"And who is this?", Claude Frollo asked as he flipped through my high school year book, his
eyes falling upon the photo of the young, idealistic teacher.
"That's Mr. Segal, my U.S. History teacher; I really liked him." Claude studied the photo of the gentleman pointing to a map of the United States during a lecture. "Hmm . . . this is so fascinating, Danisha. You've seldom shown me all your memories of your youth."
Indeed, I hadn't shown Claude all of my childhood mementoes because I didn't have room for all my stuff. Now that I had a much larger house, "With all that room," as my mother put it, I was presently sifting through boxes and footlockers. And each container was filled to the brim with memories that spanned more than thirty years.
My mother had offered to help me sort through all that stuff when Claude showed up. Isn't this a surprise . . . Claude Frollo paying me a visit . . .
Long ago, several months ago to be exact, Claude promised he'd escort me to my high school
reunion which was coming up in August. I had a few misgivings about that -- A 15th Century
man in the company of 20th Century Americans -- but he assured me that he was looking forward
to "a pleasant evening with you and your schoolmates." Of course, I had to tell him all about that
famous American custom: The high school reunion.
"Every ten years or so, these people get together to reminisce the good old days --- and to see how much everyone has changed. Some have gotten bald; some have gained or lost weight; some have loads of kids . . . "
Upon hearing all this, Claude burst out laughing saying to me, "My love, when we walk into that
room, I can safely predict that all eyes will be on us. Perhaps, we may very well become the
center of attention."
I only smiled and replied, "Claude, I would've known you'd use this occasion to show off. Well, to tell the truth, I'm looking forward to introducing all my old classmates to my 'sugarbritches'."
"Danisha, do you still want this?" , Momma asked as she pulled a large poster of the Jackson
Five from the last box. My mother was busily sorting through all my stuff -- school awards, my
old music books, photographs, Girl Scout badges, craft items I made at camp -- while Claude
examined each and every piece. He had never before seen photos of me as a teenager and he fell
out laughing while studying one picture in particular.
"My dear Nisha, is this you?", he asked, handing over the photo. It was I all right standing in front of the Field Museum. That photo was taken back in the spring of 1977, during a class trip to Chicago. I had to laugh at the clothes and hairstyle this fresh-faced, 'gung-ho', sixteen-year-old sported: the colorful dashiki, the bell-bottom jeans with the patched knees, the huge plastic earrings, the chunky wooden clogs, and that big Angela Davis Afro.
"That was back in my 'Say It Loud' days. I thought I was superbad; I was too cool! I had that giant 'Fro, those jeans . . . "
With that, I fell out laughing and I do believe Claude shared in the humor when he asked, "My love, may I keep this? Now that I know more about your past . . . "
Then my mother got in on the act; she actually 'spilled the beans' and told Claude Frollo a few more things about my past that I had yet to reveal. I wish Momma hadn't done that . . . Now I'll never live this down . . . Claude will nail me with this time after time . . . He now knows I wasn't always the 'perfect' child.
"Claude, if you think Nisha looked wild and crazy in that getup," said Momma, nodding at that photo, "you should've seen her in junior high. Lord, but she was a handful! Why, I remember when the school called and told me that Danisha got suspended because she had the nerve to wear those hot pants . . . "
Claude's eyes registered marked curiosity; I could tell he was determined to find out every juicy
detail of my middle school years -- The 'horror years' as my parents call them. Come on, Momma,
don't tell him too much . . . Claude, please don't pry so . . .
But my silent pleas were ignored as Momma filled in Claude on my wild seventh grade days.
His eyebrows arched quizzically and his eyes sparkled with wonderment as he asked my mother, "Pardon my ignorance, dear Geraldine, but . . . er . . . 'hot pants'?"
All I could do was to blurt out, "All right, Claude, I'll fill you in. Hot pants were these short shorts that women wore back in the 1970s. You see, I wore a nice conservative dress to school but had the hot pants stashed in my gym bag. So, when I got to school -- voila! -- I slipped into the locker room and changed. Now how was I to know that I'd get sent home?"
