Categories > Books > Hannibal > Hannibal Family Values

A Knight at the Movies

by screamingferret 0 reviews

Ah, the debut of the plot. Ta-da!

Category: Hannibal - Rating: G - Genres: Drama, Humor - Published: 2006-01-22 - Updated: 2006-01-23 - 5604 words

As before, all is Harris's except Emma and the kids. Tony Hopkins belongs to himself.

Chapter 5: A Knight at the Movies

It began with an article in the news:

"Filming is about to begin on the controversial 'The Silence of the Lambs' - the true story behind the hunt for the serial killer Jame Gumb. The film will follow the footsteps of FBI trainee Clarice Starling through her encounters with the infamous Dr. Hannibal 'the Cannibal' Lecter, and her celebrated slaying of the monstrous Gumb. It has been confirmed that British actor Anthony Hopkins (The Elephant Man) will play Lecter, while Hollywood star Jodie Foster (Taxi Driver, The Accused) will step into Starling's 'cheap shoes'. Director Jonathan Demme, more known for his quirky comedies than gross-out horror, has predicted that the film will be a hit:

"With all the public interest in Lecter and Starling, there is a strong desire to know what happened 'behind the scenes'. The film won't focus on the horror side of the story, but on the interaction between these two interesting people. Sure, there will be horror, but that's not what The Silence of the Lambs is about. It's about relationships and the triumph of good over evil."

While Starling certainly defeated Gumb in the earliest stages of her career, her eventual fate remains unknown. One popular theory is that she let the side of Good down, to join Lecter in a love-nest somewhere in South America. Unlikely as it seems, there are many people who are prepared to believe this story. Since her disappearance nine years ago, rumors have been flying in every direction. Internet chat rooms and message boards abound with speculation on the sort of life 'Beauty' is leading with her 'Beast' - if indeed she lives at all. Whatever happened to her, Lecter may still be out there, and perhaps it is a little early for film-makers and biographers to come out of hiding..."

One Year Later:

"Henry?" Mrs Montero stood at the bottom of the stairs, arms folded across her chest. "Henry!"

"Yes, dear?" Dr Montero appeared at the top, deftly knotting his tie.

"Where are the tickets?"

"They're in your handbag, dearest," he said calmly, shrugging into his jacket.

Mrs Montero paused. "Oh," she said. "I didn't look there." Sheepishly, she disappeared down the passageway to the lounge.

Dr Montero adjusted his tie once more and sauntered down the stairs, whistling the tune to one of his wife's favourite songs. He tolerated her fondness for Billy Joel, just as she tolerated his new-found weakness for the novels of Terry Pratchett.

Emma came out into the hallway then, clutching a wriggling, screaming Tycho.

"I wanna go," he howled. "I wanna go!!"

Relieved to see the doctor, Emma hurried forward and thrust Tycho into his father's arms. The boy's wails doubled in volume and he began to hit his Dad over the head with his favorite rubber chicken. Emma fled.

Chaos Theory has nothing on the Family Montero packing for a weekend away. Parents, children and servants dashed hither and thither, tripping over the cat and collection of dogs, packing, re-packing, hogging the bathroom, arguing and generally behaving like any family about to go on a weekend break.

In the relative safety of the kitchen, Emma flopped into an old wicker chair. "Thank God I'm not going," she muttered aloud. "But then, I get to stay with Psycho Tycho. Ah, lucky ol' me." She shuddered. Tycho was manageable for only a few hours at a time. Emma dreaded to think what he'd be like after a weekend /without his parents/. She suspected she'd be swinging from the chandeliers by the time they got back. Either that, or they'd find her huddled in the darkest corner of the kennel, whimpering.

The transference of luggage to the taxi waiting outside was a relatively painless operation, but it was another ten minutes before everyone was ready to go.

Gabriel held everybody up by coming downstairs dressed in white pajamas, and his maroon eyes glinted behind a plastic replica of the famous mask, sold to kids for the sole purpose of scaring the living daylights out of old ladies on Halloween night.

Mrs Montero took one long look at her son's costume, then suggested that he might like to go back upstairs and change into something more suitable.

"It's appropriate, Mom," he told her seriously. "Everyone dresses up for Star Wars."

