People Like Us

Chapter Nine

The Time & Place:
21st Century New York City. Six year old Nadine Frollo, under the "careful" watch of a babysitter, takes matters into her hands...

Well, it was to be a fun day; they were supposed to visit the museum then do some shopping. An otherwise pleasant outing ruined by bad weather. The ordinarily crisp and sunny October days gave way to chilly downpours which made Manhattan streets miserable. It had rained nearly all day and the outing had been cut short; Nadine and her babysitter returned to the hotel suite shortly after lunch.

Nadine managed to amuse herself with reading, playing with her dolls, and writing letters home. Well pass four o'clock, and the babysitter fast asleep in front of the TV, Nadine Frollo was not worried about having to entertain herself. She was rather bored what not having her father around, but Nadine, an extremely independent child, took everything in stride.
At present, the child's mother, Danisha Wood, spent the bulk of the day with her literary agent. Nisha phoned the hotel suite during a lull between interviews just to check on Nadine and to inform that she'd be home, "Rather late." Nadine's mom explained that she and Jolley had been invited for cocktails, but insisted that she wouldn't stay long.
With her mother gone until almost supper time, and the babysitter still sleeping, Nadine had the time needed to send Orry a message. Wait a minute! If Orry returned Quasi's device, how is Nadine able to send a transtemporal message? It seemed Nadine, out of love and loyalty for her friend, slipped Orry her device. She told him, "If you ever want to talk to me, use this. I can use Mommy's."
She showed him how to send and receive messages via the TimeScape, how to activate the tracking mode, but she never showed him how to take time trips. "I don't want you to get into trouble, Orry," she told him upon giving him a crash course in time travel. The boy understood completely, and both kids took delight that they could at least keep in contact.

Now, Nadine didn't know about Orry's latest circumstances nor did her father divulge much about his hasty exit to 15th Century Paris. All that mattered now was that she wanted to contact her friend. She took out her mother's transtemporal device then, carefully copying the hand printed note she penned earlier, coded this message:

Dear Orry,
I miss you. I'm in New York City with Mommy. She is busy but we will have dinner together tonight. Papa went to Paris last night. I wish you were here. It's raining real hard.
Rewind to the late 15th Century. Orry Ouimet receives the message all right, but...
Just when things seemed so bleak, so hopeless, a message arrived from beyond the debris of time and space...

Orry Ouimet, imprisoned in the old tower room at Maison des Chénes, nearly fainted when that device beeped and flashed madly. It was a message from Nadine; she missed him terribly. She also asked if her father, Claude Frollo, had paid Orry's father a visit. Oh no, the little boy thought, Nadine doesn't know that I've been kidnapped! How unfortunate still that he couldn't extract himself from his present predicament. If it were possible, Orry would simply press that red button and he'd be with Nadine Frollo right now. However, Nadine's device, as wondrous as it was, could not be used for time trips. Danisha saw to that – a wise decision on her part. It was reasoned that Nadine should not take solo time trips until age twelve – right now was just too risky. So Jacki and Tony Terrell came up with a kid-friendly TimeScape with which Nadine could keep in contact with her 15th Century friends and family. The message mode worked, as did the tracking mode. That red button? When pushed, nothing happens; one can push that button all day and activate no time trips.

So Orry, finally and reluctantly adjusting to his temporary circumstances, vowed that he would find means to escape. He coded a reply to Nadine, being rather cautious about revealing much. Orry knew that news of his kidnapping would only upset his friend and her mother. However, armed with the knowledge that Claude Frollo was indeed back in Paris, Orry carefully worded his reply. Maybe there is some way to activate the tracking mode. He recalled Nadine's story of being separated from her parents in a park. "Mommy just pressed the green button, and they found me right away."

Hmm...maybe I should press this green button...M. Frollo would certainly find me... No! He can't find me that way, 'cause he doesn't know that Nadine gave me her toy...Frollo will punish Nadine just like my father punished me... O, what price all this secrecy!

Dear Nadine,
I miss you too. I wish I could see your New York City. Then we can walk across your Brooklyn Bridge together. I want to know how you make someone find you with this thing.
I am your best friend,
Orry Ouimet
In the Palais de Justice, Claude Frollo consults his protégé and handpicked successor. Will Philippe Ouimet listen and cooperate? Read on...
Claude Frollo, severe and strikingly handsome in his total black ensemble, strode through the Palais corridors. A flood of memories engulfed Frollo as he found himself back in familiar territory. He knew the Palais better than anyone, even better than the current Minister of Justice if truth be known. Frollo walked out onto the colonnade, stopped to admire the view, then let his mind focus on several pressing matters.
First there was Orry's kidnapping, and Philippe's supposedly nonchalant way of handling such a serious crime. Come on, Philippe!, thought Frollo, the boy is your nephew, your brother's son—your flesh and blood!

