Bad Times In LA

Parte Veintidós

Nancy Smith

As Zorro and Sully, rode through the night, Sully felt compelled, to question this masked man, who had just saved, his life.

"Excuse me Señor, I appreciate you springing me from jail, but, would mind telling me, where we are going?" he asked, curiously.

"Some place, where the Alcalde and his men, hopefully, won't find you!" said Zorro, earnestly.

It was a long ride for both of them, and Zorro sighed in relief, as the entrance of the large cave, came into view. He reined in Toronado, then he and Sully, hopped off.

"I hope you don't mind, spending the night in a cave, for awhile, Señor. I assure you, that it will only be temporary, until you are cleared, of your charges." Zorro stated, resolutely.

"I've spent the night, in worse places, than this, Señor Zorro. By the way, how did you know, I was in jail, and how did you know, about my charges?" Inquired Sully, looking at Zorro curiously.

Zorro chuckled. "It's a small pueblo, Señor. Word travels fast!" he smiled.

"Obviously!" stated Sully, smiling. Sully walked up, to the entrance of the cave, and looked around, then turned to Zorro. "Where are we, anyway!" he asked.

"This cave, is near a place, called Cielo Ridge. Very few people, know about it. It's fairly, secluded. I'll ride back to the tavern, and gather some provisions for you. I'm afraid, you'll have to stay here, until things, die down a bit." Zorro remarked.

"I understand, Zorro. Do you think, you could bring my wife, Michaela here?" Sully asked.

Zorro shook his head. "I'm sorry, Señor. I've taken a great risk, just bringing you here. I don't think it would be a good idea, to bring your wife here, too. It may, arouse suspicion." He remarked, with a guarded tone to his voice.

Sully sighed. "If she can't come here, at least let her know, that I'm all right."

"You can be sure of that Señor!" Zorro smiled, putting a reassuring hand, on Sully's shoulder.

"I will return, with your provisions, Señor. In the meantime, stay inside this cave, and don't come out for anything! Soon, the Alcalde and his men, will be searching for you, and we can't, take any chances." Zorro cautioned sternly.

Sully nodded, and walked inside the cave.

"Adios, Señor!" replied Zorro.

Sully waved good-bye, and watched, as Zorro mounted Toronado, then disappeared into the night.

Back at the cuartel, DeSoto, thought he would make one last minute check on his prisoner, before he turned in, for the night. As he walked into his office, he noticed, how quiet it was, inside. In fact, it was too quiet, for his liking. He unlocked the jail door, and walked inside. His face, suddenly turned a stormy red, as he saw Mendoza and Sepulveda, sitting inside the locked cell.

"Mendoza!! Where in blazes is the prisoner?!" he growled.

Mendoza shrugged, and shook his head. "I don't know, Mi Alcalde! Zorro came, and broke him out of jail, then, locked us in here!" he said, remorsefully.

DeSoto's eyes narrowed, as he slapped his fist against his hand. "Zorro! I should have known!" he grumbled. He quickly unlocked the cell door.

"Get the other lancers, and track them down!! Right now!!" he replied, angrily, as he pointed toward the door. "And don't come back, without them!!" he added, sternly.

"But Alcalde, it's very late, and Zorro, is very hard to track down, at night.!" Mendoza stated.

"I don't care, if you have to be out, until morning, get going!" commanded DeSoto.

"Sí, Mi Alcalde!" Mendoza saluted, as he and Sepulveda, raced out the door.

DeSoto stepped out with them, and yelled out. "Lancers!! Zorro, has broken the prisoner, out of jail. Go after them, and bring them back!" he commanded sternly.

Mendoza and Sepulveda, quickly rustled the other lancers, out of their barracks. Soon they were all mounted, and headed out of the pueblo, in search of Zorro and Sully. Ignacio stormed back into his office, and slammed his door.

Victoria, had just finished drying the last dish, and was hanging up her apron, when she suddenly heard a soft knock, at her kitchen door.

'I wonder who that could be this time of night.' She thought to herself. She opened the door, slowly stepped outside, and looked around.

"Hello, anyone there?" she called out. When no one answered, she turned, and started to go back inside, when a hand, gently grabbed her arm. Victoria turned, and briefly gasped, as Zorro, stepped out of the shadows, and smiled.

"Buenas noches, Victoria." He greeted.

Victoria sighed in relief. She smiled and shook her head. "Diego, you startled me! I wasn't expecting you!" she whispered, stepping closer to him.

Diego wrapped his arms around her, and drew her closer to him.

"I deeply apologize, Victoria. I couldn't take a chance on being seen." He replied, smiling.