Mrs Montero rolled her eyes. Behind her, Dr Montero wore his patented block-of-granite expression that meant he was trying not to laugh.

"But Mom! It's cool, see?" Gabriel twirled on the spot, showing off the detail of his costume. Really, you had to give him credit for trying.

"But nothing." Mrs Monteros tone suggested that the matter was not only closed, but locked away, and the key was being dangled over the drain. "And yes, I'm well aware that you have a hard, deprived childhood," she added, pre-empting the traditional complaint of 'it's not fair!'

To Emma's relief, Gabriel went back upstairs and changed, then Mrs Montero shepherded her two eldest out to the taxi. Dr Montero followed, pausing on his way out.

"Oh, by the way," he said, "I've left the keys to the Jaguar on the kitchen worktop."

Emma's eyes lit up with an almost unholy glee. The Jaguar...

"Not a scratch on it, mind," he called as the door closed behind him.

"Sure," she muttered, listening intently. She heard the taxi's engine roar to life, then the crunch of gravel as it pulled out of the long, sweeping drive. Emma counted three minutes to give them time to get to the end of the road, then turned and ran to the kitchen.

The keys were there beside the kettle, on the 'Fuzzy' sheep keyring Jade had given her father.

"Tycho!" Emma called, jingling the keys in her hand. "Tyke!"

"M' here," said a subdued voice from ground-level. Emma turned and saw Tycho sitting under the table with the dogs. His face was red, and so were his eyes.

"Oh Tycho, don't cry, babe. Here - " Emma crouched down beside him, pulling a tissue out of the pocket of her jeans. Maul, the big brown dog, thumped his tail on the tiled floor and stole the flimsy bit of paper.

"Ah. Well, don't be upset, Tycho" she said as gently as she could. "It's just you and me for the weekend. We'll have fun. We'll get some movies out, go to the park, buy some pizza. How 'bout it?"

Tycho's face brightened. "Can we go to the zoo again?" he asked eagerly.

Emma paled. "Um - no, not this time, Tyke. Maybe your mum and dad will take you when they get back."

"Oh." He considered for a moment. "I've never had pizza. Dad thinks it looks like someone's regor - regur - regurteded - someone's been sick over it," he finished, grinning.

Emma winced. "Okay - burgers then. Coming?"

Unable to resist the attraction of a Mcdonald´s reconstituted-beef treat, he scrambled out from under the table and followed Emma to the front door.

There was a brief but nasty moment setting the many alarms on the property. Emma hadn't yet worked out why the Montero's needed so many alarms. She couldn't imagine that they'd have too many priceless works of art lying around in the same building as their children. As it was, the electronic voice counting down the seconds to alarm-activation nearly gave her a heart attack. It sounded as though the mansion was about to self-destruct or blast off for outer space.

The Jaguar resided in the large garage, next to the blue and silver Mercedes, and a rather large Harley Davidson. The vision of the good doctor astride that was just too much. Emma leaned against the Merc while she got her breath back. Tycho, wielding the keys, was already in the passenger seat.

Emma had an icky moment when she got in the car. About to put her hands on the leather-covered steering wheel, she paused. What if Dr Montero had...? She turned to Tycho. "Your mum doesn't drive the Jag, does she?" she asked as casually as she could.

Tycho thought for a moment, then shook his head. "Nah. At least not much. Why?"

"No reason." Emma stared at the steering wheel, then grasped it firmly with both hands.

The car was a dream to drive. It beat her ratty little Mini, back home, hollow. Black, sleek and shiny, it purred along the streets of Buenos Aires. It practically drove itself. Lost in plots to report the car stolen to Dr Montero and head for the hills with it, Emma didn't realize Tycho was talking to her until he bit her ear.

She swore loudly as the car swerved across the road, tyres squealing on the tarmac. Narrowly missing a Porsche, Emma yanked the steering wheel around, avoided a bus, and made it back to the right lane. The driver of the Porsche yelled something rude in Spanish, and Emma responded in the usual fashion, sticking her fingers up and commenting loudly on the man's probable sexuality, appearance, his mother's species and what exactly he could go and do with his shiny red car.

Back on the correct side of the road, Emma half-turned to Tycho. "What did you do that for?" she demanded furiously, rubbing her ear.

