Bad Times In LA

Parte Veintitrés-A

Nancy Smith

Early the next morning, Michaela, Alejandro, and Diego had just finished dressing. They had decided to ride into town, to make a final appeal, to free Sully. As they walked into the sala, Diego could tell, by the look on Michaela's and his father's face, that the Acalde's charges against Sully, weighed heavily upon their minds. They barely spoke, except for "good morning," as they drink their coffee. Diego only wished, that he could tell them, that Sully was safe.

Suddenly, their silence was shattered, when they heard a loud pounding, at the front door. Alejandro sat his cup and saucer on the tray, and shook his head in aggravation, as he prepared to answer the door.

"Who could that be, at this hour of the morning." He grumbled.

As he opened the door, DeSoto and his men, pushed their way passed Alejandro, as they stormed into the sala. DeSoto, glared at Michaela.

"Doctor Quinn, where is your husband?!!" he inquired, harshly.

"Now just a minute Alcalde! You can't come barging in here, and start asking questions! This is outrageous!" Alejandro stated, angrily.

Diego looked at DeSoto, sternly. "What's the meaning of this?!" he asked, flashing a menacing look at DeSoto.

"I beg to differ, Señor! Since I am the Alcalde, I have the authority, to make a full search, of every hacienda in this territory, at any time, and any place, without your's, or anyone's, permission! Now I ask you again Señora, where is your husband?!!" DeSoto asked, gruffly.

Michaela flashed a heated look, at DeSoto. "I have no idea, what you're talking about! The only thing I know, is that you're going to hang, my husband!" she stated, anxiously.

DeSoto shook his head, and looked at Michaela, angrily. "Señora, if I was going to hang your husband, I certainly wouldn't be here, trying to find him, now would I?" he grumbled.

"What are you talking about, Alcalde?" Diego asked, with a curious look, on his face.

DeSoto looked at Diego, sternly. "As if you didn't know!" he groused. "Zorro, broke into the cuartel last night, and freed Señor Sully, from jail! I have ordered my men, to search every barn, every hacienda, that they come to!" he replied, in a firm voice.

"Alcalde, surely you don't think, that Zorro would bring Sully, here! He knows, that this would be the first place, you would look!" stated Diego, earnestly.

"Oh, and I suppose you know, where Zorro took him?" DeSoto said, eyeing Diego suspiciously.

Diego shook his head, and slightly chuckled.

"Don't be ridiculous, Alcalde! How would I know, where Zorro took Sully. Zorro works alone. He doesn't involve other people, in his affairs!" he stated, resolutely.

"Diego is right, Alcalde! Zorro, wouldn't dare bring Sully here! Go ahead, search the hacienda, search the barns, the stables! You won't find Sully here!" Alejandro stated, firmly. "Don't worry, Señor! I intend to do, just that!" DeSoto remarked, looking at Alejandro heatedly.

"By the way Alcalde ... " began Alejandro. "before you continue your search, I have a bit of news, for you!" he stated, eyeing DeSoto, discernibly.

"What would that be, Don Alejandro!" DeSoto replied, snidely.

"It just so happens, that I went to Santa Paula, and talked to the governor, about your charges, against Sully." Stated Alejandro sternly.

DeSoto chuckled. "Well, I'm sure that was a futile trip!" he sneered.

"On the contrary, Alcalde ... " began Alejandro. He walked over to his desk, and took out the parchment, that he had brought back. "I explained the whole episode to the governor, and told him what happened, in every detail. He reviewed the case, and granted Sully a pardon. Because he is an American, he is not subject, to our laws. As far as striking your officer, the only sentence he charged Sully with, was three days in jail, or a fine, of which, I would gladly pay! All this is stated, in this parchment, and is signed, by the governor himself, and bears the king's stamp!" Alejandro stated, handing the parchment to DeSoto.

As DeSoto read the parchment, Michaela looked at Alejandro in surprise. "Is this true, Alejandro?" she asked.

Alejandro nodded, and smiled. "I was going to tell you last night, but I returned to the hacienda so late, that you had already gone, to bed."

DeSoto handed the parchment, back to Alejandro. "Well, everything looks in order! Come by my office tomorrow, and you can pay the fine! However, the fact remains, that Zorro broke Sully out of jail, and is hiding him somewhere, in this territory. My men have been searching all night, and most of the morning for him. So far, they haven't found him! What do you plan to do about that, Don Alejandro?" he asked, as he folded his arm across his chest, looking slightly perturbed.

Diego quickly spoke up. "Alcalde, I'm sure, once Zorro finds out about Sully's pardon, he'll bring him back, to straighten all this out." Replied Diego, assuredly.

DeSoto huffed, as he shook his head. "HA! You expect me, to believe that?!" he replied, eyeing Diego smugly.

