Author: Thomas Harris.
Genre: Fiction, crime, serial killers.
Publication Date: 1999.
Summary: Seven years have passed since Dr. Lecter - gentleman, genius, cannibal - escaped from custody. And for seven years he's been at large, free to savor the scents, the essences, of an unguarded world. But intruders have entered Dr. Lecter's sanctuary, piercing his new identity, sensing the evil that surrounds him. For the multimillionaire Hannibal left maimed, for a corrupt Italian policeman, and for FBI agent Clarice Starling, who once stood before Lecter and who has never been the same, the final hunt for Hannibal Lecter has begun. All of them in their separate ways, want to find Lecter. And all three will get their wish. But only one will live long enough to savor the reward.
My rating: 7.5/10.
♥ It is one of those residences that always contains its occupant whether she's there or not.
♥ Ardelia felt her background, found strength in it every day. Now Starling felt for hers, tried to gather herself. The Lutheran Home at Bozeman had fed and clothed her and given her a decent model of behavior, but for what she needed now, she must consult her blood.
What do you have when you come from a poor-white background? And from a place where Reconstruction didn't end until the 1950s. If you came from people often referred to on campuses as crackers and rednecks or, condescendingly, as blue-collar or poor-white Appalachians. If even the uncertain gentility of the South, who accord physical work no dignity at all, refer to your people as peckerwoods—in what tradition do you find an example? That we whaled the piss out of them that first time at Bull Run? That Great-granddaddy did right at Vicksburg, that a corner of Shiloh is forever Yazoo City?
There is much honor and more sense in having succeeded with what was left, making something with the damned forty acres and a muddy mule, but you have to be able to see that. No one will tell you.
♥ The worm that destroys you is the temptation to agree with your critics, to get their approval.
♥ Dear Clarice,
I have followed with enthusiasm the course of your disgrace and public shaming. My own never bothered me, except for the inconvenience of being incarcerated, but you may lack perspective.
In our discussions down in the dungeon, it was apparent to me that your father, the dead night watchman, figures large in your value system. I think your success in putting an end to Jame Gumb's career as a couturier pleased you most because you could imagine your father doing it.
Now you are in bad odour with the FBI. Have you always imagined your father ahead of you there, have you imagined him a section chief, or—better even than Jack Crawford—a DEPUTY DIRECTOR, watching your progress with pride? And now do you see him shamed and crushed by your disgrace? Your failure? The sorry, petty end of a promising career? Do you see yourself doing the menial tasks your mother was reduced to, after the addicts busted a cap on your DADDY? Hmmmm? Will your failure reflect on them, will people forever wrongly believe that your parents were trailer camp tornado bait white trash? Tell me truly, Special Agent Starling.
Give it a moment before we proceed.
Now I will show you a quality you have that will help you: You are not blinded by tears, you have the onions to read on.
Here's an exercise you might find useful. I want you physically to do this with me:
Do you have a black iron skillet? You are a southern mountain girl, I can't imagine you would not. Put it on the kitchen table. Turn on the overhead lights.
..Look into the skillet, Clarice. Lean over it and look down. If this were your mother's skillet, and it well may be, it would hold among its molecules the vibrations of all the conversations ever held in its presence. All the exchanges, the petty irritations, the deadly revelations, the flat announcements of disaster, the grunts and poetry of love.
Sit down at the table, Clarice. Look into the skillet. If it is well cured, it's a black pool, isn't it? It's like looking down a well. Your detailed reflection is not in the bottom, but you loom there, don't you? The light behind you, there you are in blackface, with a corona like your hair on fire.
We are elaborations of carbon, Clarice. You and the skillet and Daddy dead in the ground, cold as the skillet. It's all still there. Listen. How did they really sound, and live—your struggling parents. The concrete memories, not the imagi that swell your heart.
Why was your father not a deputy sheriff, in tight with the courthouse crowd? Why did your mother clean motels to keep you, even if she failed to keep you all together until you were grown?
What is your most vivid memory of the kitchen? Not the hospital, the kitchen.
My mother washing the blood out of my father's hat.
What is your best memory in the kitchen?
My father peeling oranges with his old pocketknife with the tip broken off, and passing the sections to us.
Your father, Clarice, was a night watchman. Your mothers was a chambermaid.
Was a big federal career your hope or theirs? How much would your father bend to get along in a stale bureaucracy? How many buttocks would he kiss? Did you ever in your life see him toady or fawn?
Have your supervisors demonstrated any values, Clarice? How about your parents, did they demonstrate any? If so, are those values the same?
Look into the honest iron and tell me. Have you failed your dead family? Would they want you to suck up? What was their view of fortitude? You can be as strong as you wish to be.
You are a warrior, Clarice. The enemy is dead, the baby safe. You are a warrior.
The most stable elements, Clarice, appear in the middle of the periodic table, roughly between iron and silver.
Between iron and silver. I think that is appropriate for you.
