Lead Me Gently Home

Chapter 22

"News From Home"

The Palace of Justice, 15th Century Paris

Two months can make a big difference!

I sat by an open window in Claude's private chambers and enjoyed the early summer afternoon sunshine streaming through the open window. Just like that first summer, June in medieval Paris was nothing like the sweatbox back home. I watched the people at work and play, and endeavored to concentrate on the book I was reading.
Claude had been in and out most of the day; he said he had to take care of some minor business before he and I took off for the 20th Century. Only this time, he said before leaving, "I'll enjoy my visit that much more."
I knew he referred to my family, and I finally realized that I had no business hiding my relationship with Claude from my folks.
...But that's all in the past . . . I love my family, and I love Claude. I shouldn't have done such a thing, for Claude has never closed me off from my family . . . BC always managed to drive a wedge between my folks and me . . . I learned my lesson . . . Even if Claude ends up with more than a hundred women, I'll keep loving him until the day I die . . . We need each other.


The time spent in Paris paid off beautifully. My health improved dramatically; I never felt more vibrant, more 'on-top-of-the-world'.
During those eight weeks I divided my time between the Palace of Justice and the modest house I shared with Fern. Claude was especially attentive: He read to me; he gave the most soothing massages; we visited Chateau d'Arcy often.

Of course, Renée d'Arcy, nee de Chateaupers was ecstatic to see me again. I commented to Claude on how quickly she was growing up, and on her budding talent as a dress designer. Marie-Louise d'Arcy proudly informed me that Renée had designed and assembled, "The most exquisite gowns I've even seen."
The gowns to which Madame d'Arcy referred were worn at a party given in honor of the Marchand baby's upcoming birth. Thierry told me that he hoped to have a son. When I asked Solange about this, she replied, "As long as the child is healthy and happy, I will be content. In our time, we lose so many children, and at such a young age; some rarely survive past birth. You are fortunate, living in your 20th Century, with all your children growing up so strongly and beautifully."

Oh Solange, if you only knew what I've been going through these past weeks . . . I would love to be able to have my own baby . . . But . . . maybe that's why I have kids around anyway . . . It must be the "Momma" in me . . .

Solange Marchand's baby was due in July and I wanted to do something special for her and her baby. I knew there weren't such things as baby showers in the Middle Ages, so I made cute blankets and toys for her child. Solange was so pleased, especially with the stuffed hand-crocheted bear; she had never seen such wonderful baby things. In a way, I had hoped to make those things for my child.

Our child, Claude . . . Perhaps another time . . . for there's no greater expression of love as when a woman has her man's child . . .


Even though I stayed almost exclusively in the 15th Century with Claude, I wasn't completely cut off from my family and friends, or from what was going on back home.
Fern kept me posted with work-related news, and my mother contacted me nearly every day. Jacki taught Momma how to operate the pager/time traveler, although Daddy still had some difficulty mastering all those buttons.
Poor Daddy . . . with all your education, you're still intimidated by technology . . . I still have to tell you how to program the VCR . . .

Momma relayed messages from my students, my church friends, my co-workers, my neighbors, my sorority sisters--I was sorely missed by everyone and they all kept asking Momma and Daddy, "When's she coming home?"

Anyway, Claude and I were kept abreast with all that went on in my hometown, in my time. Most was good . . . shockingly good . . . news. Then Momma passed along some news about BC-- I knew the man would end up like this.
Claude finally related the details of BC's torture session--the near-pressing, the flogging, the public display. It was Quasimodo who informed me of BC's ordeal at the hands of angry Parisians.
"And I thought they gave me a hard time--You know, what they did to me at the festival."

No doubt about it, when Claude Frollo publicly denounced BC before all of Paris, all hell broke loose. Pierre Mannette, Fern's next-door-neighbor, led the crowd in jeering and name-calling.
What they did to BC was far worse than the treatment Quasi received those many years before.