My mother laughed then said to a very amused Claude Frollo, "Honey, when her father got wind
of Nisha's suspension . . . Good Lord, I don't want to think about it."
To that I could only reply, "Daddy had a way of getting his point across. Damn, I was grounded for a month! No phone, no TV, no parties . . . "
Of course, Claude, upon getting the 'lowdown' from my mother, sported a wide wicked grin as he
needled me. "So, sweet little Danisha Le Shawn, the 'good' daughter, who was actually a holy
terror in her youth, swiftly and severely punished for . . . "
Claude's deep hearty laughter filled the room; the walls and windows seemed to reverberate as he and Momma wouldn't stop laughing despite my embarrassed expression. But I knew it was all in fun because I got in a few digs of my own when Momma pulled out that Jackson Five poster. It was another part of my past that Claude Frollo had yet to learn.
"Claude, I want you to feast your eyes on this poster. Take a good look at these young boys, then I'll tell you how Nisha yet absolutely bonkers over the youngest. The cute little one is Michael; Nisha had this powerful crush on him ever since she was eight years old."
Claude Frollo's eyes never wavered from the image of those five handsome young Black boys from Gary as he addressed Momma. "Geraldine, are saying that our darling Danisha had an . . . er . . . 'thing' . . . for this young lad?" He fell back in his chair, still laughing uproariously while looking at me in wicked delight. OK, Claude . . . Now you know almost everything . . . But Momma got it all wrong, so let me clarify a few things.
"Momma, I never had a crush on Michael Jackson. Oh sure, I thought he was cute and all, and I still like his music, but I was never 'gaga' over him." I glanced over at Claude who was still laughing, still enjoying this little trek down memory lane courtesy of my mother.
"Claude," I said, "believe me; I wasn't 'in love' with Mike." Then my mouth stretched into a smile as wide and wicked as Claude's when I added, much to his marked amusement, "'Little Michael was never the object of my pre-adolescent affections -- It was Jermaine!"
Now that we're alone, I wonder if I can persuade Claude to a night on the town.
After all, it's Friday night, and we could use a little fun . . . Well . . . Looks like Claude's made his fun for tonight. Look at him! Going through all that old stuff, marveling at all my childhood mementoes. I wish Momma hadn't told him all that, but he would've found out anyway. He said he thoroughly enjoyed that little trek through time . . .
It was early that evening, around seven to be precise, and my mother had gone home so Claude and I could be alone. I watched Claude as he sprawled out on the family room floor, still examining each and every memento of my youth. He looked so handsome, so sexy, in his casual modern ensemble of tight black pants, a collarless black silk shirt, and tall boots. Because the weather here was so warm, he nixed wearing the sweeping black velvet cloak.
I was still watching him when he remarked on MY attire of funky bell-bottomed jeans, a light purple babydoll top and those ubiquitous Dr. Scholl wooden sandals that were so popular during the 1970s. Even my hair evoked some of that "back in the day" look -- NOT quite the militant Angela Davis look -- more of a wild "Chaka Khan-got-caught-in-a-light-socket" style. My hair was a mass of wild, glossy waves and curls; I loved the way it seemed to float about and lightly skim my shoulders. Of course, I had to explain to him that, "In the summer, I let my hair return to its natural state, that way I don't have to fool with it in hot weather . . . "
Claude pulled me down, caught me in his arms then kissed me and rocked until I was overcome
with laughter and desire.
"My love, I don't care how you wear your hair. On you this is so flattering . . . Oh my dear . . . " He kissed me again, then suggested that we, "Stay home tonight, dear Nisha. I know you wanted to show me all these . . . er . . . 'nightspots', but I'm rather be alone with you. Perhaps we can share a light meal, some friendly conversation, and watch one of those delightful 'movies' on your 'TV'. Yes, I can't think of a more delightful way to spend a Friday evening."
