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Interview With the Cannibal

copyright 2001, by Diana Lecter & Drandmrslecter

Disclaimer:    The characters of 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 this site.

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DianaLecter:


Those who knew Clarice Starling in her former life would not recognize her now.  She stood at the window of a rather bleak apartment room, gazing out at the skyline of New York, that which would never be the same.  The clothing she wore reflected nothing of her prior self.  Far was she from the days of jeans and pullovers.  Tonight, as though she was mourning the death of a loved one, the fabric was black, but elegant to avoid the appearance of a funeral attendant. 

Behind her, there was a little racket as the reporter situated himself.  Starling spent the minutes between dialogue in utter stillness, her body language perhaps mimicking another.  Her image reflected in the window glass as the man behind her switched the overhead light on, and she took a minute of selfish pride at the flawless state of her hair, the emeralds at her ears and around her throat.  Subconsciously, her hand traveled to her collarbone to grasp her necklace, and she entwined it in her fingers. 

“Ready when you are, Ms. Starling,” came the welcoming call from behind.  She had anticipated it a few seconds ago, and was ready with her reply. 

“So you want me to tell you the story of my life...” She asked, turning to face him slowly.  For a minute, the light seemed to draw into her eyes, and she held him whole with her gaze.

“That's what I do. I interview people. I collect lives. F.M. radio. F.F.R.C. I just interviewed a genuine hero, a cop who-”

“You'd have to have a lot of tape for my story. I've had a very unusual life.”  She smiled at this, more to herself, it seemed. 

The reporter raised his eyebrows inquisitively.  “So much the better. I've got a pocket full of tapes.”

Starling snickered, tilting her head at him, eyes forming slits.  “You followed me here, didn't you?”  Without awaiting her reply, she moved to the window sill again and poured herself some Amarone.  She turned to offer her guest some, but he shook his head and waved his hand to politely decline.  

“Saw you in the street outside. You seemed interesting. Is this where you live?” He asked a minute later.

Starling chuckled lightly at the implication.  “This place?  It's just a room...”

The reporter cleared his throat.  “All right.  So, shall we begin, then?  Why don’t you tell me what you do?”

“I am a cannibal.”

At that, the reporter let out an involuntary, though notably nervous chuckle.  “See? I knew you were interesting. You mean this literally, I take it?”

“Absolutely. I was watching you watching me. I was waiting for you in that alleyway. And then you began to speak.”

“Well, what a lucky break for me.”

“Perhaps lucky for both of us,” Starling said, more to herself, it seemed.  “I'll tell you my story. All of it. I'd like to do that very much.”

Noting something in her eyes, the obsessive way in which she focused on him, the reporter nodded his understanding.  After all, it hadn’t been too long before that he was in a similar position.  Similar, but by no means the same. 

Slowly, he swallowed.  “You noticed me, you said, following you.  Were going to kill me?  Is that what this is?”

“Yes, but you needn't worry about that now. Things change.”

Nodding his understanding, the reporter reached forward to switch on the recorder.  “All right, then,” he said, perhaps a tad too calm for a man that was told he had originally been on the menu for that evening.  “Let’s get started.”

“Not just yet.”

“Not yet?”

“I’m waiting for my companion.”

This aroused his attention.  Who was crazy enough to willingly accompany a cannibal?  “Your companion?”

“Yes.  This is his story, too.  We made the decision together to tell it.”

“Do you expect him soon?”

“Oh yes.  He’s always on time.  To keep us waiting would be rude.”

The reporter’s eyes narrowed.  “Ah, but we have been waiting,” he noted pointedly.

“My companion has a contempt for the rude, you see.  I told him to meet us here at ten.  Check your watch.  He is not late at all.”

Their eyes lingered on each other for a minute, and he reveled in the elegant poise in which she conducted herself.  It was not self-possession, but something else.  Something eerily calm and serene.  Like there shouldn’t be an eminence of peace radiating from her, this self-proclaimed cannibal. 

“I see,” he said without checking his watch.

Starling’s eyes burnt into his a beat longer than he could tolerate.  “No you don’t,” she concluded evenly.  “But perhaps you will before the evening has run its course.”

Then, before he could utter another word, three swift knocks were delivered to the door.  Starling took a leisurely slow sip of her wine, pupils still engrained in his, making him shiver with either anticipation or dread.  Finally, she climbed to her feet and crossed the room.  Though their eyes no longer held each other’s, he could still feel the power behind her gaze.

