The Boy with a Dream
By Eugene H. Craig
|Another wonderful story from Eugene, a short one this time, but a powerful look inside the mind of Zorro's first and most powerful nemesis.|
The woman put her hand on his forehead and knew that it was much too warm. She felt a great deal of compassion for him because it was in her nature to be compassionate and he was injured.
A boy opened his eyes. He saw the rich bed
hangings and the open window. He heard birds singing outside. He closed
his eyes again. His head hurt. It hurt a lot. He felt the womanís
presence more than he understood it. He reached out his hand towards her
and she took his hand gently and held it.
"How are you feeling, son?" she asked
The boy wasnít sure of her voice, but he
thought that he knew who she was. "My head hurts a lot,
Mother," he told her.
The woman was a little startled, not expecting
the answer that was delivered so clearly. "Youíre going to be all
right," she reassured him. "You had a nasty spill off of your
"I donít remember what happened,
Mother," he continued. "My pony jumped the fence." He
paused, his brow furrowing, trying to remember exactly what had
occurred. He was a good rider and was proud of his firm hand in the
saddle. "I think that we were chasing something, but I canít
remember what it was." He looked up at the woman and for some
reason she seemed far away.
"Itís all right," she repeated.
"Iím here and you are going to be fine in a few days. You hit
your head against a rock when you fell."
The boy was quiet as if trying to understand all
her words. "Will you be here with me now? You wonít go
away?" He held her hand tightly so that she would not leave.
"I wonít go away," she told him and
winced at the strength of his grip. "You donít need to hold my
hand so tightly."
The boy relaxed his grip but still held on to
her hand. Then, quite unexpectedly, the boyís eyes filled with tears.
"But you do go away. You
always go away. I donít want you to go away. I need you, Mother.
Please donít go away this time. My head hurts a lot."
The woman swallowed hard and the tears welled up
in her eyes at his entreaty. She sat down on the bed and moved his
shoulders and head a little closer to her, cradling him. "There,
now," she told him. "Iím here, but be careful, your head is
bandaged. You need to rest some more. You have a fever. Iím holding
your hand. All right, dear?"
The boy smiled in contentment and closed his eyes. He slept a long time. He did not know that during this time a man had come into the room.
The woman on the bed looked up at him. She shook
her head sadly.
"How is he doing?" the man asked. He
was a slim man with thinning hair and he had a thin moustache.
"He must be delirious," she informed
him. "He thinks that Iím his mother. He thought that his pony
threw him at a jumping fence."
"Has he said anything else, LuŪsa?"
DoŮa Luisa sighed heavily. "Itís very
strange, Nacho. He doesnít want to let go of my hand. He thinks that
Iíll leave him again."
Her husband was puzzled. "What does that
"He must have missed his mother. He said
that his head hurts a lot and he wants me to stay with him and not
leave," she said. "Itís as if he is in another world."
"A head injury can do strange things,"
he replied. "Well, stay with him a while. Doctor Aguilera is mixing
up his herbs and will have a tea ready soon. He said that we should keep
him," he indicated the sleeping form, "quiet, but that he
should recover in several days."
The boy felt calm, enveloped in warmth, and it
made him happy. He saw his home with vast forests and meadows stretched
out before a great two-storied white-washed hacienda with red roof tiles
and rose gardens and grand stables. And there he was, riding on his pony
proudly at his fatherís side as the other children watched. His father
wore the dark blue and white uniform of His Majestyís Royal Guard and
on his chest were shining medals. At his side was a saber.
His father turned and smiled approvingly at him
and suddenly pointed to something up the road. At first, the boy saw
only the trees and wide meadows with a carpet of wild flowers and
grazing herds of sheep and cattle. Then, it seemed there was a great
black crow flying towards them with its beak open. But this crow had a
black mask on and held a sword in an upraised wing. The boy felt a sense
of alarm. The crow was bad. He drew his own sword. He looked up at his
father, but the man was calm and did not seem the least disturbed by the
demon that rushed towards the both of them.
"Look out, Father!" the boy cried in
alarm, but his father only continued smiling at him and encouraged him
The boy suddenly felt alone, but he had his own sword and it was a fine saber. His pony was strong and swift. He felt no fear because he was a brave boy. He would show his father that he could vanquish the evil crow and save him from the threat.
