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The Weight of the World and Its Heaven

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Present day

Will Graham and Clarice Starling sat on a driftwood log on the beach. The sky was a pale aqua, the sea too bright to look at. The tide was in recess, and the endless slick expanse of sugar sand around them reflected light like a mirror. Herons picked their way down the surf line, their distant images wavering and reforming.

Clarice wore sunglasses. She had kicked off her shoes and folded her blazer over her arm. Even so she was aware her white blouse and dark office skirt marked her out, though there were no other onlookers. She studied Graham's profile. He was a handsome, thin man with eyes the colour of opaque seawater, his hair unkempt and wind-tousled. The sun had baked shallow creases into his elbows and wrists and the corners of his eyes. It was hard to picture him in the Brutalist confines of Quantico; he looked like he belonged where he was.

"The one last night was the daughter of the junior Senator from Tennessee," she said. "Catherine Martin. We think she was abducted from the parking lot behind her apartment building."

"I don't follow the news," said Graham.

"Jack Crawford thought you might give him a call."

Graham made a sharp, amused sound.

"He knows better," he said. "He knows better than to come here, too. So instead he sent – no, he pointed you, didn't he? Gave you a loose rein. I hope you expensed your car rental, Agent Starling."

"I'm not a full agent, just a trainee. I work in the lab with Agent Price. It's been all hands on deck."

Graham stood abruptly and took a few steps, toward the water and the herons.

"Mr. Gra—Will. Catherine's probably still alive. But it's a matter of days. The last one was dead after three."

"That's clever," said Graham. He did not turn to face her. "Keep saying her name. Keep saying mine, too; make sure I see her as a person... Wouldn't want me to dehumanize her."

Clarice waited. She knew his voice better than the rest of him: it circulated at Quantico alongside the stories. Ardelia had copied the mp3s from a guy she knew at the Forensics Science Research and Training Center.

Everyone has thought of killing someone, one way or another; be it at your own hand or the hand of God.

Why did she deserve this?

Now, when he spoke, she could hear an echo of her own inflection that was not present in the recordings. The South seeping back in like groundwater. It did not seem to be intentional.

"I can't help Jack. All that's over. It's gone."

"I understand that," she said. "I was hoping you could confirm something from memory. That's all."

He turned at that. She took her phone from her blazer pocket and held it out, screen side up. She didn't think he could see the photo from where he stood, with the light behind and around him.

For a long moment she thought he wouldn't take it, and then he stepped forward and did. He gazed down at it, expressionless.

"Where did you get this?" he said. His voice was soft.

"From an old art periodical. It matches a clipping in Dr. Hannibal Lecter's file. You put it there."

His eyes snapped up to hers.

"You spoke to Hannibal Lecter?"

She said nothing. His intuition had short-circuited the conversation she'd envisaged. Will Graham laughed, a short harsh sound, and turned again, passing a hand over his face.

"Jack Crawford," he said, "sent a trainee to interview Hannibal Lecter. A trainee."

Clarice spoke to his tense back. "Dr. Lecter talked to me," she said. "He gave information – details – proving that he knew Catherine's kidnapper. Inside knowledge that could potentially lead to an arrest."

Quid pro quo, Clarice.

"And yet you're here," said Graham.

"That's not all he knows," said Clarice. "I hope we find her, but it won't end there. I'm sure of it. Aren't you?"

Graham was silent for a minute. "It won't end at all," he said, eventually. "There's always the next one, and the one after. I've learnt that. You should get out of this line of work while you still can."

"Sounds to me like I should keep going," Clarice said. Graham closed his eyes.

"Start again this evening," he said. And, before she could parse this as qualified success, "I hope you don't mind dogs."

 

Driftwood

 

* * *

 

"Here's a good question: why wasn't the FBI aware?

"After Lecter's escape there was a great deal of noise to signal. Media furore, yes, but also within the FBI, other law enforcement agencies, Interpol... He was suspected of having been active much longer and more prolifically than the Chesapeake Ripper identity, which only went back about half a decade. And he was cosmopolitan! Lived for a full year in Europe under assumed names, going out in society – to the opera, the theatre... But the FBI found very few firm biographical details. He'd destroyed documents. What his acquaintances knew amounted to hearsay. So the question arose: what if he'd killed in France? In Italy? In Grenada, in the late eighties? You'd be lucky to find a case file. Knowing his victim profile, how would you even identify that the deaths were connected?

"So they reviewed cold cases. Every retired detective with a pet theory to grind. Every unsolved mutilation on the Eastern Seaboard plus Continental Europe, 1977 to 2012 – thirty-five years – was suspected of being a Hannibal Lecter original. In all that somebody must have looked at the Baby Doll killings, but they would've been shunted to the bottom of the list. Firstly, there was already a perpetrator. Secondly, there was a survivor account. And thirdly, the victim profiles were off. Lecter didn't touch children, and he had no sexual interest in young girls. Roland Piche was written off as a gangland hit.

"Ultimately, my tip-off came from Freddie Lounds' estate. Freddie – and this was typical – retraced Will Graham's steps rather than Hannibal Lecter's. Graham actually met Jane Marceau; he interviewed her during the first manhunt, presumably after the Paris incident came to Interpol's attention and was attributed back to Lecter. Freddie, therefore, worked from the assumption that Marceau was part of the Lecter story, she just didn't know how. If she'd lived, the rest might have followed.

"Of course, it's more than likely Lecter told Graham about her. One of the greatest mysteries in the narrative is not only how much Special Agent Graham knew, but when he knew it."

 

–Lafcadio Stane, journalist and writer, interviewed by Ellen Muir, The Hidden Documenta of Hannibal Lecter, Netflix Films