He heard the door open behind him. 

A voice different than any he had heeded in the past struck the air and hung.  It was metallic and eerie, soft though powerful.  It made him shiver, more than Starling’s gaze did, and he leaned back in the chair to catch the ends of the conversation. 

Nothing more than the usual greetings, he suspected. 

“Is this the guest of honor?” this voice asked as a shadow briefly crossed his face.  The reporter turned his face upward to gaze at the newcomer, and quickly found himself in an intense stare that fiercely overpowered what he had seen in Starling’s eyes.  Instead of compliant blue pupils, he was drawn into maroon centers that seemed to burn a hole to his very core.

“Yes,” Starling answered, coming into view.  Lovingly, her arm grasped his left and held there.  “I’m afraid I didn’t catch your name, though.”

“Mallory,” he answered.  He didn’t care for them to know his full title.

“Ah, Mallory,” replied the new arrival, his gaze not wavering.  “Welcome.  Allow me to introduce myself.  I’m Dr. Hannibal Lecter.  I believe you’ve met Clarice.”

At the name, Mallory nearly soiled himself, but forced himself to maintain a collected vestige of control.  There weren’t many in the world that were unacquainted with Dr. Lecter, nor unaware of his infamous crimes.  Now, Mallory cursed himself for not recognizing Starling’s name at first.  No wonder she was a cannibal.  She probably had to be. 

“Don’t be frightened,” Starling encouraged a minute later, her hold on her companion’s arm not having relinquished.  “We want this opportunity.  We’ve discussed it.  No one knows the full story…they merely speculate.  This is our chance.  If you don’t tell it, we will find someone who will.”

“There are certain things we must trust with you, firstly,” Dr. Lecter added.  He had the tone of a strict history professor. “Once our pleasantries this evening have concluded, word of our stay in New York must only circulate when we have made our leave.  You may tell authorities that we threatened you and made you interview us, if you like.  It is of little importance or interest to me.  Whatever defends your honor.  If you do not wish to comply, I have no problem with finding someone who will.  You were chosen for a reason, and disobedience will not be tolerated.  Understood?”

Mallory swallowed.  Was this really worth it?  This renowned member of America’s Ten Most Wanted was offering him the interview opportunity of a lifetime.  He was foolish to even consider not accepting.  Not only because of what it meant for his salary, but also for the blade that had slid from Lecter’s free sleeve and palmed swiftly in his right hand. 

Yes, of course it was worth it.

“Yes.”  The word uttered emitted as a hoarse whisper.  He could offer no more.

Dr. Lecter’s eyes remained on him for long seconds afterward, red glare scrutinizing him at every angle.  He seemed to scrutinize him too closely, and it was then the reporter realized he had been admiring Starling’s bust size.  It was second nature for him, as a man, nothing he thought of anymore.  Noting his company, he instantly looked away.  Though frightened, Mallory thought to ignore it.  He couldn’t consider it now.  Not now.  Not when he was seconds away from needing new trousers.  After a minute, the psychopath nodded his agreement before turning to his wife.  “Do you wish to start, my dear?”

“I suppose so.” Sighing, Starling lifted her head to look at Mallory once more.  “How to start?  Shall I begin like David Copperfield? I am born, I grow up. Or shall I begin when I was born to liberation, as I call it. That's really where we should start, don't you think?”

At her wording, Dr. Lecter’s mouth tugged into a discreet smile.  Her reference visibly pleased him, as did her broad vocabulary.

 “Under the circumstances, Ms. Starling, why don’t we start at the beginning beginning.  Your start.  Where you and Le-Dr. Lecter first met.”  Mallory didn’t want to be too forceful, but likewise knew the story in the entirety would be more valuable than just a chunk.

Though a chunk would make him a rich man just as easily. 

Starling nodded as though she suspected that would be the request, and slowly, both she and Dr. Lecter took their seats.  They sat side-by-side, arms still entwined, and waited a patient moment before beginning.

“I was an FBI trainee, twenty five years old, I think.  My supervisor, Jack Crawford, called me in for assignment.  Buffalo Bill was still at large, and I had an impending assignment to visit the Baltimore Hospital for the Criminally Insane…”



Drandmrslecter :

 

“Excuse me, Clarice...” he would say tenderly and reach over to grab her wrist to stop her.