P.S. You still owe me some information, you know. Tell me if you still wake up hearing the lambs.
♥ The great seal of the FBI with is motto, "Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity," is rendered handsomely in gold leaf on the glass.
♥ Moving toward the door, sliding his feet so he would not have to look where he was going, he used the extreme articulation of his long neck to turn his face to her, as a hyena would shuffle at the fringe of a herd, peering in at a candidate. Mixed hungers crossed his face; it was Krendler's nature to both appreciate Starling's leg and look for the hamstring.
♥ They never spoke if they could help it about the troubled central bureaucracy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Crawford and Sterling were like medical missionaries, with little patience for theology, each concentrating hard on the one baby before them, knowing and not saying that God wouldn't do a goddamned thing to help. That for fifty thousand Ibo infant lives, He would not bother to send rain.
♥ "I think it's easy to mistake understanding for empathy—we want empathy so badly. Maybe learning to make that distinction is part of growing up. It's hard and ugly to know somebody can understand you without even liking you. When you see understanding just used as a predator's tool, that's the worst."
♥ The place looked solid and fecund, the province of pleasant dreams. It tugged at Starling.
♥ Her eyes had a dry glitter and looked irritated, as though she suffered from a shortage of tears.
♥ There is a common emotion we all recognize and have not yet named—the happy anticipation of being able to feel contempt.
♥ "Good afternoon, Mr. Verger," Starling said into the darkness, the overhead light hot on the top of her head. Afternoon was someplace else. Afternoon did not enter here.
♥ Mason Verger, noseless and lipless, with no soft tissue on his face, was all teeth, like a creature of the deep, deep ocean. Inured as we are to masks, the shock in seeing him is delayed. Shock comes with the recognition that this is a human face with a mind behind it. It churns you with its movement, the articulation of the jaw, the turning of the eye to see you. To see your normal face.
♥ "Have you accepted Jesus, Miss Starling? Do you have faith?"
"I was raised in a close religious atmosphere, Mr. Verger. I have whatever that leaves you with," Starling said.
♥ You may labor under the misconception that all Protestants look alike. Not so. Just as one Caribbean person can often tell the specific island of another, Starling, raised by the Lutherans, looked at this woman and said to herself, Church of Christ, maybe a Nazarene at the outside.
♥ It was here she came on her first FBI assignment, when she was still a trainee, still believed everything, still thought that if you could do the job, if you could cut it, you would be accepted, regardless of race, creed, color, national origin or whether or not you were a good old boy. Of all this, there remained to her one article of faith. She believed that she could cut it.
♥ And at last, Dr. Lecter's cell.
The study table where he read was still bolted to the floor in the middle of the room. The boards were gone from the shelves that had held his books, but the brackets still stick out of the walls.
Starling should turn to the cabinets, but she was fixed on the cell. Here she had had the most remarkable encounter of her life. Here she had been startled, shocked, surprised.
Here she had heard things about herself so terrible true her heart resounded like a great deep bell.
She wanted to go inside. She wanted to go in, wanting it as we want to jump from balconies, as the glint of the rails tempts us when we hear the approaching train.
♥ Starling thought then that she came to understand something: Death and danger do not have to come with trappings. They can come to you in the sweet breath of your beloved. Or on a sunny afternoon in a fish market with "Macarena" playing on a boom box.
♥ "Goodbye. 'Bye, Sammie," she called to the man who had circled in the world and come back to the hell he knew. She wanted tot ell him she hoped Jesus would come soon, but it sounded too silly to say.
Starling climbed back into the light, to continue her circle in the world.
♥ The neighborhood behind the hospital was quiet, blue-collar and mixed racially. A neighborhood where you put a Chapman lock on your car but you don't have to take the battery in with you at night, and the kids can play outside.
♥ "How'd you do it, Barney? If you don't mind my asking, how'd you manage to last with him? It wasn't just being civil."
Barney looked at his reflection in his spoon, first convex and then concave, and thought a moment. "Dr. Lecter had perfect manners, not stiff, but easy and elegant. I was working on some correspondence courses and he shared his mind with me. That didn't mean he wouldn't kill me any second if he got the chance—one quality in a person doesn't rule out any other quality. They can exist side by side, good and terrible. Socrates said it a lot better. In maximum lockdown you can't afford to forget that, ever. If you keep it in mind, you're all right. Dr. Lecter may have been sorry he showed me Socrates."
♥ "Did you ever think when he escaped that he might come after you?"
Barney shook his huge head. "He told me once that, whenever it was "feasible," he preferred to eat the rude. "Free-range rude," he called them." '
♥ "Did you talk about what he'd like to do if he was free?"
"No. Dr. Lecter has no interest in hypothesis. He doesn't believe in syllogism, or synthesis, or any absolute."
"What does he believe in?"
"Chaos. And you don't even have to believe in it. It's self-evident."
