Lead Me Gently Home


"The Foundations of a Friendship"

Claude Frollo removed his hat, stashing it in the backseat. He said it would "only draw unwanted attention". I shot back my usual, "And you think those pants won't? I'm not so sure." Claude laughed, then slinked his way around the car, while I made sure the car was securely locked..

"Odd, that we wind up wearing similar clothes", I commented. I was, of course, referring to my attire of a short, black leather skirt, and black, beaded sweater. I completed the outfit with a long, black, leather-trimmed coat. I wore my hair in a stylish French twist; large silver hoops swung from my earlobes. My nails and lips were painted deep-violet.

"Darling Nisha", Claude commended favorably, "you look positively delicious. Now, let's show your hometown crowd a loving, well-dressed couple."

We made it Downtown with little trouble. Since it wasn't quite five, the incoming traffic wasn't as heavy -- Outbound traffic was something else. Once inside Circle Centre Mall, I knew it would be wall-to-wall people. If I was to treat Claude to an early supper, I needed to find a suitable restaurant, and quickly.
I suggested St. Elmo's, one of the oldest eateries in Indianapolis, a steakhouse straight out of the 1890's. We would then have the rest of the evening to shop, and just hang out.

However, I had a feeling Claude had other things on his mind. He bent me backwards onto the hood of my car, then kissed and caressed me with such abandon. "Claude...umm...Honey...Not now", I protested, worried that anyone would happen to pass by, and this parking garage was extremely busy on Friday nights.

Damn! What is with this man? He's extra randy tonight! What did he do? Eat a plateful of oysters? Love Potion No. 9? Or...is it...ME? Must be this perfume...or the clothes...Or what's INSIDE the clothes...

Claude released me; he smiled as he eyes bored right through me. "I'm sorry, my love. I don't know why I can't keep my hands off your..." He paused to deliver a potent kiss; his tongue tenderly probing the inside of my mouth.
"...your lovely body." Claude laughed as we embraced each other.

I firmly suggested alternative activities, then we could pursue "other" things, once we returned home.

"Whatever suits you, Nisha, dearest."


"For the many times I've visited the 20th Century, I can say, in all honesty, that I'm still overwhelmed by all this...achievement." Claude Frollo stood with me in the Artsgarden, a huge glass shell that overlooked Washington Street and linked the Mall with Claypool Centre.

Claude, for the most part, is very much like a child who'd seldom ventured out --- He's that amazed with everything 20th Century. And he seemed completely fascinated as I pointed out a few landmarks. "That's the old Ayres' building, and that's where Wasson's used to be. Momma always took us Downtown on Saturdays; we'd shop, then have lunch in Ayres' Tearoom."
I held on to Claude as I continued to reminisce; his hand tenderly caressed my back and shoulders. Claude then revealed that he really had no inclination for a heavy meal. "I thought, since we are inside, that we could try that lovely little place near...what's the name of the store?"

"Parisian", I murmured, my hand caressing his back.

"California Café?", I offered.

Claude returned my caress, and answered in a sweeter-than-honey voice, "Sounds delightful."


A quiet elegant dinner, in a neat little restaurant that faced the northeast end of the Mall. Claude and I shared a table inside, away from the hustling crowd. There we enjoyed a light, delicious meal of pasta, chicken, and salad. Our conversation varied --- just recalling our respective day.

"So, Claude Frollo", I asked, between bites, "How many did you bust today?" Claude quietly chuckled, then his face grew serious. Apparently, things had not gone well for him. He told me that he had several of his spies arrested and executed for disloyalty.

"I had a feeling some were...what is the term...'double agents'? Anyway, I learned a handful of my so-called 'loyal minions' were on the verge of betraying me. I had no alternative but to execute them." Claude looked at me with marked expression when he added, "You do understand, my love."

"Of course, baby. I understand." I said nothing more, noting the pained look in his eyes. I then told him of the special project I was about to assign the following week.

"It's a mock archaeological dig. The kids devise their own cultures, complete with language, history, customs. They make scale model artifacts, then bury them in a box. Another student group will then 'dig' up the site, and try to interpret and reconstruct the data. It's a fun project, but a lot of work."

Claude smiled as he refilled our wineglasses. "Sounds like a fascinating learning experience", he said. He then sighed, adding that, "At least your career seems more enjoyable. Working with children -- I was never that patient with young people."
My eyes grew big as I reminded him of "that man who just charmed two little girls", and the several other times he has been there for a child. "Remember that snowball fight with the neighborhood kids? And don't forget what you did for Adele's youngsters."

Claude sighed again, and replied that he hadn't forgotten those occasions, when he showed his tender side -- a part of which he seldom reveals. "Except when I'm with you, Danisha", Claude expressed open-heartedly. I swore his eyes were bright -- Did that little confession move him that much?

Claude then told me a few more things, things that he felt were the foundations of our friendship. "That's what I feel is the bedrock on which our relationship lies. It's the openness we have with each other, the warmth, the laughter. These are things that I, in my time, never experienced." I wanted to say something, but Claude gently touched my lips with his long, graceful fingers.

He drained his wineglass, then continued to reveal what, in his view, has held us together all these years. "I do believe, darling Nisha, that I can be totally honest with you, as you can be likewise with me." He kissed my hands, then told me that, "I am here for you, Danisha, just as you are always there for me."
He took a deep breath, held my hand, and gazed into my eyes while he poured out his heart.

"What we have is more than..." He paused to emit a deep chuckle. "...'bedroom games'. Even though you are my mistress, and I am your lover, I believe what makes this particular relationship work is that..." Claude paused to kiss me; I felt his warm breath against my face.
He sighed again, as he finished, "...We are friends, Nisha, very close friends. I don't ever want to lose that special bond we share. Do you understand what I'm saying to you?"

