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Wolf in the Fold

copyright 2001, by clever girl

Disclaimer:    Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Clarice Starling, Jack Crawford and Paul Krendler were created by Thomas Harris.  He is 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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Editor's note:

I'm sure you are all aware that with the incredible upsurge of interest in HANNIBAL, much more scholarly effort has gone into the unearthing of Mr. Harris's early writing.  Through an extremely circuitous route, I have learned that Harris actually set the groundwork for his later brilliant vision as early as grade school.  The following document was recovered from the estate of a certain Ms. Adora Fillposy, Harris's fifth grade teacher.  Ms. Fillposy recognized Harris's precocious talent immediately, and luckily for our purposes, saved some of his nascent work.  She hid it away in a safe deposit box, and when she died last month from certain mysterious complications following surgery, her remaining estate was put in the care of the Matagorda, Mississippi branch of Cox & Company Bank.  In my ceaseless effort to bring to light new material (and due to which I am now forced to use only my nom de plume) I have this remarkable piece in my possession at last, and have copied it down here for you. I think you will be as amazed as I was at the ten-year-old writer's grasp of literary allusion and his preternaturally sophisticated vocabulary. The following is, in fact, young Tom Harris's version of a well known fairy tale, although for reasons best known to himself, the mature author refuses to acknowledge the work as his own. 

CG

Seattle, Washington

April 1, 2001

Addendum: For her kindness and confidence in my ability to pursue "The Fillposy Project" (as it is being dubbed for grant-writing purposes) I dedicate this research effort to Miss Hannah. 

************************************************************************ 

WOLF IN THE FOLD 

Once upon a time, in the far off land called Chesapeake Bay, there was a great big forest.  On the very edge of the forest was a little house, and a young girl lived there with her Uncle Jack.  Her name was Clarice, but she had lovely auburn hair with golden highlights and she always wore a favorite red warm-up jersey that her Daddy Who Was Dead Now had given her, so people called her Little Red Riding Hood behind her back and made jokes even though the boys all still thought she was really cute. 

One day, Uncle Jack got a call from Uncle Paul, who lived on the other edge of the forest in his big farmhouse near the water. Uncle Paul was very sick, and asked if Little Clarice could come visit him and bring a basket of goodies. Chafing a bit at always being ordered around like some messenger girl by her uncles, and being really creeped out by the notion of visiting Uncle "Smirkyface", as she thought of him privately, Clarice nevertheless put on a brave smile and told Uncle Jack that of course she would go. With her she took a large basket of many nice things, including some old case files, an X-ray, a box of tartuffe bianci, a tin of pate du foie gras and a nice bottle of Montrachet-Batard with the vintage keyed to Uncle Paul's birth year. 

It was late afternoon by the time she started, and the forest was very quiet. Too quiet. Clarice felt as though two eyes were boring holes into her back, but she shrugged it off to rampant paranoia. 

"I've just been cooped up in that dusty old house with Uncle Jack for too long!" she decided. "What I need is a good, long SKIP! Uncle Pauly can just wait!

La La laleelooo---" And with that she set the basket down and skipped merrily along the trail to a big sunny meadow full of pretty yellow flowers. 

The forest fell quiet again, though off in the distance Clarice's merry peals of laughter could still be heard. Slowly, deliberately, a dark figure rose up from among the oleander. It was the Big Bad Yet Strangely Appealing Wolf! His small, sleek head rotated around like a periscope but his body stayed where it was. Weird, huh? Even weirder, though, were his EYES, which could be either scary maroon or a piercing, cerulean blue, depending on his mood and to whom you spoke. Anyway, the Wolf's eyes narrowed as he spied little Clarice hopping and skipping down below in the meadow. He sniffed the air --"Hmmmmn....freshly washed cotton.... Bactine, L'air du Temps....TRUFFLES???" and he pounced on the basket nestled in the leaves by his incredibly large, furry, perfectly formed paws. Sticking his wet nose in the basket, he inhaled deeply and sighed. "AHHHHHH." With exquisite economy of precise movement, from between his small, pointed teeth uncurled his very long, red, pointed tongue. His eyes rolled back in his head as his tongue wrapped three times around the handle of the basket. A high, thin, piercing, whimpering sound escaped his lips and his back leg thumped in near ecstasy. 

