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A Double Life

copyright 2001, by clevergirl

Disclaimer:    The character Dr. Hannibal Lecter was created by Thomas Harris.  Anthony Hopkins is himself.  They are used herein without permission, but in the spirit of admiration and respect.  No infringement of copyright is intended, and no profit, of any kind, is made by the creator, maintainer or contributors to this site.

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Author's Note~

This strange little thing is hard to categorize. I suppose it is 'whimsy', but it does takes place after the film release of HANNIBAL. Apologies in advance for extreme liberties taken with a Certain Gentleman's state of mind. Just a presumptuous "What if?" on the power of a particular character, and how obsession can take many forms. There's a few 'Easter eggs' in here too, if you hunt for them!  

PART 1 of 1

Atop the burnished mantle, a single candle lights the grand piano that takes pride of place in the center of the room. A man sits at the piano, playing softly. Within the radius of the flame, the shadowlands of light and dark caress the deep contours of the man's face. His eyes are closed in an almost meditation as his hands seek out the remaining phrase of a melody that has eluded him all evening. He is alone in the house, and as the last chord falls quiet the only sound he hears is the gentle rolling of the surf outside. 

No, that wasn't it.  

He gazes out the big bay window to his left, and sees the far-off lights, and he listens to the night. For the most part he enjoys his solitude, savors his alone-ness. Long ago, long after the bad time, he'd discovered a place of silence deep inside himself. It helped to smooth over the rough spots that were part and parcel of this life he'd chosen. That had chosen him, rather. 

We trade one prison for the next, don't we? We slam the bars shut and fling the keys as far away as ever we can. Happy now? 

The candlelight flickers in the facets of the cut glass tumbler he raises to his lips Just tonic and a twist of lime, thanks and he notices with a frown the slight tremble in his right hand. Carefully setting the glass back down on the coaster beside him, he flexes both hands and massages them one at a time, musing that they looked more like the hands of a day laborer than what he was -- what he'd been called for so many years. 

It's always this way, he tells himself. After. But the incident this afternoon had left him deeply shaken; it had put him back in a place he thought he'd escaped long ago. 

Let's try again, shall we? 

