"It's A Good
The characters of 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 this site.
Feedback to Author
Starling glanced furtively around her, but she was alone in the
spacious, well-appointed parlor. The perfume of gardenias filled
the air, and silky white blossoms spilled from bowls and vases
placed at various spots throughout the room. The light streaming
through the wide, open windows caressed the rich, dark mahogany
coffee table, and the smooth, polished top shimmered in the sunlight.
The table was bare save for a tastefully ostentatious silver tea
set. She looked about once more, then slipped a slim, suntanned
hand into her shopping bag. Withdrawing a magazine, she placed
it on the coffee table, and poured herself some tea. She settled
herself into an ivory-colored wing chair and waited for the games
was not idle long. Her senses, attuned through months of proximity,
registered his clean, musky scent before he even entered the room.
His footfalls, soft as a cat's, still sparked thrills up and down
her spine. She balanced the saucer on her knee and raised her
arms to stretch. Reaching back, she caught him just as he was
leaning over the back of her chair. She slid her hands up his
arms and clasped them behind his neck. He bent his head to hers
and kissed her platinum hair, still warm from the sun.
you enjoy your walk?" he asked.
much, Hannibal." She twisted in her seat and looked up to meet
his eyes. She kissed him then, just a soft brush of lips, with
the promise of more to come. "How was your afternoon?"
he remarked, coming around the chair to get some tea. "I was reading
that new author I'd spoken of…" His voice trailed into silence
as his eyes registered the magazine on the table, and his hands
froze in the act of reaching for the teapot. Slowly, very slowly,
he straightened and regarded her with a cool stare.
dear?" she asked in a voice brimming with innocence.
we do this again?"
sure I don't know what you mean."
sighed, a sound that carried the weight of ages. He picked up
the magazine gingerly, holding it by a corner with just his thumb
and index finger. "This, Clarice."
managed a blush and a look of feigned contrition. "Oh. That."
must you persist in bringing such… offal into our lovely home?"
simply trying to learn," she offered as an excuse. "There's so
much I still don't know."
"Agreed," he stated dryly. "But I've no idea what on earth you
think you will learn from HER."
could stand it no longer. Her face felt as if it were about to
crack from the effort of concealing her smile. She giggled almost
like a schoolgirl. "Well, I can learn how to drive you mad, for
did not show an ounce of mirth. "This is no laughing matter,"
he asserted, his voice stern.
just served to set her off even more. She had to put her cup and
saucer down on the table before she spilled her tea all over her
Clarice, is what sets us above sheer savagery. It is civilization.
It is culture. It is…"
was no helping it. She was actually clutching at her stomach now,
as her fit of laughter strained her abdominal muscles. She slid
off the chair and lurched over to him, bringing her hand to his
pocket in search of his handkerchief. She really needed something
to wipe away the tears that stood in the corners of her eyes.
grabbed her wrist and twirled her around, pinning her arm almost
painfully behind her back. She fought for release, but was still
laughing too hard to make a serious effort. His breath was hot
on the back of her neck.
what is it that you find so amusing?"
gasped for breath before answering. "You are the most unflappable
man I've ever known. You took all of Chilton's torments, all of
Mason's torture, and you never batted an eye. But just think if
the world knew what I do."
what is that, Clarice?" he whispered dangerously.
the one punishment that Hannibal Lecter cannot endure is Martha
Stewart." Simply saying it out loud brought on the giggles again.
casually pushed her back into her chair. "Really, dear, this has
to me. I could watch you fume about her all day."
do not fume."
you do. Not only do you fume, but you also rant, rave, and otherwise
lose your famous cool. Why exactly does she bother you so much,
irritates you, but you don't let it get to you."
we have this conversation? Is there no worthier subject on which
we could speak?"
