Bad Times In LA

Parte Veintiuno

Nancy Smith

Michaela, Diego, and Felipe, had just finished their work with the Indians, and were ready to leave. Michaela gathered her medical supplies, set her bag in the wagon, and tethered her horse, to the back of the wagon. They said good-bye to the Indians, and promised, that they would return, tomorrow.

Gathering the reins in his hands, Felipe sat in the driver's seat, and waited, while Diego and Michaela, climbed into the wagon. Felipe quickly slapped the reins, against the horses' backs, as they trotted their passengers, back to the tavern. The lancers escorted them back to the tavern, then turned their horses, and rode back, to the cuartel.

When they walked into the tavern, Victoria glanced up, and breathed a sigh, of relief. She was glad that Michaela, Diego, and Felipe, were back, safe, and sound. Especially Diego. Of course, she had to remind herself, that Diego, being Zorro, was in no real danger. She knew, that he could take care of himself. However, she felt that it was necessary, to let him know, that she was concerned, about him.

"Diego, Michaela, and Felipe, I'm so glad you're back. Where is your father, Diego?" she asked, noticing his absence.

"He decided, to ride to Santa Paula, to talk to the governor, about Sully." Replied Diego.

Victoria shook her head, and sighed. "I sure hope, he makes it back in time, for Sully's sake." She remarked.

Diego nodded, in agreement.

"All the patients, have been fed for the evening, and Doctor Hernandez, has given them, their medicine. I would be glad, to fix all of you, something to eat." Commented Victoria, amiably.

Diego looked at Michaela, and then at Felipe. They both nodded.

"Gracias Victoria, that would be nice." Replied Diego, smiling.

"I'll be glad, to help you." Commented Michaela.

"Gracias, Michaela." Replied Victoria. Michaela set her bag down on the table, and followed Victoria, to the kitchen.

"Felipe, you find a table. I want to talk, to Doctor Hernandez." Stated Diego, patting Felipe, on the shoulder. Felipe nodded. He walked over to a table nearby, and sat down.

Diego looked around, until he saw Doctor Hernandez, pulling the covers up around a young girl, as she slept. He walked over, stood at the foot of the bed, and smiled. As Doctor Hernandez raised up, he looked at Diego, and returned his smile.

"Hola, Diego. How are you?" acknowledged the old doctor, amiably.

"Hola, Doctor Hernandez. How is your patient?" Diego inquired.

"She is much better, Diego, thanks to the medication, that Doctor Quinn, brought us. I plan to let her go home, tomorrow. She has been here, for quite some time, now. Victoria, let her parents stay here at the tavern, until she got well. They have been sleeping, in one of the rooms, upstairs." He stated.

Diego smiled, and nodded. "That's good news, Doctor Hernandez. You're right, about Doctor Quinn, bringing that medicine. We were fortunate, that she arrived, when she did. Otherwise, more people, would have died." Replied Diego, earnestly.

Doctor Hernandez nodded, in agreement. "That's true, Diego!" I will be forever, in her debt." He responded, resolutely.

"We all will doctor, and yours, as well!" he commented with a warm smile, as he placed a reassuring hand, on the aged doctor's shoulder.

"Gracias, Diego!" Hernandez replied, smiling.

"How soon, will all the other people, be able to return their homes, doctor?" Diego asked, earnestly.

Doctor Hernandez, looked thoughtfully at his patients, lying in their beds, and shook his head.

"It's hard to tell, Diego. Some are better, than others. However, the ones that are still sick, may take another week, or so. But they are improving, daily. Time will tell." He remarked.

Diego sighed wistfully. "I just wish, it was over! I'm sure, Victoria does. She has been so strong, through all of this! Luckily, Victoria let you use her tavern. Otherwise, we would not have been able, to care for all these people." Stated Diego. He happened to notice, Michaela and Victoria, bringing the food, to Felipe's table. He and Doctor Hernandez, looked at Victoria, and smiled.

