copyright 2001, by
The characters Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Clarice Starling and Ardelia Mapp 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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It had been several years since Ardelia
Mapp had been to the Word Pan Competition with her family. When she was
a child, she made every one of them, tagging along to Trinidad with her
uncle’s band, taking lessons on the steel drums right along side her
cousins. Those days were a relic of her childhood now, the easy carefree
days before the FBI, but last summer when her aunt had called her,
reminding her of the upcoming competition in October, the music, dance
and spicy food had been too much for Ardelia to resist. She was in need
of a vacation anyway. Life at the FBI field office had grown mundane,
and although she rarely admitted it, she missed vicariously living the
roller coaster life of her friend Clarice Starling. The stability and
order in her own life, that was once a lighthouse in a storm for
Clarice, had frankly become a bore to Ardelia. She was ready to cut
The weather in Virginia had begun to
harbor an early chill when she boarded the plane. Now in Trinidad, the
Caribbean heat was thick and syrupy and the air carried the scents of
outdoor barbecue and the light tinkling sounds of steel drums. Bands
from the West Indies, the Americas, Europe and Africa came to the World
Pan Competition, and Ardelia’s uncle’s band was among the best.
It was early evening and the daytime
competitions were winding down. The mornings and afternoons were
reserved for the classical categories. Bach, Tchaikovsky, Handel, and
Scarlatti had all been played expertly by orchestras of steel drums. Now
the rhythmic notes of Calypso and Soca filled the air, signaling the
time to party. At last, Ardelia began to relax as she chatted with her
relatives, her uncle handing her a drink. She was laughing at her
cousin’s jokes when something caught her attention out of the corner
of her eye, a platinum blonde head and light skin in the sea of brown
faces. Ardelia sipped her drink and turned to get a better look at the
woman. Her face was familiar, but the hair didn’t seem to match and
Ardelia, usually very good with faces and names, couldn’t place her.
Must be an actress or model I’ve seen on TV before, she thought to
herself. Ardelia tried to focus on her family and brush off the sight of
the woman, but she couldn’t take her eyes away. The woman moved
through the crowd and appeared to be alone. Ardelia was racking her
brain trying to place the face when the woman turned, showing her left
cheek. Even from a distance, she could see the black blush, embedded
just below the skin. The face found it’s place in the catalogue in
Ardelia’s mind, albeit slightly altered from the picture already
there, and Ardelia’s stomach knotted and she felt for the emerald ring
on her finger, knowing the woman she was looking at was Clarice
She handed her drink to her uncle, “I
have to go see something, I’ll be right back”
“Where are you going child, the
party’s right here.”
“I’ll be back, I just think I saw
somebody I know up there.” She felt for the .45 under her shorts, her
best friend and companion since Starling had disappeared, even on
vacation. Why am I worried about that, she thought to herself as she
pushed her way through the crowd, trying not to loose sight of the blond
head. I’m going to see a friend. But she could be with HIM, the other
side of her brain said. She scanned the faces in front of her and near
Starling, but didn’t see anyone that could be Hannibal Lecter.
It had been relatively easy to navigate
through the crowd until the Soca beat started in earnest from the stage.
People began to dance and wave hankies in the tradition of carnival in
Trinidad. For a moment, Ardelia lost her bearings, then she saw the
platinum head duck into a ramshackle bar up the street. She entered the
dark, smoky building and stopped for a moment while her eyes adjusted to
the light. She scanned the interior and saw the blonde hair pass through
a doorway in the back of the bar. Well girl, now this is definitely
against your better judgment, she said to herself. She checked her
pistol once more and began to make her way to the back. I’m doing this
for Clarice. She needs my help.
She pushed past the door and felt the
pressure of the hand against her mouth and the arm around her middle
before she realized someone had grabbed her, someone very strong. She
felt his breath on her ear then and fear choked her throat, as she knew
all too well who had a hold of her. She forced the fear back down and
struggled to regain control of her senses. Jesus girl, how could you be
so stupid? What were you thinking, you’d just yell out, ‘hey
Clarice,’ and it would be old home week?