"HEY! What're you doing to my basket, you mangy old wolf???" 

Caught 'in flagrante de lingua', so to speak, The Wolf jerked up and his tongue snapped back into his mouth with the force of a roller blind. 

"AH! Ood effehn--ahem. Excuse me. Good evening....You would be……Clariiiice, I take it? I just happened to be strolling by here and saw this great big basket all by its lonesome, and I...was just ...trying to find out to whom it belonged." 

"By frenching it??" said Clarice, who was nobody's fool for long. 

"Yes. Well. The olfactory sense, you see, when combined with er--that of taste, rather, they are both quite powerful memory enhancers...and I was...erm, attempting to identify the owner THAT way, you see..." 

The Wolf quickly recovered himself, smoothed his fur back into place and smiled winningly at Clarice. The way he looked at her made Clarice feel strange really far down in her stomach. 

"Oh. Well. That makes sense. I guess. You being a Wolf and all……" 

"Mmmhummmnn. Well now, and where would a lovely brave little thing like you be going all by yourself with this big heavy basket?" 

"To Uncle Pauly's house. He's sick." 

"Ah yes. Dear Uncle Pauly. SAY. I haven't seen ol' PAUL in simply AGES. Why don't we walk there together? I could carry the basket for you, and we could pass the time in conversation--you tell me things, I tell you things, rather a quid pr-" 

"Yeah, yeah I got it. Ok Wolfy, you got yourself a deal. Just don't go slobbering over any of the food in there--it's imported, capiche?" 

"Yes I……capiche, mio agnellino. After you." 

And so they walked on through the forest. It was unfortunately rather a one-sided conversation, since The Wolf had to carry the basket in his mouth. But little Clarice was delighted to have found a friend, someone who really seemed to understand her thoroughly-- 

"And THEN when I was TEN, my Dear Daddy the Town Marshall tried to stop this big holdup, see?? And he went off half cocked and got blowed away and left me and Mama and all my brothers and my little sister who I seem to have completely lost track of and for some unknown reason Mama couldn't keep us all together even though this was West Virginia, let's face it, and if she had really given a good goddamn she coulda; ever neighbor within 30 mile was a cousin or brother or uncle or something--I mean it's not like we was eating all that much and I were a good shot even as a little bitty thing and coulda brung in more'n my share a squirrel and possum all by myself and--" 

The Wolf sighed heavily and adjusted the weight of the basket to a bit farther back on his molars. He let the vapid monologue wash over him as he escaped into his "Things To Do" Palace, filled with visions of chasing rabbits, rolling luxuriously in something dead, and taking a large bite out of Clarice's very active little throat. 

"All good things……" he reminded himself, and sniggered rather evilly.

As it grew dark, Clarice began to tire and she allowed that a short break might be in order. Remembering one lesson at least from her ill-fated days as a Girl Scout, Clarice built a small fire. As they sat and warmed themselves, Clarice stared deep into the flames and the Wolf asked her many, many questions. She found herself disclosing more and more about the constricted, lonely, loathsome, thoroughly depressing and pathetic life she led; how she had been manipulated and abused by the very men who should have taken care of her best. At long last she fell quiet and The Wolf pondered what he had heard. He cocked his head to one side, scratched his ear thoughtfully, and was amazed to feel something fundamental shift in his wolfish heart. 

