Now what? I really want to go to that fight, but I promised Claude...Damn, I wonder what Fern and Julian are doing? Maybe I can send them a message...Maybe I can send...Yeah!
"Mommy! You missed a step!", called the tiny childlike voice. She giggled
then proceeded to show me, "The right way." For a child of five years,
Alma Nadine Frollo -- we call her Nadine -- is a remarkably observant child.
Claude Frollo himself acknowledged this trait as, "Obviously inherited
from her mother."
Right now that keen awareness was more evident; for ever since Claude and I returned to my time, Nadine was full of questions. What could we do other than address her concerns. As best we could, Claude and I explained that. "Mommy had to leave so she could help Daddy catch a very bad man."
In her own way, she understood this and told her father, "Don't worry, Daddy. You'll catch that bad man and put him in jail."
Well, well...and I thought she'd be one scared little girl...
Claude wasn't here -- he had to leave for the 15th Century right away, with Julian McNaney. It seems the crackerjack spy had gathered hard, damning evidence against Marcel Rougelot, and that evidence was securely locked away somewhere in medieval Paris. At this moment, I thought, Claude will soon be on his way back to 1937 Chicago, ready to arrest Marcel Rougelot. At last! All this will soon be over...He promised me he would make it up to us in...
"Mommy! Look at me! Am I doing this right?"
I glanced up in time to watch Nadine execute the perfect buck and wing. I've never gotten over how much joy she has brought to Claude and me. It was a difficult pregnancy, but with the support of family, a lot of prayer, strong perseverance, and the love of a good man, I brought forth a strong healthy girl.
"Come on, Mommy, you promised you'd dance with me. We got to show Daddy
when he comes back."
My mind was so preoccupied with other things that I hadn't paid much attention to our rehearsal. You see, Claude had suggested that I bring Nadine to medieval Paris for a holiday visit. We decided to perform a special mother-and-daughter tap routine that I had learned as a child. It was just a simple routine -- Claude Frollo had made up his to showcase his daughter's (and her mother's) talent as part of a banquet he was to host in January. So, there I was, standing before of the huge mirror in the third floor practice room. Nadine never let me miss a step as she had the entire routine memorized. But my mind was still elsewhere as the man I loved had yet to return.
For some strange reason, I wanted to make a return to 1937 Chicago. It wasn't because of the Louis/Braddock bout, or of what happened to Aunt Eula. Ever since I returned to my own time, that sixth sense kicked in; something truly awful was about to happen. I kept telling myself that things would be all right, but I still couldn't shake that feeling of impending doom. Even the happy joyous sounds of jingle taps and "Baby Take a Bow" failed to lift me out of this latest depression.
Snapping off the tape player, I sat down on the floor and began to cry.
Soon I felt little hands stroke my hair, a tiny voice soothing my sagging
"Don't cry, Mommy. Daddy will be back. We'll have fun when Daddy comes home."
I opened my arms to embrace this little wonder -- Claude Frollo often compliments her on her selflessness and devotion to her parents. "Oh, baby", I said in a tear-choked voice, "Mommy is so glad to have you...Your father loves you so much...When he comes home..."
But what if he doesn't? Something is about to go horribly wrong...I
have to go back...Momma won't mind keeping my baby... ...And I hope Claude
won't be too angry with me...Perhaps, he will understand...
Claude Frollo stopped himself, made a few turns of the cell, then sighed
exasperatedly. Julian sensed something was wrong and asked, "Er...Claude?
What's the matter? If you're worried about Rougelot, then don't. He's still
in 1937 Chicago -- holed up down on the docks."
His Eminence impatiently replied, "Yes, yes, I know that!" Then, "I'm sorry to snap so, Julian, but the strangest feeling came over me..."
"You're thinking of Nisha, and of your little girl?"
"Precisely, Julian...Although Eula Mae and Wendell have been on my mind as well...Julian, you are aware of 'changing outcomes'...Apprehending Rougelot is our top priority."
Julian McNaney acknowledged this then asked, "You don't think Danisha would make a return trip....?"
