Boy, I'd thought I'd never make it! This old thing's 'bout ready to give out on me, but what did you expect when you drive all the way from Montana?
Man, that was a blast - living up in the mountains, fresh air, clear water. But I was low on bread, and I got that call from ol' crazy Roosevelt."We're gettin' the band back together! Gonna play for some high school reunion."
It'll be great bein' back with the guys--and our old band--but we need instruments and amps and . . . Hornets Nest will jam again!
Maybe I can hit up ol' Fern for some cash . . . She won all that money so what's partin' with a
few hundred . . .
Iggy McMullen, with a battered duffel bag slung over his shoulder, strode up to the front door and rang the bell. He was a little guy - barely 5'6" - with a pale, round face, blue eyes, and spiky blonde hair that greyed at the temples. He wore 1960s style Ben Franklin-style shades, tattered, patched-up Levis, Birkenstock sandals, and an old tie-dyed T-shirt that had seen better days.
An old Doobie Brothers song played in his head as he waited for Fern to answer the door. In a way, he had hoped that Fern wouldn't refuse such a simple request; after all, he thought, he's family.
That "simple request" would fall upon deaf ears, and once again, Iggy would be swept up in the
biggest adventure of his life--courtesy of his own sister's negligence.
"Iggy!", greeted Fern as she opened the door; she was delighted to see her baby brother again. "And after all these years, you finally decide to pay your big sis a visit. What's the matter? Got tired of clear mountain streams and the Big Sky?" She hugged Iggy so tightly that Iggy gasped and wheezed, "Damn, Fern! I know you're glad to see me, but you're squeezing me--just like you always do!"
Fern laughed and invited Iggy inside for iced tea and conversation. She was pleased, actually ecstatic, over seeing her brother again, but the pleasantness of this reunion soon would be marred once Iggy voiced his real reasons for this particular visit.
"So Iggy, what've you been doin' since--God, how long has it been? Five years? How come you
finally decided to come out of that mountain commune and drive all this way?"
Fern refilled Iggy's glass while she studied her brother. For a man forty-five summers, Iggy appeared surprisingly young and vibrant. His face--that chubby freckled face--was still the very picture of that mischievous little boy she adored; his eyes still twinkled with that playful, 'I-don't-care' attitude.
Although Fern loved her brother, Iggy constantly gave his folks fits. He wasn't a problem child; indeed, Iggy was an honor student, a gifted artist and musician. He played guitar and keyboards expertly, well enough to have his own band: Hornets Nest--named in honor of his alma mater, Thomas Carr Howe High. Iggy was always a bright, happy, funny young man who'd always brought a smile to his family and friends. As a child growing up in the 1960s, however, things began to change for Iggy.
Iggy began to imbibe the rhetoric of 60's counterculture; he voraciously read everything on the New Left he could get his hands on. Iggy even took part in protests and sit-ins -- all those things that gradually drove his parents crazy. Of course, Fern partially blamed herself, who was very much into 60's pop culture. But whereas Fern was more the Mama Cass type, Iggy saw himself as a Midwestern version of Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, with a little Jerry Garcia thrown in.
But Iggy was likeable. His parents didn't' take too kindly to their son's radical views, but they
loved him anyway, even after he split for San Francisco in 1967 to experience the Summer of
Love. He even accompanied Fern to Woodstock in '69, then returned to California where he
became so involved with counterculture ideology that; by the time he decided to return home,
Iggy had become a young man without direction, without ambition.
All he wanted to do between gigs was play records, sleep, watch TV and eat, and generally goof off. He became careless in his responsibilities; he repeatedly sponged off his parents, then Fern, who finally had to kick her brother out after she married Dwayne Grigsby. No way was her brother going to be underfoot all the time--She had a new husband, and she was expecting a baby. Besides, Dwayne would've thrown him out anyway.
So, Iggy drifted from job to job; he was almost always broke, but he still had his band which was one of the best in the tri-state area. The band gave stellar performances at nightclubs, fairs, art festivals, and coffee houses. The last time Hornets Nest played, it was back in 1976; that's when Roosevelt Sebree, the band's drummer, decided he'd had enough fun and games. It was time to settle down, grow, and get on with life.
