that…I’m lookin’ at like five hundred bucks.  Does that sound reasonable to you?

Well, I guess it’s all set then.  Oh, Wait!  I just thought of something, what am I supposed to wear?  You know what they say…the presentation isn’t complete without the correct attire.

Yeah, I still have it.  Are you sure you wouldn’t rather me wear something else?

No, I didn’t think so.  It figures…you always did like me in that kinda get up.  But I’m gonna have to charge you another fifty if I’m wearing that!

You’re lucky I’m even agreeing to it!  You know how much I hate wearing stuff like that. 

K, then you’re total comes to five hundred and fifty bucks. 

Sure I’ll take a check, I’m not picky, just as long as I get paid. 

I know I don’t have to worry about that with you, but some people…I don’t even know what to do with them, it makes me sick how they take advantage.  I mean really I’m doing them a favor!  But anyway man…I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that.  You’ve probably dealt with way more scumbags than I have.

Nah, don’t need any up front.  I’m not so broke I can’t cover for what we’ll need.

Yeah, thanks again for calling me.  You’re literally keeping me under a roof!

So, I’ll see you at your place around eight to get everything set up?

All right, just a minute, lemme get a piece of paper so I can write that down.

713 Moon Ave.   Okay, I’ll be there.

Talk to ya later.



As Langly hung up Byers tried to look like he hadn’t been listening but it was obvious he had.

“You know, you really shouldn’t get in the habit of listening to other people’s conversations,” Langly said with a grin.

Byers looked at him with concern, “Is there anything you’d like to talk to me about?”

“No not really…why?”

“Alright, that’s your decision.”

“What the hell are you talkin’ about Byers?”

“Nothing, forget I said it.”

“Fine with me.”  He said as he tromped out of the room.

Byers sat there for a while and tried to make sense of what he heard.  I have to be misunderstanding this.  What is he up to?


Langly had been wired all day.  Tonight was the night he was going to do…whatever it was he had planned on the phone that day with the mysterious friend Phil.  The blonde haired ball of energy had gotten up bright and early that morning and announced he needed to go shopping and he’d be back in a few hours.  Both gunmen looked at him like he’d sprouted another head.  Langly?  Going shopping?  What the hell?

Langly came in the door a few hours later with a couple of bags in each hand.  He set the majority of them on the floor of the workroom but took another one up to his room. 

Byers and Frohike, who were both very curious about what was going on with their friend stared at one another and then at the bags sitting temptingly open on the other side of the room.  All they had to do was walk by, they were open, it wasn’t their fault if they accidentally glanced in… 

Surprisingly, Byers was the first one to get up and look, but he didn’t hide his disgust of what he was doing.

“This is ridiculous,” he said while peering into the bags, but not getting a good look at what was in them.  “We should just ask him…”

“Ask me what?”  Langly said--rounding the corner with his arms crossed accusingly. 

“Ah…about…ummm…well, that is….”

“About what the hell you’re up to lately.”  Frohike replied, not deterred by Langly’s attempt to intimidate them. 

“Why don’t you mind your own fucking business Frohike?  I don’t know why you guys are so interested in my personal life all of a sudden.” 

Personal life?  Both of them looked at Langly once again as if he had sprouted an unneeded appendage, head or otherwise.  When had he ever had a personal life? 

Langly didn’t give them a second thought.  Instead he took the other three bags up to his room where they wouldn’t be so accessible to prying eyes.  Once back downstairs he took to amusing himself with work.  It was almost 5 when he looked at the clock.

“Hey guys I need to take a shower and get ready.  One of you want to spring for supper so I can eat before I go?”

“I believe it’s my turn for take out, how does Italian sound?” Byers chimed in. 

“Sounds good to me.  Fro?”

Frohike was still a little in wonder at what was going on but he managed a reply of “Yeah, sounds good.”

“Okay, great.  Thanks Byers.  I’ll be down in 20 minutes.” 

Byers took his time.  He knew from ten years of living with the man, 20 minutes in the shower for Langly was closer to 30.  He had plenty of time to phone in the order and pick it up before Langly would be ready to eat.

