"She hasn't come around yet? But she promised Nadine they'd shop for a tree tomorrow...And there're all the phone messages, the business commitments..."
So said Joseph Wood as Judge Claude Frollo descended the grand staircase. His Grace was profoundly worried; his 21st Century lady fishtailed into a near-catatonic state ever since she and Claude returned to the year 2004. Even the preschool antics of their beloved daughter failed to lift Nisha's spirits.
"Joseph, it was too much for her...Sometimes that quiet strength can endure so much..."
Danisha's father acknowledged this and replied, "You know, Claude, when
Wendell told us everything -- about Rougelot; about this transtemporal
manhunt; about the trips to 1850 Washington, 1859 Tennessee, then to 1937
Chicago -- I had a feeling Danisha would give out...Her strength is one
of her hallmarks, but sometimes I worry that she'll break..."
Joe removed his glasses, took out his handkerchief, then wiped his eyes. He continued, "I remember the last time Gerry and I went to Chicago; that was back when Nisha had just turned four...Eula Mae had dug herself into the deepest depression...a depression that lasted twenty-seven years! No one could lift her out of it. I'm now worried about Nisha -- she has so much of Eula's positive qualities, inside and out."
The medieval magistrate walked over to the couch and sat next to Joe Wood. His Grace's eyes danced about the spacious, well-appointed living room; Danisha had yet to finish holiday decorations. And she loves Christmas so...This house is usually so festively adorned...Danisha's holiday confections all prepared...And my Nadine, so full of anticipation...
The sound of Joe Wood's voice broke Claude's contemplation. "Claude,
I have a strong feeling Danisha will snap out if, but you need to focus
on capturing Marcel Rougelot. Have you heard from Jacki? Has she or Tony
tracked down this man?"
Claude Frollo frowned, for he knew Marcel had fled to yet another time period. But to where? Jacki and Tony Terrell, inventors of the time travel device, at this moment, were busily tracking down 'le Chameleon'.
"Jacqueline has yet to contact us, Joseph; the tracking mode seems to stall a bit...Perhaps, Rougelot has returned to the 15th Century...perhaps...."
"Perhaps, Claude, he has gone to another time, to another historical era..."
Both men looked in the direction of the third voice only to see Wendell
Parsons enter the room. He had been with Danisha in hopes of soothing her
flagging reserves. "Nisha is starting to come around, Your Honor, but I
guess it's only a matter of time..."
The elderly scholar looked intently at the medieval judge then continued, "You met my younger self, and you met Eula Mae, and my aunt and uncle." Wendell Parsons grinned at the thought of Judge Claude Frollo, a man of the late 1400's, meeting the same man twice within six months. "And to think, when we first met I had just turned eighty-seven! Then," Wendell laughingly continued while Claude's mouth twitched into a smile, "just a few days ago we meet again, only I was barely twenty!"
The three men laughed briefly; the tension of the past several days
had been somewhat relieved. However, His Grace was still concerned over
his lady -- he had hoped she wouldn't...
"Your Honor...Claude", said Wendell as he walked over the 15th Century judge, "Don't fret over Danisha; she's a strong woman...stronger than Eula Mae if truth be known..."
Then Wendell Parsons went on about the fate of his own romance with a woman fifteen years his senior. He told both Claude and Joe how he and Eula endured the stares and whispers -- he was a barely twenty while Eula was into her mid-thirties. Then there was the fact that his Aunt Senovia and Uncle Walt never approved of Eula because she married into 'questionable' wealth.
"The fact that she was married to Murray Strayhorn, a big time Policy king, and that she had a child, didn't set too well...You know, it wasn't respectable back then for a man of my age and station to be seen with someone like Eula."
Claude Frollo pondered all the 21st Century scholar told him: How Eula Mae slowly drifted into a deep depression right after Alvin's death; how she withdrew from her family, her friends, her own business; how Wendell, having lost his WPA job, gradually let Eula go.