"We owe a lot to Victoria, as well." Stated Doctor Hernandez.

Diego smiled, as he nodded, in agreement.

Diego turned to Doctor Hernandez. "Would you care to eat with us, Doctor?" he inquired, warmly.

", that would be nice." He replied.

The two men walked over, sat down with Felipe, Michaela, and Victoria, and ate their dinner. When they had finished, Victoria momentarily excused herself, and walked back to the kitchen. She returned a few minutes later, with a basket filled with some food, she had fixed, for Sully.

"Michaela, I made a special basket, for Sully. I thought, you could take it to him, before you return to the hacienda, tonight." Commented Victoria, warmly.

"Gracias, Victoria! That was very kind, of you." Replied Michaela, smiling. She stood up, and gave Victoria, a warm hug. Victoria smiled, and hugged her back.

As they parted from their embrace, they looked at one another, compassionately, and smiled.

"Take care, Michaela." Replied Victoria, thoughtfully.

"Gracias, I will." Replied Michaela.

"Well, I suppose, we should be going. It's been a rather long day, especially for Michaela. I should be home too, when father gets home." Commented Diego.

"Yes, I'd like to take this to Sully, before we leave." Added Michaela, picking up the basket.

"Victoria, is there anything we can do to help, before we leave?" asked Diego.

"Oh no thank you, Diego. You should be on your way, in case your father gets home!" she replied, earnestly.

"In that case, we will go. Buenas noches, Victoria, ... Doctor Hernandez." Replied Diego, smiling.

"Buenas noches, Diego, Michaela, and Felipe." Replied Victoria.

"Buenas noches, Diego, Michaela, and Felipe." Replied Doctor Hernandez.

Michaela, Diego, and Felipe, waved good-bye, and left.

As they walked outside the tavern, Diego helped Michaela, into the wagon, and handed her the basket, for Sully. Felipe hopped into the driver's seat, turned to horses around, and headed toward the cuartel. Diego mounted Michaela's horse, and followed them.

Felipe reined in the horses, as he stopped in front of the cuartel. He hopped down from his seat, helped Michaela down from the wagon, then handed her the basket. Diego dismounted, tied his horse to the hitching post, then turned to Felipe.

"Wait here, Felipe. We won't be long." He stated.

He turned to Michaela, and escorted her, into the Alcalde's office. As they walked in, DeSoto looked up from his desk, and stood up.

"Buenas noches, Doctor Quinn. If you have come here, to plead for your husband's life, you'll be wasting your breath. Don Alejandro, has already tried to persuade, me to change my mind, but as you can see, his efforts, were futile. Nothing you can say, will make me, change my mind!" he stated gruffly, with a stern look, in his eyes.

Diego's eyes narrowed, as he felt the blood rush to his face. "Alcalde, you have the absolute tact, of a barracuda!" he remarked, sternly, flashing a harsh look at him.

"Careful Diego, or you too, will end up in jail, with Señor Sully!" he stated firmly, as he glared back, at Diego.

Diego put a reassuring hand, on Michaela's shoulder, and looked at DeSoto, sternly.

"Señora Sully, has come here to see her husband, and bring him some food. Surely, you wouldn't deny her the right, to see him one last time!" Diego replied earnestly, eyeing DeSoto, steadily.

DeSoto looked at Michaela, with a slight smile. "Of course not Señora! Considering, as Diego says, this will be the last time, that you will see your husband, alive!" he stated, coldly. He stepped up to Michaela, and began looking into the basket.

"This is just a precaution, Señora. We have to make a search, of anything that is brought in, to the prisoners." He commented, with a discerning look, in his eyes.

"Don't worry Alcalde, I didn't smuggle in any hacksaws, or weapons, in this basket. It's only food!" replied Michaela, with a heated look, in her eyes.

"Very well Señora, you may go see your husband." He replied. Retrieving the keys from his desk drawer, DeSoto walked over to the jail door, and unlocked it.

"Guards! Señora Sully is here to see her husband, and bring him some food. Take her to him, please!" he commanded.

