AUTHOR'S NOTE as of 09/13/03: The following chapter is set in the year 2004. When this ep was written back in 1999, I had speculated that Gov. O'Bannon would be re-elected in 2000. Luckily for us, he was. But things happened. Frank O'Bannon passed away Saturday morning, 09/13/03, after suffering a massive stroke earlier that week. He will be sorely missed. I have edited this installment to reflect those changes. :-(
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...
That's what was playing in my head as I adjusted the diamond and emerald
brooch on my lapel. Somehow, as if by magic, the pin's large flawless stones
immediately shimmered and sparkled against my cranberry red suit jacket.
The brooch was breathtakingly beautiful -- a delightful arrangement in
the shape of a Christmas tree. The placement of the stones gave the impression
of a tall stately Douglas fir glistening with newly fallen snow and kissed
by silvery moonlight. I loved this piece, especially since it was a very
special Christmas present from Claude Frollo, the man I've loved all these
How can it be, even though we aren't married, that two people from such divergent backgrounds remain committed to each other?
"Must be my cooking," I jokingly muttered to myself as I dabbed Shalimar
onto my wrist before sliding on a single gold bangle. Another dab to
the other wrist....Now strap on the watch -- This was another gift from
Claude. I remembered when he gave me this timepiece; he bought it shortly
after... Yes...it's much more than that...We share so much, especially
Yes, we DID share so much more than 'bedroom games', as he told many years ago. We have an unbreakable bond and an unshakable foundation. That firm foundation and tight bond would be surely put to the test within the next few days as a series of events plunged Claude and me into one of the most unforgettable adventures...
So much had changed for Claude and me within the span of six years.
We shared the most wonderful adventures, even risked our lives for the
people we cared about. That summer of '98 when Fern's nutty hippie brother
had put his mark all over medieval Paris, and saved not only his, but Claude
That priceless gold box, the center of so much intrigue and double dealing, was still safely locked away in its San Francisco vault. Iggy had told me that he and his wife Cissy had promised that box to their own daughter, Lili. "After all, it's her birthright," Iggy (Daniel is his real name) had recently told me.
There were so MANY surprises and profound changes that followed that
summer of '98. Firstly, I decided to curtail my professional commitments
and concentrate on earning that long-sought after doctorate degree. Actually,
several circumstances had hastened that decision to return to school.
Firstly, I had come into quite an inheritance. My mother's Aunt Alva had left me a sizable fortune, "To help better the lives of so many children", was what she had written in her will. With an amount like that, I was finally able to continue my education AND start that business of which I longingly dreamed.
DLW Inc., an educational consulting and instructional coordinating company, was the brainchild of my father and myself. Daddy had longed to establish such a venture that stressed the importance of education. And that's what we did -- A company which served many a family and school system with time-honored, no-nonsense, back-to-the-roots approaches to teaching and learning. .
We had started the business out of my home; however, after we ran out of space and increased our profits, we eventually moved into a posh office suite Downtown.
Secondly, there were even more upheavals, and the most surprising events. Who knew what was awaiting me down the road of life. All I can tell you right now is that dear Claude was exceedingly proud of his 14th lady.
This afternoon -- Heck -- This entire holiday season promises to be the best yet...
Firstly, the man I have loved all these years had promised he'd spend Christmas Eve with my family and me. At first I was hesitant because I knew Claude had so many responsibilities back in his own time. He had sent a message a few weeks ago explaining that he had his hands full; he was presently tracking an elusive fugitive wanted for murder. I understood completely -- No man gets away from my baby for long. But at this late date, this man had yet to be caught and I was getting somewhat jittery that Claude may have to skip...
I know he has important business, but this is one Christmas he WANTED
to spend with us. After all, there's this program on the 22nd, Francine's
party on the 27th...
OK, so I was getting a little possessive, maybe a little too needy. There'll be other holidays, but THIS was different...
Then there were the EARLY Christmas presents. Claude and I received
BRAND NEW souped-up pager/time travelers.
Jacki and Tony had developed a central tracking device so they could keep tabs of all excursions through various time periods. According to Tony, it was a necessity -- So many people had become time travelers that it had become almost impossible to keep track of all of them. It was especially vital now that Iggy and Cissy (see DIBYM, CF?) were part of that exclusive circle of transtemporalists.
Lastly, Claude simply needed to get away from the pressures of his time. He had intimated to me a few days prior to this occasion that he felt stressed, worn-out, and completely frustrated. I had asked him if it was this Rougelot character, the man wanted for murder. "That, my dear, amongst other things," was all Claude told me.
