copyright 2002, by
The characters Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling were
created by Thomas
Harris. The song Yesterday is by the Beatles. 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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Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
Now it looks as though they’re here to stay
Oh, I believe in yesterday.
We do not all reckon time the same way. For Clarice Starling, yesterday began on the day of the dinner on the Chesapeake; the day when she first shared her love with Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
Yesterday, they danced on the terrace of the top floor of their mansion. A late supper was laid out, but the servants were gone. They looked into each other’s eyes with an unspoken message. That evening they did not finish supper.
They spoke Italian at mealtimes, and Clarice found a curious freedom in the visual subtleties of the language.
Yesterday, they attended the opening night of Tamerlane at the Buenos Aires opera house. The elegant couple drew a murmur of admiration from the crowd around the entrance.
But that was yesterday.
They were prepared for troubles arising from the past. Plans were in place for various contingencies should either of them be identified. There had been no killings since Paul Krendler’s demise, but Hannibal the Cannibal retained a prominent position on the FBI Most Wanted poster. On the whole, they found it exhilarating to be in a constant state of yellow alert.
It was an overcast afternoon in Buenos Aires. Dr. Lecter and Starling had just made their daily contribution to the splendid construct that is sex. Lying on their backs in bed side by side they discussed the next day’s dinner menu; Hannibal was a world class chef himself but he reluctantly decided to let their cook prepare the meal. There was several minutes of silence, then Clarice turned her head to face him and asked, “Hannibal, do you ever fantasize while we are having sex?”
He was somewhat taken aback by the abrupt change of subject, but they had always been honest with one another. “Yes, I must admit that I do, on occasion.”
Clarice was amused. “And who are the women thus honored?”
“I fantasize about just one woman: FBI Special Agent Clarice Starling.”
Clarice laughed appreciatively and Hannibal’s eyes twinkled.
Later that evening, Hannibal was at the harpsichord improvising Variations on a Theme of Paganini. Clarice was seated in the living room, studying her face in a mirror, an action she rarely indulged in. She knew that with minimal make-up she always looked her age and always made that age look good. With full make-up she became an ageless glamorous creature, unrecognizable except to those most familiar with her. She was aware that Hannibal’s admiration of her went far beyond surface appearance; nevertheless, she was glad to watch him catch his breath when she appeared all gussied up.
Under Dr. Lecter’s tutelage Clarice Starling started her own memory palace. It shared some rooms with Dr. Lecter’s own memory palace—he had discovered her in there a number of times.
She decided now to browse through her palace. She relaxed and let herself drift into that sleeplike state that allowed her ready access to her stored memories. Not exactly sure of what she was after, she drifted down the main corridor. A door illuminated by several spotlights caught her eye. She entered and found herself in the dungeon corridor of the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane at the time of her first confrontation with Dr. Lecter. She saw the scene through the eyes of her twenty-five year old self. For reference purposes she labeled her younger self Clarice-25.1, short for Clarice, age 25, episode 1. Clarice-25.1 began to recite her lines and the Hannibal image responded.
“Dr. Lecter. My name is Clarice Starling. May I talk with you?
After a pause, Dr. Lecter’s image said, “Good Morning…”
Clarice allowed the scene to play itself out, reliving the raw emotions she experienced during that session. As it progressed, she shifted her point of view to that of an outside spectator so that she could watch Clarice-25.1 as well as Dr. Lecter.
From her experience of living with Hannibal Lecter for the past three years Clarice was more adept than her younger self in gauging his emotional responses. It was apparent to her heightened senses that Dr. Lecter was smitten by Clarice-25.1 from the moment they met.
It isn’t fair Clarice thought; then caught herself. Now, what brought that on? she wondered. What’s not fair?
She emerged from the trance-like state that accompanied a visit to the memory palace. All was as before. Hannibal was still noodling at the harpsichord. Clarice approached him and put her hands on his shoulders, gently so as not to interfere with his playing.
“Darling,” she murmured, “what is your fondest memory?”
