Hannibal has never believed in a destiny beyond his control. He doesn’t put much stock in luck, or fate, or coincidence as the great literati would have him believe. But to stumble across such a treasure in Miami, of all places, almost makes it seem possible.
It was nearly pure luck that he found him, this killer. Pure luck that Hannibal was in Miami at all. He has never been fond of Miami. Too jumbled, too filled with the excesses and eccentricities of human nature. But it was only a quick trip to Brazil for his facial surgery, since it’s become necessary again – Clarice was sure to accurately note the differences from his old Wanted picture – but it has never been a place Hannibal enjoyed.
Then perhaps it was fate that led Hannibal here. To this killer. Perhaps fate that it was not just any killer, but one who was living quietly, calmly, cleanly – who killed quietly, calmly, cleanly. Not one who was still Becoming. Certainly not one who wanted to be caught. No, this one had been killing for a long time, and he planned on doing it for a lot longer.
That alone would make him worth watching.
Hannibal spends weeks following him. Dexter is a careful monster, if nothing else. A clean monster. The abandoned warehouses in different barrios all over town. The cheap plastic garbage bags, the latex gloves. All those sharp, surgical instruments he must be near masterful with by now. And when he is done, bagging the bodies up like so much meat and dumping them off his boat into the deep waters.
There are never any witnesses – except Lecter, of course, and at any rate he rarely counts himself among the teeming masses. There are rarely any hitches in Dexter’s plans, and certainly never any debilitating problems. Such a sharp little killer, for planning this so perfectly, for doing this for so long and flying under the radar like he has.
Hannibal only realized how sharp after he followed Dexter to work and ended up at the Miami-Dade precinct. A little busywork found that Dexter worked with blood splatter. In the Forensics Department.
And how... delightful. How clever. Not as obvious as a mortician, not as perverse as a doctor, not so cowardly as to hide behind a badge. Resting delightfully among them all, giving himself plenty of time to indulge his ghoulish interests without rousing suspicion. What a smart boy this was, hiding in plain sight.
The next most interesting thing about Dexter is, of course, who he kills. Societal riff-raff. Murderers and rapists, child molesters and human traffickers. Why them, Hannibal finds himself wondering, and at first he thinks vengeance. Dexter’s foster family has carried badges for generations, after all, and Dexter could be doing nothing more than taking out the trash.
But no. Bloody enough for vengeance, perhaps, but Dexter employs entirely too calm an execution. There is no grief or rage in slicing bodies as impersonally as meat, no self-righteousness in keeping slides of blood. Dexter wasn’t driven to kill for cleaner streets and a better world. No. He just needed to kill.
It isn’t an unfamiliar compulsion. Not to Dr. Lecter. Not to many people. Dexter just seems to possess a remarkable degree in which he controls it. And that is the real novelty of Dexter’s existence – the restraint, the way he has managed to avoid the slightest measure of suspicion or doubt. He can go weeks without killing or even showing any kind of abnormal behavior. Weeks of living like any other human being in the world. He has lunch with his sister and dinner with his girlfriend and her kids. He takes out his trash, eats too many doughnuts. Watches late night television.
Until one night – no particular night, as far as Hannibal can tell – when Dexter locks up his house and cruises around quietly in his car until he finds exactly who – what – he is looking for. And he goes to work.
How Hannibal would love to watch him.
Another one of those nights. Another victim, another chance to kill. Another chance for the Dark Passenger to come out and have his fun before going quietly back behind Good Boy Dexter, Reliable Dexter, Normal-and-Unremarkable Dexter.
Tonight his name is Brian Rattray. A rapist. A murderer on top of that, but that’s mostly because he cleans up his messes. Rapes them, strangles them, and dumps them in the nearest alley. Five victims so far, and he likes them young. They’re too old to be called children, maybe, but nowhere near women. Although Dexter himself doesn’t understand sex, the mechanics or the drive, he understands some things as beyond the pale.
It’s easy, as far as these things go. Rattray gives up quickly, almost too quickly, and the Dark Passenger is extra rough about forcing him into the warehouse. A few minutes later Dexter has his slide, and he lets the Dark Passenger fully assume control of the situation.
It’s an hour or two before dawn when Dexter emerges, stacking the bags with Rattray’s remains into his car. He’s halfway to the driver’s side when he senses someone or something behind him. There’s a moment of panic where he thinks maybe he should keep going – they couldn’t have seen his face yet – but they’ve seen the car, his mind kicks in helpfully, and probably the plates. It’s enough.
Dexter turns, and there is a man standing off to the side of the shadows. He is short and wiry, but dignified. Elderly. His head is tilted to one side and he is smiling politely. He is smiling knowingly.
“You were watching me,” Dexter whispers. He’s shocked, and something like breathless. He’s so careful, always so careful, and what happened to Luck, the Luck that was always with him? There are many sharp knives in the bag behind him. Dexter thinks he’d feel better with one is his hand.
Even in the dim lighting Dexter can see the white, even flash of teeth his comment provokes. “No, no, of course not. That would have been rude.” The stranger’s eyes are maroon, and twinkle. “But perhaps sometime you’ll let me. As a... professional courtesy.”