Claude couldn't understand it – Who would snatch Orry Ouimet and why? Although deep in his heart, Frollo entertained the notion that Gypsies took the boy, there was the matter of the ransom note. It was common knowledge that the unholy heathens were notorious for stealing children, and Frollo didn't rule out that Clopin, that self-proclaimed "king" had something to do with the crime. But who amongst the Gypsies are literate, period? Let alone someone who knows enough to write a badly executed ransom demand. And why would the kidnappers demand payment in florins, not livres? Then again, why was Jehan so interested in that note? Did he recognize something incriminating? Why didn't Jehan say anything?
Secondly, Claude focused on two disturbing events that occurred prior to Orry's kidnapping. One was that nosy reporter, a man named Auburn Wade, who surfaced once again and tormented Danisha with his probing questions. It was after breakfast, in the dark confines of a parking garage, that Wade cornered them. Danisha held her own, but Frollo could no longer stand by and allow this man to uncover a secret so fiercely guarded by so many. So, Frollo launched a counterattack of his own, verbally tearing the reporter to shreds. He then took upon himself to summon Julian to, "Take care of this ruffian!" And Julian did just that.

Shortly before Danisha departed for New York, Julian reported to Claude Frollo that Auburn Wade was no longer a problem. Julian wouldn't elaborate and Frollo didn't press the enigmatic spy any further. All that mattered was that the transtemporal device – TimeScape – remained a secret. But for how long? That was the second event that weighed heavily on Frollo's mind.
On the day before Orry's kidnapping, just before Claude was to take his daughter to 2005 NYC, the little girl made a startling confession. Nadine Frollo revealed to her father that Orry swiped Quasimodo's TimeScape without the bell ringer's knowledge. Orry subsequently took an accidental time trip to 2005 Indiana, and neither Frollo nor his lady ever discovered their accidental tourist. Nadine Frollo saw to that; and although she hated ratting on a friend, she remembered what her father said about honesty.
Did Frollo severely chastise his child? Did he bother telling Danisha of this latest complication? No on both counts – Claude Frollo did put Nadine on punishment; that is, he deprived her of her TimeScape. What Frollo didn't know was that Nadine had slipped it Orry days before. As far as Frollo and Nisha were concerned, Nadine's device was back home in Indiana.
As for Danisha, Claude felt that his lady needed no more worries. What with the media attention, the signing of contracts, and general wear-and-tear, Danisha had her hands full. No, do not worry her so...

Besides, Claude would have to find Orry before Philippe ever does. Orry could blab to both his uncle and father, setting off a chain of curiosity and never-ending questions. Frollo's cover, as Fern so often put it, would be blown sky high; Frollo and friends could find themselves accused and tried as witches. He shuddered to think of his sweet little daughter in the hands of torturers. Even Orry and Évrard could be tried and executed.

So much weighed on Claude's mind as he waited for Philippe to join him on the colonnade. Soon, while watching children at play in the square, his mind turned to Danisha, a woman he loved and cherished with such passion. Claude Frollo's mouth upturned into a playful grin – He always became somewhat "in the mood" whenever he thought of his postmodern lady. Yes, the fire and magic had definitely returned, and Frollo and Nisha renewed that pledge of devotion and commitment.
His mind was made up: As soon as Orry Ouimet is found alive and safe – Claude had hoped, with Julian's expert assistance, for a swift end to this case – it was back to 21st Century New York. Claude Frollo had a special surprise for his lady, and he himself was ready to take on new adventures and challenges as a "gentleman about Manhattan."

Yes, why not take a hasty return trip yet this very evening. We could have dinner, attend the theater – as a family...Yes, I could very well adjust to this new life...

Frollo's reverie was interrupted by Judge Philippe Ouimet's approach. The current Minister simply and quietly acknowledged Claude's presence then launched into his plan to rescue Orry Ouimet. Philippe made it clear exactly how much he appreciated Frollo's help. With his usual bluntness, Judge Ouimet flatly declared, "M. Frollo, your presence here is really unnecessary, for you see, my spies are within minutes of finding the Court of Miracles. I will find Orry, bring him home; then I'll take care of the wicked heathens who would dare lay hand on that precious child!"

