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Known Acquaintance

copyright 2001, by AA Aaron

Disclaimer:    The characters Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Clarice Starling, and Mischa 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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Hannibal Lecter was aware that he was dreaming. In his dream he was watching his dream-self engage in a discussion with a shadowy construct of his mind that he referred to as the Joker. The Joker spoke:

"You see a lot, Dr. Lecter. Are you strong enough to point that high-powered perception at yourself? Look at yourself and know the truth."

"Very well," the dream-Dr. Lecter said. "Let us look at my perception of Hannibal the Cannibal. Consider what Marcus Aurelius counsels. Simplicity. First principles. Of each particular thing, ask: What is it in itself, in its own constitution? What is its causal nature? What does he do, this Hannibal the Cannibal?"

The Joker said, "He kills people, he eats them---"

"That’s incidental. He is not compelled to perform these acts; he does them by choice. Some of the motives for his killing are understandable: self-defense, eliminating an obstacle, revenge,etc. However, the motives for other killings seem trivial: punishing rudeness, improving an orchestra, whimsy. The motives for his cannibalism also appear trivial: showing off; preparing gourmet dishes from unlikely ingredients, tricking others into dining on human flesh.

The need he satisfies by murder and cannibalism for trivial reasons is the shocking of society by the violation of taboos. Our culture has taboos against unsanctioned killing and against cannibalism. Dr. Lecter performs these acts not for their own sake; but to declare that his whims are not bound by the dictates of our society’s taboos.

The Joker nodded his agreement as the dream-Dr. Lecter completed his discourse.

 

Somewhere in the shadows of the dream, a Barbra Streisand impersonator was singing:

People

People who eat people

Are the loneliest people in the world. . . .


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


The dream faded away as Dr. Lecter awoke. He contemplated his still-sleeping companion. Some of the most treasured images in his Memory Palace were of Clarice asleep. It occurred to him that part of her would always be unpredictable and remain inaccessible to him. Then she smiled in her sleep and his breath stopped for a moment, as he was swallowed up by her radiance, feeling the wonder and pride at what he had wrought..


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling were lying in bed naked, side by side, breathing rapidly, after a strenuous and highly satisfying round of sexual activity.

"I would rate that the best yet," she remarked. "Truly a world class performance."

"Well, I am in training for the Olympic humping event," said Dr. Lecter, dryly.

She poked him with her elbow. "Say, what ever happened to that guy who was supposed to be always in full control of himself; the one whose pulse rate never rose above 85?"

"I’m afraid he succumbed to the wiles of a shameless hussy." He rolled to his side facing her and caressed her cheek, brushing a few strands of her hair back from her face. "What do you say to going another round?"

She trembled in anticipation. "You betcha, big guy!"


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Later that morning they were sitting on the terrace in their robes, enjoying a light breakfast of freshly squeezed orange juice, eggs Benedict, toast and Dr. Lecter’s personal blend of coffee. They conversed in Italian; then Hannibal switched to English to explain why a recent mathematical discovery regarding pi would have been made many years earlier if humans had had four fingers or toes on each hand or foot instead of five. The conversation lagged for several minutes; then Clarice remarked, "Rachel Rosenkranz’ birthday is coming up soon. Shall we be sending her the usual present?"

Hannibal raised one eyebrow. "Surely you’re not jealous of Rachel?"

"Of course not," Clarice protested. "I wasn’t being sarcastic or catty. I really like the woman. You know she’s designated in your FBI file as a ‘known acquaintance’. She told me that the nicest thing she could wish for me is to some day be a ‘known acquaintance’ I can’t help but believe that some of your charm was developed under her guidance; not to mention your sexual techniques. If so, I’m beholden to her."

"Well, my dear; we can’t let a ‘known acquaintance’ down. I’ll select a suitable vintage to send her."


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Clarice was outside enjoying a run. Hannibal was home in his living room. He leaned back in his lounge chair and allowed himself to enter his Memory Palace. The Goldberg Variations was playing softly.

He floated down a little-used corridor, paused for a moment to admire a display of U.S. complete, nineteenth century, mint, never-hinged postage stamps in superb condition; then continued around a corner where a bust of Dante was displayed, to two doors labeled Annie Blodget and Rachel DuBerry Rosenkranz, respectively. He opened the latter door and entered an empty room, papered with hundreds of images of Rachel a s she was thirty or forty years before. Focusing his attention on any one picture expanded it to life-size. The pictures were almost all highly erotic. It had been several years since he last visited this room, although he had been there quite often during his years of incarceration. He left the Rachel room and entered the adjoining one. It was decorated with images of Annie. They were mostly everyday life pictures but included a few examples of erotica.

