Nearly three weeks passed since Claude Frollo walked out of my life, for what I had hoped was temporary. But I couldn't kid myself any longer -- Our solid foundation was irreparably damaged, and I was to blame. My silence, my refusal to reveal the horrible truth about BC and my past relationship was too much for Claude. He lashed out at me; then he left me, just like that.
Since that fateful Saturday, I seldom left the house, and I had good
reason. A series of revelations, plus more threats from BC, caused me to
unwisely shut myself from my friends, my family, the man I love.
Claude sent several messages, but I never answered them. I was too ashamed, too frightened, to ever face him. I didn't want Claude hurt, and another, more unsettling, encounter with BC caused me to further close myself off from people who loved me.
My mind was so rattled, so preoccupied, that I had no choice but to reschedule that laparoscopy. I knew it was unwise to play games with my health; but, in my current mental state, I felt it best to postpone the procedure until I could get my head together. For the next several days, I ignored the ever-worsening pain in my feminine regions, and the fact that I skipped a period. For now, it really didn't matter; there were other, more pressing matters on my mind.
Jacki called me a few days after Claude split. She told me things that
finally explained why BC returned to town. I also learned why he was so
interested in Marcus; it had something to do with Shelli finding her birth
Jacki informed me that BC had served Sam and Francine with papers. He claimed he was Marcus' natural father, and that he had every right to full custody!
How can that fool be Marcus' real dad? This doesn't make sense...
Everything finally fell into place when Fern called, and told me the whole story surrounding Shelli's adoption. Shelli's birth mother gave birth to twin girls, whom she promptly put up for adoption at the urging of her parents. The girls were split-up - Shelli was adopted by a local couple, and her sister, who was given the name Kelsey, was adopted by a couple from Veedersburg. Fern told me that Kelsey's adoptive parents were rather conservative -- make that extremely conservative. Fern hinted that, "These people wouldn't win any 'brotherhood' awards, if you know what I mean."
Anyway, Fern went on to relate what else Shelli found out. Kelsey, on her first trip to Indy - It was a weekend field trip - met BC Bell at a Downtown McDonald's. Shelli was not sure of the details that followed that meeting; but, somehow, sparks flew between BC and Kelsey. What Shelli learned was that Kelsey ran off from her school group, and joined BC on a night on the town. It was Kelsey's 'first time', and that resulted in a pregnancy.
Shelli told Fern that the baby was put up for adoption because Kelsey's
parents wanted, "'No half-caste baby.' Those were their very words,
Kelsey died tragically in a house fire shortly after the baby's adoption. And who was the baby Kelsey gave up? None other than Marcus.
Of course, BC never knew Marcus existed; that is, until he wheedled it out his grandmother.
It was Joannie Bell who found out about Kelsey's pregnancy; Kelsey's mother called Joannie after Kelsey confessed everything. Joannie told Shelli that the conversation wasn't all that pleasant. "I've never heard such hateful venom spewing from one person."
It was Joannie who suggested to Sam and Francine Terrell that they adopt her grandson. She had known Frankie for years, and she felt that the Terrells would make excellent parents. Joannie told Shelli that she would never, ever, allow someone like BC to raise this child.
"I know BC's my family, but I have a child's future to think of. There was no way this baby was going to follow in his daddy's footsteps...The boy deserves better."
God..that poor kid...No wonder BC was so interested in him...Joannie told me BC said that having a kid made him feel like a man...and he wanted me...He said he needed me so he can show off...
My parents returned from Nashville the day before I ended up in the hospital. Momma called me and asked what was wrong; and, as usual, I revealed very little. This is stupid...mindless...a grown woman can't even confide in her own mother...I let BC control my mind...just like before...
Then Momma revealed that she had a phone call from Alpha. "She
said she and Walter saw you at that program. Nisha, she mentioned a gentleman,
and she said she really enjoyed his company. Tell me, honey, are you seeing
"Oh Momma, he's a special friend, that's all."
"Then why haven't we met him, Danisha? Your father's worried about you...I know you're past thirty, but you're still our baby."
She then went on to inform me about the custody suit. "I heard
about it from Frankie. Honey, is this true? Is that fool back in town?"
I couldn't reveal much, because the day before, BC called me - He said he had a 'message' for me. "Better keep your mouth shut, baby, or else..."
Momma, I can't reveal too much...Your little girl's been 'scared silent'...I have to do this..to protect the people I love...I lost one of the best friends I ever had...Yes, he was my friend, as well as my lover...He was so special...I let him get away over something over this...
