I know that I hung on a windy tree nine long nights,
wounded with a spear, dedicated to Odin,
myself to myself,
on that tree which no man knows from where its roots run.
-Odin in Havamal
Today is my day.
-Mr. Wednesday in American Gods.
Tuesday January 15th
Baltimore, Maryland. FBI Profiler Will Graham speaks with agents Grant Muskie and Beverly Hamilton at their regional office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The latter two are presently investigating the mysterious death of a fellow agent named Nathan Bosch, a younger agent who was found dead two weeks previous under very suspicious circumstances. Graham is making a case for them to aim their investigation towards a new suspect, noted therapist Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Graham, in his words but with limited physical evidence, has reason to suspect Dr. Lecter is linked to numerous deaths, including that of Agent Bosch. He speaks to them in an standard interrogation room because he knows it will be monitored by a camera, and will put his statements on some form of record, even if they are not yet officially entered into the case. His motivation for this is, if they find any reason to believe him, he will be the first person they turn to. Graham knows he is correct, but also knows the procedures of the FBI. He knows he has a large hill to climb to make his case convincing and fears that task may be akin to that of Sisyphus.
What is not know to him, or any of the other agents in that room, is there is an additional wire attached to the camera that is recording their conversation. None of them would think to check for it, nor would recognize this added wire as out of the ordinary. The feed from said wire is streaming live to the laptop of Hershel Tyson, former NSA employee who specialized in Federally mandated spying courtesy of the Patriot Act. Tyson has been recently ousted from his employment there due to the discovery (the spies do get spied on after all) that he was using his skills to peep on women in sensitive, non-consensual ways. To keep the NSA from potentially receiving damning press over this situation, Tyson was given an ample severance payment for his silence. This, coupled with some opportunities to stock up on blackmail material meant he had the means to continue to pursue his spying as a hobby instead of a career.
The novelty of candidly watching women change their clothes, have private conversations, masturbate, use recreational drugs, and innumerable other activities both domestic and/or illegal, had started to wear off. Using the resources he had gathered at a Federal level, Tyson took to checking on agents within the FBI, CIA, and Presidential Secret Service when he could. In these searches he came across the work of Will Graham and happened to catch him discussing the ever-so rare topic of cannibalism. Tyson found it impossible to ignore and very titillating to investigate further.
By this time Tyson has monitored weeks of conversations, most of them instigated by Will Graham, about one Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Graham is careful about how or when he brings up the topic of cannibalism, but Tyson has noted it enough times to think that the next natural step is to begin using his skills to monitor Dr. Lecter himself.
Sunday March 31st
Tyson has been excited to monitor Lecter, but careful to not be sloppy. Lecter's occupation as a forensic psychiatrist is intensely private. He is bound to keep privileged information regarding his clients and the crimes they are connected to and are disclosing information about. Tyson did not overload cameras to every conceivable place he could watch Lecter. Tyson greatly wants, what is currently a rumour, to be true about Lecter being a cannibal killer. If it has a single bit of truth, he must be extra careful how he treads for he would be dealing with someone who thinks not just like a master criminal, but like an alpha predator. The sort who spends all of their efforts to think ahead of his “prey.” If life were chess, such a person would be ahead of their opponent with every single move. Tyson must take care with this type of person and somehow allude his attention.
Tyson has kept watch of a select few cameras for months. Initially, the most fruitful results came from the one installed in Lecter's work office, where his clients would come to unload their burdens and secrets to him. With the steady stream of intimate details coming in, there was a temptingly high amount of other people Tyson could follow, all of whom involved in a major crime of some sort. Tyson had to adopt his own methods of analysis to determine which would be worthwhile to lead him closer to Lecter and not astray on a distracting path towards another individual.
One person who stood out to Tyson was Alain Weston. On this particular Sunday, the remains of Mr. Weston are in Lecter's kitchen, being basted and broiled in a red wine reduction sauce. Whereas the work office used to be the most enticing to observe, Lecter's kitchen has now catapulted itself onto the top of the pile.
