What REALLY Happened

Part 13

"So...the 'good' son, little Jules, bashed in his brother's skull."

Clopin sat back in his chair and looked at this bedraggled boy of fifteen summers. Jules' clothes were filthy from his journey through the catacombs; his mass of dark hair hung in strings around his face. But his bright blue eyes glowed liked hot coals. He came here for one purpose and one purpose only---To finally face those who led his brother astray.

"Yes", Jules began bitterly, trying to sound like a man, but the childlike timbre of his voice betrayed him. "I killed my brother, but not on purpose!" Clopin and the other gypsies laughed boisterously, and made rude comments on Jules' shabby attempt to 'get even'.
Jules went on to recount how Malus broke into the d'Arcy chateau, had stolen valuable items, and frightened Solange Marchand. And he told Clopin how Malus met his end---Jules crushed Malus' skull with a shovel.
"I didn't know he was my brother! I swear it! I thought he was one of the local boys. I didn't mean to kill him!" Jules fought the urge to cry, and remained strong. Can't go soft here...not now...have to be cool-headed...'cause I want these gypsy scum to pay for want they did...did I bring it? It was in my bag...I don't think they took it...No! For there it is... here...right here where they knocked me down...I'll fix them...they'll be sorry...

Clopin then said, "So...Malus, the rotten fruit of Jean-Michel du Champs seed...dead. Pity. I thought I'd have the pleasure of seeing Malus hang."
Jules staggered at this statement; he sank to his knees. Jean-Michel du Champs? But wasn't that Solange's father? The one who died in England over twenty years ago? At least, that's what she told me...she loves her father even though she never knew him...she was just a baby...So if what Clopin says is true, then Malus must've been...but I thought...NO!

Clopin must have read the boy's mind, for in an instant, he began to recount the day Adele Trigere, Jules' mother, was seduced by Jean-Michel du Champs.
"How do you know this!", demanded Jules, still eyeing the dirty little bag lying at his feet. Let him tell his 'story'...I don't care...for they all will be dead before long...

Clopin, his expression an odd mixture of mock-concern and elated delight, began to tell Jules the shocking story surrounding Adele and Jean-Michel. He told Jules everything: How du Champs coveted the Ministry of Justice, only to lose out to Claude Frollo. Clopin told of Jean-Michel's rape of Adele, the resultant pregnancy, and the birth of Malus.
Clopin also recounted how Madeleine du Champs gave birth to Solange the very day Malus was born, only to die days later. And he told Jules that Jean-Michel never 'died', but fled to England, where he plotted his revenge.
Jules had a hard time believing this wild tale. "This is the truth? You want me to believe that my brother was fathered by this du Champs fellow? That my mother hid this secret for years? That Solange's father was a monster and faker?"
Clopin sneered, "Believe what you like. The facts are there. Malus and Jean-Michel du Champs are both dead. And good riddance." Jules then asked, "What's this about du Champs? He's dead? But you just said he's alive, and..."

Clopin laughed then said, "Oh! I'd nearly forgotten to tell you of your brother's role in the Great Frollo Switch. He was indispensible. Too bad his father had other, ulterior motives."
Jules, now shocked at this news, suddenly thought of the day after the Feast of Fools. The Great Frollo Switch? They...Malus and others switched the Minister of Justice? How?

Clopin then informed Jules how Jean-Michel returned to Paris the previous fall. Shortly he found Malus, reunited with his long-lost son, and convinced the boy into forming an alliance with the gypsies. Once for all, according to Jean-Michel du Champs, he was finally going to have his 'revenge' on Claude Frollo, become Minister of Justice, and live a life of luxury and contentment.
Malus was promised an expensive education, trips to Italy and England, land holdings, and much more. Malus was so taken by his father's lies that he immediately enlisted Clopin and the gypsies in the final overthrow of Judge Claude Frollo.
It was Jean-Michel who supplied the drugs, since he had some working knowledge of plants and their medicinal value. "He concocted a nice little potion; it deadens the pain, yet, in higher doses, it can play tricks on the mind", Clopin said.
Clopin then explained how he and Malus drugged Frollo and imprisoned him in his own dungeon. Jules couldn't believe his ears. "But how can that be! I saw Frollo torch the miller's home! I was there!"