Victoria, wrapped her arms around his neck. "I'm just glad, it's you." She smiled, as she gazed into his eyes.

Diego smiled, and pressed a tender kiss, to her lips. As they slowly parted, Victoria gave him a discerning look, and smiled.

"Surely, you didn't just come here, just to kiss me, goodnight." She remarked, as she caressed the side of his partially masked face.

A wry smile crossed Diego's lips, as he gazed into her eyes. "Being Zorro, does have it's privileges." He remarked somewhat suggestively. "However, in this case, you're right." He added, with a wink.

Victoria slightly chuckled. "Ha! I thought so!" she replied smuggly.

Gently pulling her arms from around his neck, Diego pressed a kiss to her hands, and smiled.

"You're right. Your kiss, was not the only thing, I came for, tonight. However, I always look forward, to a kiss from you, querida!" he replied, passionately.

Victoria slightly blushed, and smiled. "Among other things!" she replied, as she winked at him, and smiled.

Diego felt his heart flutter, as he looked at her. He softly cleared his throat, as he inwardly shook himself, from his romantic reverie.

"I need your help, Victoria." He stated, with a concerned look, on his face.

Victoria, could tell by the look in his eyes, that it was something, serious.

"What is it? Is there something wrong?" she asked, anxiously.

Diego shook his head. "It's Sully. I managed to get him, out of jail. I took him to a safe place, where hopefully, the Alcalde's men, won't find him. I came to ask you, if you could spare food, to take to him. I need enough, for a few days, at least." He stated, earnestly.

Victoria's eyes widened. "Where did you take him?" she asked.

Diego shook his head. "Victoria, you know, I can't tell you that! If the Alcalde tries to question you, he'll use every means, to try to get you, to tell him, where Sully is. I can't take that chance. I'm taking a chance, just coming here." He replied anxiously.

Victoria sighed, and shook her head. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked. You already have Sully, to worry about. You certainly, don't need me, to worry about, as well." She stated, resolutely. She slightly smiled, as she turned, and walked away.

Diego quickly stepped in front of her, and gently put his hands around her shoulders, as his deep blue eyes peered into hers.

"Victoria, you're wrong. Even if I didn't have Sully, to worry about, you would still, be my main concern. I would give my life, before I would let anything, happen to you. That day, that Bishop shot you, I thought, that I had lost you, forever. If you had died, Zorro, would have died, with you. When you were shot, I gave up being Zorro. If Bishop, had not challenged my father to a duel, I would have given up Zorro, forever. I would have done, it for you." He stated, gazing passionately into her eyes.

Victoria, gazed steadily into his eyes, as she looked upon the masked features, of his face.

"As much as I love, the man behind the mask, I know, that the people of this pueblo, still need Zorro, to help them, in their struggle. As long as there are Alcaldes, like DeSoto, who oppress us, Zorro, will always, be needed. I too, would give my life, to help our people, and help you too. We both want, the same thing. We want our people, free from oppression, and tyranny, so we can live, in a free world. Together, we can help our people." She stated, passionately.

Diego, felt the rapid beating, of his heart, as he gazed, into her eyes.

"Victoria, your life is more precious to me, than all the riches, in the world. It's your love, and strength, that gives me the courage, and determination, to keep fighting. Without you, my life, would be empty. I doubt, that I would ever, have the strength, to go on." He replied, earnestly.

"You're wrong, Diego. You're a de la Vega! That part of you, will never die. You would find the strength to go on, just as I would, if I were, to loose you. I guess, that's why we were meant, to be together. We both find strength, in each other!" Victoria stated passionately.

Silently, they stood looking at one another, for a moment, as if reflecting, upon what they had said. They wrapped their arms around one another, and hugged each other, in a very warm secure embrace, and sighed.

"I love you, Victoria." He said softly. As he looked upon her face, he briefly noticed the moonlight, bathing her face, in a soft white light. His deep blue eyes softened, as he gently pressed his lips against hers, in a deep passionate kiss. Victoria, drew herself into his embrace, as he kissed her, and held her in his arms.

As they gently parted from their embrace, Diego smiled, as he noticed the soft blush, upon her cheeks. He lifted her hand, and kissed it, as he had done, so many times, before. Victoria, modestly slipped her hand from his, and smiled, as her eyes peered shyly into his.

"I'll get some things, for Sully. It won't take long." She replied, smiling. She turned, and walked back inside her kitchen.

