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Quién On First

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Freddie can’t believe her luck. Rather, she can’t believe how easy it was to find the Lecter-Grahams and bug their home phone. She has no intention of turning them in, of course. That notion flies in the face of every ounce of business sense she possesses. No, Freddie is going to record their conversations, transcribe them, and publish a book far more accurate and sensational than anything Frederick Chilton could dream up. Crawford’s going to be pissed, but there’s no way he can pressure her into revealing her sources.

God bless the First Amendment.

It’s late in the evening, and Freddie is back at the hotel after a day of covert tailing and photography. She has her eye on the Pulitzer; there’s too much at stake to not take risks. Her entire life has been a series of potentially terrible decisions and, so far, that’s worked out very well.

Freddie plops down at the desk in front of her laptop and opens a blank document. Noise-blocking headphones in place, she presses play, and begins to transcribe the end of the conversation she listened to at breakfast.

 

W: Hannibal, don’t pick them out without me. You promised not to make any more major decisions without my input. This is the Bentley incident all over again.

H: It’s too late, Will. I’ve already procured the dogs.

W: Well, shit.

H: You wanted dogs. I fail to see the issue.

W: Yes, but I know you. They're probably named something ridiculous and unpronounceable. And you just had to wait until I left for my weekend alone to get them, you fucker.

H: There's no reason to be crude.

W: I bet they're all poodles.

H: They are not poodles. We have a herd of Welsh Corgis.

W: A herd.

H: Five.

W: Hannibal, please tell me that you didn't kill a breeder.

H: Fine. I won't.

W: Jesus Christ, Hannibal.

H: It wasn't my intention, but she had a very annoying laugh.

W: I should have never shown you Hot Fuzz .

H: The Neighborhood Watch Alliance had a certain charm to them.

W: So a herd. I'm coming home from my supposedly relaxing fishing trip to a pretentiously-named pack of fluff that will probably only listen to you.

H: If you practice your Spanish, then I'm certain they'll listen to both of us.

W: I don’t need to practice. I know enough to get by.

H: If by “get by” you mean “cause a fuss at the panadería”.

W: Ugh, fine. What did you name them?

H: Quién is the eldest, Qué is next, No sé is third--

W: Wait, wait, hang on a second. I thought you named them.

H: I did.

W: So then you know their names.

H: I do.

W: Okay, then what's the first dog's name?

H: No, that's the second's.

W: Then who is first?

H: Precisely.

W: Hannibal, just answer the damn question. The first dog.

H: Quién.

W: What?

H: I told you, that's the second's name.

W: Oh my God, can you please give me a straight answer?

H: I have.

W: But I don't know the first dog’s name.

H: No, Will, No sé is third.

W: What?

H: Second.

W: But who is the first?

H: Now you've got it.

W: No, I don't!

H: Perhaps I should just finish naming the dogs for you.

W: Sure. Go for it.

H: Cuál is fourth.

W: Hang on, there was some static on my end. Which are you talking about?

H: Yes.

W: Yes, what?

H: No, we're talking about the fourth dog.

W: That is who I was talking about, yeah.

H: But that was the name of the first.

W: What was?

H: Will, you're being very dense. I already told you what was the second.

W: But you named them, so why are you asking me?

H: Did you want to talk to her?

W: Who?

H: Who is a male.

W: I don't know!

H: Yes, the third dog.

W: You're going to wake up in a bathtub full of ice one day because I'll have cut out your kidney and eaten it out of spite.

H: Without me?

W: Without you.

H: But I got you dogs.

W: Prevaricators don't get kidney for lunch.

H: I haven't prevaricated.

W: Are you actually arguing in favor of eating your own kidney? What is your problem?

H: No, What is our problem.

W: I don't know.

H: Third.

W: What?

H: Second.

W: That's it. I'm calling Jack and turning us in.

H: Jack is already here.

W: Fuck, fuck, fuck. Get to the harbor, wait on the boat, and I’ll head back now. Jesus, Hannibal, I really feel like that’s something you should have told me first!

H: That would be ridiculous. Jack is fifth.

W: Jack is--did you name the last dog Jack? Are we talking about a dog named Jack?

H: It seemed appropriate.

W: Please warn me next time you want me to have a heart attack so I can prepare for it. At least you told me one of their names, I guess.

H: I told you all of them.

W: You know what? I’m going to hang up now. Catch some fish. Wade into the stream and all that bullshit.

H: As you wish. I love you, Will.

W: And I despise you, Hannibal. I hate every ostentatious atom that comprises you.

H: I would have it no other way.

 

Freddie keeps typing in a wild attempt to keep up with the domestic nonsense that apparently makes up the daily life of the Lecter-Grahams. Last week, for instance, there had been a conversation about menudo, also rife with hilarious misunderstanding. She honestly finds it impressive that they manage to communicate well enough to plan elaborate murders.

Just as she’s about to stop the playback, another call begins.

 

W: I figured it out. The names. They’re named after interrogatives. You’re awful.

H: It’s hardly my fault that you are unfamiliar with classic comedy.

W: Abbott and Costello? Really?

H: I thought it would amuse Miss Lounds.

W: And I thought you were going to debug the phone.

H: I see no reason to.

W: You and your goddamn curiosity are going to get us caught.

H: Someday, perhaps. I hardly think she’ll be the one to turn us in.

W: If she knows what’s good for her. Which she doesn’t. Ever.

H: It is very rude to listen in on private conversations. Isn’t it, Miss Lounds?

W: Actually, let’s get a sixth dog. Some old mutt. We can name it after her.

H: I concur. You can pick it out.

W: Nah. I’ll let her do it. Drop off a dog next Thursday, Freddie. Say around six o’clock?

H: We’ve been waiting to have you for dinner.

W: That’s the third time you’ve used that line since we got here.

H: As I said, Will, I enjoy the classics.

 

Freddie stops the recording. She stares at the laptop for a long time before finishing the transcription. After it’s done, Freddie opens a bottle of Moscato and proceeds to get very, very drunk.

Oh well, she thinks, drinking straight from the bottle. A Pulitzer is worth losing a leg for.