The late December chill was a portent of more brutal weather yet to come. I sat before the massive fireplace, huddled under a heavy down coverlet while Cecile, one of Madame d'Arcy's longtime servants refilled my wine cup. Just as I'd always remembered, Chateau d'Arcy still retained that warm, welcome ambiance. Even with André d'Arcy gone, the house and grounds still seemed to reverberate with his hearty laughter and wit -- qualities mirrored in André's son, Hubert. And always, as I recalled, my visits to this grand yet comforting place were so pleasantly wonderful. Claude Frollo himself would often accompany me; sometimes I would come out here by myself. And I never forgot how especially crucial Chateau d'Arcy became for us -- the visitors from the 'New World'.
It was on the estate that Fern stashed the '59 Chevy Impala, the car
equipped with the original time traveler. But the d'Arcys never quite figured
it out -- not after all these years. Only Solange, Madame d'Arcy's niece,
knew the truth; of course, she had a hard time believing all we told her
about our 'New World'. Perhaps it was all for the best that the rest of
the family never knew of our transtemporal adventures. Poor André
died without ever discovering that Jacki Darcey Terrell was indeed his
Actually, we had both Claude and Jehan Frollo to thank for keeping things under wraps. The Chevy was always stashed in a remote section of the estate, in an old barn used only by the caretaker, Phoebus. Yes, the former Captain of the Guard was still plugging away, seemingly enjoying his life of work and routine. Phoebus knew about us but never breathed word one to the d'Arcys. Without Claude's knowledge, Jacki and Tony designed a transtemporal device for Phoebus, but for communicating only. He could not take time trips. "What if His Grace finds out? Then what?", said Jacki when she sent the brand new pager to the ex-soldier.
But right now, I wasn't thinking about Phoebus and his new toy nor how
none of the d'Arcys -- except Solange -- ever uncovered the truth about
us. As far and André and Marie-Louise were concerned, the "New World"
friends were just that -- Friends from a faraway land. So many times however,
we wondered what was going through their minds. Our frequent visits must
have given them pause -- one doesn't just undertake an ocean voyage at
the drop of the hat. I smiled whenever Claude Frollo fielded many of André's
questions: "How do they manage so many crossings in a year? Surely this
New World is so far away that it takes months to travel such great distance."
The last time I visited, André had been dead nearly a year. I promised the family that my visits would be more frequent as Marie-Louise and Solange were quite taken with Nadine. Those visits however were understandably curtailed in wake of the murders. Oddly enough, the d'Arcys, by way of Colette's murder, were the latest in a long string of victims. Yes, the entire family suffered not only tremendous grief over Colette's violent death, but a heavy sense of guilt as well. The d'Arcy's only child, Hubert, related to me how a momentary lapse of ordinary care led to the death of Hubert's beloved sister-in-law. The kicker? Both Rougelot and Colette had connections with a woman named Isabelle LaCroix.
"Here, Danisha, I have saved most of Colette's letters, and her diary. Minister Frollo had already examined them after Colette's murder."
Hubert handed over a stack of correspondence, some of which had been
stashed away in Rougelot's quarters on the estate. Hubert also handed me
something else: a small black leatherbound book. Inside were the scribblings
of a madman -- Marcel's sprawling handwriting detailed each and every murder
committed within the last few years. Claude Frollo had mentioned this journal
and felt it was time I found out just how dangerous a desperate Marcel
Rougelot could be.
"Any other time I would not make such demands, but my love, this is for your own safety," he said to me that first night in 1850 Washington.
Now, as I leafed through Marcel's diary and read the many letters Colette had exchanged with Isabelle, I finally got the whole picture. Marcel was a seriously disturbed man, and someone within the city walls had used that fragile mind just to launch a vendetta against my daughter and me. Colette was the first victim in an elaborate plot -- a plot uncovered by Julian; a plot that went awry because of Jehan Frollo's carelessness.
"Tell me everything, Hubert. Leave nothing out."
Hubert d'Arcy replied, "My dear Danisha, we all love you so, which is why it is so painful to recount this to you. Frollo made us all promise to tell you as gently as possible, that is when the time was right..."
Then Hubert recounted it all -- Marcel's initial arrival in Paris, the sudden rapport with Colette, and the events leading up to her murder. Then that plot...
At that moment, that sixth sense kicked in, and what it told me wasn't good. Claude Frollo was presently in the year 1968 and my heart pounded so hard from marked dread. In my mind's eye I could see the playground, the building, the little girl chatting a breeze with a man who.... Come on, Claude! Nail this man...It could mean my life...The outcomes would surely change --- For you!
Daniel "Iggy" McMullen looked up from his guitar in time to see the powerful and noble Minister of Justice -- a man from the late Middle Ages -- all decked out in his 'undercover threads'. The middle aged hippie did everything to keep from laughing out loud, but His Honor did look rather different. What was Frollo wearing? And what was this 'special job'?
The medieval judge was clad in white from head to toe. Starched and bleached shirt, crisply creased pants, and a gleaming cap gave Frollo an efficient yet even more washed out appearance. The bright white uniform only added to his own pale complexion. He scowled and frowned as he adjusted the black bow tie. Danisha's safety depends on this, he thought. And this has to work!
