On the Edge of Time

Book Five
Part Three
"Journey Inside the Mind..."

The Time & Place: 
Old Northside, Indianapolis.  Late afternoon April 4, 1968.  In a large frame house on Talbott Street. Marcel Rougelot has taken in a house guest. Read on...

"Sleep on, dear Danisha. Your troubles will soon come to an end. For you see, I must end your life...Those were my orders, you know, to kill you. Poor soul, to grow up with a demanding parent, only to see that hard-won success and power had brought you nothing but heartache...Jehan told me all about one of your many suitors...What was his name? Oh yes, Brandon Bell...This man mistreated you, and His Grace taught this man a lesson..."
Marcel Rougelot sat by the small rollaway bed where Danisha lay. He watched her sleep as he continued to babble on and on. Somehow, through Jehan Frollo, Marcel had learned much of Danisha's life. He also gained some insights into Danisha's impact on Claude Frollo's life. He learned about the daring rescue, the conspiracy, the 'shootout' at the Court of Miracles. Marcel also learned that many a Parisian held this lady in such high esteem; the older people shared such fond memories of the bonny brown New World woman.
Yet there were those who didn't share the same sentiments. It was late summer, months before Marcel ended Bernard LaCroix' life that someone approached him with a favor. This person had witnessed Marcel bludgeon a hapless beggar to death; thus, in order to gain Marcel's confidence, this person promised to keep what was seen a secret. "I won't tell Frollo or any of his spies. All I want you to do is to get rid of Colette Bouchard, then that woman named 'Danisha'. She has a daughter...Kill her as well. I shall reward you handsomely..."
Soon, Marcel found himself holding a bag brimming with gold coins. "There will be more once those three people are out of the way," his mysterious employers told him.

What wasn't known was that Marcel Rougelot, a borderline schizophrenic (at least that's what Dr. Parsons uncovered), killed for the sheer pleasure. Murder for hire wasn't his thing, but he did like the money plus the fact that Frollo would never catch up with him. His newfound benefactors saw to that. But Frollo was onto them regardless. Julian McNaney, haunting remote taverns, bridges, and slums in and around Paris, had gathered damning evidence of Marcel's shady dealings. The mysterious person who wanted three people dead had no idea that the Minister of Justice already had learned of the plot, and that the trap was now set. All Frollo had to do was to capture Marcel Rougelot, then force a confession out of the man.
But Marcel really didn't harbor any animosity towards Frollo. On the contrary, he actually admired the Parisian magistrate for his cunning, wit, iron will, and tenacity. It was no wonder that Marcel had managed to stay one step ahead of Claude Frollo.
"His Grace is a brilliant man; he has not given up and has vowed he would take me..."

Sitting at the table, Marcel glanced over at a still sleeping Danisha. He had hoped the chloroform had worn off; he didn't know how much he had used. I hope I didn't harm her...I actually don't want to see her die...She reminds me so much of Isabelle...And that blasted little...wanted me to kill this angel ...I can't! those blasted voices again...They tell me not to harm this child, but those people made me promise...If I don't play the game by their rules...Yes! That's it! I'll change the rules...

He took pen in hand and began to write. It was just a couple of composition books and a ballpoint pen, the likes of which Marcel had never seen. The ink flows through and never once do I have to dip it...The paper has lines on it so I can keep my writing neat.
So he began to write a few words -- words that would ultimately blur that thin line between fantasy and reality. While Danisha slept, Marcel continued to write. All the while, the 15th Century fugitive and his hostage were being watched.


Meanwhile, in a house just a couple of doors down....
"Here, sir, try not to get up too suddenly."

Tony Terrell refilled the ice bag then placed it on the back of Claude Frollo's head. The blow didn't severely incapacitate His Grace, yet he was in considerable discomfort. All efforts by Iggy and Tony to seek medical attention were met simply with, "I do not have the time -- Rougelot has Danisha; he must be stopped!"