To this the Minister of Justice said, "I would not put that past her...But, she knows the risks if she returns...Marcel knows we are onto him, but why hasn't he left for another time period? This all does not quite make sense..."
Then the 1990's spy who had made 1930's Chicago his homebase finally
suggested, "Why don't you send a message to Nisha...You know, let her know
things are under control." Julian smiled when he added, "Just think, by
this time tomorrow, Rougelot will be locked away down here awaiting execution.
Then you can finally enjoy some quality time with your kid."
Claude Frollo smiled slightly, flipped open his transtemporal device, then began to code a short message to his beloved. He said, as he pressed buttons, "My dear Julian, for the first time in many months, I shall sleep peacefully. Now that I have Rougelot's profile, courtesy of Professor Parsons -- as well as your evidence -- capturing 'le Chameleon' will be a...as you say...a breeze."
His Grace double-checked the message before sending it on to Danisha. It read:
Julian and I are to return to your time, then it is off to 1937 Chicago. Marcel has yet to leave and this time I am confident of an easy arrest. I have all evidence and I shall explain everything to you once Rougelot is safely locked away. Tell my darling Nadine that her father loves her, and I have not forgotten that surprise...I love you both very much...Oh yes, could you be a darling and make a fresh pot of your delicious coffee...We will be there shortly.
Hugs and Kisses,
Danisha received the message but by the time Claude Frollo reached the year 2004, his modern day lady was gone.
Marcel Rougelot fingered Jehan Frollo's transtemporal device as he pondered his fate. For Marcel, it seemed all hope was lost; too many things had gone horribly wrong. "I killed that Sally person, then I killed Johnny, and that Julian fellow...I heard about it on the radio...That girl, Vixen, said so..."
He read that message again, and he didn't like the last line...
The police there know all about you -- You can't stay in Chicago -- you must leave that place. Better to let Frollo hang you than die in the 'lightning chair'. That is not what you want...think of Isabelle...and think of all you have yet to do for me. Come home. Press that red button and come home. I'll take care of Isabelle myself.
Now what am I to do? If I go home, I risk Frollo capturing me. But if I don't, this person will kill Isabelle...My mind is made up...Go home, then confront this mad one who has sent me on this confounded trip through time...Then I will dispose of...
Marcel's reverie was disturbed by a rough-sounding voice. He looked
up to see the bartender standing over him with a glass of cheap wine. "You
want this wine or don't you?" Without saying a word, Marcel accepted the
wine and grimaced upon first sip. It is not the best tasting...but I
really shouldn't be too picky...What are they listening to? That machine,
that 'radio'...That's the fight! M. Louis and M. Braddock...Hmm, sounds
as if M. Braddock is taking quite the beating. How I wish I was there....
Marcel took a few more sips of ill-tasting wine while he listened to the fight. Sixth round, and Joe Louis seemed to gain momentum. Marcel Rougelot sat and contemplated his next move all the while he listened to the commentator's vivid verbal portrait of the Great Fight.
Just then, two detectives entered the tavern. They approached the bartender, showed him a picture, then proceeded to ask, "Seen this guy anywhere?" They then explained that this man was wanted for the attempted murder of Julian McNaney.
"The theater bigshot?", asked the bartender; he stroked his plump chin then said, "Let me see that picture again."
After careful study, he finally said, "Yeah...he's sitting right over there...Hey! He's gone!"
Indeed, Marcel Rougelot had left abruptly, never to return. What the cops didn't know was that the real drama was just beginning on the Southside -- in a swanky Negro nightclub known as La Tulipe Noire.
"...Come on, Joe! That's right! Another right jab!" So said Wendell as he sat close to the radio, and egged on the Brown Bomber. It was the end of the seventh round and the defending champ, Jimmy Braddock, was doing just that -- defending his title. But Joe Louis was quicker, tougher, stronger -- Since the sixth round, Braddock seemed beaten. Even though we couldn't see the two pugilists, the colorful verbal descriptions made everything come to life. "Braddock's taking a real beating -- I think Louis has this title in the bag", said Eula Mae as she refilled my champagne glass.
