On the Edge of Time


Book Four
Part Six
"An Eye for an Eye" 

The Time & Place: Late Monday morning, June 21, 1937. Eula Mae's home on Chicago's Southside. Claude Frollo's departure for the 15th Century has been delayed, while Danisha comforts her 1937 friends. Read on...

Claude Frollo sat motionless, his face frozen in what seemed a permanent mixture of disgust and sorrow. What was to be the perfect arrest turned into near tragedy for two of his most loyal spies. Then, the tragic news that one of Eula's friends was killed -- murdered -- Saturday night. Oh God, that was the same night...Marcel Rougelot killed that woman, Sally -- known as Big Sal -- just a few miles north of La Tulipe Noire.

A couple of kids, returning from Sunday school, discovered the body in a narrow alley; the children were looking for a kitten that had darted into the alley. According to stories coming out of the north end of Bronzeville, Sally was stabbed by one of her customers.
"Some strange actin' white man Little Ernie sent down here"; "That man wasn't right"; "We didn't even hear her scream", were what folks told the cops. However, the police seemed to drag their feet with this case. As far as they were concerned, this was just another violent death in the Black Belt. "Floozies, dopers, numbers runners, crap shooters...You name it; it happens every time. Someone's bound to get plugged," so went one detective's comment.
But the people's tales...

Sally was stabbed more than fifty times; her left ring finger was missing. Something in French had been carved into her abdomen. We -- Claude and I -- wouldn't learn the total horror until the next evening...And that nearly cost us our lives.


To everyone's relief, Johnny and Julian narrowly escaped certain death, but Johnny needed extra recovery time due to his many injuries: two cracked ribs and a broken jaw. Whether Marcel intended to kill both men was unclear; as a 15th Century man, he wasn't aware that a running car and a closed garage do not mix. It was Sunny who had found both men; she was searching for Julian.
The man known as "Martin Forester" had taken off to parts unknown, although the police now knew his place of employment. However, knowing that the police -- 1937 cops at that -- were now involved, Claude Frollo wanted to apprehend Marcel as soon as possible. Why? Well, think about it...A Frenchman claiming to be from the 15th Century, and is carrying an odd device that transports its owner to another time.

What alarmed the medieval magistrate was the fact that Jacki had always cautioned everyone NOT to reveal our transtemporal devices. "We've been extremely fortunate not to have been discovered. What if this device falls into the wrong hands? I'd hate to think of the consequences...And we've all seen the damage inflicted when the wrong person is allowed to freewheel through time," read Jacki's reply after Claude and I alerted her that Rougelot may have escaped to another time frame.
Which was why Claude wanted me to return to my time before the day was out. In a way, I was glad he insisted I go home; this transtemporal manhunt had yielded nothing but heartache. But he agreed that our respective time trips could wait as we had newfound friends to console. The attack on Julian and Johnny was quite disturbing for Eula, Wendell, the Warfields, and, especially, Sunny.

Late last night, after she delivered her devastating news, Fern took the last train from Kenosha to Chicago. She left for the Rathbord mansion straight from Union Station; she then phoned us and said that she had some rather interesting information regarding our wanted man.
Claude Frollo sighed, got up, and began to flip through Eula Mae's record collection. He seemed so despondent -- and profoundly upset. Before he played his chosen disc, he said to me, "My love, as soon as Wendell returns, I need to see Julian. Fern says he is to be released from the hospital this afternoon. It is very important that I talk to him; he has pertinent information..."

I got up from my chair, went to him, and embraced him from behind. My baby, my Claude...so much weight resting on your shoulders...I can sense your pain, even though you seldom show it...Damn that Marcel... why can't he just give himself up?
"I can read your thoughts, Danisha. However, I am still confident that we will find Rougelot. It is obvious that he will not go to the Rathbord home. The only other place is..."
I hugged Claude Frollo tighter as his eyes glanced at the record's label. "Hmm...Marian Anderson...Claude, when all this is over, why don't we take a trip to 1934 Washington, just to see and hear this lady..."
"Danisha, I would like that very much...And we should take Nadine; after all, she should hear the world's greatest contralto...," he said as he wheeled to face me. He kissed me tenderly then added, "...Just as she sees and hears the second greatest..."
"And who is that, Claude Frollo?"
His lips locked onto mine; I believe his mood lightened when he replied, "Why, it is you, my love..."

His voice trailed off as he let me start up the phonograph. Claude then asked, "Where is Eula Mae? I haven't seen her since breakfast."
"Oh, honey, Aunt Eula is over at the Warfields. Seems Senovia has had a change of heart...What with all that happened last night..."
Claude replied, "Hmm...since the Warfields and the Rathbords are friends, and Eula Mae is Wendell's lover...Forgiveness and acceptance may very well be in her future."
"But Claude, Walt and Senovia never accepted Eula and Wendell's romance. I mean, according to my mother...Hey! Isn't our...No! Make that MARCEL'S presence! His actions have changed a few things."