And he takes up the beginning notes once more. 

~~~~~~~~~~   

He'd been sitting out back at Caprial's, enjoying a glass of iced green tea. The last  remains of daylight filtered in through the palms and bougainvillaea surrounding the restaurant's comfortable patio, and  he thanked his lucky stars once again he'd ended up here in this part of the world, here where it was always…'magic time'.  It was one of his favorite places near the beach; generally he blended in. He could relax or maybe run into a compatriot or two. He was jotting down some thoughts on the new pages that they'd FedExed that morning, using the Mont Blanc he'd received from an old friend a few months back. It was a beautiful thing, blood-red mahogany with an ebony inlay and a slim silver band that held a tiny inscription. He smiled as he did every time he read it. "For your next escape. love, J" 

Dear Clarice…….fly fly fly…….  

The warm breeze felt good on his skin. It had been a long week, and the flight the night before had been exhausting. Hell, face it, it'd been a long year. He was still getting over that bug he'd picked up in Berlin and he hadn't been sleeping well…… since Florence, really. 

Those dreams……nightmares …… struggling naked against a river of blood, corpses screaming, fingers clawing …… and…… Blood…… rushing into my mouth, choking me. Waking up shaking, gasping for air, and not being able to get rid of the feeling that I was TRYING to drown? Didn't tell anyone about THAT one, now, did I? 

He shook off the memory; it was hardly surprising, what with everything he'd done and seen there. That city, Christ, you felt as though you were walking on the bones of 2,000 years while above you soared arches and towers and reaches that could have housed angels. Almost suffocating in its beauty, its intensity, like the embrace of a gorgeous woman who was just a little too experienced and a little too willing. 

Oh well haven't we become the connoisseur? 

The hair prickled on the back of his neck.

"OH JESUS!!!" IT'S YOU!"

Jolted from his reverie, he looked up. A large, bulky youth loomed over him. The newcomer had long greenish blond hair, an unfortunate complexion and one of those annoying little beards that always put him in mind of Velcro. Wearing the ubiquitous dress for the age: ripped, lowslung black jeans, those ghastly boots and a T-shirt advertising a local band called "Lascivious Goth". 

A little like Pitt after a really bad night. 

And he was standing much too close. 

Usually, on the rare times that people recognized him here they were unfailingly polite and kind. And normally he enjoyed the game--invariably surprising those brave enough to approach with 'what a nice man, what a regular guy he was'. So he tried hard, actually, to be accommodating. Give them a story to tell. 

He put on a tight smile and replied, "I suppose that depends on who you think I am, doesn't it?" 

"WOAH! OH DUDE THIS IS SO AWESOME! THAT'S GREAT! YOU EVEN SOUND LIKE YOU! HEY MY NAME IS BOB, DUDE. BOB. I'VE SEEN THE NEW ONE LIKE 4 TIMES ALREADY. SHIT, YOU SCARED THE HOLY CRAP OUTTA MY GIRLFRIEND. BOY DID I GET SOME MAJOR ACTION THAT NIGHT LET ME TELL YOU! WHOA! KIN I SHAKE YOUR HAND???" 

And yet, he sighed to himself, there were always a few like this yahoo. He watched with some alarm as his hand disappeared into the greasy vice of Bob's grip. This is my punishment, isn't it? This is what I get for not doing more Shakespeare……. 

As he salvaged his hand and surreptitiously wiped it on the linen napkin he'd placed on the table, he wondered why no staff person, no maitre d' had swarmed over the intruder yet and hustled him away. Usually they were so protective……

Looking around, he saw to his dismay that he was on his own out here, alone with……Bob.

Ah the privilege of celebrity. Sic Transit Gloria Mundi…….just not 'transitting' quickly enough, apparently. 

"Erm……yesss……well. A delight to meet you. Actually, I was just on my way---"  

"GIMME YOUR AUTOGRAPH, DUDE. OK?? Oh man, shit, I don't have a pen, can I use yours? Here, lemme get that for you…… Whoa, cool pen! Hey I gotta ask you something; this has been driving me NUTS--Ya know that part at the end? When you and her are in the kitchen? and you say-- 

My god, He's reciting the fucking dialogue. To ME. Brilliant……. 

"-but in the FIRST one, and I've seen THAT one like a HUNDRED times, you know? like where you're in the cell? and and…… we see you for the first time and she says-- 

He's still going on. I don't believe this. I now KNOW in fact what IS the Eighth Bardo of Hell, Dante. 

"OH WAIT!! I KNOW!!!!! HEY DO THAT LINE! YOU KNOW, the LINE, Man?? OH SHIT, DARCEE is NOT going to beleeeve this!!! CMON DO THE LINE, DUDE!!! WHERE YOU LIKE DO THAT LIKE UH, SLURPY THING?"  Bob leaned in closer as if to divulge a secret. "That's the one that gets her all hot, Dude!" 

There. Just like that. Something clicked in his head, and he'd had enough. With graceful precision he stood. Turning his full unblinking attention to the man, he gave him the look. The Look. The glacial stare that had sent more than one wunderkind director weeping and scuttling back into Therapy Overtime. 

He took a breath. "No," he said in a deceptively calm upward lilt, "I won't DO the line, overwhelmingly gracious as the manner in which your request was framed. I have 'DONE the line' approximately 100, 722 times over the last ten years, and it is more than likely that I will do it another 100,722 times over the NEXT ten. But not now, not today, and NOT for you. OKEY DOKEY?" 

With that he flicked the Mont Blanc out of the man's oily mitt and turned to gather his papers, pointedly ignoring the look of truculence now clouding Bob's face. 

Bob swelled a bit, then made the fatal mistake of grabbing the gentleman's arm.

"OH HEY! Well excuse the FUCK outta me, Mister Goddamn Hotshit Limey Actor Guy, WHAT, now you gonna tell me to 'GET A LIFE'??" 

Let me show you how it's done. 

"No," the man smiled, "Just the opposite, actually." And with a speed and strength that belied his years (and had surprised more than one female co-star), he spun around, breaking Bob's hold, and in one vicious lunge 

a little move from that bit of fluff with Banderas, remember? 

he drove the uncapped Mont Blanc square into the cretin's neck, approximately 6 inches above the dot on the first 'i'. He was pleased to see the look of feral menace on Bob's face replaced with wide-eyed surprise. As the man pulled back to recover his pen, he deftly stepped aside to avoid the gout of blood that shot from Bob's trachea. He watched with clinical detachment as Bob gurgled and slid to the clay tile floor. Whisking away the napkin from his table with a flourish and a snap, he carefully wiped the pen clean and replaced it in his breast pocket. He leaned over to neatly tie the cloth around Bob's neck like a bib, where it swiftly soaked fully crimson. As he did this, he smiled and bent closer to hiss in Bob's ear.

"See the thing is……BOB, I can call you BOB, can't I? Good. The thing is this: I'm……not……acting." 

Nice curtain line, that. Wasn't that fun? Now make your exit like a good boy. 

Once again he turned, this time whistling the beginning of that bit of the Variations that had become his 'theme' and started to stroll out of the restaurant. 

