It didn't take me long to figure out that Phoebus, singing and babbling
incoherently, was thoroughly stoned. There was the Dutch Oven, its fudgy
contents gouged out. And there was Iggy, sitting in a corner, lotus-style,
nodding and chanting.
Oh God, I'm sure glad Claude's not here . . . Maybe he IS at the house. But the family's gone for the summer.
At that moment, my pager went off again -- It was Claude!
I am in your time, with your father and Professor Seldon. My darling, I've learned the most astonishing things about Theodora's box -- and about Daniel. I'll explain everything once I return. Oh yes, did you find those keys? Francois's life may be in danger; it is why he must 'escape' tonight. Dearest Nisha, I love you so . . . See you within the hour.
Kisses and Hugs,
Within the hour! And these fools are off in LaLa Land! Wonder what Claude found out?
I knew I had to sober up these guys, and fast!
"Iggy!", I shouted in his ear, "Iggy! You guys have to get out of sight! Claude's due back here within the hour."
I grabbed Iggy by the collar and shook him. "IGGY!" He opened his eyes, turned to look at me, then said, "Damn, and I almost on the next level." Iggy gently chastised me for interrupting his meditation; he then grinned, adding, "Oh, if you're wondering about the brownies, I didn't touch 'em. Nope. Haven't touched the stuff in fifteen years. Now, ol' Cooter over there -- Why, he stuffed himself! You should've seen him last night!"
That said, Iggy howled and whooped long and hard; even I found it hard to resist giggling at the former soldier's antics.
The noble Phoebus . . . stoned out of his mind . . . Look at him! Listen!
Where oh where
are you tonight
why did you leave
me here all alone
I search the world over
and I thought I found true love
you met another and
Poof! You was gone!
"I suppose you taught him that stupid 'Hee Haw' ditty?"
Iggy fell out laughing again, saying, "And you should've seen him singing 'Happy Trails' to his horse!"
When Claude returned to the cottage, he was not too pleased to see his former Captain in such a condition. But, somehow, he became intrigued with Iggy's 'secret ingredient' Phoebus had presently crashed on the featherbed, snoring heavily.
"So, this substance, this . . . er . . . 'hashish', produced those effects?", asked Claude Frollo after Iggy and I explained that the ex-soldier was suffering from a 'comedown'. Phoebus had eaten nearly half of those hashish-laced brownies, then exhibited the weirdest behavior this side of Woodstock.
A broad, shamelessly wicked smile spread across Claude's handsome face
when he said to me, "My dear, do you remember that favor I asked of you?"
I nodded, returned the smile; then Claude said, "Good. I need for you to return to the Palais at once. Then take the 'cargo' to the belltower and stay there until I arrive."
"But, Claude. What about Iggy and Phoebus?", I asked.
Claude glanced over at a now sleeping Phoebus, then at Iggy. He smiled more broadly then said, "Dearest, I have a plan, a trap for those thieves that will . . . what is the expression? Ah yes . . . 'Blow their minds!' Now, run along and do as I requested; I'm counting on you, my love."
He tenderly kissed me on the cheek and reassuredly said, "If you are worried about Daniel -- Don't! For he is about to become my most unusual and useful spy yet!"
"I know all about you, Daniel, and I know the truth behind the expulsion." Claude smiled while Iggy thumbed through pages and pages of twenty-year-old notes and manuscripts. Indeed, the aging flower child was puzzled, and somewhat grateful, when he asked His Grace, "Where did you get this?"
The Minister of Justice went on to explain how Joe Wood's colleague
had stumbled onto Iggy's original research while working on a project of
a similar subject.
"Your project was the legend of Theodora's box. You had traced the box's history -- from its original, 4th Century owner to 20th Century America. Somehow, during the Second World War, the box found its way to America. And, if I'm correct, it is presently locked away in a vault somewhere in northern California."
Claude Frollo continued, "During your graduate studies, you found out that the box belonged to a Marvin Emswiller, the same man who . . . "
It was now Iggy's turn to speak. "Yeah, it belonged to Emswiller all right. You see; he was the CEO of that chemical plant. That plant had been dumping all this poison right into this stream that flowed past a schoolyard. I mean, little kids were playing near a chemical dump! Of course, me being the socially conscious guy I am . . . "
Claude smiled and finished, "You organized that protest against the company, and incurred the wrath of its president -- The very man who owned that box, who, for some misguided selfishness, planned to sell that box to another man."
Iggy sighed, looked at his papers, then said, "Man, that guy was about to sell that box to some fatcat Arab oilman! I had all my paperwork ready to present, and Emswiller made sure that box wouldn't end in some museum."
Claude nodded, then mentioned something else. "This man, this Marvin Emswiller, had a daughter. I believe her name was Cissy, and she was your ladylove."
At once, Iggy sank to his knees in the soft straw. Memories more than thirty years old engulfed him; he said to Claude, "Cissy and I met at Woodstock. She was a student at Berkeley too, though her daddy never approved of her hanging out with the flower crowd. Your Honor, I loved Cissy but her old man would've never let me in the house. I guess he was waiting for me to make a false move . . . "
"Such as leading a protest against his business."
