Now Ruth understood. Nodding and grinning she said, "Well, boys, am I glad you're here. We need all the reinforcements we can get. Tina and the gals are downstairs with Frollo now. He's really in a bad way, and that's good. So, what is really in that crate?"
Phoebus replaced his cap; Clopin did likewise. Hoisting the crate and heading for the freight elevator, Phoebus said, "Why, it's the Mystery Hero. Quasimodo told us who it is, but I'm not at liberty to reveal his or her identity – Yet! Let Cruella and Frollo find out once we get it all set up."
Downstairs in the old jail, four ladies were having the time of their lives. One in particular was thoroughly enjoying watching the formidable Claude Frollo struggle in his own torture device. Well, he wanted, what he called, instruments of pain down here, and he wanted a personal demonstration. So why is he so sore?
Giggling out loud, Tina pressed the button again, sending Frollo swinging through the air, his body trapped in a makeshift device of horse collar, chains, straps. All this suspended from a cable hooked up to an old garage door opener. How ingenious of Maurice to suggest the horse collar – it's so...So Frollo!
"Damn it," Frollo roared, his slim body struggling in its prison, the fine velvet robe now showing signs of wear and tear. "I will get you for this! And you, Esmeralda! I should have known you'd be in on this pathetic attempt to trap me. And you, Ariel and Belle! So help me, when I get out of this infernal contraption..."
Esmeralda just sneered, nodding at Ariel, "And what will you do to us, Frollo? You know, if we had this in the Court of Miracles, then maybe..."
"No, Esme," said Belle, "then the movie wouldn't have ended like it did."
"But," rejoined Ariel, "it would have been knock-down funny to see Frollo all trussed up like an old nag."
That said, the ladies roared with laughter, egging Tina as she aimed the controller at Frollo, pressing buttons to make him swing, spin, and bounce up and down.
Claude Frollo could do nothing about it. Has it all come down to this? His dream of ruling the town of Walroy destroyed by four very enterprising women? No doubt they had some help, and Frollo wondered if a certain misshapen bell ringer was in on the scheme. To top it off, he allowed himself, once again to his chagrin, to be suckered into a woman's deadly spell. Why O why won't I ever learn? Curse those manly feelings of love and romance...It is the woman who always lures the most moral of men into her web...No wonder I fell for Tina's supposed 'love' for me...She used me, just like Esmeralda...They're all liars and schemers of the worst sort...
He heard footsteps coming downstairs. Now who can this be? Can't be his brutish soldiers because they were currently housed in the next cell, bound and gagged. All they could do was helplessly watch their former superior suffer in one of his own torture devices. That never happened before, and they feared what Frollo would do to them if they laughed – It was kind of funny to see him on the business end for a change. Nevertheless, Lt. Oafish did manage to chuckle into his gag, only to have Sgt. Brutish nudge him with a stern look. But Brutish tried his best not to crack up himself.
Frollo felt somewhat relieved that someone from the villains' void was coming to his rescue. Perhaps Gaston had a change of heart and brought reinforcements. His wished Gaston had sense enough to bring a couple of the truly awful, such as Scar or Clayton, even Kron. Yes, a handful of sophisticated villains with actual brains and bad attitudes who put up with no nonsense, not wholly self-absorbed, bumbling idiots like Cruella. His Honor was also grateful Tina eased up on the remote control. Out of breath and slightly nauseous from the torture harness' wild ride, Frollo muttered to himself. He would make Tina and her band of Disney goody-goodies pay in ways most indescribable. And Ruth...despite that old gal's seemingly all-business demeanor and knack for total efficiency, had it in for Frollo from Day One. Who knew under that sourpuss, schoolmarm expression lay a woman of utter cunning. No wonder Tina and the girls were able to build this hellish contraption that passed as "torture".
They want torture, do they?...When I'm free, I'll give them torture like they've never known...
The footsteps grew closer. Frollo could hear voices – two male and one female. The latter was Ruth; the former sounded a tad familiar, although Frollo couldn't quite pinpoint where he heard that man's voice. It was high, heavily accented, almost mocking in tone. The other man's voice? It was deep, resonant, cheerful and commanding in tone, all the same.
"Guys," said Ruth before she and men came into view, "you can put the crate in the third cell." "OK, ma'am," said the deeper-voice man, "you just show us where it is. This baby is getting heavy."
