Yes, Claude did have a few choice words for me once we returned to my Paris home, and I gave
it back to him lick for lick. How, as I reasoned with him, was I to know that Iggy had taken
Jehan's -- make that JEHAN'S -- pager from Phoebus, only to use it to return to medieval France.
After a long, drawn-out argument, Claude finally realized that all I wanted was to keep Iggy out of trouble. I also didn't mean for all of this to backfire on Quasimodo and Phoebus. Every charge of deceit and secrecy that erupted from Claude Frollo's lips was quickly answered with angry words of my own. Claude knew that he could push me so far.
Yeah . . . He found out that this 'sistah' doesn't relish being pushed around . . .
He softened his tone, put his arm around my shoulder, and said, "My dear, you should've come to
me and informed me of Daniel's arrival. I appreciate your concern for Quasimodo, but dearest,
Fern doesn't know that her brother has returned. The poor woman's probably beside herself with worry!"
It took about an hour of intense, well-chosen words, along with a healthy slice of my blueberry pie and a cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, to finally convince Claude Frollo that I wasn't totally to blame for tonight's 'throw down' in Victor's tavern.
"After all, Danisha, his business nearly tripled within a matter of hours, and all because of Daniel."
Claude, chasing a stray blueberry around his plate, looked at me with the sultriest eyes, and said, "To tell the truth, I was quite taken with his performance. I understand Daniel had a promising music career."
I nodded, "That, and he almost made a breakthrough when he was in college."
"A breakthrough?", asked Claude who by now wanted to learn more about Iggy McMullen.
I replied between bites, "I supposed Fern told you all this, but Iggy was a genius. He was skipped three grade levels and graduated high school before he turned sixteen. Then he got a full scholarship to UC Berkeley."
Claude acknowledged all this but asked, "But this breakthrough. Fern never told me about that."
All I could recall was, "Iggy was working on his master's in archaeology, Western Civilization,
anthropology -- I forget the area, but I know it had to do with ancient Europe and Asia Minor. He
supposedly found something that would've blown the lid off the academic world. But . . . "
Claude sighed, "But the school, through some disgusting, underhanded political move, expelled him. It's a mystery we may never uncover."
All I could say was, "Yes."
Claude arose from his chair, removed his hat, then said to me in a voice that made me quiver with amorous delight, "Danisha, I hate to change the subject, but . . . That line from the song . . . Er . . . 'Shake it?'"
It didn't take me long to figure this out. "Oh, you were spyin' on me when I was singin', 'shake it, shake it, baby!'"
And with that, Claude Frollo showed me that he could really . . . ahem . . . Shake It, Baby! Even
Tom Jones couldn't match this hot performance!
Ooh Claude! My sexy man! You sure can move! Those painted-on jeans . . . Bumpin' and grindin' . . . Uh, sugarbritches?
I grinned broadly at the thought of peeling skintight denim off his heavenly body. So, still
smiling, I asked "Does mean I'm forgiven?"
He answered with a devastatingly sexy smile, a deep, wild growl, a slow and sensual swivel of the hips. His eyes met mine; they glowed with that delectable mixture of passion and playfulness which I adored. Hmm . . . He's 'in the mood' again.
I replied with a come-hither look of my own, then indulged Claude in a mad chase up the stairs.
"I guess that means you forgive me!"
It was late Sunday afternoon when I arrived at the Palais. Claude had something he wanted to
show me, and there were a few things he wanted to discuss.
My Sundays in medieval Paris were often spent as such: morning Mass at Notre Dame, visit with Quasimodo, pay visits to several of my Parisian friends, then head to the Palais and spend Sunday afternoon with Claude. But for this particular Sunday, I had to make a hasty trip to my time; it was a special shopping trip.
You see; I had gone out to the d'Arcy estate, to Phoebus' cottage just to check on Iggy. I was so relieved that Iggy bore no hard feelings toward the man I loved, and he gave me that shopping list because he wanted to make something special for Phoebus.
"Since I'm stuck out here, I might as well do something to keep myself occupied. Do you mind taking a little time trip and pick up a few things?"
And that's what I told a tired, but amused Claude Frollo when I arrived at the Palais later that afternoon. "Honey," I said as I kissed his weary forehead, "those two will be the least of your problems. They now have a battery-powered boom box, tapes, baking supplies . . . "
Claude interrupted. "Pardon, Danisha, but baking . . . ?"