I never pressed him further, but deep down I knew something was troubling him. Although Claude and I had promised never to withhold our feelings from each other, I understood completely why he wouldn't open up to me.
It's the stress; that's all. Once he gets settled, he'll be all right....
Oh, he was fine for a few hours; then we got the most distressing call from Jacki. It would be the spoiler to an otherwise perfect holiday visit. It would also trigger near-catastrophe for me, for Claude, and for a few of the famous and not so famous.
"Oh, Danisha, this house...It's far grander than I had anticipated."
Claude Frollo, the esteemed Minister of Justice, a man from the 1400s,
strolled through the marble entry hall of the Governor's Mansion while
his eyes traveled upwards to the great crystal chandelier and winding staircase.
He then smiled as he escorted me through the grand reception room, which dazzled and sparkled with decorations of the season. Dominating the room was a seven foot Scotch pine trimmed in Christmas finery. Now I knew the Christmas tree never existed in Claude's 15th Century world; Fern and I had to explain THAT to him several years ago when he paid us that first holiday visit. But he took it all in stride, only commenting, "Ah, the march of history..."
Anyway, not only did the entire room glow with numerous candles, lights, greenery, and gilt ribbons, it also teemed with people. Joe Kernan hosted this holiday soiree, one of his last as Governor, and I had the distinction of being among those fortunate guests. You see, I had worked on an education task force for revamping the current English and social studies curriculum. Of course, that meant working long hard hours -- long hours away from home and family, and away from Claude. But it all paid off handsomely when we presented, to the Governor's Office, our final recommendations.
And how I wished to work alongside Frank O'Bannon, our beloved governor, before he suffered that stroke back in 2003. He passed away on the following Saturday. Life goes on, and it's a sad Christmas without him. At least Gov. Kernan took up the torch and kept O'Bannon's dream alive...
So many familiar faces here...There're Bobbie Beckley and Mrs. Greer -- She was one of Daddy's long-time colleagues from way back -- I was just a baby when she invited Daddy and Momma to her home for Easter... And here are some of MY colleagues...
"Merry Christmas, Danisha!" While surveying the goodie laden table, I felt a warm hand upon my shoulder. I turned around, and my eyes met those of Wendell Parsons, one of my sociology professors from my I.U. days.
"Dr. Parsons! How wonderful to see you again!" I returned his warm embrace
then stood back to study this gentleman of eighty-seven winters who for
so long had been my father's mentor. Dr. Parsons was instrumental in helping
ME in all my academic endeavors.
Professor Parsons...longtime educator, scholar, demographer...My father's mentor when Daddy began teaching, then he became MY mentor when I took his Black Social Theory class...All that was so fascinating! Reading the words of DuBois, Marcus Garvey, Washington, John Henrik Clarke, Malcolm, and Dr. King...
...Dr. Parsons believed we should be exposed to ALL of it! "Or else folks will keep running all over us, Danisha. Our people have so much to teach the world, if only the world would stop and listen!"
"Danisha, you certainly are a sight for these old eyes. Honey, you are
looking more like your Aunt Eula everyday." Wendell Parsons and my mom's
Aunt Eula were a hot item back in the mid -1930s. As I have often been
told, I am a dead ringer for Eula Mae Reynolds.
She and I share the same height, the same build -- slightly under five-foot-five, pronounced feminine curves. We both share similar features: the large brown eyes, the shape of the nose and lips, the same dark-honeyed complexion. Whenever I looked at the old photographs, it was like looking in the mirror -- I could have passed for her twin.
Anyway, back in the 30s, Wendell and Aunt Eula owned and operated a juke joint on the Southside of Chicago. It was Wendell who opined that "All our professional peoples, for all their degrees and high-toned living, still haven't left their roots too far behind." Their place played the hottest jazz and swing in town.. Of course, their clientele were the upwardly mobile professional and business class -- the doctors, lawyers, educators -- A microcosm of that "Talented Tenth".
Momma was only a kid at the time, but she said Eula and Wendell ran one of the classiest nightspots in the Midwest. As Momma related to me so many years ago, "Back then, we didn't have too many really classy places to go. Our people, with all that money, weren't welcomed in those fancier uptown clubs."
And it was a classy establishment...but, in 1937, something happened...Something tragic...