Diego sighed, as he watched her walk away. He walked back to Toronado, who stood patiently waiting, nearby. He patted Toronado's neck, and smiled, as the thoughts of his life with Victoria, drifted through his mind. Toronado softly neighed, and shook his head. Diego chuckled, and patted his neck. As he turned around, he saw Victoria, walking toward him, with a large cloth sack, some blankets, and a canteen of water. Diego smiled, as he took the provisions from her, and secured them to the saddle. He turned, and looked thoughtfully, at Victoria.

"As always, querida, your generosity knows no bounds! Gracias!" he stated warmly.

"I hope, that will be enough. I also hope, that Alejandro has returned, with good news, about Sully!" she sighed wistfully.

Diego nodded in agreement. "So do I, for Sully's sake." He replied earnestly.

He lightly brushed his hand against her cheek, as he gazed at her, and smiled.

"If it weren't for my other obligation, this would the perfect night, for a romantic evening, under this beautiful moonlight." He sighed. "I need to get these provisions back to Sully before daylight." He added.

Victoria slightly blushed. She looked at Diego, somewhat wistfully. "It seems like these days, our romance, is always, so brief." She replied.

Diego kissed her cheek, and smiled. "One day, when all this is over Victoria, I will more than gladly, make it up to you!" he stated passionately.

Victoria, gave him one last hug, and pressed a tender kiss, to his lips. Diego wrapped his arms around her, and deepened her kiss. When they parted, Victoria sighed, as she gazed passionately, into his eyes.

"I love you Diego!" she whispered. "Be careful!" she added, touching her hand to his face. Diego lightly kissed her palm.

"I love you too, Victoria. Don't worry." He turned, and quickly mounted Toronado. He gazed at her one last time, and blew her a kiss.

"Adios, mi querida!" he said softly. As he turned Toronado around, he made a slight clicking sound, then he, and the black stallion, were gone.

As Diego neared the entrance of the cave, he noticed a faint glimmer of light, emanating from inside the cave. 'Evidently, Sully has made himself, a fire.' Thought Diego. 'I only hope, the Alcalde and his men, don't notice it also.' He anxiously thought.

He hopped off Toronado, and led him inside the cave.

"Señor Sully. It's Zorro! I have returned with some food and water for you!" he called out.

Sully quickly stood up, then walked to the entrance and greeted him.

"Zorro, I'm glad you're back. I thought maybe, that the Alcalde and his men, had gone after you. I'm glad, you're safe." He remarked.

"Gracias, Señor! Thank you, for caring." He smiled. He began removing the provisions from Toronado's saddle, and handed them, to Sully. "Here your are, Sully. Courtesy, of Señorita Escalante. By the way, she sends her regards."

Sully took the provisions, and placed them in the back of the cave, near his fire. He looked at Zorro, and smiled.

"Thank you Zorro, for everything. Oh, and please thank Señorita Escalante for me, as well."

"It will be my pleasure, to thank the Señorita, for you Señor. However, don't thank me just yet. You're still, not out of the woods. A good friend of mine, Don Alejandro de la Vega, will be returning from Santa Paula, hopefully, with news of your release. Until then, you have to remain here. I only hope, that no one sees that fire you made, Señor." Zorro stated anxiously.

"Don't worry Zorro, it's only a small fire. I doubt that anyone, could see it at a distance." Replied Sully assuredly.

Zorro sighed. "Bueno."

Sully looked at Zorro curiously. "By the way Zorro, how did you know about Alejandro, going to Santa Paula?" he asked.

Zorro smiled. "As I said Señor, Los Angeles is a small pueblo, and news travels fast. I have ways of getting information, when I need it." Remarked Zorro, smugly.

"It appears that the people of Los Angeles, hold you in high esteem, Señor Zorro. It's obvious, that they keep you well informed, on what happens in the pueblo." Stated Sully, earnestly.

Zorro looked at Sully decisively. "Señor, it is I, who hold the people of the pueblo, in high esteem. Their feelings toward me, are their own. I only help them, in their fight for injustice, oppression, and tyranny. If our Alcalde, was as compassionate, and decent, as you and my friend, Don Alejandro, señor, my presence, would not be needed. But, as it is, I feel it is my duty, to help them in any way, I can. I do not ask for money, thanks, or any other compensation. My only hope, is that one day, our people will be free, from this oppression. I pray to God, that day, will be soon." Concluded Zorro.

Sully put his hand on Zorro's shoulder, and looked at him compassionately. "I must confess Señor, I did have my doubts about you, at first. Now I understand, what you are all about. You are truly a friend, of the people. If I am cleared of this crime that your Alcalde has accused me of, I'll be glad to help you and your people, in their struggle, Señor." Remarked Sully.

