Had it been that long since Jehan Frollo set foot in the Palais? He sighed as he surveyed the grand entry hall with its double-vaulted ceilings, delicate moldings, marble floors, and endless streams of light pouring from the numerous stained glass windows. Although Jehan still marveled at this structure, he remembered his last visit -- as a material witness in Marcel Rougelot's escape through time. It was down in the dungeons where then-Judge Claude Frollo interrogated his own brother. It was also where Jehan Frollo nearly met his end. And now, just as Jehan Frollo seemed serious about getting his life back on track, he had words with Claude. Well...Jehan did have pertinent news concerning Evrard Ouimet's fiancée, and Jehan literally burst when Evrard introduced Dorothy. The resemblance was so uncanny! But surely this Mlle Ducharme cannot be Danisha Wood. Then again...
Jehan tried his darnedest to explain all this to Claude, yet Claude would hear none of it. Instead, Claude Frollo, deep in the pit of his own despair, lashed out at Jehan and blamed his brother's lifelong self-absorption and dissipation for Danisha's death. All right, so Claude was right; I allowed myself to be sucked into that sinister murder plot, to be used as the worst kind of pawn...
However, all was not lost for Jehan; for upon his arrival in Paris, he quickly settled in Nisha's pied a terre. How sweet of Nisha to entrust Jehan with keys to her home, even though Claude never knew. Whenever Jehan needed a place to stay, Danisha's home was always open to him.
He walked into what he thought was an empty house, a house which hadn't been occupied since Nisha's last visit. Hmm...and that was last fall...
What a boon for Jehan, who, while searching the cellar for food, found
incriminating evidence. Claude's postmodern spy, Johnny Elmore, had been
there; Jehan could tell by the fresh clothes, recently eaten food, and
notebook that Johnny kept. But why would Elmore come here? What made Jehan
even more suspicious was that curious packet he found amongst Johnny's
belongings. The moment Jehan opened that packet, and examined its contents,
he instantly made the connection. But how?! How did Johnny Elmore pull
it off?! This is incredible!
Soon thereafter, Jehan made it his personal goal to prove his suspicions. First, he searched Danisha's house, gathering a few items which he'd hoped would jar a memory. Then, placing those items in a large basket, he paid a couple of young boys to carry to Evrard's Parisian home. "Just leave it on the doorstep," he explained, "and if one should question the basket's contents, say it is for the New World lady."
Secondly, Jehan knew he could no longer share his news with Claude, so he took it upon himself to take his findings to Judge Phillipe Ouimet. Jehan already knew of Minister Ouimet's suspicions surrounding Danisha's death -- It was the chief topic of conversation at Chateau d'Arcy as Phoebus often kept Jehan abreast with the latest developments. And now, armed with probably the most shocking information, Jehan Frollo found himself ushered into Minister Ouimet's private chambers.
Although the current and former Minister of Justice were friends as
well as colleagues, Phillipe bore Jehan little ill. Of course, he had witnessed
Jehan, who was often broke due to his penchance for gambling and women,
deliver excuse after pathetic excuse. Claude Frollo, despite his firm yet
loving lectures on responsible living, watched with increasing disgust
his brother slide back into the abyss of dissipation and debauchery.
Of the few to whom Jehan responded, recalled Phillipe, the New World woman -- the one named Danisha -- managed to keep the younger Frollo in check. But she was no longer alive, no longer around to counsel Jehan. In a way, out of respect for the woman he admired for these many years, Phillipe Ouimet decided to hear out Jehan Frollo.
So, behind the heavy doors of Judge Ouimet's private chambers, Jehan Frollo relayed it all: The visit to Maison des Chénes; the meeting of Evrard's 'New World fiancée, and the uncanny resemblance. Jehan also told Phillipe how his attempts to inform Claude of this revelation fell upon deaf ears. Phillipe listened intently as Jehan explained everything and became especially intrigued when Jehan mentioned a certain Johnny Elmore.
"So," began Judge Ouimet, "Elmore has been staying at Mlle Wood's home here in Paris. The man was literally under our noses...But how did he manage...?" Jehan explained, "There is a cellar. I surmised that Elmore stayed down there, out of sight. Perhaps he only went out after dark. But he hasn't been there for several days; I could tell by the state of the food and wine."
Phillipe Ouimet leaned back in his chair, listening to each and every bit of information. He thought of Evrard who by now was on the verge of remarrying. But this Dorothy Ducharme -- what if indeed she is, in reality, Danisha Wood. Impossible! The woman is dead! The good judge then told Jehan, "Return to your lodgings, Jehan Frollo. I shall station soldiers nearby -- just to keep a watch on the place, that is if Elmore decides to return. As for the man himself, my spies last saw him near the old mill not too far from the city gates. I highly suspect that the Gypsy King Clopin is there as well. Hmm....I wonder..."
Jehan fidgeted impatiently. He tugged at his doublet collar. He played with the lone amber ring on his right hand. Finally he asked, "But what about Mlle Ducharme? Call me slightly insane, but I insist that she has to be...Look! See these things for yourself!"
Jehan Frollo suddenly ripped open the manila envelope and spilled out its contents onto the table. Phillipe Ouimet surveyed these little trinkets, saying, "And what are these things?" Judge Ouimet picked up a brooch in the shape of an ivy leaf surrounded by pearls. "Unusual piece," Ouimet said, "but what do these trinkets have to do with...?"
Jehan interrupted, "That was her pin from her...er...ladies' group. And this," he said as he picked up a tiny silver charm bracelet, "is Nadine's bracelet -- the daughter, remember?" Without stopping, Jehan picked up the simple gold band, saying, "And this is the very ring Claude was to slip onto her finger! This is her wedding ring! Claude had it inscribed; I know because he showed it to me right before I...well...before I became a pawn in that awful conspiracy."