♥ Until it did, to relieve the agony of waiting Mason concerned himself with what would happen after the doctor was in his hands. These arrangements had also been long in the making, for Mason was a student of suffering. ...
God's choices in inflicting suffering are not satisfactory to us, nor are they understandable, unless innocence offends Him. Clearly He needs some help in directing the blind fury with which He flogs the earth.
♥ An Epiphany then at Christmas. Before the nurse could ring, or reach for medication, the first coarse bristles of Mason's revenge brushed his pale and seeking, ghost crab of a hand, and began to calm him.
At Christmas communions around the earth, the devout believe that, through the miracle of transubstantiation, they eat the actual body and blood of Christ. Mason began the preparations for an even more impressive ceremony with no transubstantiation necessary. He began his arrangements for Dr. Hannibal Lecter to be eaten alive.
♥ ..and walked off the path, onto the dark grounds of the Forte di Belvedere. He went to the parapet, looking north across the Arno. Old Florence was at his feet, the great hump of the Duomo, the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio rising in light.
Pazzi was a very old soul, writhing ion a spike of ridiculous circumstance. His city mocked him.
♥ Dr. Lecter sits in a great armchair in the fabled Capponi Library. His eyes reflect light redly, but they do not glow red in the dark, as some of his keepers have sworn they do. The darkness is complete. He is considering. ...
..Dr. Lecter does not require conventional reinforcement. His ego, like his intelligence quota, and the degree of his rationality, is not measurable by conventional means.
In fact, there is no consensus in the psychiatric community that Dr. Lecter should be termed a man. He has long been regarded by his professional peers in psychiatry, many of whom fear his acid pen in the professional journals, as something entirely Other. For convenience they term him "monster."
The monster sits in the black library, his mind painting colors on the dark and a medieval air running in his head.
♥ How do you behave when you know the conventional honors are dross? When you have come to believe with Marcus Aurelius that the opinion of future generations will be worth no more than the opinion of the current one? Is it possible to behave well then? Desirable to behave well then?
Now Rinaldo Pazzi, a Pazzi of the Pazzi, chief inspector of the Florentine Questura, had to decide what his honor was worth, or if there is a wisdom longer than considerations of honor.
♥ ..when he looked up at the window in the floodlit Palazzo Vecchio where his ancestor died, he believed that he was deliberating. He was not. He had already decided piecemeal.
We assign a moment to decision, to dignify the process as a timely result of rational and conscious thought. But decisions are made of kneaded feelings; they are more often a lump than a sum.
Pazzi had decided when he got on the plane to Paris. And he had decided an hour ago, after his wife in her new peignoir had been only dutifully receptive. And minutes later when, lying the dark, he reached over to cup her cheek and give her a tender good night kiss, and he felt a tear beneath his palm. Then, unaware, she ate his heart.
♥ Florentines say Vera dal 1926, with its wealth of cheeses and truffles, smells like the feet of God.
♥ When she could see that she was standing on a grave in the floor, she whispered, "Mi dispiace!" and moved quickly off the slab; to Romula the throng of dead beneath the floor was as real as the people above it, and perhaps more influential. She was daughter and granddaughter of spirit readers and palmists, and she saw the people above the floor, and the people below, as two crowds with the mortal pane between. The ones below, being smarter and older, had the advantage in her opinion.
♥ Lights on as someone in the crowd found a two-hundred-lire piece and at the moment of touching Dr. Fell she looked into his face, felt sucked to the red centers of his eyes, felt the huge cold vacuum pull her heart against her ribs and her hand flew away from his face to cover the baby's face and she heard her voice say "Perdonami, perdonami, signore," turning and fleeing as the doctor looked after her for a long moment, until the light went out and he was a silhouette again against candles in a chapel, and with quick, light strides he went on his way.
..Her eyes were enormous in the gloom. "That is the Devil," she said. "Shaitan, Son of the Morning, I've seen him now."
♥ The visual Rinaldo Pazzi remembered sights completely: the first time he ever saw his penis erect, the first time he saw his own blood, the first woman he ever saw naked, the blur of the first fist coming to strike him. He remembered wandering casually into a side chapel of a Sienese church and looking into the fact of St. Catherine of Siena unexpectedly, her mummified head in its immaculate white wimple resting in a reliquary shaped like a church.
Seeing three million U.S. dollars had the same impact on him.
♥ And he had no illusions about Lecter's fate. He was selling the man into torture and death. To Pazzi's credit, he acknowledged to himself what he was doing.
Our freedom is worth more than the monster's life. Our happiness is more important than his suffering, he thought with the cold egoism of the damned.
..Descending through the ozone smell of lightning, feeling the booms of thunder in the fabric of the plane, Pazzi of the ancient Pazzi returned to his ancient city with his aims as old as time.
♥ Carlo at work was as impervious to insult as he was to cries of pain.
♥ Dr. Hannibal Lecter, veteran of prison and asylum cots, lies still on this narrow bed, his hands on his chest.
