Author's Note: "Transitions" appear between the "Books". This is second of three.

On The Edge of Time

Transition: Stage Two

The Time: December 2004
The Place: Professor Wendell Parsons' home. The elderly scholar is about to relate his findings to Joseph Wood, Danisha's father. Read on... 

"Let's see if I have it all...", said Wendell Parsons -- eminent scholar, sociologist, criminologist, ethnohistorian, demographer -- as he sifted through thick portfolios and manilla folders.
His home, a modest yet elegant one-story, three bedroom home located not far from Butler University, was always tidy -- except his private study. Always, the desk was piled high with papers; the shelves were stuffed with journals and books. Actually the room had a comfortable ambiance with its rich oak paneled walls, and the numerous paintings and photographs scattered here and there. On a decidedly antique table stood an old Remington typewriter that still worked. "You all can have your fancy computers but give me the old typewriter every time," Wendell said more than once.
But today was hardly the time to reminisce; Wendell's former student and colleague, Joseph Wood, had finally learned the truth behind Danisha's sudden flight across time. Her medieval lover, Judge Claude Frollo, had been pursuing a serial killer named Marcel Rougelot for more than a year.
This time, Rougelot, also known as "le Chameleon", had murdered a 15th Century man named Bernard LaCroix, then fled through the pages of history courtesy of Jehan Frollo. The Minister of Justice's brother had unwisely told Marcel of Danisha, Fern, and of the transtemporal device. What worried both Joe and Wendell was the fact that what they had suspected all along: the truth about the LaCroix family. So Wendell, on this day, began to recount to Joe the few facts he had collected on Marcel Rougelot, and the sudden havoc this medieval serial killer may wreck upon the entire Wood family -- and upon Judge Claude Frollo.


Eighty-seven year old Wendell Parsons, a still-handsome man with an evenly toned nut-brown complexion, short wavy gray hair and clipped mustache,  grew serious as he began. "Marcel Rougelot was born in Nantes, in 1459...Mother was a Muriel Forester, an Englishwoman; she married a Renaud Rougelot in the fall of 1458. The father died shortly before Marcel was born."
Joe listened intently as Professor Parsons continued, "Now Muriel, recently widowed, moved back to England soon after Marcel was born. She had no real family in France -- she lived with her brother, Martin, who was in the employ of a Percival Quayleson."

By now Joseph Wood was more than curious; how did Wendell find out so much?

The elderly scholar smiled, saying, "Joseph, when the good judge requested my help, I started doing a background check on this Rougelot fellow. Now, Tony and Jacki were tremendous, assisting me with the time travel and all. Minister Frollo even suggested that Fern Grigsby do some footwork for me."
"But what about Rougelot's criminal career?", asked Dr. Wood, "And how did Claude Frollo get you involved?"

Wendell, sorting through his notes, continued, "Let me backtrack here."  Dr. Parsons took a deep breath then continued, "Muriel stayed on until her death in 1475. The boy's maternal uncle, Martin, had schooled the boy and was grooming Marcel for a life of domestic service when...Well, the boy committed his first murder at age fifteen. Victim was Danforth Quayleson, Percival's nephew."
The elderly scholar allowed Joseph a few minutes to fathom all this newly acquired information -- Well, for Joe it was new information. Dr. Wood was flabbergasted as Wendell continued about Marcel's flight to France after the brutal murder of Danforth Quayleson.  Soon afterwards, a series of brutalized, mutilated bodies begin to show up in and around Nantes. Of course, several citizens had expressed fears that they would be murdered in their beds.
When their appeals finally reached His Majesty, Marcel Rougelot had already brought his murderous rampage to Paris. The first victims were prostitutes and beggars, but gradually, Marcel used his skills to gain access to the more upscale citizens. That's when the King impressed upon Frollo to bring 'le Chameleon' to justice.

"Joe, when the first bodies began turning up in and around Paris, the King instructed Frollo to either apprehend this killer or resign his post as Minister of Justice. Naturally, His Honor needed some outside help; none of his spies could pin down this man. Yes, sir, Frollo was dealing with a hardcore serial killer. That's when he asked Tony Terrell..."
Dr. Parsons further explained that, during a routine visit to 15th Century Paris, Tony Terrell was asked by Judge Frollo, "How would your 21st Century criminologists handle such a case?" Frollo knew that such things as forensic science, fingerprinting, and psychological profiles never existed in his 15th Century world. Perhaps, thought Frollo, this knowledge would finally help to capture 'le Chameleon'.
So Tony told Claude Frollo about Dr. Parsons, "A man who has studied criminal behavior ever since the late 1930's. Your Grace, Dr. Parsons always had a keen interest in nearly every major case: the Lindbergh kidnapping, the Manson case, the torture murder of Sylvia Likens, Ted Bundy, Gacy...The local police usually consult him whenever they're faced with a difficult case."
Claude Frollo had Tony bring Wendell Parsons to the 15th Century in hopes of shedding some light on Rougelot's personality, habits, and motives for murder. His Grace had no time to lose, as by the previous November, yet another body was discovered on the banks of the Seine. This time, the unfortunate victim was a Parisian socialite named Colette Bouchard, Hubert d'Arcy's sister-in-law. The murders were now hitting close to home, and His Majesty was growing impatient. "Frollo", the King warned His Grace, "it is only a matter of time before this man spreads his murderous rampage into my Court. Find Marcel Rougelot or your days as Minister of Justice are over! It is plain that your attempts to bring this man to justice have failed. If one more life is ended at Rougelot's hands..."