I'll say it again . . . When Claude Frollo kisses like that, talks like that, looks at me like that . . .
Sorting through my childhood memories, I agreed that a night on the town was out of the
question. I had all this stuff to put away!
"Sugarbritches, why don't I whip us up a nice supper then we can cuddle and talk all night. Hmm . . . ," I said as I rifled through twenty-year-old LPs. "Maybe I spin a few of these old tunes and I can show you how to do The Popcorn and The Around the World . . . "
Claude's eyebrows arched; his mind still trying to understand another facet of 20th Century
American culture. "Beg pardon, my dear. I know of popcorn, but . . . " I laughed then told him
these were dances that were popular when I was teenager. Kissing his sweet lips, I said to him,
"Maybe after supper, instead of teaching you some old dances, I could put on those hot pants and
do my Lola Falana impression . . . "
Claude's eyes grew wide with anticipation; his breathing became more pronounced as he moaned in expectant pleasure.
(Uh, do you want to know WHY? Daddy told Claude all about Ms. Falana and her sexy trademark performances "Yeah, Lola Falana's some woman! That gal could move! I'd never miss a performance that is whenever she was on TV." To which Momma replied, "Joe liked to look at Lola 'cause he liked the way she shook her booty!")
Now Claude Frollo drew dangerously close to me as he allowed his tongue to slither down my neck. He knew perfectly well that he was in for a highly entertaining evening. He swept me into his arms, kissed me deeply then said in a voice that sent chills up and down my spine.
"Uh, Danisha? How long before supper and, um, the after-dinner entertainment? I'm literally trembling in anticipation -- The thought of you, dressed in 'hot pants', cooing the sultriest of songs . . . Ooh!"
Yes, we shared a lovely supper of grilled salmon and spring veggies; I even made my famous
strawberry shortcake of which he praised most highly. Then I treated Claude to one of the hottest
performances this side of Vegas.
We had no idea that, while we indulged in our Friday night 'sillies', a little drama was unfolding on a lonely gravel road somewhere on the Far Southside . . .
Claude had planned to stay with me the entire weekend, but come Saturday afternoon, he had to make a hasty return to the 15th, taking me with him. We would receive a very strange message from one of our medieval acquaintences; then Jehan had the nerve to split for Italy right before Claude and I returned to medieval France. Seemed someone had showed up near Chateau d'Arcy, someone who shouldn't have been there if he had left well enough alone. But what did it matter; HE was already there and making his mark all over 15th Century Paris.
Then Fern showed up . . . And was she mad! Then the REAL adventure began . . . Come to think of it . . . It WAS rather funny!
"Oh God, where am I?" Daniel Ignatius McMullen gradually regained consciousness, his mind
still in a fog from when he passed. Did I hear that man correctly? Did I blast myself to France --
to 15th Century France! I wondered why Fern was gone for so long that summer, 'cause I called
Dwayne and all he said was that "Fern's gone to Paris to see an old friend." He never let on . . .
maybe that was why Fern didn't want me to touch her car . . . Ooh, I don't feel so hot.
Hey! Where am I now? And who's that with that John, Sean, Jean, whatever his name is . . . Big blond dude . . . Looks like one of those big dumb jocks . . . Hmm . . . He looks more like an overgrown hick, a really big dumb grease monkey . . . Reminds me of a blond Jethro, a pumped-up Gomer or Goober . . .
Iggy McMullen sat up on the feather bed in the cramped cottage. And it was small, cramped. The little house was sparsely furnished with a bed, table, two chairs, and a few books scattered about the room. The large rustic fireplace still contained a few glowing coals. The pots that suspended from the rack still contained the remains of supper. Iggy groaned as the two men approached him.
"Daniel Ignatius McMullen -- "Iggy" -- I'd like to introduce you to Phoebus de Chateaupers, the caretaker of this estate. He's been kind enough to let you stay here until your sister arrives. I've already contacted her and informed her of your arrival."