“That is difficult to say, my love. Almost any memory graced by your presence would qualify. I suppose that if I had to make a choice I would select the memory of the first time I saw you in that gown you wore to our dinner on the Chesapeake. I told you then as I tell you now, if I saw you every day, forever, I’d remember that time. You’re quite beautiful, Clarice.”
“Looks are an accident, Dr. Lecter,” she said, repeating her comment made on the previous occasion.
Hannibal replied as he had then, “If comeliness were earned, you’d still be beautiful.”
They were quiet for several minutes, satisfied to remain in the glow of each other’s presence. Then a thought nibbled at her soul,She’ll always remain thirty-three years old in his memory palace, reliving dinner with him on the Chesapeake.
Dr. Lecter noticed Clarice’s slight frown but made no comment.
Later, sitting alone in their library, Clarice reviewed her feelings. She loved Hannibal Lecter as much as any woman has ever loved. She felt confident that his love for her was just as strong. Clarice had no doubts that she would prevail if another woman attempted to usurp her position with him. However, having to compete with younger versions of herself was beyond the bounds of what she would consider to be a level playing field. The frustrating thing was that Dr. Lecter hadn’t a clue that there was any problem. As far as he was concerned, he was being completely faithful to her and they were both happy.
One possible course of action for me is to eradicate the competition, Clarice pondered. She felt no challenge to her value system in destroying replicas of her earlier self. They had no real existence; they were only mental constructs. Starling paused briefly to review her plans; then relaxed and let herself drift into her memory palace.
Clarice-25.1 left the Baltimore Hospital for the Criminally Insane after her first meeting with Dr. Hannibal Lecter, feeling excited and drained. She approached her old Pinto across the street from the hospital and saw that there was a woman sitting in the front seat, passenger side. What the hell? she thought. She bent to the half-opened window and asked in a neutral tone, “Something I can do for you?”
“Well, hello Clarice,” the woman said. The corners of her mouth turned up briefly, as if at some private joke.
“Do I know you?” Clarice-25.1 asked. The woman was blond, expensively and tastefully clothed, and about a decade her senior. She looked familiar; perhaps a long-lost cousin?
“Let’s say there’s a relationship,” the woman said.
“And that relationship is…?”
The woman sighed. “Would you believe I’m a time traveler; your future self dropping by for a visit?”
“Not really, but I’ll go along with the gag. Tell me about my future.”
“Well, you’ll work with some clues from Dr. Lecter to personally capture Jame Gumb, a.k.a., Buffalo Bill…”
Clarice-25.1 interrupted, “Would you spell that, please?”
The woman complied, and continued, “…to capture Buffalo Bill and rescue Catherine Martin. Oh, I forgot, her kidnapping hasn’t been discovered yet. She’s his latest victim. Anyway, you’ll be famous; you’ll be on the fast track for advancement in the FBI. Your daddy would have been so proud. You’ll see a shrink about your sex life and then you’ll fall for John Brigham, marry him, and have two kids and counting”
“Tell me about time travel.” Clarice-25.1 said. She was still skeptical but very impressed. She could barely suppress her shock and thrill at the way the woman’s predictions met her own most optimistic hopes.
The woman reached into her purse. “Let me show you,” she said. She fired three times into Clarice-25.1’s chest from John Brigham’s gun inside the purse. Clarice-25.1 died instantaneously, but Clarice added one more shot to the temple to make sure.
The street had emptied quickly with the first shots. Clarice left her memory palace and reentered the real world. She was trembling uncontrollably.
My God! Clarice-25.1 was no automaton acting out a preset program. She reacted to a new situation as a rational, conscious person. I’ve just killed another human being, one who wasn’t threatening me and who didn’t deserve it. The fact that she was a younger version of myself doesn’t make it any better.
Her thoughts were in turmoil. She dreaded turning to the one person who knew her better than she knew herself. Instead, Clarice reluctantly decided to face up to her moral dilemma on her own without involving Dr. Lecter.
Suddenly, I’m not half the man I used to be,
There’s a shadow hanging over me.