Joseph Wood ran his fingers through his short gray hair; he couldn't believe what Wendell was telling him. "Damn, Wendell! Nisha told me that Claude had been unusually secretive...The poor man's job is on the line, and it's all...Wendell, when you told me about Bernard LaCroix..."
"Don't worry, Joe. All that would have panned out for real, with or without Nisha's presence in medieval France. The LaCroix family's future would be secure. It's Minister Frollo's future that'd be in jeopardy."

As Wendell went on to explain what Claude Frollo would have actually faced upon the discovery of Bernard LaCroix' body, Joe recalled Claude's morning message, and it was not good.

My dear Joseph,
We are safe. Danisha however has been through a most trying ordeal. I now fully realize what your ancestors endured...Nisha herself nearly fell victim to that horrible Charles Woodbridge, but I saved her from what could have been the worst trauma a woman can experience. I also met your great grandfather, Silas, whilst he was en route to his freedom. I was highly impressed with this remarkable boy.
At this moment we are in Chicago, June 1937. We are staying with Josiah Warfield's grandson and his family. But it is Danisha's current state that truly distresses me -- She has slept very little since our arrival, the result of terrible nightmares...I am sending her home within the week. There is no need to expose her to any more danger. Tell my precious that I love her, and that I have not forgotten to bring that special treat once I return. I will remain in touch.
Claude Frollo

Joe was still listening to Wendell's reports on Rougelot, on the LaCroix family, on Claude Frollo's most difficult case..

Chicago 1937...That's when Eula and Wendell...Where did Claude say they were staying? Warfield...Hey, that's Senovia and Walt...! I wonder if they'll run into -- what was her name? Sunny Rathbord...Both Wendell and Eula knew her; Sunny used to frequent La Tulipe Noire. Many whites, as well as the upper-class blacks went there...Then things got ugly the night of the 22nd, when Joe Louis won his title...As Wendell recalled, it was Jubilation followed by tragedy...


Now, let's turn back the clock to June 18, 1937.  In an elegant mansion on the Chicago's Gold Coast,  a certain Frenchman begins his new job. And does this man have a LOT to learn about his new surroundings! Read on...
Now what am I to do! I know nothing about these 'cocktails' nor of this 'swing' music! How I wish that I'd gone back to Paris, to my own time. Perhaps this flight through time was a mistake...Jehan Frollo never told me about this 20th Century, this 'Chicago'...This is all so confusing, so unrelentingly confusing!

When Marcel Rougelot made a hasty exit through yet another time portal, he thought, at least he'd be free of Frollo's pursuit. Marcel had made sure that the Minister of Justice would be so distraught over Danisha Wood's sudden 'disappearance' that all efforts to track down 'le Chameleon' would cease. At least, by Marcel's thinking, Claude Frollo would have to make a choice: Save his lady's life or risk facing an angry monarch.
Marcel Rougelot was quite aware of the pressure placed upon Claude Frollo, and Marcel was determined to win -- at any cost. So what if His Majesty strips Frollo of his duties; so what if Frollo is publicly disgraced. And what did Marcel care if the soon-to-be former Judge Frollo spent the rest of his life in shame and dishonor. All Marcel Rougelot could do was bide his time, and hope that Frollo and his band of spies would never find him.

Actually Marcel became intrigued with his new surroundings -- But he was so overwhelmed! The sheer size of Chicago, its tall buildings, the likes of which Marcel had never before seen. The traffic -- those things, those 'automobiles, streetcars, and the El' -- was what really blew Marcel's mind. The man was completely floored when he strolled along the lakefront -- He had never before seen such a beautiful water prospect! It's almost like the sea -- so vast, so blue...Why it rivals the Channel...

Upon arriving in 1937 Chicago, Marcel Rougelot needed money and new clothes. What he was wearing was hardly thing for this mid-20th Century metropolis; so he ditched the collar, cravat, and hat. He began making inquiries about places that bought "old coins and other artifacts". The few 19th Century coins and that pistol certainly came in handy; the price they fetched was just enough for some inexpensive yet serviceable clothes, food, and the first month's rent on a dingy apartment near the Loop. He had more than enough to exploit Chicago's transit system; he would have to know how to use the El and streetcar if he intended to stay for an extended time.
And that's what Marcel did those first three days since he fled to this Midwest metropolis -- He made it his point to learn much about this city, and of this era. For three days, Marcel, playing the "I'm new in your city" bit to the hilt, explored all facets of life in a 1930's metropolis. He learned how to get around town using the streetcar and "El"; he quickly picked up on the various areas of town. Marcel spent an entire day in a movie theater. What an experience! Paintings that move! The people talk, sing, and dance! Why didn't Jehan tell me about this?
Marcel haunted record stores, imbibing the music unique to this period. Jazz, blues, swing...

