CHAPTER 20

Claude escorted me up to the belltower, while Quasimodo took Renee on a little tour of Notre Dame. We both endeavored to keep our amusement in check, but as soon as we reached the top, Claude Frollo fell to the floor, convulsing with uproarious laughter.
"My darling", he said between deep, throaty chuckles, "that was one of your best performances. The way you dispatched that gypsy vermin!" The melee between Esmeralda and myself became the talk of Paris; Claude didn't even try to stop me from my 'big payback'. Esmeralda was now locked away deep in the dungeons of the Palace of Justice. Claude would later interrogate her on the whereabouts of Malus' accomplice. I knew Claude had 'special' methods for making people talk, and I never questioned those methods.
Hmmm --- 'cruel and unusual punishment' --- a lot of folks in my time would say, "Bring back the rack!"
Claude caught me trying not to laugh. He held my hand and asked me, "Oh Danisha, dearest...Do you have to leave? I thought we could enjoy an extra week together, what with things turning out as they did." He leaned over and kissed my mouth, then, pulled something from his pocket. It was the pager.
"I know you have responsibilities at home, but, no matter." Claude sighed as I pulled my own pager from my purse. "We still have this; we're not that isolated.", I said, returning the kiss. Claude Frollo smiled and asked, "Do you remember when you received this little device?" I nodded, replying, "Do I ever! And I thought everything was a dream! Then..."
Claude finished my sentence, "Strange things began to happen..."


*************************

Was it all a dream? A summertime fantasy?

An hallucination brought on by too much exposure to Midwestern heat and humidity? I threw myself back into work and routine. Jacki had already returned to graduate school, and Kyle started his sophomore year at Ball State. I'll never forget Claude's expression when Kyle said he wanted to "be a teacher, just like Ma." I supposed Claude had hoped Kyle would go into law; after all, as Claude told me, "I had hoped to act as his mentor."
Yeah...right. Like Kyle's going to travel back in time just to start a law career. That would never happen -- could it?


I was beginning to wonder if I dreamed it all. But I still had the sterling silver key, and the tapestry which hung on my living-room wall. Many of my friends kept asking, "Where did you get that?" I just said, "A friend gave it to me." Whenever I looked at the tapestry, I wondered if Claude Frollo and I would ever cross paths agaim. Fern seldom mentioned our trip to medieval Paris; I guess she didn't want to upset me, seeing how painful it was for me to say me final good-byes to Claude. Oh well, as Claude always says, no matter.
As I said, I threw myself back into my old routine. Everything seemed to go smoothly; I was beginning to put Claude Frollo's memory 'on the back burner'. Then very odd things began to happen to me.
Fern and I made our annual visit to the State Fair, taking in all the agricultural and industrial achievements. Naturally, I wanted to see the farm animals. Fern left me to get us some lemonade, saying, "Why don't you mosey into the draft horse barn; I'll meet you in front ot the Percherons." I wandered up and down the aisles, marvelling at the Belgians, the Clydesdales, and, my favorites, the Percherons.
One particular animal seemed peculiarly friendly as I petted his nose. Hey, this one looks like Snowball...
A young man who was standing nearby spoke; his French-accented voice sounded awfully familiar. "You know, my brother owns such an animal. Fabulous black stallion." Something about the man's voice clicked. I wheeled around but saw no one but Fern, who was carrying two lemonades. "It ain't the fair without a lemonade shake-up", she said as she handed over a cup. "Damn good-lookin' animal!", was all Fern said as she studied the stallion.

Down in September, my old car gave out on me; I had no choice but to buy another.
I finally chose a late model Camry, recently repainted a lovely shade of violet. When I picked up my car, the mechanic told me, "My master...I mean, my boss made sure everything was in working order." I didn't get a good look at the young mechanic as I replied, "Thanks..." Then I noticed something else as I examined the inside. "What is this?", I asked, pointing to the violet button under the dash.
"Oh that", said the mechanic, "My master...I mean my boss said to give you this." He handed me a glossy booklet entitled, Traveling Tips. But this doesn't tell me about the button; and, I have all the travel books I need. "Wait a minute!", I called to the mechanic, who had already left the garage. I caught a glimpse of him as he crossed the parking lot. He was deformed, with a humped back, and walked with a slight limp.
This is getting too weird...but that guy can't be Quasi...


