Bad Times In LA

Parte Veintisiete

Nancy Smith

Diego excused himself from his guests, and his father, and escorted Victoria to the carriage. It was late, and he knew that Victoria, was anxious to start operating, her tavern again. He was glad for her, as well. He knew how much, she enjoyed it, and how much she enjoyed cooking all those delicious meals, for her customers. He was definitely looking forward, to eating some of those delicious meals, as well.

As the carriage rolled up to the tavern, Diego reined in the horses, bringing the carriage, to a stop. He helped Victoria down from the carriage, and walked her, to the door. She unlocked the tavern door, then turned to Diego.

"I had a wonderful time tonight, Diego. Thank you for inviting me." She said, warmly.

Diego smiled. "Believe me Victoria, the evening, would not have been the same, without you." He stated, affectionately. He took her hand, and brushed a tender kiss, to the back.

"Until tomorrow, Seņorita." He replied, smiling.

Victoria smiled. "Buenas noches, Diego."

"Buenas noches, Victoria." Replied Diego, warmly.

He hopped in the carriage, and waited until Victoria was safe inside, and locked the door. He gave a quick slap of the reins, and headed back to the hacienda.

As he drove up to the front gate, he saw Doctor Hernandez riding off in his carriage. They waved to one another, as they passed, then Diego drove the carriage inside the front entrance, and brought it to a stop. He hopped out, and handed the reins to Miguel, then went inside the hacienda.

When he walked in, he saw his father, Felipe, Michaela, and Sully, sitting in the library.

"Buenas noches." Greeted Diego.

Alejandro looked up. "Buenas noches, Diego. That was an excellent choice, you made for dinner tonight, Diego." He stated, amiably.

Michaela and Sully nodded. "Yes, everything was perfect!" Michaela remarked, smiling.

Diego smiled. "Gracias! However, Maria did all the cooking. I just supplied the menu." He stated, modestly.

"Well, in any case, it was delicious!" replied Sully, smiling.

"I'm glad you liked it." Stated Diego, amiably.

Michaela turned to Alejandro, and smiled. "Thank you for giving us a tour, of your gardens. It's absolutely, gorgeous!" she stated, warmly.

"De nada, Seņora. It's a lot of work, but it's definitely, a labor of love! My wife and I, started that garden, and I promised her, that I would keep it blooming, for as long as I lived. I only wish she were here, to see it." Remarked Alejandro, wistfully.

Diego nodded in agreement. "Yes, mother really loved her gardens." He added, earnestly. He glanced over, and noticed Alejandro, slightly yawning.

"I guess, I should be going to bed. It's been a long day." Alejandro stated, as he rose from his brocade cushioned chair. "If you will excuse, I will say, buenas noches." He stated, giving a nod to Michaela, and Sully.

"Buenas noches." They said.

"Buenas noches." Said Diego.

"Buenas noches, Diego." Replied Alejandro, as he walked back to his bedroom.

Michaela and Sully, gazed warmly at one another, and smiled. Sully glanced up at Diego. "Well, I guess Michaela and I, will turn in too. It's been a long day, for us as well." He remarked.

Diego smiled. "I think I may stay up, and read for awhile. I'll turn in, later." He remarked.

Sully and Michaela nodded, and smiled. They rose from their chairs, said good-night to Diego, and walked back to their bedroom. Diego nodded, and smiled as they passed. He waited, until he heard them close their bedroom door, then looked at Felipe, and smiled.

"Well Felipe, it looks like it's just you and me. Why don't you go to bed, as well. You've done a lot of work today, not to mention, having to wear that suit." He chuckled. "I'm sure it's not as comfortable, as your everyday clothes." He smiled.

Felipe nodded in agreement, as he slightly tugged at the collar, of his shirt.

Diego smiled, compassionately. "Well, don't worry, Felipe. It was only, for a special occasion, anyway. I promise, that I won't make you wear it again, unless you want to." He remarked.

Felipe gave a slight shrug, and nodded.

"Oh by the way Felipe, I'm planning on telling father, about Zorro. I've already told, Victoria. Now I think it's time, to tell father, as well. I think he has a right, to know everything." Diego stated, earnestly.

Felipe's eyes widened, as a worried look, appeared on his face.