It was all there: The public ridicule, the pelting with rotten eggs and fruit, the sheer cruelty of an enraged mob. BC Bell found himself at the mercy of outraged Parisians.
Claude Frollo himself watched this brutal scene in its entirety and later told me, "My love, I knew the anger would manifest itself, but . . . I finally realized how much so many Parisians love you. Andrè d'Arcy witnessed this scene and told me that of all the scoundrels I have punished, this one in particular deserved everything."
He then had Kyle drive BC back to the 20th Century where Kyle and Quasi literally dumped BC Bell's semiconscious body in front of IPD Headquarters. Kyle returned Quasi to 15th Century Paris immediately thereafter.
What happened afterwards was still a mystery until Momma and Jacki sent messages that BC pleaded guilty to two counts of first degree murder and one count of attempted murder. He waived all his rights to legal counsel, informing the court to "Please don't send me back there!"
According to the TV and newspaper accounts of BC's arraignment and subsequent sentencing, it had seemed that the man had lost his mind. The prosecutor's office, and Lt. Matteson, could not believe that BC Bell would give himself up so willingly. It was also reported that BC, upon his initial arrival at IPD Headquarters, was taken to the prison infirmary. To this day, no one has ever found out how BC got those whipmarks on his body.
I knew, Claude knew, that BC meant what happened to him in Claude's dungeons and in the mean streets of medieval Paris.
Who'd believe him if he'd told? We sure can't tell anyone . . . No one can . . . Maybe BC will finally change . . .
But he didn't, not even when it came time to meet Death face-to-face . . .

Anyway, since he pleaded guilty to capital murder, BC was to be immediately transferred to Michigan City to await execution. However, events took a dramatic turn.
Three days before BC was to board that prison bus, another inmate ended Brandon Cole Bell's long journey down the easy road.
BC and a few other prisoners were returning to their cells after a recreation break, when another inmate commenced arguing with BC. It seemed that this inmate wasn't too thrilled that BC killed Del and Arletta. It was also revealed that this man had a little brother in Del's youth ministry. This man, who was serving time for auto theft, did not want his brother to, "End up like me -- There was no one around to lend me a hand; my brother has a chance to turn his life around. And this lowlife fool had to kill Del and mess up something good."
This man vowed he'd get even with BC Bell, and he really didn't care if he ended up in prison for the rest of his life.
"At least, those kids have a chance at a better life. Damn, n****r! Fools like us make it hard on the rest of our people!"

Before long, a fight broke out between the two men, and BC suffered several stab wounds; he lingered long enough to curse nearly everyone who'd "done him wrong." Momma relayed the news of BC's last moments as told to her by Joannie Bell.
"I thought he'd at least ask for forgiveness, but I guess he never realized the destructive path he took. I love my grandson, and I wished he had only listened to good common sense," was what Joannie told my mother. His grandmother said something else about BC's last moments. "Right before he died, he sat up and screamed! Like he saw demons coming after him. I prayed over him all night, but he never saw fit to get himself right. I guess he found out the Hard Way."

When I related all this to Claude, he only had this to say: "A good riddance! The unholy demon is dead, and gone back to Hell where he belongs!"
I couldn't offer a snappier comeback to that if I tried.

I knew BC would end this way . . . Del said BC would pay the ultimate price. When will dudes like that learn? Sooner or later it all catches up with you . . . Just like Miss Perle says, "What goes around, comes around"


Ah, yes . . . The good news . . .

Claude and I had hoped to return for Tony and Jacki's June wedding; however, things didn't turn out as planned. Momma informed me that, one week after I left with Claude, Jacki and Tony decided to dash off to Reno and get married -- Just like that!

"They ran off?! Eloped?!" Claude exclaimed disbelievingly when I informed him of this.
"And I had hoped to personally toast the happy couple at their nuptials . . . "
He then laughed then said his patented, "No matter. They are young, in love . . . I wish them nothing but the best."
Later, of course, Claude would playfully chastise Jacki and Tony about their hastiness, but he was very understanding and wished them well in their married life. All those wedding preparations, however, didn't go to waste as Kyle and Shelli finally decided to tie the knot.
Well, at least that'll be one wedding we'll attend, and just in time for the Wood family reunion.


There was even more good news concerning Del's youth ministry. Many of Del's young flock, along with Arletta's neighbors and co-workers, got together and sponsored a series of fund-raisers for the church and the youth center. Over the several weeks following Del and Arletta's deaths, these good people hosted barbeques, talent shows, softball games, matinees, yard sales, and car washes. All money raised was to go directly to Del's ministry.