Yet, the oddest occurence was when I finally received that curious device; then, HE showed up on my doorstep.
It was the day of homecoming; I was looking forward to the pep rally and parade that afternoon. In the evening, Fern and I would attend the football game. The day started out as any other Friday. I joined my co-workers for our usual 'whoopee-it's-Friday' coffee hour. The early morning conversation centered around the rally and parade.
Just before my first class, I checked my message box. There was the usual stuff: attendance reports, minutes from a departmental meeting, booklists - and something else: A small box wrapped in shiny purple paper and tied with a black velvet ribbon. I thought it was an early birthday present, so I locked the package in my car until school ended.
After the rally and parade, I unlocked the glove compartment and removed the package. I untied the ribbon and, very carefully, removed the paper. I cautiously opened the box and took out what looked like a pocket pager - but this was unlike any pager I've ever seen. It was about the size of a poker deck, but not as thick. It was of the most exqusite sterling silver, with tiny amethysts encircling the front and edges. I flipped it open; there was array of buttons, and a screen. Immediately, the pager flashed brightly and beeped loudly; a message began to scroll across the screen.


This will make the trip that much faster! I love you.
Hugs and Kisses, Claude.

Claude Frollo? How can this be?
I gasped with the sudden realization that THAT'S what he meant by, "We'll see each other again." Maybe that mechanic was Quasi. Then again, this could be just another hallucination; after all, I was tired and stressed-out. I put the pager back in it's box and went home. Maybe Fern knows something about this...

I said I'd meet Fern at the gate around seven; maybe we can get a good seat. This ought to be an interesting game...even if I do hate football...
I quickly showered and changed into my 'spirit' clothes: blue jeans and my black-and-orange high school sweatshirt. I even tied my hair with black and orange ribbons. I had just turned out a few lights and headed for the back door when I heard the front doorbell. Now who can that be? I'm almost out the door, for goodness sake...
Visibly annoyed at having to postpone my departure, I turned on the front porch light and opened the door. At once, my annoyance turned to sheer delight and utter surprise when my eyes met those of Claude Frollo. He smiled at me then began to speak. "I hope I didn't come at a bad time. I know you have plans for the evening, but I had to see you, my love."
I couldn't say a thing, but only motion him to come inside. I was still in shock, but I was extremely delighted to see the man I loved all summer long. It had been nearly two months since we parted. I watched him as he walked through the door. Oh, he looks so fine! We said nothing as our eyes met.
In a flash, we threw our arms around each other, kissed each other passionately and deeply. "Oh Claude", I breathlessly said between caresses, "I missed you so!" Claude, his mouth hungrily kissing my face and neck, cooed, "Danisha, my love. My sweet love. I thought I'd never see you again." My hands stroked his silky hair, his plushy velvet cloak, and the buttery smoothness of his black leather vest.
Now, I was too ecstatic from seeing Claude Frollo, again, in the flesh; I never noticed what he was wearing. "Hey, baby", I said as I stepped back to admire his fabulous ensemble. Oh my goodness! Check out sexy Claude Frollo!
Claude was clad in tight - they looked as if they were sprayed on - black leather pants and matching vest, a purple silk shirt, black velvet cloak, and, of course, that famous triangular hat. "Ooh, Claude", I cooed, my eyes taking in every detail. "You sure are looking mighty fine." Mmmm...I like the way the leather hugs every contour of his glorious body...those pants are really fitting...in ALL the right places!
Claude Frollo, smiling broadly, again took me in his arms, kissed me deeply, then said, "I'm glad you approve." He laughed when he kissed me again, then modeled that fabulous outfit, saying, "Jacqueline showed me a picture of this in...what is that publication...GQ? If I remember correctly, you fantasized about me wearing this very ensemble."
Claude smiled again as his hand caressed my waist and back. I turned on a few lights; Claude favorably assessed my living room. "Charming home", he said; his eyes falling on the tapestry. "I see you've put this in a prominent spot", Claude said, feeling the softness of the fabric. I said nothing as I watched him move about the room, his eyes taking in everything. He stopped then looked quizzically at me.
"What's this? A chilly October night, and no fire."
"But Claude, I'm going out. I have to meet Fern at the field..."
My voice was silenced by Claude's lips. Mmm...it's so good to have him here with me... Claude continued to caress me then said, "My darling, I had hoped to spend a quiet evening with you." He kissed me again, then smiled and asked, "Now where is that delightful 20th Century music?" I complied and tuned the radio to my favorite urban station. Then, something in the back of my mind snapped. Hold it! How did he get here?
Claude must've sensed what I was thinking for he immediately reached in his cloak and pulled out what looked like that pager -- it was identical! "Jacqueline is so brilliant, my dear", he began. "She managed to make this little device right after you left. You see", he flipped open the pager and continued, "these buttons allow us to contact each other any time we want." He then pointed out a red button. "This is an emergency button. It allows its owner to instantly transport him or herself to the desired time period. I had Jehan test it with Jacqueline back in August." Claude then smiled, adding, "Isn't that ingenious? I can visit you whenever I want, as you can visit me."So...that man at the fair...it was Jehan Frollo!
I immediately rifled through my purse and took out my pager. "So that's why you sent this -- to keep in touch", I told him. I threw my arms around him and exclaimed, "Claude Frollo, if you aren't the sweetest man...I love you!"
Claude returned my kiss, then said, "And, dear Nisha, I hope you like the vehicle. I thought the color would please you." My eyes widened. "YOU found that car? I supposed you arranged to have that button installed. Wait a minute...", I said, just now recalling that mysterious mechanic. Claude smiled again. "Yes, my dearest. That was Quasimodo. I thought he'd like a special treat -- to visit your time, albeit briefly. Let's say it's a 'thank you' gift for being so kind to him. He talks of little else these days." I then asked him about the de Chateaupers children: Jules and Renee.
"They are well and adjusting quite nicely. Mme. d'Arcy has found them a place; Jules is working in the stables and Renee has taken up sewing. The girl is rather gifted." He smiled again, then said, "I didn't come here to discuss other people. I thought..."