He shrugged. "Trying to tell you - we've gone past the shops. Passed a lot of 'em, actually."

"Have we?" Emma shook her head. "Oh well, never mind. We'll just keep driving until I find one that looks nice."

Tycho nodded. Fiddling with the catch on the glove compartment, he twisted it too far, and the box opened with a click. Sunglasses, CD's and a small gun in an ankle holster slithered out into his lap. Emma glanced at him. "What are you doing?" she asked as Tycho gave a strangled yell and jammed the contents back into the little compartment. Emma's eyes narrowed. "Tycho" she said evenly.


"What was that?"


"That. It looked like - like a gun."

He shifted. "S' Mom's" he muttered uncomfortably.

"She keeps a gun in the car."

"Mmm." His tone was as non-committal as it was possible to get.

"Back in England, we don't keep guns in cars."

Tycho glared at her. "S'not England."

Emma sighed. Trying to get him to divulge information he didn't want to part with was almost impossible. Mrs Montero had told her that once she'd made him sit on the couch for over an hour - a long time where Tycho was concerned - until he told her what he'd done with her hair dryer. He'd sat there and folded her a paper aeroplane out of the center pages of the Italian edition of Vogue. The hair dryer turned up months later, buried in the garden with a lot of dead fish.

And the family Montero - Emma still hadn't worked them out. There was something going on, she was sure of it. The doctor, with his oh-so polite, but very distant demeanor (unless you counted the one time she'd encountered him in a dress), not to mention the crossbow and impressive collection of hunting knives. Mrs Montero, who secreted guns around the house. The house itself was done up like Fort Knox. And the children, with some big secret they didn't want to share. Besides, she thought, who takes young children to the premiere of a film about Hannibal Lecter? And yet, the Montero kids were unlikely to be terrified by 'Hannibal the Cannibal'. She recalled they hadn't been at all fazed when a giant boa constrictor had got loose at the zoo.

Safely away on a plane to New York, Clarice Starling relaxed. Her head drooped onto Dr Lecter´s shoulder, and he gave her a small murmur of reassurance. Deeply engrossed in `Guards! Guards!´, he was oblivious to the sounds coming from Jade´s Game Boy.

Clarice sighed. The theme tune to Tetris was probably one of the most annoying sounds known to man. She was certain it had originally been used as some obscure form of torture, probably invented by Chinese monks half-way up a mountain somewhere.


"Mmm?" Jade did not look up.

"If you don´t turn the sound off /right now/, I will stamp on it."

"Huh." Jade didn´t move.

"Understood?" The chilling glare was one she´d picked up from Dr Lecter in the earliest days of their strange relationship. It had served to keep most unwanted acquaintances away, and she´d discovered it had a similar effect on children. The woman sitting on Jade´s other side edged away nervously.

Jade looked up, saw her mother´s expression and switched the Game Boy off, stuffing it in her bag. She leaned over the dozing Gabriel and stole his Star Wars comic. Shooting an offended look at her mother, Jade settled down to read the continuing adventures of Luke Skywalker and company.

Mercifully, the plane flight was uneventful. The children more or less behaved, a good thing in the eyes of their parents, as they wished to avoid drawing attention to themselves.

JFK International Airport was bustling. They disembarked into a blast of cold air - used to the warmth of Brazil, Jade and Gabriel began to shiver. Gabriel pulled his father´s coat around his shoulders as Clarice herded them through the Arrivals lounge. There were people /everywhere/. Neither Jade or Gabriel had been to New York before, and their eyes almost came out on stalks at their first view of the city as they headed towards the rental car lot.

There was no car. Dr Lecter stared at the space where their car should be, and growled deep in his throat.

"Where´s the car, Daddy?" Jade asked in a small voice.

"It appears to have disappeared." He sighed. "I´ll go and have a word at the desk - you three go inside and wait."

He turned to go, but Clarice collared him before he´d taken one step.

"Incognito!" she hissed.

He gave her his most charming smile (he had won Gourmet Weekly´s Most Charming Smile Award five times in a row before his incarceration) and patted her on the shoulder.

"You worry too much," he murmured. "I´ll just put the fear of God into them."

Satisfied, Clarice allowed herself to be swept back into the building. The children immediately headed for the shops, while their mother found the most comfortable seat she could, and settled down with a cup of coffee.