But now, after all these years, Roosevelt decides to reunite the band and, once again, recapture some of that magic that was so unique "back in the day." All Iggy remembered what Roosevelt said was, "Bring your own equipment--Money's tight, and this gig's just for fun, so bring that old Fender and we'll be jammin' just as we did in the good old days."
All Iggy had to do was to ask his sister for a small loan; that's all. Surely she wouldn't refuse him, but when the question was posed, Iggy got an earful.
When Fern heard this request, she would've gladly lent Iggy a few hundred, but she knew this
man, and his freeloading habits. In a way, Iggy reminded her of someone else: a certain young
man in 15th Century Paris, someone who has the annoying habit of sponging off his older sibling.
Now I know how His Grace feels . . . Jehan does this all the time . . . Jehan and Iggy is like two peas in a pod--Sponges. I'll give the fool a good dose of . . . I know Claude gives Jehan hell all the time, and each and every lecture goes in one ear and out the other . . .
"No, Iggy! How many times have I told you that you can't have your way all the time? I know I promised to share the wealth, but what starts as a couple of a hundred will turn into a couple of a thousand. For goodness sake, Iggy, use your head! Dwayne and I have put the bulk of our winnings in trusts, mutual funds, and CDs. We've set aside money for Kyle--your nephew, remember--He's a newlywed, and he has bills and responsibilities. Then I got a couple of former students, and a few dear friends, to think of. No, Iggy, I cannot lend you the money if I wanted to. You simply have to do this on your own--Stand up for yourself and take charge of your life. You're not eighteen anymore."
Iggy couldn't believe his ears! Am I hearing her right? Did she say no? What am I gonna do now? I have to get my hands on some money and fast. Hmm . . . Maybe I can crash here for the weekend; surely she won't refuse THAT!
"Come on, Fern. You can't do that! What am I gonna do for cash?" He glared at his sister, saying, "So you finally joined 'em. You and Dwayne, with all your 'We're-gonna-save-the-world' talk, finally joined the Millionaires' Club. You wouldn't even lend your own brother a couple C-notes to buy a guitar . . . " Iggy took out his handkerchief and dabbed his eyes in mock sorrow. But what Fern said made sense--He was quickly approaching middle age and, for once, he had to take charge of his life. But for now, he needed a place to stay and Fern agreed to let him crash for the weekend. The only problem was that Fern and Dwayne would be out of town for the weekend; they were to drive over to Greenfield to visit her in-laws. Fern knew if she was to leave Iggy home alone, she had to put limits on her wayward brother.
"There will be a few ground rules: Pick up after yourself; no loud music or parties, and don't eat
us out of everything. Understand?"
Fern glanced at her brother then at the locked bureau draw. If I know him, he'll have that Chevy out and . . . Nah, don't tell him . . .
Fern just sighed, finally saying, "Just stay out of trouble, and make sure we have a house when we return."
"Damn, what a way to spend a weekend!" Iggy McMullen stared blankly at the TV screen while
he repeatedly flipped from one channel to another. A half-eaten pizza lay beside him, a half
dozen empty beer cans littered the floor, and the ashtray overflowed with spent Marlboros. Bored
stiff, Iggy went out on the deck and lit another cigarette. Puffing away, Iggy studied the suburban
subdivision that Fern and Dwayne called 'home'; he couldn't hide his disgust with this slice of
Suburban heaven at its worst . . . another enclave for the status seeking, money-grubbing, have-lots . . . Why couldn't it've been me? I needed the bread worse than Fern . . . Man, if only I could . . . but Fern was right; I need to take hold, get myself together . . . But . . .
Iggy took another long drag, then decided to take a little ride around town, just to get his head together and, perhaps, find something to do. After all, he thought, this town's sure changed a lot since the last time I was here. There has to be something goin' on . . .
Iggy stamped out his cigarette, took one more look at the fine, upscale homes that made up the
quiet cul-de-sac, then sighed as he made his way toward the garage. Something made him peep
through the garage's windows, for he knew that his sister had another car. Dwayne and Fern has
driven their new Lexus to Greenfield, leaving the "other" vehicle at home.