Clopin griined, "That man you saw was not Claude Frollo, but Jean-Michel du Champs. You see, du Champs and Frollo favored each other somewhat. Both men shared the same tall, lean build, the angular features. All Jean-Michel had to do was apply a little makeup -- a false nose, some powder to whiten the hair. And he perfected Frollo's vocal qualities. I tell you, he had the whole of Paris fooled. Why, he even fooled me when I saw him, wearing Frollo's clothes, saying Frollo's words. But, alas, the plan..."

Clopin bitterly laughed, then told Jules that the plan had backfired---on the gypsies. It seemed that once Jean-Michel du Champs became the new Minister of Justice, the gypsies days' were numbered. Clopin finally got it out of Malus: du Champs planned to destroy the Court of Miracles in a surprise attack.
Jean-Michel du Champs, never a man to keep his word, planned to sell out the gypsies---all except one.
Jules, now completely confused, asked, "And who would this be?"

"That would be me", came the response.

Jules wheeled around and focused on the gypsy woman---the one who called herself la Esmeralda.
Esmeralda, her thick black hair tied in a colorful scarf, her jade-green eyes fiery, told Jules that Jean-Michel du Champs approached her that same fall. "He was very...hmm..How shall I put this", began the gypsy dancer, "charming...very persuasive. Jean-Michel and I became lovers, shortly after he promised to get rid of Frollo."
"I can't believe this!", said Jules in a shocked voice. "You and Malus' father were..lovers?"
"He promised me a life of safety and comfort. As long as I cooperated in his plan to destroy Claude Frollo, I was safe." Esmeralda, her gravelly voice full of anger and bitterness, recounted how she was recruited by Jean-Michel as the catalyst that would set the plot against Frollo in motion. Jean-Michel knew all too well Frollo's singular weakness---his fondness for beautiful women. Jean-Michel knew of Frollo's many affairs; he even told Esmeralda about a few mistresses in particular.

"We were to make our move during the Feast of Fools. We had it all planned out: I would dance at the festival, give Frollo the seduction treatment, then he'd fall for it. Simple as that."

Esmeralda then went on to say that she and Clopin had "no idea that Quasimodo would figure so heavily in this scheme. "So, we just used the poor kid--you know, gain his trust, possibly undermine his loyalty to Frollo."
Clopin further explained that, if Frollo was truly smitten with Esmeralda, he would go to great lengths to break down her defenses. "And that's where the drugs came into play. We knew that Esme would reject Frollo's advances. But Frollo is not a man used to hearing the word 'no', especially when it involves a potential lover." Clopin then explained that they had to make Frollo believe he was obsessed with Esmeralda -- so obsessed, he would think he had gone mad.

Esmeralda told Jules that she "really couldn't stand the thought of Frollo's hands on me. Not even that big, dimwitted Captain Phoebus stirred my heart. I had to pretend to be in love with Phoebus---still have to pretend---to make it look good. How was I to know that Jean-Michel was to sell out everyone in the end? How was I to know that Quasimodo would have feelings for me? I really didn't care if I broke the poor kid's heart---He served his purpose."

Jules then asked Esmeralda, "But Jean-Michel, playing Frollo, is dead. Everyone saw him fall...he planned on killing you and the bellringer. Why did you trust him so?"
"Because I loved Jean-Michel; I gave no thought of his ultimate plans. I really loved him!" Esmeralda's cheeks burned with passion, her bright green eyes damp with tears.
Jules couldn't believe what Esmeralda and Clopin had just told them. This is too incredible! I really can't do this...but I have to...it's the reason I came here in the first place...I'll destroy this place...and take myself with them...Now, to reach in this bag and....

Just then, another female voice called out from the entrance. "I loved him, too!"

All eyes soon focused on the petite, slender young woman entering the room. She was pretty, her light-blue eyes were blank, her fine brown hair covered with an old cap. She was dressed as a boy, her rough tunic and hose soiled from her journey through the catacombs. She began to speak to Jules.
"I'm sorry, Jules. But I had to follow you here. I'm like you. I want to find out the truth about Malus--about my brother, since no one else has the courage to tell me the truth."

Jules gasped, "Solange! You followed me? How? When?" He nearly fainted from shock, but had to remain level-headed.

How much did she hear? I hope and pray she leaves....I don't want her hurt...when I deliver my revenge...