The Memory Palace faded away. Hannibal Lecter emerged from his dream-like state, but continued to reflect on those earlier times. Back then he had recently started his psychiatric practice. Dr. Lecter had an active social life and felt no urge to settle down. Rachel DuBerry, a divorced socialite slightly older than he, had taken him under her wing. She introduced him to the life style he might have experienced as a Lithuanian count had the war not disrupted his childhood. She honed his good taste – the ability to appreciate style. They were not formally a couple; each dated others, but they considered themselves good friends.

In those days, Dr. Lecter usually had lunch at Maggio’s, a family restaurant located a short distance from his office in Baltimore. The restaurant offered acceptable cuisine and was licensed to serve wine. He was recognized as a regular and would usually banter with the owner and waitresses.

One afternoon, he remarked to his waitress, "Annie, I’ve noticed that waitresses always have name-tags like Suzy, Sally, or Beth – short and easy to remember. Now I’ve developed this theory that when a new girl is hired they don’t bother with her real name at all. The boss just shows her the name-tags he has available and says, ‘Okay, you can be Sherry, Marge, or Lucy – Take your pick.’ "

Annie giggled. "That’s not far from the truth. The last place I worked, they hired a girl named Elizabeth, nicknamed Beth. The problem was they already had a Beth, so they offered her Liz, Liza, Betty, Betsy, Libby and a half dozen or so others. But she refused to accept anything but Beth or Elizabeth. Well, they really wanted her, so they had an oversize nametag specially made with

Elizabeth on it. And the sad part is that everybody ignored the name-tag and called her Charlie."

Dr. Lecter was game. "Why did they call her Charlie?"

"Well, they didn’t want to confuse her with the Beth they already had who was really named Charlene."

Dr. Lecter winced. That was about the most pointless non sequitur he had ever heard. He was surprised to find the sides of his mouth twitching in an urge to smile. Dr. Lecter found himself asking, "How about your name – is it really Annie?"

"Annie is short for Anesthesia."

"Anastasia – that’s a nice name."

"Not Anastasia – Anesthesia." She spelled it out. "Actually, my parents were trying for Anastasia but they didn’t spell too well."


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Hannibal Lecter found Annie Blodget somewhat of a nut, but enchanting. After listening to the tedious drivel of most of his patients for hour after hour, it was a relief to listen to her off-the-wall thought processes. She always seemed to be capable of surprising him.

On one occasion, she told him of an auto trip she had taken with a friend to Yosemite National Park "….to see the bear."

"What bear would that be?"

"The bear I saw on a PBS nature program. Anyway, I was driving and we were nearly there. We came to a road sign that said:

YOSEMITE PARK

BEAR LEFT

"….so I got into the right lane, exited and drove back home."

"And why did you do that?"

"Well," she said, "I had driven there to see the bear, and the sign said that it had already left the park."


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Dr. Lecter began taking Annie out occasionally. They were not really dates; just a couple of friends taking in a show or a concert. Neither felt anything incongruous about the friendship of a psychiatrist and a waitress; they were not defined by their occupations. She enjoyed all kinds of music and was happy to accompany him to performances of the Baltimore Philharmonic Orchestra. She, in turn, wheedled him into taking her to a Beatles concert that he enjoyed, much to his surprise. He was particularly taken with an orchestral arrangement of Eleanor Rigby, finding it arguably as stimulating as any Mozart composition.


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


He called at her apartment one day to invite Annie to a Balthus exhibition that was touring the country. He found her to be in an uncharacteristically sober mood. She had gone for a physical examination and the doctor had found a suspicious lump. She was now on edge waiting for the test results.

Dr. Lecter stayed with her to ease the wait. She was grateful for his sturdy shoulder to lean on. When the phone finally rang she answered it warily. Then her face broke out in a broad grin and he gave her a congratulatory hug and kiss. The kiss started out as a brotherly peck but somehow became prolonged. He became aware that his pal was definitely a woman. What with one thing and another, he didn’t bother going home that night.


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Hannibal Lecter awoke in the morning in a strange bed and the knowledge that he had done something despicable – exactly what he couldn’t quite recall. There was a kaleidoscope of recollections of a celebration, of finding a bottle of champagne that Annie had been saving for a special occasion, of dancing to a Beatles album, and then the unspeakably rude act of taking advantage of his friend Annie by seducing her in her moment of vulnerability.

