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 profit, of any kind, is made by the creator, maintainer or contributors to
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What is the essential?
Ask of each thing
– what is it, in itself
What would you reach
for, instinctively, to rescue, if you woke up in a burning house?
What do you carry
with you, even when your hands are empty?
I’ve improved my
Look deep into Your
Self, Agent Starling…
…into storage, into
the locked down cast offs, into a ‘fledgling killer’s first attempt
Do you remember the
person you saw in the mirror, how splendid she was?
Clarice Starling looked
into the mirror, yet even here the familiar proved elusive to her.
Her hair framed her face with unnatural starkness in its new cut and colour; the clothes she wore had been bought
that morning. Her lips were bee-stung and still numb from injections of
collagen. These changes did
not frighten her – they were all the manifestations of practical
measures. Taking the
necessary steps to achieve an objective was something she understood.
But, unaccustomed to questioning her own image, she did not feel any
reassurance from looking into her own eyes in the mirror; she did not
look as she felt, look as she thought.
In the end it was the spot of gunpowder, lodged subcutaneously in
her cheek, that she focused on, and it was that more than any natural
feature which reassured her – it was a mark of her past decisions, her
intuition, proof that her judgment of a situation was survivable.
Her intuition, her
decision: She had walked into Jame Gumb’s house, knowing-not-knowing
that the Calumet City address Crawford and the SWAT team were closing on
was wrong, but more importantly, she now understood, hoping that
it was – she had wanted to rescue Catherine Martin, and she had wanted
to stop Buffalo Bill.
Best thing for him,
really – his therapy was going nowhere
unstoppable, the incurable process of plight.
“Get me out of here
you bitch GETMEOUT –“ Catherine’s
plight, Catherine screaming, Catherine’s mother making her, Clarice,
open the envelope of intimate photographs she’d found in Catherine’s
bedroom while Paul Krendler watched.
Catherine’s closet, her wardrobe of expensive clothes and
shoes, her apartment that
gave away casual clues to her privileged life -
How do we begin to
Catherine’s mother on
national television, making a calculated appeal: “Now is the time for
you to show that you can be compassionate as well as strong. Her name is
Catherine.” Her name is Clarice. That’s so smart – if he sees her
as a person, it’s harder for him to cut her up. Her name is Clarice.
She wondered if there
had been some element of coveting, of jealousy, even then –had
she misidentified the growlings of appetite for contempt, as a
child will put out their tongue and grimace at a rich and unfamiliar
You look like a
rube; a well-scrubbed hustling rube with a little taste
But not anymore – if
it had been Dr. Lecter who had identified her hungers and resentments
for her during their conversations in the Baltimore hospital, she had,
in the time intervening, begun to define those hungers for herself. In
the mirror she watched her skin move against the fabric of the jacket
she wore: linen, double-breasted, the neckline deep but not indiscreetly
so when worn over nothing save skin newly tanned on a sun bed and a
necklace of heavy platinum links, offsetting her new darkness and the
streaks in her hair.
Love your suit ~
Resentments – of
privilege, of mediocrity, of desire and contempt mixed…she could not
feel her own lips tighten, but saw her eyes narrow in her reflection.
Paul Krendler’s face and the feeling of a burning knot of anger
in her throat – swallowed in a remembrance of the taste of caper
berries. She hummed a note to herself, feeling as well as hearing the
low note tremble then reverberate in her larynx.
that note, should
you ever hear it again in any context, it will mean only your total and
When Dr. Lecter
returned, it was already dark, the windows reflecting the quiet lights
of the hotel suite, rather than the view beyond them.
He set down the packages
he carried and listened. During the past days of preparation for travel,
he had often left her alone – and did not admit to himself that he
re-entered the suite each time with some trepidation that she would have
left it. But she would not
– the target of her tenacity might alter, but the mechanism of it was
still one of the strongest features in her character. Admirable
adaptivity; he sensed in her the potential for
wonderful accommodation: her aptitude
now applied to his context, their unexpectedly co-joined
Clarice.” His smile was
softened by the candlelight, which now lit the spacious bathroom, his
shadow looming violet against the wall above where she lay in the bath.