"But, sir," he said to Claude Frollo, "times were different back then...You and Nisha have so much going...I think it's been the culmination of events over the past two weeks that has pushed her over the edge. And seeing all what Marcel had stashed didn't do her any good."
Joe Wood acknowledged this, then he said to the medieval judge, "Claude
, if it is any comfort, Marcel's presence in 1937 did little to alter Wendell
and Eula's future. If anything, it made Eula's final years more bearable,
I mean, with help from the Warfields and the Rathbords."
Claude Frollo said nothing as Wendell Parsons further explained his response to Eula Mae's slow descent into madness. "What else could I do? The WPA was cutting back anyway; I had school to think of...Then when the war came, well, I just went on and enlisted like every good young man did. Eula and I simply went our separate ways. I just wished things had turned out differently."
It was Joe's turn to speak. "But Wendell, when Nisha mentioned how Rougelot's presence in 1937 may have altered a few things..."
"My dear, Joseph", interrupted Claude Frollo, "Rougelot's presence, and subsequent actions, only gained sympathy for Eula Mae...You see, it was that close friendship between her and Sunny that caused the Warfields to accept the inevitable -- that their nephew and Eula were hopelessly in love."
But, as Wendell reiterated, "Times were still different then...Maybe things worked out for the best..."
Then, he added as he fixed his eyes on Claude Frollo, "You have to capture this man, sir. If Jacki and Tony have that thing fixed then they should be able to locate Rougelot's whereabouts...Lord knows everyone has suffered enough..."
Like clockwork, the phone rang; Joe answered it. After a brief exchange of courtesies, Joe listened intently to the voices on other end. What he heard was so incredible! Replacing the receiver, Joe Wood relayed important information to Judge Claude Frollo. "That was Jacki.. They've tracked Marcel Rougelot to the April 1968...Claude, you won't believe this but that man's location...!"
Taking in all of Joe's words, Claude Frollo couldn't believe what he was hearing! Was what Joseph saying all true? Has Marcel Rougelot actually transported himself to 1968? To...
"Joseph, Wendell...Contact Antoine and tell him to locate Fern's brother. As soon as I check on Danisha and Nadine, I'm off to 1968, to this place..."
His Grace picked up the photo Joseph handed him. "Is this...?"
"Yes, Claude, that was taken..."
Claude Frollo glanced at the picture then mulled over the fate of his own lady and daughter. How incredible! If Marcel Rougelot gets his way, the outcome will surely change...This time for ME!
When Marcel Rougelot blasted himself to what he thought was late 15th Century Paris, he was quite unprepared for this unexpected detour. But he took it all in stride. Someday, somehow, he will return home. For now, Marcel had to bide his time; Frollo was indeed still alive, and so was his lady Danisha. And I was led to believe that I was free of Frollo's pursuit! When I get my hands on that damned...!
Marcel drew his thin jacket around his body as he shivered in the cold
damp morning air. At least, he thought, he gets free breakfast and lunch
at this eating establishment. And he was fortunate to secure a sleeping
room within walking distance of his place of employment. Just a lowly dishwasher,
but Marcel didn't mind; at least he didn't have to run any machinery.
He stopped momentarily to watch a group of children play in the morning mist. It was nearly eight o'clock and classes would not start for another twenty minutes. Just a few minutes longer then off to work...Look at these children...That little girl is certainly a charmer...
Indeed, Marcel marveled at these children of 1960's America. It was quite a mixture of youngsters -- mostly Black, and so adorable and lively. One little girl seemed to command his attention almost immediately. She looked like she was no more than seven or eight. Her brightly hued slicker with the matching umbrella coordinated perfectly with the bright pink ribbons which held her dark hair into place. Somehow, Marcel could not look away; there was something about this child...