Gabriel very much liked to shop. In this, he was very much his father´s son. However, his idea of shopping and Dr Lecter´s idea of shopping were two completely different things. For one thing, the good doctor would never have been caught dead in the gift-shop Gabriel had found. Full of `I Love NYC´ t-shirts and baseball caps, American flags and President Bush mugs, he realized it was the perfect way to wind his father up. Thus he emerged, clad in a `New York, New York´ t-shirt, and Statue of Liberty hat, clutching the aforementioned mug and a huge bag of toffee.

Clarice looked up from her lukewarm coffee and magazine, and choked, spraying the stuff all over the floor.

"Gabe, honey," she sniggered, "WHAT is that on your head?"

Gabriel grinned. "Good, isn´t it?"

"Your father will have a fit."

He laughed. "I know, Mom. That´s why I bought it."

Dr Lecter returned then, brandishing a ticket.

"We have a car," he announced triumphantly. Then he caught sight of Gabriel´s hat. "What is /that/?"

Gabriel contrived to look innocent. "It´s a hat."

"I can see that," the doctor growled. "But what is it doing on your head?"

Now Gabriel looked injured. "I liked it. I got a present for you too!" He whipped the mug out of its paper bag, and thrust it into his father´s hands.

Dr Lecter looked like he was about to be ill. He stared at the caricature mug. President Bush stared glassily back. Shaking his head, Dr Lecter stuffed the mug back into its bag and handed it back to Gabriel.

"I´m touched," he said, shortly. "You carry it." And he headed for the exit, muttering under his breath.

Clarice exchanged glances with her son. Both shook with badly concealed laughter. Starling rolled her eyes and headed after her indignant husband. Perhaps, she reflected, it was a bad thing that he was so easily wound up. The children took merciless advantage of it.

Ah yes, the children. They had made it to the parking lot again, when Clarice realized that they were missing Jade.

"Saw her in the bookshop," Gabriel said. "If I were you, I´d leave her there."

"We are not leaving Jade behind," Dr Lecter said firmly. "Get in the car, I´ll go back and get her." So saying, he hurried back towards the terminal.

Jade had indeed found the bookstore. She was in her element, browsing through the True Crime section. As Dr Lecter wormed his way through the crowds of people, he saw her there, holding forth to small crowd of entertained bystanders. The subject was none other than Hannibal the Cannibal himself.

"Look at this!" she was saying to her audience. "Catatonia! Dr Lecter is catatonic? Per-leeze, give him some credit. I´ve got two dollars that says this guy ran from the asylum, crying."

Several people laughed. Dr Lecter groaned. Just what he didn´t need. What if people started wondering where she got her information from?

But Jade had prepared for this. "Yeah, my dad´s a shrink," she said breezily to a man who had been wondering the very same thing.

Jade jumped as her father clamped his hand on her shoulder. She looked around, saw the thunderous expression on his face, and gulped.

"Have you quite finished?" the doctor asked icily. "Or shall I wait while you complete your lecture?"

"No, no. I´m good," Jade said, hurriedly. "I was just coming to find you guys. Where´d you get to?"

"Only as far as the parking-lot," Dr Lecter growled, tugging his daughter along beside him. She had to run to keep up with his quick strides. "Do you think you can refrain from showing off your inside knowledge of me, just for a while? Do you want to blow my cover?" He scratched angrily at the fake beard he´d applied just before boarding the plane for New York.

Jade looked aghast. "N-n-no!" she stammered. "It just makes me mad, some of the things they say about you, that´s all."

A smile flickered across his face. "I´m touched. When I´m dead, you can publish." He opened the car door for her, and Jade clambered inside, upsetting Gabriel and his milkshake.


"Yeah, sis?"

"Sis-TER" Clarice corrected, from the front.

"What is THAT?"

"It´s a hat" he answered unconcernedly, going back to his comic. "Have you been reading my book?"

Almost an hour later, they were settling into the five-star hotel suite Dr Lecter had booked. And immediate battle over the beds in the smaller room ensued, with Jade emerging triumphant, pillow-feathers in her hair, to claim the double bed. Clarice and Lecter had the master bedroom to themselves, but as it had a widescreen television, Jade and Gabriel took up a semi-permanent residence on their parents bed.

