Bad Times In LA

Parte Treinta Y Quatro-A

Nancy Smith

Author's Note: This chapter, is dedicated, to my friend, Kathy D. Green. I made a special promise to her, that would write a chapter, about Felipe, and his mother. It was a bit tricky, working this in with this chapter, but, I talked it over, with the rest of the characters, and, they finally agreed, to let me do it. :-) Kathy, this one is for you! I hope you like it. Sincerely, Nancy

It was a beautiful day, in the pueblo, de Los Angeles. The townspeople, and caballeros, had decided, to decorate the pueblo, to welcome, their new Alcalde, Don Xavier Miguel Francisco Carroga. The de la Vegas, Victoria, Michaela, and Sully, all pitched in, and helped, with the preparations.

It was an eventful day, as the time came, for Don Xavier, to make his speech, to the people, of Los Angeles. Everyone, from miles around, came to see, this new Alcalde, who would finally free them, from oppression, and tyranny, and treat them, with the respect and dignity, that they deserved.

With DeSoto, securely incarcerated, in his own jail, Veranos, and Emissary Escanto, felt free, to attend, the celebration. Veranos, had ordered extra Lancers, posted, to guard the prisoner. And, with the extra shackles, they had placed, on DeSoto, inside the jail, he felt confident, that there would be, no chance, of escape. He had also given, strict orders, that DeSoto, be shot, if he made any attempts, to get out.

Padre Benitez, was also, at the celebration, to give his blessings, and to offer, his spiritual guidance, to Don Xavier, whenever, he needed it.

There was music, and cheering, as Don Alejandro, and Don Xavier, stepped up, to the podium. The music subsided, and the crowd fell silent, as Alejandro, introduced Don Xavier, to the people. Everyone clapped, and cheered, as Don Xavier, stepped up, to the podium. Before he spoke, Padre Benitez, led everyone, in prayer. When they had finished, they said amen, as they made the sign of the cross.

As Xavier spoke, everyone, listened intently. He told them, how they would no longer, have to live in fear, of tyranny, and oppression, that he would govern, them fairly, and wisely. He informed them, that all previous taxes, that were issued, by the former Alcaldes, Ramon and DeSoto, would be immediately, rescinded, and that the only tax, that they would have to pay, would be, an income tax.

"However, ... " he informed them. "considering the size, of the pueblo, this would amount, to a very, small sum."

He also rescinded, any curfews, or laws, that he deemed, "absurd," or "unimportant," and allowed the people, to vote on, any laws, that they deemed necessary, for the safety, of the pueblo. As he spoke, Diego took notes, in his notepad, so that he could write about the speech, in his newspaper, The Guardian.

As the speech came to a close, Diego, even brought his 'camera,' that he had finally, perfected, to document, the new Alcalde, making his speech. Luckily, he had warned Xavier, in advance, about the workings, of this new invention, by the Frenchman, Joséph Niepce, so that he wouldn't, be alarmed, by the puff of smoke, which was part, of the process. He even, made some images, of Alejandro, and Xavier, shaking hands.

Earlier, Diego had brought, Toronado, to town, and hidden him, behind, the tavern. As Alcalde Carroga's speech, was coming to a close, Diego, quietly slipped off, and walked, into the tavern. He ducked out, the back door, and collected, his Zorro outfit, from Toronado's, saddlebag. He quickly changed clothes, and mounted his beautiful black stallion, then casually, trotted him, into the pueblo. Everyone, turned around, and waved, as Zorro, rode into, the plaza.

"Zorro!" people shouted, and smiled. Zorro, gave his traditional, two finger salute, and smiled. As he neared the crowd, he reined in, Toronado, and looked at Xavier, and smiled.

"Ah, buenos días, Alcalde! I came to welcome you, to our pueblo, and to congratulate you, on becoming, our new, Alcalde." he greeted, warmly.

Xavier looked at Zorro, and smiled. "Buenos dias, Zorro! Muchas gracias!" he turned, his attention, to the people.

"Good people, of Los Angeles, Zorro, has been pardoned!" he stated, smiling.

A burst of cheers, and shouts of, "Zorro!" erupted, from the crowd. Suddenly, the crowd fell silent, as Xavier, discharged his pistol, into the air. Everyone, quickly snapped their heads around, in surprise.

"People of Los Angeles, Zorro, has promised, to help me keep the pueblo safe, by fighting for justice, and equality. Together, we will make this pueblo, a better place, for everyone!" he smiled. Xavier waved, then stepped down, from the podium. The cheers continued, until Zorro, smiled, and waved, good-bye. He happened to catch a glimpse, of Victoria, smiling at him, and looking beautiful, as ever. He trotted Toronado, over to her, and noticed, that she was wearing the ring, he had given her. He gazed into her eyes, and smiled, then blew her a kiss, and rode away.

