Shadow Unit

Case Files

Teasers & Deleted Scenes

Ashton, Virginia, August 2006

Clemson McCain is no Hannibal Lecter.

Reyes saw The Silence of the Lambs in a theater in...he forgets where, exactly, somewhere out in the Southwest, playing hookey from an interminable professional conference. What he'd found most disturbing about it was the way that everyone involved, from the scriptwriter to the cameraman, seemed to be slightly in love with Hannibal Lecter, and he had even amused himself that night by trying to decide, if Lecter were a gamma, what his manifestation would be. Persuasiveness, Reyes had thought and added that to his mental list of anomaloid presentations that he wanted to be particularly wary of. If he could think of it, so could the anomaly.

Lecter, of course, had the great advantage of being played by Anthony Hopkins, whereas most serial killers, anomalous and otherwise, whom Reyes has profiled and interviewed, chased and caught and killed, are doing well to aspire to Billy Bob Thornton. Clemson McCain looks like an extra out of Deliverance or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (two more movies that Reyes' junior agents would never believe he's seen, much less enjoyed), but that's as misleading as giving a run-of-the-mill serial killer Anthony Hopkins' voice and presence.

Clemson McCain is not a stupid man.

He's been in Idlewood for nearly forty years, far longer than there has been any kind of a theory about what he is or how to deal with him. Reyes has read, and reread, and reread, the case files; he knows just how much pure dumb luck was involved in McCain's capture. Who is the patron saint of FBI agents? he'd written in the margin of his photocopy. Under it, Todd had answered, St. Gildas, guardian angel of idiots. Agents Demmer and Stone had brought McCain in almost despite themselves; at least they'd known enough to insist that a federal prison wouldn't do, a mental hospital wouldn't do. Stone in particular had put his job on the line to get McCain into a cage that would hold him.

And there he had sat, Clemson McCain. No maroon eyes, no six-fingered hands, no mesmerizing voice. Just a big, lumpish guy with a moon face and bad teeth and the broad callused hands of a working man. His eyes are little, set well back in his head, gray and glinting. It's a trite cliché, Todd had pointed out, irritated at the failure of life not to imitate art, to call them the eyes of a pig, and Reyes had said, Yes, Sol, but remember. Pigs are smart.

Reyes knows that Clemson McCain is biding his time. He asked him once what he was waiting for, and McCain thought about it and finally said, I don't know, Stephen. And then he smiled, behind the inch of Plexiglass that always and forever stood between Clemson McCain and the world, and added, But I'll know it when it comes.