“I believe I then said….” To which Starling responded with a pleasant, “Oh, that’s right, dear...I apologize.”

Mallory marveled at the polite nature of these two infamous fugitive cannibals and found them to be oddly charming.  People you would want to have dinner with…almost.

Mallory was completely entranced by Dr. Lecter and Starling’s story.  Not only with what they were saying, but how they were saying it.

“He made fun of me at first…calling me a rube.

“Billy Rubin turned out to be an anagram…

“So when I approached Dr. Lecter with this ‘phony deal,’ I didn’t really know if he would buy it or not, but I had to try…

“I didn’t have to go to Memphis…I wanted to, I didn’t think he would mind seeing me.

“I hadn’t thought about Hannah and my lamb in so long, but the memory was just as powerful and haunting as it was when I was a child…Dr. Lecter elicited those memories from me and when he did, I knew that I had to save Catherine any way I could…

Starling continued to tell their story in a calm and dignified manner, even though Mallory could now sense emotion he hadn’t heard in her voice up until that point.  It was obvious to him that these memories she was speaking of still had a powerful impact on her.

He watched as Dr. Lecter began to clutch Starling’s hand tightly as she continued to tell of that slaughtering of the lambs on the Montana ranch so long ago.  Dr. Lecter also put his arm around Starling whenever she mentioned her father.  It seemed that even though many years had passed, there were deep wounds that still needed to heal.

“And so,” Starling finally concluded, “That’s how Buffalo Bill was discovered and killed and how Catherine Martin was saved…and how Dr. Lecter escaped from custody.”

“Wow,” was all Mallory said as he lit his fifth cigarette and changed the cassette for a second time. “That’s one hell of a story…but that can’t be it…there has to be more, right?”

“Oh yes…much more, Mallory,” Dr. Lecter then said as he continued, “Now I will pick up here, if you don’t mind.”

“No…of course, Dr. Lecter, please...go on...this is amazing stuff,” Mallory said, making sure that the cassette was properly placed in the machine and hitting “record” again.

“You don’t mind, do you, my dear?” Dr. Lecter asked Starling.

“No, Hannibal…you take it from here,” she replied as she sat wearily back in her seat.  The retelling of their tale up to that point had obviously taken its toll on Starling as Dr. Lecter asked her, “Do you want to stop now, Clarice?…We can always do this another time.”

“No…we came here to do this thing, now let’s finish it.”

Dr. Lecter kissed her on the forehead gently and said, “That’s my girl.”

Dr. Lecter cleared his throat as he began to continue their story.  “Now, Mallory, if you would be so kind as to turn the recorder towards me so I do not have to raise my voice, I would be most appreciative.”

“Sure thing, Doc,” Mallory replied as he pushed the recorder more in Hannibal’s direction.

“Now then; after my escape there was a hotel conveniently situated near a renowned plastic surgery center...”

Dr. Lecter continued to calmly tell his story as Mallory looked at both of them in awe.

It was as if he were telling a buddy about his day.

“When I finally got to Florence I knew that was where I would make my permanent residence; at least, as permanent as it could be under the circumstances. It wasn’t until Ms. Starling ran into a bit of trouble with her employers that I felt it incumbent upon myself to make my presence known.”

He went on as Starling smiled at him, nodding and emitting a nervous giggle every now and then.

Occasionally, Mallory would interrupt with a question.

“Wait a minute, Dr. Lecter.  You mean to tell me that all that time you were in Florence you made no attempt to contact Ms. Starling until she got into trouble with the FBI?”

“Yes, Mallory, that is correct.”

“Well, Mallory, I think the answer to that question is fairly ‘obvious’ in itself.”

“But…how can I say this?…Did you have...uummmm…” Mallory hesitated as he tried to think of exactly how he wanted to phrase his next question.

“Please, Mallory, ask your question,” Dr. Lecter prompted.

“Well, I was just going to ask you…what did you do for sex?  I mean…did you have a girlfriend over there?” Mallory concluded, now feeling himself flush with embarrassment.

Starling glanced over and caught Dr. Lecter’s eye as they both began to chuckle.

“Yeah, Dr. Lecter…what DID you do for sex?” she chided.

Dr. Lecter didn’t miss a beat as he said to her, “Probably the same thing you did my dear,” as he gave her a peck on the cheek and then turned back to face Mallory.