As the day wore on, the celebration, finally came, to a close. Diego, had returned earlier, as himself, to help Victoria, his father, Felipe, Sully, and Michaela, clean the tavern, after the big, celebration.

There was a lull, in the conversation, as everyone, chatted about, the new Alcalde. Alejandro, glanced over, at Diego, with a discerning look.

"Well, Diego, when is the big day? Have you and Victoria, set a date?" he asked. There was a brief silence, as Michaela, and Sully, looked at Diego, and Victoria, smiling, at one another. She walked over to Victoria, and smiled.

"Victoria, are you and Diego, getting, married?" she asked with excitement, in her voice.

Victoria slightly blushed, and smiled. "! Very soon!" she replied. She held up her hand, and showed Michaela, the ring. Michaela smiled.

"It's beautiful, Victoria!" she remarked, warmly. "Congratulations!" she stated, as she gave Victoria, a warm hug. Victoria hugged Michaela, and smiled.

"Gracias!"

Sully, walked over to Diego, and shook, his hand. "Congratulations, Diego! I know you, and Victoria, will be very happy, together!" he smiled.

"Gracias! I know, we will be too, Sully!" Diego replied, smiling.

Alejandro looked at Diego, and Victoria, expectantly. "Well you two, when is, the big day?" he asked again, smiling.

Diego and Victoria, looked at one another, and smiled. "How about, day after, tomorrow?" he asked, Victoria.

Victoria nodded, and hugged Diego. "That would be, perfect!" she replied, with a broad smile.

Alejandro beamed. "Well, we have a lot to do!" he stated.

When they finished, at the tavern, everyone went over, to Diego's newspaper office, and began printing out, wedding invitations, and invitations to Victoria's wedding shower, and Diego's, bachelor party. After all, Diego, had been a bachelor, for quite a long time, and Alejandro, decided, that he should have, the biggest party, ever. As for Victoria, Michaela, was thrilled, to be hosting a party, for Victoria.

Since Michaela was older, and Victoria's parents, were deceased, she seemed to feel a closeness, to Victoria, ever since she and Sully, had arrived, in California. During the epidemic, they had confided in one another, about different things, and gave each other, emotional, as well as, moral, support. Michaela, could hardly wait. She was going, to give Victoria, the best party, ever.

The next morning, Michaela, Felipe, and Sully, ate breakfast, and quickly dressed. They saddled their horses, then rode throughout the territory, handing out, wedding invitations, as well as invitations, for Victoria's, and Diego's, shower, and bachelor party. They even gave invitations, to Alcalde Carroga, Sergeant Mendoza, Emissary Escanto, and Andres Veranos.

After the invitations, were distributed, they rode back, to the hacienda, and helped make, preparations, for the guests. While the servants, were working, on the dinner menu, Michaela and Victoria, had decided to ride, to Santa Paula, to get Victoria's, wedding dress, and Diego's ring. Alejandro, Diego, Felipe, and Sully, rode to Santa Barbara, for Diego's suit, and a wedding ring, for Victoria. He had given her, his mother's ring, as a promise, and Diego felt, that giving her another ring, would make it, forever.

When everyone had returned, Victoria and Diego, were very reserved, about what they had bought. After all, it was bad luck, to see the bride, before the wedding. However, Diego, did give Victoria, a very special gift. He had bought her, a beautiful ruby necklace, that had a small, ruby teardrop-shaped pendant, that hung, in the middle, of the necklace. Victoria inwardly gasped, as she gazed at her lovely gift.

"Diego, it's beautiful!" she remarked, smiling.

"I'm glad you like it!" he replied, warmly. He took it out, and fastened it, around her neck. "It's even more beautiful, with you wearing it." he said, warmly. He brushed a light kiss, against the side of her neck, and smiled. She turned, and looked at him, warmly.

"I love you, Diego." she said. She wrapped her arms around him, and pressed a tender kiss, to his lips. Diego gently pressed her close, and deepened her kiss. When they parted, they gazed into one another's eyes, and smiled.

"I love you too." He said, as he lightly brushed his hand, against the side of her face, and smiled.

Michaela, had decided to have, Victoria's shower, at the tavern. Years ago, it used to belong, to her parents. Later, after her parents died, Victoria took it over, and ran it, herself. Michaela, and all the girls, who worked at the tavern, quickly put up, some decorations, then, made some hors d'oeuvres, and punch, for all the guests. They even, put some pretty flowers, on all the tables. Finally, when they were finished, Michaela, made one last minute inspection, to make sure, everything, was perfect.

