Quasimodo, his compact deformed body clad in medieval clothing, stood
before 'le Chameleon', his face contorted in rightful rage. How dare this
man harm Danisha, his New World friend; how dare this man cause Frollo
nothing but heartache. No sooner had Marcel Rougelot uttered the words
that he found himself lifted off the floor.
"Go on, Nisha!," urged Quasimodo, motioning to Danisha while maintaining a firm grip on Marcel. "Hurry! My master is waiting for you!" Danisha, at last free of Marcel, dashed out into the hallway and nearly tripped on the loose extension cord that connected an old radio to the wall socket. The cord was corroded, exposing the coppery wire. Judge Frollo grabbed Danisha as she ran past; he momentarily embraced her, saying, "It is all right, my dear; you are safe. Now, go with Quasimodo." Then Claude called out to the bell ringer. "Quasimodo, this way, down the stairs!"
The bell ringer shoved Marcel aside then sprinted down the corridor. "Master! He has that firearm! Watch out!"
Frollo jumped back into the bathroom just in time to spring his trap.
Standing in the doorway, he skillfully threw a broken lamp at Marcel's
charging figure, deflecting the gun out of Marcel's hand. He ordered Quasi
and Nisha downstairs as Marcel, knife in hand, made a mad dash towards
the medieval judge. Reacting quickly, Frollo then kicked over a half-filled
bucket, spilling its contents onto the floor. The stale, foul-smelling
water quickly spread, seeping into the floorboards. Nisha and Quasi, in
their haste to the front door, felt those first few droplets.
Upstairs, Marcel stood before the Minister of Justice; he seemed rather perplexed. "Minister Frollo," he began calmly, "I nearly killed your lover and you exact your revenge by..." He paused to examine his now damp shoes, then laughed uproariously saying, "...Getting my feet wet? I don't understand...The Honorable Claude Frollo throws water on his wanted man..."
Marcel stood there laughing away, but Frollo had the last laugh as he said to 'le Chameleon', "Thank Johnny for informing us of your one fear...Oh yes, Marcel, I heard all about your...ahem...problems in 1937. So, I am now about to do what I should have done, that is if you hadn't so hastily escaped." Marcel Rougelot couldn't understand this but seemed good natured enough to indulge Frollo in this silly game.
The medieval magistrate then said as he inched his wanted man towards bathroom, "Marcel, you vowed you would never hang for murder, and now you get your wish..."
"What...?", asked a suddenly nervous Marcel. By now, he had his back to a partially filled bathtub; Judge Frollo had him trapped. "Why, Marcel," said Claude Frollo in his oiliest voice as he indicated the spilled water, "the bucket was a decoy, for you see..."
Claude switched on the radio to full volume, then motioned Marcel closer to the tub. Marcel still couldn't figure this out, but then it dawned on him when he noticed that the radio began to smoke and spark.
Claude Frollo then said in sneering triumph, "You see, Marcel, it was Julian, Antoine, and Phoebus who sent those bogus messages. And I understand one such message mentioned a...umm...'lightning chair'...But this is the next best thing."
With Marcel now at a disadvantage, Claude Frollo shoved the medieval
fugitive into the half-filled tub. Splash! Marcel couldn't believe
"Frollo! Have you finally gone mad? This is nothing more than a childish prank!" Claude Frollo laughed sinisterly, picked up the radio, then coolly and calmly spoke these words, "Marcel Rougelot, you vowed you would never hang for murder, and I shall honor that request. On the contrary, you shall die in the most shocking..."
So with that, Frollo, stepping well away from the puddles on the floor,
nonchalantly pitched that radio into the tub then stood back and smiled
with wicked delight as Marcel screamed and thrashed about. Flashes of electricity
buzzed and hissed; the water churned and boiled furiously. Claude Frollo
stood in the doorway and watched Marcel Rougelot fight for life; the fugitive
from medieval France didn't stand a chance.
After several moments of agony, Marcel Rougelot breathed his last; his body floated lifelessly in the murky water. Just before turning towards the stairs, Claude said aloud, "At last, Marcel, you have reached the end of your game..."
Claude Frollo simply walked down the stairs and out of the house without ever looking back. It is done, Danisha...At last, our long nightmare is over...My dearest, all I want is to come home to you, and to our darling Nadine...
"Master!", called out a jubilant Quasimodo as Claude finally emerged
from the house -- alone. It seemed fitting, thought Claude Frollo, that
these recent events hardly stirred the neighbors' curiosity. Perhaps
it was all for the best. He spotted the two vehicles: Fern's 1959 Chevy
and Julian's '57 T-Bird. As Claude approached his time traveling companions,
he was met with so many questions.
Claude, nodding at Fern, coolly handed over the gun to Julian, saying only, "I made sure to retrieve your weapon. The last thing we need is your police asking question after question..."
However, right now, Judge Claude Frollo had to field questions from his friends. "Where's Marcel?," asked Fern, who had come to 1968 with an extra passenger. Cherie Wood had to exercise caution since, in 1968, she was, in reality, barely a year old. Her smile was warm and her embrace welcomed as she said to Claude, "Nisha sent me on an errand, to your time; she told me to seek out Quasimodo...Lucky for me that I ran into Fern."
The medieval judge's eyes bored through Cherie, Nisha's youngest sister, and he conveyed silent gratitude to the petite thirty-something. It is amazing how the Wood women maintain the bloom and vigor of youth...Even Mme. Geraldine, a woman well past seventy, looks and behaves far younger than her years...
