Categories > Books > Hannibal > Hannibal Family Values

Of Parent's Evening and Other Disasters

by screamingferret 0 reviews

Still no noticable plot, but a rather odd parent-teacher meating.

Category: Hannibal - Rating: G - Genres: Humor - Warnings: [!] - Published: 2006-01-22 - Updated: 2006-01-22 - 2166 words

Disclaimer: All is Harris's, except the OC's.

Chapter 3: Of Parent's Evening and Other Disasters

Dear Dr and Mrs Montero.

As you are aware, this year's Parent's Evening takes place on the evening of May 8th. Thank you for returning your invite slip so promptly. Enclosed are the appointment times for your daughter's teachers.
The Headmistress of the School would like to take the opportunity to extend and invitation to meet with her before your appointments with the other teachers. We hope that both you and your daughter will be able to attend.

Yours Sincerely,

Mrs E. Fernandez
School Secretary.

Clarice Starling pulled the letter out of her purse and consulted it for the seventh time. She glanced at her watch.

"It's 5 pm now, we'd better go straight in."

Her husband, Dr Hannibal Lecter, settled his white fedora on his head and glanced up at the school buildings with some distaste.

"Must we? Formal education is such a waste of time. To get a true perspective on the world, it is necessary to unlearn everything your schoolteachers spent years trying to hammer into your head." He sniffed. "Much of what you learn has no relevance to real life. I'll tell you what -" he paused and smiled, ever the gracious gentleman. "I'll keep the car ticking over while you take Jade in."

Jade clapped her hands. "Mummy, Daddy's perfectly right, you know. School is SO a waste of time. They've never even heard of Marcus Aurelius, can you imagine? Why don't I quit here, and then I can have a PROPER education at home?"

She looked hopefully at her mother. Clarice, however, was looking at Dr Lecter with a very steely gaze indeed.

"Hannibal Lecter. Head-teacher's office. NOW."

His eyebrows shot up and he grinned. Despite his best efforts, he could never keep a straight face when she took that tone with him, and he adored her for it.

"Yes Miss," he agreed, maroon eyes twinkling.

Starling raised her eyes to heaven. "I wonder what they give naughty boys around here," she mused. "The cane?"

"Oh Clariiice - any time," he purred, and she couldn't help but smile. Dr Lecter set his hat at a jaunty angle, winked and strolled towards the entrance, whistling the Goldberg Variations as he went.

Jade stared after her father's retreating figure. "Mom?"

"Yes honey?"

"Why would Daddy WANT to be caned?"

Now there, Clarice reflected, was a stumper along the lines of 'Mother, why does Daddy eat people?'

"Tell you when you're older," she told her daughter.

"I'm older next week. Tell me then."

"A bit older than seven, Jade."

They caught up with Dr Lecter in the waiting room outside the Head's office. He was standing in front of a spectacularly bad copy of Giotto's famous 'Crucifixion' fresco. Nose to nose with the crucified Christ, Dr Lecter seemed unaware of the secretary's interested gaze. When Starling caught her looking at the Doctor's behind, she reddened.

"Madame Sallier is ready to see you now," she mumbled, and went back to her magazine.

Madame Sallier was French. Clad in severe black and with her hair scraped back in a bun, she looked every inch the Victorian schoolmistress. She greeted them with a thin-lipped smile and gestured them into chairs. Taking her seat behind a massively ornate desk, she nodded once at Jade, then proceeded to ignore her entirely.

"Good evening, Dr Montero, Mrs Montero. I'm pleased that you came."

Starling nodded politely. "I understand that you wish to discuss Jade's progress at school."

The matronly Madame pursed her lips. "Yes, and no," she answered. "It's Jade's somewhat - erratic - behaviour that I wish to discuss. You are aware, of course, that your daughter is extremely bright. Possibly the most intelligent child I have encountered for a long time."

Jade gave her teacher a rather cheeky grin as her parents beamed, as proud parents are wont to do.

