"TO CATCH A FOX"
[parts of the following scene taken from "Sanctuary" written by Tim Minear]
"Magdalena!" a irritated male voice shouted. "Magdalena, did you fix my jacket yet?"
Zorro slowly roused himself from his deep slumber. He could hear his angel of mercy speaking to her spouse in low, reassuring tones but couldn't make out her words.
Magdalena. Her name was Magdalena. A wistful smile touched his lips. His mistress's name had been Magdalena. Condesa Magdalena del Paseo. The daughter of a very rich and powerful man in Madrid and the widow of an even richer and more powerful husband. She had been a woman of wealth and prestige who could afford to thumb her nose at convention, like taking young university students as her lovers.
With her name on his lips, Zorro drifted off back to sleep. He awoke again when he heard a metallic clang near the vicinity of the farmhouse. Trying to adjust his vision to the mottled lighting of the barn, he searched for his saber. He spied it about two feet away, partially hidden by his cape.
It was just as well he didn't have time to reach for it as it was Magdalena who entered the barn, carrying a cloth covered bucket. The stench of its contents assaulted his nostrils. Obviously the promised remedy for his snake bite. She smiled at him a little uncertainly as she knelt down beside him and pulled the cloth off the bucket. He held out his right arm and Magdalena began to daub the foul ointment onto the wound.
"You'll feel stiff for awhile," she said as she continued to pat her fingers on his arm. "And I know the smell isn't pleasant, " she added with a slightly teasing grin. "But you'll thank me in time."
"I thank you now," Zorro said as he felt the medicine taking away some of the pain. "You're very kind, Magdalena."
She looked up at him in surprise. "You know who I am?" she asked with a hint of nervousness.
"Your husband called you earlier," he explained, and watched as her fear disappear as quickly as it had come. "It's a lovely name," he declared. "I once knew another lady named Magdalena. She had the most beautiful blue eyes."
This Magdalena blushed brightly as she smiled shyly. He noted that she was about the same age as his Magdalena had been. She had been nearly thirty when the then twenty-one year old Diego had been introduced to her at a charity ball at the university. His amigo, Miguel, had presented her as his second cousin by marriage. By dawn the next morning, she had relieved Diego of his virginity
A wistful smile crossed over Zorro's masked face. She, too, had had the most radiant blue eyes. A man could lose himself in them, and Diego had. But the passion and fire had died out within months. It wasn't until later that Diego had learned that Magdalena rarely kept a paramour longer than six months. And he had lasted nearly eight. It had been a small measure of pride to his ego.
Unfortunately, he had no more time to dwell on his first lover as Magdalena's husband walked into the barn with his sword drawn. "El Zorro," Alicio said angrily.
"Alicio!" exclaimed Magdalena as she got to her feet.
"Señor. . ." Zorro began to say as he rose up to his knees.
"The dutiful wife and the trusting husband are working at cross purposes," Alicio interrupted. The man in black cringed at the accusation of betrayal the other man had thrown at his wife. She was only helping a man in trouble, not tossing aside her marriage vows. She should not be made to feel guilty.
And indeed, tears began to form in her sapphire eyes. "Alicio, no," she cried out, the hurt in her voice obvious.
"No more words!" declared Alicio as he raised his sword toward Zorro's bare chest. "Only action!"
Zorro, glad that he had located his saber earlier, reached over to grab it, instinctively using his right arm. Which was a mistake, he found out a second later as he flinched when shooting pains raced all the way up his arm to his shoulder.
"You have me at a disadvantage," he said, gritting his teeth in a vain attempt to quell his agony.
Thankfully, the ensuing fight was short, even though he had to fence with his left hand. He sent up a prayer of gratitude to Sir Edmund for making him learn to fence with both hands.
He lunged forward after he had disarmed Alicio, intending to slash a ‘Z' into other man's shirt, but the narrowed gaze of Magdalena had him slashing his ‘Z' into the dirt floor instead. He saluted as Alicio ran out of the barn. Zorro slumped forward and groaned in pain. Magdalena rushed over to him.
"I knew you were bluffing," she said, checking his wound. "But it was kind of you to save his shirt."
She smiled at him, a smile that did not
reach her blue eyes. They both knew where her husband was going.
