Now it had been nearly two weeks since Claude Frollo learned that his New World lady might have met with foul play. That suspicion was confirmed, as discovered by Jacki Terrell, that Johnny Elmore had taken several time trips to 1962 Detroit AND 1494 Paris. All these trips coincided with Nisha's sudden illness and death. Fern's chemist also confirmed that those gumdrops Danisha consumed had been generously laced with a powerful toxin; Frollo's New World spy also learned of that toxin's properties, and what it did to Danisha's system. Then there was timely news from Vixen; she told Fern everything: the crossed wires, the deception, the botched "Plan B". What was so astounding about was the fact that Johnny knew that Julian issued the 'all clear' -- Fern delivered the news herself after the last of those conspirators had been apprehended.
"Then, Vixen, Johnny lied to both you and Julian, " Fern told Claude's
22nd lady, "and now he's taken off to Paris circa 1495 to cover his tracks.
But I don't get it. Why did he go back when he's sure to be spotted? If
not by Claude Frollo or Minister Ouimet, then he's bond to run into Clopin.
And then there's the matter of this bill from Chantelle's..."
Vixen Zeddmore flicked a stray strand of auburn hair from her polished ivory complexion as she told Fern, "That Christmas, when Johnny gave Nisha that box of candy, I thought something was up. I mean, I remember seeing that thing in Nisha's Parisian homestead. Then Johnny said he found the box in Chantelle's sweet shop --- How did that box get from Nisha's home to Chantelle's?"
Fern Grigsby, a large handsome woman in her late fifties, with a mass of curly reddish blond hair, picked up an envelope off the coffee table. Inside was the chemist's report. "My hunch," she said as she handed the report to Vixen, "is that Johnny lifted that box from Nisha's then had stashed it Chantelle's. The candy never came from the 15th -- read the report. My guess is that ol' Johnny had someone at the shop carve those words, then he simply put the tainted gumdrops inside."
Vixen's jaw dropped as she scanned the sheet. "Fern...the candy is...Johnny
bought that candy -- HERE??!!"
"That's right. The report states those gumdrops' main ingredients were sugar and corn syrup -- Go on, Vixen, figure it out. Sugar was a luxury back in Claude's day -- Heck, corn syrup? Corn was still unknown..."
Fern then explained that Johnny had to inject the poison into the candy. "They found pinholes in several places. Actually I was told that one must either paint the stuff on or inject..."
Now Vixen got it. "Ah, like Marcel Rougelot painted Clay's peppermint sticks...Hmm...Gumdrops are soft so injection was the only way."
Oh yes, Fern and Vixen finally figured out how one man's obsessive love
for Danisha Wood drove him to kill the object of his affections. Yet, for
all these timely revelations, the 21st Century friends couldn't share their
findings with Claude Frollo. With Timescape still out of commission, the
former judge had to make do with his 1495 contemporaries.
"I bet Claude wishes Julian was here," Vixen finally said after staring out Fern's front window. Momentarily changing the subject, Vixen then expressed hope that Julian would be all right. "Maybe it's looking out at all this water -- You know, the reservoir and all...Poor Julian, stuck in 1889 Johnstown..."
Fern signed, saying, "Yeah, I hope the guy doesn't caught up in all that flooding...But you know what?"
"I bet Johnny wished he hadn't double-crossed Claude Frollo...or Clopin." Mrs. Grigsby then added that the mystery time traveler who blasted off with Danisha's device, "May be in hot water themselves...Once Claude gets hold of them..."
Vixen, now concerned that this person who, right now, is wandering 1495 Paris, said with some trepidation, "Maybe that person was a friend of Johnny's, which means there's trouble ahead...I don't like this, Fern. I can sense that so many hearts are about to be broken..."
It was last spring, near the end of the school year, when Johnny Elmore
wrapped another long term assignment as a sub teacher. He ran into Nisha
at the building; of course by then so much changed for the woman he loved
from afar. She was a successful businesswoman, a devoted mother, and thoroughly
committed to education and the teaching profession. Nisha was there, at
the building, busily setting up summer workshops. They ran into each other
in the hall and passed the lunch period talking over old times. It had
been so long since Johnny saw her -- the last time was several years ago,
before she met a certain medieval magistrate.
Later that day, after dismissal, Johnny, upon entering a deserted faculty workroom, caught Danisha sending a message to her 'sugarbritches'. Nisha had no choice but to confess, but it wasn't the first time Johnny saw one of those devices. Several months ago, he had the privilege of working alongside Julian McNaney, the enigmatic master of espionage. It started as a simple case with Johnny getting the goods on a cheating wife; proving to the bitter husband with whom she was doing the cheating would be difficult as she managed to cover her tracks. Fortunately there was Julian, fresh from a congressional sting operation -- and another job about which Julian never let on. But Johnny was grateful for the crash course in the latest high tech surveillance methods. The paltry income Johnny earned from both his subbing and detective work barely covered his living expenses. He seldom had the extra funds to purchase such state of the art gadgetry.