Iggy peered through the glass, then gasped when his eyes fell on that jet black, 1959 Chevy Impala. He always liked cars, and this particular model was his favorite.
Look at this bad machine! All polished and restored . . . Look at those tail fins, that paint job . . . Damn, Fern, you had to leave this fine vehicle . . . Where'd you hide the keys?
Then something snapped! Iggy remembered Fern glancing at a locked bureau drawer while she
was laying down the law to him. Maybe, he thought, that's where she keeps the keys. I mean, she
was gettin' all nervous and everything, like she didn't want me to know about this . . .
Come on, Iggy! Pick that lock and get those keys! It's just for the evening . . . Fern will never know it's gone . . . Just put a few bucks' worth of gas in it, then roll back the odometer . . . She'll never know . . .
Without much effort, Iggy managed to open the drawer that contained an extra set of keys not
only to the garage but to the '59 Chevy. Iggy, his curiosity running wild, rifled through drawers
and papers, hoping to find a few dollars Fern may have hidden away.
But all Iggy found were a few old photographs and an envelope that contained what Iggy thought was cash. Inside the envelope was just that: a few bills Fern had stashed away as 'mad money', and a note from a man named Claude. Iggy read the brief note:
My Dear Fern:
I want to thank you for your help during the past years. I also
want to properly thank you for introducing me to that charming
These 'photographs' were especially enjoyable; it was a Christmas to remember.
Claude Frollo? Who in the hell is Claude Frollo?
He then studied the photos of Fern, Kyle, Dwayne, and a few other folks Iggy had yet to meet. He immediately recognized the pretty Black girl standing next to Fern; he had met her several years ago when she taught school in the same building as his sister. A nice girl . . . What's her name? Tisha, Lisa . . . Nisha! That's it!
Then his eyes scrutinized another picture of Fern, Nisha, and a gentleman whom Iggy thought appeared rather stern, despite his pleasant smile. Man, I bet this is one uptight dude. What are two hip chicks like Fern and Nisha doin' with someone like this? Maybe that's this Frollo guy . . .
Iggy carefully studied the photo and this man: A tall, slender, elegant, gentleman who appeared
to be in his fifties -- a man with carefully groomed gray hair, sharp angular features, and a wide
toothpaste smile. He was dressed in what looked like a casual medieval-styled outfit of a fine
black velvet tunic, black hose and boots, and large gemstone rings adorned beautifully formed
hands. And there, on each side of this man, stood Nisha and Fern, each dressed in the stylish
clothing of the 1990s.
Iggy was puzzled. This had to be a costume party or something . . . But this dude looks like he's having a good time . . . Everyone's smiling . . . Where was this taken? When?
He flipped the photo to the back then gasped when he read, "Me, Danisha, and Claude: Palace of Justice, Christmas 1485"
Iggy almost fell out of the chair. "Did she really write down 1485?! Fern must've been smokin'
somethin' other than her Marlboros! This has to be some kind of joke!" Poor Iggy was so
bewildered that he almost forgot about his little joyride. He hastily returned the photos to their
hiding place then picked up the car key and headed for the garage. Iggy surveyed the mess he had
made in the family room: the pizza, the beer cans, the ashtrays full of cigarette butts.
I'll clean this up later . . . Right now, I wanna tool around town in Fern's cool car . . .
Even the inside is a blast! Iggy settled in smooth leather seats as he studied the interior of the '59
Chevy: It was red with black trim; everything was completely restored. Even the radio worked!
Oh man! , thought Iggy, ain't this somethin', and it's all mine, at least for tonight.
After switching on the ignition, Iggy tuned the radio to an oldie's station--He was glad Fern installed a FM radio--then cautiously backed out of the garage, hoping that the neighbors wouldn't spot him. After all, he thought, they've probably seen Fern drive this car more than a hundred times. I hope no one decides to get nosy.