It was only a matter of time until the Alcalde and his soldiers arrived
at the farm.
Z Z Z
It was hours later when he arrived home via the secret cave. He was tired, his clothes were torn and filthy, his lungs were filled with smoke, his right arm was throbbing painfully. And he was furious. Furious at that bastard Ramón, who had been more than happy to sacrifice an innocent woman's life in order to catch him.
Zorro slid off Toronado's back and nearly fell into a heap onto the floor as his knees buckled. Then he was almost knocked over when a solid force collided with him and wrapped its arms around his waist.
A weary smile came to the masked man's face. "I'm all right, Felipe," he said, extricating himself from the young man's embrace. "Truly."
Felipe shook his head as he pointed at the bite wound on his mentor's arm then swept his hand over Zorro's length.
"Yes, I did get bitten by a rattlesnake," he conceded. "And I rescued Magdalena Turron from a burning barn. Other than that, I'm just fine."
The youth launched into a series of hand gestures that Zorro could barely follow as he stripped off his black costume. "You heard about the fire?" he asked, already knowing the answer. Felipe nodded before starting to sign again. "And you were worried?" Diego held out his arms. "As you can see, I'm none the worse for wear. And only slightly singed." He chuckled.
Felipe smiled then made his way over to take care of Toronado. Diego returned to his task of cleaning up himself.
When he emerged from the fireplace a short time later, the last person he wanted to encounter was Zafira. So, of course, he met her on the way to the kitchen where he wanted to procure a cup of lemon tea to help with his smoke ravaged throat.
"Where have you been?" she asked indifferently.
His wife wrinkled her nose. "You smell like smoke," she stated.
Diego had hoped that changing his clothing would have prevented anyone from noticing. "I. . . I've taken up cigars," he declared, the lie popping into his head.
"You're disgusting," she replied, her blue eyes flashing with loathing. Zafira turned and started to walk away. "Oh, by the way," she said, pausing and looking over her shoulder at him. "Your father was searching for you earlier. Some nonsense about a painting."
"Gracias," Diego responded tersely. So this was what his married life had boiled down to, the two of them passing on messages to each other, delivered with barely concealed hostility. He watched as she walked toward the bedrooms.
Blue eyes. Why did it seem as though
all the women who complicated his life had blue eyes? If he were
a smart man(which he was beginning to doubt), he would start steering clear
of women with blue eyes. Shaking his head, he continued on his way
to the kitchen.
Z Z Z
[parts of the following scene taken from "The Chase" written by Michael Marks]
"Treason, sedition, conspiracy, thievery, assault with deadly weapons, attacking government troops and riding with reckless endangerment."
Zorro smiled as he listened to the litany of crimes the Alcalde was listing against him. It was ironic, since Ramón was culpable of at least half of those accusations himself. Especially the conspiracy and the thievery.
"And what of your own guilt, Alcalde?" he inquired boldly, holding up a pitcher of water. He proceeded to demonstrate just how crooked the government's scales were.
"How shocking!" exclaimed Ramón with mock surprise. "Mendoza, repair the scales at once."
The stout sergeant immediately agreed and stepped toward the weigh station. Victoria came over to stand next Zorro, who sat astride Toronado. "Thank you, Zorro," she said as she gazed up at him. "Again, you've helped our people win justice."
She looked so lovely, her beautiful brown eyes gazing lovingly up at him. Unable to speak as his heart welled up in his throat, he merely nodded at her words of gratitude and was actually glad when the Alcalde started babbling some nonsense about guaranteeing his capture.
"You see, this time, Zorro, I have found the man who will hunt you to the ground," Ramón stated, a smug smirk on his bearded face.
Zorro turned his stallion around to see
an Indian standing in front of the garrison office. The other man's
stare never wavered as the masked man met his eyes. Giving this new
adversary a curt nod, Zorro urged Toronado forward and out of the pueblo
as the townspeople cheered.
Z Z Z
[parts of the following scene taken from "The Chase" written by Michael Marks]
By the next afternoon, Diego was sorry he had underestimated Gray Wing's abilities. It didn't seem to matter to him that the sheep Diego and Felipe had ‘accidentally' herded into the pueblo had destroyed the freshest set of Zorro's tracks. It didn't seem to matter that Toronado carried the same weight as Felipe rode the black stallion, setting out a new purposely misleading trail.