Claude looked at this middle aged man who refused to grow up. There's something about him . . . Something so compelling . . . That fire, snuffed out years ago because of one man's vendetta . . . What happened to the daughter?
Iggy picked up on this and said, "If you're wondering what happened to Cissy . . . well . . . She married some rich guy who owned a securities firm. Yeah, they moved to New York City, had a deluxe penthouse on Fifth Avenue. But the guy got sent up for setting up a phony savings and loan company and insider trading. Afterwards, Cissy divorced him. She moved back to San Francisco, but I hadn't the courage to look her up. I don't think she'd want to see me again, not after all these years."
Iggy started to cry but resisted. He then said to Claude, "Hey, man, if you want me to help you find that box . . . "
To this Claude Frollo smiled, took Iggy by the hand, and gently said, "My dear Daniel, you have already helped me enormously. But . . . Do you have any more of those . . . er . . . 'brownies'?"
Iggy was perplexed. Did he mean that? His Honor wants to take a little Magic Carpet Ride? Maybe he ain't as uptight as he seems . . .
Then Claude said, "Daniel, I want you to return to Paris with me, and bring what's left of your unusual treats. There's a certain lieutenant who's in dire need of a.. umm . . . 'Magic Carpet Ride'."
Claude then reached into his pocket and pulled out something -- Jehan's time traveler. He handed it to Iggy saying, "Daniel, I'm trusting you with this device. Use this whenever you need to contact Nisha or me."
He gave Iggy final instructions before they headed back to Paris. "I'm counting on you, Daniel. If you have an ounce of your sister's courage . . . "
"Hey, slick . . . Don't worry 'bout me screwing up. If this will finally get me to stop my twenty-year flight from myself . . . Hey, I'm game."
Claude Frollo smiled again, then raised an eyebrow when he asked, "Er, Daniel? What did you call me? That word . . . er . . . 'slick'?"
I sat at the little table with Quasi and Francois, waiting for any news of Claude's latest scheme to trap those thieves. The box had yet to be found and poor Claude was still worked up over explaining all this to Etienne and Andre.
After all, it was Etienne who bought that box, and Andre did all that research . . . But why would Claude use Iggy to...? I don't understand how a 20th Century flower child could possibly . . . That's it! Claude's hunch was right on the money! I bet that was Iggy's project!
But what about Fern? Claude never contacted Fern . . . Why? Maybe I should call her myself . . .
While Quasi showed Francois the belltower, I coded a short message to Fern:
Iggy is here, but before you get all riled up, let me explain. The box is missing and Claude's recruited Iggy to help catch the thieves. Hey, do you know anything about Iggy's expulsion? What was that project all about? Claude's got some info from my dad but he said he'd fill me in on details later. This is getting sticky, and I don't like it. Maybe you should take a time trip -- NOW!
God, this is getting weird . . . Claude, where are you?
At that moment, I felt hands cover my eyes, and an upside-down kiss
to my lips.
"Claude! What's going on? Why . . . ?"
His lips covered mine; then he asked, "Is Francois here?" I nodded and told him the breakout went like clockwork.
"But Claude, what about Iggy? And what tricks do you have up your sleeve?"
Claude smiled, led me to the outer walkway, then told me everything:
Iggy's research, the expulsion, Iggy's lost love, an angry, greedy father.
I reeled from this revelation then burst out laughing when Claude told
me of Lt. LeSabre's . . . ahem . . . Magic Carpet Ride.
"It was rather amusing, my love," said Claude laughingly, but he grew serious when he said, "Danisha, that man, under the influence, told us EVERYTHING! And you were correct: Gerard IS in on this caper."
Claude walked over to the railing and stared blankly at the starry Paris night. He turned to me, his eyes damp with tears.
"Honey, what's the matter?"
Claude held me tightly, kissed me deeply and tenderly, then said, "My Nisha, my darling . . . Never would I imagine . . . And it's something so petty, so insignificant . . . "
His voice trailed off; his kissed me again."Claude, come on; you can tell me."
Claude Frollo took one long, deep breath, asking, "Do you remember Yves
"How can I forget? That brat was nothing but a slob, a completely wasted young man. I recommended to Fern that Yves be dropped from that intern program."
Claude nodded then said, "The man . . . the man who hired Gerard and LeSabre is Rene Robinette, Yves' father. According to LeSabre's story, Rene has blamed me for his son's failings, and he has vowed his vengeance." He said nothing more as we held each other.
My baby, my Claude . . . the victim of another madman's need for revenge . . . But where is this man?
Claude answered my silent question. "My love, it is why I recruited Daniel. No one knows him, and he is with LeSabre, and Gerard, now. Hopefully he'll contact us with valuable information."
And what about that 'valuable information'? Iggy would take matters into his own hands, drawing the both of us into a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse.
But when it was all over, Claude Frollo had the last laugh!
To Part 10!
Robinette gets desperate . . . Iggy grabs the box -- and the Chevy . . . Nisha discovers Claude's scheme . . .
©Copyright FrolloFreak FSM #14, 1998.