TITLE: Don't Call Me Francois 6/6
DISCLAIMER: Carter & Co. gave them life
RESIDENCE OF GISELLE SHADET-MELTON, SUNDAY - 7:30 P.M.
The house grounds were spacious and groomed, and someone had obviously
dumped money into above average security, Frohike thought, although
nothing he saw at the gate, and on his way in led him to believe it
would be too difficult for anyone but a street hoodlum to get inside.
He didn't have to knock at the front door. It was opened before he got
there by a man in a penguin suit.
"This way, please. Mrs. Shadet-Melton is expecting you."
A Brit butler. Frohike was obscurely relieved he wasn't French. He
followed the stick-straight figure down a dark hallway ornamented with
oak mouldings and lots of portraits.
"In here, sir."
Mrs. Shadet-Melton was as spacious and well-groomed as the grounds.
Frohike considered offering his hand, but decided against it when she
got out of her wing-back seat near the fireplace and stood, staring down
at him with the expression of a woman whose Sharpei has just taken a
dump on the hand-loomed carpet.
"You're Mr. Frohike?"
"Yeah." She looked like her uncle, Frohike thought uneasily. Did all the
Shadets carry such a strong family resemblance? Giselle Shadet-Melton
appeared to be a hair under six feet, and had cruised past 250 pounds.
She had the same black hair, the same olive skin, the same heavy jaw and
dark eyes that Frohike had seen in Simon's portrait.
"Well, sit down." She waved a hand at the couch. "You appear to be all
right. How are your associates?"
"Still sleeping." Frohike sat and looked around the room. There was no
lack of knickknacks in this place; books, statuary, lamps, plants, more
portraits, and leather chairs all crammed up against each other. "What's
the word on the Professor?"
"Professor Galigo was moved to a private clinic on Friday. He is talking
again." Giselle was still staring at him. "He doesn't remember trying to
"I'd like to know what you didn't tell him about the house. What you
didn't tell Yves." Frohike saw her eyebrow rise, her lip curl.
"I don't know what you mean."
Like hell, she didn't, Frohike thought cynically. "I plan on leaving
here with a check. Do you know what happened to all of Simon and
Simeone's personal stuff?"
She moved, uncomfortable with the question. "Mother always said that
Father burned their clothing and designs, and sold the jewelry."
"What kind of relationship did your father have with his brother?"
"They were rivals, in work and love," Giselle said, shrugging. "Father
courted Simeone before Simon did. Later, Simon was far more financially
successful than father; and I believe father was embarrassed by some of
Simon's clientele. Especially at the end."
"Are you talking about the circus freaks?" Frohike saw her work the
"Simeone had ... connections, in France, and later in New York."
"Guys who liked to dress up in women's clothes and hang around in bars?"
Frohike asked. The last facts were falling into place. It all made sense
in a twisted way.
"Don't be flippant about it." Giselle glared at him. "Transvestites. Why
do you ask about their belongings?"
"How much time have you spent in the house?"
"Minutes. And I was anxious the entire time." The words sounded fierce
and hard, and she leaned toward him, her fingers clenching into fists.
"Father never went out there. I only saw pictures of Shadet House until
after his death. I have copies of the magazine articles ... I used to
read them over and over again. Father told me what happened to Orthway,
and warned me before he died to stay away from it. But I want that
house, Mr. Frohike. Can you explain what's happening to everyone who
spends time there?"
"No -- not explain. You said on the phone that you'd found your father's
journal." It was the real reason Frohike had decided to come and try to
collect in person. "Have you read it?"
She shook her head. "I leafed through it; it seemed wrong for me -- his
daughter -- to read his most intimate thoughts."
"Can I borrow it?" She was going to refuse, she wanted to refuse.
Frohike could see it in her face right up to the moment when she let go,
and shook her head.
"Yes. I'd like to have it back, though."
"No problem." Frohike stood. "Simon and Simeone were extraordinary
individuals, weren't they?"