"Danisha, are you there?"
"I'm sorry, Momma."
I don't even recall the rest of our conversation, but I remembered the
last thing Momma said.
"You know, Nisha, silence has its price, and I can tell you're hiding something."
Del called me later that evening; it seemed he had a lot on his mind.
He was worried about the fate of his ministry, and he suspected BC of stealing
money from the church.
"Nisha, I guess he had everyone fooled -- Me, Curtis, Arletta..."
"Hold it. Did you say Arletta?"
"That's what got me worried most. Seems Arletta's fallen for BC's phony act, and she's too savvy to get mixed up with..."
Del went on to tell me that there had been "an unsavory element"
hanging around the youth center. Not only had money been taken, but some
equipment had been missing: an old computer, some sports equipment, a VCR.
He also told me that BC had recruited several gang members to infiltrate
the youth center, just to get former members "back in the life".
Some of these hoodlums had the nerve to deal drugs right across the street
from the church. Del was devastated, and understandably so.
"Nisha, it's hard enough keeping up with the rent and utilities, but when things like this happen...I prayed that the Lord will give me the strength to confront BC. He's no good, Danisha. And I can tell he's been coming down on you awful hard. Honey, it's not like you to let someone like this unravel you --- Be strong, Nisha. Don't let the likes of BC mess up your friendship with the judge."
I knew Del was referring to Claude; I didn't have the heart to tell him that Claude and I were no longer friends.
Del went on to tell me that, "From what I've observed, Nisha, Judge Frollo seems like a good friend. You need a strong man, and he needs your strength, 'cause he told me himself that he really leans on you."
I had no idea Claude told Del these things - Why didn't Claude voice that when we had that painful scene...when he walked out on me...
Before we ended our conversation, Del told me he was heading to Arletta's house, "Just to talk some sense into her. She owes it to her kids not to get involved with a character like BC."
That was the last time I heard Del's voice.
I popped a couple of pills, hoping to kill the pain that emanated from my lower left side. The medication knocked me out for a little while; I slept long enough to dream. Then I wouldn't sleep anymore until Fern called me and told me to turn on my TV.
That dream....It was so vivid...
Ah! Paris in the summer...Everything's so beautiful...even a crowded medieval urban center has its own charm....Bon Jour, madame!...People are so friendly...Just like home....Hey, Quasi!...How's my little buddy?...Yeah, that belltower can get mighty hot during the day...but the nights...Hey, I have an idea...Why don't I make a trip to my time and I'll bring back some ice cream..Then you, Claude, and I can have a nice evening get-to-together..Cool!
Now, to find Claude...Hey, who's this?..Isn't that?...yeah! Short...young...all that red-brown hair...She's so cute...I've always liked her...Hi, Min! What are you doing in a...tavern?...You're too young to drink...What do you mean you like coming here? Oh, I know...'cause I saw Snowball hitched out front...This is one of Claude's favorite places...Funny, I've never took Claude as the type to frequent taverns..maybe he's ...What's that?...Oooh...Getting the goods on a wanted criminal...That's Our Man...always sees a case through...
Ah!...There he is!...Claude!...I'm here with Minevera...Oooh Claude, you look so handsome today...Nice outfit...that black tunic is very smart....Yes it is warmer than ever... not like the 'sweatbox' like back home..Stop laughing, Claude!...Min, what are we gonna do with him...Claude, you're milking this for all it's worth...You're really getting a kick out of this, aren't you?
Look at the heads turn, Min...The Minister of Justice strolling down a Paris street with TWO of his FSMs on his arm...This is wonderful...being escorted by a handsome man..Yes, Claude...You are the best lookin' man in Paris...Look at him, Min...tryin' to blush...That's right, baby...Don't ever let your guard down...That's why we love you so much...You're so strong - inside and out.. ...Hey, I had an idea...Why don't you come to my time..I want to get some ice cream..I promised Quasi...Oh, you'd like Minevera to sample ice cream?...Min, you're in for a treat...
Claude, I'm glad you decided to accompany me on this time-trip...Yeah, it is much hotter here than Paris...Hmm?...That's a wonderful idea, sugarbritches...We'll buy enough ice cream for Quasi, and Minevera, and...Cherry Garcia for Min...Chocolate for me...Of course, baby...Butter Pecan for you...What?!...ChunkyMonkey for Phoebus?!...Honey, you've been out in this heat a little too long...