Tyson recognized this victim from other encounters with Lecter he observed. Weston was a witness to events linked to a series of stranglings that had occurred in the area near the Northern perimeter border of Baltimore city. He was a wine columnist who worked and lived in the downtown area but spent most of his weekends retreating closer to Towson and its surrounding country. A graduate of Towson University, he felt more comfortable placing himself in closer proximity to his former campus, closer to fond memories of his youth, when not obligated to be in his work office. It was during a few of these trips that Weston started to observe a motorcycle with a sidecar that would be parked outside of a strip mall. Weston made note of it for such a vehicle struck him as being uncommon. Weston indicated this observation in a blog entry on his personal site and even took a picture of the bike. Weston's wine column was syndicated and used in a handful of newspapers across the USA while his blog was used to tell stories of his observations while obtaining the wine he would eventually write about. This picture turned out to be evidence when investigators found it through social media links. It was owned by a man who would turn out to be a suspect in these stranglings. This same person also found Weston's blog and soon started sending anonymous threats (anonymous until he was caught that is). Lecter was assigned to this case and Weston was sent to him after his mental stability seemed to wain after the threats came in. Lecter was to evaluate Weston, and his competence to take the stand as a witness to verify his random sightings of the suspect's vehicle.
All Tyson knew about Weston came from his sessions with Dr. Lecter. None of it was memorized but Tyson, ever the dutiful spy, took extensive notes; just as he might have done if still working for the NSA. As Lecter placed a section of Weston's ribs to bake in an enormous over, the sort of appliance Tyson had only ever seen the likes of in television programs about high-end restaurants, he began working on a shallot and red wine sauce that would be eventually poured onto Weston's cooked ribs. Lecter had selected a 2012 Vinedo Chadwick to use as the base for said sauce. It is an expensive Chilean Bordeaux whose year and country of origin sparked a memory in Tyson. He began to leaf through his notes related to Weston's previous visits to Lecter's office.
Weston had spoken about his plans after the trial ended for when, he hoped, he would no longer be in danger of being another victim of the person he would stand as witness against. Lecter had asked if he planned to leave the city, as he tended to do on the weekends already. Weston stated he planned to retire and leave for a valley in Chile, where some of his favourite wines are being created. Weston made sure to remark that the previous year, 2012, was a particularly good year due to the weather effects of Il Nina on the area, and he would be arriving at the perfect time to invest and indulge in some exquisite examples of the drink he is most passionate about.
In their conversations, Lecter and Weston would verbally rally with their knowledge of prestigious wines. These two would be able to flex their air of sophistication without any accusations of snobbery. Lecter seemed to catalogue any cultural details related to Weston, and other patients, so that he could create lures to bring them closer to him if he wished. Lecter did this with Weston. Weston even seemed challenged when trying to site finer examples than Lecter. From all of this, Tyson could not exactly decipher why Lecter chose to kill Weston. What he did observe was the most sophisticated murder he ever dared imagine.
Such a wine that Lecter had selected would normally never be used as a base for sauce. It would seem to be a garish thing to use if done by a professional chef. Lecter's motivations were far more sinister. Weston is escaping this mortal coil thanks to Lecter, and his remains will be mockingly consumed swimming in the symbol of his previous escape plan to a better life. This poetically diabolical planning was for himself. Lecter's sophistication borne by his evil.
Tyson was fascinated. He too began to make plans.
Tuesday December 24th
Tyson's arms are roasting atop a rack placed in the very centre of Lecter's enormous oven. Little focus was given to the outer skin, fat or muscles when they where being prepared. Lecter's focus is to roast those parts until tender enough to be removed from the bones and then continue roasting the marrow inside. Lecter is following a recipe older than the tradition of publishing recipes in books. The marrow is a commonly overlooked portion to eat on any creature that contains it. It was originally eaten only as a scavenger's meal.
Traditions throughout the centuries have not brought bone marrow that much closer to being on the forefront of luxurious cuisine. Lecter has found a way to, if not make it luxurious, make it incredibly unique. Lecter has a long time to wait for the meat to fully roast. He goes to his record player and starts playing a selection of Celtic instrumentals he chose to mark the pagan tradition of Winter Solstice. Though it had passed 3 days previous, tonight was the feast he planned for to mark the occasion.
