copyright 2001, by
The characters Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling were
created by Thomas
Harris. They are used herein without permission, but in the spirit of
admiration and respect. No infringement of copyright is intended, and no
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When she slapped the cuff on
his wrist, he yanked up her arm and bared his teeth at her. She
faced him, a tear escaping her eye.
“Where are the keys,
Clarice?” he demanded.
“No,” she breathed.
The morphine was doing a number on her senses. She could barely
talk, yet she was fully cognizant of her actions…she hoped he would be
He picked up a shiny, sharp
meat cleaver. “You leave me no choice, Clarice. This is
really going to hurt.” He pulled the cuffs taut and raised the
cleaver over his head.
“No,” she breathed
again, “you don’t understand…”
Dr. Lecter looked into her
eyes, looked at the reluctant tears that were forming in them and
* * *
When the dozen or so police
cars arrived at Paul Krendler’s lakeside home, they found his remains
in the kitchen, next to the island gas range. One of the officers,
upon seeing him strapped in the chair with an ungodly portion of his
frontal lobes missing, immediately regurgitated into the trash bin.
There was no sign of
Hannibal Lecter or Clarice Starling.
Clarice had no idea where
she was, although an interior sense told her she was near the water.
Her head felt as though it was full of goose down. She rolled her
eyes to either side and discovered she was in a cozy bedroom decorated
in mauve and ivory. Her hands were tied with scarves and there was
an IV needle inserted in her right hand. Across from the bed, in a
chair, was a man.
She looked at him, her
vision hazy. He didn’t move from his chair, which was just as
well because she drifted back into unconsciousness.
The next time she became
aware, the scarves and IV needle were gone. But still, she felt as
though she was outside of time, outside of space. She had no idea
when it was or where she was; save for her intuition telling her she was
near water. Clarice was able to move her head this time and tried
to sit up. She succeeded and looked down at herself. She was
wearing a pale blue silk nightgown and her hair was down.
“Good evening, Clarice.”
The voice was unmistakable.
“Hello,” she replied,
taking some time because it had been a while since she last spoke.
“Don’t rise just yet.
I would like to be sure of something before you move.” He
approached the bed with a penlight and shone it into her eyes.
“Ah. Good. Do you feel able to get up?”
Clarice blinked and threw
back the heavy coverlet. She stared at her ankles for a long time.
On the right one was a copper anklet, made with tiny s-c links.
She wondered when it had gotten there and reached to unclasp it.
However, there was no clasp to be found. It was fixed around her
ankle like a shackle. She exhaled and closed her eyes for a
moment. Hesitantly, she swung her feet over the edge and looked
down. Blue slippers were by the bed. She slipped her feet
into them, not surprised at the fit or the comfort.
“There’s a comfortable
bathroom off to the left. Why don’t you freshen up?”
She rose, reaching for the
matching blue peignoir that hung by the bed on a coat tree. It
sounded like a good idea.
The bathroom was plush and
done in the same colors as the bedroom. Clarice found every
amenity she ever dreamed of. She ran a steaming hot bath; pouring
two capfuls on Bagno Crème a Miele and watching the honey-scented
bubbles fill the marble tub. She put up her hair and stepped out of the
peignoir, gown and slippers, and slid into the water, closing her eyes.
She sat with them closed for some time before she realized she was no
longer alone. Without opening her eyes, she smiled.
“Dr. Lecter? Where are
“Yes. We are by the
Mediterranean. I imagine you can smell the sea.”
“How long has it been?”
“A couple of weeks, my
dear. I don’t imagine you remember much; you were under the
influence of heavy drugs.”
”Don’t concern yourself
with that. Enjoy your bath. You might like to wash your
hair. There’s some shampoo in the basket by the tub. Lunch
will be in an hour. Maybe you’ll feel like eating.” It
wasn’t a question.
Sometime later, she was
seated beside him at an elegant mahogany dining room table. In one
of the closets, she found clothes of all kinds, fabrics and colors.
Unused to such rich garments, Clarice had been confused for a full five
minutes, debating on what to wear. She finally decided on blue
wool and cashmere. Her hair she brushed until it shone, doing so
without looking in the mirror. She slipped her feet into gray
moccasins. Dr. Lecter was at the sideboard, serving lunch:
Gironde oysters, foie gras and Anatolian figs. The rich smells
captured Clarice’s full attention and she found herself salivating.
He set a gold-rimmed plate in front of her and poured her a stem of
Batard-Montrachet before serving himself.
Her clothes were an exact
fit. The blue brought out the blue-gray of her eyes and the purity
of her skin. She looked a million times better than she had, but
she was still not where he wanted her to be. He had kept her doped
for several days; under the influence of hypnotic drugs to cleanse her
of her rage from her father’s death and bring her to some sort of
balance. She was not totally free, however. The hypnosis had
been valuable, but for what he wanted, she needed to be completely
“There’s a copper
bracelet around my ankle.”
“Did you put it there?”
“In time, Clarice, in
time. Enjoy your lunch.”
Questions plowed her mind
and she desperately wanted answers, but obeyed the order to eat her
food. After some time, he spoke.
“Your refusal was only the
beginning. Clarice, you are a prisoner of your inhibitions, fears,
and ridiculous principles. Your allegiance to the FBI even after
your career stalled was absurd and misplaced. How can you honor
what doesn’t honor you? It was becoming tedious. You need
to be liberated and the removal of the anklet will represent your
Words escaped her.
“All you had to say was
what you said, and you could have done it long ago. Yet, you were
stuck in that foolish, loveless, one-sided marriage to Jack Crawford and
the FBI.” He pushed back his chair and rose, extending his hand.
Clarice put down her fork and stared at it.
“Come with me, Clarice.”
His eyes pierced her.
After a moment, she rose and
took his hand.
“I will set you free.”
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