This is a multi-part series exposing the events surrounding the near-assassination of Judge Claude Frollo. Not clear on some of the characters (FFreak's originals)? Read Back to the Frollo, or email The Author -- She'll give you the lowdown!
Andre d'Arcy impatiently paced his study. How can Claude Frollo still
be alive? Nearly the whole of Paris saw him fall from Notre Dame. Jehan's
story of poisonings, imprisonment, imposters...it's all too incredible!
Jehan said his brother is safe...with a woman....from the New World. I've
seen her, this Mlle. Danisha Wood, a few times...very pretty...Frollo seems quite taken
with her...I wonder if this could finally be the one?
What am I saying? I know Claude's...er...weakness... Surely Claude would not attempt an ocean voyage! This New World must so far away...!
That horrible incident last week...Malus...my wife's nephew---Jean-Michel's son! I now wish my mother had never invited Adele... but it was neither Mother's nor Adele's fault, of course, but... for Jean-Michel had always...
Andre's thoughts were interrupted when Hubert entered the room. He
looks somewhat happy...no doubt, though. Hubert seems to believe Jehan
Frollo's wild tales...
"Father", began Hubert cheerfully, "I have the most wonderful news. Thierry is due to return to Paris; I just received this letter this morning." Thierry Marchand was Solange's husband.
Andre d'Arcy was pleased at this news for Solange had been extremely despondent ever since the night of Malus' death, then became even more depressed upon learning that Malus was her half-brother. Andre and Marie-Louise felt it wise not to tell Solange the whole story surrounding Solange's father and Adele Trigere.
"She is never to know, Hubert", Andre said to his son. "Solange will need the comfort of her husband. When does he arrive in Paris?" Hubert replied as he scanned the letter again, "Hmm...From what I gather from his letter, Friday."
"That's three days away!", exclaimed Andre. Hubert, placed the letter near Solange's chair; he then asked his father, "Any word on Jules' whereabouts? It has been...How long has it been?"
Marie-Louise walked in, then answered her son, "It will be seven days since that awful episode." She sat down, looked at her husband and son, then, she addressed them in a matter-of-fact voice. "My dears, I think it's time we at least tell Renee the truth. It appears Jules will never return, and..."
Mme. d'Arcy paused upon espying the nearby letter. "Isn't that Thierry's handwriting?" Her son nodded. "Then I take it he is coming home?"
"Yes, my dear", replied Andre.
"Well, it's about time! Goodness! It's not right for a husband
to be away from his wife, especially when she's had a major shock."
Marie-Louise then asked her husband, "Andre, that's what I came down
to ask you. Have you seen Solange? I've looked everywhere, but she is nowhere
to be found."
Andre looked puzzled, "No, my dear. I haven't seen her all day. Hubert?" Hubert shook his head.
Marie-Louise d'Arcy sighed, saying, "Oh, well. She's probably down in the village, or in the meadows. But it's far too cold for her to traipse around, out in the elements."
Then she smiled when she added, "She will be quite elated to learn
that her husband is coming home."
Claude Frollo insisted that he remain in the 20th Century, regain his
strength, and, as he said, "Spend these bitterly cold nights snuggled
in a nice, warm bed -- right next to my 20th Century lady."
Although it was I who suggested that Claude return to 15th Century Paris, and confront those who nearly killed him, I was more than happy to have this man spend time with me.
And that time paid off handsomely, as Claude, with the help of a warm bed, good home-cooking, and my tender-loving-care, quickly regained his strength. His mood, his appearance, improved dramatically --- totally different from the shattered man who emerged from that dungeon cell nearly seven days ago.
I also made sure Claude was well-entertained.
During those first bitter-cold days, we watched old movies on my television --- He's still both fascinated and confounded by the wonder of the 'tube'. We played silly card games that I learned as a a child. We read to each other, and I had him in stitches with stories of my high school days.
On this particular day, when the cold snap broke, Claude and I took
a walk through my neighborhood. He favorably commented on the stylish homes,
the quietness of the neighborhood, and the friendliness of the people.
"Your city is full of many kind people. Always willing to help a stranger --- Is that why you are so kind, so devoted to those you love?"
I kissed him, tasting the sharp winter air on his mouth. "Honey, I did what I had to do --- out of love for you. If living here all my life had any influence on my devotion to you, well..."
I paused as we approached Butler Hill, and watched the children at play with their sleds. I felt another crying spell coming on. Claude sensed this, put his arm around me, then told me that he "always knew how much you loved me, how deeply you care for me. I really shouldn't have told you that whole sordid story --- about Jean-Michel, Adele, and Malus. You were so upset that night..."