Corporal Sepulveda, and Sergeant Mendoza, quickly saluted, and escorted Michaela to Sully's cell. As she walked back to his cell, Corporal Sepulveda, quickly stepped in front of her.

"One moment, Señora." He stated, firmly.

Sully gripped the bars, as he peered out of the cell, at Michaela.

"Please step back, Señor!" commanded Sepulveda.

Sully stepped back a few paces, as he looked at the lancer, intently. Mendoza unlocked the cell door, and handed Sully, the basket of food. When Sully took the basket, Mendoza, quickly shut the door.

Michaela's eyes widened, in surprise. "Why won't you let me go inside, to see my husband?" she asked, anxiously.

Mendoza, shook his head. "I'm sorry, Señora. No visitors, are allowed inside the cell, with the prisoner. You'll have to stand outside the cell, and see him." he stated, resolutely.

Michaela glared at Mendoza, then walked up to Sully's cell. She clutched the bars, and looked anxiously, at Sully. Sully wrapped his hands around hers, as he pressed himself close to the bars, and looked remorsefully, into her eyes.

"I can't believe, this is happening!" remarked Sully, shaking his head.

"It's like a bad dream!" replied Michaela, pressing her face, against the bars. Sully gently took her face in his hands, and pressed a tender kiss, to her lips and smiled.

"Well, at least you'll have this kiss, to remember me by." He replied with a slight smile, as he gazed, into her eyes.

A slight blush colored her cheeks, as she looked into Sully's eyes, and sighed. "Alejandro, has gone to talk, to the governor. He has a feeling, that maybe, the governor, can help you." She commented solemnly.

Sully slightly sighed. "I sure hope, he comes back soon! I don't have much time left." He stated, shaking his head.

Michaela felt a light tapping on her shoulder, as she turned, and looked impatiently, at Mendoza.

"I'm sorry Señora, but your time, is up. You must leave, now!" he stated.

Michaela looked at Mendoza, sternly. "That's not fair! I've only been here, a few minutes!" she stated, angrily.

Mendoza looked at her, sympathetically. "I'm sorry, Señora. But we have our orders! You're only allowed, a few minutes with the prisoner, and that's all. It's the Alcalde's orders, not mine." He replied, compassionately.

Michaela sighed, and shook her head. She suddenly felt the tears, welling in her eyes. She looked at Sully, as the tears rolled down her cheeks.

"I'm not going back to Colorado, without you, Sully!" she cried.

Diego quickly opened the jail door, as he heard Michaela, crying. He put a reassuring arm, around her shoulders, and looked at Sully, with a steady gaze.

"Maybe you won't have to, Señora!" he stated, calmly.

As Sully looked into Diego's eyes, something familiar, occurred in his mind. He wasn't sure what it was, but there was something in Diego's eyes, that reminded him, of someone he had seen, before. He looked at Diego, and smiled.

"Take care of Michaela for me, Diego." He replied.

"Don't worry Sully, I will!" replied Diego, with a reassuring smile.

"Go with Diego, Michaela. Everything, will be all right. Don't worry." He replied, as he warmly gazed into her eyes.

Michaela nodded. "I love you Sully!" she said softly, as she gently brushed her hand to cheek, and smiled.

Sully kissed the palm of her hand, and smiled. "I love you, too!" he replied.

As they walked into the Alcalde's office, DeSoto locked the jail door, behind them.

"Buenas noches, Señora. I trust you will be here tomorrow, in time for your husband's, execution?" he asked, with an apathetic tone, to his voice.

Michaela flashed an incensed look, at DeSoto, as she glared at him. "How dare you!" she replied heatedly, her whole body, tense with anger.

Diego wrapped his arm around Michaela, and escorted her to the door. He turned, and shot a searing look at DeSoto, as he opened the door.