“Now, Please Mallory, if I may continue without any further interruptions.”

 

DianaLecter:

 

The warning in Dr. Lecter’s voice was minor and would have gone unnoticed had the maroon pupils not flickered in interest.  For a minute, Mallory suspected he was being studied for edibility.  After all, his mannerisms and wandering eyes in appreciation seemed to be enough reason for this man to kill.  He decided to cut back on the questioning and not allow himself to familiarize with these fugitives, or grow too comfortable with their company.  The minute he forgot who he was dealing with was the minute he forgot the value of his life.

Just because he was still alive here didn’t mean they wouldn’t kill him if he exhibited disrespect…

Bearing that in mind, Mallory nodded hastily.  “Of course, Dr. Lecter.  No interruptions, I promise.”

Dr. Lecter reflected no surprise, or even pleasure at the fear he was able to inflict with a simple tone, but instead nodded his understanding with a smile.  A deceptive smile.  “Thank you.  Now that we’ve established my habitual patterns in Florence, I won’t shun in explaining what I did to fill my time.  There was a kindly old gentleman I killed to obtain a job as a curator.  Sadly, his death was in vain, for I had to flee the country after disposing of Mason Verger’s rather inept attempts to be justified for what I did to his face.

“Otherwise, I lived quietly, peacefully.  Killing is not something fundamental to my nature, mind you; it’s simply apart of my life.  I choose to or not to.  Nothing more trivial than ordering take in or delivery, really.”  Dr. Lecter smiled at him as Mallory shrank back a little, not daring to break eye contact for the world.  The way this man spoke of death was frightening. 

What’s more, his lovely girlfriend seemed to encourage it.  Of course, he had to remind himself that she was not Special Agent Starling, now.  She was Clarice Starling, presumed dead.  Clarice Starling, cannibalistic accomplice to the center spot of the Ten Most Wanted.

Well, former center spot. 

They were all silent for a few minutes, though Dr. Lecter’s eyes focused intently on him.  Mallory hesitated, expectant, and neared him suspiciously.  Was it time to ask a question? 

“Will you yield for a question?” he asked timidly.

At that, Dr. Lecter grinned widely.  “Yield?  I suppose.”

“You mentioned that she ran into a bit of trouble…Starling, I mean.”

At that, Dr. Lecter’s eyes darkened a bit.  “Ms. Starling, if you don’t mind,” he corrected on a slightly lower note, nothing to really imply threat, but it still managed to chill Mallory’s blood. 

Nodding, he stuttered a reply.  “Yes…my apologies, Dr. Lecter.”

Dr. Lecter arched an eyebrow.  “Now…why are you apologizing to me?”

Mallory frowned in confusion before his eyes averted to Starling, who sat there with an amused smile.  Nodding his understanding once more, he amended quickly, “Oh…sorry, Ms. Starling.”

“Quite all right,” she assured him.

“Now then.” Dr. Lecter’s voice had not grown any friendlier, but on the upside, it lacked the winter storm he knew it was capable of.  With a sigh, Mallory awaited instruction, again scolding himself for interrupting in the first place.  “What was your question?”

“Ummm…” What was it again?  Oh yes…he remembered.  “What, uhhh…event drew you out of hiding, specifically, if you don’t mind?”

“Well…” Dr. Lecter trailed off as though submerging into thought, but Starling seemed the wiser and knew it was unneeded, that his answer required no consideration.  It wasn’t a stalling tactic, rather a way to elevate the tension.

It worked.

“It was really a series of sequential events,” the Doctor said finally.  “But I suppose, to be obsessively technical, I would have to say, the shooting of Evelda Drumgo and how the media and her so-called colleagues reacted to the very professional manner in which she did her job in…oh, let’s say…impolite ways.

“I can understand if you don’t remember that, Mallory.  It was several years ago.  Should I refresh your memory?

He nodded.  “Please…if you don’t mind.”

“Of course.” Dr. Lecter paused methodically to squeeze Starling’s hand in casual reassurance of her ability, years after the events occurred.  Needless to say, the reporter was fascinated.  “But firstly, I feel compelled to mention the very being that specialized in making her life unpleasant, so you may understand the aftermath.