A late-evening drowsiness, combined with jet-lag sent Gabriel to bed early on. With the doctor in the shower and Clarice examining the more than adequate mini-bar, Jade decided to watch some more TV.

Televised grunting and groaning, combined with some extremely bad music, drew Clarice´s attention away from the whiskey. She looked up to see her daughter sitting on the bed, mouth hanging open, engrossed in a porn movie.

Starling acted fast. She swooped down to the TV and hit the `Off´ button. Jade blinked, dazed, then turned to gape at her mother.


"Yes, dear?"

"When I get a boyfriend, will I be able to do - "

"Ask your father," Clarice interrupted automatically. "And it´s time you were in bed, young lady. Okay?"

"Yeah." Jade paused. "Can people really do that with a hosepipe?" she asked curiously.

Clarice bit her lip. "Ask you father. Bed!"

She felt bad, passing the buck to Dr Lecter, but at least he´d be able to deal with it without laughing. She hoped.

Upon entering her room, Jade nearly tripped over her brother. It seemed that he too had been sampling the contents of the mini-bar. Jade looked down at him and giggled.

"Gabe!" She nudged him with her foot. "Wake up!"

"Mmmph.... Yousa no Jedi," he muttered, oblivious.

Jade shrugged. "Fine." She dropped his cuddly Darth Maul beside him, and went to bed.

Next Day - Evening.

Broadway was heaving. The chauffeur-driven Mercedes Dr Lecter had hired from the hotel got stuck behind a row of police cars. If the driver thought the whole family suddenly donning sunglasses was odd, he didn´t say anything.

Dr Lecter, looking out of the window, was slightly startled to see his face on all the billboards. A closer inspection revealed that they were not actually pictures of /him/, but as close as damn.

`The Silence of the Lambs´ premiere was being held tonight on Broadway. The doctor indulged in a little chuckle. He had been looking forward to this all year. The slightly heavier-than-usual police presence could be tolerated, as long as the acting was up to par.

Waving their gold-embossed tickets at a slightly shellshocked-looking usherette, the Lecters were shown into the cinema itself. Star-spotting was out, they had been rushed inside so fast. Clarice resisted the children´s pleas for popcorn and fizzy drinks. She had to physically restrain Jade when the little girl spotted the chocolate ice-cream.

"This is a perfect time to /behave/," Clarice told her offspring, firmly removing a bag of peanuts from Gabriel´s hand. "Think of it as one of Daddy´s dinners, okay?"

Gabriel laughed. "Does that mean we´re gonna be eating actors for weeks, if whassizname pisses Dad off?"

"Gabriel! Don´t be so rude!"

Jade shuddered. "I hope everything goes okay. I don´t like old people. Madame Sallier was chewy."

Clarice shushed her as screaming from outside announced the arrival of the film´s stars.

"Can we meet him, Mom?" Gabriel begged, excited. "Please?"

Clarice weighed up the pros and cons of Jade and Gabriel meeting the on-screen incarnation of their father, and immediately wished she hadn´t. It did not bear thinking about. Shaking her head, she hurried them away from the noise.

Gabriel was disappointed. He really wanted to meet Anthony Hopkins, if only to see if he actually did look like Dr Lecter. One glimpse of a broad-shouldered man in a tux was not enough. However, the movie was starting.

The Lecters had booked seats near the back, where it was darkest. Silence fell as everyone´s eyes turned toward Clarice Starling, ponytail bobbing as she negotiated an assault course. Everyone, that is, except the Clarice sitting in the audience. She had covered her eyes with her hands.

Dr Lecter leaned over to her and gently pried her fingers away. "Now now, dear heart, it´s not that bad," he whispered solicitously.

Clarice looked up at the screen, where her counterpart was now talking with Crawford. She stuck her tongue out at the screen, leaned back and folded her arms. She was waiting for the first scream.

Five minutes later, there was a tiny, horrified scream.

"Oh my God," Clarice whispered, staring transfixed at the screen. "I did not look like that." She turned to Dr Lecter. "Tell me I didn´t look like that."

He gave her an evil grin. "Well, I didn´t want to say anything, but - " He left it hanging.

Clarice glared at the doctor, and punched him lightly on the shoulder.