“I’ll be back in a little bit.” Byers said to Frohike as he left to pick up the food.  Sure enough 35 minutes later, when Byers walked in the door with the food, Langly still wasn’t downstairs yet. 

Byers walked up the stairs to tell Langly the food was there but he was stopped short when he saw Langly through the small crack in the door frame.  The tall blonde was standing in front of the full-length mirror in Byers’ room.  It looked as if he was trying to decide where to attach a strap of some kind.  Byers stepped a little closer to get a better look at his friend.  That’s when he realized Langly was wearing a tux…and not just any tux, a really nice tux.  The coat lay neatly on John’s bed with the tails draped smoothly over the edge.  Why is he wearing that.  Byers thought.  This was just too weird.  In all the years of knowing him, John had only ever known his friend to wear a tie once!  And that was for his fathers’ funeral.  What in the world would he be wearing a tuxedo for? 

While Byers continued to watch he heard a muffled, “Damn” come from Langly.  Apparently he wasn’t having much luck with the bow tie.  John could sympathize, they weren’t easy to get right, especially if you weren’t used to doing in yourself.  Cautiously he slid the door open and stopped when he saw Langly stiffen and turn around slowly.  John could see the look of embarrassment on his face and he felt bad that Langly felt so self-conscious around him.  He’d have to work on that, he thought. 

“Do you need some help?”  John asked sincerely.

“Yeah, I can’t get the damn thing right.  I haven’t done this in years.” 

Byers stepped up to Langly and untied the tangled mess he was trying to pass off as a bowtie.

“Tell you what,” he said, “why don’t you just use one of mine?  They clip in the back; you don’t have to worry about tying them.  It’s a lot more comfortable than these old nooses.”

“Ah…thanks Byers, that’s nice of you.”

“Don’t mention it.  I just want to know what the hell is going on?”

“What?  I look like an idiot don’t I?”

“No Langly, on the contrary, you look amazingly handsome.  I’ve never seen you so dressed up though.  It took a bribe to get you to even where a tie to my fathers funeral!  I’m wondering what it is that would get you to dress like this!”

Langly looked at his friend.  He knew Byers didn’t mean any harm, but there were just some things he didn’t feel comfortable telling him, this being one of them.  “Look, it’s nothing dangerous, I just uh, have some obligations to fill.”  Then with a shrug of his shoulders, “I don’t really like doing it but it’s a job you know?  And I’m good at it.”

Byers understood that was all he was going to get out of him and rose to leave.  “Anything else you need help with?” 

“No, I think I’ve got everything else in place.  I look alright?”  He made a small circle to let Byers inspect him.

“Yeah Langly, you look…great.”

Then with an almost total change of mood…”Thanks, is the food here yet?”

The switch of demeanor took John aback and it was a few seconds before he regained his train of thought.  “Uh, yeah, that’s actually what I came up here for.”

Langly gave a humorous grin and bowed slightly indicating with a flourish of his hand for Byers to go out the door before him.  John couldn’t help but snort at the spontaneous comedy.  As they walked into the kitchen Byers had his eye on Frohike who wasn’t paying any attention.  He was too busy eating his food.

“It’s about time you two came down here.  The foods getting cold.” 

Just then he lifted his head to look at them.  The look that passed over his face was only paled in humor to his reaction, which was to drop a forkful of spaghetti into his lap, fork and all.

“Shit,” he said while trying to clean up the mess.  “What the hell are you wearing that for?” 

“It’s part of the job.” Langly replied calmly, not even cracking a smile.  “Plus I get an extra fifty bucks if I wear it.”  Then almost as an after thought he mumbled, “I won’t be wearing it all that long anyway.”  The comment was lost on Frohike who was busy cleaning tomato sauce from the crotch of his pants but elicited a wide eyed look from Byers, although he didn’t let Langly see it. 

They ate in silence for the rest of the meal.  Langly was careful not to get anything on him, he wasn’t about to screw this up with a non-professional appearance.  Sure his clients were going to be drunk off their asses about a half hour into the thing but that first half hour could make or break him.  He needed to keep a good look about him.

