On the Edge of Time


Part Two 
"Minister Frollo's Surefire Plan"

The Time: Afternoon June 19, 1937 The Place: The Warfield's home on Chicago's South Side. Danisha finally confronts Claude Frollo about Wendell, but the good judge will reassure her of everything. Read on... 


The Warfield backyard was inviting and colorful with Senovia's flower garden and blueberry bushes. The yard wasn't overly large, but attractive to the eye and soothing to the spirit.  And that's where I spotted Claude Frollo -- sitting out under the giant elm that dominated the far corner of the yard. He seemed relaxed, far more calm than a few days ago. I even caught him hastily pocketing his transtemporal communicator. Why did he put that away so fast? What does he have up his sleeve...? I wish he'd tell me everything -- He promised that, in due time, he would finally level with me. Perhaps now is the time....

"Well, sugarbritches, someone's been mighty busy," I said as I greeted him with a kiss and glass of icy lemonade. With a soft chuckle, he returned the kiss, accepted the cold, refreshing treat, then informed me of his plans to finally trap Marcel Rougelot. "My love, I've contacted Jacqueline and Fern regarding this Rathbord family. The last thing we need is another body courtesy of Marcel Rougelot."
Claude then went on to explain that he had "a tail" placed on Marcel, "Courtesy of Antoine. My dear, I simply cannot afford anymore mishaps, which is why you need to return home as soon as possible." He still held me to that two day promise, but within a few hours all that would change. For a very young Wendell Parsons would make a few timely observations, which would make me desperate to witness history in the making, which made for another painful scene between Claude and myself.
But for now, we were extremely confident that Marcel would finally reach the end of the road, thus allowing us to look forward to a pleasant evening. I was anxious to meet Eula Mae Reynolds, a woman I only knew through old photographs and Momma's recollections. Aunt Eula died right after I turned four; Momma said she died of a broken heart. No...I'm to meet her as she was, before all that happened...She was young, vibrant, full of spunk and sass...Come to think of it, Claude said that Eula was so much like me that...He knew all along that I was...
"Danisha," said Claude after he consulted his watch, "it's nearly four o'clock. There is this new radio show I want you to hear....My love, one part of my scheme to trap Marcel Rougelot is about to be set into motion."
Of course, Claude's scheme would become quite complicated as a sweet socialite, ensconced in her Gold Coast digs, would also happen to listen to that same program. I had no idea Claude Frollo's plot to trap one man could have such far-reaching consequences.


Now let's head to a local radio station, where a young lady is about to put Phase One of Claude Frollo's plan into action.
"Hey Red! You're on in five minutes!", called the young assistant producer as he pounded on the dressing room door. On the other side, before the mirror sat a comely, green-eyed young woman barely into her twenties. She had an abundance of reddish hair that, for this occasion, was styled in a fashionable wavy coiffure. Her afternoon ensemble was rather flattering: a smart, body-skimming navy blue organdy dress with a deep double-tiered collar; neatly enameled Art Deco bangles graced her left wrists; on her feet were those oh-so flattering white T-strap pumps. She looked like, according to the program manager, a cross between Loretta Young and Norma Shearer.
"You've got spunk, kiddo," was what he said to her when Fern introduced her to the world of old-time radio. It was a temporary gig; one that Fern had cooked up when Claude Frollo requested that this lady be included in his plan to finally trap Marcel Rougelot. The show, News from the Gold Coast, had just lost its previous hostess -- She eloped with the show's sponsor's competitor, thus gaining a more lucrative deal in Hollywood.
So Fern Grigsby, Frollo's 21st Century American spy, told the show's sponsor about Vixen. "She may be young, but believe me, she's tough and sweet -- Something I think your listeners will find most refreshing."
When Vixen learned of her new role as "Chicago's answer to Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper" she wholeheartedly allowed Fern to coach her on the finer points of post-Depression life. "Soft, feminine, but tough and maybe a little hard-boiled. Claude says you are to gradually play up the 'I know what they're up to' bit to the hilt. Remember, your voice is what matters here...I'll fill you in on the lucky subject of your first broadcast... "
For Claude Frollo, thought Vixen, she'd swim the length of Lake Michigan, even climb to the top of the Wrigley Building. Nah...I'm enjoying this more...