"Didn't Fern tell you that Iggy's a whiz in the kitchen? Yeah, he can get down with home baking. I remember, long ago, when he made all these cakes and pies for a faculty Christmas party." Dear Claude thinly smiled as he leaned back in his chair, his eyes partially closed. I noticed this then asked, "Baby, didn't you get any rest today?" I grinned, adding, "I guess I shouldn't have kept you up so late . . . "
At that, Claude broke down in hysterical laughter that barely filled the cavernous drawing room. It was then that Claude had asked me more about Iggy, and then voiced his own assessments of the man.
"My love, please understand that I never considered Daniel . . . well . . . Let us say that I find the man thoroughly intriguing." Claude went on to explain that he noticed a spark in Iggy, "A fire so intense . . . Danisha, I have a feeling that something happened to Daniel, something that caused this downward slide into . . . That's it!"
Claude got up, paced the room a few times, then said, "That can only be it!"
"Is what, Claude?"
"The expulsion! There's more to that story that what Fern, and you, may already know. There's something that goes much deeper . . . Why would a young man throw away such a bright future? Especially since you've informed me of this potential 'breakthrough'."
Claude swept over to me, took me into his arms and kissed me with fiery passion, and gratitude. He then said, before settling back in his chair, "Darling Nisha, you look stunning! I like the hat." Claude of course referred to my summer Sunday attire of a long lavender eyelet dress, matching pumps, purse, and a broad brimmed, beribboned picture hat.
I gushed my thanks, then complimented his attire of black tights, a black velvet doublet, and those adorable shoes.
He laughed, leaned back, then cooed in a slow, sultry voice, "Nisha, my sweet-as-honey lady.
May I persuade you to . . . er . . . 'tickle the ivories'?"
My smile was a broad as his as I lifted the lid of the black Steinway grand and began to play a selection of old George Gershwin standards.
It's very clear
Our love is here to stay
Not for a year
But each and every day
OK, so I had to scoot over to make room for my one-man audience. And I didn't mind him
singing along nor the numerous kisses he planted on my cheek.
Claude then voiced his concerns that Phoebus may decide to bring Iggy back to Paris. But I told him, while I continued to play, "Sugarbritches, those two have plenty to keep them occupied -- As long as the batteries and food hold out!"
"Hey, man, did I do this right?"
Iggy McMullen buried the iron Dutch Oven in the hot coals just like Danisha showed him. The ex-soldier, busily figuring out that marvelous machine -- the 'boom box', replied, "Yeah, you got it right. Say, what is that? Smells heavenly!"
Iggy smiled while he sorted through the many cassette tapes, ultimately selecting a classic Jimi Hendrix work. Yeah, Purple Haze . . . That oughta put us in the mood . . .
"Oh. It's just my special recipe brownies. I had Nisha go get the chocolate 'cause I discovered you guys didn't have such things!" Iggy grinned, adding, "Besides, I had to use my last ounce of my . . . er . . . 'secret ingredient'. Man, am I glad I brought THAT along, or else Fern would've . . . Hey! I don't wanna burn 'em!"
When Iggy removed the pot from the coals and removed the lid, Phoebus' senses were inundated with the sweet, exotic aroma of chocolate. "Mm . . . that smells good! I don't think I've ever tasted 'chocolate'. It looks good, too."
"Yeah," said the aging hippie, "and wait till you taste 'em. Oh, if you start feelin'' funny, that's the 'secret ingredient'."
But Phoebus paid Iggy no mind as he helped himself to warm, fudgy, chocolate-laden brownies. Come Sunday evening, then into Monday morning, the former war hero would undergo the strangest personality changes.
And let's just say that a certain someone will not appreciate Iggy's 'secret ingredient' nor its effects on the former Captain Phoebus.
"Danisha, I believe it's time I showed you something."
Claude and I were presently in his study. He had some work to catch up on and he was grateful I stayed to keep him company. We conversed on a number of subjects, but when I mentioned Theodora's box, Claude became strangely silent. And that's when he decided to confess his latest plan to trap a thief. Claude indicated that cherry wood plant stand, the very item I bought --- IN THE 20TH CENTURY, MIND YOU! --- as a surprise gift.
You see; Claude had seen this thing long ago in a Broad Ripple antique shop. At once he fell in love with the stand's ornate design, the richly polished wood, and the fact that it had this unusual feature . . .