Anyway, armed with the knowledge that both Julian and Danisha had Timescapes, Johnny demanded that Nisha take him on a time trip. For Nisha that meant introducing her childhood friend to Fern, who, subsequently, turned out to be one of Johnny's English teachers back in high school. "I didn't know you taught Johnny Elmore!", exclaimed a shocked Nisha Wood when Johnny and Fern met face to face. "Yeah," replied her good friend, "Johnny was just a cute little freshman -- He found Tech High was so overwhelmingly huge. I just took the boy under my wing..."
Fern Grigsby, or Nisha for that matter, had no idea that Johnny Elmore, that "sweet, cute little boy in the back row", would, in time, sell everyone out the moment he found himself blasting through time portals in that '59 Impala en route to the 15th Century. When he finally met Claude Frollo -- and observed the chemistry between the good judge and Danisha Wood -- he quietly told himself, "It's always as before...Whenever Nisha got herself in a serious relationship, I merely stepped aside. And this one is definitely the real thing...I've never gotten the nerve to tell her how much I like her...Claude Frollo's got it all: money, power, prestige...And Nisha has his child; that makes all the difference..."
But, in this present time, Claude Frollo had one thing less: Nisha Wood.
She, thought Johnny, was the one sure thing, and I could no longer 'stand
aside'. Johnny Elmore, upon quietly making his way down darkened, deserted
Parisian streets, silently seethed the many times his beloved Nisha suffered
all because of her love for Frollo. "She risked her life, and nearly died
several times trying to save his butt!"
Johnny remembered the tales Nisha and Fern shared with him: the old conspiracy, the daring rescues, and the many times Nisha found herself in hot water all due to the fact that she loved Claude Frollo heart and soul.
"She did all that for him, then he gets her pregnant and didn't even bother to marry her...Not until Nadine was in school did they finally decide to tie the knot! Well, not this time, Danisha! You've kept me dangling all this time -- I'm sorry, honey, but I had to do it. No more 'stepping aside'..."
And then Johnny thought of his duplicitous connection with Clopin, the Gypsy King. It was Julian who thought Clopin would be an able assistant -- although Claude Frollo never approved -- in exposing the duChamps' murder scheme. This unusual alliance worked beautifully for all concerned -- Clopin and his people were safe as long as he cooperated with Julian's investigation. Both Julian and Johnny knew the precise location of the Court of Miracles and never once breathed a word to Claude Frollo. Judge Frollo retired never learning the location of the famed Gypsy hideout.
Damn! And now the present Minister of Justice is onto us! When I landed here, in hopes of finding Dorothy...
How fortunate for Johnny to land so close to that old monastery, but
he and Clopin were being watched by not only Judge Ouimet's spies, but
by Frollo's minions as well. In time, the former Frollo spy's role in an
ill timed, ill fated plot would be revealed. Clopin would find himself
holding the proverbial 'bag'; Johnny made sure not one shred of evidence
would point to himself. He was wrong about that -- Fern Grigsby and Vixen
Zeddmore had the damning proof but it was stuck in the year 2005. So until
the Timescape was up and running again, Johnny was in the clear.
Then there was the matter of several Roma who didn't relish being double-crossed. Johnny Elmore's plan to lay the blame completely at Clopin's feet was soon met with a tap on the shoulder. As Johnny inched his way towards the river's edge, he felt hands touching him. When he slowly and cautiously turned around, he beheld two burly Roma while another grabbed him from behind, immobilizing his arms.
The first man spoke, "M. Johnny Elmore? Clopin wishes to speak with you -- again! Seems something's not right...Judge Ouimet's onto you, Johnny." Then the second addressed Johnny. "Clopin's not stupid. He knows you're trying to make it look like he's responsible for Danisha's death...This way, Monsieur."
That said, they instantly blindfolded the man and threw him in the back of a wagon. Where are they taking me? From that very moment, Johnny Elmore began to regret he ever let Dorothy Ducharme get her hands on that device. What if I never see her again? Hey, what if Clopin has her, and he wants to use her as a bargaining chip? Then what?
All because of a 'fatal attraction' that lasted more than thirty five years, Johnny's life was about to take a dramatic turn. And so would Dottie's...and Evrard's...and Jehan Frollo's...
...and, especially, Claude's...
Evrard brings his guest to Paris...Isabelle and Vincent LaCroix welcome old friends...Timescape is repaired...A "rat in the woodpile"...
HEAD FOR CHAPTER 7!
Copyright©1999 by FrolloFreak®