He charged toward the crow and their swords
clashed. It seemed to him as if his pony was taking flight up into the
air and their battle reached the level of the sky and that they were
flying near the clouds that looked like the fluffy pillows in his
bedroom. He struck at the crow with all his might and the crow laughed
at him although he knew that crows could not laugh and there was a
mocking manís voice behind the face of the crow.
Then he saw his father, far down below, starting
to leave on his horse and he called out, "I got him, Father! Look,
I got the crow!" And he held the crow in his gloved hand and it was
upside down like a chicken ready to be plucked. "Wait, Father,
wait!" he called.
And the crow looked up at him and began to talk
to him as if it was human. "You canít catch me! You canít catch
me!" he mocked and began to wiggle free.
The boy held him tighter and tighter but
somehow, the crow managed to get free and jumped on a great black horse
and ran from him. And then, they were down on a road that led through
meadows, past rocks and forests, and even over rivers and mountains, and
he was chasing the crow who began to look less and less like a crow and
then became a man in black and he could not see the manís face, but he
knew it was the evil crow.
And his head hurt and he heard a strange noise.
Someone was trying to make him drink something and he thought that it
was his mother trying to help him because she had said that he had a
fever and had to take the medicine. So he drank everything and felt
secure because he heard his motherís voice and it was comforting to
him. He told her that he was so happy that she was there, and that he
loved her, and that he missed her because she had been gone for a long
time and that he had been gone for a long time, too. He heard her cry
and told her not to cry because he had caught the crow.
He felt her kiss his forehead and it made him
feel content because she was there and he felt his hand in hers. So, he
went back to sleep and had good dreams and his head hurt less and less.
It was quiet and peaceful and even in his dreams he could hear the
comforting sound of birds singing outside his bedroom window. He was
home and his father and mother smiled down at him.
Sergeant Demetrio GarcŪa Lůpez knocked on the
door of the Ignacio Torres hacienda. An Indian servant opened the door,
gestured him inside, and went to fetch the master of the house. GarcŪa
fidgeted, not knowing what kind of answer he was going to get. It had
already been a few days since the accident and his duty was clear, well,
at least he thought it was.
Don Nacho Torres descended the stairs, greeting
the fat sergeant. "Ah, Sergeant GarcŪa. Are you here to check up
on our patient?"
"SŪ, SeŮor Torres," he replied. "How is he doing?"
"Dr. Aguilera says he will be better,
probably in a few more days. Heís had a fever and been delirious, but
heís sleeping a lot. Heís very strong and in good health overall,
but that was quite a blow on the head."
The sergeant looked pensive a moment. "With
your permission, I will return in a few days to check on him again and
take him back in the carriage." The big man hesitated, then added,
"It is very kind of you, and of SeŮora and SeŮorita Torres to
care for him, despite everything he has done."
Don Nacho nodded in understanding. "You know, Sergeant, any person who is hurt needs our compassion and care, regardless of who he or she is. All of us are, in a sense, just children."
So everything passed, like a dream within a
dream, and the boy felt stronger and his head hurt less and less as the
Then one day he opened his eyes and saw a pretty
girl dipping a small towel into a bowl of water, then rubbing it over
his face and neck. The water was cool. It startled him that he knew her,
but he didnít know how it was that he knew her. She was seated in a
chair next to his bed, but it wasnít his bed and it wasnít his home
although it was a grand house and the bed was like his bed at home when
he was a boy and there were beautiful drapes at the open windows and the
birds were singing.
And the pretty girl looked startled and even a
little apprehensive when she saw that his eyes were open and he was
looking up at her with a clear gaze. "Good afternoon," she
said as she adjusted his nightshirt at his throat after drying it.
"Are you feeling better today?"
He nodded and studied her a while before
replying. "I know you," he told her, "but I donít know
from where. Who are you?"
"Iím Elena Torres," she answered.
"You donít know who I am?"
"Elena Torres," he repeated. "I
know that name, butÖ," he paused. "Donít be afraid of
"Iím not afraid," she responded
although she looked nervous.
"Yes you are," he said. He looked
around. "Where am I? Iím not at home."
"You are at our home," she told him
quietly. "You were hurt in an accident several days ago. You hurt
your head on a rock."
"Where is your home?" he insisted and
struggled to sit up in bed.