Zorro shook his head. "Sully, you're an American. I cannot allow you, to become involved in something, that is not your concern. I managed to save you, from the Alcalde's gallows once. I would feel badly, if you were arrested again, for being an accomplice, to any of the crimes, I have been accused of. I do however, appreciate your spirit, and concern, amigo." He stated, resolutely.

Suddenly, Sully was reminded, of the vision he had, while in the Alcalde's cell.

"Zorro, speaking of crimes, I just remembered something, very important." He stated, with a discerning look.

"What is it, Señor?" Zorro asked.

Sully sighed, as he ran his fingers through is hair. He looked at Zorro earnestly.

"I'm not sure how to say this, but, having lived with the Indians, as long as I have, I've learned, that they put a lot of faith, in their visions. Tonight in my cell, I had a vision as well." He stated.

"You Señor?" asked Zorro.

"Yes. I also know, that visions do not lie." Sully stated.

Zorro nodded. "Yes, I've heard of such visions, among the local Indians, here. You're right. Most of them do come true." He stated. "Tell me more about this vision, Señor." He added, looking at Sully thoughtfully.

"The vision that I had, said that this Alcalde you have, DeSoto, is not the real Alcalde. Someone else, was supposed to be your Alcalde, but DeSoto disgraced him, and took his place. I'm not sure if I understand it, but that's what my vision, told me." Sully replied earnestly.

Diego's eyes slightly widened. "Are you sure about this, Señor?" he asked.

"As I said Zorro, visions do not lie." Replied Sully.

"Did your vision say, who this other man was, that was to be, our true Alcalde?" asked Zorro.

"No Señor. All I know is that DeSoto is not the real Alcalde." He stated.

'Getting rid of DeSoto, could be Zorro's salvation' thought Diego, as he looked at Sully, with a wry smile.

An odd look appeared on Sully's face. "Did I say something amusing?" he asked.

Zorro shook his head. "No Señor. Just an idle thought." He looked at Sully attentively. "Gracias, Señor Sully, for sharing this information, with me. I will try to relay this, to Don Alejandro's son, Don Diego. I'm sure he will be quite interested in knowing about this." He remarked.

"Don Diego?" Sully asked.

". I have heard that Don Diego, and our Alcalde, attended the same university, in Spain. He may know something, about this." Replied Zorro, resolutely.

Sully nodded in agreement. Zorro gazed pensively at Sully's fire, and then slightly shook his head.

"Well Señor, I must be going. It's getting very late. I will be sure, to let your wife know, that you are all right. I will also, tell the de la Vegas, as well. If there is any news of your release, I will be sure, to let you know, Señor." Remarked Zorro.

"Gracias!" replied Sully.

Zorro said good-night to Sully, mounted Toronado, and rode to the hacienda.

When Zorro left, Sully ate some of the food that was in the sack, then quickly extinguished his fire. He spread out the blankets that Zorro had brought, and bundled up for a long restful night.

As Diego rode up to the secret passage, Toronado pressed his hoof on the hidden pad, and paused, as the large stone-like door slowly opened. He trotted Toronado inside the cave, to his stall, and quickly dismounted. The black stallion whinnied, as Diego patted him, and removed his saddle, bridle, and halter. He hung the trappings, up on their designated racks, and gave Toronado, a large helping of oats. After the horse was taken of for the night, Diego removed his hat, cape, sword, and gloves, and hung them on the brass coat rack standing against the wall.

As he turned around, he saw Felipe, asleep on the cot, near his desk. He walked over to the cot, bent down, and rested his hand on Felipe's shoulder, then gave him a gentle nudge. Felipe gently rubbed his eyes, as he slowly opened them. He smiled, as he looked upon Diego's calm compassionate face.

"Sorry to wake, you amigo. I wanted to let you know, that I was home. Speaking of which, did my father come back from Santa Paula?" he asked.

Felipe slowly sat up, and nodded.

Diego sighed, in relief. "Gracias Dios! Come on, let's get some sleep. I have some very important information, I need to tell my father, tomorrow." Diego stated.

Felipe asked what it was. Diego smiled. "There may be a chance, that we will be getting a new Alcalde." He chuckled.

Felipe looked at Diego, with curiosity. Diego smiled. "I'll tell you, tomorrow." He replied, patting Felipe's shoulder.

Felipe stood up, and took Zorro's clothes, as Diego quickly changed back into his white ruffled shirt, and blue-gray caballero pants, and boots. Felipe hung Zorro's clothes on the brass coat rack, then he and Diego, quietly slipped through the secret door, through the fireplace. They extinguished all the lights for the night, then retired to their respective bedrooms. After Diego quickly slipped on his nightshirt, he climbed into his soft warm bed, then settled in for a nice long sleep.

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