Reyes Takes a Vacation;

A Crossover in 4 and 1/2 parts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Three

 

 

As they played, Buck could see that Reyes was right, the man could no more bluff than he could fly a starfighter.  Although Buck had thought the corporal had the perfect poker face, Buck realized that Reyes couldn’t hide anything.   No matter how much Buck tried to coach him on that point, the corporal just couldn’t figure it out.   By noon, the terran had all but given up.

“See, I told you,” Reyes said sadly. 

“Do not give up hope.  Something will come up,” Buck said encouragingly, as much for himself as for the Spanish American soldier.   He tried to be patient, but it was hard.  And as much as he had enjoyed the beach, he was ready to return to the stars.  He was ready to know that he was not stranded here a couple of hundred years before his time.  It had taken long enough to get used to living five hundred years in his future. Then an idea came to mind.  “What if I played for you?  Do you have any money?”

“Yes, I have most of my last pay that came in Thursday, fifteen pesos,” Reyes replied, curious.  “But we would have to go into Los Angeles.  Would your fellow angels be able to find you there?” 

That was something Buck had forgotten.  However, he realistically didn’t think Dr. Theopolis could figure out the machine that brought him here in less than two or three days.  If he went with Reyes this afternoon, he could be back by tomorrow morning at the latest.  “Maybe, maybe not.  I think it will be tomorrow before they come.”

“You would do that for me?” Reyes asked, excited. 

“Sí.  What are friends for?  And I would like to see your pueblo,” Buck said.  

“Do you want to go now?” Reyes asked.  He was beginning to get tired of the beach and the surf, and the idea of watching Señor Buck play bruha in his behalf, excited him.   “If you will put out the fire, I will saddle the horse.”

Buck looked at the animal he had all but ignored, standing placidly at the top of the first rise, and wondered what he had volunteered for.  He had only been on the back of a horse when he was a kid at summer camp.  His butt and legs had hurt for two days following the first time he had ridden.  Buck had finally been able to get used to riding the horses, and to even enjoy riding, but that had been years and years ago and he felt as though he had forgotten everything he had learned back then.

Quickly, Reyes saddled and bridled the horse, gathered up all the tack and tied it behind the saddle.    “You sit in the saddle, Señor Buck.”  It was only right that this special friend of his sit in a more comfortable seat.  However, as he watched the angel mount, it became obvious that Señor Buck was not comfortable around horses.  “You do not ride much, do you?”

“Not horses,” Buck answered sardonically. 

“But everyone rides horses!  How can you get around if you do not ride horses?” Reyes asked, genuinely shocked.    “I mean before you became an angel.”  It was something he couldn’t really conceive of.  Horses were a part of life.   How could anyone think of walking everywhere?

Buck moved around in the saddle, trying to get comfortable, and finally answered.  “A . . . uh ….” Then he stopped.   He pantomimed riding in something.   The horse shifted from one foot to the other and Señor Buck studied it carefully. 

“Ah, a carriage.  Sí, I understand.  But we do not have one here for you, so you must make do.  If you just sit easy and go with the movement of the horse, you will ride easier,” Reyes suggested.   “Maybe.”

“I will try.  But it has been a very long time,” Buck replied, not totally reassured either.  This was a fat barreled, but otherwise, bony horse that made those at summer camp seem like thoroughbreds.

As Reyes gathered the reins and mounted behind his strange angelic friend, he wondered about this latest development.  How could anyone not know how to ride a horse?

“I think we have another problem,” Buck said. 

“What, señor,” Reyes asked. 

“What will people think when I ride into Los Angeles like this?” Buck asked, plucking at his sleeve. 

That was something Reyes hadn’t thought of, but his friend was right.  The heavenly uniform would very likely be more than most of the pueblo’s people could deal with.  He knew if someone suddenly came riding into the pueblo dressed like that, it would make him wonder.  If the clothes created too much of a stir, it was likely that Señor Buck Rogers would be unable to play bruha.  Reyes thought and thought, trying to decide who might have clothes about the same size as the angel.  Then it dawned on him.  Don Diego!  “Maybe there is someone who would have something you can wear.  I think Don Diego is about your size. Taller maybe, but close.”

“Don Diego?”

“Sí, Don Diego de la Vega.  He does not live far from here.”

“And you think he would . . . uh, let me have . . . some pants?”

“Sí, and a shirt, too,” Reyes added brightly.  “Don Diego is very nice.  And he likes me, too.”