Wednesday April 24th
Hannibal Lecter's office. Tyson is his new patient. The office has an air of comfortable intimidation. Entering it, you cannot help be struck with the sense that you are amongst items that could only belong to someone who lives in a larger version of the world than the one you know. Before a word is uttered you know that the person who owns this place has visited libraries larger than the ones you have, walked under street lights that burn more majestically in villages you'll never see yourself, danced with people who would be untouchable to anybody else, and dined on meals that nobody would ever care to inform you how to order or prepare.
Using information Tyson gathered observing Lecter's other patients, Tyson uses some of his data to forge a believable link between himself and a crime that was committed by another patient of his. US Congressman Henry Snyder was under investigation for being linked to a human trafficking ring. Tyson had no involvement but used information that Snyder disclosed to Lecter in order to make it appear that he could be a crucial witness against him. Tyson was transparent when disclosing his history with the NSA, for he felt it would make it seem all the more viable that he would be linked to a politician. It also implicated himself for possibly going outside of NSA jurisdiction, which he most definitely was, but not in this particular situation since it was all occurring after being released.
Still under the silence agreement from his release from the NSA's employment, Tyson was sent to Lecter so that he could give information in confidence, and Lecter would decide if Tyson is a viable witness or deem him to be a delusional and disgruntled ex-employee. Not the usual case to be handled by Lecter but the financial influence of the US government can never be underestimated. They spared no expense. Plus Lecter is already linked to the case through Snyder.
Along with his openness about his NSA work, Tyson is also very frank about his history of peeping on people outside of his official work to Lecter. Lecter hung on this topic.
“You have mentioned you no longer spy on women for sexual pleasure” Lecter mentioned before being cut off by Tyson.
“It wasn't necessarily for sexual pleasure. I won't lie that there is a certain sexual rush one gets from seeing someone in their most candid moments. But even that thrill dissipated. I no longer peep at women. I have found another. A criminal. Someone I found through my old work. I keep track of their actions. I have for a little while. Watching them in a criminal act. It feels even more intimate than something sexual. People often hide their sexual behaviour but criminals are even more protective of their secret actions. To witness that...it's like nothing else.”
“Is this some sort of vicarious fantasy fulfilment? From both the sexual and criminal activities?”
“When I watch this criminal...I do not want to become this person. I want them to become more like me.”
“Does this mean that you disapprove of what they do?”
“The way they do it. But maybe this is because I cannot relate to them. But I can't...I never will I fear” Tyson conceded with a genuine tenor to his voice. Though Tyson was playing a dangerous game by speaking directly to Lecter about Lecter being his new subject of interest, he was being very earnest, albeit cryptic with his statements.
“So then do you plan to interfere with their life? Create the change in them that you spoke of?”
“I just observe.”
“Then why continue this habit?”
“It has become more than habit. I honour it, like a tradition.”
“Traditions can be something we find ourselves acting on and repeating without enjoyment.”
“Yes. Just doing what I feel has to be done to keep honouring such traditions.”
“Traditions are not inherently honourable.”
“But there is honour in the act. To be true to one's self. I suppose the safest example is in the food we eat as part of some traditions.” As Tyson makes this last remark, Hannibal's expression does not give anything away, but he has begun listening with more enthusiasm.
Tyson continues “If we are to stomach something undesirable then it can at least be for the sake of appreciating our relations, or even our unseen ancestors.”
“Do you have reservations about your heritage?”
“Quite the opposite. I've always leaned towards participating in traditions that reflect my heritage. Especially when it comes to food.”
Hannibal maintains an expression that would be the envy of all poker players “Food is a commonality between all people...and creatures.”
“And the human animal is the only one to make traditions from it. I suppose that is a symptom of us topping the food chain. We've signified our dominance by what we eat...which is whatever we like. The signifier and signified. A beginner's lesson in critical theory.”
“I do not think this theory of dominance runs on beginner's luck.” With that statement, Tyson felt that Lecter was revealing more of his hand than he knew.
Tuesday December 3rd.