I then lightly touched his lips with my gloved finger, then snuggled next to him while we watched the children play. Claude, you really know how to calm me down, relax my worries...and yes, I was upset -- almost sickened -- when you told me everything...No wonder we didn't mention it any more...
Snuggling next to Claude was a treat, for I always loved being with
this handsome, well-dressed man. His luxurious black velvet cloak, with
its deep, deep pile, barely swept the ground. And he wore those tight black
leather pants, matching vest, and purple shirt -- the very ensemble
worn on that fall day he showed up on my door step, when I thought that
wonderful summer of time-travel and romance was only a dream.
My reverie was interrupted by the sound of a child's voice. "Hi,
My eyes focused on the eight-year-old girl bundled against the winter's chill. This was Brianna, one of the neighborhood kids; she was a particular favorite. Brianna and several of her friends approached us--a melange of different sizes and colors, ranging from pale ivory to dark coffee, fat to skinny--they were all full of smiles and energy.
"Hi, Brianna. I see you all are having a good time." I quickly glanced at Claude, who seemed delighted with this little bunch. Brianna's milk-chocolate complexion glowed with excitement as she began to tell me about her new baby brother, and how well she was doing in school. She then looked at Claude and innocently asked, "Who are you? I like your outfit, but aren't you cold?"
Claude Frollo chuckled good-humoredly, then introduced himself. "My name is Claude Frollo. I am Danisha's friend, from Paris." Brianna's eyes grew wide. "Paris? That's in France! We learned all about France in school!"
Soon Brianna and her friends began conversing with Claude, and he, to
my surprise, got along famously with these third-grade wonders.
It never ceases to amaze me...I never took Claude as a 'kid magnet'...then again, he always surprises me...He's always so austere and serious...but....Look at him! He's actually having a good time with these kids...teaching them a little French...
Suddenly, I felt a snowball hit me from behind. Another group of kids
began pelting Brianna and her friends with snow. It was all in fun, of
course, and Claude and I couldn't help being caught up in the merriment.
Within seconds, a thirty-something postmodern American woman, along with a middle-aged city magistrate from 15th Century France, engaged in a spirited snowball fight with rambunctious, energetic American kids. It was all I wished for and more---A chance for Claude and me to finally 'let-loose' all the pent-up emotions and tensions from the last few days.
Claude and I returned home --- Cold, snow-covered, laughing, and completely
happy from our recent romp with the kids. I intended for us to enjoy a
quiet evening, cuddled up in front of the fireplace. And Claude insisted
that he remain with me a few days more. "After all", he said
as I threw off my winter coat, "I want my return to Paris to be as
smooth as possible."
He then asked me, "Can you send a message to Jehan? Tell him of our plans to reintroduce me to the citizens?" I said I would, since Jehan now has a pager of his own, courtesy of Jacki -- a special Christmas present.
We had barely settled down when we heard a frantic pounding on my front
door. "Whoever is that?", I asked, going to the door. I peered
throught the glass --- Jacki!
Jacki briskly entered as soon as I opened the door. "Jacqueline!", greeted Claude. "This is a surprise, my dear." Jacki rushed over to embrace Claude, saying, "I was so worried about you! I'm glad you're all right!" Claude returned the embrace. "As you can see, dear Jacqueline, I am well, and very much alive."
He smiled as Jacki reached in her coat pocket and pulled out her pager. She seemed somewhat upset. "I didn't want to upset you guys, but I got a very strange message from Jehan. And I have even more disturbing news", Jacki said feverishly.
"Jacki, you need to sit down", I said, offering her a cup of hot chocolate. Claude sat across from Jacki, then asked her, "Now, what is this about a message from Jehan?" Jacki explained how she found out about Claude's predicament, from Jehan. He told her how we rescued Claude, and how I brought Claude home with me.
"I knew you'd probably still be here", Jacki said, in a calmer voice. "I got another message from Jehan this morning. It's sort of cryptic, but it seems a lot has happened this past week." She then called up Jehan's message, and handed the pager to me. Now I was more than slightly disturbed as I read aloud Jehan's frantic message:
Claude...Nisha...something's happened since you left...need to return to Paris right away...Jules is missing...Malus...can't go into details now...I'll fill you in when you get here...Hubert d'Arcy and I have spoken to the King...His Majesty seems to believe us...He wants to meet with all of us...as soon as you arrive..Please hurry!
"What's this about Jules?", asked Claude, now deeply worried
that Jean-Michel might have harmed Renee and Jules.