His eyes open and he is suddenly, completely awake, his dream of his sister Mischa, long dead and digested, running seamlessly into this present waking: danger then, danger now.
Knowing he is in danger did not disturb his sleep any more than killing the pickpocket did.
♥ Just as frescoed walls of Santa Croce or the Palazzo Vecchio are suffused with mind, so the air of the Capponi Library thrums with presence for Dr. Lecter as he works at the great wall of pigeonholed manuscripts. He selects rolled parchments, blows dust away, the motes of dust swarming in a ray of sun as though the dead, who now are dust, vie to tell him their fate and his. ..There are so many things he would have liked to read.
♥ He picks up a pen and, with a fluid ease, draws on the parchment the body of a winged lioness, a griffon with Starling's face. Beneath it, he writes in his distinctive copperplate, Did you ever think, Clarice, why the Philistines don't understand you? It's because you're the answer to Samson's riddle: You are the honey in the lion.
♥ The porter was accustomed to him, and the clerks, normally given to a certain amount of hauteur, had great respect for him. The purchases of the courteous Dr. Fell over his months in Florence would not have totaled more than one hundred thousand lire, but the fragrances and essences were chosen and combined with a sensibility startling and gratifying to these scent merchants, who live by the nose.
It was to preserve this pleasure that Dr. Lecter had not altered his own nose with any rhinoplasty other than external collagen injections. For him the air was painted with scents as distinct and vivid as colors, and he could layer and feather them as though painting wet-on-wet. Here there was nothing of jail. Here the air was music. Here were pale tears of frankincense awaiting extraction, yellow bergamot, sandalwood, cinnamon and mimosa in concert, over the sustaining ground notes of genuine ambergris, civet, castor from the beaver, and essence of the must deer.
Dr. Lecter sometimes entertained the illusion that he could smell with his hands, his arms and cheeks, that odor suffused him. That he could smell with his face and his heart.
For good, anatomic reasons, scent fosters memory more readily than any other sense.
♥ Except—what was that? Clarice Starling, why? Not the l'Air du Temps he caught when she opened her handbag close to the bars of his cage in the asylum. That was not it. Such perfumes were not old here in the Farmacia. Nor was it her skin lotion. Ah. Sapone di mandorle. The Farmacia's famous almond soap. Where had he smelled it? Memphis, when she stood outside his cell, when he briefly touched her finger shortly before his escape. Starling, then. Clean, and rich in textures. Cotton sun-dried and ironed. Clarice Starling, then. Engaging and toothsome. Tedious in her earnestness and absurd in her principles. Quick in her mother wit.
♥ He wondered if Dr. Lecter was religious, as crazy men often are.
♥ Dr. Lecter tilted Pazzi forward against the balcony tailing. The railing came to his thighs.
Pazzi could look down at the piazza and make out through the floodlights the spot where Savonarola was burned, where he had sworn to sell Dr. Lecter to Mason Verger. He looked up at the clouds scudding low, colored by the floodlights, and hoped, so much, that God could see.
♥ Taste. The wine, the truffles. Taste in all things was a constant between Dr. Lecter's lives in America and Europe, between his life as a successful medical practitioner and fugitive monster. His face may have changed but his tastes did not, and he was not a man who denied himself.
Taste was a sensitive area to Starling, because it was in the area of taste that Dr. Lecter first touched her in the quick, complimenting her on her pocketbook and making fun of her cheap shoes. What had he called her? A well-scrubbed hustling rube with a little taste.
It was taste that itched at her in the daily round of her institutional life with its purely functional equipment in utilitarian settings.
..The first step in the development of taste is to be willing to credit your own opinion.
♥ At the same time her faith in technique wads dying and leaving room for something else.
Starling was weary of technique. Faith in technique is the religion of the dangerous trades. To go up again an armed felon in a gunfight or to fight him in the dirt you have to believe perfect technique, hard training, will guarantee that you are invincible. This is not true, particularly in firefights. You can stack the odds in your favor, but if you get into enough gunfights, you will be killed in one.
Starling had seen it.
Having come to doubt the religion of technique, where could Starling turn?
In her tribulation, in the gnawing sameness of her days, she began to look at the shapes of things. She began to credit her own visceral reactions to things, without quantifying them or restricting them to words.
♥ Your people might have assassinated me in the street, But you wanted me alive, didn't you? From the aroma of your henchmen, it's obvious how you planned to entertain me. Mason, Mason. Since you want to see me so badly, let me give you some words of comfort, and you know I never lie.
Before you die you will see my face.
♥ "Hell kind of bullshit is this?" Ardelia said.
It was their practice to curse heartily before taking up anything truly ominous, a late-century form of whistling in the dark.
♥ "Are you scared of him? You better be scared enough."
"You know what's scary, Ardelia? It's scary when somebody tells you the truth. I'd like to see him beat the needle. ..If he was in the slams I'd thank him for his note. Can't waste a man that's crazy enough to tell the truth."