Annie entered the bedroom wearing a pajama top and humming.

"Are you okay?" he asked anxiously.

"I sure am."

"I must apologize. I’ve behaved abominably."

She pondered a few seconds. "No, I‘d say you performed quite well." Her grin broadened. "I’m glad you’re not one of those guys who needs a cigarette after sex." She began to sing in a fair imitation of Barbra Streisand’s Second-Hand Rose:

"Second-hand smoke

I’m breathing second-hand smoke

It ain’t no joke (cough)

I’m starting to choke"

"But I took advantage of you."

Annie took his hands in hers. "You supported me when I needed it the most," she said. She cleared her throat. "I know there’s no romantic attraction between us, but what’s wrong with a couple of friends having had a little tussle in the hay? I value our friendship and I’d like to have it continue as before."

"You can count on me." He pulled her gently toward him and gave her a protective kiss on the forehead.

"There is one thing that bothers me," she said, "floor wax."

"What about floor wax?"

"Well, we use floor wax to wax the floor, right?"

"Right."

"So how come we don’t use sealing wax to wax the ceiling?"


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Dr. Lecter continued taking Annie to concerts. Other than that one-time lapse their relationship remained Platonic.

Two months later, Hannibal went to lunch at Maggio’s and didn’t find Annie at her usual station. "She just got word that her father suffered a stroke," said Carla, one of the other waitresses. "Annie was in a rush to get to the airport; she left you a note." Hannibal unfolded the note. It contained no additional information.

Carla kept Hannibal up-to-date on news about Annie. Annie’s father had died two weeks later. Annie had no immediate plans to return to Baltimore.

Then came word of Annie’s elopement with her high-school sweetheart.


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Dr. Lecter started trying other restaurants for lunch. Eventually he stopped going to Maggio’s at all. He felt as if part of his world had been diminished; he was not completely sure why. Rachel DuBerry noted his increased moodiness and thought she had ways of cheering him up. She was right.


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Dr. Lecter’s thoughts returned to the present. It had been 35 years or so since he had last heard anything about Annie Blodget. He suddenly felt an overwhelming urge to find out what had become of her. His first thought was an Internet search. This turned up a number of Ann Blodgets; none was the Annie he was searching for. He also tried Annie, Anesthesia, and Anastasia Blodget, without success.

After all, it was unlikely that his Annie would have found her way to a document that was part of the search engine’s database.

Clarice Starling’s computer expertise probably would have afforded a more extensive search. However, Dr. Lecter was reluctant to involve her in his quest. He was aware that if the situation were reversed, he would be extremely jealous if she were looking up an old boy friend.

One might even say insanely jealous,’ he thought wryly.


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Dr. Lecter decided that Maggio’s might be a profitable starting point. His current guise would render him unrecognizable as either the fledgling psychiatrist of 35 or so years ago, or the face on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. Clarice had returned from her daily run and was showering. He told her he was going out to attend to some business matters. She was used to his leaving for several hours or even days and understood that he would be keeping his business affairs to himself.


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Hannibal drove past his original office and noted that it was now occupied by a taxidermist. He drove on to Maggio’s and found it little changed, other than the personnel. He spoke with the current owner, Malcolm Agnesia, who, it turned out, had been there for eight years. Mr. Agnesia had no record of employees from 35 years ago; the name Annie Blodget meant nothing to him.

"Anybody here heard of an Annie Blodget?" he called out. The waitresses and kitchen staff who had gathered around shook their heads or mumbled, ‘No’." Dr. Lecter thanked them, and turned to leave.

One of the waitresses said hesitantly, "I bet Carla would know."

"Carla? The same Carla who was here back then? Is she still around?"

"Sure," said Mr. Agnesia, "Carla’s been here forever. She quit two, three months ago when her arthritis started getting bad. Went to live in Miami with her mother. Wait a second, I’ll get you her phone number."

Dr. Lecter was on the next flight to Miami.


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Following the directions provided by the rental car clerk, Hannibal Lecter arrived at Carla’s residence. He experienced a slight shock at the appearance of the woman who answered the door -- she was a caricature of the Carla he remembered; shrunken, carrying a cane, skin like aged parchment. A younger woman came up behind her; sixty-ish, brown hair showing a touch of gray, wearing sandals, shorts and a halter-top.

"It’s okay, mama, it’s for me. You can go back to the TV." The older woman turned and walked slowly back into the house.

Hannibal was careful of Carla’s arthritic fingers as she shook his hand. She invited him into the parlor. He sat in one of the upholstered chairs and accepted her offer of a cup of herbal tea.

