“Would you ever say to me, ‘Stop, if you loved me you’d
Leaning against the refrigerator, her ponytail trapped in
the door, Clarice felt the words penetrate her mind. The morphine left her slightly fussy, but she knew she heard
those words correctly. Her body stilled
for a moment of pure clarity. “Is that
what this is all about, doctor?” she croaked.
“You love me?”
He steadily gazed at her.
“For someone so smart, you can be truly dense, my dear.”
The sirens, reminding Clarice of her choice upstairs,
sounded in the distance. “With all due
respect Doctor Lecter, do you expect me to believe you’re in love with me? And after all that you’ve done, do you
expect me to believe you’d stop simply upon my request?”
With hands on either side of her head, Lecter leaned in
menacingly with teeth bared, yet Clarice did not flinch. “That’s my girl.” He closed the distance and gently laid his lips against
hers. It was an experiment at first, letting
her feel his flesh against hers so intimately.
When she didn’t squirm or turn her head, he began the kiss in earnest. He captured her lower lip, gently sucking
it, and then did the same with the upper.
For his efforts he was rewarded with a soft moan, then he felt the metal
slip around his wrist and heard the ominous click. He raised his left arm, her right trailing it connected by the
links of the handcuffs. “Well this is
interesting Clarice. I hope this is
more metaphorical than literal.”
“Doctor, I have to do my job…”
“Job? What job
Clarice? They dropped you like a, what
would you say, hot potato.” The sirens
grew louder. “As much as I would like
continue this session, I really am pressed for time. Where’s the key?”
Capturing her lower lip in her teeth she simply shook her
head, a single tear running down her cheek.
Lecter cased the kitchen quickly and grabbed the butcher’s knife on the
work island. He brought their joined
wrists over to the counter next to the refrigerator and waved the knife
above. “What do you say Clarice, above
or below?” he asked pantomiming on either side of her cuff. “This is really going to hurt.”
The tears were coming full force now, but even through the
haze she saw the smirk on his face.
Licking away a tear that dripped down to the corner of her mouth, she
said, “You wouldn’t.”
“Wouldn’t I? After everything
I’ve done? What’s a little
dismemberment among friends?”
Damn, Clarice thought to herself. He’s never done anything to hurt me;
he’s even risked his life and freedom to see me. Releasing the breath she’d been holding she reached her left hand
down into the bodice of her dress and removed the key. Lecter dropped the knife and reached for it
but she quickly snatched it out of his way, concealing it in her clutched
fist. “Stop. If you love me you’ll stop.”
He virtually trembled as the words ricocheted around his
head. “I can’t return to prison
Clarice,” he said simply.
“Very well. But I
want your word as a gentleman, you will harm no one, not one little bit, not
ever again.” He stared at her,
speechless for once. Emboldened to go
on, she delivered the final, crushing blow.
“And I never want to hear from you again. No more enigmatic notes on expensive stationary, no more
extravagant presents, and no more goddamned dinner parties. Believe it or not, but the lambs are much
quieter when you’re not on my periphery.”
Like a sleight of hand magician the key reappeared in her fingers. “On your honor Hannibal Lecter, or pick up
that cleaver and hack it off.” She
lowered her hand to him.
“On my honor, Clarice, you will never hear from me again,”
he said dryly, plucking the key from her hand.
Swiftly the two cuffs were opened.
The key and handcuffs quickly disappeared into his pocket and he turned
towards the back door, the ominous sounds of the coming authorities biding him
“Wait! Let me out of
here,” she cried. He turned to her,
eyes hard and cold. Picking up the door
handle, he wordlessly used it as a lever to pry open the refrigerator door. She freed her hair and massaged her scalp as
he dropped the handle at her feet, his eyes never leaving hers. He turned and walked out the door.
She found him uncoupling a fishing boat with an outboard
motor from the pier below the house. A
few yards away to the right a tiny dinghy bounced with the Chesapeake’s
waves. Walking up the pier she watched
him finish his preparations. Not
bothering to turn and look at her he inquired,
“What will you tell them?”
“The truth. You
brought me here after I was shot. When
I woke up I phoned the police and went downstairs to find you – butchering –
Paul Krendler. I tried to stop
you. You ran out here, we struggled,
and you wounded me before escaping.” He
finally looked up and noticed she was carrying the butcher’s knife at her side
with a napkin around the handle. As he
looked on she raised it to her opposite shoulder and drew it slowly across the
skin. The wound immediately blossomed
and blood flowed down her arm. The
knife fell to the ground, both knowing it held his fingerprints. The napkin disappeared into her bodice. He nodded, and continued readying the small
boat for departure.
The sound of car doors and shouting informed the duo that
their time was just about up. Hannibal
pushed the boat from the dock and used an oar to propel it soundlessly further
down the bay towards an outcropping of trees to the left. Looking steadily at her he said, “I do, you
Clarice, who had been looking towards the house, turned her
eyes back to the water, her brow creased in confusion, asked, “Do what?”
“Love you,” he said moments before the boat disappeared behind
the first of the trees. Clarice had no
time to process his declaration as footfalls and voices told her they were
coming. She quickly moved off towards
the dinghy, as if she were looking for something.
“Freeze! Hands where
I can see them!”
She raised her hands into the air and said, “Clarice
Starling. I’m the one who called you