"However," Madame Sallier continued, peering at them over the tops of her glasses, "she seems to feel that this gives her the right to do as she pleases. She uses her natural intelligence to intimidate my staff. Consequently, they let her get away with murder."

Clarice smiled sweetly. "Murder? Surely not. And at such a young age. I hope you don't think we encourage her."

Beside her, Dr Lecter gave a tiny cough that might possibly have been a snort.

Madame Sallier favoured Starling with a frosty glare. "This is no laughing matter, Mrs Montero. Only yesterday she threatened to, and I quote, 'vivisect you with a blunt linoleum knife, Esperanza. See if I don't.' I can't have my children making such threats."

Dr Lecter looked sternly at his daughter. She seemed to have found something of immense interest to study on the opposite wall.

"Is this true?" he asked.

Jade ummed and ahhed. "Er. Sort of..."

Her father sighed. "Never make idle threats. If you say you'll do something, do it. Don't just talk about it."

"Sorry Dad," Jade whispered.

Madame Sallier stared at the doctor with something between horror and fascination. She cleared her throat.

"Her behaviour is questionable, as is her fascination with killing things. For instance, last week she brought in a Colt 45. for Show And Tell. Of course it was unloaded, but that is beside the point. She gave the class a practical demonstration in how to strip down and reassemble the horrible thing."

"In five seconds," Jade said with justifiable pride.

Clarice raised her eyebrows. "Oh my," she said mildly. "Did she really?" She'd known about the gun, of course. She'd suggested it.

"Yes. She did" Madame said coldly. "Do you normally keep dangerous weapons where your children can find them, Mrs Montero? I understand that you were both involved in law enforcement at one time."

Dr Lecter exchanged glances with his wife. It was true that they'd both been involved with the law. That is, Clarice was the enforcer, he the enforcee.

Starling leaned forwards. "Quite true, Madame. I keep the gun at home, out of habit. After all, you never know who might be lurking around the next corner. Please continue."

Madame Sallier settled back in her chair, glad of the desk between her and Mrs Montero. There was something unnerving about the woman. She made a show of perusing her list of 'Things to Discuss'.

"Ah yes. The small matter of locking Mrs Torqea in her Stationary Cupboard. The poor woman had a nervous breakdown in there and started stabbing herself with her own pencils. The other children say Jade sat outside the door, telling Mrs Torqea to swallow her tongue."

"Did she?" Dr Lecter asked, interested.

"Of course not," Madame snapped. "It is simply impossible to persuade someone to swallow their own tongue. But she never wants to see another child again."

"In my experience," Dr Lecter said mildly, "anyone is open to persuasion." He smiled in a rather crocodilian fashion.

Starling coughed. "Has she done anything worthy of your good graces this year?"

Madame Sallier pursed her lips, making her look even more like a sour old prune.

"I have to admit that her work is always of the highest quality, although the other children have yet to learn to appreciate her 'inspired' readings of Dante's Inferno. Particularly inspired when she reaches the lower levels of Hell, that is. I understand that her enthusiasm wanes somewhat above Purgatory."

The doctor ruffled his daughter's hair approvingly, provoking a glare in response.

"That's my girl." He smiled proudly. "I've never encouraged a belief in God as a saviour, we don't find the idea of Heaven particularly attractive."

Jade nodded. "Besides, all the interesting people go to Hell."

Madame harrumphed. "I run a God-fearing school, Dr Montero. Now, what else was there? Yes, your daughter's work is very good, but some of it's content is a little questionable. For instance..." She picked up a sheaf of papers by its very corner, as though it had something contagious, and passed it to Clarice.

"When asked to write about her hero in class, she wrote a four-page essay on Hannibal Lecter." The headmistress shivered.

Starling held up the paper and cleared her throat. "I think Dr Lecter is someone to look up to because he does what he pleases without worrying about what other people think," she read. "He doesn't care if people think he's insane, he likes the way he is and he's freer for it. If people were more like him, they'd be happier. PS: He's probably really nice when you get to know him."

