Forgive me for what must seem an unpardonable lapse in communication, but I was unsure if you would welcome any further contact after our last conversation. My therapist advises me, however, that in the interests of healing the wounds we have dealt each other, it would be helpful to resume communication with a view to perhaps achieving a more honest dialogue in the future.
I was pleased to read in Tattlecrime that you are out of intensive care, but clearly the hospital's security staff have been napping on the job, if Miss Lounds and others were able to sneak past. I hope you are taking care of yourself and not ignoring the advice of your doctors, as you are so wont to do.
Please give Alana my love.
I’m much better, thanks for asking. I can walk twelve feet before collapsing and taking a dump only makes me pass out about 50% of the time these days, which feels like progress of a sort. Sorry, am I being too crude? I was just trying to foster a more honest dialogue.
Your email was so nauseatingly self pitying and passive-aggressive I almost missed what you were actually trying to say. Were you really fucking stupid enough to pay me a visit in hospital before skipping town? Oh wait, I forgot who I’m talking to, you’re all about the dramatic gestures. Thank you for the flowers but I’m not a 13 year old girl who wears dark eyeliner, and black roses don’t really cut it for me. (Get it? you’re not the only one who can make stupid fucking puns)
How are things with you? Murder anyone interesting lately? Please extend my sympathies to Dr du Maurier, if she’s still alive-I can only imagine the pretentious, maudlin bullshit she has to listen to.
My dear Will,
I can’t tell you how happy it made me to receive your email, despite your hostility-which is perhaps warranted, under the circumstances. I admit, I acted rashly, both in visiting you in the hospital and in the events which led to you being there, but I wanted to assure myself of your well being. I was pleased to see your surgery was performed competently and I believe you will make a full recovery, current difficulties notwithstanding.
You may not be a 13 year old girl but you certainly wore black eyeliner in your youth: I came across some photos in your house once that would appear to show you in a full blown goth phase when you were a teenager. Eyeliner and black lipstick and a sulky expression, which I’m delighted to say has not changed at all, even if the makeup is long gone. I’m sorry you didn’t like the flowers-perhaps I will need to be more innovative the next time I send you a gift.
Something to think on.
P.S. Doctor du Maurier is alive and well, and in no need of your pity, I assure you.
Jesus Christ, Hannibal. So you’re casting me in the role as the surly teenager and yourself as the amused, tolerant, ever forgiving saint? Your therapy obviously isn’t going that well, if you’re reduced to such transparent ploys. And for someone who sets such store by courtesy, mocking people for their teenage fashion choices is pretty rude. Not to mention all the remarks you made about my aftershave. Still, of all the sins I can lay down at your door, I suppose hypocrisy is the least of them.
I’m out of hospital now, thank god-I’m grateful for the “competent job” they did (so considerate of you to check on their work) but I really don’t like being around doctors these days, for some reason.
In some sad news, Jack’s wife Bella passed away yesterday. I know you were fond of her, but please don’t do anything stupid like send flowers to the funeral. Jack will go spare and I’ll have to deal with the fallout. For once in your life, don’t be an asshole.
P.S. Please don’t send me any gifts. I don’t even want to imagine what you’d come up with.
Hannibal WHAT DID I FUCKING SAY ABOUT-you know what, why do I even bother? It’s like dealing with a child.
If hypocrisy is a charge you can lay at my door, then I can surely lay it at yours as well (along with the passive-aggressiveness you so despise and yet consistently employ yourself). If you honestly examine your own motives in telling me of Bella’s death, I think you will find that you wanted the exact reaction you received-otherwise why tell me so specifically not to send flowers? Reverse psychology is a crude tool, but frequently effective. Tell me, why are you still so angry with Jack? Is it the fallout from your little sting operation, or has he done something more recently to offend you?
PS Did you see the wanted site Mason has set up? Terrible layout and hideous fonts-truly a man of no taste whatsoever.
Nice try Hannibal, but I’m not going to solve your Mason problem for you. As for Jack-he is who he is, just as you are who you are. Manipulative bastards the pair of you, and me the sucker that gets trapped in the middle, every single time. No point being angry is there? Not with you, not with Jack. May as well get angry with fire for being hot, or a lion for killing a gazelle.
I’m going to be out of contact for a few weeks, but I promise you I’ll be in touch very soon.
I look forward to it. I miss you.
What did I say about leaving me gifts? What did the poor bastard do to you? And as for the whole candlelit chase through the catacombs, the less said about that the better. Did you really light all those candles yourself?
How you haven’t been caught before now baffles me. What’s happened to your sense of self preservation? Get it together.
My dear Will,
That “poor bastard” tried to blackmail me, and in addition he smiled at me in a particular way while having the temerity to not be you. I’m not sure which was the deciding motivation in my actions, but I fear Bedelia would agree with your assessment on my current lack of self preservation. That being said, I have become impatient with entropy and decay. I find life increasingly tedious without you at my side.
If we are analysing overly dramatic gestures, perhaps you would like to explain why you felt the need to sail across the Atlantic to find me rather than taking the more expedient measure of catching a plane? Were you channelling Ahab, on his quest for the white whale?
