People Like Us

Chapter 13

The Time and Place: 
New York City, 2005, early morning. Danisha Wood has just received a rather urgent phone call concerning Nadine's "missing" TimeScape.  As expected, Mommy is not happy with her child.  Read on...

Nadine Frollo awoke earlier than usual; she spent most of the early morning hours playing with her dolls and watching cartoons on TV. Soon after her mother, Danisha, would take her to Palm Court for breakfast; then it was off exploring this fabulous city.
First the natural history museum, lunch, then the Little Red Lighthouse and shopping. It was to be a fun day, just mother and daughter sharing quality time without the interruptions. Danisha saw to that -- she simply put her foot down and told Jolley, "My daughter and I haven't spent one day together since she got here...Give me that much."
So the agent obliged and promptly canceled several days' engagements. Besides, reasoned both new best-selling author and her agent, there's not much else to do other than sit back and let the past few days' activities gel. Another reason Jolley let up was because she thought Nadine was just so gosh-darn cute! "Ooh, I envy you moms and all these adorable children!," a still single and childless Jolley exclaimed on occasion.

Nadine loved being in New York although she wished her father was here – and she wished Orry was here as well. No word from her 15th Century best friend, but perhaps, as Nadine reasoned, Orry had to be a good boy and mind his father. The phone rang again and Nadine hoped it was Grandma keeping in touch with all the latest news of home. But when Nisha finished the conversation, she entered Nadine's room and looked at her daughter in anger. Without a word, she placed her TimeScape on the table, in Nadine's full view.

In a voice full of motherly disappointment and vexation, Nisha finally said, "Alma Nadine Frollo, you have a lot of explaining to do! I thought your father told you not to bring your device with you. I just got off the phone with Jacki; she was to reprogram your TimeScape. When Grandma searched your room, the device was nowhere to be found."

When her mother addressed Nadine by her full name, she knew she was in for it. Nadine cringed a bit, knowing full well that her mother will surely punish her for deception and disobedience. Danisha continued, "Jacki reports that over the past couple of days there were several messages transmitted between your device and mine, but yours is supposed to be at home. Now, young lady, out with it!"

The little girl, now near tears, finally repeated the same confession she told her father. "Mommy, promise you won't get mad at me, but Orry and me just wanted to talk to each other...You see...I took Aunt Cherie's thing and came back to get mine..."
"Hold it. What do you mean you and Orry wanted to to talk, and you took...Oh no! Nadine, you didn't!"

Danisha started to cry in anger, frustration, and disbelief. Now the child, herself in tears, told her mother everything: Orry's theft of Quasimodo's device, the accidental time trip, and how Nadine slipped her TimeScape to Orry. "Just so we can talk and stuff. Mommy, you won't tell Papa, will you?"

Danisha didn't know what to think. All she could do was pray that Jacki Terrell arrived in time to save a boy's life. And maybe, just maybe, the secret that so many guarded with their lives would remain just that – a secret.


Back at the old mill, Imbert l'Etrange curses his luck, for something went horribly wrong. No wonder Parisians are up in arms. Read on...
How could it happen? It was all a simple little plan, something that should've proceeded so easily. It was foolproof, he continuously reminded himself. All he had to do was retrieve the money, pay those Marquecoin brothers, then free Orry. Simple as that. But everything went haywire.

First, Fabrisse never showed up at the old mill. She was to bring Orry, keep the boy hidden within until Évrard dropped the ransom. Once Imbert got his hands on the money, Fabrisse would simply leave Orry, bound and gagged, inside the mill. A note posted near the drop-off point would tell Évrard that much. Orry's home safe and sound, Imbert has paid off his gambling debts, several Gypsies are executed for kidnapping, and no one is the wiser – except for one tiny problem.

What if Orry was able to identify his true captors? Imbert would then be shamed and disgraced as a liar and traitor. That was the alternative plan in case Orry told: Imbert would have to kill the boy.
So that's where Imbert was this night of horrors, on foot, en route to Maison des Chénes. He intended to kill the child then bury the body in a remote part of the oak forest where no one would ever find it.  This is the "true" story, what really happened when Jacki Darcey Terrell, at Claude Frollo's behalf, researched Évrard Ouimet circa 1495. True, the boy was kidnapped, and ultimately murdered. The tragic fallout as a result of that crime truly occurred.