Phillipe, somewhat stunned by this news, finally asked Jehan, "Where did you find these items? And what do they have to do with Evrard's fiancée?"
"Phillipe, she -- Danisha -- was buried with these items. Claude told me this when he returned from the funeral. Nadine put her bracelet into the coffin, and Claude...Well, Joseph Wood, Nisha's father, witnessed Claude slipping the wedding band into the coffin. That was right before they closed it...What I don't understand is how Elmore had these items in his possession..."
Jehan indicated the third charm on the bracelet. "See this one, the one in the shape of a heart? I was with Claude on the day of purchase. Ask Nisha's mother. She was present when we gave this charm to Nadine that Christmas...Claude always gave her a new charm on Christmas..."
Eyes wide with astounding shock, Phillipe interrupted, "Jehan Frollo!
Did you say Elmore had these items?"
"Yes, sir. I found them in the cellar, stashed along with his other belongings."
"Tell me more, Jehan. I want to hear of your visit with my brother and this Mlle Ducharme. Don't leave out a single detail!"
Ever since that fateful Christmas Eve, Ronita regretted ever meeting
John Elmore. He was not the most promising or desirable catch, but he was
personable and persuasive enough. Initially, Ronita enjoyed being with
Johnny; his slightly warped humor and easygoing manner was especially attractive.
But she detected something strange: She felt he wasn't "all there". Usually
Johnny would share with her some of his most unusual cases, except the
last. He never said much about this last case; Ronita thought the silence
was necessary as Johnny said it was 'Top Secret". He never mentioned the
time travel, the transtemporal manhunt, or the fact that he nearly died
at the hands of a medieval French serial killer.
However, early in the case, Ronita, upon paying Johnny a surprise visit, became suspicious as he hastily ended a computer session. When she asked him, "What's the hurry? Afraid I'd see something I wasn't supposed to?" In response, he made up plausible excuses, saying that he was experimenting with new computer codes. She remembered how nervous he seemed; he was literally perspiring and shaking.
After that episode, and after Johnny had departed for his special assignment, Ronita finally decided to do a little digging. Between that week before Christmas and the night of Danisha Wood's sudden death, Ronita put it all together: Johnny was still nursing an unhealthy infatuation with Danisha. Now Ronita didn't bear any ill will toward Nisha, on the contrary. She and Nisha had been good friends for several years -- They were tent mates at Girl Scout camp; they were sorority sisters. Both had chosen education as their life's work -- Ronita owned and operated a prestigious preschool while Danisha branched out into the private sector.
Also, Ronita knew Danisha was currently seeing someone, a man who Ronita felt was "so right for you, Nisha." She fondly remembered Claude Frollo; Danisha introduced him to Ronita years ago at a charity fashion show. Ooh, he was so handsome, so mannerly, so debonair...Danisha was crazy about him as he was about her...Claude was the only man at their table, and he kept the ladies entertained with his stories, his graciousness...
...And Johnny was there...I could tell he wasn't too thrilled with seeing Danisha with this man...
After all these years, Ronita said nothing, even after she and Johnny
officially 'broke up' -- They still saw each other from time to time, but
there was nothing serious. Ronita hardly said anything to Danisha concerning
Johnny's increasing obsession. Nisha would laugh it all off and tell Ronita
to stop worrying over nothing. But things finally fell into place when
Ronita just happened to drop by Johnny's place those last few days before
Christmas. Johnny was not home so Ronita, as always, let herself in. She
still had access to his apartment only because sometimes he would let her
use his computer.
It was there, while looking for whiteout, that Ronita discovered it all -- Johnny Elmore was totally obsessed with Danisha Wood. There, in a closet, hundreds of photographs lined the walls. On the shelf was a tape player which contained a cassette -- Ronita depressed the play button and heard Nisha's words. "How could one man be so sick?," she wondered out loud.
Climbing upon a chair, she reached further back and found it -- A copy of a computer program, a copy of Jacki and Tony Terrell's Timescape. She took advantage of the man's absence, thus was able to figure out exactly how one medieval serial killer managed to blast himself to 1859, 1937, and 1968. "This was NO accident! Johnny had the codes to all their devices -- and he used Jehan Frollo's code...But how did he know that Marcel had Jehan's device...?"
And that's what brought Ronita back to Johnny's apartment on this dreary February day. Knowing that Johnny was obviously on the run, Ronita immediately went to the closet, retrieved that program, then got on the phone.
"Hello, Jacki? This is Ronita Jones...Yes! How are you? On yes, I still miss her too...Say, I got your number out of Johnny's Rolodex...I understand the investigation is stalled...Well, I don't blame him...Hmm? Oh yeah! I'm over at Johnny's and I found something that may interest you and Tony...Oh man! Let's just say we got ourselves a real rat in the woodpile...What? I know it's on lockdown...Well, once you guys learn how and why the thing kept stalling and all, then...Well, I don't want to explain over the phone...Yeah, I can make it over there in, say, fifteen minutes...Bye!"
Little did Johnny Elmore know that his former girlfriend and confidante
was also a time traveler AND a Frollo spy. Ronita, the pirated program
tucked in her bag, at last surveyed the tumbled apartment and said. "Well,
Nisha, it looks like you didn't die in vain -- Johnny will pay this
time, that is, if we can find him. My only wish is that Claude Frollo will
be able to forgive his brother -- Jehan was used all right and NOT just
by the duChamps and Rougelot..."
Timescape's problems are solved...Jehan charms Dottie...A grieving Claude Frollo receives a mysterious caller...
CLICK FOR CHAPTER 11!
Copyright©1999 by FrolloFreak®