Claude Frollo turned to his New World spies and merely informed them
that, "Marcel Rougelot is dead." Stunned expressions were the only response,
then Julian mentioned that Quasimodo had retrieved those papers that Marcel
had written. "It goes with what he wrote down in those notebooks. It's
a confession of sorts; he names all his victims, and details that conspiracy.
The guy mentions names and everything."
Judge Frollo said nothing as he silently got into the Impala. He grasped his still throbbing side, endeavoring to allay any outward expression of pain. But Cherie noted the man's eyes and gently said, "Claude, are you hurt? Don't try to be all macho and lie out of it; you are in pain." His Grace smiled despite his obvious agony.
"My dear Cherie, it is true I am in considerable pain. Rougelot could have shot me in the brain yet still I would fight to save Danisha's life...How is she?"
"She's hanging in there. Momma just sent us a message and said Nisha's coming out of it...But I don't get it. Was that MY big sister I saw holding on to Quasi? She was so little!"
The medieval magistrate chuckled in good humor, stopping momentarily to wince in discomfort. "We shall explain everything once we are safely back in your time." The sound of sirens could be heard in the distance, and Claude Frollo had just received a message via his transtemporal device. It took great fortitude on his part to keep from laughing out loud when he read:
I got Nisha home safe and sound. Her folks bought 'the stranger stalking their daughter' bit. The police have a full description of Marcel as Danisha's captor, but I highly doubt they'll find him. The kid will be fine, a little shaken up, but OK. I made her promise not to tell anyone about her adventures; I told her we were from -- get this -- another time and we were after a very bad man who wanted to change history. I know it sounds crazy but it worked; Nisha promised she wouldn't tell a soul. I'm on my way back to 2004...I need to be with my wife and boys. I've already spoken to Nisha (the adult) and she's coming around. Take care of yourself.
So, thought Claude Frollo, his beloved's life is no longer in danger.
He closed the pager, signed in relief, then nearly broke down in tears.
"Claude," Fern said with concern, "are you OK? Want one of us to go get Marcel's body and...."
Frollo immediately interrupted, "Leave him!" Fern couldn't believe
what she was hearing. "Huh? You want us to leave the body of a 15th Century
man here? In 1968?" Claude Frollo, his face contorting in pain, explained
while Fern prepped the car, "My dear Fern, I had discussed this with Julian
earlier...Since we have Marcel's signed confessions, and if he -- well,
he is dead now -- should lose his life here...Fern, I had Antoine call
your police if I failed to return...As far as the police will know, Marcel
Rougelot was just a drifter who happened to kidnap a child, break into
a vacant house..."
"...And this guy," rejoined Julian, "has no ID, no money...He has no records downtown...So, he's just another John Doe who died an accidental death...Guy slips falls into bathtub, radio falls into tub...But to explain the fact that he has no drugs or liquor in his system, and that the water in the tub was a few weeks old...."
"Enough!", cried Frollo through clenched teeth; Julian and company could tell the medieval judge needed to get back to the 21st Century. "I wouldn't worry about Marcel, Claude," Julian said before getting into his car. "As far as we're concerned, the case is closed."
Claude Frollo raised his eyes toward the darkened house one last time. He shook his head and thought, "Yes, it is over...But after all that has happened...Will it ever be truly over?"
"Danisha, darling...It is over...Marcel is dead...I finally put an end to his murderous rampage. He shan't ever again harm another innocent soul..."
It was close to five in the morning when Claude Frollo aroused me from
a deep slumber. I had finally managed to drift off to sleep after hearing
the good news, but the rest didn't last for long. He was exhausted, and
injured; I could tell he was in considerable discomfort.
"Claude," I began hoarsely, still groggy from lack of sleep, "he hurt you..."
"I am fine, Nisha...May I...?" He indicated the bed; I nodded and scooted over. Ever so gingerly, Claude Frollo reclined on the bed; he tried not to wince but I knew he was in pain when his mouth twitched slightly. His hand flew to his right side as if it would alleviate his discomfort. I stroked his soft gray hair and kissed his lips, saying, "Julian and Iggy said that Marcel flipped a table on you, then he slammed you right in the same spot...Honey, let Momma call a doctor...You may have cracked ribs..."
Claude smiled thinly, then leaned over to kiss me. "I shall repeat, my dear: I will be fine...Only a bruise or two..."
Suddenly we heard the patter of little feet enter the room; those jingle
bells on the pajamas announced her approach. Then we heard a joyous voice,
"Papa!" Nadine ran to us, jumped onto the bed then hugged her father with
all the love and devotion a little kindergartner can display.
"I missed you, Papa...Mommy was sick but now she's all better because you're home." He returned his daughter's embrace, saying, "My darling Nadine, you have no idea how much I've missed you! I understand you are singing with your class..."
He stopped to catch his breath, then leaned over to me to whisper. "I think you had better contact your physician...I don't think I can stand this pain much longer..."
Then, "I have to return to Paris, to my own time, tomorrow, just to tidy up some loose ends...Then I shall return in time..."
He paused to stroke Nadine's hair; she had already gone back to sleep.
Claude then told me that, "I have never broken a promise, Danisha..."
COMING UP: The epilogue...
GO TO TIME 6:1
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