Oh, yesterday came suddenly.
Dr. Lecter had been playing Bach’s Brandenburg concerto No. 3 on the harpsichord. He stopped abruptly, senses at full alert. There was danger present.
Hmmm…No weapons are showing… Could it have anything to do with Clarice? She seemed a bit moody earlier… But if she knew there was danger she would not keep me in the dark.
Dr. Lecter reluctantly decided to remain alert but not to involve Clarice, for the moment. It was not an easy decision as they had gotten used to relying on one another during the past three years. He felt diminished without her input.
Why she had to go I don’t know she wouldn’t say.
I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday.
That evening in bed, Clarice appeared to be somewhat distracted. Some slight matter seemed to be bothering her. Hannibal asked her what it was but she wouldn’t talk about it. Normally he would have waited patiently until she was ready to air out her complaint, but with his earlier misgivings he wanted to settle it now.
“Something is troubling you. I would like to help, if I can. Would you care to discuss it?”
“It’s nothing,” she said.
“It’s obviously not ‘nothing,’ ”
“Oh, for Pete’s sake! Will you stop badgering me.” She rolled over, turning her back to him.
He paused for several heartbeats, then said, “It’s hardly ‘badgering’ when I’m just looking out for your welfare…”
Before he could finish she had whirled to face him and was throwing wild punches and kneeing him. “Can’t you shut your yap for one goddam minute!” she hissed.
This is good. he thought. We’re communicating.
He tossed the quilt over her and wrapped his arms around it, muffling her blows. As she quieted down, he leaned across her and gently kissed her lips. Unshed tears glistened in her eyes.
“I’m sorry I blew up on you, baby,” she murmured. It’s just something I have to handle myself.” She ran out of the bedroom, leaving him wondering once more at her unpredictability.
Clarice returned to the library. There’s really no choice. I made my decision three years ago when I decided I belonged with Hannibal. I’ll do what I must to be with him. If it means erasing past versions of myself, so be it. She slipped back into her memory palace.
They were in Memphis. This was to be Clarice’s last encounter with Dr. Lecter for the next eight years. Clarice waited while Clarice-25.3 spoke with Lecter. They were interrupted by Chilton, who had the guards remove Clarice-25.3. Clarice was always moved by the sight of Clarice-25.3 running back and touching fingers with Hannibal before finally leaving. Clarice was sorry that her actions now would result in that memory being destroyed, but it was necessary. As Clarice-25.3 strode down the block, Clarice fell into step about five feet behind her. She did not wish to see her victim’s face. Clarice removed the .45 automatic from her purse, raised the gun and fired it, all in one swift movement. The shot to the back of the neck was instantly fatal.
Two down,thought Clarice.
Dr. Lecter decided that a visit to his memory palace was in order. He entered the imposing structure and strode down the corridor leading to the Clarice displays. The feeling he had earlier was stronger than ever that something was wrong. He approached the room where the memory of his first encounter with Clarice was kept. The room was filled with rubble. No signs of life, or of death for that matter, were visible.. Dr. Lecter expression remained inscrutable but his eyes sparked as he observed the damage. His thoughts flashed back to
when he was a child in Lithuania. The Germans were retreating and had bombed and shelled his ancestral home, killing his parents and all the other adults. The room he was looking at now had that same bombed-out look.
Hannibal entered the room gingerly. This looked like an attack, but he had no idea where it was coming from. Could this have anything to do with Clarice’s recent odd behavior? His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of another explosion. Hannibal exited, working his way carefully through the debris. Two doors down from the first room, a second room had been reduced to rubble. Dr. Lecter’s memory palace definitely was under attack. Two of his most cherished memories had been destroyed.
Clarice was enjoying a cup of tea. The second erasure had gone as smoothly as the first. She no longer was upset about destroying these earlier versions of herself. They were obviously not sentient beings, despite being able to display rudimentary independent thought processes. She was starting to look forward to the next one.
It was the day on which Hannibal planned to serve their special dinner on the Chesapeake.