"Buenas noches, Alcalde!" he replied, with an edged tone, to his voice. Diego slammed the door behind him, as they walked out. He helped Michaela into the wagon, as Felipe hopped into the driver's seat, and gathered the reins in his hands. Diego gathered the reins in his hands, and quickly mounted his horse. He gave a nudge with his heels, to the horse's flanks, and trotted off to the edge of town, with Felipe and Michaela, close behind.

Michaela and Diego rode in silence, on the way to the hacienda. As they neared the hacienda, the one thing on Diego's mind, was that he would return tonight, as Zorro, and free Sully, from the gallows.

Sully had just finished eating his dinner, that Michaela had brought him, and decided to turn in, for the evening. He pulled the scratchy wool blanket, up around him, as lay down on the lumpy cell cot, and closed his eyes.

As he slept, his mind drifted back to their home in Colorado, the children, their friends, and in particular, Cloud Dancing. As the vision of Cloud Dancing, materialized in his mind, it was as if, he were trying to send Sully, a message. The image of his Indian friend, became clearer, as Sully slept. He could see him, spreading out his blanket, and sitting upon it, with his legs crossed, preparing to speak to Sully, in a very spiritual tone.

"Sully, there is something, you should know." He said, calling out to Sully. In his dream, he could see himself, sitting on a blanket, opposite of Cloud Dancing, waiting in anticipation, of what he was going say.

"What is it Cloud Dancing?" Sully asked.

"The man who plans to hang you, is not, who he appears, to be" he said.

"What do you mean?" Asked Sully. "DeSoto?"

"Yes, this DeSoto. He is not the leader, of this pueblo." Replied, Cloud Dancing.

"You mean, he is not, the Alcalde? I don't understand!" replied Sully, somewhat confused.

"Another man, was to be the Alcalde, but this DeSoto, disgraced him, and took his place. He, is the real Alcalde, not DeSoto!" replied, Cloud Dancing.

Suddenly, a thick mist, drifted through Sully's dream. When it cleared, he and Cloud Dancing, were gone. As he slowly awakened from his dream, Sully rubbed his eyes, and shook his head. 'Was this really a dream, or was it a vision.' Sully thought. 'Surely, it must have been a vision, if Cloud Dancing, appeared. If it was a vision, then visions, do not lie.' He thought. 'But, how would Cloud Dancing, know about DeSoto?' Sully shook his head, and sighed. Sometimes, it was better, not to question a vision, but just believe it, instead.

Luckily for Diego, Alejandro, had not yet returned, from Santa Paula. Michaela, had finally retired, for the evening. It was obvious, that the stress of Sully's sentence, had taken it's toll on her.

Diego, watched Michaela slowly walk to her room, and close her door. The sadness on her face, was more, than he could bear. He sat for a moment, in the library, and waited, until the house became quiet. Felipe, walked into the library, and saw Diego, sitting in his chair. He walked up to him, and signed a question.

'What, are you going to do?' he signed.

Diego stood up, and put a reassuring hand, on Felipe's shoulders.

"Zorro rides tonight, Felipe. I'm getting Sully, out of jail!" he stated. Felipe, suddenly became worried, when he saw the stern look, Diego's eyes.

"Don't worry, Felipe. Sergeant Mendoza, and Corporal Sepulveda, are guarding Sully, tonight. I plan on them, taking a little nap, while I'm there!" he remarked, as a sly smile, crossed his lips.

Felipe shook his head. He looked at Diego with curiosity.

Diego smiled. "Remember the ether, I showed you?"

Felipe nodded, and smiled. He remembered the time, that Mendoza, was going to fight the ex-slave, and freedman, Jack Holton. Diego, had instructed him, to put ether on Mendoza's boxing gloves, so that Mendoza, could easily "knock out," Holton. The plan slightly backfired. When Mendoza, put his gloves, in front of his face, he was the one, that was "knock out" instead. Felipe, had a feeling however, that this time, Diego's plan, would definitely work.

"Take care of Michaela, and father for me, amigo." Stated Diego, earnestly.

Felipe nodded.

"Gracias, amigo." He patted Felipe on the shoulder, and smiled.