Iggy sat up and accepted a cup of soup from the big man. He spoke, "M. McMullen -- isn't that Gaelic or something? Anyway, you probably haven't eaten so here's a little soup. I know it isn't much but it's the best I can do. Once we get to Paris . . . "
Iggy had to interrupt. "D-Did you say Paris? I thought I was going home . . . " Iggy felt himself
starting to swoon again, but he resisted as Jehan Frollo told him all about Fern and her time
travels. After hearing all about Fern and time travel and spy rings and Nisha and . . .
This is a joke! It has to be! Damn, what if it's for real? Oh man, what am I gonna do now?
At last, Phoebus said to Iggy, "You might as well make yourself at home. The owners of this estate are presently gone to Genoa for the summer; I have business in Paris so why don't you come along? We should get you some more presentable clothes; then, once we're in Paris, there's a certain bellringer I'd like you to meet."
Iggy, finally believing all that Jehan and Phoebus told him of the time travel and Fern, asked Jehan Frollo, "But what about you? I thought you were going to introduce me to your brother."
To this Jehan replied, "Oh my dear Iggy, I'd love to stay and enjoy your company but I must be on my way. You see, there's a lovely lady named Simone who's been kind enough to invite me to her villa and . . . " Jehan droned on and on about some wealthy widow and how he truly hated leaving Iggy, but he had no choice.
While Iggy enjoyed his supper of soup and bread, Phoebus took Jehan aside and said, "Why can't
you take him into town and dump him on the Palais steps? I mean, his sister and Minister Frollo
are friends; surely HE wouldn't mind . . . "
Jehan tried to hide a thin smile but was unsuccessful as he replied to the ex-soldier, "My dear Phoebus, I simply can't dump him on . . . Not that the thought hadn't crossed my mind, but . . . You simply must keep him entertained until his sister arrives. Do you understand?"
Phoebus nodded, glanced over at Iggy, then said, "I supposed you want me to keep him as far away from His Grace as possible."
To this Jehan's smile broadened and his eyes gleamed wickedly when he replied to Phoebus, "No Phoebus, I think Claude will find M. McMullen quite delightful." He then reached into his pocket and pulled out his pager, that wondrous communicator invented by the brilliant Antoine Terrell and his charming wife, Jacqueline.
"Here, Phoebus, I already sent a message to Mme. Fern as I won't have much use for this thing once I'm in Florence. Now, do you remember how to operate this device?" The ex-Captain nodded.
"Good!", said Jehan, "let's see if you can send a message to Danisha."
Phoebus, following Jehan's precise instructions, began pressing buttons and coded a short message to the Minister of Justice's 14th lady.
"Now that can't be Fern -- she and Dwayne are in Greenfield. Can't be Jacki or Tony 'cause they're in Mississippi for a family reunion." I flipped open the pager and began to read what scrolled across the screen. I sat up, reread the message; my face was skewed in puzzlement and Claude quickly picked up on this.
"My dear Nisha, whatever's wrong. Is it Jehan? What has happened?"
I could only hand my pager to Claude, saying, "Here, read this yourself, 'cause you aren't gonna believe who sent it!"
This is the first time I actually sent a message to you. This is so wonderful! Anyway, just to inform you that Fern's brother is here. Jehan would've stayed but he has to leave for Florence in the morning. Pass that message onto Minister Frollo, would you? Oh yes, I'm taking "Iggy" to Paris with me. Bye.
After reading this message, Claude's expression was, well, it's so hard to describe. All he could say was, "There goes another pleasant weekend . . . Oh! Just wait until I get my hands on that brother of mine! Can you imagine?! Jehan, saddling Phoebus with Fern's wayward brother! Of ALL people! Phoebus!"
He then kissed me, held me close, and said, "My lovely Danisha, we are returning to Paris first
thing tomorrow morning. If what Fern said about her brother is true . . . I simply can't afford any
unexpected complications! It could mean my head!"
To Part 3!
©Copyright FrolloFreak FSM #14, 1998.