Only later, after she accomplished a delicate mission, would Jacki relate those details to Claude Frollo. If Imbert only knew that Frollo's "New World" connections altered the outcomes. This was a rare occasion that Frollo's friends ignored the transtemporal dictum: "Don't change the outcome or else you'll change history."

Well, when one sees that something has to be done....


Cut to Maison des Chénes, Évrard Ouimet's country home just outside Paris. Up in the tower room...
Orry passed a fitful night; real, deep restful sleep simply escaped him. He worried about much – whether he'll ever be reunited with his father, and if he'd ever see Nadine again. Orry felt, deep in his heart, that Imbert would never free him. That man, out of desperation, and because Orry will obviously tell the truth, would kill the child. The boy shuddered to think what could happen to him once that door flew open. It could be either Imbert or that woman; perhaps Imbert would come alone.

How would he kill me? By choking me? By stabbing me to death? It would not be a quick, painless death, Orry pondered as he heard the faint sound of footsteps growing closer.

Perhaps Father doesn't know I'm here, neither does Uncle Philippe. I'm doomed....

Little Orry sent up prayer after prayer, pleading for a miracle. No, I don't want Imbert to come up here and kill me! Please don't let him kill me!

Those footsteps were now outside the door; an out of breath female voice softly yet frantically called out, "Orry? Are you in there?"

Odd, thought Orry, I've never heard THAT voice before...No, wait...It IS familiar, but...

Finally, it dawned on Orry exactly who was on the outside of that door. He sprang to his feet and instantly pounded on the door; he shouted at the top of his lungs, "Madame Jacqueline! It's me, Orry! Imbert and that woman locked me in here! Please get me out!"
The reply came quickly. "Orry, hang in there. Let me find a way in....the door's locked...Ah! Here's the key!"

Within seconds the door was unlocked, the bolts unlatched. The sight that greeted him was so refreshingly welcome. She was a beautiful lady with smooth sandy hair, soft brown eyes, and écru complexion. He immediately flew to Jacki Terrell, saying, "Oh at last! Thank you, Madame Jacqueline, thank you!" Jacki smiled as she aimed her flashlight about the room; then she examined Orry.
"Did they hurt you, honey?"
"No, madame, but I lost my button whilst trying to fight them off," he said, indicating the vacant space on his doublet. Jacki hugged the boy  then told him to hurry and go with her.
"We have no time to lose, Orry. Imbert is on his way here. Don't ask how I know, but I know. He's on foot so that gives us plenty of time to...Here, lend me a hand..."

Just outside the door, she retrieved a child-sized dummy. She told Orry to, "Get those spare clothes they left you...Here, help me get this on."
"Ah," exclaimed Orry, "a ruse to make Imbert think I'm here...But in reality, I'll be reunited with my father, and Imbert will have to face my Uncle Philippe..."
"No, Orry," guardedly replied Jacki after she and Orry finished their handiwork. "Returning to Paris is too risky risky now...."

She took Orry by the hand; then, once outside, she closed the and re-locked the door. Jacki Terrell then did something that made Orry even more curious. She took out her transtemporal device and very deftly coded several messages. Noting Orry's wide eyes, she softly giggled as she said, "Orry, if it wasn't for you and Nadine sneaking around seeing each other, and if she didn't sneak her device to you, then you'd be far greater danger. Thank Nadine for saving your life."

Orry didn't quite understand, but it occurred to him that the desperate message sent out had been received by Jacki. As they wound their way back to the main floor then out the rear door where Jacki kept her buggy, she tried to word her response as best she could. "And that, Orry," she explained, "is why we have to get out of here, and fast. Imbert could be coming up the road as we speak..."
"But, Madame Jacqueline, to whom did you sent a message? And don't worry, 'cause I know how – Nadine showed me!"
Then, "And why can't we go back to Paris? I miss my father..."