Starling looked at her daughter, who had gone beet-red and was attempting to sink through her chair and into the floor.

"Mom, I didn't mean..."

"It's very perceptive, dear," Dr Lecter said with a look of the 'wait 'til I get you home' variety.

Madame Sallier glared at them. "Honestly, what sort of child writes an essay extolling the virtues of a psychopath?"

Clarice bristled. "An intelligent and insightful essay that many a respected psychologist would not be able to manage, you mean?"

Madame recognised the 'Defensive Mother' stance, familiar to teachers world-wide, and hastily sought for something nice to say.

"Um, but she's good with the little ones. She has talked little Alonzo Marquez down off the roof several times. Admittedly, she threatened to disembowel him last time, and the boy is terrified of dying."

"Why was he on the roof in the first place then?" Dr Lecter asked curiously.

"I honestly have no idea. But his behaviour is not the issue. Jade's is. As bright a girl as she is, I feel that she is something of a liability within this school. Is she hyperactive at home? Do you spend a lot of time with her? Have you considered the benefits of home-schooling?"

The temperature in the office dropped noticeably. Dr Lecter, casually seated in his chair, practically radiated cold fury. Clarice wondered if Madame Sallier had spotted the signs of imminent meltdown yet. Was the woman blind?

Smiling his crocodile smile, Dr Lecter leaned forward and met the teacher's eyes. "So, what you're saying is this. My daughter is dangerous, hyperactive, attention-seeking and you'd rather not teach her anymore."

Nailed to her chair by the doctor's intense maroon stare, Madame struggled for something to say. There was an easy way out, away from the man's uncomfortable gaze, but she really didn't want to take it. Pride warred with cowardice, and cowardice won out.

"Of course not" she said slowly, as if she was in a deep trance. "I'd be delighted if Jade were to continue her education here. She's an asset to the school, and I look forward to seeing her next year." Madame closed her eyes, silently praying for forgiveness for such an outrageous lie.

Dr Lecter has an excellent sense of smell. He can smell a policeman a block away. And he can smell a lie, especially when the lie is dancing under his nose, waving a flag. A lie is to Dr Lecter what a red flag is to a bull. True to form, he lowered his horns and charged.

Madame was surprised and gratified when the doctor smiled nicely at her.

"Of course," he said, rising to shake her hand. "Since you've been so helpful, I'd like, if I may, to invite you for dinner. Shall we say next Friday?"

Flustered, Madame Sallier smiled at him. The Monteros moved in the highest social circles, and they were famed for the excellency of their table.

"Oh, Dr Montero... I'm flattered. I'd love to. Next Friday, then?"

Dr Lecter smiled. Mentally, Clarice was humming the Jaws theme tune and picking out her evening gown.

"Yes. Friday. Seven PM. Good day, Madame." He bent over her hand in a gentlemanly fashion.

As they exited the office, Clarice hoped that the other teachers would be politer. Otherwise, she thought wryly, he'd be inviting the entire faculty over for dinner, and the freezer was already full.

It was half-past seven when they returned home. All the lights were on, and as Dr Lecter disabled the alarms, Clarice went looking for the other two.

She found them in the living room. Emma, covered in a thin layer of soot, stood in the middle of the floor. Mog the Third, singed and sooty, had taken refuge on her head, and had dug all his claws in to prevent removal. Tycho was trying to climb up the au-pair's leg to get to the cat, while she was engaged in fending him off. Gabriel sat in front of the PlayStation, absorbed in his Star Wars Podracer game, and totally ignoring the cat's howls, Tycho's gleeful cries and Emma's pleas for help. He too had his fair share of soot.

Hannibal and Clarice stood in the doorway, taking this extraordinary (even by their standards) scene. The cause of the soot was evident in the charred velvet curtains lying in a sad pile on the floor.

Emma saw them and went red. "Uh, Mrs Montero? I can explain. Really..."
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