Suddenly the door flew open; a large, well dressed Black man appeared
and seemed rather stern in a benevolent fashion. "Monica! Steven! Danisha!",
he boomed from the door, "Get yourselves in here...You know your mamas
won't be too happy if you all get wet. Come on in; you can sit in the gym
until the bell rings."
At once, the pretty girl obediently said, "Yes, Mr. Nevels."
Marcel Rougelot's eyes devoured this girl. Did that man address her as 'Danisha'. If that is true then...This is Danisha, Minister Frollo's lady -- as a child! At last! I can finally carry out my obligation, then return to my own time, to France, and take care of some 'unfinished business'.
Marcel smiled as he watched the children enter the building. Danisha
lingered long enough to retrieve a dropped pencil case. Marcel saw his
chance. Drawing closer to the chain link fence, he softly called out, "Nisha...Nisha."
She turned to face him; he nearly melted when he beheld those enchanting
dark brown eyes. Oh...she looks just like...
She spoke up at once, "I'm sorry, sir, but my mommy told me never to talk to strangers." And with that she disappeared through the door.
All throughout the morning, Marcel bided his time. Come lunchtime, he'll find a way to win over his new found little friend. All Marcel needed was to make a certain purchase...then return here when the children are dismissed for recess.
He allowed himself a good chuckle as he watched both Nadine and Danisha
sleep. Then he wondered if this would be the last time he'll ever lay eyes
on them. It's not fair...That damned Rougelot...and my brother...Both of
them used by an unscrupulous...I cannot believe this! After all these years,
such disloyalty...Why? Why target Colette, then Nisha, Nadine...I already
know the truth about Isabelle LaCroix and her ties to Marcel...If Julian
hadn't uncovered all this evidence, I'd hate to think what -- as Nisha
and her friends put it -- "would've gone down"...
Nisha's mother, Geraldine Wood, softly knocked then entered the room.
Somehow, her daughter and grandchild still slept peacefully. She was profoundly
worried that her eldest child was doomed to suffer the same fate as Eula
Mae. But Nisha has always been so strong, so positive...then again, so
was Aunt Eula...
She tiptoed to Claude Frollo, put her hand on his shoulder, then said, "I want you to find that man, Claude. But please, for your baby's sake, be careful. Lord knows I don't want Danisha to go Eula's way..."
Claude looked at Mrs. Wood with kind eyes and replied, "Dear Geraldine, I shall take all the necessary precautions." He took a deep breath and resisted informing Gerry of "Le Chameleon's" latest whereabouts. Joe, Wendell, and Claude all promised not to tell Danisha's mother, or Danisha for that matter. "It would only cause both of them needless worry...Nisha is fragile enough already," they reasoned.
He pulled a black velvet box from his pocket and handed it to Geraldine. "If I do not return before tomorrow evening, I want you to give this to my daughter. I had hoped to wait until Christmas Day..."
Geraldine Wood accepted the box with some trepidation. "Honey," she
reassured him, "why are you so pessimistic? You've always had success in
capturing criminals...Don't think like this...Think of Nisha and Nadine
all the time you're tracking down this man, then the going will be easier..."
She opened the box and smiled with approval. "You've always had good taste, Claude Frollo." Gerry added as she surveyed the box's contents, "Nadine will surely love this..."
Claude Frollo tenderly kissed his lady and child; Danisha stirred from his touch. "Claude? Why are you still here? Why aren't you after Rougelot?", she said groggily. The medieval judge only said, "My darling, Antoine and Daniel are to accompany me this time...Marcel is -- as you say -- about to reach the end of the line."
The next forty-eight hours would be crucial as Marcel Rougelot's presence
in 1968 threatened to put many past events in jeopardy. "Le Chameleon's"
actions nearly caused a riot that in reality never happened -- and he had
the nerve to play his trump card. Marcel Rougelot new 'friend' would soon
find herself in a precarious situation.
The final 'Book'...Marcel plays his trump card...Claude and company take one last time trip...Danisha finally learns the facts...
CLICK FOR "TIME 5:1"
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