copyright 2003, by
These characters 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
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He stepped off the plane onto the tarmac directly below. Wide cracks in the ageing asphalt made the ground an unlevel obstacle for his weary feet as he stumbled his way towards the makeshift customs area. The flight out of JFK had its passengers herded like sheep through bridges and tunnels: it had been quite some time since his feet had laid ground on such primitive terrain. Reaching the customs desk – if you could call it that, for it was in fact just a disused tea chest - the man took a passport from his lapel pocket. Pausing to wave the book under his nose before handing it to the customs officer, the man savoured the smell. Only a week old, he could still smell the cheap leather binding together the pages of his newfound freedom. Freedom. It had never smelt so good.
Not stopping to exchange pleasantries with the airport staff, the man dismissed them with a nod and headed towards the street with nothing but his cabin luggage. Turning into the street and leaving the airport behind him, the man mused at the last time he had been on the actual tarmac at an airport. Memphis. It seemed a lifetime ago. He smiled bitterly to himself, how fast things could change.
Taking in a deep breath of the fresh South American air, the man cleared his lungs of all residual traces of the dusty stale air that he had breathed for so long back in Baltimore. Latin spices, cheap diesel engines and the faintest hint of sea salt filled his senses as the cool breeze revived his jet lagged body. This was more like it, he thought to himself.
Out in the street, life was bustling. Young children and their pets roamed the dirt track whilst their parents lined the sides selling their wares. Laughter filled the air. The furore of his old life was behind him. At least for the time being.
He had chosen South America because it was safe. His sources at the FBI had told him that they were concentrating their search in Europe and Canada. The National Tattler and the rest of the associated press were stirring up a scare campaign with speculation that Lecter was still in the States… and that is what prompted him to get away. Go to South America and lie low until things died down. Relax. Kick back. Take the time to enjoy the things he had for so long forsaken whilst he toiled away in the dungeons.
Squinting his eyes in the harsh afternoon Sun, the man traversed the rambling neighbourhood hopelessly lost and desperate for a cab. He had forgotten to pack sunglasses. But he was glad to be without them as he took in the sight of a beautiful woman walking towards him. With some length of bone and a shiny slither of mousy brown hair draped around her shoulders, the woman could have passed for Clarice Starling. My how he had wanted to get to know her in private life, he mused as he watched the woman go by.
Returning his attention to the map that laid outstretched in his hands, the man’s brow furrowed. It was getting late. The street was becoming noticeably quieter as people made their way indoors for their siestas. Glancing all around in search of something identifiably familiar, he found nothing. Then there, in the distance, the man made out a figure in the shadows watching him. Quickening his step, the man hurried towards the end of the street. Maybe there he would find a street sign that would lend some insight as to where he was. Reaching the intersection, the man looked back over his shoulder. Once again, he could see a dark figure in the shadows; watching him. A twinkle in the darkness and their eyes met. He jerked his head away… whoever was following him now knew he knew. But was he being followed? Was this figure the same person? Was he looking too far into things? He decided he was going to find out.
Taking a noticeable turn into a side street, the man hid behind a large tree and positioned himself so that he could see back the way he came. He waited… and waited. Nothing. Then, suddenly, a sharp knife pressed its blade into the small of his back; and he realised that whoever was following him had anticipated what he’d do and had managed to circle the block and take him from behind. He opened his mouth to scream, only to have his cry smothered by a hand. A six fingered hand.
“Good afternoon Dr Chilton.” A smooth metallic voice breathed into his ear, causing the hairs on the back of his neck to stand on end. Shit. The scream that followed was effectively muffled by the strong hand clamping his mouth.
“Now now Dr Chilton, is that anyway to greet an old friend?” Lecter was so close to his ear he could feel the madman smile. He shivered. Feeling the blade press harder against his back as a warning, Chilton quietened down.
“That’s better.” Lecter said as he spun Chilton around, pressing him into an alcove. With his left hand now on Chilton’s shoulder, and the right hand between their two bodies resting the harpy against Chilton’s abdomen; they were positioned so that in the event of anyone passing by seeing them, they would easily be dismissed as two gay lovers making out.
With his mouth now free to speak, Chilton vocalised his surprise. “What the fuck are you doing here Hannibal?”
“Surprised to see me? How interesting. Not half as surprised as I am to see you, I assure you.” Lecter offered, closing his eyes briefly, dismissing his nemesis’ vulgarity for the time being.
“I take it by the look in your eyes that we’re not to expect an intervention by our friends at the F…B…I?” The Doctor smiled menancingly. His maroon eyes gleaming…hopeful for some fun.
“Try anything Lecter and you’ll regret it. People know where I am… they’re expecting me. They’ll come looking.” Chilton stammered, wincing under the powerful glare of the pinpoints of red inches from his face. He thought of the nurse, and stifled a sob. It did not go unnoticed.
“Thinking of the Nurse?” Lecter asked, tormentedly dissecting his soul and enjoying every minute of it. He was alone. Goody goody.
Chilton cast his eyes downwards. “Please, Hannibal. I was just doing my job.”
The Doctor remained silent, forcing Chilton to look at him questioningly. “What are you going to do?”
The Doctor’s smile widened. “Why I am going to do what every respectable gentleman does when he unexpectedly runs into an old acquaintance in the street!”
Chilton shot the Doctor a quizzical look, clearly not knowing the etiquette of a gentleman. “What?”
Offended, the Doctor’s eyes flashed in distaste at the uncouth, lame excuse of a man before him. Then he smiled. “Why take him home for dinner… of course.”
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