I could only utter, "Oh Claude, I never knew you felt this way."

Claude smiled as I asked the server for the check. Claude insisted that I didn't have to "spend your hard-earned money on me". But I told him, "Sugarbritches, you spoil me too much, and I think it's only right to let me spoil you." I returned the smile and added, "Honey, it's only dinner."

Claude Frollo laughed as he escorted me out of California Café. "Danisha, my love." He glanced around as if he didn't want to be spotted; then he quickly kissed me. "You have spoiled me ever since I laid eyes on you."


Here I go..spending money on myself...and Claude...My VISA bill's gonna be outta sight! And looks like Claude's wallet's gonna be a little lighter...

Claude and I sat in Nordstrom's coffee kiosk, just outside the store's second floor entrance. We had just wrapped nearly two hours of shopping, and it was getting near closing. "Damn!", I exclaimed, looking at my watch. "Eight-thirty all ready? And this place is really jumping!"

Indeed, Circle Centre Mall, the newest, most popular hangout in town, was packed to the brim. Not that I minded the crowds, and neither did Claude, but we both decided not to do much heavy-duty shopping.
We went to Nordstrom; I bought Claude black silk pajamas. "For later tonight, if you know what I mean", I teasingly told him. Claude held up the slinky kimono-like top. He could only comment, "Mmm...just the thing to match that satiny gown I bought you last Christmas, my dearest."

I took him to many of my favorite shops: Book stores, toy stores (He bought me a collectible Barbie), and a neat perfume shop on the third level. Claude insisted we drop by that little gourmet shop before ending our Friday night adventure.

Everywhere we went, heads turned. I couldn't help wondering if Claude's clothes, or, Claude Frollo himself, attracted the attention.
He did cut quite a figure in his black leather ensemble: the tight jeans, and that handsome hand-tooled vest. The deep-purple shirt complimented his cool, pale complexion. His cloak draped dramatically over his shoulder. And I loved the way Claude wore his gray hair, neatly cut in a medieval-style wedge, and those side curls...

Hmm...it's the man himself...his presence...even the air around him seems to stand at attention...

We sat at a table overlooking the Nordstrom Block escalator. There we could watch the now-thinning crowd (it was near-closing), and enjoy our espresso and conversation.

"I wonder...", Claude began; I wasn't sure what he was trying to express. He took a bite of my chocolate chip cheesecake, then finished his sentence.
"I wonder what it would be like to live here."

Now, I knew that Claude never professed moving to my hometown, much less about living in the 20th Century. I knew how overwhelmed, how utterly lost, Claude became whenever he visited my time. But why voice his curiosities now? Why did he say that?

I immediately got up, and tossed our coffee cups in the trash barrel. I then held Claude's hand, saying, "Baby, you're tired, worn out. Let me take you home; you need some TLC." Claude smiled as we headed back to the other end of the mall.

We said nothing for most of our walk down the long corridor. When we passed the Godiva shop, Claude offered to buy "a few sweets, for my sweet Nisha."

"Spoiling me again, Claude?"


Finally! We found ourselves strolling through the Artsgarden, and back towards the parking garage. At that moment, I heard a familar voice from behind.

"Danisha Wood? Is that you?" Claude and I wheeled around and beheld the short, plump woman; her full, aged face registered marked surprise.

"Aunt Margie!", I exclaimed. I immediately embraced Margie Knox, Jacki Darcey's aunt, her mother's sister. I introduced her to Claude Frollo.

Margie took Claude's extended hand, and I had a sneaking feeling these two needed no introduction.

"Your Honor, it's sure good seeing you again", Margie said, as Claude gallantly kissed her hand. I could tell that Margie was surprised to see Claude and me together. "Danisha", she told me, "you never told me you and Minister Frollo were friends."

I just played it off ; very few 20th Century folks knew of my relationship with Claude. Not even my parents knew; I was certain they would never understand, much less approve, of my affair with a five-hundred year old public official from medieval France.

"Are you alone, Mme. Knox?", Claude politely asked.
"Oh no," Aunt Margie replied, "I'm heading for the car; Wack's down there waiting on me." I tried not to laugh when I said to Margie, "You mean you got Uncle Wack to come Downtown, to Circle Centre? I thought he hated all this crowd."
Margie laughed, saying that she bribed her husband to accompany her on a shopping expedition.
"It was either that, or going over to Dottie's." Margie Knox shook her head, adding, "And you know Dottie and Wack don't get along." Dottie Oldham was Margie's eldest sister; Jacki told me her Aunt Dottie has always been known as "The General".

All three of conversed while we walked towards the parking garage. I could see that Margie's car was parked very close to the elevator.
"You know Wack won't park in a garage unless he can find the elevator", Aunt Margie said as we said our good-byes. Uncle Wack waved to us as we headed for my car.
"My love", Claude asked, with eyebrow raised, "'Wack'?"
I wanted to laugh out loud, but resisted. Instead, I explained to him that "Uncle Wack's real name is Arthur. 'Wack' is a nickname...please don't ask me how he got it."


Claude and I settled in front of my fireplace; it was close to eleven, and I was decidedly weary. Claude noticed this although I tried to play it off.

"You're looking tired, darling", he said, his eyes surveying my face. "I trust you are not ill." Claude kissed my mouth, then cuddled me close.

"Oh, I'm fine, Claude", was all I said.

Everything's not fine...I'm really hurting right now...had no business running around like that...But I can't burden him...or my family...I have to remain strong.

"Yes, Danisha?"
"Can we take this 'Love Jones' thing upstairs?"
Claude Frollo's mouth curved into that famous smile. "I thought you'd never ask."

Even that took its toll on me...


©Copyright, FrolloFreak FSM #14, 1998.

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