Solange approached Jules, Esmeralda, and Clopin.
"I heard everything: About my father, about his plot against Minister Frollo, about how he assaulted your mother, and sired that filthy beast!"
She then turned to Esmeralda and said, "And I heard how my father and you plotted to destroy Minister Frollo: a man who has been nothing but kind to me! A man who, incidentally, cared deeply for Malus' mother! He stood by her when she was in a desperate situation! How could you? Sleeping with my father---who's not the shining gentleman my family described! How could give yourself to such a monster!"

Esmeralda, green eyes burning with rage, replied, "I'll say it again! I loved your father. I gave myself to him because it was the only way to finally rid Paris of that scum Frollo! What does it matter now? Frollo's dead! Rotting in his own dungeon as we speak."

Solange laughed at this comment. She informed Esmeralda and company, "Oh, didn't you know? Claude Frollo's alive and well. He was rescued the morning of your 'execution'. Jehan Frollo told us everything!" That said, Solange erupted with wickedly delighted laughter. Take that, you Gypsy pig! Jean-Michel's whore!

Clopin and Esmeralda couldn't believe this. Solange went on to say how Jehan and "Minister Frollo's New World friend" rescued Claude Frollo. She told them how Frollo fled to safety with his mistress. "A very nice lady, I might add." She glared hard at Esmeralda. "Nothing like you!"

Esmeralda reeled from this shocker. She covered her face with her hands as she mumbled the words, "New World friend", over and over. She then shot Clopin a fiery look and said throught clenched teeth, "That was her! I remember her from that summer! Clopin, don't you remember? You and Malus grabbed that New World b---h...Why didn't you guys kill that Black slut when you had the chance? That miserable New World b***h! With her fancy education, her 'honey-child' speech...She ruined everything!"
Solange immediately lashed out at Esmeralda. "Don't you talk that way about Mlle. Danisha! She's kind and good and....She's a thousand times the lady you'll ever be!"

"And now", Solange said as she reached in the pouch strapped to her side, "I'm going to end this. If it wasn't for you, everything would be all right. But you ruined that." Solange turned her back to everyone, pulled something from her pouch, then faced Esmeralda and Clopin.
"What's that she's holding?", mummered several gypsies. Jules' face blanched upon seeing the weapon, that same .357 Magnum he had taken from Jacki's closet several weeks ago. "Solange! Where did you find that! I thought I had it hidden away!"
Jules was frightened for now he remembered the day Solange surprised him in the barn. He had the gun out of its box, aiming the weapon at mock targets, and making explosive sounds as he 'fired' away. She asked him about the gun, and he said it belonged to Jacqueline's father. He even showed her how it worked but added, "I really don't want to use it; it's really a very destructive weapon---I've seen the damage they can inflict. I intend to return this to Jacqueline".

Jules stretched out his hand, and in a calm, steady voice, said, "Solange, give me the gun. Don't do anything stupid." Solange aimed the gun point-blank at Esmeralda; her jaw was firmly squared, her eyes glowed in wicked triumph. "No! I want this gypsy tramp to pay for what she did!" Her fingers slowly squeezed the trigger.

"Jules?", she asked, "Is this weapon as destructive as you said? I mean, will I have enough to kill her", she pointed at Esmeralda. "Then him?", Solange motioned at Clopin, who secretly nodded to a burly man standing nearby. "
"Solange! Drop the gun!", begged Jules. He saw the big gypsy come up on Solange's right. In an instant, Solange wheeled around, aimed at the large, brawny man, and fired.
The man clutched his chest, then fell to the floor. He lied motionless. Gypsies screamed in terror and ducked for for cover. Never had they seen such a weapon that could bring instant death.

Once again, Solange took aim at a now-trembling Esmeralda, said, "Now! You're next to die!" She began squeezing on the trigger when a pair of voices stopped her.

"Solange! No!" Jehan Frollo and Quasimodo rushed into the room.

Solange relaxed a bit when she saw them. Now was Jules' chance. I've got to get that gun away from her!

He lunged at Solange, his hand reaching for the gun. Jehan, in a frenzied voice, shouted, "Jules! Disarm her! Don't let her shoot!"
Suddenly, Solange pulled away from Jules and Jehan, took aim, and then began firing indiscriminately, not caring who or what she hit. People scattered; some, however, were not as fortunate. A little boy, an old woman, a few stray dogs and goats---were all slain.

Solange ran behind a wagon, reloaded the gun, and, again, fired repeatedly. Jules, amid the confusion, fled this mad scene. But something made him pause. Somewhere in the dark recesses of his psyche, his need for revenge glowed hotter than ever. At once, he reached in his bag and pulled out two bottles. He opened them, then stuffed old rags in the bottles.