"So," she said. "What can I do for you?"

"As I said on the phone, I’m trying to locate Annie Blodget. I understand you used to work with her?" He made it a question.

Carla sighed, reminiscently. "Good old Annie. She was always bubbly, full of high spirits. It must be over thirty years since I last saw her. She moved away, got married, had three kids. Things got tough when her husband got killed during a bank robbery, I think; something like that. I lost touch with her after that. Next thing I heard was that she had taken ill and died." Carla wiped away a tear. "Poor Annie."

"I see," said Dr. Lecter. He wasn’t quite sure where he would go from here. The news of Annie’s passing hit him like a twisting blow to the gut, even though he was half-expecting it.

"Do you happen to have Annie’s last address?"

"I think it’s still in my address book … yes, here it is." There was a minute of silence while Carla copied the address on piece of paper and handed it to him. "Annie was good people," she said.

"Yes, she was," said Hannibal.


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Annie’s last address was in a decaying town called Hinkeyville in West Virginia. The house was a single level two-bedroom wooden structure. It was dingy white and badly in need of painting. Dr. Lecter parked in front and walked to the door. He could hear a dog barking inside.

The door was opened by an elderly woman in a housedress. She said loudly, "Knock it off, Hannibal!" Dr. Lecter froze for a moment, then realized she was talking to the dog.

Dr. Lecter said, "Mrs. Browne, I’m Dr. John Watson. I spoke with you on the phone earlier. I’m looking for information about the people who used to live here before you."

"That would be Julianne Blodget. She lived here with her daughter, Annie, till Annie died; she didn’t last long after that herself." Mrs. Browne added doubtfully, "I don’t know how I can help you. I hardly knew the woman."

"Did she leave anything behind – some letters perhaps?"

"I do have a carton of some junk she left here. I’ve been meaning to throw it out. You’re welcome to any of it you want."

He accompanied her to a shed in back of the house where a number of cartons were stacked. She pointed to one. "That’s it, there."

He removed the carton from the stack and cut the duct tape that was sealing it. There were several articles of worn-out clothing, some magazines and paperbacks, a diary with a broken lock, a set of unidentified keys, a half-filled book of green stamps, and a deflated basketball. Dr. Lecter sniffed the clothes. His acute sense of smell could detect no scent remaining of the original owner. He inspected the paperbacks and found them to be romance novels. He examined each of the remaining items carefully before rejecting it, finally coming to the diary. He opened it and saw that it was kept by Annie Blodget..It covered the time period that he and Annie had been buddies.

"I’d like to take this, if you don’t mind."

"Help yourself. I’d just be throwing it out anyway once I got around to it."


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Hannibal Lecter sat in his hotel room, fingertips of both hands touching, forming a pyramid upon which he rested his chin. He had just finished reading Annie’s diary. His strong need for understanding human behavior easily overcame the slight embarrassment he felt at uncovering her most intimate thoughts.

Hannibal was faced with a dilemma. The diary conflicted with some of his most closely held understanding of the events in his life. There appeared to be no other way around it. To discern the truth he would have to face up to the most traumatic event in his lifetime and examine it objectively. He leaned back and allowed his brain to drift into the Memory Palace mode. Arriving there, he came to a steel door welded shut, without lock or key, adorned with a skull-and- crossbones, and bearing a sign, "DO NOT ENTER!" This is the site where his vivid memories of his sister’s death are stored. This is the site he must explore.

He had never gone there deliberately before. Previous occasions were when his control slipped and he became an unwilling and impotent spectator. This time he is deliberately returning to the locked-away memories of his sister’s demise. The year was 1944. He was six years old and his beloved sister Mischa was two. They were on their family estate in Lithuania. The Nazi eastern front was in shambles and the Nazis were in full retreat. On the way, they had shelled the estate, killing Hannibal’s parents as well as all the other adults. An assorted group of Nazi army deserters had taken over the remains of the estate and had locked all the children in the barn; they themselves using the hunting lodge.

The deserters ate what they could find. Once they killed a small deer, but its meat did not last long. In two or three days the captors came again to unlock the barn and choose again from among the children huddled in the snow. At first they felt Hannibal’s thigh and upper arm and chest, but finally decided on his sister, Mischa. They took her away to play, they said, but no one who was taken to play ever returned. Hannibal fought with all his strength to prevent them from taking her, but all he achieved was a fracture of his arm when they slammed the barn door on it.