So there she sat before the microphone, script in hand, whilst waiting for the technician to give her the cue. Within the next fifteen minutes, Vixen's words would waft out all over Chicago and into several key residences. One of those homes would belong to the father of Vixen's timely subject.


The kitchen of Edward Rathbord's Gold Coast mansion. Marcel Rougelot, a.k.a. 'Martin Forester' finds himself occupied with several mundane tasks. His coworkers converse on a rather intriguing subject. Read on...
"Man, I can't wait 'til Tuesday night! Can you imagine! The first colored champion in over twenty years."

Thus said Johnny, the chauffeur, while he refilled his coffee cup. He was also watching the new man, Martin, while he gave the brass buttons on his uniform coat a final polish. Johnny didn't much cotton to 'Martin'; he actually thought this man, who spoke with a light French accent (And I bet that's phony, too!), had taken advantage of Mr. Rathbord's kindly nature, thus worming his way into this job. Damn...this fool doesn't know anything. Look at him! Doesn't he know how to...?
"Uh...Excuse me, Martin," Johnny began, "but you might want to turn it on."  The chauffeur rolled his eyes heavenward, then looked at Zellie, the cook, and silently said, "Why did Mr. Rathbord hire this fool?"  Zellie just laughed and continued to shell peas for supper while 'Martin' desperately tried to hide his frustration with the radio.
This was his second day on the job, and already Marcel Rougelot felt as if this was one big mistake. There was last night's lesson in the art of cocktails, courtesy of his employer's daughter. This morning's duties were simple enough -- just routine things such as polishing glassware and checking the liquor inventory. This bright afternoon, Zellie had wanted to listen to her favorite radio programs, so Marcel, trying to be ever the gentleman, offered to "Turn on your machine."
Upon hearing this, Johnny sarcastically retorted, "Hey, Martin, don't they have radios where you come from? You did say you're from France...or was it England?" Marcel tried not to bristle from the chauffeur's sarcastic tongue, but he came to the conclusion that this -- life in the 20th Century -- was not for him. How, wished Marcel, that I was back in France, in my own time. But things got out of hand, especially after he killed Colette Bouchard. I didn't mean to harm her...But I had to do it; I had to kill her, silence her, just like I silenced Danforth, Bernard, all those whores and beggars. I almost silenced Isabelle, but...Yes! That's it! I have to go back to my time, but how? Just one week in Nantes, only a week, is all I need to finally...

"Martin!", called out a sharp booming voice, "Stop daydreaming and fetch those new martini glasses from the basement; I showed you where we keep them...Oh yes, when you return you'll need to tend bar; Miss Rathbord desires an early cocktail hour."  This was William, the head houseman, who had merely put up with 'Martin' solely because his employer hired the man on a whim. However, Edward Rathbord began to have his doubts about the man claming to be Martin Forester. Johnny had told Rathbord earlier of Martin's ineptness and total lack of sophistication.
"He don't get it, Mr. Rathbord. It's like he's from a whole 'nother world." Then William informed Rathbord of how "I had to tell and show him how to do virtually everything! He's so backwards, as though he's stuck in a time warp."


As Marcel Rougelot slowly got up and made his way towards the basement door, he inquired about this "title fight".
"And who is this 'Brown Bomber'?", asked 'Martin'.

When the others informed him that the "Brown Bomber" was Joe Louis, the talented Detroit native who just might take away Jimmy Braddock's title, Marcel grinned. All is not lost, for I can learn more about this M. Louis...Keep those questions coming, dear Marcel...I feel like 'playing' a game...

He asked one more question. "And when is this momentous occasion?" Johnny replied, "Tuesday night, over at Comisky Park, but I'm listening to it on the radio..."

"Hush up, y'all!"
That was Zellie who put the freshly shelled peas in the icebox,  then went to the radio and turned up the volume. "My show's on!"