"Now donít get upset," she responded
in alarm, beginning to rise out of her chair. "Calm down. My home
is near Los Angeles." She looked toward the door of the room and
called out, "Mother, would you come in here right away?" She
seemed panicky and he didnít understand why. He just wanted to know
where he was and how it was that he knew her although he didnít know
"Los Angeles," he muttered and frowned
as he sank back on the pillows. The headache was still there and he
didnít like it because he never had headaches and he was never sick
because he was a strong boy, just like his father. Sometimes when he
didnít understand things he would get very testy and his father would
tell him that he needed to be patient and so, he would be nice to the
girl who was very pretty and he thought that he knew her and that he
liked her and he didnít know why she would be nervous or even scared
of him. After all, he was the sick one, lying in bed, all proper in his
fine nightshirt and not doing anything wrong except being sick and he
never got sick so maybe this was serious. And she had said that there
was an accident and he had hit his head on a rock and maybe thatís why
he felt so bad.
He felt someone entering the room because he had closed his eyes again, and he thought that it was a woman because he heard her dress swish across the wooden floor, and he heard her whispering to the girl who had said that her name was Elena Torres. And he felt the woman come over to the bedside and look down at him. She laid a cool hand on his forehead and he heard her say that his fever was down a bit but that he was still probably uncertain of what was going on. He heard the girl tell the woman that he didnít know who she was or where he was.
Then he heard the girl tell the woman that he was more scary this way than he normally was and he began to think that wasnít it odd that maybe somehow they were talking about him and he didnít know why, but his head hurt and he was going to go back to sleep and to try to figure out what was going on because he was beginning to get very irritated about what was going on and why they were whispering and why his head was hurting and even why his thoughts just seemed to flow like a river and he could not stop them. And all these things made him think that he wanted to get his saber and demand that they had better tell him what they were hiding and what all this was about and why the girl was afraid and why he could not find his father and mother.
And so it was that on the fifth day that the boy
woke up early in the morning and looked into a mirror on the table next
to the bed. He saw his reflection in the mirror and it was of a boyís
bright blue eyes and fine brow, but the rest of his face was a manís
face and he had a dark moustache and goatee. He looked down at himself
and saw that he was in a very fine and comfortable bed, dressed in a
long, soft nightshirt. There were beautiful oil paintings on the walls
and the drapes over the window were rich and well-kept. There were birds
singing outside and he saw that the door to the armoire was open and
hanging inside was the dark blue and white uniform of a captain of the
Kingís Royal Lancers, all fresh and clean. And he knew that the
uniform was his uniform.
His skull only vaguely ached now and he gingerly
felt his head, becoming aware that his hair was mussed and had not been
combed in days. His hands moved down and felt his face. He didnít like
to feel unkempt and he was very irritated to find that no one had shaved
him either. So, he got out of bed and went out to the balcony, gazing
out across to the stables below and then to the vast meadows that
stretched to the yellow hills beyond that were covered with green oak
trees and pines. Then he saw the dirt road that stretched for kilometers
towards the pueblo of Los Angeles where he lived in some small quarters
in the cuartel. And the hanging plants of the balcony reminded him of
home and, for some strange reason, of the bodies of traitors in Peru and
Venezuela dangling from trees, and of the grand things that he dreamed
of for himself such as making the bed he had just risen from his own and
of waking up in the mornings to the sight of the pretty girl who would
lie next to him and who would no longer be afraid of him, but who would
be grateful, instead, for his presence.
And so it was that he ended up washing, shaving,
dressing himself in his uniform, and carefully combing his hair. He made
his way downstairs. No one seemed to be around and he was irritated
because there were no servants about to wait on him or show him the way
out. The sun had risen but everyone was still in bed, exhausted by the
ordeal of his illness and his hallucinations that had gone on for days
and long nights. But he knew nothing of this.
Down in the sala, he paused long enough to
appraise the comfortable surroundings that reminded him of home, the
vases filled with flowers, the great fireplace, and comfortable chairs.
He attached his scabbard with its saber to his belt and put on his hat
before opening the door and departing. He crossed over to the stables
and found his white stallion waiting for him. He saddled the horse and
led him to the gate that he opened himself. Within minutes, he was back
on the road toward the pueblo of Los Angeles.
No one saw him leave and almost no one noticed his return except the sleepy sentry at the gates of the cuartel who sprang to attention as he rode up. Life seemed back to normal as the captain made his way to Sergeant GarcŪaís quarters and pounded on the door until the bleary-eyed man opened it, looking surprised at the officer's presence. He would have no more headaches on the account of the bandit, Zorro, he swore to himself, and he would whip the soldiers into line to make sure that such an incident would not happen again.