♥ The most ramshackle family dwelling of her early childhood had had a warm kitchen where she could share an orange with her father. But death knows where the little houses are, where people live who do dangerous work for not much money. Her father rode away from this house in his old pickup truck on the night patrol that killed him.
Starling rode away from her foster home on a slaughter horse while they were killing the lambs, and she found a kind of refuge in the Lutheran Orphanage. Institutional structures, big and solid, made her feel safe ever since. The Lutherans might have been short on warmth and oranges and long on Jesus, but the rules were the rules and if you understood them you were okay.
♥ Starling, with her hand on John Brigham's stone, looking over the acres of graves, wondered how many like him had been wasted by stupidity and selfishness and the bargaining of tired old men.
Whether you believe in God or not, if you are a warrior Arlington is a sacred place, and the tragedy is not to die, but to be wasted.
♥ We routinely leave our small children in day care among strangers. At the same time, in our guilt we evince paranoia about strangers and foster fear in children. In times like these, a genuine monster has to watch it, even a monster as indifferent to children as Dr. Lecter.
♥ As he had done in his cell so many times, Dr. Lecter put his head back, closed his eyes and retired for relief into the quiet of his memory palace, a place that is quite beautiful for the most part.
For this little time, the metal cylinder howling westward against the wind contains a palace of a thousand rooms.
As once we visited Dr. Lecter in the Palazzo of the Capponi, so we will go with him now into the palace of his mind. . .
The foyer is in the Normal Chapel in Palermo, severe and beautiful and timeless, with a single reminder of mortality in the skull graven in the floor. Unless he is in a great hurry to retrieve information from the palace, Dr. Lecter often pauses here as he does now, to admire the chapel. Beyond it, far and complex, light and dark, is the vast structure of Dr. Lecter's making.
The memory palace was a mnemonic system well known to ancient scholars and much information was preserved in them through the Dark Ages while Vandals burned the books. Like scholars before him, Dr. Lecter stores an enormous amount of information keyed to objects in his thousand rooms, but unlike the ancients, Dr. Lecter has a second purpose for his palace; sometimes he lives there. He has passed years among its exquisite collections, while his body lay bound on a violent ward with screams buzzing the steel bars like Hell's own harp.
Hannibal Lecter's palace is vast, even by medieval standards. Translated to the tangible world it would rival the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul for size and complexity.
We catch up to him as the swift slippers of his mind pass from the foyer into the Great Hall of the Seasons. The palace is built according to the rules discovered by Simonides of Ceos and elaborated by Cicero four hundred years later; it is airy, high-ceilinged, furnished with objects and tableaux that are vivid, striking, sometimes shocking and absurd, and often beautiful. The displays are well spaced and well lighted like those of a great museum. But the walls are not the neutral colors of museum walls. Like Giotto, Dr. Lecter has frescoed the walls of his mind.
He has decided to pick up Clarice Starling's home address while he is in the palace, but he is in no hurry get it, so he stops at the foot of a great staircase where the Riace bronzes stand. These great bronze warriors attributes to Phidias, raised from a seafloor in our own time, are the centerpiece of a frescoed space that could unspool all of Homer and Sophocles.
Dr. Lecter could have the bronze faces speak Meleager if he wished, but today he only wants to look at them.
A thousand rooms, miles of corridors, hundreds of facts attached to each object furnishing each room, a pleasant respite awaiting Dr. Lecter whenever he chooses to retire there.
But this we share with the doctor: In the vaults of our hearts and brains, danger waits. All the chambers are not lovely, light and high. There are holes in the floor of the mind, like those in a medieval dungeon floor—the stinking oubliettes, named for forgetting, bottle-shaped cells in solid rock with the trapdoor in the top. Nothing escapes from them quietly to ease us. A quake, some betrayal by our safeguards, and sparks of memory fire the noxious gases—things trapped for years fly free, ready to explode in pain and drive us to dangerous behavior. . . .
Fearfully and wonderfully made, we follow as he moves with a swift light stride along the corridor of his own making, through a scent of gardenias, the presence of great sculpture pressing on us, and the light of pictures.
His way leads around to the right past a bust of Pliny and up the staircase to the Hall of Addresses, a room lined with statuary and paintings in a fixed order, spaced wide apart and well lit, as Cicero recommends.
Ah . . . The third alcove from the door on the right is dominated by a painting of St. Francis feeding a moth to a starling. On the floor before the painting in this tableau, life-sized in painted marble:
A parade in Arlington National Cemetery led by Jesus, thirty-three, driving a '27 Model-T Ford truck, a "tin lizzie," with J. Edgar Hoover standing in the truck bed wearing a tutu and waving to an unseen crowd. Marching behind him is Clarice Starling carrying a .308 Enfield rifle at shoulder arms.