Diego looked at DeSoto sternly. "I guess, you'll just have to trust him, won't you?!" he remarked.

"Humph! Trusting Zorro, would be like trusting Mendoza, to guard a plate of, enchiladas!" replied DeSoto, sarcastically.

"Have faith, Alcalde! You may just be surprised." Stated Diego, earnestly.

"Anything, that masked bandit does, in upholding the law, will surprise me!" DeSoto replied, with contempt.

'At least, I'm not governing the people, by oppression, and tyranny!" thought Diego, as he looked at DeSoto, sternly.

"Time will tell, Alcalde. In the meantime, considering the present circumstances, I think you should order your men, out of our hacienda, right now! As my father said, you can search all you want, but you won't find Sully here!" replied Diego, resolutely.

"All right, de la Vega! I'll remove my men, from your premises, for now! However, just as a precaution, I'll leave two of my men outside, in case Sully does show up! Remember, he did break out of jail, courtesy of Zorro, and he must be held accountable, for that offense!" responded DeSoto, adamantly.

"Alcalde, you can't do that! Besides, Señor Sully is an honorable man! Even if Zorro does bring him here, he won't try to escape!" Alejandro stated.

A wry smile crept across DeSoto's lips. "Well, if Zorro does show up with Sully, my men will have two fugitives to capture, instead of just one!" he replied, smugly.

Diego chuckled. "I doubt that, Alcalde! That Zorro, is a pretty crafty fellow! You should know that, by now. So far, he's been able to elude you and your men, on more than one occasion. What makes you think, that you'll catch him, this time?" stated Diego, with a smug look on his face.

"There's always a first time, de la Vega!" DeSoto replied, sternly. "Mendoza, you and Corporal Sepulveda remain here at the hacienda. The rest of you men, return to the cuartel." He commanded.

"Good day, Señores, and Señora!" DeSoto replied, making a slight bow to Michaela. He turned, and followed his men out the door. Alejandro stood by the door, and watched DeSoto and his men, ride off. Mendoza and Sepulveda, remained behind, and stood at the entrance, keeping a watchful eye out, for Zorro, and Sully. Alejandro shook his head, and slammed the door.

"This is preposterous! Even if Zorro does show up, they won't capture him!" remarked Alejandro, heatedly.

Diego nodded, in agreement. "That's true!"

"I can't imagine Zorro, breaking Sully, out of jail!" remarked Michaela, shaking her head in disbelief.

Diego looked at her compassionately. "I suppose Zorro, dislikes injustice, as much as anyone. When he heard that Sully, was going to hang, he felt it was his duty, to protect him." he stated earnestly.

"Well, I'm glad he did! I only wish, I knew where Zorro, had taken him." Michaela stated anxiously.

"Don't worry, Michaela. I'm sure wherever Zorro has Sully, he's in a safe place. I'm sure, that Zorro, will bring him back, safe and sound." Replied Diego, assuredly.

Michaela sighed, and nodded.

Diego smiled, as he put his hand to his stomach. "In all this chaos, I seem to have worked up quite an appetite. I think I'll see what Maria has in the kitchen!" he remarked, giving Felipe a quick wink.

Alejandro and Michaela nodded as well.

"Tell her make something good. I'm a bit hungry, myself." Remarked Alejandro, rubbing his stomach.

Alejandro and Michaela, walked into the dining room, and sat down. It wasn't long, until Diego and Maria, came out with three plates, of tamales, rice, beans, and a large pitcher, of cool lemonade, to drink. Maria and Felipe, set out the glasses, utensils, and napkins, then retired to the kitchen, to eat their lunch.

Diego sat down by Michaela, and said a prayer for the people of Los Angeles, as well as, Sully, and Zorro. When Diego had finished, everyone made the sign of the cross, and began eating.

When they had finished, Michaela turned to Alejandro.

"Alejandro, if it's all right with you, I think I'll ride to the tavern, and see what I can do, to help Doctor Hernandez, today." She remarked.

Alejandro nodded, and smiled. "That will be fine Michaela. In fact, Diego and I will go with you. I'm sure Doctor Hernandez, could use the extra help." He replied decidedly.

Diego looked thoughtfully at Alejandro. "I'm sorry father. I think I'll go to the tavern later. I have a few things I need to take of, before I go to town." He replied.

Alejandro looked at Diego, and sighed. "Well, just don't be too long, Diego. Doctor Hernandez, needs all the help, he can get. Remember, it's our duty, to help out, all we can, Diego." He stated, sincerely.

Diego nodded. "Don't worry father. It shouldn't take too long." He replied.

They rose from their seats, and walked into the main entrance. Diego helped Michaela collect her medical bag, and helped her, as she wrapped her shawl around her shoulders.