All Tony could do all afternoon was blame himself. "If I had gone to fetch that coat myself...Or if I had waited...Damn, man, I'm sorry things turned out like this. A man should know not to leave little kids alone for one second...We both have children and..."
Claude Frollo sat up; his head throbbed slightly. He was rather sympathetic. "Antoine, do not blame yourself. We will capture Marcel Rougelot; I am certain of it." His Honor then went on to tell Tony about Professor Parsons' research regarding 'le Chameleon'. "The good professor uncovered much about Marcel: his childhood, his first murders. And this illness...this 'schizophrenia'."
Claude continued to explain how Marcel's mental illness, further ingrained by years of abuse, gave Marcel a unique perspective on life. "It goes hand in hand with his ability to adapt...He sees everything as a game, a mere fantasy come true. He suffers from delusions and flights of fancy."
Claude Frollo smiled as he got up to change into his familiar black clothes. He continued, "I, as a product of my time, would chalk Marcel's behavior to bad blood, witchcraft, enchantment, or just pure evil."

Tony nodded replying, "Aren't you glad you enlisted Wendell Parsons? Without his help, you wouldn't have known all about Marcel and this conspiracy..."

Just then Iggy McMullen came roaring in, out of breath and raving on and on about...

"What?!", exclaimed Claude Frollo. "You saw him, in his room, with -- HER?!"

Iggy blew out his cheeks then went on to explain how he followed Marcel from work. "I mean, his job is just a few blocks of the school. The house is just a couple of doors down from here."
The middle aged hippie then continued, saying that he tailed Marcel from the restaurant to the school, "Only to lose him; then I saw you lying out in that alley. I got Tony then hightailed it to the house before Marcel got home."
Sure enough, Iggy, concealing himself in the thick underbrush, espied Marcel in his basement room. He saw Marcel carry an oversized duffel bag from which he produced an unconscious seven year old Danisha Wood.
"I think he doped her...She's sleeping too soundly though for my comfort. But Marcel has a pile of paper, crayons, paints, candy...I guess he plans to keep this kid alive, but for how long?"

Claude Frollo, wincing slightly, adjusted the black leather jacket, tucked the dagger securely in its sheath, then faced his reflection in the mirror. Ah, much better than that awful white! Yes, black is definitely my color...

He paused for a beat, then said, "Daniel, Antoine, I want you send a message to Julian right away; I may need that extra help after all. We will take Rougelot by surprise -- tonight."

He turned to face his companions. "This time, gentlemen, there shall be NO mistakes!"


A few doors down, in a darkened, cramped basement a partment...
"Ummm....Mommy? Daddy? Where am I?"

Seven year old Danisha Wood struggled to sit up; her drugged stupor was still apparent as she tried to raise herself from the bed. "Oooh...I want my Mommy..." Marcel Rougelot looked up from his writings, went over to the bed, then said gently to his young captive, "My dear Nisha, I brought you to my place...Your mother and father know you are here."
"But Mr. Terrell was going to take me to my auntie's house..."
Marcel grimaced; his fingernails dug into his flesh as he replied, "No, dear...you are to stay with me...M. Terrell said you got sick...Which is...uhh...why you have to stay here..."

In his agitated state Marcel found it increasingly difficult to lie. Why, it was so easy before, when he fooled Henry Clay, or Eddie Rathbord. It was so simple to waltz into the President's Palace, pretend he was a gentleman of means and manners. Why, Marcel had fooled the president and his daughter. He fooled Sunny, and her fiance. And now...He has fooled this little girl. This child, Danisha, does not know of Frollo, or of Jehan, the bell ringer, of Captain Phoebus...Maybe I can tell her a few tales, so she will never meet Frollo, perhaps never set foot in the Paris of my time...

Marcel smiled as Nisha drifted back to sleep. It will be another hour or two before she wakes up...Then she may become quite agitated...can't let that happen....I have more of that chloroform...How kind of the druggist to recommend...