Tyson observes his preferred camera feed, from Lecter's kitchen. His sessions with Lecter have been regularly scheduled since the Spring. Tyson is watching Lecter leaf through a cooking guide while idly picking at a healing scar-line along his forearm. Tyson has had recent surgeries that he is currently on the mend for. Tyson is convinced (and is correct) that he can feel the steel pieces connecting a bone severance in his forearm.
Tyson's health has plummeted during this time with Lecter. Tyson's fascination with Lecter has driven him to worsen his health on purpose. In the eyes of Lecter, Tyson wishes to appear as a substantially lesser being. Before seeing him as a psychiatric evaluator, Tyson noticed that Lecter despised those with poor manners, and poor personal care. If not that, there had to be something that Lecter could pinpoint to mark them as a lesser creature. Lecter sees himself as the apex predator, and therefore worthy enough to consume another (lesser) human being. Tyson feels the urge to become the target of Lecter's hunger.
Tyson scratches his scars again. This is a nervous tick, triggered by the anticipation of discovering what Lecter is reading. He waits for the right moment where Lecter moves his head aside long enough that he can take a screen shot. When the moment comes he transfers said image to his laptop and frantically works to expand the image. Tyson's work reveals Lecter is observing a recipe for roasting bone marrow.
Tyson clenches his fists and begins to laugh. His laugh is genuine and boisterous. Tyson is feeling a sense of victory. It is his most rewarding moment. Lecter, despite his close involvement is not capable of appreciate the joy he has instigated.
Wednesday December 25th
As Tyson's limb portions are laid onto some silver serving trays, Lecter checks the colour of the meat. He takes a curved paring knife and makes a slight cut that reaches the bone. It is here that he discovers the steel pieces that are screwed into Tyson's ulna bone in the forearm. As a former surgeon, this is not shocking to him and recognizes its purpose immediately. Though Lecter is not thinking with a surgeon's brain at this moment, he is thinking like a connoisseur and sees the split in the bone as more of an opportunity to access the marrow he was roasting. Lecter's taste buds are too advanced to not notice the effect the steel will have on the tissue contacting it during the baking. The marrow will become his focus and he may let the rest spoil. A shame, but to Lecter, a meal is only truly wasted if not enjoyed at its maximum potential. To eat meat that is less than it can be serves no purpose to him. Disposing of it is the only option.
The trays are hauled to his maplewood dining table. Lecter grabs a large fork that can serve to pierce meet, help split bone and unscrew medical steel splints.
“A Yule meal perhaps fit for those in Valhalla. Served on Odin's day” says Lecter as his fork approaches the remains of Tyson's arm. “A sacrifice delivered by the All-Father as he passes on Slepnir” referencing Odin traveling to deliver goods to his people (a myth transformed into the myth of Santa Claus in more decent decades). Tyson's arm is pierced by Lecter's dining fork.
Friday June 21st
Tyson is now using a wheelchair to move around. He wheels himself into Lecter's office for another session. The trial Tyson is meant to be a a witness for has been suffering through as much boondoggle as one could predict coming from a political office. If a congressman is to go down, it is not with a whimper nor a scream, but with a seemingly endless stream of appeals, affidavits and lawyers.
Tyson tells Lecter that the wheelchair is due to him recovering from a hernia. This is a lie. Better yet, this is a distraction so that Lecter considers Tyson's mid-section to be a wasted area and that his limbs are still clear (for eating). Tyson will do his best to never reveal the elective surgery he had on his forearms. He hides the scars under a long sleeved shirt.
“Happy Summer Solstice to you Dr. Lecter” Tyson says with a smile that reveals some gum disease that is rotting his teeth.
Lecter, withholding a visceral reaction of disgust, returns the refrain “And a fine Solstice to you Mr. Tyson. Are you one to observe this day with any of the traditions we have been alluding to in so many of our past discussions?”
“I don't really observe holidays, other than in a peripheral sort of way. So many are unavoidable because of how our so-called “western” society celebrates them so publicly. The solstice is pretty fascinating though, speaking of Western traditions. And I mean beyond how they have been imitated by Christians.”
“You're referring to the claims that the birth of Jesus was displaced to December in order to usurp the pagan solstice holiday?” Lecter contributes.