But Iggy's fears were soon abated when, in a matter of minutes, he finally found himself speeding along I-465. He had no particular destination in mind; he really didn't pay too much attention to his surroundings. All he knew was that he was free! Free like the wind . . .
The Chevy handled superbly; Iggy could sense all eyes on him and this magnificent automobile. Once again, Iggy felt like a kid out of school, free from worries, from responsibilities, from everyday stress. He cruised the old Eastside neighborhood where he and Fern grew up, even looked up some his old hangouts. But his heart nearly broke when he drove past the old high school.
"They closed it!", exclaimed Iggy when he saw the now-abandoned building, the grounds now
overgrown with weeds. "This was my old school, and Fern's old school. Our Daddy went here!
How could they do this?!"
As he walked about the grounds, Iggy felt a tear trickle down his cheek while his mind flooded with memories of the glory days. Those were special days filled with laughs, tears, and music--Yes, music. He remembered his days in Howe's band, and the Boys' Glee Club. Iggy remembered his own band, Hornets Nest, named in honor of the team. Then he recalled how his political and social views were challenged by that new kid who sat behind him in Mr. Fundenburke's American Government class. It was that kid that got Iggy to read all that Port Huron and Students for a Democratic Society stuff. Of course, Iggy had always had an open mind; he never realized it would take over his life so completely. He enjoyed a fantastic, carefree youth; but, he thought, as he walked back to the car, he was no longer a kid. Middle age was catching up quickly and Iggy knew he had to get his act together.
Might as well go back to the house; there's nothing for me here. I might as well start lookin' for
a job -- I need the money to buy that equipment. Then get the old bus fixed and, after this gig,
head back to Montana...maybe I'll buy that old ranch...
But Iggy thought that, what the heck, drive around some more and enjoy that car while he could. After all, it was getting late; it would be dark soon, and Iggy felt he needed a few moments of fun.
However, in a matter of minutes, things would change for Daniel Ignatius McMullen--things that would change Iggy's life forever. It started with a spilled Coke...
"Damn, I knew that would happen!" Iggy parked the car alongside the road then began mopping
up spilled Coca-Cola from the seats and floormats. For some strange reason, Iggy decided to
drive down to the far-Southside in hopes of finding an old country road so he could open up the
Chevy at top speed. He stopped at a White Castle hamburger joint on the way--that was one part
of home that he had missed and was thankful that hadn't changed--then got lost when he tried to
find that old dirt road that he and his buddies used for racing. It was gone, along with much of
the familiar sites he loved as a young man. Then the Coke spilled when Iggy fumbled for another
Good grief, now what am I gonna do? I got Fern's car all sticky with Coke. . .Maybe I can get his cleaned before Fern and Dwayne get back from Greenfield...Damn, Fern will have my hide for sure. . . What the. . . What's this button down here?
Sure enough, while finishing the cleanup, Iggy espied a curious little red button under the dash.
He thought nothing of it at the time, but his curious nature got the best of him. In a flash, Iggy
snapped his fingers then laughed out loud.
"No wonder Fern didn't want me to touch her car! This thing's got a nitrous oxide tank installed, 'cause that's what this here button's for! Man, do I remember ol' Earl and that beat-up Fairlane with the tank of--Man, could that car fly!"
Rubbing his hands in anticipation, Iggy restarted the motor, then drove around until he found a
stretch of graveled road that seemed to lead to nowhere. Maybe I can open this baby up...Hope
there ain't no cops around...Still daylight for another couple hours. . .And I sure can't afford no
ticket. . .
Iggy maneuvered the car into position; then, his foot pressing down on the accelerator, Iggy allowed the Chevy to increase in speed. Fifty...Sixty...Seventy...Eighty...Wait till it hits ninety...that's what Earl said, or else the stuff won't work...
When the Chevy reached top speed, Iggy reached under the dash and depressed that red button. In a flash, he was engulfed by a bright white light...
Man, that was a blast! I could swear I was in orbit! Whoa...But where am I? This doesn't look like the Southside...This doesn't even look like...What did I do? Blast myself out of the county?