Gray Wing looked up at Ramón when he had finished examining the ground he had been kneeling on. "He is a clever man," he said, his voice giving away nothing.
"What do you mean?" the Alcalde queried with a frown on his face.
"The tracks change here," declared the tracker. "From this point on, they are made by the same horse, carrying the same weight. But the rider is different. Not as strong."
Diego's heart clenched and his stomach twisted into knots. How on earth could the Indian know? He had always prided himself on his tracking abilities, but even he wouldn't be able to tell the difference of one rider's strength over another.
Ramón grinned evilly. "Zorro has an accomplice," he said gleefully. " Well, we have enough rope to hang the two of them. And his tracks will lead up right to Zorro."
"Yes," Gray Wing agreed with a nod of his head. "And this second rider moves much more slowly."
Diego swallowed nervously. Dear God, had his plan caused both Felipe and himself to be condemned to swing at the end of a rope? Ride, Felipe, he urged silently, ride like the wind.
A short while later, the posse had ridden up to the banks of the Porciuncula River. Diego immediately spotted the patches of quicksand along the river's edge. He rode his horse to the front of the group then dismounted.
"We can't cross here," he stated. "Quicksand."
"We haven't got time for this," said Ramón impatiently. "We're in a hurry."
The Indian stared up at the commandante. "Yes," he replied. "But only a fool rushes to his own death." He bent down and picked up a rock then threw it at an area of what looked like regular sand. The rock landed with a ‘splat' then slowly sank into the quicksand.
The Alcalde swiftly changed his mind and ordered his men to cross further downstream. The lancers were remounting their horses as Gray Wing turned to Diego.
"You're very observant," he said. Diego grew quite uncomfortable under the tracker's sphinx-like stare.
"Out here, one has to be, don't you think?" he stated rhetorically. He tried to keep his countenance as inscrutable as Gray Wing's even though he was quaking inside. The Alcalde must not discover Felipe's involvement in what was solely his masquerade, he reminded himself unnecessarily as he swung up into his mare's saddle..
Diego had known the risks when he had taken up the sword of Zorro. But Felipe had been a young boy and undoubtedly had been caught up in the excitement and adventure. He wouldn't have worried about the danger, or indeed, would have shrugged them off as part of the subterfuge.
There were several more tense moments as the day wore on. Gray Wing's assertion that Zorro's helper was a young man, based solely on how many berries Felipe had eaten from a bush. Then there had been the collapse of the old mine that had trapped the tracker and the lancers inside of it. Luckily, Diego and Felipe had been deeper in the abandoned cavern and had escaped through a ventilating shaft.
And again, Diego was infuriated by how callously Ramón treated human life. This time, the commandante had been willing to forfeit the lives of his own men in order to apprehend Zorro. The man was a cold-blooded serpent who would have sold his own grandmother if it meant he could catch the fox.
It was nearly dinner time when Diego rode up to the gate of the hacienda. Felipe ran out its front door as Diego dismounted. The look of relief on the lad's face made him smile. The youth then glanced at him questioningly, obviously wanting to know what had happened after Diego had sent him away from the mine.
"The gunpowder worked perfectly," he began, but paused as Felipe pointed at something behind him. He turned to see the tracker riding toward him. "Gray Wing," he said with a cordiality he did not feel.
"I was on my way out of town," the Indian said without preamble. "And I came across a familiar trail. Zorro's."
Diego was sure he had cast enough uncertainty in the other man's mind with his nervous demeanor at the mention of the masked man's name. That was until the tracker noticed the bright red rash on Felipe's neck. A rash caused by eating berries.
Diego never did know for sure if Gray Wing had figured out that he was Zorro and Felipe was his accomplice. He had seen the doubt in the Indian's steely gaze when Diego had shown him the nearly picked clean berry bush just inside the hacienda gate.
Shrugging his broad shoulders, he clamped
his hand on the back of Felipe's neck and led the youth into the hacienda
so they could swap versions of their adventures that day.
Z Z Z
"CADENAS DE AMOR" - CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR