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The Serial Killer Ex-Wives Club

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When she sees the news on television that Hannibal Lecter has escaped, aided and abetted by none other than Will Graham himself, Chiyoh carefully loads her rifle and stashes it away in the trunk of her car, then makes the long ambling drive from Baltimore, where she has been settled and waiting all these years, to Virginia.

She goes seeking the only source that could possibly know where the two men might have gone. It troubles her deeply when she is admitted almost without question, without even so much as a perfunctory search of her person before she is allowed to enter. The hospital must assume that with the likeliest immediate threats gone from the area, there is no longer a reason to be cautious or wary. Chiyoh knows from experience that there is always reason.

She falls in step on the way to the room with a blind black woman making her way down the hall with a cane. To her surprise, they both stop at the same door, the other woman feeling for the sign with its braille lettering against the wall. Chiyoh waits patiently beside her and does not speak or offer help. The woman smiles slightly to herself, then slides her hand along the wall to the door and turns the knob.

“Pardon my French, but who the hell are you?” asks the blonde woman from the bed, voice a bit rough from having only recently woken. “I feel like I’ve been talking to cops non-stop lately, but you two don’t look like cops.”

“I don’t know about this person, but I’m not a cop. My name is Reba McClane, miss.” Reba tilts her head expectantly, giving Chiyoh opportunity as well to speak.

“Mine is Chiyoh,” she states simply, causing both women to raise an eyebrow at her.

“Just the one name, honey? Like Cher?” asks Reba with a gentle smile.

“Yes,” says Chiyoh with a smile of her own. It’s the first time someone has asked about it without making her feel awkward and ashamed, without reminding her too deeply of the family who no longer wants her and whom she fears she would dishonor by attaching her name to theirs. “Like Cher.”

“Well, Reba McClane and Chiyoh Like Cher, what can I do you both for?” asks Molly Graham, who seems marginally more relaxed now that she’s certain they aren’t detectives here to interrogate her further.

There is a pause, and then with an almost shy but curious glance at the other woman, Chiyoh says, “You first.”

“Damn, I was hoping you wouldn’t say that,” says Reba with a half-laugh. “Okay. May I sit?” she asks Molly.

“Sure. There’s a chair, um, a little up and to your le-no, sorry, right. My left.”

“I got it,” says Reba, stopping once her cane taps against the metal leg of the chair and pulling it up closer so she can sit close to Molly’s bedside. “Thanks.”

“There’s another chair if you want to sit too,” Molly tells Chiyoh, pointing.

“No, thank you. I prefer to stand. Unless you would prefer I wait outside.”

“Nah, you’re fine,” says Molly with a good-natured shake of her head, and Chiyoh wonders that after everything she’s been through this woman could still be so sweet and trusting.

“I’ve got no secrets to hide,” Reba agrees. “The reason I’m here, um, this is a little awkward for me to explain actually. I’m a little scared you’ll toss me out on my ear as soon as you hear it and know who I am but…” She pauses, breathing in sharply as if to steel herself. “Truth is I heard about you on the radio and I, I felt like I just had to come talk to you. Tell you that I’ve been there and that I’m…I’m sorry.”

“You’re her,” Molly whispers then. “The woman who was dating that…” She stops herself, swallowing down whatever word she was going to say and amends, “That killer. The one who came after us.”

“Yes,” Reba admits, sitting stiffly with her hands in her lap. “I am.”

“I hope you don’t hate me for saying I’m glad that he’s dead,” Molly says darkly. Reba shakes her head, though she presses her lips tightly together as if still pained by the reminder. “But I don’t understand why you would come here to apologize. You’re not the one who told him to do it.”

“No, but I should have known something was going on with him and done something about it,” Reba tells her impassionedly. “I should have realized.”

Molly scoffs. “Oh honey, you’re not the only one who’s been telling herself that lately,” she says with a wry tone. “And what about you, Miss Chiyoh?” she asks, turning back to her other visitor. “You got a crazy ex story you want to share too?”

Chiyoh blinks, startled to be remembered in the conversation when she is so used to others finding her easy to forget. “Perhaps in a manner of speaking,” she admits finally. “I am…an old friend of Hannibal Lecter’s.”

“Oh hell,” says Molly. She looks between the two of them, only to suddenly slump back and bust out laughing. “Well, hot damn, just look at the three of us! We should all start a serial killers’ ex-wives club or something. Of course, I think I’m the only one here who was actually married to one.” This last she says with a self-deprecating smirk, her tone bordering on bleak enough that Reba reaches out and places a comforting hand on her arm.

“Just look at us,” Molly repeats herself softly. “Your bastard sends your bastard to kill me and my son,” she says, looking first at Chiyoh and then Reba. “And then my bastard runs off with him anyway,” she finishes, her expression hard and bitter.

“Well, fuck him,” says Reba fiercely. “Fuck all of them.”

The words have a strange effect on Chiyoh. She cannot bring herself to ask what she originally came for now. She had come seeking a way to find Hannibal, because following him is all she knows anymore, all she has known for a very long time. Yet it is not in Hannibal’s shadow that she belongs.

They are the forgotten women, she realizes suddenly, the three of them here together. The ones left scarred and bruised by the machinations of Hannibal Lecter and his strange dark-curled, blue-eyed new Mischa, only to be tossed aside and left to pick up their own scattered ashes in the wind.

Perhaps she cannot hate these men the way the others do, but nor does she need to follow after Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter. They do not need her. They have each other now, and well do they deserve each other. They do not need her, and she does not need them.

She pulls close the chair Molly had pointed out to her and sits beside Reba. The three of them share a smile, like secretive sisters, and Chiyoh says, “So how shall we begin, now that our first club meeting is in session?”