Felipe signed, 'Be careful!"

"I will. Don't worry." Diego disappeared, through the secret door, in the fireplace.

He quickly, donned his Zorro outfit. He picked up the bottle of ether, and a cloth, and packed it, in his saddlebag. Hopefully, he could slip into the jail, and quietly, knock out Mendoza, and Sepulveda. He saddled Toronado, put on his bridle, halter, and saddle bag. He secured his whip on his saddle horn, and quickly mounted. Turning Toronado around, Toronado depressed the hidden pad, with his hoof, and waited, as the hidden door, swung open. As the door opened, Zorro and Toronado, rode off into the night.

It was a swift ride, as Zorro and Toronado, headed to the back, of the cuartel. Luckily, the moon was very high in the sky, making it dark enough, for Zorro and Toronado, to hide in the shadows. Zorro trotted Toronado, up beside the cuartel, and gently, reined him in. He reached in his saddlebag, took out the ether and cloth, and hid it in his wasteband. As he picked up his whip, he straightened it out, and lashed it to a pole, that jutted out, from underneath the roof, of the building. Toronado stood still, as his master stood on the saddle, and climbed up the long black whip, to the rooftop. Zorro retrieved his whip, and quietly, walked across the tiled rooftop, until he made his way, to the skylight, that opened up, into the jail.

As he slowly lifted the opening to the skylight, he climbed in, and lowered himself, on one of the beams, running across the ceiling. He looked down, and noticed Mendoza and Sepulveda, sitting inside the cuartel, beside the door.

'This shouldn't take long!' Zorro thought. He carefully lowered himself down, and lightly, landed on the floor. Taking the ether and cloth from his wasteband, he sprinkled some of the ether on the cloth, and slipped it back in his wasteband. Sully momentarily glanced up, and saw Zorro hiding the shadows. Zorro put his finger to his lips, and motioned toward the two lancers.

"Lancers!" Sully called out. "Could you please bring me some water?"

"Sepulveda, get the prisoner some water!" ordered Mendoza.

Sepulveda got up, poured Sully a glass, and brought it to him. As Sepulveda handed Sully the glass, Zorro quickly stepped out of the shadows, and covered Sepulveda's face, with the cloth. Sully grabbed the glass, as Sepulveda, slowly sank, to the floor.

"Now for Mendoza!" Zorro whispered. He quickly, ducked back into the shadows.

"Lancer, there's something wrong with your friend! He just fainted!" stated Sully, with a smirk on his face.

"Sepulveda, fainted?" said Mendoza, quickly racing over, to Sepulveda.

Zorro quickly drew his sword, and firmly but carefully, pressed the edge, to the side of Mendoza's neck.

"Not a word, Sergeant, or you'll never see, another enchilada, again." Stated Zorro, in his most menacing voice. "Now, if you'll be so kind, as to unlock Señor Sully's cell!" Zorro said softly.

Mendoza nodded, and quickly unlocked, the cell door.

"Step inside please, and take the good Corporal, with you!" commanded Zorro, keeping the tip of his sword, close to Mendoza's back.

Sully quickly stepped out of the cell, and watched, as Mendoza bent down, and drug Sepulveda, inside the cell. When they were both inside, Zorro quietly closed the cell door, and locked it.

"Oh Zorro! The Alcalde, is going to be, very, angry!" remarked Mendoza, worriedly, as he shook his head.

"Not if you keep quiet, Sergeant!" replied Zorro, sternly.

Mendoza gulped. ", I'll keep very, very, quiet!" he replied, nervously.

"Adios, Sergeant!" Zorro, quickly returned his sword to its scabbard, then he and Sully, quietly slipped out, the back door.

Mendoza, shook his head. "Madre de Dios! The Alcalde, is going to have my stripes, for this!" he looked out the barred window of his cell, and heard the familiar whistle, as Zorro, called Toronado. He watched, as Zorro rode off into the night, carrying Sully, on the back of Toronado.

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