"Honestly, Daniel, the things I put myself through...Oh, the humiliation,
my dignity compromised!"
"OK, Claude, I understand your frustrations, but it's for everyone's sake that Rougelot be taken out before he does any more harm."
Claude Frollo acknowledged this, sighed and finally said, "I do hope
you and Antoine have --- what is the expression? Umm...'all bases covered'."
Iggy only nodded and said that he would remain close to home. "After all, I practically live next door to the guy. Right now, he's at work, so I'll keep a low profile and tail him from my end. If I see anything suspicious, I'll let you know."
Claude sighed again, looked at his attire and replied, "Meanwhile, I'll be at Nisha's old grammar school...Antoine said it is to be a surprise, but it is also to get Nisha out of there..."
Iggy rejoined, "...before Marcel grabs her...Hey, Claude, even after all that's happened, you don't think a grown-up Danisha will show up here, do you?"
Judge Frollo's quick as lightning reply? "She had better not! Once she learns the entire truth about Rougelot, and how he lured Colette Bouchard and countless others to their doom...Daniel, this cannot fail..."
Frollo made a few turns of the room; his voice choked a bit. "...I'd hate to think of living without her..."
Mr. Terrell was unlike any substitute teacher. He was young, handsome,
smart, and a lot of fun. Even when he laid down the law that morning, the
students could tell that this was no ordinary 'sub'. He told them wonderful
stories about medieval France, and the many interesting people who lived
there. He performed mind boggling science experiments and told the kids
that, "Someday folks will be able to travel through space and time."
"Will we have time machines for real?," came the response from these very curious little seven and eight year olds. But Tony took it all in stride; he knew the real reason he was there. He finally met her, the one named Danisha. It took much fortitude on his part to keep from revealing too much to this little girl. After all, he thought, both he and Jacki were just babies...Nisha has yet to meet Fern and Iggy...And she will be well past thirty when she meets Claude Frollo...
Tony's mind was a million miles away as a young Danisha Wood read the passage about the solar system. Damn, I hope our plan works...Claude wasn't too thrilled when I told him...If only Marcel Rougelot would turn his sorry butt in...Man, it's not right for us to be away from our children all this time...I have Mark and Marshall; Claude Frollo has Nadine...And Christmas is just days away...!
"Mr. Terrell! I'm finished. Do you want me to read some more?"
Danisha looked at him with the most adorable eyes as she waited patiently for instruction. Tony was impressed; for even as a child, Nisha was so polite, so poised. He smiled as he closed his book, replying, "No, Nisha, that won't be necessary. Oh my goodness look at the time!" He glanced up at the clock and told the kids to line up for art class. "You all have been so nice and cooperative. When you all come back, I'll have a little surprise for you."
And who was this delivery man?
He was tall and thin, and his facial features sharp and angular. He
looked rather like a bewildered gentleman who didn't quite fit this chosen
vocation. It was only temporary, he thought but he felt his dignity wounded.
"Antoine," said Claude Frollo finally, "when I get my hands on Marcel Rougelot,
I'll make him suffer so much that he'll..."
His voice stopped as he gestured to his attire. "Look at this! I, Claude Frollo, disguised as an...UGH!...ice cream man!"
Tony's mouth flew open as if to allow the raucous laughter that built
inside him to escape. But he resisted all attempts at levity -- This was
hardly a time for jokes.
"Just hand out the goodies, Your Grace...Then you can stake out that alley where the kids saw Marcel..."
Tony grew serious when he added, "I'm glad I got to talk to Danisha,
and to the other students...Marcel has been keeping quite a vigil out there
Claude Frollo acknowledged this; already a young Nisha had opened up to the fugitive from medieval France. Already had she spoken with him, and exchanged pertinent information with the man. Namely it was information about her family.
According to Tony, Danisha was to to be picked up tomorrow after school by her Aunt Viv. "Nisha told me her parents will be downtown all afternoon, at a rally for Bobby Kennedy...I only hope that Marcel doesn't have any tricks up his sleeve...I mean, Kennedy's presence here in town was a godsend...Claude, did I tell you all about...?"
When Anthony Terrell related Robert Kennedy's timely appearance in Indianapolis, and considering that it was the very day Martin Luther King, Jr. met his end at the hands of an assassin, the medieval judge understood the gravity of the situation. Tony continued, "Bobby Kennedy made an impromptu speech at this park near 17th and Broadway...Claude, almost every major city exploded when the news came...My own father was there when Kennedy told everyone what happened."
The 15th Century magistrate sank into a child's chair as he pondered
the possible outcome if Marcel Rougelot decides to 'play a game'. "Antoine,
if Marcel would indeed harm this man, this M. Kennedy...But he has Danisha
right where he wants her...He still feels obligated to this dastardly person
who hired him..."
He paused to wipe something from his eye -- Was it a tear? Then, "I had someone send Marcel a series of messages....Perhaps another..."