She was especially ecstatic this evening, and she had good reason. Firstly, her son, Alvin was due home tomorrow after an extended weekend visit. Eula loved her little son with all her heart and soul, as she put it, "He's part of Murray...I still miss my husband, although I have Wendell now, but...Nisha, why aren't you and that judge married? I understand you two have a little girl..."
"Shh!", Wendell said warningly as he waved his hand to shush us, "Joe Louis is really pounding Jimmy Braddock to pieces; I don't think the champ can hold up much longer."
As we listened to the eighth round, I had that funny feeling come over me again. I also felt somewhat guilty leaving my child once again to be with the man I love. Claude made me promise to remain in my own time, but I wanted to return to 1937 Chicago for several reasons. The Joe Louis fight was one, but I also wanted to be there for Aunt Eula when the time came; she would need a lot of consoling come midnight. Then there was that nagging premonition; something else was about to happen but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. All I knew was that I had to make that return time trip. Claude might be angry with me, but it was a risk I had to take.
Sure enough, by the time Joe Louis knocked out Braddock in the eighth, pandemonium erupted -- and not just from the cheering crowds.
Just as Jimmy Braddock fell to the canvas for the last time, I silently
prepared myself for a verbal KO courtesy of Judge Claude Frollo. As soon
as Joe Louis was proclaimed the new heavyweight champ, pandemonium erupted.
At once, everyone in the Black Belt -- the young and old, rich and poor,
famous and obscure -- spilled out into the streets. Dishpan bands, little
children chanting and singing, old folks dancing with glee, greeted the
visitor to Bronzeville.
We -- Wendell, Eula, and I -- were safely ensconced in La Tulipe Noire, although the place didn't remain empty for long as several card-carrying members entered those hand-carved ebony doors. Along the guests? Julian McNaney, his fiancé Sunny, and...Judge Claude Frollo.
It didn't take long for Claude to lay into me, albeit privately, away from our newfound friends. Shortly after his usual warm greeting, Claude escorted me through a rear exit that faced a narrow alley.
Away from prying eyes and the joyous boisterousness of the crowd, Claude at once voiced his frustrations. "Danisha, how DARE you defy me! After you gave me your word..."
I gave if back to him all right! "Claude, I came back for a valid reason...!"
"For what?! So you could witness history in the making? So you could possibly affect the outcome of an event that occurred more than six decades ago?! Damn it, Nisha! Aren't you aware of the risks? My love, returning here may have cost you your life!"
"Claude, I didn't come back for those reasons...OK, so I wanted to see the match, but baby, I had this strange feeling and...."
He softened his tone when I mentioned "this strange feeling". He took
me in his arms, kissed me over and over, then said, "You felt that as well?
My dear, I only want your safety. At this moment, Rougelot is hiding out
in his Loop apartment...Jacqueline tracked him down..."
"So, you're personally arresting Marcel?"
"Precisely, my love...Julian is to accompany me...Oh, my darling Danisha, all this shall finally be over..."
Claude Frollo kissed me deeply, then made me promise to, "Return to your time, to the year 2004. I shall be there as soon as Rougelot is safely back in my time, and awaiting execution." He embraced me tighter as he added, "At last, I shall sleep peacefully for the first time in so many months..."
Just then, Julian appeared at the backdoor; he seemed somewhat upset.
"Your Grace, Danisha...something awful has happened. You need to come inside...Eula
needs you, Nisha."
Then to Claude Frollo, Julian said, "We need to hurry to the Loop...Getting through this crowd's going to slow us down. If we want to take down Rougelot, we have to make our move -- NOW!"
I was to comfort Eula Mae, then leave for my own time. But I didn't, because I still felt that twinge of impending disaster. The warning came soon enough, but people's narrow-mindedness nearly led to catastrophe. If we had been delayed another two minutes...Oh God, I don't want to think about it...
Then Claude and I saw it all...The full horror. Then all I wanted was to go home to my little girl...
I now understood why Claude Frollo wanted so desperately to protect
A close call...Danisha sees for herself the horror...Marcel Rougelot's big gamble...
GO TO TIME 4:8!
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