Jacki, upset again, said, "I know he's missing, that's all! It's the main reason why you two need to go back, and fast!" Jacki then took several deep breaths, calming herself only to deliver more shocking news. "Claude. please don't be too upset with me whrn I tell you this. Nisha, don't be mad at me."
Jacki fought back tears as she began to explain. "You know how I always said that time travel has its risks? How we can't affect outcomes?" Claude and I nodded, both of us wondering where Jacki was going with this.
"Well", she said, her voice quavering, "I didn't follow my own advice." Jacki looked at us, swallowed hard then admitted, "I brought Jules here, to the 20th Century."
Claude Frollo, his eyes wide with astonishment and anger, sprang to
his feet. "You
WHAT?! You actually brought a 15th Century boy HERE? To your own time? Oh, Jacqueline!" Claude paced the room, wringing his hands, and glaring at Jacki. Jacki began to whimper as I said to her, "Honey, whatever possessed you to do such a thing. It's one thing transporting Claude, or Jehan, or even Quasi. But a boy? A boy who has so many problems...Jacki, this was not one of your wisest moves." I was upset with Jacki, but managed to keep my emotions under control. Claude, now sensing how upset Jacki was becoming, sat next to her, and told her in a calm voice, "My dear, I'm sorry. I know you had your reasons for bringing Jules here."
Jacki then explained how she, at Jules' urging, brought him to the 20th Century, and showed him the marvels of our time. He had discovered that specially equipped 1959 Chevy Fern had stashed on the d'Arcy estate, the day after Claude took him and Renee to live with the d'Arcys. Jules said nothing; until this past November, when Jacki arrived with early Christmas gifts. When Jacki had no choice but to tell him, Jules insisted she "take me to your time! I want to see all those wonderful things I overheard you and Mlle. Danisha talk about."
"Jules was flabbergasted when he arrived, but he was so....too overwhelmed. He quickly learned he'd never fit in."
Jacki took another deep breath, then continued. "It was the day before I took him back to his own time. He offered to help me with some housecleaning. We were clearing out the closet in the spare bedroom; that's when he found it."
"Found what?", asked Claude.
Jacki replied, "My daddy's old service revolver. He spotted it while clearing out the shelves."
Tears began falling from her eyes; both Claude and I sat next to her, silently comforting her as she continued. "He was curious about the gun, and I told him. I thought nothing of it so I told him that 'my dad was a police officer, and that gun was his old service weapon'. Dad gave me that gun--for protection, but I've never used it. I even told Jules how it worked. But I put it back in its box --- it's locked ,you know --- along with the ammunition."
Claude and I were a little puzzled, but deep down, now knowing that Jules had inexplicably left the d'Arcy estate, we wondered if....
"And that's why you guys have to go back to Paris. Dad's gun, and the ammo, are missing!"
Claude Frollo, reeling from the realization that Jules de Chateaupers
had possibly taken that firearm, firmly asked Jacki, "Are you positive
Jules took this weapon?" Jacki replied, "I can think of no other
person. No one's been in that room since last month, except for myself.
I discovered the gun missing when I started pulling out Christmas decorations."
"And when was that?", asked Claude.
Jacki replied with certainty, "It was December 23rd---because Mama called me on the 22nd. She wanted to know if I had any spare Christmas lights. When I went to closet, and found those lights, that's when I discovered the gun was missing. I mean, I put it on the top shelf, in the back where no one would spot it."
Claude got up and paced the room a few times. Then he finally said, "That is, no one except Jules de Chateaupers. Tell me, Jacqueline. Does Jules know how to use this weapon?" Claude learned about firearms from Fern, who's somewhat of a markswoman with her 12-gauge shotgun.
Jacki got up, walked to the window, and stared out at newly falling snow. "If he knows, it's because I told him. I mean, I didn't take him out on a shooting range or anything. I just explained to him how to put in the bullets, aim at the target, and pull the trigger." Jacki then began to sob, truly regretting what she had done. "How could I've been so stupid! I didn't know," she wailed, "I thought I was just doing the kid a favor." With that, Jacki broke down in tears. I held Jacki as she wept; Claude was now deeply concerned that Jules, armed with a deadly weapon, may be roaming the streets of medieval Paris.
After I got Jacki to lie down, I asked Claude, "Honey, do you think he'll go gunning for this du Champs dude? Maybe go after his own brother?" Claude Frollo looked out at the frigid January night, then turned to me, and said, "My darling Nisha...I want you send an urgent message to Jehan. Tell him we will return to Paris----Tonight."
Go to Part 11
Copyrightę1998 by FrolloFreak, FSM#14