I heard Mme. Fern talk to Minister Frollo about these....I had to ask Mlle. Danisha and Jacki about them....'Molotov cocktails' they called them...Good thing I stole that fuel from that machine---the 'car'. Now...some fire....

Jules started to light the gasoline-soaked rags when, just then, a figure rushed past him. Solange!
She was crying, still clutching the gun. She was in shock, almost to the point of madness as she began to incoherently say, "I've killed them! That gypsy slut and that gypsy king! I've killed them! And I think I've killed Quasimodo!"
Solange wailed uncontrollably as Jules, now deciding not to do the inevitable, put down the bottles, and went up to Solange. Jules tried to comfort Solange.

"Solange, I'm sorry about Malus...I'm sorry about what happened...Did you really kill the belllringer?"
He had his arm around her as she sank to the floor. Solange wept loudly, still holding the gun. "Solange, let me have the gun. You've done what you came to do. We'll talk to Minister Frollo...tell him everything..maybe he'll understand."
Solange didn't hear him. She pulled away from him, got up, and began walk down the long tunnel. She then stopped, turned to Jules, and said in a surprisely calm voice, "You are a nice boy, Jules. Go back to your sister---to the d'Arcys. Tell Aunt Marie-Louise and Uncle Andre how much I love them. Tell Thierry I never wanted to hurt him."
Jules looked at her; she was smiling at him. "You know, Jules? You are becoming a handsome young man. Almost as handsome as your gallant cousin. Oh, tell Minister Frollo what I did, and that I hope he can forgive me. In a way, I wished he was my father."

She then turned away from Jules, and sobbingly said aloud, "Dear sweet Mother-of-God! Please forgive me! I didn't mean to do it!"

Jules, seeing his chance to finally take that weapon out of Solange's hands, rushed to her side; he valiently tried to wrestle the gun away.
"Solange! Give me that gun!"

Jules and Solange fought over the gun. They fell to the floor, both of their hands on the weapon. Jules didn't care if he broke her fingers! He had to get that gun out of Solange's hands!

Come on, Solange! Let go! Sweet Maria...help me...let this whole nightmare end...got to save Solange...

Suddenly he heard a shot; the gun went off just like that. Solange stared at him; he stared right back as Solange, who, in shock from the bullet's impact, slumped over.
Jules, horrified at what had just happened, roared, "NOOO!" He fell to his knees, cradled Solange's unconscious body, and sobbed. "I did it again! I've killed again!"
Got to get away! Got to leave France! Wait! I still have one more score to settle....those gypsy devils! They're the cause of this! Malus...Jean-Michel...what they did to Minister Frollo, to Solange, to Mlle. Danisha, to Quasimodo...

Taking the bottles from the floor, Jules raced to the entrance of the Court of Miracles. His eyes briefly scanned the room. There's that Gypsy King! Wounded...and in a bad place...there's that gypsy dancer...bleeding....Good! Where's M. Jehan? Where's Quasi? Not here....no where to be seen. What does it matter! Frollo will be proud of me! I'm about to destroy the Court of Miracles!

Jules lit the rags suspended from both bottles. He then shouted, "This is for Solange!", hurling the first bottle, which immediately burst into flames upon impact. "And this", he shouted, hurling the second bottle, "is for Minister Frollo!"
He then took the last container from his bag; it was filled to the brim with gasoline. He didn't bother to open it as he threw it.
"And this", he shouted, hurling a lighted torch behind the jar, "is for me!"

The spilled fuel ignited at once, blocking the entrance. Jules stood back and watched as the flames quickly spread. Gypsies by the scores tried desperately to escape the heat and flames. Jules then fled this inferno, hoisted Solange onto his shoulders, and made his way out of the catacombs.

Once outside, he laid Solange on the ground. Now what do I do? Do I leave? Do I go back to the d'Arcys? I must find Minister Frollo...tell him all about...Who's there?

Jehan Frollo came up from behind. He held on to Quasimodo, who suffered a minor leg wound.
"He's been hit!", said Jehan. Quasi was in considerable pain, but Jehan said it was nothing compared to Solange's injuries. He only had to look once; Jehan knew she had been injured, and gravely.

Then Jehan Frollo looked squarely at Jules. His eyes were hard and cold as he said, "Jules de Chateaupers! What in the name of God have you done?!"


Copyright FrolloFreak FSM #14, 1998

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