Tina and Esmeralda looked up to see Ruth, followed by two men carrying a huge crate, descend the stairs. Now what is this?, Tina wondered. Belle, taking a good look at the men's feet, brightened then took Tina aside, whispering, "I know those big boots anywhere – It's Phoebus! And I bet that's Clopin with him. But what are they carrying?"
Ariel grinned, rejoining, "The calvary has arrived, ladies." Then, remembering not to let Frollo overhear, lest he should spoil the ultimate surprise for a certain fur-loving lady, the mermaid princess lowered her voice, saying, "Quasi told me about this Mystery Hero. He's been showing up in Carl's diner all wrapped up in a coat and hat. No one has actually seen his face other than Ben. Aladar and Simba are luring Cruella here with some fake story about Frollo wanting a rare blue-furred beast. Of course, we all know Cruella can't pass up a chance to own a rare fur. She should be on her way now."
Tina, now knowing exactly what her son was babbling about last night, said with a wickedly delighted smile, "Ladies, I think we're about to have some fun."
Meanwhile, out at Tina's Victorian house, Quasimodo and the children received last minute instructions from Jiminy Cricket. At last report, Simba and Aladar had delivered their message to Cruella, sending the fur-loving villainess marching to City Hall, demanding Frollo give up the "rare blue beast." Said "beast" was en route to the jail, where Claude Frollo was currently in dire straits, thanks to his insatiable desire to have a torture chamber and Tina's all-too anxious desire to give the man what he so richly deserved.
"But what about the pets?," asked Quasi, "They're still out in the barn."
"Not to worry," said Jiminy. "Once I get an all-clear from Esmeralda, then the furry pals shall return to their respective owners." He looked at the children, saying, "I know you miss Amby and Bungee, but they'll be back. With Gaston and his buddy securely returned to the void, and Frollo and Cruella just one big breath away from getting the boot, the pets will be safe. We just can't take any chances while Frollo may have a trick or two up his sleeve. One false move, and our plan to free the town will be blown sky-high."
Quasimodo, scratching his head with worry, asked, "Where are Simba and Aladar now? Not heading to town, I trust. They can't risk being seen."
Jiminy grinned, saying, "They've come up with a few more tricks to send Frollo and Cruella over the edge. And how!"
Cruella DeVille sped through the town square, not caring who or what stood in her way. Parking the car in front of City Hall, in a space reserved for Frollo, she got out, puffing furiously on her cigarette, and marched up the steps. Brushing the security guard aside, she said with demanding tone, "Where is Judge Frollo? And don't give me that, 'His Honor is unavailable', because I just spoke with his secretary. She says he was inspecting the jail."
The guard, of Mayor Lee's special security forces, nodded, replying, "Ruth says to go on downstairs to the jail. Judge Frollo is waiting for you."
"Good!," she said, still blowing smoke rings in the man's face, making him gag a bit. "If your new boss has any sense, he'll turn over what is rightfully mine."
"Oh, Ms. DeVille," the guard said, "Ruth also asked me to tell you the deliverymen just dropped off a package for Frollo, but she thinks it's really for you."
Smiling broadly, Cruella made her way down the corridor to the elevator. "Why walk when I can ride, and this occasion calls for speediness."
Once down in the basement, she wasn't two steps out of the elevator when she heard such commotion. "Hmm...Sounds as if it's coming from the jail. I bet Frollo has someone already trussed up in his torture devices. That's what I like, a man who doesn't fool around. Yet, he's fooled me! Taking what is really mine. Selling me out so he can have it all to himself. I'll show him that he can't play around with Cruella DeVille!"
Her face fixed in a righteous scowl, the ever-present cigarette clutched in her hand, a fur-swathed Cruella descended the stairs. All along the way she said out loud, "All right, Frollo! Where is it! And don't lie to me, because I know exactly what you've been up to. I know all about that device Sid made. You used it to send Gaston and my men back to the void! Well, Claude Frollo, you can't get away with the one thing I so richly deserve."
When she walked into the cellblock, her mouth dropped open in shock; her eyes widened in disbelief at the sight before her. She took one look at the hapless man strapped in the harness, bouncing around furiously, then glanced at the company gathered.
It didn't quite register at first, but when she saw Simba poke his head in through the barred window (which just a few seconds ago was ripped open by a two-ton Aladar), she finally said, "What have you done with Frollo? And why are all of you here?"
Esmeralda merely replied, "This is what happens when someone tries to double-cross you, Cruella. We have what you want, and that little beast can't wait to have his fur all wrapped around you."
Go to Chapter 12
Copyright © 2004, 2005 by PRP ("crazedwriter").