It had been just been one of those days, where nothing had gone right. From the time she woke up, late because the alarm hadn’t been set, Clarice had felt jinxed. She’d had to rush around the apartment like a mad women in order to get out the door on time. Out of necessity she had skipped breakfast, and then missed lunch when she got called into a meeting with her superiors for what they called an update. It really amounted to a dressing down because she wasn’t getting anywhere with her current case. But honestly, how could one get anywhere with anything when it involved Hannibal Lecter, M.D.?
The rest of the long afternoon had been spent cooped up in her dungeon, or as other people liked to call it, Hannibal’s House. Completely surrounded by photographs of him and his victims, she had tried to divine his whereabouts by sheer will power. Needless to say, it hadn’t worked. When she finally decided to quit for the night, most of the other staff at Quincato had already left.
Life hadn’t improved any once she left the building. After discovering that her car wouldn’t start, she’d had to spend a good 20 minutes messing around under the hood, until she’d found the loose electrical connection. She was totally disgusted with her day by the time she climbed into the driver’s seat only to discover she’d gotten grease all over the front of her best suit. With an inarticulate growl, she burned out of the parking lot and onto the freeway. Halfway home she realized that she hadn’t shopped and that if she wanted anything to eat today, it was going to have to be fast food. She pulled into the next McDonald’s she came across, and ordered supper at the drive through. She ate as she drove, and was feeling rather ill by the time she reached home. Fast food grease on an empty stomach was not a very good idea she realized ruefully.
She walked up the drive to her front door and dropped her things as soon as she got inside. Her roommate, Ardelia Mapp, came around the corner from the living room when she heard her come in.
"You’re home late, girl," Mapp commented with a question in her eyes.
"I don’t want to take about it, Delia," Clarice replied with a shake of her head. "I’m going to go do the laundry."
"That bad hun?" Mapp questioned with a small smile.
"Yah, that bad," Clarice said, ending any further prying by heading for the laundry room and closing the door. As corny as it might sound the laundry room was her favourite place in the house. She did most of her thinking there and all of her crying. She felt safe there, like she could drop the mask she wore all day. The mask of strength she wore all day to try to keep the vultures at bay. Once she hadn’t needed to pretend, she was strong, but now she was tired and cranky and needed to be on her own. She stripped down to her underwear and dumped her soiled things in the washer. Never one to pay attention to the "Dry Clean Only" tags, she dumped in some soap and closed the lid. The whooshing sound of water filling the machine started to work its calming magic as she reached for the fluffy blue bathrobe she left of the back of the door. She tied the sash and then curled up in the corner against the washer.
Looking across at the shelves, she noticed her old radio, peaking out behind her from Delia’s seldom-used toolbox. It was one of the few things she had from her childhood. She remembered it sitting on the counter in the kitchen playing more static than music as her mother kneaded bread. She had taken it with her when she left for the farm, and after when she went to the orphanage. She had fought many a fight, in order to keep the small metal box, with its broken antenna and scratched dial. She reached out and picked up the radio from its hiding place, remembering her Dad teaching her how to waltz to the dance program that had aired every Saturday.
Feeling slightly nostalgic, she picked up the plug and pushed it into the outlet that was beside her on the floor. There was a loud crackling static noise, and she fumbled to adjust the volume. After slowly moving the tuner dial back and forth she discovered that the only station she could pick up was a pop rock station. At least she knew the radio still worked. She was about to unplug it again, when she realized how long it had been since she had listened to any music. She let the radio continue to play its advertisements as she thought about the tape that was currently in her walkman – a tape of her conversations with Dr. Lecter from Baltimore. She had gone back to the beginning in hopes of finding some clue to his current whereabouts. A mirthless laugh escaped her when she realized that even her spare time was spent hunting her elusive quarry.
Her thoughts came back to the radio when the ads finished and a song by B.N.L. began.
If you call, I will answer
Her mind flashed. Is this Clarice? Well, hello Clarice…
And if you fall, I’ll pick you up
Another memory. Just before she passed out at the farm, strong arms lifting her.
And if you court this disaster, I’ll point you home
Is that what he’d been trying to do? Point her away from the disaster her life courting the F.B.I. had become? She was lost in her contemplation of his motives until the tempo of the music changed and an older song started to play.
Well I don’t know why I came here tonight
Another memory. Pausing at the gate on the old road to the farm… wondering.
I got the feelin that somethin ain’t right
The feeling that something was very wrong and if she didn’t do something…
I’m so scared, I guess I’ll fall off my chair
Sitting across the table from Krendler, almost falling as he took the knife from her hand.
And I’m wonderin’ how I’ll get down the stairs
Hearing him downstairs. Navigating the stairs in those shoes.
Clowns to the left of me
Crawford, Verger and the Italian inspector.
Jokers to the right
Chilton, Krendler and the F.B.I.
Here I am stuck in the middle with you
Caught with Lecter in this tangled web of people who affected their lives.
Yes I’m stuck in the middle with you
A different memory. Pinned against the refrigerator.
And I’m wonderin’ what it is I should do
The quiet snick of the handcuffs. The almost pleased smile in his eyes. She was lost in the memories until the next song began and she shook her head as if to clear it.
Tom Jones’ voice hit the airwaves.
Watch out, you might get what you’re after…
But what was she after? Did she really want to find him again? Did she want to continue the endlessly unproductive days, spiced up with lectures from people who could never have done what she did? Unless the good doctor got careless and left some evidence to his whereabouts behind, she was never going to find him. And if she didn’t find him, she could kiss her career goodbye anyway. Everything centered around HIM.
I’m an ordinary guy. Burning down the house.
She snorted at the thought of the doctor proclaiming himself to be an ordinary guy, particularly to a disco beat. She did pause to wonder if she was loosing it, imagining the good doc, getting down and dirty on the dance floor, but it was making her feel better and that was what she needed at the moment. She waited to see what the next song would be as she tapped her foot to the beat. Something slightly techno came on next, and she burst out laughing.
All around the world… la la la la la
Yep, that definitely applied to the doc. The only certain fact she had to his whereabouts was that he was somewhere around the world. She sat for a minute longer and then got up and began to move to the music. The beat was very infectious, though the lyrics were pretty annoying, and it felt good to dance around in her little laundry room where no one could see her. She leaned up against the dryer and waited through more advertising for the next song.
Out side on the street the man in the rental car smiled slowly. Clarice needed to laugh more he decided it took years off her appearance. He had told her she needed to get more fun out of life, but she hadn’t taken his advice. Perhaps it was time he gave her a stronger prescription. With that thought he left his car and made his way to her back door.
Clarice didn’t hear her the laundry room door open over the funky Chilean music that was currently playing. She had her back to the door, and was dancing uninhibitedly to the lyrics.
We’re meant to be together
I’ll be there and you’ll near
And that’s the deal my dear…
Her eyes went wide as she felt two strong hands clamp down on her hips to still her movement. She inhaled a gasp as she felt a warm breath on her neck.
"That’s the deal my dear," he echoed.