Hannibal prayed as hard as he could that he might see his sister again, but his prayers were not loud enough to drown out the sound of the falling axe. His prayers to see his sister again, however, were answered, in a fashion – he did see a few of her baby teeth in the reeking stool pit his captors used between the hunting lodge where they slept and the barn where they kept the children who were their sustenance that winter.


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


That was the scenario as stored in Hannibal Lector’s memory palace. It seemed conclusive; there appeared to be no doubt that his sister, Mischa, had been slaughtered and eaten that winter of 1944. But now he was considering whether there could be any reasonable set of events that would be consistent with the data in his memory bank and still have allowed his sister to survive. He considered each fact that indicated her death, and the possible alternate explanation, the explanation offered by Annie Blodget’s diary.


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Annie’s diary – Excerpt 1 – May 19, 1965

Daddy took me aside today and said there was something very important he had to discuss with me. He has been quite somber since his stroke. When we were alone, he told me a shocking story. In World War II he had been conscripted into the German army and stationed at the Russian front in Lithuania. The Germans were retreating and he had chosen to desert. Together with an assorted group of other deserters he found the shelled remains of an estate. No adults were alive, but there were a number of children huddled in a barn. The deserters locked the children in the barn and settled themselves in the hunting lodge. A bitterly cold winter was upon them and food was scarce. A small deer was killed but the meat lasted only a few days. Finally, they reached a difficult decision; to avoid starvation, they would slaughter the children one by one and use them for sustenance. Daddy said that he had voted against this but the others had outvoted him. The first child was chosen, a seven-year old girl. She was told she was being taken away to play, but she never returned. Next was a two-year old girl. She sobbed as she was taken away. Daddy said those sobs were burnt into his brain forever. He could not live that way any longer. The next one selected was another two-year old. Her six-year old brother fought to save her but was, of course, unsuccessful. She was calling his name as they slammed the barn door against his arm and locked him in again with the remaining children. Daddy walked on ahead of the others. He picked up the axe that was used for the slaughter. Two of the captors held the little girl on the slaughter block. Daddy swung the axe into the back of the neck of the nearer captor. There were outraged cries from the others, but none seemed willing to brave the axe. Daddy announced, "You now have enough fresh meat for awhile. I’m leaving and taking the little girl with me." There was grumbling but no one tried to stop him. He did not expect to survive but he was lucky enough to meet a large group of refugees who accepted them. No one questioned his claim to be the girl’s father. The girl was myself, of course; that’s when I became Anesthesia Blodget.

I’m not sure how I should react to Daddy’s story. He had taken part in the initial slaughter and cannibalism before it became too much for him to bear. On the other hand, it was necessary for survival. I guess I’ll go with my gut feeling that he is the best Daddy I could imagine and that we care for and love each other. As far as Daddy’s story is concerned, I guess I was too young to recall any of it. To the best of my recollection I have always been Annie Blodget.


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


So Mischa’s survival is explained without contradicting my recollections; only my interpretations of them. I had not actually seen the slaughter; only heard the sound of the axe striking. The baby teeth in the stool pit could have come from an earlier victim. The fact that there were earlier victims is shown by my recollection that others had been taken out to play but had never returned.


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


But that was not the whole story. Hannibal Lecter maintained an impassive visage as he turned to an earlier entry in the diary.


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Annie;s diary – Excerpt 2 – November 1, 1964


Got into a conversation with one of our regulars at the restaurant this afternoon. Told him the story of Beth and the nametags. He seemed to get a kick out of it. It’s refreshing to come across someone who appreciates my brand of humor – usually all I get is blank stares. . .


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Annie’s diary – Excerpt 3 – November 7, 1964


Spoke to my regular customer again, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. A doctor, no less – a psychiatrist! Young, good table manners, nice suit. He said he had an extra ticket to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performance tomorrow; asked me if I would like to accompany him. I asked him if this was to be a date and he said no, it’s just that he’d enjoy my company at the concert.

I asked him "What are they performing?"

He said, "Scriabin’s Symphony No. 1.

I said, "Great! Of all the Scriabin symphonies, No. 1 is the best."

He said, "Why is that?"

I said, "Well, if it wasn’t the best, they wouldn’t have voted it number one."

He said, "Say ‘good night,’ Gracie."

I said, "Good night, Gracie."

 

Come to think of it, we’d make a pretty good Burns and Allen, should the originals decide to retire.