Clarice did not reply. Rather, she picked up "Martha Stewart Living"
and began to read aloud. "Deviled eggs are a blessing for the
summer host: cooking time is minimal, the basic ingredients are
the assembly is easy enough for a child to do. I know, because
I was a child when I started deviling eggs…"
If you loved me, you'd stop."
stuffing each egg white so that it was a semblance of itself yet
ripped the magazine from her hands. She looked up at him. His
mouth was tight, his face drawn. She could actually see the effort
it was costing him to maintain control. Her eyes sparkled, and
the ghost of a smile twisted one corner of her mouth.
favored her with a hard, cold glare, and walked stiffly from the
room. At the doorway, he paused and turned back to her. "I think
it is perhaps time, Clarice, for you to have a little lesson in
taste. Your shoes may be better now, but you're still not more
than one generation away from poor white trash."
was a little surprised at the venom in his words. Before she could
even open her mouth to respond, he was gone.
she brushed her hair that night before bed, she was still musing
upon her little game. Theirs had never been a conventional relationship.
Rather, they seemed to balance on an edge as sharp as his blade,
as deadly as her gun. They constantly pushed the limits, and occasionally
went too far. She had a feeling that perhaps this was one of those
had not spoken to her since their clash in the parlor. The servants
had served dinner as usual, but he was nowhere to be found. She
waited for hours on the terrace and still he did not come. Finally
she gave up and began her evening toiletries. She brushed her
teeth, brushed her hair, moisturized her skin, filed her nails,
pumiced her heels, and then climbed between the silk sheets of
their bed. She switched off the light with a sinking feeling in
had just drifted off into a troubled sleep when she was awakened
by his body behind hers. His arms gathered her into a tight, warm
embrace, and she shuddered with relief. His lips pressed delicate
kisses in a soft rain against her neck, and she breathed his name
like the answer to a prayer. "Hannibal…"
You don't have to say anything."
sorry." She was relieved when the words left her lips.
no need for sorrow, Clarice."
know. But I'm sorry anyway."
turned her body around and stroked her face. In the dim room,
her eyes were bright with unshed tears. He kissed her, deeply,
and felt her body relax in his arms.
going to be away for a few days."
are you going?" she asked, startled.
laid a finger across her mouth. "Don't ask…"
spoils the surprise," she finished for him.
opened her mouth, closed it, then opened it again. "Is there…
is there anything I need to know?"
saw the trust in her eyes. She was placing herself, her life,
in his hands. No doubt she was thinking that there was a threat
to their safety. To their tenuous existence. Well, there was,
but not in the manner she was expecting.
miss you," she said simply, and her hands tightened on his back.
I you. My Clarice. But, I promise, when I'm back, we'll celebrate.
An evening you'll never forget."
look forward to it," she said, and smiled. She snuggled close,
breathing in his scent.
stroked her face until she fell asleep. Her last, half-conscious
words were "Come back safe to me."
grinned in the moonlight. "Of course," he whispered, and settled
himself beside her.
was in the garden, throwing knives against a defenseless tree,
when he returned. The sight of her was solace to a soul leaguered
sore by the exigencies of his journey. He stood and just watched
her a long while, thrilling to the grace of her motion. She was
an Artemis in fatigue pants and a white tank top. Her blond hair
was pulled back into a French braid, and her tanned skin contrasted
with the light locks and shirt. He could have stayed there forever.
felt the pricking of the skin at the base of her neck that meant
someone was watching her, and turned around. And there he stood,
hale and whole, arms crossed, gazing back at her. She walked up
to him, her stride free and easy. "Hey," she said softly.
then the casualness was too much for her to bear, and she launched
herself into his arms, holding him tightly. The fear she had not
admitted to herself drained away as she inhaled his scent. "Welcome
glad to be back," he said honestly.
looked up at him with a grin. "So, what'd you bring me? Souvenirs?"
chuckled. "In a manner of speaking." Playfully, she patted his
pockets, but found nothing. "Do I need to do a strip search?"