"I believe they were." Giselle Shadet-Melton stood too, towering over
him. She reached for a small black book on the coffee table next to her
chair, and held it out. "They were creative, strong, loving people. Even
father described them that way. How can I make that house my own, Mr.
Frohike? I have to find a way ..."
"If I were you, I'd arrange for a member of the local police department
to take a wrecking crew out there, early in the morning, and take the
"The bed?" Giselle frowned. "I don't understand."
"It's just a thought. All their clothing and jewelry are still out
there. Take a look at the blueprints. Third panel from the main door, to
your right in the bedroom, will get you into the closet," Frohike said.
"Jewelry? Simeone's jewelry is still out there?" She looked ecstatic for
a moment, then the expression faded. "What do you suspect?"
"I suspect you'll never be able to live in the house," Frohike said,
"even if you lay uneasy spirits to rest. I'll call in about five years
and see how you're doing." He turned and walked to the door. "You've got
our address. Send the check along. We earned the money."
LGHQ, THURSDAY - 3:30 P.M.
Yves stood under the camera near their front door, wearing leather and
sunglasses. Her face and voice were composed and neutral when he let her in.
"I understand we've been paid," Yves said. She walked past Frohike
quickly, with all her usual swagger.
"Everyone's in the kitchen." Frohike followed her up the stairs. He
hadn't wanted to have this conversation in the kitchen, but the workroom
Byers stood when he saw her, and pulled out a chair. "How are you feeling?"
Yves arched a brow at him. "I am well. And you?"
"We're all just peachy," Frohike interrupted. This was going to be
gruesome enough without small talk.
Langly was staring at a wall, Jimmy was staring at Yves, and Byers'
hands were clenched under the shelter of the table top. It was
impossible to tell what Yves was staring at; she hadn't removed her
"Mrs. S&M called late last night. There isn't any easy way to say this,
so -- they found the bodies of Simon and Simeone Shadet in the base of
"Bodies?" Langly looked whiter than he normally did. "I feel sick."
"Frohike?" Jimmy looked away from Yves.
They were all looking at him, mouths hanging open. Yves removed her sunglasses.
"I thought their bodies were incinerated in a car crash," she said, quietly.
"That was the story. Forensic evidence indicates they were both shot in
the back," Frohike said.
"How? When?" Byers shook his head. "How?"
"I really wanted that $10,000," Frohike said, looking around at them.
"And I was -- am -- pissed off at being manipulated so easily. I did
some more research during the two days you guys spent sleeping."
"And found out what?" Byers demanded.
"I'll tell you, in a minute." Frohike took a deep breath. They all
needed to lay ghosts to rest here, and once again he was in charge of
operations. "How much of our experience at Shadet House do you remember, Byers?"
Byers grimaced, and looked down at the table. "I can remember trying to
fix the borrowed equipment, and that we did a lot of walking around. I
have a really clear memory of what the river looks like underneath the
living room floor ... but that's it. I've tried, and it's blurred and dreamy."
Frohike nodded. "Langly?"
"Nothing. I don't remember nothing," Langly growled. "I know what's on
the fucking tape, but I don't remember doing it. I was working on my
laptop that first night, and I think I fell asleep on the bed. That's
the last thing I remember."
"It wasn't you, Langly," Frohike said. "Yves?"
"My memory is similar to Langly's. He was working, and I couldn't keep
my eyes open."
Her voice was measured, controlled. Frohike wondered what she was
thinking. They'd watched the surveillance tapes together on Tuesday,
when everyone had regained some measure of alertness. Langly had fled
the room, but Yves had watched without emotion. Frohike wasn't sure
which reaction he preferred.
"Your experiences are similar to Professor Galigo and his group of grad
students, and to Fleming and Mathilda Orthway's, back in the 50s,"
Frohike said. "I should have seen the similarities sooner, but I was a
"What did you figure out?" Byers asked. "Some kind of possession?"
