But about that breach...
Surely, many of the bad guys and gals saw what happened but only one managed to slip out before the breach sealed itself. Not wanting to draw attention to himself, he coolly walked out, just like that. Then he followed that beam of red light here, to Walroy. Only he knew exactly HOW to return, but he wasn't about to tell a soul. He was having the time of his life. Oh, the joys of being in power and control once more, even if it is just "a tiny village." Well, to him, Walroy was a mere village, so unlike the teeming medieval metropolis he once called home. No it isn't Paris, it's not even the 15th Century, but it will do...
Judge Claude Frollo turned from the window then sat at his desk. OK, so it wasn't really his desk, not even his office, but he added a few touches to make it feel more like home. While the building itself was not like the more spacious Palace of Justice, he managed to make do. What pained him more that it didn't have a proper dungeon, just a jail down in the basement of the adjoining police department. And Frollo did visit those jails, finding the cells far too empty, and, to his utter disappointment, not a torture device in sight. Ah well, no matter. I shall soon remedy that...
Frollo poured out more of the fine California Cabernet procured from
the mayor's private wine cellar. Yep, Frollo took over the mayor's home,
every bit of it. What happened to the Mayor? Lee Feldman, obviously frightened
from seeing Frollo and company literally taking over, handed over all power
and authority to Frollo with no questions asked. The fool!, thought Frollo
with evil glee, he wasn't at all suited for the job. From the state of
things I found, this town needed a firm hand or else it would sink into
the morass of iniquity.
Judge Frollo then thought of someone else: Tina Lassiter, the town council's president. Now, this woman, an attractive young widow and mother of two, had a rather stormy session with Frollo this very afternoon. She brought up several subjects – grievances she called them – one of which had to do with upcoming Founders Day festivities. Honestly, the woman practically begged Frollo to approve the basketball game ("Watching a group of sweaty, gangly men bounce a ball up and down trying to throw it through a basket is not my idea of fun."), the bonfire and pep rally ("Do we really need all that chaotic noise? People yelling and screaming, working themselves into a frenzy?"), and the hayride and dance (My dear Madame, that is far too late for the children to be up and about. Think of the poor example you are setting.").
Oh yes, Frollo had an answer to everything, but when Tina told him just who was on the Disney Toon team, who was leading the cheer block, and who was acting as game official, Frollo bristled. No way! He flatly refused to agree to any and all festivities, and promptly canceled nearly the entire Founders Day, except, of course, the luncheon and plaque presentation. Naturally, Frollo had to put in his suggestions: a formal luncheon with only the cream of Walroy society present. "We simply can't have the entire populace swarming all over. The common crowd does not possess the finesse or grace to conduct itself properly, not at a staid formal affair."
At that last comment Tina lost it. With uncharacteristic anger, she
set loose a volley of expletives that would make the Archdeacon of Notre
Dame blush with shame. She called Frollo every filthy name she could think
of, told him that he had no right to deprive the citizens of their special
day. And she said that she didn't think it was fair for the children to
work for Cruella every weekend and after school. Well, if Tina Lassiter
was in Paris, in 1482, Frollo would have her in his dungeons now begging
for mercy. How dare this woman verbally assault and insult like that! But
Claude Frollo, not wanting to totally alienate one person who could possibly
come around to his way of thinking, merely ordered Tina to leave and not
return until sent for. And that is exactly what he did tonight when Ruth
prepared for home. Frollo told his secretary that he wanted to see her
this evening and not to be late. Frollo smiled, for he was sure there had
to be a way to change Madame Lassiter's mind.
In a way, she reminded him of another woman who had the guts to stand up to him, to tear him down in public. Esmeralda... Sometimes Frollo wished Disney had played a little more fast and loose with Hunchback, and let him end up with the girl instead of Phoebus. He secretly enjoyed his "cornering Esmeralda in the cathedral" scene, the way he grabbed and threatened her, the way he sniffed her raven tresses...Oh my. Now, this other woman, this Tina. While not as ravingly beautiful as Esmeralda, she was quite pretty and possessed a certain spunk and spirit.
A spirit that can be broken...
But unlike Esmeralda, Tina seemed to know when to back down, despite her profanity-laced rage this afternoon. No, it is the shock of all these changes. After all, she has to agree with me on some of the actions I've taken since becoming the chief magistrate of this town. And she seems a reasonable woman, so perhaps a different approach when she arrives this evening.
Then there was another, more pressing matter, and that was what to do
with his two cohorts, Gaston and Cruella. Honestly, whatever possessed
Frollo NOT to refuse those two passage out of the void. To Frollo, Gaston
was the perfect example of the uncouth, ignorant, disgusting commoner.