Dr. Lecter appears pleased to see Starling. Long ago he obtained Starling's home address from the University of Virginia Alumni Associations. He stores the address in this tableau, and now, for his own pleasure, he summons the numbers and the name of the street where Starling lives.
..Dr. Lecter can move down the vast halls of his memory palace with unnatural speed. With his reflexes and strength, apprehension and speed of mind, Dr. Lecter is well armed against the physical world. But there are places within himself that he may not safely go, where Cicero's rules of logic, of ordered space and light do not apply. . . .
He has decided to visit his collection of ancient textiles. For a letter he is writing to Mason Verger, he wants to review a text of Ovid on the subject of flavored facial oils which is attached to the weavings.
He proceeds down an interesting flat-weave kilim runner toward the hall of looms and textiles.
♥ He prayed so hard that he would see Mischa again, the prayer consumed his six-year-old mind, but it did not drown out the sound of the axe. His prayer to see her again did not go entirely unanswered—he did see a few of Mischa's milk teeth in the reeking stool pit his captors used between the lodge where they slept and the barn where they kept the captive children who were their sustenance in 1944 after the Eastern Front collapsed.
Since this partial answer to his prayer, Hannibal Lecter had not been bothered by any considerations of deity, other than to recognize how his own modest predations paled beside those of God, who is in irony matchless, and in wanton malice beyond measure.
♥ Starling looked for a moment through the wall, past the wall, out to forever and composed herself.
♥ "Dr. Doemling, does he want to fuck her or kill her, or eat her, or what?" Mason asked, exhausting the possibilities he could see.
"Probably all three," Dr. Doemling said. "I would want to predict the order in which he wants to perform those acts. That's the burden of what I can tell you. No matter how the tabloids—and tabloid mentalities—might want to romanticize it, and try to make it Beauty and the Beast, his object is her degradation, her suffering, and her death. He has responded to her twice: when she was insulted with the semen in her face and when she was torn apart in the newspapers after she shot those people. He comes in the guise of a mentor, but it's the distress that excites him. When the history of Hannibal Lecter is written, and it will be, this will be recorded as a case of Doemling's avunculism. To draw him she needs to be distressed."
♥ It is an axiom of behavioral science that vampires are territorial, while cannibals range widely across the country.
♥ Few genuine outdoorsmen come to gun shows, as a matter of taste. Guns are black now, and gun shows are bleak, colorless, as joyless as the inner landscape of many who attend them.
Look at this crowd: scruffy, squinty, angry, egg-bound, truly of the resinous heart. They are the main danger to the right of a private citizen to own a firearm.
The guns they fancy are assault weapons designed for mass production cheaply made of stampings to provide high firepower to ignorant and untrained troops.
♥ "He did the single cruelest thing anybody's ever done to me, do you know what it was?"
"I know he taunted you."
"When Catherine was missing, when we were desperate and he said he had information on Jame Gumb, and I was pleading with him, he asked me, he looked into my face with those snake eyes and asked me if I had nursed Catherine. He wanted to know if I breast-fed her. I told him yes. And then he said, "Thirsty work, isn't it?" It just brought it all back suddenly, holding her as a baby, thirsty, waiting for her to get full, it pierced me like nothing I ever felt, and he just sucked down my pain."
♥ "The Bloody Eagle. The literature at Quantico has it. It's a Norse sacrificial custom. Chop through the short ribs and pull the lungs out the back, flatten them out like that to make wings."
♥ It is more trouble physically to move a semiwild pig against its will than to kidnap a man. Pigs are harder to get hold of than men and big ones are stronger than a man and they cannot be intimidated with a gun. There are the tusks to consider if you want to maintain the integrity of your abdomen and legs.
Tusked pigs instinctively disembowel when fighting the upright species, men and bears. They do not naturally hamstring, but can quickly learn the behavior.
If you need to maintain the animal alive, you cannot haze it with electrical shock, as pigs are prone to fatal coronary fibrillation.
..A pig is not like other animals. There is a spark of intelligence and a terrible practicality in pigs.
♥ "You've worked enough autopsies, Barney. What do they look for when they suspect smothering?"
"Hemorrhages behind the eyelids."
"Mason doesn't have any eyelids."
She had read up, and she was used to buying anything, anybody.
♥ Krendler had broken careers before, in his own rise to power, first as a state prosecuting attorney active in politics, and later in Justice. He knew from experience that crippling a woman's career is easier than damaging a man's. If a woman gets a promotion that women shouldn't have, the most efficient way is to say she won it on her back.
♥ One Washington axiom, proved more times than the Pythagorean theorem, states that in the presence of oxygen, one loud fart with an obvious culprit will cover many small emissions in the same room, provided they are nearly simultaneous.
Ergo, the impeachment trial was distracting the Justice Department enough for him to railroad Starling.
♥ At worst he was giving a loose cannon a way to roll over the side and threaten nobody anymore.
A "loose canon" over the side would "stop rocking the boat," he thought, pleased and comforted as though two naval metaphors made a logical equation. That the rocking boat moved the cannon bothered him not at all.
