"I do believe the ball was about this size", Claude Frollo
said as he held up a hefty Rome Beauty. "I thought you
to be reminded of that 'unfortunate incident', Claude", I
I nodded my approval of the apples he had chosen.
We ended a full day's activities and Claude was getting tired. I could always tell when he's had enough, for he appeared clearly agitated and became easily irritated at the slightest provocation. Come to think of it, he was in a similar mood on that fateful day. I reminded myself to tread softly whenever he gets this way, especially when brought on by too much work, or, in this case, too much pleasure.
On the way home, Claude looked at me and said, "Danisha, looking back on it, the whole incident was so insignificant. Yet, we nearly lost each other..."
Within minutes we wheeled into my driveway. Once inside,
Claude started a cozy fire while I unpacked cider, apples,
I called out to Claude, "Do you still like lots of cinnamon
in your cider, baby?"
"Claude, did you hear me?" I walked into the living room to find Claude Frollo stretched out in front of the fireplace, sound asleep. Poor thing. All that running around really wore him out, I guess our treat will have to wait.
I gently covered him with a blanket, snuggled next to him, and pondered his words, "We nearly lost each other." And all because of the unfortunate combination of a pleasant afternoon, an ill-tempered official, and an errant baseball.
What a glorious afternoon! The Parisian summer
proved to be quite pleasant, nothing like the oppressive
hot, humid days
Fern had left Paris a few days before because she had promised her son a trip to Texas before he started his second year at college. Fern didn't want to leave me alone in Paris but she had no choice. "Can you manage to keep yourself occupied while I'm gone?", she asked.
"Sure, Fern. Go on. Have a good time", I said, adding, "I'll stay out of trouble. Promise." Fern hugged me good-bye, "Good! Keep it that way. I don't want to return and find you stuffed in the stocks...or worse."
I knew she was referring to Claude Frollo, but I wasn't worried; Claude and I were on friendly terms. What could possibly go wrong?
The kids had begged me to teach them some new games, so I brought out all this playground stuff: jump ropes, balls, and baseball equipment. I was hesitant about bringing the baseball stuff, knowing that it would be nearly 400 years before the game's invention, but what the heck: Just throw the ball and hit it, what's so difficult about that?
The children were truly fascinated with learning baseball. I'll admit, for 15th century kids, they quickly picked up on the game.
I took the kids to the square near the Palace of Justice to practice pitching and hitting. One little boy had a tough time swinging the bat, and I, being the patient teacher I am, offered to show him the proper swinging technique.
Now I'm not the athletic type; in fact, the last time I held a bat was in high school, and I was lucky I could hit the ball. "Here, honey", taking the bat in my hands, "let me show you. Keep your eye on the ball." A little girl with a potent pitching arm threw a fast ball. I missed it. The kids started laughing, but I was cool about it. "Okay, so I'm a little rusty. That's all right, baby", I told her, "just pitch it again."
She pitched it hard and fast this time, and, with a stroke of luck, I hit it! Crack! The sound of the ball against the wooden bat was like heavenly music. Then I heard the shattering of glass, a sound every ballplayer dreads. Sure enough, I had hit the ball with such force, it sailed up and across the square, and straight through Judge Frollo's window.
The kids were visibly frightened, for they knew Frollo would surely and severely punish them, but I told them not to worry. It was my ball and I broke the window. . I'll just apologize, offer to pay for damages, and he'll forgive me. End of story. I had no inkling of what was to transpire between us as I ascended the Palace steps.
Come on, I swallowed hard as I knocked at the door leading to his study, he'll forgive you. After all, we're friends...right?
"Come in, Danisha," Claude softly said.
I briskly entered the room and immediately began atoning for my carelessness.
"Oh, Claude, I'm so SORRY about the window. I'll help pay for it, I swear I will. We shouldn't have been playing so close..."
Claude Frollo shot me a look that could melt the polar icecaps. "Give me one good reason why I should not arrest you now."
I was taken aback. Surely he wouldn't punish me even after I apologized. "Claude, I said I was sorry. What else do you want? Look, I'll work it off...help pay for replacing the window. I'll wash all the windows. I'll even scrub the floors with a toothbrush. Just say you accept my apology."
Claude pondered a bit, still staring icily at me. Finally, he said, "You have admitted your guilt, offered an apology, and I must say I'm touched by your offer to pay for the damages. However, horrible as it is, I must do my duty."