~~~       

"HEY DUDE." 

His eyes flew open in shock. He was still at the table. Bob was still there, standing next to him. Still breathing on him, still holding the pen with aggressive expectation. 

"You gonna give me that autograph or WHAT?" 

I clutch thee not, and yet I see thee still……..uhhhn, Hello?

Thoughts skittered madly. It's late, I'm tired, overworked-- it's jet lag, that Benadryl I took, remember? That's it. He tried to control his now shaking hand. Without a word he scrawled his signature over a crumpled auto parts receipt Bob shoved at him, then flung it on the table and attempted to make his escape. 

Nothing really happened. No sweat, no big deal, right? Let's just get home……  

"HEY YOU WANT YOUR PEN BACK, DUDE?" 

He stopped, turned, then carefully, deliberately took the Mont Blanc from Bob's outstretched hand. As Bob sauntered away examining his hard-won prize, the man sagged back against a table and tried to gather his thoughts. 

"HEY THANKS, DUDE! SA-WEEET!" Bob beamed at him from the entrance.

"YOU EVEN SIGNED IT COOL. 'DR. HANNIBAL LECTER'. Fuckin' A! Darcee is NOT going to believe this! MAN I LOVE THIS TOWN!" 

He froze. He was sure he had signed his OWN name. Not. The other. ……  

Somehow he'd managed to make it home in one piece, driving like a maniac even for L.A. He' d walked his beach, done the treadmill till he'd been ready to drop, and finally, after a long shower, two quarts of Evian, four Advil and an hour of those relaxation exercises, he started to calm down. He refrained from calling any one of a number of people who would have listened with sympathy and understanding.  

Last thing I need. It'd be plastered all over the AP in about 5 seconds flat. 

A tune had been running through his head in the midst of it all, not that one, thank god, something different. He seized on that as a distraction, locked the doors and turned off all the phones. 

~~~~~        

Lights dim, the player is alone. 

And that is how he finds himself, hours later, still at the piano. As with the rest of his own compositions, it is all kept in his head. He observes his reflection in the dark polished wood of the empty music rack in front of him and can make out all too clearly the lines and creases in his face, the 'battle scars' of experience. He looks into his own eyes and tries to see what others see. Too bloody much has been said about them for him to take any of it seriously. 

Two pissholes in the snow, more like, he grimaces, and chuckles to himself. 

He stops for a moment and rubs the bridge of his nose, hoping the headache that has been lurking will move on. He thinks that if he could only find the conclusion to the damn melody, he could rest and forget about that wretched episode earlier. He almost has it--- 

What's the matter--miLORD, rigors of FAME getting you down??? 

The man stiffens. He looks once more at the face in front of him. His hard-won reserve shatters as he stares into those eyes: two pin-pricks of unholy scarlet now blaze back at him, and his lips

Not his lips

curl back in a sardonic grin. 

DO be careful what you wish for, old son. You might just get it in spades…

FIN

copyright 2001, by clevergirl

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