"Sssshhh!" somebody behind them whispered. A plea that went entirely ignored by Jade and Gabriel. Neither of them had seen a film this good before. And that line was just too good to ignore.

"I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti!" Jade hissed to the lady sitting beside her. The lady gave her a Look, and edged away. Jade grinned. "And I´m giving very serious thought - to eating your husband..." she added. The woman might have been okay, had not Gabriel chosen that moment to inform her that human liver was best served with a big Amarone, as it complemented the rich flavor of the liver.

The Lecter children hi-fived each other in satisfaction as the lady got up and left.

"Shut /up/!" the voice from behind hissed.
Dr Lecter sighed. He so hated to be rude, but - Turning in his seat, he stared down at the impertinent little man who had dared to speak to his family like that. The man´s eyes widened, and he shrank back into his seat. The expression on Dr Lecter´s face was not to be trifled with. The man gulped.

"Sorry," he whispered.

Dr Lecter stared right down at him for a second or two longer. The little man started to shake. "Apology accepted," he said, finally. "Don´t do it again."

He turned back to the film, just in time to see himself savaging the guards. Despite himself, Dr Lecter couldn´t help grinning. "Ah, those were the days," he murmured, licking his lips, as his children gave a huge cheer. Beside him, Clarice was indignant.

"What did they do that for?" she hissed, turning to Dr Lecter. "We KISSED in Memphis! How dare they!"

"Mmm, I remember," the doctor purred. "Yet I suspect they felt morally bound to cut out all the really - interesting - bits."

"Hmph!" Clarice pouted. Dr Lecter smiled. She was adorable when she pouted. Unable to resist, he bent closer and kissed her.

Jade glanced at her parents and sighed. Poking Gabriel, she jerked her head towards Hannibal and Clarice, who were making out like teenagers in the back rows. "They´re at it again," she observed, disgusted. "Like rabbits."

Hannibal and Clarice finally came up for air as the end-credits rolled up on the screen, and the audience started to applause.

Clarice got up, stretched, and headed for the bathroom. When she returned, she found Dr Lecter lurking in a corner.

"What´s up?" she asked, putting her arms around him.

"Hmm? Nothing. Just thinking about the film."

"I didn´t think it was too bad, if you discount her - my - dress sense, and the ridiculous cuts they´ve made. And don´t get me started on the accent...."

Dr Lecter´s face went poker-straight. "Um, where are the kids?"

"I don´t know - probably charming someone into getting them free food."

"Hadn´t we better find them?"

"You worry too much. They´ll be fine. They´re your children, after all." Clarice pulled him closer. "I thought Sir Tony was very sexy as you.... C´mere, Sexy..."

Although he loathed to cut the moment short, Dr Lecter nevertheless felt obliged to point out that he´d spotted the children.

"Huh? Where are they?" Clarice spun around. She saw them at once. They had cornered Anthony Hopkins. "Oh hell - Hannibal!"

As the Lecters emerged from their shadowy corner, another shape became visible behind them. Jonathan Demme emerged from the cover of the plastic palm tree he´d had to hide behind. He stared after the elegant couple making their way across the floor, and fumbled for his phone.

A sleepy voice answered. "Yes?"

"Hi Mary, it´s me."

"Jon? What´s wrong?"

"Um. About that sequel... I´ve decided, ah -"

"You´re going to do it!"

"I´m not going to do it! Never, under any circumstances, am I going to make another movie about Hannibal Lecter. Ever."

With that, he hung up. Some other poor schmuck could deal with it next time.

The elegant couple were nowhere to be seen.

Jade and Gabriel were having fun. They´d already spotted Madonna and Nicole Kidman, teased Tom Cruise, and now they´d cornered Anthony Hopkins.

He turned away from the big black man he´d been talking to, to find two children regarding him solemnly. The girl giggled.

"Hello," Gabriel said, in a friendly tone. "Can we have your autograph?"

"Sure." At this, both kids began to giggle.

"You don´t sound much like Hannibal now," Jade ventured, in between giggles.

"But it was very good," Gabriel added hurriedly. He wanted an autograph, even if Jade didn´t. "We thought you were very realistic - "

"But he never yells like that - you have to really - " Jade drew in her breath to demonstrate, when Gabriel clamped his hand over her mouth.
"She means she´d really like that autograph," he said. Jade, her mouth held firmly shut, could only nod.