The water was deep and richly opaque with milky bath lotion, holding her
skin as smoothly and expensively as the linen suit she had worn earlier,
and covering her with a similar degree of
seductive decorum. The
warm air in the room smelt of almonds, of the sharper note from the wine
which gleamed palely in a glass beside the bath, and of Clarice herself:
the scent of her preening relaxation, of an experimental content.
For a moment her
expression was caught, a bird fluttering for flight, and then
self-possession animated and restored her features, and she smiled.
His expression did not
change, but he registered the awkwardness and the ironic tease of her
greeting. In truth, while the idea of transitions interested him, the
effortful details of the process often did not. Intelligence and
self-control endowed his actions with a patience that his nature would
otherwise have not. Anticipation provided a sharpening of eventual
pleasure, but preparation was often merely just that – a necessary
prerequisite for what would follow.
Their conversations in
his house, in the days following their flight from the Verger farm, had
been preparation. The elaborate dinner he had staged for
Clarice…preparations which in the end had taken flight from the course
he had set, winging over time and space in unexpected paths.
Backwards to flashing lights of water and glass in the greenhouse
where Mischa bathed. Forwards to the gleam and flow of Clarice bathing
here, now, in this new setting, a new city, preparations for a new
flight of identity.
“When you’re ready
to come out, I’ve brought some things for a light supper.”
“Thank you.” Her
eyes met his , and their expression had a strange new gladness.
He suspected that, in her determined competence,
she had never experienced having her daily needs so thoroughly
anticipated by another person. It
was as much the act of trust that aroused her as the potential of living
with him; and the act of trust that felt as dangerous as her knowledge
of his lethality.
leaving the room before she moved
to rise from the warm scented water. His courtesy towards her
remained, was perhaps even emphasized, by their unexpected and
continuing intimacy. But he
smiled as he busied himself with opening
the parcels he had brought, for the
mirror over the side table at which he stood showed him
the reversed glowing cave of the bathroom, where Clarice stood,
considering her own reflection in the second mirror over the bath. Dark
ivory skin, smooth and savoury as she dried herself unhurriedly with the
thick cream coloured towel. He thought he saw her smile as she tipped
her head to one side, saw her image multiplied and remultiplied as if in
a warm-lit corridor between the mirrors, but due to the angle could only
see her react as their eyes met in the glass, knowing that what she saw
was his image, behind and above her, similarly stretching to infinity.
Come here, please.”
under no account are
you to approach the glass
She came forward,
pulling the towel around her, her alertness both wary and expectant.
His hand brushed her
cheek, the dark spot that marked it,
and then the back of her hand, holding the towel.
Smiling, he grasped the towel and pulled it from her. He felt the
heat of her body, saw her willing herself to stillness as he drew the
Starling jumped when
the food carrier rolled out of Lecter’s cell. There was a clean,
folded towel in the tray. She hadn’t heard him move. She looked at it,
and with a sense of falling, took it and toweled her hair. “Thanks.”
He took it and toweled
her hair, squeezing the dampness from it, grasping the thick mass and
pulling her head back. The line of elongated tension in her throat was
“I…” she began
“Shh.” His fingers
bumped her lips, tapping the newly full mouth into gentle silence.
Clarice inhaled sharply, breathing the scent of his fingers, tasting the
skin as they lingered, caressing her mouth.
As he bent to kiss her he stood close enough so that the lapels
of his jacket brushed her breasts; her knees shivered against the cloth
of his trousers. Her toes
grasped at the carpet as he held her as if suspended, his hand twined in
her hair, his mouth tasting the wine she’d opened, kissing her in
quick, deep sips of her essence, mingling their breath. When he pulled
back from her, her eyes remained closed. Her hands had stayed at her
sides. Dr. Lecter smiled. He leaned over her again, this time bringing
an object from the plate beside him close to her lips. She opened them
at his touch, and he laughed softly in pleasure.
She did, expecting his
lips, feeling his breathing still warming her face as the bittersweet
taste of the bitten fig filled her mouth. She gasped. Opened her eyes.
He popped the rest of the fig into his own mouth, and returned to
copyright 2001, by
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