The Silence of the Lambs


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Far beneath the rusty Baltimore dawn, stirrings in the maximum security ward. Down where it is never dark the tormented sense beginning day as oysters in a barrel open to their lost tide. God's creatures who cried themselves to sleep stirred to cry again and the ravers cleared their throats.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter stood stiffly upright at the end of the corridor, his face a foot from the wall. Heavy canvas webbing bound him tightly to a movers tall hand truck as though he were a grandfather clock. Beneath the webbing he wore a straitjacket and leg restraints. A hockey mask over his face precluded biting; it was as effective as a mouthpiece, and not so wet for the orderlies to handle.
Behind Dr. Lecter, a small, round-shouldered orderly mopped Lecter's cage. Barney supervised the thrice-weekly cleaning and searched for contraband at the same time. Moppers tended to hurry, finding it spooky in Dr. Lecter's quarters. Barney checked behind them. He checked everything and he neglected nothing.
Only Barney supervised the handling of Dr. Lecter, because Barney never forgot what he was dealing with. His two assistants watched taped hockey highlights on television.
Dr. Lecter amused himself-- he has extensive internal resources and can entertain himself for years at a time. His thoughts were no more bound by fear or kindness than Milton 's were by physics. He was free in his head.
His inner world has intense colors and smells, and not much sound. In fact, he had to strain a bit to hear the voice of the late Benjamin Raspail. Dr. Lecter was musing on how he would give Jame Gumb to Clarice Starling, and it was useful to remember Raspail. Here was the fat flutist on the last day of his life, lying on Lecter's therapy couch, telling him about Jame Gumb:
"Jame had the most atrocious room imaginable in this San

Francisco flophouse, sort of aubergine walls with smears of psychedelic Day-Glo here and there from the hippie years, terribly battered everything.
"Jame-- you know, it's actually spelled that way on his birth certificate, that's where he got it and you have to pronounce it 'Jame,' like 'name,' or he gets livid, even though it was a mistake at the hospital-- they were hiring cheap help even then that couldn t even get a name right. It's even worse today, it's worth your life to go in a hospital. Anyway, here was Jame sitting on his bed with his head in his hands in that awful room, and he'd been fired from the curio store and he'd done the bad thing again.
"I'd told him I simply couldn't put up with his behavior, and Klaus had just come into my life, of course. Jame is not really gay, you know, it's just something he picked up in jail. He's not anything, really, just a sort of total lack that he wants to fill, and so angry. You always felt the room was a little emptier when he came in. I mean he killed his grandparents when he was twelve, you'd think a person that volatile would have some presence, wouldn't you?
"And here he was, no job, he'd done the bad thing again to some luckless bag person. I was gone. He'd gone by the post office and picked up his former employer's mail, hoping there was something he could sell. And there was a package from Malaysia, or somewhere over there. He eagerly opened it up and it was a suitcase full of dead butterflies, just in there loose.
"His boss sent money to postmasters on all those islands and they sent him boxes and boxes of dead butterflies. He set them in Lucite and made the tackiest ornaments imaginable-- and he had the gall to call them objets. The butterflies were useless to Jame and he dug his hands in them, thinking there might be jewelry underneath-- sometimes they got bracelets from Bali-- and he got butterfly powder on his fingers. Nothing. He sat on the bed with his head in his hands, butterfly colors on his hands and face and he was at the bottom, just as we've all been, and he was crying. He heard a little noise and it was a butterfly in the open suitcase. It was struggling out of a cocoon that had been thrown in with the butterflies and it climbed out. There was dust in the air from the butterflies and dust in the sun from the window-- you know how terribly vivid it all is when somebody's describing it to you stoned. He watched it pump up its wings. It was a big one, he said. Green. And he opened the window and it flew away and he felt so light, he said, and he knew what to do.
"Jame found the little beach house Klaus and I were using, and when I came home from rehearsal, there he was. But I didn't see Klaus. Klaus wasn't there. I said where's Klaus and he said swimming. I knew that was a lie, Klaus never swam, the Pacific's much too crashy-bangy. And when I opened the refrigerator, well, you know what I found. Klaus's head looking out from behind the orange juice. Jame had made himself an apron too, you know, from Klaus, and he put it on and asked me how I liked him now. l know you must be appalled that I'd ever have anything else to do with Jame-- he was even more unstable when you met him, I think he was just astounded that you weren't afraid of him."
And then, the last words Raspail ever said: "I wonder why my parents didn't kill me before I was old enough to fool them."
The slender handle of the stiletto wiggled as Raspail's spiked heart tried to keep beating, and Dr. Lecter said, "Looks like a straw down a doodlebug hole, doesn't it?" but it was too late for Raspail to answer.
Dr. Lecter could remember every word, and much more too. Pleasant thoughts to pass the time while they cleaned his cell.
Clarice Starling was astute, the doctor mused. She might get Jame Gumb with what he had told her, but it was a long shot. To get him in time, she would need more specifics. Dr. Lecter felt sure that when he read the details of the crimes, hints would suggest themselves-- possibly having to do

with Gumb's job training in the juvenile correction facility after he killed his grandparents. He'd give her Jame Gumb tomorrow, and make it clear enough, so that even Jack Crawford couldn't miss it. Tomorrow should see it done.
Behind him, Dr. Lecter heard footsteps and the television was turned off. He felt the hand truck tilt back. Now would begin the long, tedious process of freeing him within the cell. It was always done the same way. First Barney and his helpers laid him gently on his cot, facedown. Then Barney tied his ankles to the bar at the foot of the cot with towels, removed the leg restraints, and, covered by his two helpers armed with Mace and riot batons, undid the buckles on the back of the straitjacket and backed out of the cell, locking the net and the barred door in place, and leaving Dr. Lecter to work his way out of his bonds. Then the doctor traded the equipment for his breakfast. The procedure had been in effect ever since Dr. Lecter savaged the nurse, and it worked out nicely for everyone.
Today the process was interrupted.

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