“That is certainly a major part of it. Isn't that such a predatory thing to do? Pushing away an entire culture like that. I suppose I like the idea of observing and honouring the victim of such an act.”
“You naturally sympathize with victims?”
“I don't always relate myself to all of my thoughts. I prefer to observe. I suppose sympathy does come about more often than not. Though a victim can be at an advantage.” Tyson resists scratching his arms.
“How so? By definition a victim has to be at a distinct disadvantage.”
“But say it's a personal sacrifice for something greater. Could one argue that would make someone both a victim but placed at a higher tier of importance?”
“Do you see all people as having tiers of importance?”
“Are you asking if I admire martyrs?”
“Well are martyrs what you're referring too? You are in grave danger of remaining overly cryptic. Mr. Tyson”
“Jesus was a martyr but not one I admire. Speaking to the solstice traditions of old, I'm much more interested in the sacrifice of Odin.”
“Where he hung himself in order to be resurrected with greater wisdom.”
“An interesting position to be in. Where the only person standing in the way of improving yourself vastly, is yourself. But he succeeded, and earned his position as the greatest of those Gods.”
“So this is not tiers of humanity, but the divide between men and Gods?”
Tyson pauses in thought. He is plotting his next few mental moves. He coughs, involuntarily. He stops himself from scratching at the scars on his forearms. He has chosen his next words.
“I believe the underdog is always the ultimate victim. There is no Neitzschien Ubermensch. Mankind rose from being a scavenger. During our primal origins we would wait for an apex predator like a lion to finish with its kill then would take the bones and eat the fat from the marrow in order to survive” Lecter's eyeball twitched when Tyson said We as he internally took offence to the idea of being lumped in with a species of scavengers. Tyson continued, “ From this we have risen to being the true apex predators. The dominant species on this planet.”
Lecter takes a moment to observe Tyson. Tyson's reference to Friedrich Nietzsche's theory of a 'Superman' prompted him to compare and conclude that Tyson is presently the furthest he could imagine from that vision of the pinnacle of man. This breeds a form of contempt he will have to make great efforts to suppress any time Tyson now speaks.
Tyson scratches his scalp. As he tries to pulls his fingers away from his head they become tangled in some mangy hairs. With some delicate popping sounds, tiny knots come out in little clumps. Duties like combing and brushing are now absent from Tyson's daily priorities.
“As you can see, this hernia created a lot of immobility” Tyson tells Lecter.
“Are you still observing your favourite subject?”
“Indeed. I have not given that up.”
Lecter, still not suspecting that he is this subject tells Tyson, “I think you are spending too much time obsessing with this criminal you've been spying on.”
“Perhaps. You are the only person I see these days. Any others hardly count as people.”
“That's interesting to hear. Especially when you earlier spoke about sympathizing with the victim, the lesser person as it were.”
“Perhaps roadkill may be a better term for me to use. Or perhaps a mouse in a trap that I cannot help be callous towards.”
“Now not just lesser people, but lesser creatures?”
“Well, it is natural that some of us are above others. Yes?”
Hannibal steels himself. Before anything else can be said by either of them one of Tyson's incisors falls out of his mouth. Lecter grabs it off of the floor, using his handkerchief.
As he hands it to Tyson he tells him “I'll call someone to drive you to a dentist. I know someone very good in the area.” Tyson thanks Lecter for his help.
Saturday December 21st
Lecter's office. A dismantled camera sits on a desk that sits adjacent to he seats Lecter and Tyson currently occupy. They are sitting across from each other. Lecter's normally admirably calm, untelling mien now appears menacing to Tyson. Leaving Tyson's camera in plain view as he arrived for their scheduled meeting is a definite power move. If they were playing chess, Lecter is currently allowing Tyson to see the open vulnerability of his Queen while emoting the silent confidence of somebody who is about to make a checkmate maneuver.
“I understand now who your fascinating subject has been all this year” Lecter tells Tyson. “And you understand what is coming to you now because of this?”
Tyson puts on a sardonic grin “I suppose so.”
Saturday November 30th
Journal Entry by Hershel Tyson.
The final sacrifice must fall on the day of the greatest sacrifice. In order to gain wisdom Odin sacrificed himself, to himself. Is that the one way for a God to better himself? Can it also be the means to bring someone down to the ugly pettiness of humanity? To make a God a pedestrian?
