Secrets, Lies...

Chapter Four


The Time and Place: 1495 Paris, Palais de Justice. Two days after Claude Frollo learned some interesting news surrounding Danisha's death, he and Judge Phillipe Ouimet confer...

Grimacing from what Frollo had just told him, Judge Ouimet leaned back in his chair as he pondered his next move. The facts -- or at least what Claude could permit himself to reveal -- were there: Danisha Wood was indeed murdered, but how and by whom was still a mystery. Frollo revealed that Danisha had been given a hand-carved box which contained several pieces of candy. "The box did look rather familiar, Phillipe," Claude said. "I recall seeing it in Chantelle's confection shop just days before Bernard LaCroix's murder. The boy carved it himself and gave it to Danisha -- How it turned up in Chantelle's is still a mystery."
The lid's carving -- a scene featuring exotic wildlife and the words "Je ljubav zauvijek?" ("Is love forever?" in Slovenian) -- was a mystery as well. Claude Frollo never recalled seeing those words until now -- Even Danisha herself knew that, "Bernard didn't do that inscription; he did just the animal scene. Aren't those words in a Slavic language or something similar?"
It was Phillipe who figured out the language. "I don't understand that, Claude. Why, the phrase's language and the picture are not remotely related to each other...Why, an African scene with a Slovenian caption 'Is love forever?' are so incongruous..."

Claude Frollo sprang to his feet and began to pace the room furiously. He was decidedly livid that one of his trusted spies may have had ulterior motives. Yet, Claude couldn't tell Phillipe everything -- the time travel, the many 20th and 21st Century friends he had made -- so Claude Frollo made do with Fern's findings. Yes, that candy -- little sweetly spiced gumdrops -- had been generously laced with a toxic substance, but whose properties were still being tested. All Fern could tell Frollo was that the toxin was "close to that poison Marcel painted on Henry Clay's peppermint sticks"
Then there was the matter of the missing device; someone had that thing and recently blasted him or herself to somewhere in or near medieval Paris. And Johnny Elmore...What was his angle? Why would Johnny so suddenly take an unauthorized time trip? It all didn't make sense. "Unless, there IS a connection between Clopin and..."
Claude's face hardened as he continued to pace about like a caged animal awaiting feeding time. He felt frustrated and betrayed beyond imagination. "Phillipe, I can't believe this is happening! One of my own spies -- total disloyalty! But Johnny Elmore was one of Nisha's childhood friends; why harm her? I don't understand it..."

Phillipe Ouimet, finally persuading Claude Frollo to relax and sit down, told him that he already had every available spy combing "every square inch of Paris and beyond. If your Johnny Elmore is in any way involved, I'm sure the evidence will eventually reveal itself."
He sighed; something else was on Phillipe's mind. Seeing fit to change to the subject for the time being, Phillipe suggested a day trip to the country. "Claude, I have yet to call on Evrard, and it will give us a chance to talk along the way. Truthfully Claude, I want your Madame Fern and M. Julian McNaney on this case; perhaps we can include her brother..."
The former Minister of Justice managed a slight smile -- He actually looked forward to working with Fern again, even though Claude Frollo was merely in an advisory position. No longer was he Judge Frollo and he had to remind himself of this every day despite his 21st Century friends' insistence on addressing him as "Your Honor".
However, at this moment, neither Claude Frollo nor Phillipe Ouimet would have the pleasure of postmodern expertise; an accidental transport forced the inventors of the Timescape to take drastic measures.