A hush came over the room as a voice emitted out over the airwaves. The voice was young, sharp-edged, slightly nasal, slightly chirpy, but sweet and pleasing to the ears. "That girl sounds like Louella Parsons and Mrs. Roosevelt...", commented Johnny while Zellie waved her big ebony hand at him.
"Hush up, fool!"
"OK! OK!" said the chauffeur, "I get the hint! Gotta go out to the garage anyway!" He remained long enough to gauge "Martin's" reaction. But the newly hired man just looked rather blank as he donned the white gloves necessary for handling fine glassware. The chauffeur jst grinned and shook his head before making his way toward the garage.

The young lady began the broadcast with a cheery greeting and a tidbit about someone familiar.

"Hello, kids! Vixen here with all the juicy gossip from the fabulous Gold Coast...My, my, guess who's been spotted around town squiring one of our most elegant bachelorettes...That handsome and rich Mr.___ ,  has proposed to a certain sweetie and both have been seen in one of the swankiest jazz clubs in town...Why they're there nearly every Saturday night...But the real story is La Tulipe Noire and its owner...Our girl has forged quite a bond with..."

Zellie laughed then said, "Goodness gracious! That ain't no news! It ain't like Miss Sunny's the only white folks who go down there!"

Marcel Rougelot raised an eyebrow at the mention, "Beg pardon, madame, but 'La Tulipe Noire'...The Black Tulip..."

William rolled his eyes in exasperation and said, "For your information, Martin, La Tulipe Noire is one of the better Negro night clubs. Why, Miss Rathbord and the owner of that place are good friends." He glared haughtily at Marcel when he added, "It is rather exclusive; only the cream of society go there."
Marcel bristled slightly from William's sneering commentary but he did as told and proceeded downstairs. While sorting through the wooden crate and delicately handling the fragile crystal, his transtemporal device beeped madly. What is this? It never did this before...What...?! Perhaps it's Jehan...perhaps he had another of these...perhaps it's instructions to return to my own time...How do you stop this incessant beeping?!
After a few minutes of trying to figure out how to stop the beeping, Marcel flipped open the device, only to be even more confused. Now what? These buttons...I know the red one takes you to another time....this blue one...perhaps this is it...

When Marcel depressed that button, a string of words scrolled across the black screen. Marcel couldn't believe what he was reading! This cannot be! What has happened? Is it over? Is Frollo's search over? Ah...someone else has one of these...wait a minute...I know this person...

M. Rougelot
You may come home now. Minister Frollo has returned to his own time. That woman, Danisha, is dead. Well done, Marcel...Be on your guard as the 20th Century can be quite dangerous...I will forward further instructions for your return home. Please, whatever you do -- STAY OUT OF 'BRONZEVILLE'!


Meanwhile, in the Rathbord garage...

Johnny gave Edward Rathbord's jet black Cadillac a final polish, then stood back to admire his handiwork. Yep...this was when they really made cars...Man, I wish I could take one of these babies back to the 21st...Maybe Jacki can rig one of those time machines on that Packard Eula drives...Danisha would trip for sure!
At that moment, Johnny's transtemporal communicator went off. Oooh...good news I hope...

Dear Johnny,
Everything worked from my end. Rougelot got the message; I just hope he bought it. His Grace wants to go back to the 15th, maybe Tuesday morning -- Just long enough to talk to this guy who's been doing some local investigating.. This man supposedly got some info that could blow the roof off this thing. Tell His Honor not to worry; things will go right this time.

Upon reading this timely news, Johnny smiled then bounced up the stairs to his room over the garage. Within seconds he was on the phone: "Hello, Nisha? Where's His Grace? Tell him I got some good news...Your Honor?...Yes, sir, I'm fine, and yourself? Good...Say, our man in ƒParis came through for us...Oh yes, I think we might have old Marcel begging to be sent back to the 15th!"

The Rathbords and "Martin"...Marcel Rougelot gets nervous -- and plots yet another murder...

To TIME 4:3

Copyright ©1999 by FrolloFreak®

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