I trembled with fear and anger. I was afraid of being punished and angry that Claude Frollo, a man who professed to be my 'friend', could once again turn on me just like that.
"How can you do this? I thought we we're friends. We were really getting along..."
Claude interrupted, "Oh my dear Nisha, we are still friends, but..." He paused in mid-sentence, then snapped his fingers and said, "I have an idea! Working off the debt does seem like a viable alternative. You shall perform so many hours of work, I'll forget this little incident, and all's well." Claude offered a slight smile as I sighed with relief, "Claude, I don't know...thank you." Then I added, "Now that's over, may I please have my ball?"
Claude Frollo looked at me with twinkling eyes, then walked over to his desk and deposited the ball in a drawer. "I'll return this offending party when your debt is satisfied, and no sooner."
My eyes were wide with disbelief! "That was a special autographed ball! I caught that last year and waited in line for God-knows how long for...How could you?"
"Let me repeat. You shall have your ball once you fulfill your punishment." Claude walked over to the broken window and traced the jagged glass remains. "You shall start tomorrow. I'll have ready a list of duties to be performed. Do try to be on time, my dear."
He flashed a wide, wicked grin, his voice was cold and distant. I wanted to sock him, really ram my fist into his smug, smiling face.
"And how long will this punishment last?"
"The remainder of your vacation", came his quick response.
"You can't do that! What will I tell Fern? What about Quasi? The kids?..." I was too angry to speak any more.
Claude walked up behind me, hissing in my ear, "Well, Danisha dear, you should have thought of that before. Now, take your punishment or else..."
"Or else what?...you know, I really should knock you out!" And with that, I swung around and was ready to deliver a perfect right hook, but Claude quickly grabbed my arm and I found myself locked against him. "You lowdown, mean son-of-a...let me go!", I screamed as I struggled to free myself.
Claude Frollo wickedly laughed in my ear, "You really are a WILD one!" The more he laughed, the angrier I became. I kept struggling in his grasp - Damn, but he was strong! - and called him every filthy name I could think of. I kicked, I screamed, and, in a last-ditch move, I locked my foot behind his, knocking us off balance.
In a tangle of black velvet and blue calico, we tumbled to the floor, with me still kicking and flailing away. Somehow, C ab8 laude managed to pin me down on my back.
"How DARE you! How DARE you!", he said through clenched teeth as he pinned down my arms. I couldn't move an inch; he was that strong.
"Claude! All right! I give up! Just let me go!" Visions of me dangling from a rope, stretched out on the rack, or, I shuddered, tied to a stake raced through my mind.
"Claude!", I begged, "Didn't you hear me? I said I give..."
Without warning, Claude's mouth came crashing down on mine. I tried to free myself, but his kiss...it was so physical, insistant, intensely passionate. Claude relaxed his grip, I stopped fighting, and soon my arms encircled him. His hands were entangled in my hair, and mine stroked his soft iron gray locks. I could feel myself tremble with enjoyment, but my mind kept fighting what my body was feeling.
Suddenly, Claude released me, sat up, and looked at me with pained eyes. "Oh, my darling", he said with panting breath, "I didn't mean...Oh, Danisha, please forgive me."
I was too angry, too confused to say anything. All I could do was fight back tears. As I got to my feet, Claude caught my hand, kissed it, but I pulled away.
"Please", he begged, tears streaming down his face, "stay with me." He reached out to me again, but I stood my ground. Through tears I said, "I wish I never came to Paris, I wish I never met you." I fumbled through my skirt pocket and pulled out a coin. Just before I turned to leave, I tossed it to him.
"What is this?', asked Claude, his voice still quavering.
"In the immortal words of Travis Tritt: 'Here's a Quarter, Call Someone Who Cares'."
I walked out of the room, only to hear Claude Frollo's booming voice behind me, "Get out! Get out of my sight, out of Paris, and out of my life!"
I then heard the crashing of books and furniture. I paused outside the door and I could hear him say "Damn her!", over and over, punctuated by muffled sobs.
I almost re-entered the room; I actually began opening the door, but then I decided, who cares -- Let him have his tantrum. Then I walked out of the Palace of Justice for what I thought would be the very last time.
Once home, I started packing my things. Heck, I wouldn't even wait for Fern. I'll hitch a ride on a boat to England, stow away on one of those spice-and-silk trips to the Orient. Whatever. I desperately needed to get out of Paris and out of Claude Frollo's life.
To chapter 12!
CopyrightŠ1997 by FrolloFreak.