I was too thrilled for words when Momma relayed that these folks managed to raise more than $5000 for the youth ministry. She also relayed even more good news, via Fern, concerning the leadership of that ministry.
Fern made a time trip and brought Claude and me a plate of some of the best barbeque we ever ate. I can still remember my reaction when Fern told me exactly who was to take over Del's leadership.

"Nisha, do you remember Jamal Bridgewater, that kid in Griffin's sixth period class?"

"Jamal?! That kid gave me fits . . . But he was so funny!"

Boy, do I remember him! He was in that sixth period "class-from-Hell." Jamal was in detention ALL the time. I ought to know, 'cause I had GLC duty. That's one aspect of my tenure at Arlington I don't fondly recall . . .

Claude had always gotten a kick out of my 'life in schools' tales; I had told him about Jamal before, and how he always managed to stay in trouble, despite his brightness and sweet nature.

As I told Claude, I encountered Jamal at least twice a week whenever I had detention room duty.
"Why are you here today, Jamal?"

Excuse #1: "I got caught cutting class."
Excuse #2: "I got caught smoking in the restroom."
Excuse #3: "I was late to class--Again!"
The list was endless.

As I related to a very amused Claude Frollo, Jamal was a bright boy, a very nice boy, but he had a lot of family problems which led to a lot of academic problems. Jamal wasn't a serious behavior problem--he did stupid stuff that drove everyone crazy. But Jamal was likable, a big boy with a quick wit and a smile that could melt the hardest of hearts.

It was Tom Benjamin who got this boy turned around. As I recalled, Jamal joined the Air Force after graduation, then went on to divinity school and spent much of his spare time preaching the gospel to inner-city kids. Jamal had a ministry of his own but when he heard about Del's troubles with BC, he promised Del he would join forces. By then, however, everything had been dramatically altered. Del, you did not die in vain
When I think back on it now, and having witnessed the New Horizons Church take on renewed vitality, I knew Del would be pleased that Jamal continued Del's calling. Even Claude Frollo had nothing but positive things to say -- much to my utter surprise.

"Mmm . . . ," said Claude Frollo as he sampled sweet-spicy ribs, chicken, creamy potato salad, and homemade rolls, "The Reverend Davis must be smiling down on his young flock, for they have now taken up his cause and are determined to keep it alive. I've never said this to you before, darling Nisha, but when a church performs exactly what it preaches . . . "
He stopped himself, sighed, then said, "Ah, well, my love, I wish the Reverend Bridgewater all the best. I only wish some of these so-called 'men of God' could take a time trip to the 20th Century and witness firsthand that 'lending a helping hand' is not about filling their own coffers and squandering resources for their own selfish gain. I have seen far too much corruption in my own time, so when I witness the good work of the Reverend Davis, and the good work of his successor . . . My dear, it's things such as these that somewhat restores my faith in men of the clergy."
What! Claude Frollo spilling his guts about the Church and Del and good works and . . . ? This man can be too strange . . .

I was a little more than shocked to hear these words come out of Claude Frollo's mouth.

"Claude, I never knew you were so interested in Del's activities, or Jamal's, or anything. I mean, I thought you wanted nothing to do with that part of my life . . . "

Claude embraced me, then kissed me; I could taste the fiery cayenne on his lips. Mmm . . . talk about lips of fire!

"Danisha, you know perfectly well that I have a keen interest in your life, and in the lives of your friends and family. Have you not taken a keen interest in my life, and of those near and dear to me?"
That said, I then knew that Claude truly wanted to be a part of my life as I wanted to be a part of his. He was right all along--We have so much more than "bedroom games."

We have a bond that's unbreakable and a foundation that's unshakable.

Aside from Claude saving my life, I never knew how far he would go to show his devotion. I was in for another pleasant shock that day of the family reunion . . .

Claude insisted that we leave early. We were on our way home, to my house, then Claude made me take a little detour . . .

Coming Up:
The Happy Conclusion to Lead Me Gently Home

©Copyright, FrolloFreak FSM #14, 1998.

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