Clarice-33.1 woke to the faint sound of chamber music. A tap on the door and Dr. Lecter came in.
“Did you sleep well?”
“Great, thank you.”
“The chef tells me we’ll dine in an hour and a half. I thought you might like this.” He hung a suit bag in the closet and left. She did not look in her closet until after a long bath, and when she did she was pleased. She found a long dinner gown in cream silk.
A woman’s voice came from the corner. “It will look great on you. Believe me.” Clarice-33.1 whipped around and faced a woman who looked remarkably like herself, except for the platinum blond hair.
“Who are you?” Clarice-33.1 asked as she finished dressing. She glanced at the chest. Her .45 automatic was kept in the top drawer.
“I’m the future you,” said Clarice. “There is something important I have to tell you. I’m truly sorry.” In one swift move she pulled the .45 from her purse. Clarice-33.1 recognized it as the gun from her drawer, as she made a dive toward Clarice. Time seemed to slow almost to a standstill as Clarice-33.1 floated toward the older woman, and Starling’s finger tightened on the trigger.
“Stop!” a familiar voice commanded. Clarice-33.1 converted her dive to a flip and made a 6.0 landing on her feet. Clarice relaxed her pressure on the trigger and placed the .45 automatic on the bed.
“Now will someone please explain what is going on here?” Hannibal Lecter’s voice continued.
“I haven’t the foggiest idea,” said Clarice-33.1.
“Then if you don’t mind, it would please me if you would wait in the panic room and I’ll fill you in later.”
“I didn’t know this house was equipped with a panic room,” said Clarice.
“It is, now,” said Hannibal.
“Okie Dokie,” said Clarice-33.1 and scampered off.
“Now, Clarice,” said Dr. Lecter. “Please explain.”
Yesterday, love was such an easy game to play,
“Oh, all right,” said Clarice. “I was jealous of all the younger versions of me that you have in your memory palace. I was afraid that you would prefer them to me. So I decided to eliminate them and have you all to myself. Now I suppose you’ll hate me”
Hannibal opened his arms and she rushed in to hold him tightly.
“Hate you, little Starling? Hardly. As Donald Hamilton once wrote, ‘…no woman can love a man very much if she won’t kill for him.’”
Clarice considered this statement and decided that it fairly represented one aspect of their relationship.
“Then you don’t dispute my justification for eliminating the competition?” She made it a question.
“It is your right,” he said. Holding her head lightly with both hands, he kissed her, gently at first, then with increased passion as their tongues probed. He then gave her head an incredibly rapid, powerful twist, breaking her neck and killing her instantly. He lifted her body reverently and murmured, “My dearest one; I regret what had to be done, but I could not permit you to continue attempting to destroy Clarice-33.1, my favorite memory. You’ve already destroyed my memories of Clarice-25.1 and Clarice-25.3, which I find unforgivable.”
Now I need a place to hide away.
Dr. Lecter entered the panic room and found Clarice-33.1 napping on the couch. He stood a while and watched her sleep, eagerly absorbing her fragrance. After half an hour, her eyelids fluttered and she sat up, stretched and yawned.
“Is it safe, Dr. Lecter?” she asked.
“She won’t bother us any more. Just think of her as part of a bad dream.”
“I had a weird dream while napping,” said Clarice-33.1. “I wonder what it meant.”
“Sometimes dreams don’t mean anything,” said Dr. Lecter.
Because she remained the great love of his life, Dr. Hannibal Lecter treated Clarice’s body with respect and admiration. He took care that her dignity was maintained while she was being butchered. For the next several months her body would provide his major source of sustenance. He used it in a large variety of gourmet dishes to symbolize her outstanding qualities: courage, incorruptibility, intelligence, beauty and many others. So ultimately she became a part of him, as she had been in life.
His memory palace became his principal abode. He spent much time there with the various aspects of Clarice Starling; mainly with Clarice-33.1. He attempted to get her to behave unpredictably, but never succeeded.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.
Mm mm mm mm mm
copyright 2002, by
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