Just as they got into the buggy – and that was a treat for Orry who'd never seen anything like this – a horse and its lone rider sped up the long driveway towards the rear of the house. Jacki, mindful that Imbert l'Etrange could be here at any time, aimed her flashlight at the approaching figure. Orry hid behind Jacki, peeping out only when the figure called out to them.

"Jacqueline! Orry! Are you all right?"

Jehan Frollo, who earlier had doped Fabrisse and extracted pertinent information concerning Orry's exact whereabouts. He took it upon himself to contact Jacki out of hopes that she would come to his aid. Since Danisha was busy in 2005 New York City, Iggy and Fern still on assignment in 1495 Marseilles, and both Claude and Julian tied up with the kidnapping case, Jehan knew to turn to Jacki. What a boon for Jehan as he and Jacki devised a plan to trap the true kidnappers. She did her part; now Jehan did his.
As soon as he arrived, he dismounted, then nailed a note onto the door. He smiled wickedly, announcing, "Imbert will pay for what he did to Orry, to Évrard. And, if truth be known, his actions triggered this latest terrible tragedy..."

Jacki shushed Jehan with hot look. Orry picked up on this asking, "When will I go home, Madame Jacqueline?"
"Uh, Orry, we're taking you to a safe place, where Imbert will never find you...I've already notified M. Claude Frollo, and he's to tell your father that you're safe.."

Once on the road to Chateau d'Arcy, Jehan and Jacki looked at each other, both knowing deep down they were doing the right thing. If both could've been in three places at once then all the unnecessary tragedies Jacki uncovered could've been avoided. But, no, the child came first. And now, at that same time – pre-dawn hours – as the buggy turned up the long tree-lined road leading to Chateau d'Arcy, a lone man wearily walked his way toward Maison des Chénes.


Nearly dawn...Palais de Justice. What went wrong? Read on...
All alone, Claude Frollo stood on the colonnade watching the city gradually come to life on this fine crisp October morn. With a careful listen, he could still make out most of an early morning conversation between two men down in the street below. By now the news was all over Paris: Philippe Ouimet, in a valiant attempt to rescue his little nephew Orry, walked right into a trap.

Claude Frollo shuddered when he realized that it could've been him or Évrard who took that arrow. The retired Minister of Justice also shuddered with the memory of a similar trap installed. Danisha and Ernie were there to save Claude's life since Ernie, the booby trap's designer, had warned her in time.

When we hunted the serial killer Marcel Rougelot in 1937 Chicago...A rigged "Tommy gun" strapped to an ironing board...activated the moment someone enters and steps on that wire...Danisha, Ernie, and Julian, tackling me to the floor as that weapon spewed its deadly load...I surely would have been killed.... And all because of stubborn, dogged determination...

That's what happened to Philippe although there was no advance warning. They – Frollo, Évrard, and Judge Ouimet – arrived at the old mill at the appointed hour. Évrard carried a bag filled with 500 florins, the promised ransom; Philippe's men were stationed not far from the place. Claude Frollo, although bluntly told by Judge Ouimet that his presence was unwanted, accompanied Évrard out of respect for an old friend.
Then again, Claude wondered, if this place was truly the Court of Miracles...

Come to think of it, this was the same abandoned mill that served as a temporary hideout for another fugitive.

No, it was not the Court of Miracles after all...Another ruse...a deadly trap...

When Évrard left the money by the tree as instructed, Philippe and his men bided their time. No Orry emerged from the dilapidated mill, even after each man called out to him. No response – just dead silence.

"Ram it!," ordered Judge Ouimet at the head of his men. He never took Claude Frollo's advice to remain within the "safety zone", to allow the soldiers do the more dangerous work. But no, Philippe Ouimet, hell bent on destroying Gypsies, rescue his nephew, and restore what little faith he had in himself, haughtily and recklessly marched through the door.

It all happened so fast. Judge Philippe Ouimet disappeared inside the mill over the protests of Frollo and Évrard; seconds latter he let out an ear-piercing scream. When the soldiers finally ventured inside and secured the area, they found no Gypsies, no Orry. What they found was a carefully rigged crossbow set to go off the moment the door opened. The Minister of Justice lay on the floor, bleeding profusely. The arrow struck him, and in a bad place.