Year 2005...In light of recent events, Jacki and Tony Terrell ponder their next move...
Bright mid morning sunshine streamed through the cellar windows as Jacki, a petite thirty-something woman, sat at her computer screen. Jacki Darcey-Terrell, brilliant as well as beautiful with her small frame, light brown sugar complexion, greenish-brown eyes and sandy hair, hadn't slept very well since someone had snatched Danisha's time traveling device. That person was now somewhere in 15th Century France. Who would dare to take Nisha's device was one thing, but when Jacki discovered that Johnny Elmore, the man who had been so recently a Frollo spy, had also taken off for the 15th, both she and Tony had to take precautions.
"I put Nisha's device on automatic lockdown, Tony," she said to her husband Tony, a handsome young man with a neatly picked out Afro that began to thin on top. "Whoever has that can't take any more time trips -- that means he or she can't come home yet. That also means that messages can't be sent or received. Heck the thing won't open..."
"Damn, Jacki, I thought we had all the bugs worked out on this thing...I guess we better send a blanket message to everyone. Jacki, I don't like this but to be on the safe side, why not shut the whole thing down so we can go through those printouts."  Tony flipped through stacks and stacks of hard copies on which was recorded every  time trip and transtemporal message sent and received during the past month. "We have everyone's codes so a little backtracking's in order."
He then put his arm around his wife's shoulder and gently said, "I know you're still hurting about Danisha and all. Then all this noise coming from the prosecutor's office -- that Nisha might have been murdered -- hasn't helped at all."
Jacki glanced at her husband then back at the screen. This morning she was especially thankful the boys weren't around to witness their mother's anguish. "At least I'm glad Mark and Marshall have preschool; I can't have them see their momma all shaken up." She returned her attention to the screen as she reentered codes. All along she thought of the woman who had been her teacher, then her friend. She remembered when Danisha, a young energetic student teacher, took on the senior government class. Both Jacki and Tony were in that class and they predicted that nothing but good would come Ms. Wood's way.
"But not this time," Jacki muttered to herself. It's still so incredible! A few weeks ago Nisha and Claude were celebrating the holidays after an exhausting, perilous manhunt through time. Who knew the twists and turns life had in store for these two special people. Jacki, still tapping the keyboard and scanning the screen, thought of little Nadine, who Jacki's boys came to love as a sister. She'll never forget how her twin sons latched onto Nadine all during the reception following the funeral. They only wanted Nadine not to feel so sad, but then there was Claude...Poor man! Indeed, Claude Frollo's very welfare was Jacki's top concern; the man from medieval France had not only to deal with his sudden loss, but the fact that Nisha may have met with foul play...
Her mouth quivered; the fingers shook as she continued to enter codes. It was Tony who decided that the entire system had to be shut down; no one could take time trips or send and receive messages. "It's the only way to go, baby. Folks may not like it but we have to figure why so many glitches in the program."

Suddenly, without warning, Jacki Terrell immediately broke down in uncontrollable sobs. The young woman who wanted to be "just like Ms. Wood", with all the strength and courage, could no longer hide her frustration. Her husband knelt beside her, took her in his arms and gently rocked her. "I know it's been hard on you, baby...I think stuff is happening a little too fast for my comfort."  After he convinced his wife to take a break, Tony volunteered to send the message to all their time traveling friends.

To everyone:
As soon as you receive this message the Timescape will be shut down for an indefinite period. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO TAKE TIME TRIPS OR SEND & RECEIVE MESSAGES! So for the time being, your devices are useless; you can't even open them. But keep them close by as Jacki and I should have the problem cleared up ASAP. We will issue an "all clear" message (the beeps will sound like "Row Your Boat" -- don't ask -- it was the boys' idea) Keep the peace

1495 Paris, Notre Dame's bell tower...
"Master, does that mean Nadine won't be visiting us after all?"
Quasimodo, still the cathedral's bell ringer, cleared away luncheon dishes as Claude Frollo closed his device. The former judge dreaded the next several days -- several long lonely days without his daughter's company.

What a time for Antoine to shut down the entire system! And I could use some help from Fern and Daniel (Iggy)...And where is Julian?

Just then Claude's device went off again. It was a personal message from Jacki.

Tony told me about the murder investigation -- I'm going over the transtemporal transcripts right now although it isn't easy -- I can't stop thinking about Nisha and all. Maybe it's why I'm doing this...I found something interesting right away. Johnny made several trips to 1962 Detroit without our knowledge...I have no idea why he took these trips but they were made right after Nisha died. I guess you hoped Fern and Iggy could come to the 15th and help you out. I haven't heard from Julian but if you're worried about him you -- make that we -- should be concerned. Last time I checked he was in 1889 Johnstown PA (the great flood of '89) Let's pray he'll be all right. Love to you and all our 15th Century friends. Hopefully we'll get Timescape fixed before Minister Ouimet's formal induction.

"Well, seems one of my 21st Century spies owes an explanation...Quasimodo," Claude turned to his charge and asked a favor. "I'm aware that I'm no longer Minister of Justice, and that I should let Judge Ouimet do his job with no interference from me. However, seeing that our futuristic friends are unable to make a trip, it is up to us..."
The bellringer already read Frollo's mind. "You want me to keep my eyes peeled in case Johnny shows up."
"Precisely, dear boy," said Frollo as he prepared to leave. "Since you have the ability to move freely about Paris as 'just the bellringer', no one would suspect a thing...Yes, keep a bright lookout for Johnny Elmore."   Then, just before descending the bell tower steps, Frollo expressed hope that all will go well, but, "Right now my heart aches for Nadine; she is still dealing with the loss of her mother...Ah, speaking of children and lost mothers...!"