He in his turn quietly began to tell her of the world. He spoke of art and music and Dante and Nietzsche and chaos theory, of places he had seen and the battles he had fought and what exactly the trick WAS to making "really good" Riz de Veau Grenobloise. His rusty yet soothing, rumbly, lilting voice enveloped her like the slightly damp Pendelton throw that you put on the backseat so the dogs won't get it muddy, and Clarice listened with rapt attention. She would have done so all night and begged him to continue, but finally The Wolf coughed modestly and said that for now, it was enough. They enjoyed a companionable silence and then Clarice seemed to gather together some new resolve. 

"To HELL with giving all this keen stuff to Uncle Paul. He doesn't deserve ANY of it! You like wine?" 

She cracked open the bottle defiantly, and after passing it back and forth a few times, well, it seemed only right and natural to polish off the truffles and the pate, and to burn all the case files and the X-ray too. 

And as she fed him one perfect, still-weeping strawberry from the basket and gently patted his muzzle dry with her handkerchief, little Clarice found that she began to love The Wolf for the dangers he had pass'd, and he loved her that she did pity them. 

At long last they continued on to the final leg of their journey.

They came to Uncle Paul's house and an agreement at roughly the same time. 

"You convince him to open the door, Clarice. I'll take care of the rest." 

"You got it, babe."

Clarice knocked on the door and trained her voice to a tentative quaver. "Uncle Pauly??" 

The heavy door swung open and Uncle Paul was there, dressed only in a dirty white terrycloth robe. He leered down at her with bloodshot eyes and scratched himself.

"Bout time, you little snot. Takes you 9 hours to get across a friggin' forest? I could be dying here." 

"What a lovely notion." At that the Wolf leapt out from the shadows and with one great bite removed most of Paul's face. With the next chomp he tore out Paul's still beating heart and offered it to the girl. 

"No babe, you go ahead. I'll have some later. I'm feeling……creative." 

Clarice jumped in with a will and the crossbow Paul just happened to keep in his study, and they soon had a lovely new showpiece displayed above the mantle.

"Hmmn……My dear? I do believe the next one should be a bit lower down and farther to the left." 

Clarice took careful aim and pressed the crossbow's trigger. 

THWANG 

"There. How's that?" 

"Excellent! That was all it needed. Saint Sebastian to a 't'. Something in the angle of that bolt in his right thigh brings Botticini's interpretation delightfully to mind." 

The Wolf turned from the dripping red horror that had lately been Uncle Paul and admired his own handiwork; the rabid huntress he had unleashed. He saw her panting and quivering and smiling at him all bloody there with her killer grin and the crossbow still clenched in her delicate little fist, and his breath caught in his throat like a shattered chicken bone. He felt a momentary frisson of…… what was it? Uncertainty? And he thought that maybe, just maybe he'd really put his paw in the trap this time. Even so, all he could manage to say to her was, "My GOD, you are magnificent." 

They gazed into each other's eyes. Clarice realized that her life up to this point had been nothing more than a fairy tale, and she saw The Wolf as if for the very first time. What large furry strong yet sensuous paws he had. What unusually small for a Wolf yet perfectly razor sharp teeth he had. What strangely compelling eyes he had--were they blue or maroon? She couldn't quite tell……. 

"Did you know that you never blink? I mean ever," Clarice whispered. 

"What? And miss one nano-second of the sight of you?" The Wolf growled seductively.  "I think not." 

Clarice felt stirrings and longings she'd never felt before. For no apparent reason she remembered that her eighteenth birthday was only three weeks away. As the last wisps and tendrils of her old life floated away, she saw big bay windows aligning like mad. She heard a single guitar string snap, and the claxon horn in her head blasted a long loud 'Aaoooogah". This was better than anything. Better than Almond Roca. Better than Christmas. Better even than riding a pony.

"Maybe……" she said tentatively, "maybe we should go upstairs and……ummm……wash up a bit? There's a really BIG bathtub……and nice soap." 

The Wolf, for his part, thought of many things as well and he grinned his acquiescence. 

"My dear," he mused as he padded gracefully up the stairs beside her. "Have you ever heard the story of Leda and the Swan?"

FIN

copyright 2001, by clever girl

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