Diego put a reassuring hand on his shoulder, and smiled. "Don't worry, Felipe. I'm sure father, will keep my identity, a secret. I know Victoria, will. Besides, I've been meaning to tell father, for a long time, anyway. It was just, that I couldn't find the right time. First you became sick with the influenza, then the whole pueblo. Things were in such a turmoil, and it was such a stressful time. I couldn't bring myself, to tell him, then." He paused, and sighed wistfully. "Now that things are getting back to normal, I think this would be a good time, to tell him. I think I've kept this secret from him, far too long!" he remarked, with a decided look.

Felipe sighed anxiously, and nodded.

"Don't worry Felipe. Everything, will be all right." Diego reassured. "Now go to bed, it's very late." He smiled, as he patted Felipe, on the shoulder.

Felipe nodded, and managed a slight smile, then strolled off to bed.

After Felipe left, Diego blew out the lanterns in the library, then disappeared through the fireplace door. He made his way down the staircase, and quickly dressed into his Zorro outfit. As he walked toward the exit of the cave, Toronado gave a small nicker.

"Not tonight, boy. Tonight, you get to stay here." He replied, patting Toronado's back. He pressed the hidden pad, and watched, as the door, slowly opened. He dashed out of the cave, and made his way, to the outside of Alejandro's, bedroom window. Occasionally, Alejandro would lay in his bed, and read a book, before going to sleep. Luckily for Diego, he noticed that the light in the room, was out, and his father, had gone to bed. Diego took out his knife, and quietly pried open his window. He carefully climbed in, then slowly closed the window. As he turned around, he saw Alejandro quietly sleeping.

Diego sighed, as he stood at the foot of his father's bed. 'I almost hate, to wake him up." He thought, anxiously. He crept over to the lamp that sat on the bedside table, and lit it. As he adjusted the wick, the lamp began to brighten. He noticed his father, slightly stir. Diego sat down, on the side of the bed, and gently patted Alejandro's face.

As Alejandro slowly opened his eyes, he started to speak, but a black gloved hand, quickly covered, his mouth.

"Be very quiet, Seņor." Replied Zorro, firmly.

Alejandro nodded.

Diego removed his hand, from Alejandro's mouth, and stood up.

"Zorro, what are you doing here?" Whispered Alejandro, with a surprised look, on his face. "And how did you get in here?" he asked, curiously.

"Please Seņor, one question at a time!" replied Zorro, smiling. "The answer to your second question, is, I slipped in, through your window." He stated.

"But that window, is always locked." Stated Alejandro in amazement.

"I have ways, of getting in, when I need to." Replied Zorro, with a clever smile.

Alejandro nodded in agreement. "Obviously!"

"Oh yes, the answer to your first question. I'm here on a matter of importance." Stated Zorro earnestly.

"What kind of importance." Asked Alejandro, sitting up in his bed. He gazed at Zorro, with an attentive look.

Diego strolled over to the window, and briefly paused. He turned, and looked at Alejandro, thoughtfully.

"It concerns your son, Don Diego." Stated Zorro.

A look of concern appeared on Alejandro's face, as his eyes stayed centered, on this man in black. "Diego? What about him?" he asked with a firm tone to his voice.

"It has come to my attention, that Don Diego and Seņorita Escalante, have been seeing quite a lot of one another, these days." Remarked Zorro, trying to hide his smile.

A smile crept across Alejandro's face, as he looked, at Zorro. "You're right, he has. Come to think of it, I have a feeling, that they are quite serious, about one another. But, that is just my, speculation. Diego, hasn't really said anything to me, about it." He eyed Zorro with a curious look.

Diego looked at Alejandro, earnestly.

"I see!" he paused, and rubbed his chin, thoughtfully. "Is there a possibility Seņor, that they might get married?" he asked, with a curious tone.

"Alejandro shook his head, and sighed. "Oh Zorro, I can only hope! I'm not getting any younger, you know! And I do want to see some grandchildren, before I die." He stated, earnestly.

Diego inwardly smiled, but maintained a serious exterior. "Well, that is generally the wish of every father, that their sons, give them grandchildren, to continue the line." He remarked resolutely.