“It started, really, seven years before the raid even occurred, when I was still in confinement.”  Again, Dr. Lecter broke eye contact to study Starling, in silent preparation for what uttering the dreaded title might draw from her.  “His name was Paul Krendler, and he was from the Justice Department in the FBI.”

Predictably, Starling let out a large groan, but Mallory received the feeling it was more in good humor.



Drandmrslecter:



Dr. Lecter turned and gave Starling a soft smile after hearing her reaction to the name of the late Paul Krendler.  She smiled back and squeezed his hand as he asked her, "Are you all right, my love?"

"I'm fine," she said barely above a whisper as Mallory cleared his throat, now feeling like an intruder during the intimate exchange between the two of them.

Dr. Lecter, sensing Mallory's discomfort offered, "It's quite all right, Mallory, Ms. Starling doesn't mind my continuing," he said as he settled back in his seat once more to continue telling their story.

Dr. Lecter continued to tell the tale with the same casual ease that he and Starling had been exhibiting the entire time, stealing occasional glances and smiles at each other, squeezing each other's hands for support, and making few corrections, as both of their recollections were remarkably similar.  There were even points during the interview that they were able to finish each others sentences when the other had paused momentarily to think of just the right word.  They would giggle like children and smile at one another, each taking turns giving the other a tiny kiss either on the cheek, lip or nose.  Mallory tried not to stare, but had a difficult time averting his eyes at the tenderness being displayed by these two known fugitives.

Dr. Lecter continued speaking:

"So, it wasn't until I got back to the States that I began to pursue Ms. Starling with vigor.  I was keenly aware that being back on my native soil meant a much higher chance of being apprehended, but it was a chance worth taking…

"I began making the appropriate arrangements...I went to Texas and once Mr. Starling had been exhumed began to make my way back to the Chesapeake…

"Dinner was lovely and Ms. Starling was a vision..." Just then, Mallory noticed a slight hitch in Dr. Lecter's voice as both men instinctively looked at Clarice, whose eyes were squarely on Dr. Lecter's.  Dr. Lecter and Clarice then gave each other a deep kiss, the deepest one they had shared so far being in Mallory's presence.  It was apparent to Mallory that this was the part of the story that was going to be the most intimate shared thus far.

Dr. Lecter and Starling broke the kiss simultaneously, however, neither one of them offered any further detail on that night in front of the fireplace on the shores of the Chesapeake.  It was now apparent to Mallory that this part of their story was for no one else to know besides them and they were going to keep it that way.

Respecting their privacy the best he could but being rather curious, Mallory prodded slightly, "So after you killed Paul Krendler and…." Mallory swallowed hard before continuing, "Ate...him...what happened?"

Dr. Lecter and Starling looked at each other and smiled before she answered, "That is none of your business, Mallory and if we wanted to share what happened during that part of the evening, Dr. Lecter would have already offered that information to you."

They squeezed hands again as Mallory persisted.

"So…did you just talk?"

Dr. Lecter glared at Mallory's insolence and raised his eyebrows as he said calmly, but firmly, "Mallory, I believe Ms. Starling has already stated that we refuse to discuss that part of the evening with you.  It is a private matter."

Mallory lit another cigarette as he changed the tape again.



DianaLecter



“You really should quit that,” Starling noted pointedly, motioning with her free hand to the ashtray of half-consumed cigarettes.  “It’s a nasty habit, and not too beneficial for your health, you know.”

“Is my smoke bothering you?”

With a knowing smile, Starling glanced to Dr. Lecter.  “Let’s just say I’d prefer to breathe clean air.”

Mallory needed no further convincing.  In the next instant, he doused the cigarette and coughed slightly, waving a hand over the ashtray to clear of the smoke.  While this raked in little success, it seemed to satisfy his interviewees, and once again, he settled.  Now watching them, he noted the inner desire to draw the full story from what occurred that evening after the troublesome Paul Krendler met his timely demise.  

“I don’t mean to pry…” he said as he switched the record button again.

“Oh, but of course you do,” Dr. Lecter replied knowingly, his eyes cold.  The knowing tone forewarned Mallory that he knew the topic was not deceased as requested.  However, as any good journalist, he also knew to put the story first.  Above everything.  It was in the Constitution, the public’s right to know, and all that mumbo jumbo. 