“That’s a girl now. Don’t struggle
my dear, I have no intent to hurt you.” His voice was as steely as
Starling had described it. “I’m going to take my hand from your
mouth now. Keep your head and don’t scream.” The hand came away and
Ardelia took a deep breath as she heard the familiar clicking of
handcuffs around her wrists. He led her to a wooden chair in the middle
of the floor in the dimly lit room. “I think you’ll be more
comfortable here. Be a dear and stay where I put you.”
The monster came around in front of her
then and she matched the slightly altered face with the old case file
pictures in the catalogue in her head. A fire burned in her eyes at the
sight of him and bile rose in her throat.
“Where is she,” she spat.
“Now now dear, no need to get nasty. It
really doesn’t suit you.”
“What have you done to her. She can’t
be…….with you of her own free will.”
“Miss Mapp, you really shouldn’t be
so quick to judge. I’m sure you think you know your friend well, but I
assure you she is as enamored with me as I with her, and you can be
certain that it is her choice to be with me.”
Ardelia looked at the board floor and
took a moment to contemplate her situation. Her gun was still at her
He came at her with the shiny tip of
knife in his hand that she hadn’t seen before, and she caught her
breath in her throat.
“Now, let’s just remove that little
temptation before you make a silly mistake.” He took the gun from her
as she watched, removed the bullets, made sure the chamber was clear,
put the bullets in his pocket and laid the gun on the floor in front of
Ardelia looked around the small room. The
door she had followed Clarice through was between her and Lecter. Along
the other wall hung a black velvety curtain, looking out of place in the
broken down bar. She looked back up at Lecter, his maroon eyes seemed to
give off a light of their own. Keep your cool, girl. Keep your cool.
“Why should I believe you. I want to
Dr. Lecter sighed. “I suppose I could
grant you that wish. This little game of ours is getting rather dull.”
He moved towards the curtain, keeping his eyes on Ardelia. “Darling,
would you come here please. Someone wants to see you.”
From behind the curtain, stepped Clarice
Starling, a little different in the face, but with the same eyes and of
course the mark on her cheek.
“Hey girlfriend,” she said. “I see
you found me.”
“Good God girl, what are you doing? Are
you crazy? Has he hurt you? Are you drugged?” The questions came
tumbling out of Ardelia as she leaned forward in her seat, resisting the
temptation to stand up and go to her friend, seeing the shining blade of
Dr. Lecter’s knife by his side.
“I’m fine Ardelia. Better than fine.
I told you that when I sent you the ring, remember?” She moved close
to Dr. Lecter and he put his arm around her, she placed her hand on his
chest. He smiled, but never moved his eyes from the woman in the chair.
“Ardelia, I love you, you’ve been like a sister to me, but I am
happier now than I ever was, and I intend to stay that way.”
Well fuck me and lay me out to dry.
“Clarice…….I just can’t believe that you would…….that you
would do this…….with him.” Her brain could hardly register the
sight in front of her, but the faint sound of the Soca music outside
told her that this was not a dream and what she was seeing was true.
“I guess you’re not who I thought you were.”
“No honey, I’m not.” She leaned
into Lecter and kissed him deeply on the lips. Lecter seemed to relish
it, but Ardelia noticed he left one eye on her, making sure she didn’t
run for it.
The couple parted and Lecter walked
towards her, knife in hand. “Be happy for me, friend,” she heard
Clarice say, and then everything went black.
Ardelia woke up with the worst hangover
she’d ever had. Her head swam with music, the smell of spicy food, and
something else. Platinum blonde hair, maroon eyes, oh God, was it true?
Had she really seen them…….together? Her stomach churned and she
quickly surveyed her surroundings, recognized the hotel suite her family
was sharing, and found the quickest route to the bathroom.
“Hey there’s the girl,” her aunt
called to her as she walked out of the bathroom, her legs still shaky.
“What happened?” Ardelia tried to
“Whooo girl, you was drunk as a skunk
last night. Baby, we had to pick you up off of that floor in the bar and
bring your sorry ass home. You went all out, child.”
Ardelia could remember only the drink her
uncle had given her and wondered how powerful it could have been. Could
it have caused hallucinations? She sipped the hot sweet coffee from the
cup her aunt handed her and pushed the thoughts of the previous night
from her head. Be happy for her. Be happy you’re alive.
copyright 2001, by
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