Alejandro nodded. "This is true, Zorro. However, at the rate that Diego is going, I'm not sure, if I'll live long enough, to see my grandchildren." He remarked, somewhat ruefully.

'Oh, I wouldn't say that!' thought Diego, gazing thoughtfully at his father. "Thinking about your son, how do you feel, about Don Diego?" he asked, resolutely.

Alejandro looked at Zorro, in amazement. "What do you mean, how do I feel about, Diego? I love him! He's my only son! I would be devastated, if anything, should ever happen to him. I would give my life for him!" he replied, compassionately.

Diego gazed thoughtfully at Alejandro, and sighed. He turned and leaned against the frame of the window, as he peered into the night.

"As any father, who love his son, would feel." He stated, wistfully.

Alejandro noticed a hint of remorse, in his voice. He looked at Zorro, earnestly.

"Is there something on your mind?" he asked, worriedly.

Diego turned, and gazed at Alejandro, with an intense, look in his eyes.

"How would you feel, if your son, was Zorro?" he asked, earnestly.

Alejandro momentarily shook his head. "Diego could never be ... " Suddenly, his eyes widened in amazement. He looked at Zorro in awe, as he suddenly realized, who this man in black, who stood before him, really was. He threw back his covers, as he hesitantly climbed out of bed, and stood up. He looked at Diego, in disbelief.

"Madre de Dios! Diego, is it really you?" he suddenly gasped, putting his hand to his chest?

Diego reached up and pulled the mask from his face, and smiled. "Yes, it's really me! I am Zorro!" he replied, as he walked toward his father.

A broad smile spread across his face, as he wrapped his arms around Diego, and gave him a warm hug. Diego fell into his father's embrace, and hugged him tight.

"Oh Diego, I never thought it was possible!" he said, pulling Diego from his embrace, and looking into his eyes. "I can't believe it ... you're Zorro!" he said, with a look of wonderment, in his eyes.

Diego nodded. "It's true!" he stated, earnestly.

Suddenly Alejandro's smiled faded, as a look of remorse, shadowed his face. He walked over, and sat on the side of his bed, and shook is head. As he looked at Diego, tears suddenly came to his eyes.

"Why didn't you tell me!" he asked.

Diego sat down beside his father, and sighed.

"I'm sorry, father. I was afraid that if anyone close to me, knew that I was Zorro, it would endanger your lives. The Alcalde, would stop at nothing, to get to me, through you, or Victoria. In fact, now that you know, you'll always be in danger, because of me." Stated Diego anxiously.

Alejandro looked at Diego thoughtfully, and sighed. "But Diego, you're not a criminal. You've done a lot of good for the people of the pueblo." He looked at Diego, regretfully. "Diego, I'm sorry, for all those cruel things, I said to you. I even called you a coward! How could I have been, so thoughtless, so unfeeling! How have you managed, to endure, all those hurtful things, I said to you? I know how painful it can be, to have such cruel things, said to you!" he replied, sadly.

Diego put his arm around his father's shoulders, and looked at him warmly.

"It wasn't your fault, father. I guess sometimes, I deserved some of those things, you said. But it was all, for a reason. I had to make everyone believe, that I was this over-studious, weak-willed fop, just to conceal, my real identity. I had to concoct this pretense, just to throw the Alcalde, off of Zorro's trail, in case he got too close. I'm sorry, for hurting you that way, father. It was the only way, I could think of, to protect the ones I love, from getting hurt. Can you forgive me?" he asked, looking at Alejandro, earnestly.

Alejandro shook his head. "No Diego, forgive me! Now I understand why you did it. I should have known, you were acting the way you were, for a reason. I was just too blind, to see it! Does Victoria or Felipe know you are Zorro?" he asked.

Diego nodded. "Yes, Felipe has known, from the very beginning, and Victoria has just known, since a few weeks ago. Now you know it, as well." He stated.

Alejandro looked at Diego in surprise. "You mean you let Felipe, know about your secret, and not me?" he asked, with a dejected tone to his voice.

Diego looked at Alejandro in assurance. "The reason I told Felipe, was because, by pretending to be deaf, he could give me, valuable information, that I needed, to help the people, of the pueblo. In that way, he was never in danger, from the Alcalde, or anyone else, who might try to capture me." Stated Diego.