But Marcel needed a job; his funds were quickly dwindling. So, on this morning, he bought a morning Tribune, flipped to the back pages and began to search for employment. Being a man of the 1400s, Marcel knew nothing about operating motor vehicles, elevators, factory machinery... No, nothing with machines...But, perhaps, a servant...
And that's what he found as his eyes scanned the classified, Marcel Rougelot smiled when he read an advertisement for a butler's assistant. Ah...I can do that...sort of footman to this Monsieur Edward Rathbord...My uncle was in service; there's nothing to it really.

It wasn't long before Marcel found himself on a northbound streetcar, and phony references in hand.  I hope M. Rathbord won't investigate these references...I was up half the night writing these...That's another thing I learned; Uncle showed me how to fake another's handwriting...Perhaps M. Rathbord will be impressed that I used to work for the great d'Arcy family...
He wore the best suit he could afford: just a simple brown jacket and trousers, white shirt, brown tie, and a hat that seemed too large for his head. Marcel wasn't a handsome man; he was of medium height and build, and had a plain everyday face. His abundant dark brown hair was neatly combed into a flattering style suitable for the time period. Despite his natty appearance, Marcel Rougelot was a jangle of nerves; he knew that Claude Frollo soon would catch up with him. So this time, Marcel made sure to lose himself in this 'Chicago'; he even changed his name. There is no way I'll hang for murder...Why I can stay here, and stop this transtemporal nonsense. Then, when things settle down, I can  figure out how to return to my own time...I want to see old Frollo get what's coming to him, for I know all about the King's ultimatum: Frollo has to either arrest me or lose his own head!

With ample, well-chosen lies and side-steps, Marcel got the job, but was completely unprepared for the tasks facing him. He had to learn how to operate the radio, the phonograph, and everything else that ran with electricity; that was an experience in itself. Who was this sorcerer named "Edison"?
Marcel had to learn how to make 'cocktails' because he was expected to tend bar. Cocktails...We've never had such things...These 20th Century people seem to like these...Blending spirits with juice and bitters and...UGH!  All of that mixed together! The 'bar' is nice...Ice is already prepared...this 'refrigerator' to keep things cold...Running water! How ingenious! I like the house...elegant, spacious...just like this could get lost in here...

On this particular evening, Marcel was presently mixing cocktails for his new employer's daughter and her friends. His mind must have been elsewhere for his reverie soon was interrupted by a giggly female voice. She looked at him with big hazel eyes and said, "Excuse me, but if you're making Manhattans, you have to use whiskey, not gin."
The lady laughed at this new man's ineptness, but she wasn't angry; in fact, this man intrigued her. Sunny Rathbord flashed Marcel a smile and said, "I trust my father hasn't loaded you with too much work, but jobs and good help are hard to find."
She lit a cigarette then introduced herself. "I'm Sunny Rathbord, and your name?" Marcel, pouring whiskey and vermouth into a sterling silver shaker, returned the smile, replying, "Martin, Mlle. Rathbord. Martin Forester."


Where is Claude Frollo in all this? Read on...

What have I done? Why did I ever allow her to accompany me? She knew the risks, and she nearly lost her life. Charles Woodbridge would have died anyway; I just saved Walter Warfield's grandfather from a horrible fate. Besides, what Charles did to Danisha is even more reprehensible! How DARE he look at, let alone touch, this woman. I'll never forget the sight that greeted me when I entered that cabin...Charles sprawled on top of her, straddling her like the worst common...And Nisha, valiantly defending her honor...That damned Rougelot! When I get my hands on him...! I shall personally enjoy watching him die, watching him suffer, the way he made Danisha suffer. She does not deserve all this, not ever...
My mind is made up; Danisha is to go home before the week is out. She will understand; it is for her own good, and for....

"Umm, Claude...?"

Claude Frollo, sitting at Danisha's bedside, sponged her hot forehead with cool water while she struggled with yet another sleepless night. She wasn't the same since they -- Claude and Nisha -- had successfully fled 1859 Tennessee and landed in 1937 Chicago. After three days of diligent tracking Marcel Rougelot had been finally tracked to this city, this time period. But exactly where Marcel was hiding was another nagging question. Claude Frollo had sent the McMullens home, retaining only Fern as the Minister of Justice worried that Rougelot had now recognized his 21st Century spies.

Claude was confident this time, for he had enlisted Vixen, his 22nd FSM, to help flush out 'le Chameleon'. Ah, the magic of radio, coupled by a timely comment from Danisha, would, in time, finally blow Marcel Rougelot's cover.

But at what price?

The medieval magistrate was about to learn much about his new surroundings. Oh, he had been to Chicago before, with Danisha. But that was in the 1990's then into the 21st Century. This city of the 1930's was something entirely different -- at least for Danisha and the Warfields.

"Claude! Claude!"
His Grace's contemplation was shattered the moment Nisha screamed his name; she awoke in tears.

Bronzeville...Claude Frollo tells Danisha everything...A case of Mistaken Identity...La Tulipe Noire...

To TIME 4:1!

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