Tony got the point, saying, "Oh, you had old Marcel thinking this person has been...But what about the chief conspirator? Are they still running around in Paris?" To this Frollo replied, "No, for at the moment they are feasting merrily with friends...They do not know that this is all a trap."
Anthony Terrell then asked, "But how to capture Rougelot?"
Claude Frollo stood up to his full height, heard the patter of feet
approaching the room, then said cautiously, "Leave that up to me." He listened
intently as twenty-six children prepared to enter the room. "Antoine, do
not say one thing to Danisha nor take your eyes off of her for one fleeting
second...As soon as I finish here, I'll head for that alley; I have my
own surprise for one Marcel Rougelot."
Just then, the children entered the room; one began to speak. "Mrs. Mackey let us walk back to the room all by ourselves. She said we was the best class." Claude Frollo couldn't resist as he corrected the child, "Er, my child...'we were the best class'."
The children looked at the desks, the strange man dressed in white, then the unmistakable silvery case. "Ooh, Mr. Terrell got us ice cream!", came the many whispers. But the whispers soon centered around the distinguished looking gentleman doling out cold and creamy chocolate-vanilla swirled cups. He seemed especially interested in one particular child. "And this is for you, Danisha. I know how much you love chocolate."
She looked at him in amazement, then turned to Tony and said, "He knows my name!" When she asked the delivery man's name, he replied very politely, "Er...my name is Jean-Paul, mademoiselle." Frollo hated to lie but what if she, in her childlike innocence, tells Marcel. Then he could have kicked himself for addressing the child in French.
Nisha looked at him with curious eyes then said before eating, "Sir, you are French. Want to know how I know? 'Cause one of Mommy's friends is French. He even taught me how to say..." The child immediately recited a few phrases but Frollo could tell she had yet to master the fine art of pronunciation. He smiled slightly then took Tony aside and whispered, "She has met Marcel..."
Tony Terrell then motioned to Claude, "Maybe you should mosey out to that alley now; it runs behind the playground...School will dismiss at three-fifteen -- that's about thirty minutes from now. I'll keep Danisha with me after dismissal then head over to Iggy's place...Hey, he hasn't spotted Marcel anywhere, has he?"
The Minister of Justice shook his head as he exited the room. He then cautioned Tony to, "Keep a bright lookout...Marcel is a desperate man and will stop at nothing to achieve his ends..."
Just then Danisha ran up to Tony and Claude, then addressed the older man, "Thanks for the ice cream, sir." She instinctively gave him a friendly hug; Frollo didn't know quite how to respond. All he could muster was a polite, "You are welcomed, dear child." At Tony's request, she returned to her seat; she glanced at Claude Frollo once more and gave him one of her winning smiles. Before departing, Claude Frollo said half sheepishly to Tony, "She reminds me so much of Nadine...I know what the future holds for this child...Antoine, all the adventures, the love, the fire and passion...Somehow, when she embraced me just now, I felt this twinge of guilt..."
Tony Terrell stifled a laugh and replied, "Your Honor, it's just the
shock of seeing the woman you love as a child..."
The two men smiled as Frollo caught one more glimpse of a seven year old Danisha. That protective instinct took over as he lighted out for that alley. For the first time in two long weeks, Frollo thought, Marcel Rougelot's days of freewheeling through time were numbered. At last, thought the 15th Century judge, all this will come to an end. All the heartache and sorrow will all be distant memories for him and Danisha. However, what happened within the next hour would seal the fate for one of them.
A bond that's unbreakable; a foundation that's unshakable.
Somewhere, within the walls of medieval Paris, someone wanted to shatter
that bond. As Claude Frollo waited in that alley for Marcel, his 21st Century
lady's life, and that of his daughter's, hung in the balance. Claude Frollo
silently prayed that Julian would contact that 'secret liaison' as quickly
as possible. If ever I needed Your Help...
Deep in prayer, His Grace paid little heed to approaching footsteps. He wheeled around in time to see a wickedly smiling face. Frollo felt the blow to his head.
It was after three-thirty when Tony came out and found a partially conscious Claude Frollo. Somehow, little Danisha was missing -- she went to the cloakroom to fetch her raincoat. Tony heard what sounded like a scuffle and a muffled scream. When he went into the room, Nisha was gone, no where to be found. It was as if she had vanished off the face of the planet. He searched every classroom, the gym, the office, the basement -- No Danisha.
"Claude! Oh man, I had a feeling Marcel would be one step ahead of us...He's got Nisha!" The medieval magistrate's head throbbed in pain; his very soul shaken with the knowledge that 'le Chameleon' now had this child who would eventually become one of His Grace's most treasured lovers. Claude shuddered that Marcel Rougelot would finally carry out those orders: Destroy the New World lady named 'Danisha'.
And Marcel would not have to lay one finger on my daughter. For in killing Danisha the child....Oh my God! He'll not only kill Nisha, but me as well! It was Nisha who saved life those many years ago...Without her, I...
...Danisha...My love, I'm afraid we might have been too late...
Marcel plays his trump card...The rantings of a madman...Judge Frollo gets unexpected help...
GO TO TIME 5:3
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