It was good to see you again, Will, even if only for a brief moment. I hope we will have a chance for a more intimate conversation soon.
Enjoy Lithuania, and if you chance by the estate, on no account drink the 1995 Merlot-a most indifferent vintage, I’m afraid. We’ve been trying to offload it for years.
The Merlot wasn’t that bad. Chiyoh and I ended up drinking crates of the stuff. She says to say hello-although she doesn’t seem very happy with you (or me for that matter). What was she like as a girl? I don’t think I’ve seen her smile once-was she always like that, or can I lay that sin at your door too? Is that why you were able to leave home behind? Because she was entombed here in your place?
I don’t mean to be cruel in saying this. I’m trying to understand, and maybe that’s not possible-but I need to try to make sense of you somehow. I need to get things straight in my head before our next meeting.
I know I didn’t say it before, but I miss you. I feel the ghosts of you in these halls and I turn my head to talk to you and-
Well. You’re not here are you? Not anymore.
If it is clarity about me you are seeking, I’m afraid I can offer little in the way of guidance. One of the things that becomes clear when practicing as a psychiatrist is how unexplainable human beings are, even the simplest of them. It would be so much easier to point at one event, to say “that there, that is the turning point, the catalyst by which these events came about”. But life is infinitely complex, and we are even more so. Self analysis is redundant past a certain point.
Discussing this part of my past is difficult for me and would, I fear, shed little light on your search. Those rooms are closed to me, as they are not to you. But I will say this-I do not believe I would have been different if she had lived.
Less alone, perhaps.
I know you too well to assume you would be taken in by such a fantasy, in any case. I wonder, then, what you were truly seeking to find, aside from atrocious wine and dusty rooms? As you say, I am long gone from that place-all that remains is an echo.
You know where I am. Come and find me.
P.S. At what point in our conversation do we finally speak of Abigail?
There are things,people in your past you can’t talk about. Rooms that are sealed, for both of us. And I can’t talk about Abigail, at least not yet. Lets leave it at that for now, shall we?
Chiyoh is scowling at me, which is nothing new. We’re on a train in the middle of god knows where and she keeps glowering in my direction. I can’t say I blame her though, after what happened. She says you’d be proud of me, and I’m afraid she’s right.
Is she right?
I feel like I’ve sunk so far into your head I’ve lost who I am. I don’t know how to climb out again. What would you advise, Doctor?
My dearest Will,
I’ve always been proud of you. Never more so than when you were slumped on the floor of my kitchen, bleeding out and yet victorious. I saw the triumph in your eyes, and I felt as if I were the one who had been gutted, that I was bleeding to death in your stead. It’s a wound I still haven’t managed to staunch, despite my best efforts, and here we are, all these months later, still in my kitchen in Baltimore, still bleeding from the wounds we have inflicted on each other. How do we stop?
The answer to your question, then, as you already know, is the same as the answer to mine. Either we sever the connection the only way we can, violently and irrefutably, or we become whole, together. You are mine, as much as I am yours. The question becomes whether or not this is something we can live with, this sundering of self; does one of us spend what remains of this existence broken and alone?
I was alone before we met. I do not wish to be so again, and I believe-I hope-that you do not wish it for yourself either.
Come find me, Will. I am yours, or I am lost.
I think you may need to find me. Do you know where I am? Did you and Chiyoh plan this? Fucking hell, Hannibal. What did you say to her? Throwing me off a fucking train? I could have been killed!
I’m sorry Will. I hope you’re not in too much pain. There was no other way to make sure we would be undiscovered-la Polizia are crawling all over Florence, I had to make a swift exit. There is a town maybe half a mile west of you. The third house east of the station, with the green door. Wait for me there.
I fucking hate you, you know that? How far away are you?
Perhaps fifteen minutes. Less, if I break the speed limit.
Jesus. You bastard, you’ve been planning this all along. And what happens when you get here?
I tend your wounds, we eat, we talk. You know my wishes: the rest is up to you.
You’ve been tracing my phone, haven’t you.
If I said I was sorry, would you believe me?
Just hurry up and get here. We’ll sort out the rest later. You know I’ll probably still try to kill you, right? Don’t think I’m going to fall into your arms weeping.
As charming an image as that is, it had not occurred to me as a possible outcome. You’re nearly there, Will. I see you.
I see you.
I sincerely hope la Polizia and Jack Crawford did not give you too much trouble. I apologise for leaving without saying goodbye, but I’m sure you’ll understand that it was unavoidable under the circumstances. Know that I think of you fondly, and I will always be grateful for the advice you gave me when I was lost in regret and self pity. It is sadly true that a doctor who treats himself has a fool for a patient, and left to my own devices I would no doubt have proved this maxim to the fullest.
Please find enclosed a recipe for Sole Meunière I think you will enjoy.
P.S. We greatly enjoyed your book, by the way. Have you considered teaming up with Freddie Lounds?
I want you to know you are safe, and you will remain so as long as I have breath in my body. He won’t come after you, I promise. It would cost him more than he's willing to pay.
I’m okay, better than okay actually. Please don’t worry about me or try to find me, and if you can, get Jack to call off his one man crusade. It’s really starting to age him.
Live your life, and be happy. Try to forget us.