Alejandro's eyes widend. "You mean Felipe, is not deaf, anymore? How did this happen?" he asked, with a surprised look.

Diego smiled. "I just found out, that Felipe could hear, when I returned home, from school in Spain. I'm not sure, how his hearing came back, but we decided, to keep it a secret. At first, because he thought, you would treat him different, if you knew, he could hear." He remarked.

"Nonsense! I love Felipe, like a son! I would never treat him differently." Remarked Alejandro earnestly.

"That's what I told him. But, as I said, by keeping it a secret, he was in no danger, of being interrogated, by the Alcalde or his men, or anyone else, who would try to get to me. In many ways, I owe my life, to Felipe. He even saved my life once, by calling out my name, when a bandit, was about to kill me." Remarked Diego, looking at Alejandro thoughtfully.

"You mean Felipe, can speak too?" Alejandro asked, even more amazed.

Diego shook his head. "No. That was the only time, he ever spoke. I have a feeling though, that in time, he will speak. With the knowledge that he has, from what we taught him, I know that some day, he will be able to speak." He stated, resolutely.

Alejandro nodded. "You may be right! But what about Victoria ... you told her also?" he asked.

"Yes. And I have some good news for you too. I've asked Victoria, to marry me. I hope you don't mind, I gave her mother's ring, as an engagement ring." He stated smiling.

A big grin crept across Alejandro's face. "Diego! You and Victoria, are going to get married? Madre de Dios! That's wonderful news! I knew something was going on, between you two! I also saw you kissing her, in the garden, tonight. That was definitely a kiss, of a man and woman, in love!" he remarked, with a smug look on his face.

Diego slightly blushed. "Father! I can't believe you were spying on us!" he remarked, with an abashed look, on his face.

Alejandro chuckled. "Diego, you know it's a fairly small garden. It was pretty obvious, what you two were doing!" he said, with a discerning look.

Diego shook his head, and sighed.

Suddenly, a worried look, appeared on Alejandro's face. "Diego, there's still that bounty, on your head! We'll have to do something, about that! Maybe, I can write the governor. Surely, if we can get enough petitions signed, stating all the good you have done, for the pueblo of Los Angeles, maybe the governor will pardon you! Especially if we tell him about DeSoto." He stated.

Diego looked at Alejandro, resolutely. "Speaking of DeSoto, don't write your letter, just yet, father." He stated.

"Why not, Diego" Alejandro asked.

"Because, Sully, gave me some very important information, that day I brought him back, to the pueblo." Stated Diego.

"What kind of information, Diego?" Alejandro asked.

"It's rather hard to explain, but Sully, told me that while he was in the Alcalde's jail, he had a vision." Remarked Diego.

"A vision?" asked Alejandro.

"Yes. It seems that Sully, believes that visions, are a way of seeing, the truth. I suppose, it's like a dream. Anyway, he told me, that these visions, do not lie. They tell us, what we need to know." Stated Diego.

"Well, what did the vision say?" asked Alejandro, with a curious look.

"He told me, that his vision said, that DeSoto, was not our real, Alcalde. That someone else, was supposed to be, our Alcalde." Stated Diego.

"Did he say who it was?" asked Alejandro.

"No. But I did write a letter to Seņor Andres Veranos, the representative of King Ferdinand's Royal Constabulary. I asked him, to investigate this information, for me. Hopefully, I'll hear from him, soon. Maybe Veranos, can track down our real, Alcalde. Who knows, maybe our real Alcalde, will grant a pardon, for Zorro." Diego stated.

Alejandro nodded. "That would solve all our problems, as well as for you, and Victoria." He stated, earnestly. "Let's hope and pray, we hear from Seņor Veranos, soon!" he added.

Diego nodded in agreement. "Oh, by the way, father, maybe tomorrow, I'll show you Toronado, and where I devise, all my "tricks" as Victoria, called them." He chuckled. "Well, buenas noches, father." Said Diego, as he walked out the door.

Alejandro shook his head, and sighed. He reached over, turned out his light, and went to bed. 'Imagine, my Diego, Zorro! This will definitely be, a night to remember!' Alejandro thought.

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