Clarice, patience is a virtue."
snorted. "Apparently I'm not as virtuous as I thought."
you care to demonstrate some other un-virtuous behavior?" He arched
an eyebrow at her meaningfully.
send the servants home," she said in a husky, low voice.
them not to come back tomorrow. I've something special planned."
knew better than to ask.
made herself scarce the next day, enjoying a morning of walking
and an afternoon of shopping. She picked out a new bikini, strolled
around some more, bought a handful of grapes from a street vendor,
and savored their sweetness under the bright tropical sun. She
glanced down at her watch. It was time to find her way home.
the time she made her way up the broad, flagstoned drive, she
was pleasantly hungry and insatiably curious. Dinner was always
an event, but this promised to be something special. He met her
at the door. Crisp white shirt, blue jeans, and… cowboy boots?
stared at him. Looked him up, looked him down. Definitely appreciated
the view, but… what on earth? Jeans?
dear," she said, leaning in to kiss him on the cheek. He pressed
a glass into her hand. She looked at it, wondering what strange
new drink this might be. Dark, fizzy… it seemed familiar somehow.
you might enjoy your drink while you're up in your room changing
for dinner. I've laid out something special on your bed."
nodded, a bit confused, then decided to just relax and go with
it. He'd never disappointed, not on nights where this much effort
was involved. She smiled and headed up the stairs. "Meet you on
grinned. "Yes. Take your time getting ready."
She started up the staircase, sipping her drink. When the first
mouthful registered in her mind she had to grip the banister for
support. Jack and Coke? He made me a Jack and Coke? Her surprise
carried her all the way up to the room they shared. There, on
the pristine white sheets, was a red bandana-print halter top
and a pair of Daisy Dukes, frayed edges and all. A red hair scrunchie
and blue sandals completed the outfit.
looked at the bed, looked at her drink, looked back at the bed,
and raised the glass to her lips. She decisively downed the cocktail
in three smooth swallows, reeling a little as the contents burned
her throat. She stripped off her dress and stood naked in the
halter tied around her neck and across the middle of her back.
She picked up the shorts and found, beneath, a pair of red satin
panties. Grinning, she slipped them on and pulled the tight denim
shorts over them. She slid her feet into the sandals and pulled
her hair back with the scrunchie. Stepping over to the mirror,
she checked out her reflection. She looked as American as apple
pie, and twice as tasty.
grabbed her empty glass on her way downstairs, and passed through
airy rooms and breezy corridors until she reached the terrace.
He was there, now bedecked in an apron that had "Kiss the Cook"
across the front. The wrought iron table was covered in a red
and white gingham oilskin tablecloth, and he toiled in front of
an honest-to-God Weber grill. He lifted the cover, examined the
contents, and removed from a galvanized steel bucket an aluminum
can. She stared at him as he poured Pabst Blue Ribbon onto an
array of sausages and burgers.
from fingers numb, her glass shattered into a thousand pieces
on the flagstones that floored the terrace. He looked up at the
sound, then gave her a glance that pierced her soul.
was all he had to say, and then he turned back to his grillmaster
walked over to the bucket next to him and plunged her hand into
the ice. She came up with another can of beer and cracked it open.
Tasting it, she made a face.
I never drank this stuff, Hannibal."
was humming a tune she couldn't quite place as he turned to her.
was that, dear?"
Would you mind getting the things from that cooler and setting
them on the table?"
at all," she said, while her mind was busy thinking something
quite different. She longed to come straight out and say 'Who
are you and what did you do with Hannibal Lecter?' but couldn't
quite bring herself to it. So she went to the white Styrofoam
cooler and lifted out a large blue plastic bowl covered in Saran
Wrap. Potato salad. She placed it on the table and returned for
the red bowl filled with coleslaw. She retrieved two bags of buns
and the cooler was empty.
sat down at the table and picked up her sweating can of beer.
It nauseated her, she realized, and she got up and walked to the
edge of the terrace. With a certain pang, she poured the beer
out over the railing. A crash of music startled her, and she dropped
the can over the side.
turned quickly to see Hannibal standing in front of a portable
CD player. She had to think for a moment before she could recall
the name of the band, though she felt her body respond to the
music. Oh. That would be Lynyrd Skynyrd.
was watching her just a little too intently. She smiled nervously
and walked back over to the table. He motioned to a pile of paper
plates and plastic utensils, and she set the table mechanically,
weighting the plates down with buns. She sat down and allowed
him to serve her a very black looking piece of burger and a bratwurst.