♥ The Battle Creek Cemetery outside Hubbard, Texas, is a small scar on the lion-colored hide of central Texas in December. The wind is whistling there at this moment, and it will always whistle there. You cannot wait it out.
♥ "Where does the difference between the past and the future come from? The laws of science do not distinguish between the past and the future. Yet there is a big difference between the past and future in ordinary life.
"You may see a cup of tea fall off of a table and break into pieces on the floor. But you will never see the cup gather itself back together and jump back on the table."
The film run backward, shows the cup reassembling itself on the table. Hawking continues:
"The increase of disorder or entropy is what distinguishes the past from the future, giving a direction to time."
♥ Dr. Lecter stripped off his gloves and shot them into the waste bin. Nobody was paying attention. He got another pair. His body was in the scrub room, but in fact he raced through the foyer of his memory palace, past the bust of Pliny and up the stairs to the Hall of Architecture. In a well-lit area dominated by Christopher Wren's model of St. Paul's, the hospital blueprints were waiting on a drawing table. The Maryland-Misericordia surgical suite blueprints line for line from the Baltimore Department of Buildings.
♥ She saw in the instant how far she had fallen in Pearsall's trust, and of what cheap material his trust was made.
♥ What do you look at while you're making up your mind? Ours is not a reflective culture, we do not raise our eyes up to the hills. Most of the time we decide the critical things while looking at the linoleum floor of an institutional corridor, or whispering hurriedly in a waiting room with a television blatting nonsense.
♥ You are a warrior, Clarice.
Almost as ugly as the act itself was the fact that Mason would do this with the tacit agreement of men sworn to uphold the law. It is the way of the world.
With this thought, she made a decision:
The world will not be this way within the reach of my arm.
♥ There is much tradition and mystique in the bequest of personal weapons to a surviving comrade in arms. It has to do with a continuation of values past individual mortality.
People living in a time made safe for them by others may find this difficult to understand.
♥ At the same time, Mason knew that it is dangerous to get exactly what you want.
♥ The hard moment came when she was out of sight of the Mustang, but could still feel it loom behind her. She did not want to leave it.
She was suddenly a thirty-three-year-old woman, alone, with a ruined civil service career and no shotgun, standing in a forest at night. She saw herself clearly, saw the crinkles of age beginning in the corners of her eyes. She wanted desperately to go back to her car.
♥ Dr. Lecter, erect as a dancer and carrying Starling in his arms, came out from behind the gate, walked barefoot out of the barn, through the pigs. Dr. Lecter walked through the sea of tossing backs and blood spray in the barn. A couple of the great swine, one of them the pregnant sow, squared their feet to him, lowered their heads to charge.
When he faced them and they smelled no fear, they trotted back to the easy pickings on the ground.
..There was something he felt he should say to her and he gathered himself and got his English together. "Signorina, the pigs, you must know, the pigs help the Dottore. They stand back from him, circle him. They kill my brother, kill Carlo, but they stand back from Dr. Lecter. I think they worship him." Tommaso crossed himself. "You should not chase him anymore."
And throughout his long life in Sardinia, Tommaso would tell it that way. By the time Tommaso was in his sixties, he was saying that Dr. Lecter, carrying the woman, had left the barn borne on a drift of pigs.
♥ "You're dead, Margot." It sounded like "Nargot."
"Oh, Mason, we all are. Didn't you know?"
♥ "Sugar, I got to take off. We'll talk."
"You can't stay?"
He put his hand on her head. "We can't never stay, Baby. Can't nobody stay like they want to."
♥ "Clarice, he never wished for anything but your happiness and well-being."
"Wish in one hand and shit in the other one and see which one gets full the first," said Starling.
♥ "Clarice, I'm going to leave your plight into his eyeholes and no reply will come." He put his hands on the sides of her head. "What you need of your father is here, in your head, and subject to your judgment, not his."
♥ Ever, Dr. Lecter sought pattern.
He knew that, like every sentient being, Starling formed from her early experience matrices, frameworks by which later perceptions were understood.
Speaking to her through the asylum bars so many years ago, he had found an important one for Starling, the slaughter of lambs and horses on the ranch that was her foster home. She was imprinted by their plight.
♥ He came upon tableaux of pitiless brightness, years old but well tended and detailed, that sent limbic anger flashing through Starling's brain like lightning in a thunderhead.
Most of them involved Paul Krendler. Her resentment of the very real injustices she had suffered at Krendler's hands was charged with the anger at her father that she could never, never acknowledge. She could not forgive her father for dying. He had left the family, he had stopped peeling oranges in the kitchen. He had doomed her mother to the commode brush and the pail. He had stopped holding Starling close, his great heart booming like Hannah's heart as they rode into the night.
Krendler was the icon of failure and frustration. He could be blamed. But could he be defied? Or was Krendler, and every other authority and taboo, empowered to box Starling into what was, in Dr. Lecter's view, her little low-ceiling life?