We really have to hurry back to the 15th Century or else all this ice cream will melt...Yes, Claude?...Stop by where?...Wok n' Roll...You have a craving for egg rolls?...Ah, get enough for everyone..My goodness, honey, you're in a REAL generous mood tonight...Min's gonna love egg rolls, and ice cream, and Cashew Chicken...She'll wonder where you got all this very different food...Now that's a combination...Chinese food and ice cream...OK, let's walk over to...What else?...Kung Pao Shrimp?!...But, Claude, that's so hot and spicy...Oooh...You like hot 'n' spicy...What's that, sugarbritches?...Hot 'n' spicy like me...Mmm, Claude...Well, we better head for Wok 'n' Roll...then head back to 15th Century Paris...I just may have an after dinner treat for you...Oh, Claude...You're so wonderful...
Now, you were saying...Great idea! Invite His Majesty over for a 'New World' dinner...I'll do all the cookin'...Serve the King fried chicken?...Hmm...wonder if His Majesty will like my cornbread...
...We should've gotten the ice cream last, but no matter...Yeah, Claude, I picked up that expression from you...See the influence you've wrought?...I love to hear you laugh, Claude...
Claude?...What's wrong, honey... Claude...Did you hear that?..Sounded like a pop...Claude!...Oh, no!...Claude...sugarbritches...What's happening?! NOOO! It's all right, Claude..Don't try to talk... I know it hurts, but don't try to move so much...
"Somebody call 911!"
"My love, what's happening...why can't I feel anything...I heard a 'pop'...Then I felt a sudden pain, then numbness...I can't stand...this pain..I think it was that 'car' that passed...I saw its driver...Big, uncouth-looking bastard...My dear Nisha...I feel life slipping away...."
"Claude, please don't leave me! You're the best friend I've ever known - the sweetest, most wonderful man..."
"Nisha, please don't cry..There, there, my precious...Oh, this pain!...Hold me, my love...Please remember our friendship, our love, and always cherish the delightful memories..."
"No, you can't be dying...You can't die on me!"
"Sorry, ma'am...but we've gotta get him to emergency..."
How long have I been waiting? How long before they tell me anything? The doctors said the bullets struck Claude...What kind of bullets did they say?...The kind that splinter upon impact...Oh God I'm gonna be sick...
"We're sorry, Ms. Wood. But we did all we could..."
"We did everything humanly possible, but the way the bullets tore through..."
NOOOO!! He can't be dead! This can't be happening...
"YOU!! You killed him! Why?!"
"Told you I'd waste yo' main squeeze. You know why? 'Cause you had to open your big mouth..Come on, Nisha...Now, it's just you and me..."
"NO! I want to be with Claude!"
"Too bad, little girl, but he had it comin'."
They're wheeling him to the morgue..and his killer's here...I have
to tell someone...Oh please let me look upon his face once more...
...CLAUDE! You can't be dead...Oh, honey...you look so peaceful...so handsome...I love you! ...I can't go on without you!...Claude...BABY, OPEN YOUR EYES!!
Oh God...What am I gonna tell the folks back in Paris?... This is all my fault...
"CLAUDE! COME BACK TO ME! I'M SORRY...I SHOULD'VE TOLD YOU EVERYTHING!...I ONLY WANTED TO PROTECT YOU!...PLEASE, GOD...PLEASE LET HIM LIVE AGAIN..."
Just as the many times before, I woke up screaming; the vivid images
refused to leave my mind long after I awoke.
It seemed so real..so lifelike..as if I could feel the life leaving him...and BC standing there, like nothing happened...
I couldn't go back to sleep if I tried...
[We now float back to the present as our heroine will soon discover what nearly killed her]
The nurse's assistant changed the contents of the IV bag as I blankly
stared at the television screen. I tried to fight back the tears as the
reporter, once again, recounted the tragic murder of...
"Shameful thing to happen, and they seemed like nice people", said the assistant as he adjusted the flow of antibiotics.
The only thing I could muster was, "Yeah, they were nice folks...those poor kids..."
Wanda Rescott came into my room; she smiled, then sat down in a chair
beside me. She told me what happened, and that I nearly died. I couldn't
stop blaming myself that this was brought on by my negligence, and the
fact that I let the likes of BC Bell get to me. Del was right -- I had
to remain strong, for all the right reasons.
I also resolved to make amends with Claude, even though I hadn't seen him in the two days since I landed in the hospital.
That "quiet strength" Claude Frollo admired so much would be put to the test when I finally learned what happened in Douglas Park.
I would also learn a few more things -- Like that manuscript Claude wanted translated...
TO CHAPTER 14!
© Copyright, FrolloFreak, FSM #14, 1998.