After finishing his sandwich, he rose from the table and went to get the bags from his room.  When he came back downstairs Frohike was doing the dishes and Byers was standing near the door looking worried.  As Langly approached him he could see the look of concern in his eyes become more pronounced until Byers reached out a hand and placed it on Langly’s shoulder.

“I don’t know what you’re doing, and it isn’t my place to pry, but whatever it is, please be careful.  I know you feel very strongly about putting in your fair share of the work and the rent but I don’t want you to think that you have to do anything you don’t want to do just for the rent money.  It wouldn’t be a terrible thing to not have it once and a while, we’d understand.”

Langly stopped Byers’ nervous rambling with a shake of his head and a chuckle.

“What?” Byers asked.

“I don’t know what you think I’m doing, but I assure you I’ll be ok.  I’ve done this before and I know what I’m doing.  Sure I might be out of practice, and Frohike teases me about it enough but I really do know what I’m doing.  I’ll be fine Byers, thanks for caring though.  Its kind of touching actually, you meeting me at the door like this.  Now, if you don’t mind…”

Byers stepped aside and opened the door.  He watched as Langly put the bags in the back, took his coat off, draped it over the passengers seat and got in the other side.  As he drove away, Byers took a deep breath and turned around to see Frohike looking at him with a worried expression he’d never seen before.


Langly walked in the door exhausted.  All he wanted to do was go to bed.  He was tired but strangely happy, however hard he had worked, he did have to admit he’d enjoyed himself nonetheless. 

He walked into the other room where he found Byers and Frohike sitting watching TV. 

“Awww, isn’t that sweet,” Langly mocked, “grandpa and daddy waited up for me.  You shouldn’t have.” 

Flopping down on the couch he looked at the television screen, noting they were watching the evening news. 

“We didn’t wait up for you shit head.  We’re watching the fucking news.”  Frohike said in playful annoyance.  Frohike gave a cursory glance over at the couch.  Langly was sprawled out, looking very tired but there was something in his eyes that he hadn’t see there for a long time.  It was almost…what was it he was trying to think of…almost satisfaction.  Pushing that aside he noticed the first few buttons of Langly’s shirt were undone and his shirt tails were half pulled out of the waist bad of his pants—a far cry form the dapper image that left earlier that night.  “You look like crap Langly, what have you been doing all night?”

“Oh, this and that.”  Langly said evasively.

Looking down at his shirt, Langly remembered the incident that happened earlier in the evening.  It had caused a few of the buttons of his dress shirt to be pulled free.  “Byers, could you do me a favor?” he asked.  “I need you to sew a few buttons back on my shirt.  They got pulled off earlier.”

“Sure just hand me the stuff and I’ll do it right here,” he replied.

Langly got up from the couch and took his shirt off.  As he handed it to Byers, the older man stared in surprise at the long angry looking slash across Langly’s shoulder blade. 

“God, Langly, what happened to you?  Where did that come from?  WHAT did that come from?” 

Langly frowned at his friend in confusion for a few moments before he realized what Byers was talking about.  “Oh, yeah, it was an accident.  She didn’t mean to leave a mark.  It’s alright, probably won’t even be able to see it in a few days.”

Byers and Frohike stared at Langly in disbelief.  They now couldn’t let it go any longer, they had to know what was going on--why Langly came home with buttons missing and mysterious slashes on his skin.  And why he wouldn’t tell them what was going on in the first place.

“Langly,” Frohike began, “you’re really starting to freak me out now.  What the hell is going on because if you’re putting yourself in some kind of danger…god help me I’ll kill you myself.” 

Langly stood there, bare-chested and vulnerable.  He suddenly felt dizzy; he didn’t want to talk about it.  He didn’t want to tell them what he was doing.  It was supposed to be his secret, it wasn’t that he didn’t trust them…it was just…just…he didn’t want to explain, and he shouldn’t have to explain!  “I’m not doing this…there’s nothing wrong.  I’m fine.  I’m ok.  You don’t have to worry about me…but I really don’t want to talk about it, okay?  Just leave it alone guys, please.”