This was going to be tricky. They were all watching him; Byers and Jimmy
with curiosity and some anxiety; Langly with high anxiety and, from the
swallowing he was doing, plenty of active stomach acid. Yves' face was
Frohike sighed. "I'm not a parapsychologist," he said slowly, "but look
at what happened to each person who spent more than 24-hours in Shadet
House. Professor Galigo is the only one who suffered physical harm.
We'll come back to him.
"One grad student just went to sleep; Byers was headed that direction. A
little too much beer, some mindless R&R watching the river run, then
lots of sleep. The kind of behavior you might see in someone recovering
from a traumatic experience, or prolonged stress.
"The other grad students -- and the Orthways: one fancies herself a
stripper, three see themselves as celebrities or entertainers."
"Martha Stewart, and Esther Williams," Byers said, amazed.
"Yes ... and in Mathilda Orthway's case newspaper clippings of the time
indicate she did a mean Frank Sinatra impression at the Derby and
Spats," Frohike said. "Langly and Yves got a slightly different
treatment from the house. More ... personal. It had to be a fluke. The
two of them have physical similarities to the Shadets. What they
experienced was more in the way of possession than influence." Frohike
saw Yves nod. Good, she could accept that part of it. "Byers told us
going in that the whole area had been considered sacred land, where
native people would come for meditation and dream questing. Let's say
that a residue of that power stuck around, after the house was built. I
think Simon and Simeone felt right at home with the land ... they were
all about actively pursuing a vision."
"Because they were artists? Designers?" Jimmy asked.
"That was part of it." Frohike gestured at the leather book he'd placed
in the center of the table. "Franklin Shadet's journal is mostly about
Simon and Simeon. If anyone wants to read it before I send it back to
Giselle, feel free. It explains a lot, and what he doesn't come right
out and say ..."
"Just tell us." Yves tapped her glasses against her palm twice, looked
at them then put them down on the table. "You're not usually so delicate."
Frohike exhaled loudly. "Right. Simon and Franklin had been fighting for
years before Franklin finally lost it and plugged them both. He'd wanted
to marry Simeone; Simon eloped with her. This came as quite a shock to
Franklin -- one I don't think he ever recovered from.
"After the marriage, Franklin was handling the details for contracting
out sewing work for his own interior design business and some of the
Shadets' designs -- mostly labor intensive embroidery and beadwork.
Simon found out that Franklin had arranged with the State of New York
for the inmates at the New York Women's Correctional Facility to stitch
his clothing. He flew mad and told Franklin they'd never do business
together again. Simon felt if his customers knew their lingerie had been
stitched by criminals, a certain devaluation in image would occur."
Frohike paused, looked around at each pair of eyes. "But what drove
Franklin over the edge was the fact that Simon and Simeone had gotten
involved with a new crowd of clients, and had decided to let the world
in on something the Shadets had kept quiet since their firstborn had
entered the work force."
"Simon was a girl." Jimmy sat back in his chair and whistled. "And
Franklin's sweetie turned out to be a lesbian."
"Half right, Jimmy." Frohike shrugged. "Simon Shadet was born Simone
Shadet. Franklin says his sister wanted to be a boy nearly from the
moment she could talk. She made her parents change her name when she was
in her early teens, and made her father train her as a tailor. Franklin
writes a good deal about the strength of Simone's ... Simon's character.
He says Simon made herself exactly what she thought God had intended her
to be. Franklin also writes that as difficult as he found it to
understand why Simon was the way she was, it was infinitely more
difficult to understand how both his sister and he could have fallen in
love with this other person, christened at birth -- Simon Pierre Vaillancourt."
"Simon was a girl, and Simon was a boy?" Jimmy shook his head. "They
were perfect for each other."
"Yes. They were," Yves said softly. "Franklin must have had a hard time
when he realized he'd fallen in love with a man."
"And he feared how society would view him when Simon and Simeone came
out of their closet," Frohike added. "He was waiting at Shadet House
after that party. Franklin writes that he used every reasoning he could
think of, but the couple refused to listen to him. He shot them as they
turned their backs on him, standing on the glass floor over the river."