Such a show I must put on. In order to reveal Hannibal's arrogance to himself I must fool him into believing he is the inferior person. That by being clouded by said arrogance he shows flaws in his self-diagnosed infallibility and therefore, ideally, crumbles exactly how he sees himself. Create a doubt that can grow and perhaps destroy him. Reveal not an apex predator, just an ugly one.
I will allow him to discover that I have been observing him. I will put him in a position that the only course of action he can take, is to kill me. To consume me. To try and assert his belief that he is the higher being. That my repulsiveness only confirms this belief. It will be undeniable and unavoidable to him. Hannibal descending to the plain of the scavengers.
The trap will be sprung. I am already dead. There can be no retaliation. I have made a lesser predator.
Wednesday December 25th
Lecter, still capable of a surgeon's precision, starts to remove the screws keeping the metal splints onto Tyson's bones. As they are removed Lecter here's the slightest of creaking sounds coming from the bone. He brings it closer to inspect the sound, and to perhaps crack it open at said split to retrieve the marrow, like one might opening an oyster shell.
The first snap was the cracking of the recovering bone re-breaking at the point of the original split. The second snap was from the metal trap contained inside said bone. Devices, not unlike an elongated bear trap, had been placed along the marrow of Tyson's forearms. Lecter had selected, for no reason other than it was the one he grabbed first, the left arm and it is therefore that trap he had unwittingly selected.
Lecter had brought the bone closer to his face to inspect the sound and it is because of this close proximity that the hooked ends of the trap snapped shut onto the upper part of Lecter's mouth. The force of the snapping metal cut through his upper lip and severed his right canine tooth from his jaw. Tyson could not have wished for better precision with this heavily symbolic target. The canine is evidence that human's are designed to eat meat. The incisor is for gnawing plants, and the molars for grinding nuts. Our dentistry signifies our omnivore status and the canine signifies that we are designed to be a predator to others. This tooth is the mark of our evolution and it has been removed from Lecter's use.
None of Tyson is eaten. Lecter tends to his wounds.
Thursday Dec 26
The morning after the trap was set off, Lecter discovers that there are portions of Tyson's journal stashed inside of his wheelchair. They are not complete. They are segments that Tyson wished for Lecter to see. Segments that would explain his motivations enough to dishearten Lecter.
Lecter debated with the idea of reading these journal notes. He reasoned that reading Tyson's motivations may extinguish what he had set to accomplish. Tyson did not strike in person. He had plotted and tricked the talented Dr. Lecter.
Lecter read them. With pen and paper Tyson revealed his plan to create a lowly creature out of himself. The intimacy of his spectating strangers was not enough. The cannibalistic acts he saw Lecter commit were the most intimate one could be, in Tyson's opinion. The rarest of private acts.
The plan was to lure Lecter into believing completely that Tyson was a pathetic being that deserved to be consumed. But then this same pitiful creature would, using a deceptive form of intimate connection, to mutilate and ruin, even if just momentarily, Lecter's perfection. Tyson spent a vast amount of his work severance pay he received from the NSA, and even cashed in a few of his blackmail opportunities, on private surgical operations to break his forearm bones and instal the traps inside. It took a lot of money to pay for such a strange procedure, and even more for the silence.
More important than manufacturing the odd trap, was setting Lecter for a mental fall from grace. Tyson's impeccable anticipation of Lecter's actions. The acute observations that would be the envy of any psychoanalyst (especially Lecter). The orchestration of this entire plan. Lecter could wipe all of these thoughts away and just lean on the idea that he survived and that is the modus operandi of all creatures. But the battle with Lecter was not to survive, it was to make a sacrifice that would turn his own sense of superiority against himself. Lecter had thought of himself as more than someone, or something, that could be content with just the basics. Especially philosophically. Odin did not sacrifice himself to another. He sacrificed to himself. Tyson sacrificed to fool a higher being.
Upon finishing Lecter displayed no emotion on his face. His now damaged face. He set the pages down and walked away from them. He avoided glancing at the hallway mirror as he passed it.