“No, Langly, it’s not ok.”  Frohike said as he stood up from his chair.  “I want to know why you have a fucking scratch mark the size of Texas on your back, and why you came home looking like someone tried to tear you apart!” 

Panic ram rampant inside Langly’s brain.  It was just like high school and college all rolled into one.  No one would ever think I could do something like this and not have ulterior motives, not even my friends of 10 years.  What if I just liked it?  Was that such a big deal? He thought until his thoughts no longer made any sense and he couldn’t take anymore. “Look, I said I don’t want to talk about it.  Now leave me the fuck alone!” Langly said as he grabbed his shirt and the small sewing kit out of Byers hands and stormed off to his room.  He sat on his bed, shaking, not really knowing why he didn’t just tell them.  It’s not like they’d really expect anything of him once they knew…would they?  They weren’t demanding like that.  As a matter of fact they were just about the most understanding people he’d ever met.  Sure, they made fun of him about stupid things before.  But that was just their way of including him, and he knew they didn’t really mean any of it.  It was just so embarrassing.  Langly had the same problem in college when he first took the job, but back then people made fun of him because they didn’t think a blonde haired computer geek like him could handle himself in the upscale atmosphere he would be expected to work in.  But he was older now, more able to take care of himself…this time he was just worried about looking stupid.  It was actually kind of childish to so desperately want to keep this a secret. 

Downstairs Byers and Frohike stood looking at either with identical looks of astonishment.  How did this get so out of hand?  It all started a few weeks ago with a simple comment and escalated into this!  Langly had a job, a job he had had before, many times by the looks of it and he wasn’t willing to tell Byers or Frohike anything about it.  This was crazy!

Frohike and Byers sat down to talk about some things before approaching Langly again.  He obviously did want to talk about whatever it was he was doing but the other two weren’t sure he should be doing it anyway.  It sounded illegal or dangerous, things none of them were strangers to but the rent money was certainly not that important! 

“So, what do you think is going one here?”  Frohike asked.

Byers raked a hand through his hair.  “I’m not sure.  But it doesn’t seem to be a “normal” job if he puts up that much of a fuss over it.”

“I agree.  You said you overheard a phone conversation he had with…what was his name?  Phil?”

“Yeah, Phil.  I think that’s the guy he was…working for tonight.”

Byers stalled at the “working for” part and Frohike noticed.  “John, what are you thinking?  You do have an idea of what Langly’s doing don’t you?”

“Yes, but I don’t seriously believe Langly would do such a thing!  I know in his time with us he’s done some strange things for money, and with the paper in mind but…”

“John, spit it out.  What the hell do you think he’s doing?”

“Well, I think maybe…he’s…an escort.”

“What?  You think Langly is selling himself…and his services…out to people?” 

“Well, it would explain his panic when we asked him about it, and the tux, and the…well, the large amount of money he arranged on the phone.”

“What kind of money are we talking about here John?”

“About four hundred if I remember correctly.  And you should have heard some of the things he was saying Mel.  I don’t think there is any other way to take this.  He’s a hired escort, and this definitely isn’t the first time he’s done these things.  You remember when he told us he’s known Phil since college, and it was him that got him his first “real job”.  I just wasn’t aware this is what Langly thought was a real job.”

Frohike thought about what Byers had said for a moment then continued.  “Well, I guess we owe him an apology…and a congratulations too.”

“What are you talking about Mel?  You can’t be serious!”

“Well, we have called him a virgin since we met him, and apparently we were dead wrong.  And hey, I didn’t think he had it in him, to tell the truth.  Must be the long hair, some people must find that sexy.”  He said with a resigned shrug of his shoulders.

Byers shook his head in disbelief then rested it in his hands.  “I don’t believe you.  We can’t let him do this!  It’s dangerous!  There are a number of things that could go wrong, even the potential of him being killed…not to mention how illegal it is!  We just can’t let him continue doing this!”

“I guess you’re right.  It really isn’t a good idea, plus I can’t have the blonde geek getting more than me.”



Byers Looked at Frohike disapprovingly before finally moving on.  “The question is now, what do we do?”