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Annie’s diary – Excerpt 4 – November 15, 1964

When Hannibal asked me out again, I had to take a rain check. I was scheduled to work the late shift and couldn’t find someone to switch with. He was fine with that. I then invited him to accompany me to a Beatles concert next month. He was dubious, but accepted. I’ll bet he’ll enjoy it, though he may not admit it. . . .


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


There was more of the same. Hannibal skimmed through the diary, looking for a particular date. He found it readily.


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Annie’s diary – Excerpt 5 – March 28, 1965

Yesterday’s events have left my head in a whirl. Several days ago, I found a suspicious lump in my left breast. My doctor did a biopsy, and I was home waiting for the results. I was certain that it was malignant. Hannibal came over to lend me his support. I can’t remember exactly what it was he said, but somehow as he spoke to me I felt comforted. When the phone call came that the lump was a benign tumor, it was almost anticlimactic. We celebrated and I remember getting a little tipsy on champagne. Hannibal and I found ourselves in bed making love.

This was something of a shock to both of us. Hannibal had made it clear from the start that he was not courting me, and encouraged me to keep looking for the right guy. I also love him as the best of friends, but I’m not in love with him. Luckily we were able to talk it out and agree to forget it ever happened. We will maintain our friendship as before.


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Annie’s diary – Excerpt 6 – May 5, 1965

It’s definite. I’m pregnant. I don’t intend telling Hannibal. He may just decide that we should get married. That would be the worst plan for either of us. We make great friends but we’d be rotten as husband and wife. . .


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Annie’s diary – Excerpt 7 – May 16, 1965

Just got word of Daddy’s stroke. I’m taking the first flight back home. . .


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Annie’s diary – Excerpt 8 – June 1, 1965

Daddy died today. I’m in a fog. Everything seems unreal….


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Annie’s diary – Excerpt 9 – July 31, 1965

Tom proposed to me today. We’d been going together all through high school. He didn’t give up hope of us getting hitched, even after I left home for a job in the big city. He knows I’m pregnant with another man’s child and he doesn’t care. He will love it and bring it up as his own. I guess it’s real love, and I’m realizing that I’ve felt the same for him all along. I’ve accepted his proposal and we’ll be eloping this Sunday.

I’ve been trying out my new name and it feels right: Annie Blodget will become Annie Starling, Mrs. Tom Starling. If the child is a boy, he will be Tom Starling, Jr. If it’s a girl, I think I’ll name her Clarice.


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


That was the last entry in Annie Blodget’s diary. Clarice M. Starling was born on December 23, 1965.


<><><><><><><><><><><><>


Dr. Lecter sat in his hotel room with Annie’s diary closed on his lap. There was no need for him to open it again; the passages of significance were stored in his Memory Palace. His eyes closed, and he heard the jeering words of the shadowy Joker.

"What’s the matter; do you feel cheated, doctor? You got just about everything you ever wanted. You wanted your sister to live and she did. You wanted to see her again and you did. Of course, you happened not to recognize her and decided to fuck her instead, but that’s hardly our fault. You wanted to violate taboos, so we gave you a good one, incest, which you accepted enthusiastically, with your daughter as well as your sister. Again, you were unaware of the relationship at the time, but that doesn’t matter. Old Oedipus didn’t know he was screwing his mother either, but that didn’t stop him from getting all upset when he found out, and plucking out his eyes Is that what you’ll do, hmmmm, doctor? Pluck your eyes out?"

Dr. Lecter opened his eyes and smiled slowly. He framed his response in his mind:

Thank you for your solicitous advice, old chum, but no, I have no plans to pluck my eyes out. I admit an initial shock of surprise at the disclosures, but upon reflection find them of little concern. I’m glad to learn that my sister, Annie, a.k.a. Mischa, had the opportunity to live her life. Like most lives, it had its heartaches and rewards. I count the time I spent with her among the rewards.

I regard the taboo against incest as tedious as the taboo against cannibalism. I am extremely pleased that the union of Annie and myself produced my adored Clarice. Having experienced this result, I would not have had things work out any other way.

In short, my dear Joker, you may take your jeers and mockery, and shove them.

Ta ta.

Hannibal Lecter, M.D.

 

The Joker slunk back into the shadows, twirling his mustache in frustration.


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Hannibal Lecter tossed Annie’s diary into the incinerator. No matter; he could always retrieve the desired excerpts from his Memory Palace. Right now he is in a hurry to return home to his beloved Clarice. The short period of abstinence during his travels has left him quite concupiscent. He smiles fondly as he pictures Clarice in his mind...

That’s my girl!

 

FIN

copyright 2001, by AA Aaron

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