He reached into the potato salad with one of the plastic spoons
and piled some on her plate. He did the same with the coleslaw,
then served himself.
pulled the apron over his head and sat down. She smiled as he
took a paper napkin and tucked it neatly into the neck of his
have to tell me if I did the burgers right," he commented, and
took a bite of the potato salad. She looked at the thing on her
plate, then grimly picked it up and brought it to her lips. Steeling
herself, she tasted it. Charred on the outside, raw in the middle.
"Just right," she said dryly, and put it back down.
watched as he proceeded to clean his plate, eating everything
on it. She didn't touch her food.
he finished, and looked at her. "Something wrong with your meal,
going on here?" He looked at her, and she could feel herself drowning
in his eyes. She didn't know what she saw there, only that she
had only ever seen it once before. At the house on the Chesapeake.
She swallowed hard.
did not speak, but took her hand and brought her to the edge of
the terrace. The view of the garden was splendid in the dying
light of the evening. The leaves of the trees flickered in the
gentle breeze, and the scent of the flowers washed over them,
erasing the stench of charcoal and burnt hamburger.
you pick out your tree, Clarice? Your poor target?" She looked
for a moment, then found it. She raised her free hand to point
it out. "It's that one. Why?"
like to put it out of its misery," he said in a voice devoid of
tone or inflection. He released her hand and turned to the table.
From beneath, under the oilskin tablecloth, he pulled a crossbow.
She shivered, suddenly cold all over. Goosebumps sprang up over
her arms and legs, bare to the wind.
braced his elbows on the railing, aimed, and hesitated. Looking
over at her, he said, "Happy Independence Day, Clarice," and shot
knew instantly that the note played by that most deadly of stringed
instruments was a D below middle C. It rang in her head long after
the sound itself had died, and she did not need to look to know
that the bolt had found its quarry.
she asked, a little breathless.
set the crossbow down carefully on the flagstones, and spread
his hands. "Yes?"
starving. Do you have anything else to eat besides that swill
you offered me?"
rather frightening smile spread over his face. "I think I have
something that might fit the bill."
turned to the table and gathered the oilcloth up like a sack,
removing all the fixings in one fell swoop. "Sit, darling, and
wait just a moment."
took her place at the table, leaned back into her chair, and sighed.
Before she had even a chance to reflect on the events of the evening,
he had returned, clad once more in light wool slacks and a gray
linen shirt and pushing a service cart.
plucked a candelabrum from the cart and set it on the table, then
lit the candles against the gathering darkness. With a few quick
movements and the glitter of crystal and silver, he had set an
elegant place for her. He poured her a glass of red wine and bowed
slightly as she raised it to him, then sipped. The ruby glow it
cast on her face was most appealing.
he removed the cover from his copper saucepan, Clarice inhaled
deeply. A complex aroma insinuated itself into her awareness.
It was dark, rich, and heavenly. He fussed at the cart just a
bit, then presented her with a gleaming ivory plate. The sweetbreads
she recognized instantly, but it took a moment of appreciation
for her to recognize the rest of her meal. As she did, words echoed
in her mind. "A notable dark and glossy ragout, the constituents
never determined, on saffron rice."
looked up at his waiting face, and smiled. "I've always wondered
what this tasted like," she said honestly.
ahead." He took his seat, steepled his fingers, and watched her
from under lowered lids.
brought a bite to her mouth. The flavors exploded on her tongue.
'Darkly thrilling' doesn't do it justice, she thought. She closed
her eyes and let her senses go.
long moment later, she opened them to find him still watching
her. She smiled, and said, "So, what is the main ingredient, anyway?"
let out a long held breath and a corner of his mouth quirked.
"A good chef never reveals his secrets. But, I will tell you this…
it's a good thing."
laughter rang out over the garden in the silvery moonlight.
Part 1 of 1
for the intrusion, and am carefully stripping all traces of
Americana from the GD right now, as I put him back into his
presumably belongs to herself and, to some extent, her stockholders.
It's all in good fun. Really.
Feedback to Author