To him one hopeful sign: Though she was imprinted with the badge, she could still shoot a hole through one and kill the wearer. Why? Because she had committed to action, identified the wearer as a criminal and made the judgment ahead of time, overruling the imprinted icon of the star. Potential flexibility. The cerebral cortex rules. Did that mean room for Mischa within Starling? Or was it simply another good quality of the place Starling must vacate?
♥ "Do not say 'Thanks.'" A fractional turn of his head was enough to dash his annoyance like a glass thrown into the fireplace.
"I say what I mean," Starling said.
♥ "Look, Clarice. That delicious vision is what you are. This evening you will see yourself from a distance for a while. You will see what is just, you will say what is true. You've never lacked the courage to say what you think, but you've been hampered by constraints. I will tell you again, pity has no place at this table.
"If remarks are passed that are unpleasant in the instant, you will see that context can make them something between droll and riotously funny. If things are said that are painfully true, then it is only passing truth and will change." He took a sip of his drink. "If you feel pain bloom inside you, it will soon blossom into relief. Do you understand me?"
"No, Dr. Lecter, but I remember what you said. Damn a bunch of self-improvement. I want a pleasant dinner."
♥ "Paul, I have to tell you, the Apostle Paul, couldn't have done better. He hated women too. He should have been named Appall."
♥ The brain itself feels no pain.
The pinky-gray dome of Krendler's brain was vis9ble above his truncated skull.
Standing over Krendler with an instrument resembling a tonsil spoon, Dr. Lecter removed a slice of Krendler's prefrontal lobe, then another, until he had four. Krendler's eyes looked up as though he were following what was going on. Dr. Lecter placed the slices in the bowl of ice water, the water acidulated with the juice of a lemon, in order to firm them.
"Would you like to swing on a star," Krendler sang abruptly. "Carry moonbeams home in a jar."
In classic cuisine, brains are soaked and then pressed and chilled overnight to firm them. In dealing with the item absolutely fresh, the challenge is to prevent the material from simply disintegrating into a handful of lumpy gelatin.
With splendid dexterity, the doctor brought the firmed slices to a plate, dredged them lightly in seasoned flour, and then in fresh brioche crumbs.
He grated a fresh black truffle in his sauce and finished it with a squeeze of lemon juice.
Quickly he sautéed the slices until they were just brown on each side.
"Smells great!" Krendler said.
Dr. Lecter placed the browned brains on broad croutons on the warmed plates, and dressed them with the sauce and truffle slices. A garnish of parsley and whole caper berries with their stems, and a single nasturtium blossom on watercress to achieve a little height, completed his presentation.
..A second helping consumed most of the frontal lobe, back nearly to the premotor cortex. Krendler was reduced to irrelevant observations about things in his immediate vision and the tuneless resuscitation behind the flowers of a lengthy lewd verse called "Shine."
Absorbed in their talk, Starling and Lecter were no more disturbed than they would have been by the singing of happy birthday at another table in a restaurant, but when Krendler's volume became intrusive, Dr. Lecter retrieved his crossbow from a corner.
"I want you to listen to the sound of this stringed instrument, Clarice."
He waited for a moment of silence from Krendler and shot a bolt across the table through the tall flowers.
"That particular frequency of the crossbow string, should you hear it again in any context, means only your complete freedom and peace and self-sufficiency," Dr. Lecter said.
♥ Sometimes our couple dances at dinnertime. Sometimes they do not finish dinner.
Their relationship has a great deal to do with the penetration of Clarice Starling, which she acidly welcomes and encourages. It has much to do with the envelopment of Hannibal Lecter, far beyond the bounds of his experience. It is possible that Clarice Starling could frighten him. Sex is a splendid structure they add to every day.
Clarice Starling's memory palace is building as well. It shares some rooms with Dr. Lecter's own memory palace—he has discovered her in there several times—but her own palace grows on its own. It is full of new things. She can visit her father there. Hannah is at pasture there. Jack Crawford is there, when she chooses to see him bent over his desk—after Crawford was home for a month from the hospital, the chest pains came again in the night. Instead of calling an ambulance and going through it all again, he chose simply to roll over to the solace of his late wife's side of the bed.
♥ It is hard to know what Starling remembers of the old life, what she chooses to keep. The drugs that held her in the first days have had no part in their lives for a long time. Nor the long talks with a single light source in the room.
Occasionally, on purpose, Dr. Lecter drops a teacup to shatter on the floor. He is satisfied when it does not gather itself together. For many months now, he has not seen Mischa in his dreams.
Someday perhaps a cup will come together. Or somewhere Starling may hear a crossbow string and come to some unwilled awakening, if indeed she even sleeps.
We'll withdraw now, while they are dancing on the terrace—the wise Barney has already left town and we must follow his example. For either of them to discover us would be fatal.
We can only learn so much and live.