Claude Frollo understood, but he knew Philippe's limitations and offered, "My friend, I've summoned M. Julian McNaney to assist you in any way...He is from the New World and his country's ways of handling such crimes is astounding..."
"But, Claude, I said I'd..."

Frollo held up his hand to interrupt. "I understand, Philippe, that you are the Minister of Justice, and that I should not interfere. However, allow Julian to assist...He's questioned Évrard's household, taken handwriting samples, and now he's revisiting the crime scene..."

Judge Ouimet, upon hearing this information, exploded, "As I said before, I am the Minister of Justice! You and your Julian are interfering with a delicate case...." "This is NO ordinary case, Philippe! This is your flesh-and-blood!"
"Who, Claude, may I remind you, has been snatched by Gypsies. The boy's attendant saw those people near the crime scene only the day before! I will find the Court of Miracles and, once and for all, destroy it!"

Philippe paused for effect then sneered the last line: "Which, I may add, M. Frollo, you never found! When I find it, the King will reward me handsomely."

Claude Frollo couldn't believe what he was hearing, but here stood Judge Ouimet – a new, confident, even swaggering Minister of Justice. Somehow Claude felt as if he were looking and listening to a complete stranger. This is no longer the quiet studious Philippe so eager to please his superiors; he's not even the quiet unassuming man named to the post a mere ten months prior.

Frollo shook his head and softly yet firmly reiterated, "Dear Philippe, you may deny my assistance but hear me out: You have lost how many spies within the past six months? A dozen or more? The Court of Miracles may be in a myriad of locales – on the outskirts of town or literally under our noses..."

Philippe just rolled his eyes, saying nothing. Frollo tried not to appear exasperated, but told his protégé, "Philippe, at least come to your brother's home this evening...The kidnappers are to deliver more ransom demands this very evening. It would help boost Évrard's morale if you are there..."

The Minister of Justice sighed. "If it will please my brother, I shall be there. But I still say find the Gypsy hideout first then worry about ransom. Besides what is a Gypsy going to do with 500 florins? Money like that only further corrupts what little soul those heathens have, if they have souls at all. It is preposterous to even let them near such. Might as well give money to a dog! No! I say we trap and execute the Gypsies – tonight!"


Meanwhile, Fabrisse does her thing...
From her dilapidated room above the tavern – not LaBelle d'Avignon but Le Papillion Doré — Fabrisse could see the ever-growing crowd gathering around Imbert l'Etrange. Ah yes, he's at it again, spreading lies that the Gypsies kidnapped Orry Ouimet. Fabrisse shook her head and noticed that ever since the crime, the Gypsies had laid low. Very few ever had the courage to show themselves in town. If they did emerge from their elusive hideout, it was always at night and under extreme cover.
Just last night, Fabrisse noticed a handful of Gypsies getting into a boat. Could it be that the Court of Miracles is situated across the water? There are many islands dotting the Seine; perhaps the Court is located on one of them. But those islands are, for the most part, uninhabited.

With a shrug, Fabrisse finished her handiwork before Imbert came up to visit. She took the pen in hand again and, with deliberate halting movements, wrote these words:

Bring the money to the old mill — you know which one.  Make sure you are alone. Judge Ouimet and his men must not be there, or else. When I get the money I will free the boy
Same bad style, same misspellings and syntax errors, same blend of broken French and Italian.

Imbert came up in record time. He appeared confident that things would work out for all. "Is it ready, Fabrisse?"

She said nothing as she handed Imbert the new ransom note. She then pondered a bit on an earlier observation. "Imbert, since you're so bent on blaming Gypsies...Yes, that explains it!"
"Explains what?." asked Imbert as he stuffed the note into his doublet pouch.

"I've seen them come and go across the river, Imbert, to one of those islands. I can bet good money that the Court of Miracles is on one of those islands..."

To this, and with a smug expression, a more empowered Imbert replied, "Well...I'm sure M. Évrard and Minister Ouimet would be so proud if I found and destroyed the Court of Miracles – AND rescued Orry Ouimet! No one would be the wiser!"


To Chapter 10

Copyright©2001 by FrolloFreak® AKA The FanFiction Diva

Fanfic Collection #2
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