"I'll bring Felipe with me, when I come to town. I may need his help." Remarked Diego.

"All right, Diego. We will see you later." Replied Alejandro, putting on his jacket.

"Felipe, go tell Miguel to saddle a couple of horses for father and Michaela, por favor." Diego stated.

Felipe nodded, and headed out the door.

"Diego, what's so important, that you can't come with us." Inquired Alejandro, curiously.

Diego slightly shrugged. "It's rather personal, father. I'll tell you later." He replied assuredly.

Alejandro nodded. "Well, whatever it is, just be careful." He remarked.

Diego smiled, and put a reassuring hand on Alejandro's shoulder. "Don't worry, I will."

Felipe soon returned, and motioned that the horses, were ready. He and Diego walked outside with Alejandro and Michaela, and held the halters of their horses, as they mounted. When they were ready, Felipe and Diego stepped back, as his father and Michaela, waved good-bye, gave a gentle nudge to their horses, and rode to town. Diego and Felipe waved, and watched them ride out of sight.

After they were gone, Diego put his hand on Felipe's shoulder, and motioned toward the house. "Come on Felipe, we've got some work to do."

They went inside, and immediately headed toward the secret door, in the fireplace. Diego pressed the hidden panel, and waited, as the door slowly opened. He and Felipe, ducked inside the entrance, and walked inside the cave. Diego picked up his black shiny silk Zorro outfit, and quickly dressed.

"Felipe, saddle Toronado, then go to the kitchen, and take Mendoza and Sepulveda, some tamales and lemonade. Keep them occupied, so that they don't see me riding out." Diego stated, tying on his mask. He tied on his cape, then put his hat, and gloves on. He buckled on the belt that held his sword and scabbard, then walked over, and collected his whip.

When Felipe had finished with Toronado, he looked at Diego somewhat curious, and signed a question.

'Where are you going?' he asked.

"I'm going to take Sully back to town, so that my father, can pay his fine. Hopefully, by the time I arrive, father will have already, paid it." Diego stated.

Felipe nodded and smiled.

Diego chuckled. "I'm sure Maria has plenty of tamales, so be very generous!" he remarked.

Felipe smiled. He turned, and peered through the peephole, to make sure no one was in the library. He raced around the corner, pressed a button on the candleholder, and waited until the door slowly swung open. He stepped through the opening, and trotted to the kitchen. Felipe signed to Maria, that he wanted to take some food and drink, to the lancers outside. Maria nodded, and fixed him a large tray of extra tamales, and some lemonade, to drink. She set a couple of glasses on the tray, and handed it to Felipe.

As Felipe walked outside with the tray, he saw Mendoza and Sepulveda, leaning against the pillars talking, occasionally wiping the sweat, from their brows. A broad smile spread across Mendoza's face, as he turned and saw Felipe, walking toward them, with the food and lemonade.

"Tamales! Oh Felipe, you must have been reading my mind! How did you know?" he remarked, smiling.

As Felipe motioned to a table near the entrance, Mendoza and Sepulveda, immediately followed. While the two lancers sat down to eat their meal, Zorro quickly rode off toward Cielo Ridge, to bring Sully back.

As Diego and Toronado, rode off to their destination, thoughts of Sully's freedom, weighed heavily upon his mind. He was glad that the governor, had reduced Sully's sentence, and was in no danger, of being hung. Diego had a feeling, however, that DeSoto, would devise some form of retribution, for Zorro, breaking Sully, out of jail. He could handle Ignacio. He only hoped that DeSoto, didn't take his wrath out on Sully, in order to get revenge, on Zorro.

'I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.' He thought.

The entrance of the cave, was coming into view. As they rode to the entrance, an uneasy feeling, came over Diego. He seemed to sense, that something wasn't right. He hopped off Toronado, and walked inside the cave.

"Señor Sully!" he called out. "It's Zorro! Are you in here?" he called out anxiously. As he walked to the back of the cave, he saw the charred embers of Sully's fire, and some of the provisions he had brought him, lying near near the fire, but Sully was gone.

"Where is he?" Diego said, worriedly.

Suddenly, he heard Toronado, neighing loudly. He turned, and quickly trotted out of the cave.

"Zorro!" called Sully, as he walked toward the entrance, of the cave.

Zorro heaved a sigh of relief, and shook his head.

"Amigo, you had me worried. I thought the Alcalde's men, had found you." Stated Zorro.

Sully smiled, and held up a large rabbit he had snared in a trap. "Hungry, Señor? I was getting a little hungry, and decided to catch something for lunch. I'll be glad to share it with you." He stated amiably.

Zorro shook his head. "Gracias, no. I've had my lunch." He replied, smiling.

As they walked back in the cave, Sully turned to Zorro with a discerning look.

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