Well, it is getting late...guess I'll call Fern...looks like my previous plans have fallen through...HE'S here...that's all that matters.

"Umm...Claude?", I began, my hands caressing his slender waist, "Why don't you start a cozy fire while I call Fern. I guess I can skip homecoming this year." Claude looked puzzled. Once again, I had to explain another 20th Century American custom.
"But won't you miss seeing your old classmates?", Claude asked as he built the fire.
"There'll be other games; I can see old school chums anytime. Besides...I hate football."
Claude burst into laughter as he removed his hat and cloak. Oh, Claude! Now I can REALLY feast my eyes on all your leather-clad glory...baby, you sure look good!

A roaring fire, a bottle of my best California Zinfandel, and mellow, yet, sultry music, set the stage for a perfect romantic evening. And just when I thought it was all a dream.
Mmm...it feels so good to hold him again, kiss him, hear that deep, manly voice. I sure like the way this leather feels...the way these pants hug his long legs...Oops...I didn't mean for my hand to go...there! "Oooh, my love", Claude moaned softly as he returned my every caress.
Suddenly, Claude asked, "My dear, what is that song?" It was Adina Howard's Freak Like Me; both the rhythms and the lyrics were rather sensual. "I think it sort of fits. You know, how I feel about you", I told him.
Claude, still kissing and caressing every inch of me, softly chuckled and said, "Darling, I would hardly call you a 'freak'."
"Baby, what else would describe how I feel! I guess I'm just 'freaky' over Claude Frollo."
Claude Frollo laughed again, saying, "Well, Danisha dearest, if you want to go about and call yourself 'Frollo's Freak', I'm not about to stop you." I kissed him back. "Honey, from this day on, at least in your little circle of ladies, my code name will be 'FrolloFreak'. How does that grab you?"
Claude smiled broadly, kissed me deeply, then said in a wildly seductive voice, "If that is what you want...mmm...Speaking of 'grabbing' things..."

And with that, he took my hand and placed it on a special spot that he knew I loved to caress -- the inside of his slim thigh.
At last, Claude and I were together again. It would be like this for many days and nights to come....

**********

Claude walked me to my car as he voiced small protests. "I don't see why you can't stay at least another day. After all, this has been a trying week."
He was referring to the tragedy of Jules' death.
"Claude", I tried to reason, "you know very well I have responsibilities at home. Besides, you want me to write up that account of what really went down that night after the Festival." Claude Frollo nodded sadly as he handed me a some papers. "Oh well...no matter. You'll return to me someday." He smiled, then added, "Oh yes. Jules dictated this to Jehan the day Jehan found him. It's a confession of sorts, explaining Malus' role in the plot to destroy me, and how Malus died."
That's right...I never learned what really happened to Malus...finally, I'll know everything...
Claude continued to give me instructions as I unlocked the car. "Of all people, Nisha, I'm leaving it up to you to tell the world the truth." He then kissed me goodbye, then mounted Snowball.
"I shall leave you now, my love. I've found it far too painful to watch you depart." Claude blew me a kiss, then rode away. I wanted to cry, but, just as he said, we'll see each other again -- and again.
I locked Jules' paper in the glove box, then started the engine. Just as before, I looked back one more time to see Claude riding away in the distance.
I floored the accelerator and depressed the violet button underneath the dash...

Ah, home again! It's been a long weekend...hmm...what day is it? Saturday?! Glad I had someone cover for me at work. Look at the mail! Hey, what's this? A card? Looks like...Claude Frollo's handwriting! Aww...this is so sweet.

My Darling Danisha,
Thank you for a wonderful weekend. I regret that things did not work out for the best. But at least I did get to see you, my darling. Make sure to get some rest. I love you so.
A Thousand Kisses, Claude Frollo.

I have this sneaky feeling I'll see him again. Only then, it'll be under more pleasant circumstances!
Hmm...now where did I put that catalog from Christy's..Ah! Here it is! Now...wonder if Claude will like this...oh my!...that IS kind of sexy!



THIS IS THE FINAL CHAPTER OF BACK TO THE FROLLO.
READY NOW
: AnEpilogue and Notes on the Story.

Copyrightę1997 by FrolloFreak


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