"Now, where did you go first?" Will Graham stepped slowly into the darkened house. You were carrying her, obviously. An image flashed through Graham's head and he closed his eyes, leaning against the doorframe. Several minutes passed before his stillness turned to violence as he hit the frame hard with his first. You ruined my life when I managed to capture you, but you save her when should have done the same. He opened his eyes and looked around. "Could this be a crush, doctor?" He remembered that the report said she had awoken upstairs. That's what he did first, then. He took her upstairs, drugged her, and then left to find Krendler. Graham began to ascend the stairs slowly, trying to match that pace that he knew the doctor must have adopted to support the added weight of Agent Starling in his arms. He tried to imagine the care that the doctor must have taken to move her about. The wind had half-closed the door to the room where Starling had said she woke. He pushed it open tremulously.
The blinds clicked with the wind provided by the open window. Nothing touched. You'll get the scene as fresh as possible. He snorted at those words now. Crawford always promised him the same thing and always failed to deliver. There were many footprints making the fibers go this way and that in the carpet. All the neat lines made by the housekeeper when she cleaned the house before Lecter agreed to rent it were gone. Lecter sure as hell didn't make all these tracks by himself, Jack. Who do you suppose did? He thought vindictively, looking at the huge size 14 men's shoe prints that could not be either the small women's feet of Clarice Starling nor the feet of a little man like Dr. Lecter. Graham couldn't get a feeling of what had happened in this room. So much activity had taken place in it after the events he was trying to decipher. He knew that somehow, Lecter had brought Starling into this room, injured, sewed her shoulder wound, drugged her, and got her into that slinky dress all here. Agent Starling claimed to have been unconscious when all those activities took place and had been very sketchy as to why she thought Lecter had put her in that dress, but with Graham's newfound suspicions, he wasn't so sure. Graham was positive Dr. Lecter has put her in the dress in a professional state of mind only, knowing the doctor's gentlemanly nature, so he knew that rape was out of the question even before he read the reports.
So he did all those things, then went to find Krendler, Graham thought as he descended the steps a little more quickly this time. He took her car and when he came back… Graham stood in the doorframe again. The fact that Lecter had pushed Krendler in on the wheelchair, Graham was pretty sure of, but no trace of the wheel tracks remained in the carpet as it had been trampled as much as, if not more than, the bedroom. The reports had been sketchy as to why they thought Lecter chose Krendler. They thought it a mere whim Lecter had amused himself with because Krendler had been there during his transfer to Memphis. Perhaps a belated "Thank You" for his part in his freedom. Graham was seeing it much clearer now. He was threatening her, wasn't he, doctor? Paul Krendler was abusing his position as her boss, threatening her job because she had beat him to the punch on that Buffalo Bill case. Graham thought of the pictures he had seen of Clarice Starling. Maybe he was even trying to get her to perform sexual favors for him in exchange for keeping her job. He thought of the reports that went along with the pictures. She said no, of course. Repeatedly, I'm sure. How did you know, doctor? Did she tell you she wanted him gone from her life? Or did you manage to figure it out yourself? Of course, you did. If I managed to figure that one out, you knew it years ago.
Graham wandered into the dining room now, and then through the swinging door into the kitchen. You drugged him earlier, so he might be awake by now, and you just went about cooking dinner calmly as can be, never hinting what the main course might be. How long would that take? You spent most of the night and part of the day taking care of her, then you got him, dinner couldn't have taken more than an hour. He noticed the refrigerator door. No, that was later. He shook his head to get his thoughts back on track. Okay, dinner is ready. You set the table, wheel out Krendler and wait for Starling to wake up. He shook his head again. "No, that's wrong," he said aloud. You set the table earlier. You heard her wake up and then you wheeled out Krendler and the meal to be ready for her. Graham imagined her coming down the stairs, she must have called from the phone he had seen out in the hallway. Then she came in. The report she had filled out had described the scene vividly, but Graham found it difficult imagining a man eating his own brain, no matter how good a cook Dr. Lecter was reputed to be. Graham had seen many bloody crime scenes, but felt nausea setting in and decided it was time to escape from this house.
Outside, Graham found Jack Crawford sitting on a stone bench much as he had left him, looking out over the Chesapeake. Crawford stood as Graham approached, but Graham sat down on the bench. The silence stretched out for a few minutes before Crawford ventured, "Anything in there, Will?"
Graham held up his chin with his hands, staring out over the rolling bay. "There was, Jack, but it's all been gone now. I thought you said it was in great condition."
"Well, yeah, Will. Great condition for the scene of the latest meal of Hannibal the Cannibal. What did you expect? It was hard enough keeping all the paparazzi out of there. Lecter's even more popular than Madonna with them."
"And you say Agent Starling is still on the case?"
"Yeah. Don't tell me that after all the strings I pulled to keep her on it, that it's a mistake, Will."
"No, Jack, but perhaps Starling would be better used as bait rather than a real investigator. She seems to be his Achilles heel."
"So I've noticed," Crawford didn't look at all pleased by Graham's statement. Graham had the feeling that Starling had replaced himself as Crawford's protégé, and while he felt betrayed, he knew that Crawford had paid for this choice. Starling's loyalties seemed to waver between Crawford and her other mentor, namely Dr. Lecter. Graham could clearly see that already. That was Crawford's own fault. He knows Lecter has made grown men run out crying and yet he sent in an impressionable trainee. He sacrificed her career to get what he wanted and now he regrets it. She could have been great.
"I have the feeling from her profile that she would never willingly let herself be set out as bait."
"You've hit the nail on the head, Will. She won't use the only bait she knows will draw him out. She's convinced she can get him without doing him the discourtesy of tricking him."
"Have you ever thought she didn't want to dangle herself because that would be too close to her real intentions?"
"Starling? No. Lecter impresses her surely, but she's dedicated to the F.B.I one hundred percent. I think her actions here," he nodded to the house, "prove that well enough."
Graham nodded slowly. "You're right. Her actions were not those of a woman who would sacrifice her job over idle fantasies."
"You think, then, that Lecter is interested in her?"
"You suspected it as well, I'm sure."
"Yes, but I thought it might be jealousy on my own part."
"Well, as you've said, her actions here prove her loyalties to you are stronger." Silence came for a moment as both contemplated. "You asked me here for a reason, Jack. Not just to look over the house. You had something else in mind."
"You're right, Will." Graham's eyes widened as Crawford launched into his proposal.