“The truth is, Dr. Lecter, the public won’t be satisfied with mere fact.  They’ll want to know the juicy stuff…”

“Come out and say it, Mallory,” Starling shot, her eyes as cold as Lecter’s, perhaps more.  At that, the reporter shied in his seat, scrambling as though to escape her gaze, though he clearly had nowhere to go.  “They’ll want to know of our sex life, right?”

He nodded.  “Yes.”

“Well, you may tell them it’s none of their fucking business.” Starling shot a glance to Dr. Lecter the next instant.  “My apologies for the vulgarity, dear Doctor,” she whispered teasingly, amazing Mallory with her rapid and authentic mood changes.  It was unlike any case of PMS he had ever seen.  

“Quite all right, my dear,” Dr. Lecter excused, looking to her briefly, but fixating with more ferocity on their rude guest.  “Sometimes vulgarity is the best way to get your point across.”

Simply from sitting there as an observer, Mallory understood this was rather unspoken from him, general acceptance of profanity.  He must have really pissed them off.  However, this was not without justification.  As all presenters of the hidden truth, the story was more important than his life.  The public had a right to know.  “I can’t help what interests people,” he said defensively.  “No one wants to hear what they already know.”

“This isn’t their business, Mallory,” Starling replied, her tone low, and should it have a shade; he’d label it pale. 

“The public has a funny way of deciding what their business is.  For instance, Monica Lewinsky.”

Dr. Lecter rolled his eyes at that.  “Rubbish.”

“If you want your story to sell-”

Finally, Starling jumped from her seat, her eyes daggers.  Never had he seen such a gaze, even from her companion.  Mallory forced himself control before his pants soiled.  When she spoke, her voice was harsh, very harsh, and surprisingly loud.  It echoed within the room’s confinement, and made him flinch not to look away. 

“I refuse to become a media whore!” she screamed.  “I’ve spent my entire life fighting people like that back!  I don’t give a good goddamn what sells! 

Immediately, Dr. Lecter stood, adjourning to her side and leering her to the comfort of his waiting shoulder.  “Shhh…” he offered, not gratifying their guest with his glance.  “Calm down…”

When Dr. Lecter did look up, Mallory registered the depth of his mistake, and knew instantly he was in big trouble.



Drandmrslecter:

 

“Please,” Mallory offered both of them, “Sit back down, only a few more questions.” He spoke cautiously, trying to get back to the point where Dr. Lecter and Starling could trust him, even though he knew he had now overstepped his boundaries, but hoped to make a comeback.

“Clarice?” Dr. Lecter gently asked her, “Do you wish to continue?  I will understand completely if you do not,” he said as he slowly lifted up her chin with his forefinger and thumb.

Looking deep into her eyes, he asked her once again, “Clarice, my dear.  What do you wish to do?  Whatever your decision, I support it.”

Starling paused momentarily to gaze back into Dr. Lecter’s dark eyes.  They were full of understanding as she then turned to Mallory and said calmly, “This interview is over.”

“WHAT?!” Mallory screamed, shocked and angered by the sudden turn of events the evening had brought.  He knew he was coming on strong with the questions regarding that night at the rented house, but he had no idea that his prodding would cause this much of a reaction in both of them.  They had obviously cherished this memory so much that even the mere thought of telling another living creature about it stirred emotions in them that he was not prepared to witness.

“But we’ve only scratched the surface…I need some more information…this can be an award winner for me….I could….”

“Mallory, you heard Ms. Starling,” Dr. Lecter said firmly as he went to gather their things to make a hasty retreat.  “This interview is over.”

“But what do you mean ‘over’?...This is BULLSHIT!!” he screamed angrily, seeing that the interview of a lifetime was becoming a ‘what if’ scenario.

He could no longer hold back his anger as he yelled at both of them, “You know that I think?...I think the both of you are fucking lunatics!!!  You were locked away in the nuthouse for a reason, Dr. Lecter, and you, Ms. Starling...should have been locked away with him!  I hope the cops or FBI or CIA or someone finds the two of you, put you both in the loony bin and throws away the key!!”

Mallory went to get up as Dr. Lecter swiftly made his way up to him, grabbed him by his shirt collar and sat him back down.