Claude Frollo nearly forgot that he promised he'd accompany Phillipe to Maison des Chenes, the new home of Phillipe's brother, Evrard. In a way, Claude welcomed this time for a little diversion; besides, he was about to lay eyes on the man with whom Claude had taken a vested interest. He hadn't seen Evrard for more than a decade; in fact, the last time he saw Evrard was a full month before Claude met Danisha that summer. Late during that spring of 1482, Evrard decided to take off to Marseilles in search of greener pastures.

Phillipe was waiting for Claude at Notre Dame's main entrance. Like clockwork the new Minister of Justice said to Claude Frollo, "I am sorry, but I just received word that your M. Elmore has been seen somewhere near that old monastery...My contacts are certain that this place is the Court of Miracles."
Claude was literally salivating at the thought that the famed and elusive Gypsy home was now within his grasp. However...
No! This is Phillipe's...I am no longer Judge Frollo...must resist...

"I see, Phillipe. And I've received word that my New World friends are unable to make the journey -- Hmm -- conflicting schedules and all. As much as I'd looked forward to..."
"Say no more, Claude. I had expressly hoped to work with your Madame Fern and M. McNaney." Judge Ouimet, seeing that Claude Frollo had not quite divorced himself from his former life, quickly changed the subject.  "All this development has altered my plans somewhat. If you should see Evrard please give him my regrets..."
All the while Phillipe made up some excuse why he couldn't call on his brother, Claude Frollo's thoughts turned to Jehan -- and to Evrard. Why? Why are two brothers so different? Jehan and I...Phillipe and Evrard... Evrard is a model sibling; Phillipe should be honored to have such illustrious kinsman....Jehan has done nothing but made a shambles of his life -- The little he's done can't ever foster any sense of pride...

...Evrard was Francois' favorite; that, among other reasons, is why Phillipe is so bitter...

Meanwhile, at Maison  des Chenes, an unexpected visitor raises curiosities. Read on...
He didn't mean to sneak into the bedchamber but he had to see this stranger; hearing Clarice describe this woman filled Orry with such an insatiable curiosity. He remembered how Clarice had admonished him before, "Orry! You are not to disturb our guest! She is very ill -- Let her be!"

Orry Ouimet, a bundle of seven-year-old energy, had fibbed that he was going out to meet his father. So, when no one was looking, Orry stealthly made his way towards the stranger's bedchamber. He had to see for himself this intriguing woman Clarice found two days before. They found her lying in the snow-laden meadow, all shivering and quite unconscious. She wore very strange clothing -- the black dress was so short; her legs all exposed; the hose too sheer and flimsy; the hair a mass of tangles. Yet there was something about the woman's face that made Clarice take pause. This woman, a total stranger, had the bearing of nobility. "I could see it in her eyes as we brought her to the house," was what Clarice told her husband Anseau. For two days, the woman hovered in and out of consciousness; it was feared the poor soul wouldn't last beyond the first night.

Upon entering, Orry crouched down to the floor as not wanting to be detected. He scrambled to the enormous velvet draped bed; he was relieved that no one else was in this room. That is of course, besides this house guest. He peeked through heavy burgundy velvet drapes and finally saw her close-up. Orry Ouimet smiled even broader as he gazed upon her bright and clear honey-brown complexion. The shape of her features were quite pleasing to the eye. Oh she is so pretty! Father will like her, I'm sure.
Orry stared at her for what seemed like an eternity but he knew it would be a matter of time before Clarice discovered his deception. He turned to leave the room when he suddenly heard her stir. She stared right at him when she finally said somewhat groggily, "W-Where am I? What is this? Who are you?" Orry smiled and said, "My name is Orry. This is my father's house. My cousin Clarice and her ladies found you in the big meadow."
The woman struggled to sit up; Orry, ever the little gentleman, assisted her. He handed her a shawl as she replied, "Pleased to meet you, Orry. Mine is Dorothy Ducharme."
She managed to smile at the boy, then became rather curious herself. Upon examining her current surroundings, the way Orry was dressed, and herself dressed in a  chemise of creamy silk, she asked Orry, "Excuse my ignorance, but...What year is this?"

Orry Ouimet giggled with delight and amazement when he replied, "Oh what an odd question to ask! But maybe you don't know, with you being out in the weather for so long. It's January 1495."


Two people become better acquainted...A desperate meeting...A bogged down investigation...

To Chapter 5!

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