I fell silent, then after I thought it over, I asked Claude about another matter. "No, Danisha, that may still very well come to past, although I'd hate to see young Wendell suffer such...My love, this is another reason why you must return to your time."

Mulling over what happened on June 22, after the fight, drew my thoughts to Nadine, a little girl who had yet to understand that her father was not quite like "Other kids' Daddies".
Over Marian's rich, dark, and powerful renditions of old spirituals, Claude finally expressed that Marcel may be hiding somewhere within the city. "He could be anywhere: downtown, along the lakefront, perhaps out in one of the suburbs. The police have most likely checked his apartment by now. Hopefully, Jacqueline will have tracked our man before noon...Then he will be mine, all mine!"

Out in that vast metropolis, Marcel Rougelot was somewhere. The only other man who could positively finger Marcel as Sally's killer was presently planning his own  'surprise' for "Le Chameleon".


In Marcel Rougelot's Loop apartment, someone sets a trap for the 15th Century criminal. Read on...
He made sure he had all he needed.

"Lessee...wire, tape...oh, yeah, can't forget this..."

Ernie Iaria muttered to himself as he fiddled with the silvery, fine-hair wire. This small time hood -- an errand boy for Frank Nitti back in the days of Prohibition -- had a funny feeling about the man who called himself "Martin Forester". I knew that guy was screwy...Had that phony French accent, keeping all to himself...And now he had the nerve to bump off one of my friends. Then he almost deep-sixed Julian McNaney and Eddie Rathbord's chauffeur...

Before setting his trap, Ernie searched the small, dingy room. He had an idea that 'Marty', or whatever he called himself now, would have to return. The things Ernie found...
Geesh, and this guy's got...Boy, I ain't never seen stuff like this...The guy's really bananas...Damn, he's ready for the looney bin for sure...I mean look at what he got...Just let me get this all rigged up...And out of this hellhole...

Ernie, his stubby fingers finally unraveling string then carefully stretching fine wire across the floor, thought of something else -- His own brand of 'justice'. After all, he reasoned, if it wasn't for the attempted murders of Julian and Johnny, then the cops would simply drag their feet on this case.
She was just another colored streetwalker, just another statistic...To the cops she ain't worth the manpower....Damn, Sal was my friend, and so was Johnny...He was a real card, seemed like he was from another world...And I thought I was doin' Marty a favor, setting him up with Sally...I didn't know he was gonna cut her up like that...Only an animal would do something like that...Even Nitti's boys didn't carve up a body like Marty did...he butchered Sally just like she was a piece of meat...And what were those words carved on her stomach? They was in French...

Ernie then thought about Julian, the real catalyst behind the investigation. If it wasn't for the attempt on Julian McNaney's life, reasoned Ernie, then the cops would've let Sally's murder slide. But the cops came anyway, and Ernie gave them an earful, plus a complete description.
But when the cops' came...no Marty to be found...the guy just up and vanished...They didn't even search the place...Now they got an APB out for him. Maybe I'll save the taxpayers a few clams...As they say, "An eye for an eye." And Marty has to come home sometime...

Ernesto Iaria stepped back to admire his handiwork, then slipped out of the window and made his way down the fire escape. Yeah, by the tomorrow night, after the fights, someone's gonna pay, and pay bigtime!


Later that day, Claude Frollo calls on the Rathbords. Both Julian and Fern relay important news.
In the quiet of the garden terrace that overlooked the lake, among Evelyn Rathbord's prized rose geraniums, sat Julian McNaney. He was an extremely fortunate man, for he had narrowly escaped with his life. The chauffeur, Johnny, also a Frollo spy, had yet to be discharged from the hospital. Of course, his case wasn't helped any better by sending him to Provident Hospital. But, thank goodness, Johnny was going to be all right.
Right now, Julian's main concern was assisting Minister Frollo capture Marcel Rougelot; the man had inflicted enough damage. Julian's investigation, coupled with Professor Parsons' psychological profile of Rougelot, may very well mean the end of the road for 'Le Chameleon'.
Sunny, ever attentive, catered to his every need. She read to him, lit his cigarettes, even moved the radio so he could listen to the latest fight news. Indeed, the Rathbords were exceedingly kind to him. As far as they were concerned, Julian was a self-made millionaire who owned a string of movie and vaudeville houses. He also owned several music publishing businesses. They had no idea that their future son-in-law was actually a professional spy from the 1990's, and that he worked for Claude Frollo, a city magistrate from 1400s France.