But Marcel really didn't want to kill this child, yet somehow he felt he must do this in order to maintain the game. In his mind, the more people he kills, the more money he'll earn. In his warped reasoning, that person in medieval Paris had better hand over several large bags filled with coins. "That's one each for Bernard, Colette, Nathan Smiley..."
He went back to his writing. What was all this scribbling, anyway? He had already filled one notebook and started on his second. Marcel Rougelot continued to write effortlessly as little Nisha slept off the remains of chloroform. 'Le Chameleon' thought he was safe; he thought he had actually killed Claude Frollo, but he was wrong. In fact, Marcel knew he didn't strike Frollo that hard. The blow was just enough to incapacitate him for a few moments...long enough for me to enter the building and take little Danisha...
But Marcel knew it was only a matter of time before Frollo and his accomplices would find him. Frollo and that other man named Antoine were hot on his trail. Marcel continued to scribble away, not noticing that Danisha had begun to stir again. He panicked, for he knew she would scream, possibly try to escape. He glanced at the clock, then closed his notebook and hid it in under the bed.

"Why are you hiding that, Mr. Rougelot? And when can I go home...? I don't feel too good."  Danisha was now sitting up, rubbing her eyes and looking rather frightened. Marcel tried to be gentle.
"My child, I have to go out for a little while. Here", he said as he handed her a cup, "drink this...it's...umm...'soda pop'. I understand you like this...umm..."SevenUp'." She looked at him with apprehensive eyes but she felt rather queasy so she accepted the drink. "Mommy won't let us drink pop all the time, but she gives me SevenUp when I have a tummy ache."

Marcel smiled as she drank the soda. "Nisha, I know you want to go home, but you must stay here while I'm gone. I...I'm going to fetch your parents. Yes, that's it. Wait here and let no one in. Do you understand?"
"Yes, sir"
"Such a polite child. Jehan said you are one of the most naturally courteous women he had ever met."

She looked at him quizzically. "Who is Jehan?" Marcel Rougelot's eyes registered sheer panic as he realized he made the worst blunder. Quickly correcting himself, he replied to Nisha, "Oh my dear, Jehan is a friend of mine. I told him all about you and how I know your parents. He says that from my descriptions that you seem so polite and courteous."
"Oh", was her only response. Then, "I feel kind of sleepy..."
He gently caressed her hair and stroked her cheek. He really didn't want to harm this child but he had no choice. For those other voices in his head told him that this child must die, "So the game can continue. You simply can't let Frollo win."
So he sat by her as she drifted off to sleep. That soda was laced with a mild sedative Marcel had purchased. He wanted to keep Danisha; he wished he could take her, Nisha the child, back to his own time. Perhaps we can go to Nantes, where we will spend the rest of lives in happiness. Just me, Nisha, and Isabelle...

It wasn't long before Danisha drifted into a deep slumber, and Marcel Rougelot was out the door. Bundled against the cold bluster, he walked across 21st Street to Central Avenue, then south to 16th Street. He wanted to see this great M. Kennedy himself; so many of his coworkers at the restaurant talked of little else.

Perhaps, thought Marcel, I can add another phase to my game...Just as I did with Nathan Smiley.

Marcel Rougelot -- aka 'le Chameleon' -- had no idea that he was being followed.


Much later, around dusk, a shadowy figure breaks into Marcel's room...
He saw her, the child named Danisha. How peaceful and innocent she looks. But this was hardly the time the wax nostalgic on a friend's childhood. He began to search the room, finding bits and pieces of an increasingly complicated puzzle. He searched the dresser, the closet, under the bed. "Hey, what's this?," he muttered when he pulled out the notebooks. They looked newly purchased; the writings inside no more than a few hours old. The intruder skimmed through Marcel's scribbling, pausing every now and then to check a translation; Marcel's penmanship left much to be desired. The man's jaw dropped when his eyes fell on one page. "You mean," he whispered in disbelief, "Marcel was working for...THEM?! And what's this about Isabelle...?"
He checked his watch then sent a message, via the pager, to Claude Frollo.

I'm here in Marcel's room. He's gone and I think I know where. You guys had better make your move...I'll take Nisha where she'll be safe. BTW, I've taken it on myself to contact Julian...Our reinforcements are on the way.

He scooped Nisha in his arms and said, "Don't worry, honey. You'll be safe while my friends nab that bad man...He ain't no friend; he wants to hurt you."

Now only if Claude and company beat Rougelot to his destination...This little girl's life depends on you guys...And I hope that extra help comes through...

More on Marcel's past...Claude Frollo gets some unexpected and much needed assistance...Marcel makes a choice...


Copyright©1999, by FrolloFreak®

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