A very confused Iggy drove along a bumpy dirt road; he recognized nothing remotely familiar. He consulted his map and his compass, but they were, at this moment, totally useless. He started feeling quite apprehensive--about how his sister would react and what she would say to him once she discovered the car, and her brother, missing. All he knew was that he had to find his way home, and fast!
Iggy desperately tried to find a road sign, a mileage marker, a billboard--anything--that would point him in the right direction. All he found was a stone pillar inscribed with these words: "Chateau d'Arcy". Below the inscription was an arrow pointing in this place's direction.
"What's 'Chateau d'Arcy'? And where am I for real?"
At that moment, a young man, who appeared to be in his middle thirties, approached Iggy from behind. He was dressed in what Iggy could tell were the clothes of the Late Middle Ages. Just like that dude in Fern's picture...This dude even looks like him, but that guy was older, more uptight-lookin'...This dude's more like...ME!
Indeed, the man looked very much like the older gentleman in that photo, but this was a much younger man, and his entire demeanor bespoke of fun-and-games, something Iggy, being a funloving guy himself, spotted right away. The man began to address Iggy in a friendly manner.
"I saw the blaze of light, then your vehicle, when you drove past. But I thought Madame Fern
always operated this machine? No matter, you're here and at last I get to meet the brother."
Iggy, his face the very picture of puzzlement and bewilderment, stood motionless and said absolutely nothing as this man extended his hand and introduced himself.
"My name is Jehan Frollo, and your must be Daniel McMullen--Fern said that your friends call
you 'Iggy'." Jehan laughed when he realized the nickname sounded so amusing. Iggy finally
spoke up, his voice trembled with apprehension.
"My middle name is 'Ignatius'; that's why folks call me 'Iggy'. I did it to myself 'cause I couldn't pronounce 'Ignatius' when I was a kid. I guess the name stuck."
Iggy smiled then asked Jehan, "Where am I? I mean, how do I get back on the interstate?"
Upon hearing the word 'interstate', Jehan Frollo raised an eyebrow, then laughed when he
remembered that Iggy had never been on one of these time trips. He had to clarify it once and for
all, but he wanted to break the news to Iggy as gently as possible.
After all, Madame Fern may have never told him of the time travel...My goodness, Claude will be pleased to meet her brother, although he may have something to say about the clothes...What process produces that? It has to be the strangest clash of colors and patterns...Even the Gypsies' clothes are no where near this...
At last, Jehan Frollo said, "My dear M. McMullen--may I call you 'Iggy'? You are in France, near Paris to be precise."
Iggy's eyes widened and his feet nearly gave way from under him. He gulped hard and said, "D-D-D-Did you say 'France'? You mean I blowed myself all the way to France? This is a joke, ain't it? Maybe I'm dreamin' or somethin'."
Jehan Frollo laughed again and said, "Oh no, Iggy, you really are in France, but. . ." Jehan took Iggy by the hand, then said, "Iggy, your sister is a time-traveler. She's a frequent visitor to my time; she and my brother are good friends. Iggy, you have transported yourself to 15th Century France."
Iggy fainted dead away.
In the cool shade of the old barn, Jehan Frollo sponged Iggy's hot forehead with cold water,
hoping that the poor man would come to.
I knew this would happen! Why couldn't I gently tell him that he had traveled over 500 years...I wonder if Madame Fern knows he's here...But...To be safe...I know Claude's there, with Nisha, but I don't want to disturb him...I'll contact Madame Fern myself.
With Iggy still unconscious, Jehan took out his pager and began to code a message:
Dear Mme. Fern:
Your brother 'Iggy' is here, in our time; he arrived in that wonderful black machine--the 'Chevy' Do not worry, the vehicle is safely hidden away in the old barn where no one can find it. I do believe, dear Fern, that your brother hasn't the slightest idea where he is, or of your time travels. Would you pass that message onto my brother when you see him. I know he's with Danisha, and he became quite angry with me when I disturbed his last visit with something else of equal pettiness.
TO BE CONTINUED
Go to Part Two of Didn't Blow Your Mind, Claude Frollo?
©Copyright, FrolloFreak FSM #14, 1998.