On this balmy afternoon, Julian received another visitor -- the Minister of Justice himself. Out on the terrace, Julian and Claude discussed several key issues, one was the progress of Julian's 1400's Paris investigations. It was originally thought by Frollo that Marcel Rougelot might have ties to some of Claude Frollo's former spies -- those who proved to be disloyal yet escaped punishment. Of course, with Marcel now freewheeling through America's past, everything became quite complicated. Claude had to second guess "Le Chameleon's" next movements, and this time Rougelot proved right Claude's predictions.
The medieval judge had the wisdom to send Fern to Kenosha, Wisconsin, the Brown Bomber's training headquarters. His Grace soon learned that Marcel Rougelot had written to "M. Joe Louis" and expressed a desire to meet with the Detroit native. "Only," reasoned Fern, "I bet Marcel had other ulterior motives...I'm glad we decided to spread out the spies this time...No telling what would've gone down if Marcel had his way."
Fern Grigsby had the good sense to station one of her many assistants in Kenosha's main post office. Sure enough, that letter arrived early Sunday morning, only to be intercepted by that alert assistant who in turn handed the letter to Fern. Frollo's "New World" spy promptly boarded the last train from Kenosha. As she later told Claude Frollo, "Louis doesn't arrive until tomorrow, around noon -- just in time for weighing in ceremonies. Now, tell me something: What if -- that is, if Louis ever received that letter -- the Brown Bomber decides to drop over here just to pay this nice little French boy a visit?"

Frollo pondered what Danisha said about the Joe Louis/Jimmy Braddock fight, and of its outcome.
Julian then rejoined, "Rougelot is hell-bent on witnessing the outcome of his handiwork...We've all seen how he seems to enjoy the fruits of his murderous instincts." He turned to Claude Frollo and asked, "And what is the current body count?"
Frollo grimaced then replied, "He claims over a hundred, but the true number, as far as know, is eighty-seven...well..." He paused long enough to silently count Rougelot's latest victims. "Including Sally and Nathan Smiley, the total stands at eighty-nine...Julian did you find out anything that may very well confirm my earlier suspicions?"
Julian McNaney nodded then proceeded to disclose, in full, his latest findings. Fern watched the Minister of Justice's face undergo the strangest range of expressions. Even she had a hard time believing all Julian was telling them, But the hard evidence was all there -- and locked away somewhere in medieval Paris.

"We have taped conversations, videotaped meetings, photos...you name it, we got it," said Julian, knowing all too well that his surveillance methods never failed. Even in a medieval metropolis like Paris, Julian was ever so careful as to conceal his activities. He knew, from Frollo's cautions, that the equipment alone -- tiny cordless mikes, pea-sized cameras, and listening devices -- would surely bring charges of...well...witchcraft.
"But my dear Julian, it is a chance we have to take."

Fern then inquired about the next move; Frollo quickly answered, "We make no move...Just keep an eye on Rougelot until I return."
"Return?", asked Julian, "From where?"

Claude Frollo sighed, pulled a photo from his pocket and said, "I have to go the 21st Century, to consult with Professor Parsons. Then there is a charming young lady who demands my attention..."

He showed them the portrait of an attractive five year old girl -- long dark hair fashioned into pigtails, a rich, creamy bisque complexion, large dark eyes, and broad bright smile that seemed reminiscent of her father's.
Fern and Julian both acknowledged this, then Fern asked about Vixen. "I mean, with all that has happened...Surely you'd keep her out of harms way." The medieval judge sighed then informed Fern that Vixen's last broadcast shall be, "Tomorrow afternoon, just to announce that Julian has recovered...Then dear Fern, I want you to take her back to the 21st. There is no need to expose her to potential danger."

"And what," asked Julian, "about Danisha?"

With heavy heart Claude replied, "Nisha should be home now...But she seemed rather agitated this morning...Especially about this boxing match, and what happened those few hours afterwards..."

Claude Frollo was well aware of 'changing the outcome', yet he knew his 21st Century lady's mind. She can be extremely stubborn and determined...But she did promise, after all we do have a child's welfare...Oh, Wendell, if only I could change things for you...But I have to capture Rougelot first...

At last the Minister of Justice turned to his masters in espionage and said, "Rougelot is to be...as you put it...'taken out' tomorrow evening. Jacqueline has now pinpointed the man's precise location; and for reasons unknown, he has yet to escape to another time period. However, I cannot help but feel that something is about to go terribly wrong..."

His heart ached for Wendell, for Eula, for Danisha...and for Nadine.

The Big Fight...Celebration...trauma...bitter words...a life narrowly saved...

Go to TIME 4:7

Copyright ©1999 by FrolloFreak®

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