Starling glared at Mallory, anger flashing in her lovely eyes as she said loudly, “You, Mallory, are the rudest man I’ve ever encountered, and considering I’ve encountered quite a few, that is saying a lot.  We were an ‘interesting couple’ up until we refused to discuss our sex life with you.  Now we are ‘fucking lunatics.’  No matter what you call us or how many times you insult us, we still refuse to discuss the intimate details of our private life.  That was not our intention and it was not what we came here to tell you.  We came here to tell you our story, but if you could have it your way, you would turn it into a porno flick.  If you were listening at all, you would see that our relationship has many layers to it, the physical being just one.  But you were only hearing, not listening at all.  Shame on you and your rag of a newspaper, you worthless sack of shit!  And now we’re leaving.”

Dr. Lecter then made his way back to finish collecting their coats as he put Starling’s on her shoulders, smiled at her, gave her a peck on the cheek and whispered into her ear, “Well said, my dear.”

Starling was silent as she reached for her purse as Dr. Lecter walked up to Mallory, who was still seated and said calmly, “Now, Mallory, if you don’t mind, I’d like for you to give me the tapes, please.  You would do well to heed my request as I will not be asking a second time.”

 

DianaLecter:

 

The fire behind Dr. Lecter’s eyes made the timid reporter instantly aware of his full bladder, but he managed to control his urinary functions.  Words formed in Mallory’s voiceless mouth, words that could very well mean the end of him, and he was especially pleased when he managed to keep enough wits about him to refrain from speaking.

Those words were: “Over my dead body.”  It was rather unfortunate what you had to censor while in the company of cannibals.

However, how could he hand the tapes over?  With his pupils blinded with flashing dollar signs, all he could consider at the moment was the fortune he was cheating himself.  To forfeit such a valuable story with ease?  Perhaps the pair would be amused, even respectful if he showed some ground.  After all, what kept them from killing him once they acquired what they wanted?  What really kept them from killing him now?

Nothing…he wondered if they knew this.

Of course they did. 

Dr. Lecter said he would not repeat himself, and he stood by that, eyes ablaze, irritation evident in his fiery pupils.  Though frightened, Mallory could not deny the rush of ecstasy at defying the infamous cannibal.  What editorial piece could he do as a result of this?  How much could he really milk out of the golden cow?

It’s funny, the things people consider before they die.

When Mallory neglected to reply, or do anything in suggestion he was complying to the request, Starling growled her frustration.  He couldn’t see her at the minute; she stood behind him, waiting at the door. 

“Give him the fucking tapes!” she hissed.  “Do you really have a death wish?”

The threat was nothing more than a common third grade jeer, but it sounded cold and promising on her voice.  Still, Mallory refused to falter.  Instead, he found his voice and applauded himself when he spoke quietly, forceful, and without releasing his fear.

“The story is good as it is.  Let me print it.  Just this.”

“No,” came the insistent reply from behind.  “You had your chance, but you got greedy.  You’re no different from the rest, except that you’re alive right now.  If you want to stay that way, I strongly recommend handing over the tapes.”

Mallory hesitated, and nearly jumped out of his skin when the doctor spoke.

“Really, I’ve killed people for wearing perfume that assaults the senses.  Not to mention, your wandering eyes are most offensive.”  With that, he nodded slightly in Starling’s direction.  It was the first direct insinuation to accuse him of lust, and Mallory thought not to question it.  Firstly because his life was on the line, and lastly because it was truth.

That’s all he said.  It was enough.

Or so it seemed.

What he did next really made little sense to him; therefore, his motives seeped beyond the lines of understandability for anyone in the room.  Swiftly, Mallory grasped the recorder and the tapes beside it before making a thunderous bolt for the door.  It was miraculous that he tore passed Starling as he did.  He believed it was more the element of surprise that achieved in getting him into the hallway.

However, it didn’t last long.  He heard them behind him, rapidly gaining speed, and Starling cursing at the top of her lungs. 

Not sure exactly what he hoped to achieve by this, except the rather dreary escape, Mallory took a random turn down a dark corridor, hoping beyond hope that his pursuers didn’t know the building well enough to surprise him around unsuspecting corners.  It didn’t occur to him that he had just heard the testimony that discerned any sense of safety from the more plausible reality.

He wasn’t sure how long he had been running before he realized he was no longer being followed.  Breathing harshly, Mallory collapsed against the wall, clutching the recorder to his chest as though protecting a small child.  It took a minute to calculate how overworked his nerves were.  As he slid the interview tapes into the breast pocket of his jacket, he felt the unstable wobbling that came from paranoia, for anxiety of the uncertain future.