"But they found remains in the burned out car," Byers said. "Whose?"
"The French caretaker and his wife," Frohike said. The little stone
cottage and fragrant herb garden swam to the top of his thoughts for a
moment, then submerged. "Franklin went to them for help in hiding the
bodies, then he coshed them, put them into Simon's car and drove it to
"That's why he didn't let anyone go out there during his lifetime,"
Jimmy said, amazed.
"Yeah; guilt and fear. Turns out he had good reason for both." Would
they be able to deal with it, and let it go, Frohike wondered. Langly
still looked upset; Yves still looked distantly interested.
"What I don't understand is how you were only slightly affected by
Shadet House, Frohike," Byers said. "Everyone else lost all sense of
"That's not quite true." Jimmy tapped his finger against the side of his
head. He was wearing his explain-the-play expression.
"Oh great, the idiot-savant has another insight," Langly rasped. "I
don't want to ..."
He stopped, mid-sentence. Frohike saw Yves' hand touching Langly's arm.
"It's not so bad, Langly. Put it in context, accept it, and move on,"
Yves said softly. "It's what I'm doing."
Jimmy nodded. "The real power of the house was in the way it activated
ambitions and vanities people usually try and hide away, or ignore.
Simon and Simon had Yves and Langly -- they were playing out their
story. I'm guessing Mr. Orthway wanted to be a famous swimmer and his
wife wanted to be a night club star; those grad students must have had
secret exhibitionist fantasies, too. Byers is easy -- he needs to wear
civvies once in a while, maybe go to a ball game with the guys. I've
been trying to figure out the Professor ..."
"Professor Galigo would have approved of Simeone," Yves said, taking her
hand off Langly's arm. "I believe he may have considered gender
reassignment when he was younger."
"Eww." Jimmy made a face. "Some things should not be tried at home. If
the Professor had followed his heart when he was young, he wouldn't have
ended up harming himself."
"So being at the house made him face a conflict of sexual identity ...
and he tried to resolve it with a quick snip? I could buy that," Frohike
Hiding shit away can have terrible results, he thought. There was a
lesson here, for all of them. A good thing Scully hadn't been on this
field trip. Frohike couldn't help wondering ...
"And Frohike?" Byers prompted. "He stayed in character most of the time.
He may have been fussing about in the kitchen a little more. Was he
possessed by the French butler, then?"
"I think the house might have thrown little bits of the French guy at
Frohike, since they fit right into his normal identity. The thing about
Frohike is, he's already everything he ever wanted to be," Jimmy said,
smiling at him. "He's got no buried vanities or ambitions. They're all
right out on the surface."
"Polished daily," Langly said, cracking a nearly normal grin.
No permanent damage done, Frohike thought as he walked Yves to the door,
no thanks to Shadet House.
Yves lingered after he turned the locks. She looked at him as if he were
a stranger, and they'd just met. "Frohike ... I've heard from the people
who took those girls out of the sweatshop. They're doing well. Most of
them will be able to stay in the states."
"That's good." *Come on girl, you can talk to me.* Frohike saw her eyes
shutter down as she turned toward the door. "Did you mean what you said
to Langly? You're going to be okay with what happened?"
"Eventually." Yves' face relaxed into a younger, softer expression. "Do
you think it was all Simon Shadet, or do you think I might want to ..."
"Be a man? Screw guys dressed up as women?" Frohike snorted. "If the
answer to any of that is yes, keep it to yourself. Personally, I think
you've been neglecting something much more basic to life. Let yourself
be a woman whose name isn't Yves Adele Harlow."
The suggestion dropped behind her eyes like a stone into a clear,
rushing river. She smiled, the facade back in place. "You're a good man,
Frohike." She leaned toward him, quickly, and dropped a kiss on each
side of his mouth. "Bon soir, Francois."
Yves slipped out the door with a flourish of hips, a swing of hair, and
a mocking backward smile as she replaced her sunglasses.
Frohike stood in the doorway and watched her walk away. "Don't call me
Francois!" he yelled after her.