"My love, watch very carefully", he said, as he flipped a curious little lever. Imagine my surprise when a secret drawer on the rear of the stand popped open, revealing an iron key. "Claude Frollo!", I whispered, keeping my voice under control, "So this is your hiding place? How ingenious!"
He smiled, replying, "Yes, and I want to thank you for this charming treasure. Nisha, your presence in my life has made so many things possible . . . Damn!"
Claude's expression changed quickly; I noticed this right away and asked what was wrong. "This key! I positioned it in such a way that I could . . . Look! The key is pointing in the opposite direction! And where's the chain?!"
At once, Claude Frollo grabbed the key and headed out the door.
"Claude! Where are you going?"
"To the dungeons, for someone has fallen for my trap!"
Before I could say anymore, I found myself following Claude to his dungeons.
The dungeons! I HATE the dungeons!
"It's gone, all right!", said Claude after he unlocked a secret room located off his private torture chamber. I took a good look and he was right: Theodora's box, along with its iron reinforced chest, was missing.
A seething Claude Frollo called out for every guard in the building to "Search every room and every inch of the grounds!"
We returned to his study only to find Gerard there; he had brought up a tray of sweets. "Pardon
the intrusion, Your Grace," he said, then he shot me a withering look, crisply saying "Good
evening, mademoiselle." Gerard faked a pleasant smile then continued, "Your Excellency, I've
taken it upon myself to bring you and your lady a treat . . . "
Gerard was interrupted by Claude's booming voice. "Gerard, have you seen anyone suspicious lurking about my study?"
The quick response: "No, Your Grace. I've seen no one . . . Wait a minute, but I suddenly recall . . . "
At that moment, a guard came into the room and said, "Sir! We've found some incriminating
evidence in Francois Patou's quarters." I couldn't believe this! Claude couldn't believe this!
"Did I hear you correctly? Francois Patou? What did you find?", asked Claude.
"We found these things," replied Lt. LeSabre.
Then LeSabre showed Claude several items found in Francois's quarters: two broken padlocks, a heavy chain ("The very chain!", said Claude), the empty chest -- But where's the box?
Immediately, Claude ordered his men to find Francois and arrest the boy for theft. He then turned
to me and said, "My love, I can't believe Francois would do such a thing! How could he, and after
all the trust and confidence I had in him?!"
Poor Claude! He was so disappointed, so distraught that a 'good kid' had taken it upon himself to steal a priceless artifact.
Claude was reluctant to arrest his young protege, but the moment Francois returned from his evening walk, the poor boy was immediately shackled and locked away in a remote dungeon cell. Poor Francois, his face was the very picture of despair and bewilderment as he screamed repeatedly, "I didn't do it! Your Grace, believe me! I know nothing about this gold box!"
My heart ached for Francois.
I finally asked Claude what would happen to Francois, although he wanted to spare me of the sordid details, "Danisha, due to the seriousness of this crime, Francois Patou will suffer the ultimate punishment -- Death!"
A rather large, dark-haired man, wearing an oversized cloak to conceal his identity, quickly and quietly made his way to the docks. He was accompanied by two young men, one of which carried a locked wooden chest. There, on the riverbank, a much older gentleman waited for them, and smiled when they approached him.
"I trust you weren't followed, " said the older man.
"No, sir, I made sure of that."
The large man smiled then continued, "You should've seen old Frollo; he was quite beside himself with the box missing and all."
The young men laughed as they recounted their tale of framing "the Minister's protege". To this, the big, black-haired man smiled when he added that they -- he and the boys -- had everything covered. "After all, sir, the box is yours, and poor Francois Patou will pay the ultimate price." He then beckoned to the boys to open the chest.
Within seconds, the boys produced it: a box of the finest gold and encrusted with flawless pearls, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires.
The older man smiled more broadly as he thanked the big man, and the boys.
"My dear Gerard, I can't thank you enough for everything."
His smile became even more broad as he added, "Come September . . . "
The man paused, thumbed the box's pearl trimmed latch, then declared, "Claude Frollo will be a doomed man!"
Claude intercepts a message from Joe Wood . . . Iggy and Phoebus go 'one toke over the line' . . . An FSM relays vital information . . . Claude Frollo finally learns the truth behind Theodora's box -- and learns the truth behind that 'mysteriously abandoned' research project . . .
To Part 8!
©Copyright FrolloFreak FSM #14, 1998.