It was touch and go as Philippe was transported back to Paris; Frollo feared the man wouldn't survive the night. So now, a barely conscious Philippe lay upstairs in his bedchamber; Évrard was with him. The Minister of Justice called for a priest as he knew life was rapidly draining away.

A tear trickled down Frollo's cheek as he relived the horror again and again.

O my Nisha...if only you were here, to soothe me...I need you more than ever...

That's when his TimeScape beeped. Ah, several messages: one from Julian, another from Danisha, and...what? Those frenetic messages scrolled across the screen in succession.

Message #1:

I found Orry Ouimet! He's safe and sound but wants to come home. He's out at Chateau d'Arcy ...I thought he'd be safer there. By the way, Imbert and Fabrisse are the REAL kidnappers, NOT the Gypsies! Orry told me everything. Tell Évrard to come on out after Imbert gets his well-deserved "surprise". Right now is not the time.

Message #2:
What is going on? Nadine tells me she slipped Orry her device...And what's this I hear about the boy being in some sort of trouble? Is everything all right there? Do not worry about worrying me...I've canceled all today's appointments...I'm heading for the 15th right now -- and I'm bringing Nadine, whether you like it or not.

Message #3:
Your Honor,
Can't break an old habit. Just to inform you that we've finished our business here. We can't reveal much now due to the delicate nature of the information gathered. Fern and I have returned to the 21st to take care of minor family business, then it's back to the 15th, to Paris. We should arrive sometime this evening. What we learned in Marseilles is not all that pleasant.

Daniel (Iggy)

P.S. Look out for a man named Georges Morté. André Soulé hired him to search for Felise LaCourbe née Francesca Gaudet. We learned this after Évrard's caretaker—with help from Fern—wheedled it out of the old man. Felise may be in mortal danger.

Message #4:
Was tied up with urgent business....that's why I couldn't come with you last night...Hit a snag last night and things were touch and go...Quasimodo and Phoebus came to my aid...Can't explain but things have settled – for now...I'm on my way to the old mill to collect evidence...Already heard what happened to Minister Ouimet, and I heard that Orry's been found and that he's safe. Not to worry – I've already got Imbert l'Etrange set up, and set up good. He's in for quite a shock. His accomplice Fabrisse has confessed to everything – thank Jehan for that...She's at La Papillion Doré, and probably still knocked out. Arresting her should be a breeze.

What did Julian mean by "urgent business", and how did it prevent him from accompanying Frollo and the Ouimets to last night's ransom drop?

"Hit a snag"..."touch and go"...

So, that was the clamor we heard last obviously came from that island...Ile de St-Louis...Could the Gypsies be...? Of course not! That island is totally uninhabited, a dense unlivable wilderness. No, the Gypsies are elsewhere...

Claude coded a quick reply to Julian:


All is in hand...Philippe's second in command, Gervais Trigèré, has returned from patrol. I've taken upon myself to act as temporary Minister of Justice; Philippe Ouimet is sinking fast, and the King has requested I do this...
Fabrisse is as good as arrested...As for Imbert l'Etrange, do what you must but bring him in – ALIVE!

Claude Frollo

An unwary Frollo coded and sent a series of more replies just as Évrard Ouimet came up from behind. Évrard cleared his throat then said, "Philippe is calling for you, Claude. He says he has much on his mind...."

He caught his breath then continued, "He says he needs to tell you something of utmost importance, and in extreme confidence – before the priest arrives."

Eyeing the device Claude still clutched, Évrard admitted, "I stood back and watched you...What is this amazing thing? Recently, I've espied Orry with something similar but never asked about it."

For the first time in so many years, Claude Frollo felt utterly trapped. No, can't hedge now, or else...

Perhaps Évrard seemed more open than his brother, which prompted Claude to finally divulge more than a decade of secrets.

"It all started, Évrard, more than ten years ago, when a most unusual woman, a Madame Fern Grigsby, initially arrived in Paris...."


To Chapter 14

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