In no way is he ever suitable to take on the noble task of keeping the
citizens in line. And that partner of his, that LeFou. Claude Frollo had
to laugh at the man's name: LeFou. 'The Fool', seems to fit him perfectly.
Nonetheless, Frollo never batted an eye upon learning HOW Gaston kept Walroyites
in line. A protection racket, making the business owners pay a small fee
in order to keep their establishments crime free. Such endeavors proved
to be quite useful in Frollo's heyday as Minister
of Justice, with his
many spies and hired soldiers squeezing money from many a shopkeeper and
Now, that other one, Cruella. It pained Frollo that this ghastly woman, with her over the top mannerisms and penchant for greeting His Grace with, "Claude, daaaaaahling!" The ever present furs and the endless cigarette smoking were more than Frollo could stand. True, it was Cruella who suggested that she take charge of Walroy's kids, make them work for her. "Dahling," she said on the very day the villains breezed into town, "those little tykes can be a blessing for us. They can keep the streets clean, maintain yours and my fabulous wardrobe. Oh Claude, I never said it, but I truly LOOOOOVE your fur-trimmed judge's robe. So chic and debonair."
That's Cruella, dreaming up wicked schemes but all the while praising "good fashion sense." It still ticked Frollo that Cruella had to bring that awful pair, Jasper and Horace, with her. Those bumbling idiots once messed up a sweet deal back when Cruella hired them to kidnap the now-famous Dalmatian puppies. And she planned to turn them into to coats! What Frollo didn't know was that Cruella had nearly every household pet in Walroy kidnapped for the same purpose. At the moment, those furry friends are holed up in a rambling warehouse on the outskirts of town.
So Frollo had to stew with two of Disney's not so bright villains, but
he still had his trump card to play. At the right moment, he would spring
that trap on Cruella and Gaston, reopen up that breach and send them packing
back to the void. Then he'd send for his brutish soldiers to keep the peace,
and he'd have Walroy all to himself. Claude Frollo never worked with sidekicks
nor advisors. He did everything by his book, and it will stay that
Noting the time, Claude Frollo readied himself for Tina's visit. It had to be timed just right lest he tick her off again, and that will not happen. Instead, he'll treat her with the utmost kindness and charm. Perhaps he'll pretend to give into a few of her demands, perhaps allowing the children time off from their appointed jobs. Walking to the mirror, Frollo checked his appearance. He was a handsome man with his pale complexion, neatly coifed gray hair, dark steely eyes, tall slender build, beautifully formed hands, and elegant clothes. Maybe Tina will find that attractiveness irresistible. The knock on the door alerted Claude to action. He heard the voice, a bright lilting musical voice that seemed to set the judge on fire.
"Minister Frollo?," the woman called on the other side of the closed
door, "It's me, Tina Lassiter. Ruth said you wanted to see me."
"Come in, my dear madame."
Tina cautiously opened the door, peeped inside to find Judge Frollo all alone. Oh good! No Gaston or LeFou around to make her nervous or lose her temper. Frollo was gracious, charming, polite.
"Come in, Madame Lassiter. Come sit and share this fine Cabernet with me. There are many things I'd like to discuss with you."
Tina could have kicked herself for even thinking of meeting with Frollo. On the way home, she couldn't even concentrate on her driving; she was that upset. The nerve of that man! What gall! OK, so he 'apologized' for being too 'stringent' on his first few days as city magistrate. He was downright charming, polite. But then again, he always knows how to manipulate the situation to suit his needs. I know how he operates because Esmeralda and Phoebus told me so the last time they visited. Claude Frollo is a master of duplicity, a cunning liar who stoops to anything to get what he wants. Look what he did to Paris just because he HAD to have Esmeralda. The rat! Tina recalled the meeting with Frollo; she dropped everything and rushed over as soon as Ruth delivered her message. She didn't even have time to stop at the market on her way home. Oh jeez, the kids will worry because I'm not home yet, and it's not like me to be late.
When Tina arrived at City Hall, she found Claude Frollo all alone in
the top floor office. He played the perfect gentleman, offered her wine,
and engaged in pleasant conversation. He even voiced suggestions that he
might – make that MIGHT – change his mind on upcoming Founders Day festivities.
After all, if it is good for citizen morale, then so be it. Frollo even
gave his consent to cut the children's workload so they'll have time to
play and have fun. Tina was overjoyed but cautious. A man like Frollo doesn't
change his ways overnight, and Tina suspected the judge was up to something.