Diego's party, was going to be, at the hacienda. Alejandro, even invited, Sergeant Mendoza, to the party. After all, he and Diego, were such, good friends. Diego of course, thought all of this, was completely, unnecessary, and, a bit, ridiculous. When he wasn't with Victoria, planning their wedding, he 'hid out,' in the cave, and worked on, one of his experiments, just to stay, out of, the way. At one point, Alejandro, needed Diego's advice, and couldn't, find him.

"Felipe! Where's Diego?!" he called out.

Felipe, walked into the foyer, and motioned, for Alejandro, to follow him, to the Library. Alejandro, looked around.

"Felipe, Diego is not in here! Where is he?!!"

Felipe nodded, and motioned to the fireplace. Alejandro shook his head, and smiled.

"No Felipe, we don't need to make a fire!"

Felipe, shook his head. This time, he pushed the secret panel, under the mantle, and the door, slowly opened. He pointed to the entrance, and smiled. Alejandro looked at Felipe, in surprise.

"Felipe, how did you know, about that? Where does that, go?"

Felipe, motioned for Alejandro, to follow him. Alejandro, walked up to the fireplace, and followed Felipe, into the cave. As they walked down the stone staircase, Diego saw Felipe, walking into the cave. He thought something, was wrong, and looked at him, with concern.

"Felipe, what ... " just then, Alejandro, walked into the room.

"So, this is where you hide out, when I can't find you!" Alejandro remarked. As he gazed about the cave, he saw Toronado, in his stall. He thoughtfully gazed about the room, once more, then he widened his eyes, in amazement, as he suddenly recognized, where he was.

"Diego, this was where I woke up, when I fell, and hit my head! I thought, that I had forgotten, about that. But after, seeing all this, it all, came rushing back!" he remarked, in astonishment.

Diego, walked over to Alejandro, and smiled. "I was going to show you, but I guess, it slipped my mind. You're right. You hit your head, and stumble through the door, then fell down the stairs. By the time, Felipe brought me down here, you were already, gone!" he chuckled.

Alejandro, shook his head. "I must have looked, pretty foolish, riding around, as Zorro!" he remarked, slightly blushing.

Diego, shook his head, and put a reassuring hand, on his shoulder. "Not at all! Actually, Victoria, was quite impressed. She really thought, that you, were Zorro! She told me, that you, were very charming! As they say, like father, like son." he smiled.

Diego, spent the next hour, telling Alejandro, how he had found, the cave, and why, they had kept it a secret, like his identity. He even showed him, the hidden peepholes, and the back entrance, to the cave. He told Alejandro, that they would still, have to keep it a secret, if he was still, going to be, Zorro, and Alejandro agreed. Diego, also, showed him, all those, 'pointless experiments,' he worked on, to help him, in his fight, for justice. Alejandro nodded, in approval, and promised, to never call them, 'pointless,' again.

Alejandro, briefly took out his watch, and looked at it.

"Diego! We need to get ready, for the party." he stated.

"Father, really! This is, ridiculous!" Diego rebuked.

Alejandro, looked at him, sternly.

"Diego, you being a bachelor, for all these years, is ridiculous! You're going, to the party! Besides, this is the last day, of your bachelorhood. After tomorrow, you'll be locked, in the bonds, of marriage." he chuckled.

Diego smiled. "Bonds, I gladly welcome!" he replied, warmly.

Victoria, and Diego's party, was a success. Victoria, received some beautiful gifts; some bought, and some, handmade. Michaela's gift, was a beautiful lace mantilla, that she had made, herself, from some material, she had purchased, in Santa Paula. Victoria, graciously thanked her, and gave her a warm hug. Some of the gift, were simple, and some, were very, elaborate. Yet, Victoria, showed no preference. She, loved them all. Diego, received, some handsome gifts, as well; not to mention, several ribbings, on how long, he had been, a bachelor.

There was one thing, that everyone, except for Michaela, and Sully, was curious about, however; why Victoria, had decided, to marry Diego, instead of, Zorro. Victoria, brushed it aside, by saying, that she decided, that it would never work, out being married, to a "legend." She and Diego, had fallen in love, and she had found Diego, to be just as compassionate, and loving, as Zorro. As for Diego, he explained, that once Zorro, found out, that she, was in love with him, Zorro, being the 'perfect gentleman,' gracefully, bowed out. For now, that seemed to satisfy, everyone's, curiosity.

The day, of the wedding, had finally, arrived. Luckily, Victoria, had mailed a letter, in advance, to her brothers, Francisco, and Ramon, informing them, of her, marriage, to Diego. They too, were surprised, at her decision, to marry, Diego. But, after reading her letter, they clearly, understood.