Mallory knew his fate, should he be caught.  If there was ever a chance for survival before, it was over.  His actions made it that way, and he made himself not regret it.

A creak in the floorboards coaxed him to start moving again.  One step at a time, gaining speed rapidly.  Then he was running, running as fast as he could, with no supreme destination in mind.  Plummeting through the turns and twists of the dark maze as blind as a bat.  There was nothing to offer light. 

No…but there were two red dots at the end of the hallway. 

Red dots.

Mallory drew in a ragged breath as he turned a prompt about-face and scurried in the other direction.

Not dots.  Eyes.  And they were approaching.

Second time lucky.  Mallory managed to wheedle through the darkness, back to the hall that led to the room he had spent the evening in, and finally to the front door.  Cold air blasted his face, and he drank it in, for it tasted of freedom as well.  Raw, beautiful freedom.

And he had saved the interview.  He was free, unscathed, and he was about to be a millionaire.

Nevertheless, Mallory kept a good pace until he was securely in his vehicle.  It wasn’t until he had pulled into a steady line of traffic that he allowed himself to wholly relax. 

It took a few minutes before he laughed.  He laughed good and long.  After all, why should he not laugh?  Facing the infamous cannibalistic genius, blatantly defying him, and still he walked away with his life.

Well…ran away, but that was beside the point.

Now, as he reveled in this promise of impending wealth, Mallory reached casually into his breast pocket and plucked one of the tapes for his disposal.  He checked the label, dipped it back with the others until he successfully fished the first.  Satisfied, he inserted it into the tape deck, and listened to a hum before Starling’s voice greeted him. 

 

 “Not just yet.”

“Not yet?”

“I’m waiting for my companion.”

Stop. Fast forward.  Stop.  Play.

“How to start?  Shall I begin like David Copperfield? I am born, I grow up. Or shall I begin when I was born to liberation, as I call it. That's really where we should start, don't you think?”

His voice, then.  Casual and full of promise.  It made him wince to hear, though he was still basking in the glory of his narrow escape. “Under the circumstances, Ms. Starling, why don’t we start at the beginning beginning.  Your start.  Where you and Le-Dr. Lecter first met.”

There was a brief shuffling before she continued.

 “I was an FBI trainee, twenty five years old, I think.  My supervisor, Jack Crawford, called me in for assignment.  Buffalo Bill was still at large, and I had an impending assignment to visit the Baltimore Hospital for the Criminally Insane…”

“A rather dreary place, I must say,” Starling’s voice continued. 

Her voice.  But not on the tape.

 

“Though better than where you’re going, I assure you.” 

 

Mallory screamed as Starling rose from behind him, having nestled herself in the secure invisibility of his backseat.  The sounds of the tape were drowned out by the shrill of his voice, then the very prompt shot of a .45, meeting him squarely in the back of the head.

 

The reporter slumped and the car swerved.  Starling cursed under her breath and climbed over him, avoiding the mess now spreading across the front seats.  Masterfully, she pushed Mallory’s corpse aside and claimed the wheel. 

The sound of her voice on the tape ignored her.  She shut it off.

In silence for a few minutes, Starling took the time to reflect.  She didn’t bother in turning the car around.  After all, she was enjoying the drive, and found no need to rush.

A few seconds later, something buzzed in her jacket pocket.  Smiling, Starling reached for her cell phone and flipped it on.

The other line provided a very soothing, very familiar voice.  “Agent Starling?”

“Dr. Lecter?”

“Problem solved?”

“I’d say so.  Where to take him?”

There was a chuckle, and the rumbling sound vibrated the phone into her hear.  She smiled at the affect.  “Oh, I have a few ideas.  Tell me, Clarice, have you made dinner arrangements?”

Her grin grew wider.  “No.  I haven’t eaten all day, now that you mention it.”

“Splendid.  Drive on home, then.  I’ve taken an alternate interstate to conserve time.  I’ll be waiting.”

“What’s to eat?” she asked gleefully, though the answer was more than self-explanatory.  Ridding the world of the rude seemed to present interesting dinner plans, and the most rewarding deserts.

This was obviously a shared notion. Another approving chuckle was her immediate reply.  “I’m afraid it won’t be ready when you arrive,” he purred.  “But I assure you, it will be to die for…”


FIN

copyright 2001, by Diana Lecter & Drandmrslecter

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