My mind was jolted to the present as Wendell Parsons and I engaged in a spirited conservation surrounding HIS reasons for attending this holiday soiree. Dr. Parsons was one of the most degreed men in the state. As of this past June, he had received his fourteenth degree -- a Ph.D. in urban anthropology. Education was extremely important to Dr. Parsons; in fact, it was he who encouraged me to seek my doctorate. "Strive for the best, Nisha", was his dictum.
As we continued to chat, I glanced out the corner of my eye to see Claude Frollo merrily conversing with Judy O'Bannon and Maggie Kernan. The man I loved all these years is here, with me, in my time. There he is, talking a blue streak with both Indiana First Ladies: the current and late Governors' wives. Look at him, so handsome, so relaxed, so...'with it'.
Indeed, Claude's earlier moodiness had given way to a more relaxed demeanor.
He was exceedingly elegant in his modern ensemble of tight-fitting black
wool pants, a matching bolero jacket, and black boots with Cuban-style
heels. What? No purple shirt?
Claude had explained earlier that we should go as "a coordinated set". So, he wore a silk shirt of the deepest cranberry red, just the thing to coordinate with my deep cranberry brocade suit. Hmm, Claude, you definitely know how to read my mind...
Within seconds, Claude Frollo glided over to my side then introduced
himself to Dr. Parsons. He addressed me as such as he extended his hand
to Dr. Parsons, "Danisha, my dear, I am having the most wonderful time.
Your Governor is a very astute, personable man. And the ladies -- Two of the most charming
women I've ever met! I only wished that this was a happier Christmas for your Madame O'Bannon. How sad to be without her husband during this festive occasion. The people of your state are obviously saddened that M. Frank O'Bannon passed on so suddenly last year."
I could only respond to Claude's praises and sentiments with smiles and platitudes of my own. But when I introduced him to Dr. Parsons, I became witness to one of the strangest interactions between two men...
Dr. Parsons' reaction when he and Claude clasped hands...And Dr. Parsons stood there, almost motionless...Claude wouldn't let go of the man's hand....Then the way these two stared at each other, as if they've met before...
I thought nothing of it as Wendell Parsons and Claude Frollo finally
overcame a few awkward moments. What amazed me was the way these two men
instantly struck up a deep, friendly conversation that would dominate the
rest of the afternoon.
And they wouldn't even share their conversation, for the 15th Century Parisian magistrate and the 21st Century American scholar soon retreated into a corner, discussing something of utmost importance -- and in extreme secrecy.
What those two talked about would remain a mystery. Only after I nearly lost my life trying to save the man I love would I finally learn of the secret connection between Judge Claude Frollo and Professor Wendell Parsons.
"Professor Parsons, please allow me", said Claude Frollo as he gallantly refilled Wendell Parsons' punch cup. I still had no idea what transpired between these two remarkable men. All Dr. Parsons would divulge was, "Oh, I'm just telling the good judge all about my younger days."
Hmm...And it seems like Claude is enjoying every minute. Sugarbritches, what exactly were you two talking about? And why wouldn't you include me in...? Wait a minute...was that my pager?
Indeed, it was THAT pager -- That wondrous sterling silver, amethyst-trimmed device which allows its user to transport him or herself to another time. It also transmits and receives messages across time and space. I hastily excused myself from the company and slipped into a nearby powder room. I flipped open the pager, and nearly fell over as I read Jacki's frantic message.
This is a joke, isn't it? This can't be happening...What in the hell went down...? Claude...baby... Jacki, I can't ruin Claude's day with...Oh...
My eyes glazed over as I reread the message for the tenth time.
Nisha...I've just received the strangest message from Quasimodo...Something tragic has happened since Claude left...Jehan is involved and...To Be Continued
Danisha, they found a body down by the docks...The victim looks like one of Victor Jouet's regular customers...Jehan has lost his time-traveler...Someone lifted it while Jehan was sleeping...I know Claude will not be pleased to hear this news, but he has to return to the 15th at once. I've already dispatched Tony and Fern as I can't leave the boys home alone...Right now, I'm tracking the location of Jehan's time traveler. Whoever has that device is taking a joyride through time, and I'm afraid history may be altered as we speak. Please hurry to the 15th!
Danisha and Claude learn of "Le Chameleon's" latest crime...Jehan confesses losing a valuable device...Claude takes on Iggy McMullen as an ally...A trip to one of America's more turbulent periods...The Minister of Justice meets the Great Triumvirate...Iggy rekindles a friendship -- with "Old Bullion"...
Head for TIME 1:3
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