“We could go up there and force him to talk to us but then he’d probably just hate us even more.”

“Yeah.  Or just one of us could go so he wouldn’t feel like we’re ganging up on him.  But then again, he still wouldn’t necessarily talk and he might just hate us even more for strategizing.”

“We could go talk to Phil…”  Frohike said, “but damn going behind his back like that is way worse than forcing him to talk to us.  I say we both go up there an make him talk.  It’s for his own good, he’ll jus have to get over it.”

“I don’t know Mel.  He’s been doing this for a long time, and he seems pretty touchy about it.”

“Look,” Frohike started, “this is the only way I can think of that would be able to be considered friend to friend concern.  Any other way and he’ll suspect us of not trusting him.  So what do ya say?  Are we goin’ up there or not?”

Byers looked up from the floor.  “Yeah, we’re going.  Just give me a few seconds.”

John walked into the kitchen to get some water.  It was suddenly so hot in the room he didn’t think he could stand it.  Something about going up there just didn’t seem right, but it was the only plausible course of action.  Frohike was right, any other way and it would look as if they didn’t trust Langly to tell them the truth.  All they had to do now was convince him they were worried about his well being and not judging him. 

Frohike was sitting on the couch patiently waiting when John finally came out of the kitchen.  Both looked at each other one more time to make sure they were still going to do this.  Then with a shake of their heads they ascended the stairs to where Langly was.

Frohike and Byers tracked Langly to the bathroom by the sound of running water.  The door was open and they could see Langly struggling to reach the scrape on his back.  He was failing miserably.  The red mark wasn’t dangerous, like Langly had said, probably wouldn’t even notice it in a few days.  It was the contrast of the red against his terribly pale skin that made it look so horrible. 

Byers walked into the bathroom and took the cloth from Ringo, sincerely wanting to help.  Langly looked at him a bit cautiously and then turned around to face the mirror.  All of this was done in silence until Langly saw Frohike appear from behind Byers.  He’d been hidden there by Johns height and was waiting for Langly to calm down before he revealed both of them had come together.

Langly’s eyes grew wide.  “Oh, no.  You’re not doing this to me.  You will not gang up on me.  I said I don’t want to talk about it and I’m not going to.”

Byers had stopped cleaning the mark but started again when silence was once again restored.  Then he continued on with his own agenda.  “Langly, we don’t want to gang up on you, but will you try to look at if from our perspective?”  When Langly didn’t answer he decided to go on.  “It’s true we have no idea what you’re up to, but to tell you the truth it doesn’t seem to look like such a great thing.  We just want you to know that we are genuinely concerned about you’re health and well being.  We don’t want anything to happen to you as a result of…this job…and you don’t need to do this to yourself anymore or ever again just to pay our bills.  We’ll get by, we always do…you’re more important to us than anything else.”

Langly turned around to look at his friends.  He’d never heard a more touching speech in his life, but he had no idea why it would have been to him, right now.  Langly looked to Frohike for verification of the concern he saw in Byers face, it was there in equal magnitude if not more.  He’d never seen his friends this worried about him before, and it scared him what they must think he’s doing.

Trying to hold back a grin, Langly looked at the floor.  “Ummm…guys, what do you think I’m doing?”

Langly looked up just in time to see Byers face turn red and clear his throat.  Frohike was looking at John, probably expecting him to say something first, but no one was speaking at all.

“Come on…Frohike, Byers, what’s up, what is it you think I’m doing?”

“Well…umm first there was the phone call.  I really shouldn’t have listened in, but I did.  And then there was the Tux, since when do you dress like that?” Byers asked looking up and attempting to loosen his tie at the same time.  “Then you come home like this…and the money…”

“Byers, just get to the point will ya?”

Frohike, impatient as ever, finally blurted it out.  “We think you might be in the escort business.”

All three gunmen froze.  Finally it was out on the table, everyone knew what they thought, why they were so upset, why everyone was nervous to say anything.  The silence was thick enough you could cut it with a knife…that was until Langly broke out into fits of hysterical laughter.