Starling slipped easily through the crowds towards her children, who were now having a spirited argument. As she reached them, she discovered that they were fighting over the merits of very hungry dogs versus killer pigs. They hadn´t got to the physical stage of the argument yet, but a dazed-looking Anthony Hopkins was trying to sidle away without being spotted.

"But pigs have bigger teeth!" Jade didn´t care if the rest of the party could hear her too. Gabriel certainly could, as he shook his head, temporarily deaf. Having Jade scream in your ear tended to do that.

Clarice grabbed her son in one hand, her daughter in the other, flashed a dazzling smile at the actor, thanked him for finding them, and made her escape. Jade´s wail echoed down the street.

"But Mother! I didn´t get his autograph!"

"I did," Gabriel said, smugly.

The Montero Mansion.

Emma flung herself onto the couch. Tycho was asleep, the rest of the family would be back tomorrow, and she had pizza. Flicking the television on, Emma trawled through Spanish television channels before she found BBC World Service. Lifting a slice of ham and pineapple pizza to her mouth, she took a huge bite of that illicit treat. The Montero's never ate pizza.

Adverts for shampoo and skin-care creams didn´t hold her attention for long. She took a swig of JD´s and coke, and was just about to swallow when an eerily familiar voice came from the TV. Startled, she spat the drink over the carpet as the TV promotion for The Silence Of The Lambs reeled off a sequence of the film´s more important scenes. Many of them seemed to feature -

"Dr Montero!" Emma yelled, leaping to her feet in shock. On screen, Hannibal Lecter hissed at someone she couldn´t see. Like the old Doc Montero at the zoo. Hell, he looked so much like him. But Dr Montero had maroon eyes.

A very quiet and horrible thought struck Emma then. Something she remembered from the Wanted poster she´d seen in passing in Florence. Dr Lecter has maroon eyes....

When the penny drops, realizations flow thick and fast, one after the other. If Dr Montero was Lecter, then Mrs Montero must be Clarice Starling. Another memory surfaced. Once, he had called her Clarice. A slip of the tongue. Emma shuddered. What to do? Go to the police?

"Are you insane/, girl?" she demanded, out loud. "Or it´ll be shish-kebab for sure. Or - a nice /English breakfast, indeed..." Going to someone was out of the question. What would she say anyway? `Excuse me, but I think my employer eats people?´

Half an hour and half a packet of Marlborough later, Emma had almost got a plan. Make up some story, and go home. Home. Emma had never wanted to go home as much as she did now.

"Of course, I could be wrong. Could be. Could just be some bizarre coincidence, or some joke the kids cooked up." Shefavoured the television with a sickly grin. This explained a lot about those kids.

When the rest of the family arrived early next morning, they found Emma asleep on the couch. Mrs Montero leaned over her and shook her shoulder gently.

"Emma, dear. Emma!"

Emma opened her eyes, saw Mrs Montero and screamed. The children, crowding round for hugs, leapt back.

"What´s the matter?" Mrs Montero´s hand went to her hip, as if reaching for a gun.

"Uh, I´ve gotta go," Emma mumbled. She took a brown envelope off the coffee-table and thrust it into her employer´s hands. "My notice." Taking advantage of the shocked silence, Emma ran out.

Clarice shooed the children out, sat down and opened the envelope. The letter was blunt enough. Emma had wanted to leave immediately, but it was polite to give a week´s notice, and after figuring some things out, she really didn´t want to be impolite.

Dr Lecter was not surprised.

"She knows," he said softly, reading the letter.

"I know. And what are we going to do about it?" Clarice looked worried. "Maybe she´ll stay. I´ll talk to her."

Dr Lecter nodded. "Please do." He smiled briefly. "Given the circumstances, she´s more likely to talk to you."

Clarice sighed. "It´s such a shame," she noted. "She´s such a nice girl. And the children adore her." She suddenly looked at Lecter. "Don´t start planning the gory details yet - she might be persuaded..."

He looked injured. "That was the furthest thing from my mind. Really." Folding the letter up, he stuck it in his pocket. "We´ll have to wait and see."
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