Then he turned the subject: about her! He asked pertinent questions concerning her children, how Mr. Lassiter passed on, and what are her circumstances now. Why was he even asking this? It's none of his business, but Tina, fearful that His Grace would renege on his promises, answered each and every question. Tina recalled Frollo's words afterwards, "Ah, Madame, it is not good for a woman still in her prime to be without the company of a good gentleman."
What was he hinting at when he said that? Could it be that Frollo was
romantically interested in her? No way! Tina tried her damnedest not to
laugh at the Frollo's insinuations, but she politely said to him, "Sir,
I am happy with my life. I have my children, a roof over our heads, a comfortable
life, good friends–"
"But there is no husband for you, or a father for your children," came the insistent reply. What Claude Frollo did next unsettled and rattled Tina to no end. He got up, walked behind her, then placed his hands upon her shoulders. He leaned forward, his lips dangerously close to her face. Then he whispered in that devastatingly smooth baritone, "Madame, or shall I address you by your Christian name...Tina...Here, let me show you that I'm not as hard a man as people claim."
Just like the infamous "Frollo corners Esmeralda" scene, he sniffed Tina's dark hair, complimented her delicately floral perfume, then proceeded to caress her face. Those smooth silky hands stroked her hair, face, and shoulders. Then he leaned closer and planted a tender kiss to the cheek. Normally, Tina would welcome the warm embrace and kiss from a handsome man, but not from the likes of Claude Frollo no matter how goodlooking he is. He was definitely not her type. All through her mind she thought of ways to back out – NOW - before things got carried away.
Glancing at her watch, Tina wrested herself from Frollo's arms, rose
from her seat, and tried to look pleasantly flushed. "Oh! Look at the time!
I completely forgot I promised Alice, my housekeeper, to stay a little
longer, just to watch the kids until I got home. Sir, if you would excuse
Frollo looked somewhat disappointed, not at all angry or upset which was a relief to Tina. He walked her to the door, placed his arm around her, saying, "My dear Tina, I completely understand. Now that we've cleared the air on a few important matters, may I call on you, say tomorrow evening? I'd like to treat you to dinner and, perhaps, a lovely evening drive to...what is the place?"
Tina stammered, "Uh, P-Paradise Point. But why go there?"
Claude Frollo flashed that famously wide wicked smile, gallantly kissed
Tina's hand, then gave her a smoldering look that made her tremble with
rage and fear. Oh no, he thinks I'll cave in like a lovestruck teenager.
And I know EXACTLY why he wants to go to Paradise Point. It's the hot 'make
out' spot where Jack and I went when we were dating. Kids still go up there
to...Oh my God!
Before Tina could get out the door, Frollo stroked her hair once more, planted one more kiss upon her cheek. He said, "My darling lady, I only want what is best for you."
"What is best for me? I don't quite understand." Oh yeah, I understand all right! You want me to be your – yuck! – trophy wife, so you can lord it all over town that you 'won' me over to your side. No way will I ever let you near my kids, not after the way you treated Quasimodo.
Claude Frollo said, just before saying good night, "Why, Tina, I do believe I have become quite attracted to you. I am not sure why, but your spirit and drive have charmed me, not to mention your loveliness."
Huh? Is he for real? Why all the sudden is Frollo so romantically attracted to me?? There has to be a catch...OK, maybe I can figure a way to get myself out of this jam.
Tina finally made it home, her nerves all jumpy from that very unsettling meeting. She didn't even bother to get out of the car; she was that upset. Tina couldn't stop crying, nor could she ever forget how she let Frollo caress her like that. True, she always thought Claude Frollo one of the more physically attractive Disney villains, but such a pretty package hid a monster underneath. Frollo has something up his sleeve. If he was so much 'in love' with her, why didn't he say so this afternoon. No! He had to summon her to a 'private' meeting at night. Dejected, she wiped her eyes, got out of the car, and walked to the backdoor. Odd, she thought, there are voices coming from inside the house, and it's not just Kris and Ben. Maybe they just have the TV on too loud. I'll have to say something to Alice about that...
She barely got her key out when the door suddenly flew open. There a lovely lady greeting her. This woman needed no introduction as Tina knew her from way back. "Hey," she said, "we sent your maid home. Don't worry, your kids are fine." She noticed Tina's red eyes and flustered expression. Right away she knew. "He got to you, didn't he? Come on, we'll figure out ways to pay him back."
Tina entered the house, stared at the lady, then flew into her arms. "Oh Esmeralda, what am I going to do?," she sobbed. The gypsy dancer comforted her friend with, "It'll be OK. We're here now, and it'll take all of us to get rid of Frollo and his minions. Come and meet everyone as there is much to discuss."
TO BE CONTINUED...Go to Chapter 5!
Copyright©2004 by PRP