Alejandro, had invited Victoria, and her brothers, to stay at the hacienda. But, being the very independent woman, that she was, she graciously, declined, stating that, she was determined, that Diego, was not going to see, her wedding dress, until the day, of the wedding.

The wedding was set, for three o'clock, that afternoon. This gave everyone, time, to make preparations, for, the reception. This morning, was also, the day, that Alejandro, and Diego, took Felipe, to town, and asked Alcalde Carroga, draw up, the necessary papers, making it legal, for them, to adopt Felipe, into, their family. They even asked Victoria, to go with them, so she, could sign the paper too. Since she, and Diego, were getting married, that would make her, a legal guardian, as well. As Diego had once said, Victoria, was a born, guardian.

They had cared for Felipe, since he was, very young, giving him a home, making sure, that he received, an education, and giving him, the special kind of love, that any caring parent, would give, a child. Even though, he was not a de la Vega by birth, in their hearts, they loved him, as if, he was, their own. Despite his hearing, and speaking handicap, Diego and his father, through patience, and guidance, had managed, to teach Felipe, to communicate, by sign language. Even though his hearing, had returned, he still communicated, with signs, because of his lack, of speech. For that matter, Diego, had always told Felipe, that given time, and letting go of his past, he felt that one day, he would regain, his speech.

Carroga, finished the last line, of the document, and signed, his name, to the bottom. He put his stamp, on the parchment, and then showed, Alejandro, Diego, Victoria, and Felipe, where to sign. They quickly signed, their names, to the document, then Carroga signed his name, to the document, as a witness, and handed the document, to Alejandro.

It was heartfelt moment, as Felipe, hugged Victoria, Diego, and Alejandro. Even though, he had grown up, in the de la Vega hacienda, he was now, legally, a de la Vega. Alejandro beamed.

"I now have two sons, to carry on, the de la Vega name!" he remarked, smiling. Felipe, slightly shrugged, and smiled.

Diego, looked at Felipe warmly, and smiled.

"By the way, Felipe, I would be truly honored, if you would be, my best man. You know me better, than anyone, and we've shared, so much, together. I would be honored, if you would, accept." he said.

Felipe, looked at Diego warmly, and smiled. He nodded, and signed, that he too, would be honored, to be, his best man, and thanked him.

Diego nodded, and smiled. "De nada, Felipe!"

Victoria turned to Alejandro. "Alejandro, I too, would be honored, if you, would give me, away. Ever since, my parents died, you have been, like a father, to me. I owe you, so much." she remarked, warmly.

Alejandro smiled. "Yes, Victoria. I would be more than honored, to give you, away. You have been, like a daughter, to me. You don't know, how happy, this makes, me to see you, and Diego, finally, getting married. This will be, a very, momentous, occasion!" he replied, smiling. He took Victoria's hand, and lightly kissed it, and smiled.

Victoria slightly blushed, and smiled. "Gracias, Alejandro!"

After they had finished, their business, with Carroga, they gladly thanked him, then left, to prepare, for the wedding.

Michaela, Victoria, and some of the girls, at the tavern, made one last minute trip, to the church, to make sure, everything, was in order. Victoria, and Diego, had made arrangements, with Padre Benitez, as far as, the ceremony.

As Michaela, and Victoria, gazed about the sanctuary, they smiled, as they noticed, how beautiful, everything, looked. Thanks to Michaela, and a few women, in the pueblo, everything, was all ready, for the main, event.

As the time drew near, Diego, Sully, Felipe, and Alejandro, quickly dressed, in their finest, suits. Even Sully, had bought a new suit, for the occasion. Diego, had purchased, a new suit, for Felipe, for his part, as best man. The women as well, were all getting ready, for their parts, in the wedding. Since Victoria, did not have a sister, she had asked Michaela, to be, her Matron of Honor, as which Michaela, gladly, accepted.

All the women, and young girls, who were going to be, in the wedding, looked lovely. Of course, the most beautiful of all, was Victoria. Michaela smiled, as she made the final adjustments, on Victoria's veil, and train, of her dress. She suddenly felt the tears, come to her eyes, as she gazed, at the beautiful young bride, before her. She took out her linen handkerchief, and wiped her eyes. Victoria, felt a tear, roll down her cheek, as well, as she thought of her parents, not being here, to see, her wedding. She felt a consolation, however, knowing that her brothers, would be there, to witness, her special, event.

Soon, all the women, and young girls, began walking out, of their waiting rooms, and going to the sanctuary. Victoria, and Michaela, looked at one another, and smiled. Michaela, gave Victoria, a warm hug, and kissed her, on the cheek.

"Good luck, Victoria!"

"Gracias, Michaela! Thank you for everything!" she replied, hugging Michaela. The two women parted, then Michaela left.

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