He was laughing so hard he was doubled over, holding his sides.  He sat down on the toilet to calm himself.  Just when they thought he was going to stop he would look up at his friends and bust out again.  This went on for a while, but curiosity finally got the best of the other two gunmen.

“Langy!  Tell us what you’re laughing about!”  Byers demanded.

Langly tried to form words but it was difficult to do so between laughing spasms.  “You think” laughter, “…oh God, why?” More laughter.

“Well, if that’s not it then tell us what.” Frohike said.

It was all Langly could do to spit out, “Cooking!”

Frohike and Byers stared at each other.  Both thinking the same thing…did he just say cooking? 

Not sure if he had hear Langly correctly, Byers asked “Langly did you say you were…cooking?”

Langly just nodded his head--coming down a little from the laugher.

“Then how do you explain all of the evidence other wise?  The buttons, the scratch, the large amount of money, the secretive way you’ve been going about all of this.  I need some explanations.”  Frohike looked at him seriously.

Langly took a deep breath, tying to calm himself to the serious mode his two partners were in.  “Alright, alright, I’ll explain everything.  Let’s just go downstairs and sit ok?”

Byers and Frohike nodded in agreement--anything if Langly was going to finally tell them what was going on.

Once in the living room, they all sat down and Langly began telling the events from his side of the story.  “Ok, in college, I was in this place with one of my girlfriends…it was one of those places where they cook your food at the table.  I mean I didn’t care about it all that much but she did.  She was like majorly impressed with the guys doing all this flipping and chopping and cooking.  Phil was our cook, chef, whatever you want to call him.  Anyway, I went back a few days later to talk to him and see if maybe I could learn to do that sutff.”

“Langly, it takes years of practice and schooling to…”

“Yeah I know Byers, that’s what I found out.  But Phil struck up a deal with me, he would teach me to cook if I could think of a way to “sell it”.  Phil convinced me I was funny and with his help I eventually became the first cook who “served up comedy”.  By that time my girl and I had broken up but I decided I liked doing that stuff and it didn’t hurt at all that I got paid a bundle too.  People at school made fun of me, I’m not exactly sure if it was that they didn’t think I could do it or if a guy knowing how to cook wasn’t macho enough for them…who knows.  That’s part of the reason I didn’t want to tell you guys, I was afraid you’d laugh at me, or make me cook all the time.  But anyway that’s how I got most of my money in college.  I catered parties, worked for random people, stuff like that.”

“Well, that does explain a lot Langly, but I’m still not clear on how your shirt got like that and why you have that scratch on your back.”  Frohike ventured.

“Well, it turns out I’m way out of practice!  I had a few minor accidents tonight, nothing major.  My buttons got torn off when I accidentally caught them with a salad fork.  Then almost at the end of the evening I spilled something on me and Phil threw it in the wash.  I knew these people so I was glad to have someone to wash it out before it stained.  The scratch happened,” Langly blushed a little, “…well this woman at the party was pretty wasted, and they’d all had a whole lot to drink.  Next thing I knew she had her arms around me and asked me to call her a cab.  I said sure and turned to go to the phone.  I guess I moved to fast and she was a little unsteady cause when she grabbed for me I was too far away…she dug in a little too hard…that’s all.  Nothing to it.  Are you happy now?”

Byers and Frohike couldn’t have timed their collective sigh better if they’d planned it.  They were both very happy there was a reasonable explanation to all of this and didn’t hide their laughter as the realized how wrong they’d been.

“Well Guys I’m beat.  I’m gonna head off to bed.”  Langly said as he started towards his room.  Almost in the door he turned around.  “I still can’t believe you thought I was an escort!” he said in between laughs.  “That’s just too much!  You think I’d actually do something like that again?  God!  I hope we’re not that hard up for money.  I don’t ever want to do anything like that ever again.”

Frohike and Byers laughs ceased gradually as they realized what Langly had just said.  Both of them stared at each other in disbelief, and shock.  Neither one moving for fear of breaking the peace of mind they’d almost had.

“Goodnight Guys” Langly said as he closed his door on the two, still unmoving, gunmen.

The End