“Let us go talk to him, then.”

Reyes continued to hold the reins, thinking it safer than letting Señor Buck guide the horse.  His friend just shifted his body trying to sit comfortably.  “I am going to put my horse into a trot to get there quicker,” Reyes warned.

“I was afraid you would say that,” Buck replied, remembering the first time he had put a horse into a trot and ended up on his back looking up at the whiskered face of his mount.  He could have sworn the horse had laughed at him.   

Reyes clucked and nudged the gelding, and the horse ambled into a bone-jarring trot. 

“Good grief, I’d rather be in my dad’s old Impala!” Buck exclaimed in English, hanging on tightly to the saddle horn. Even the horses at camp didn’t have a gait this rough. 

Reyes could understand none of what Buck had said, but he could hear the tone of his friend’s voice and he decided that Señor Buck was not happy.  “The ride will be easier if we are galloping,” Reyes said.  “And it will be quicker.”

“You are joking, right?” Buck shouted as the wind of their passing tore his words away.   He had ridden the horses of his youth at a gallop, but he was much younger then, and the horses had much smoother gaits.  He wondered what he had seen in this activity when he was a kid, and was glad he hadn’t been born into this time.  There were definite advantages to riding on a rocket at seven gees as opposed to riding a horse, he thought.  

“No, Señor Buck,” Reyes said, kicking the horse with the toe of his boots.  The old gelding began to gallop, nothing that would win a race, but certainly it would get them to Don Diego’s casa grande quickly.   And as the horse settled into his new gait, Buck had to admit it was not as bad as he thought it would be.  He began to relax and get into the rhythm of the horse’s movements.  And before he knew it, they had arrived at the house of Don Diego de la Vega.  Buck waited for Reyes to dismount.  The horse turned its head and looked at him reproachfully. 

“Don’t look at me like that,” he said peevishly to the horse in English.  “You are as remote in ancestry to Seabiscuit as I am to George Washington.”  

“I take it you do not like horses, señor,” a pleasant voice said through an open patio gate.   The statement was in English.  The speaker leaned against the frame of the patio gate, his smile friendly and his demeanor relaxed. 

Buck looked at the dark-haired young man who was gazing at him in undisguised curiosity.  “Just not used to them, señor.  And this one is not a fine example of horseflesh.   Are you Don Diego de la Vega?” Buck asked.  

“I am.”  Diego turned to Corporal Reyes and greeted him. Then he said to both, “Come in and I will have my servant bring out some refreshments.” 

“Thank you,” Buck said, dismounting.  He followed the two men, rubbing his backside. 

Don Diego motioned to chairs around a small table and then studied Buck carefully.  “It is very obvious that you are not from here, sir,” he said wryly, wondering where in the world the corporal had found this stranger dressed in such strange trappings. 

“That is an understatement, Don Diego,” Buck replied in English, grinning.  He felt very comfortable around this man, even though he had just met him.

“The clothes give you away, even if the accent hadn’t.  You are American?” Diego asked.  Then for Reyes’ benefit, “Americano?”

“Why, yes, I am,” Buck said, reverting back to Spanish as well.  He was impressed.

“Again, the accent.  But the clothes, they are very different.”

“Oh, Don Diego, Señor Buck is from….” Reyes stopped quickly when he felt the heel of Buck’s shoe on his toes. 

“From very far away, to keep it . . . um, easy,” Buck said. 

“I am curious, even though you are reticent about where you come from,” Diego continued.  The conversation had been going on in a strange mixture of Spanish and English.  Señor Buck was trying to continue talking in his fair, but halting Spanish, probably out of deference to Corporal Reyes.  “About the insignia on your clothing.  It is obvious you are wearing some kind of uniform.” 

“Um, yes.  Captain William Buck Rogers, at your service,” Buck formally introduced himself.  

Reyes stared at him bug-eyed.  “You are an officer?  They have officers in….”  Again the heel of Buck’s shoe stomped on Reyes’ toes. 

“It is very hard to . . . talk about, but I am not in your Army.  I did not feel I needed to tell you, Corporal.  We are friends and I am here to help you with your . . . problem,” Buck said.  A partially bald man, apparently a servant, held out a tray with three glasses on it.  Taking one, Buck nodded his thanks. 

“And if I may ask, what is the problem?” Diego asked.

While Reyes didn’t really want his toes stomped on again, he felt he was on safe territory this time.  “I would like to try and raise some money to buy a suit,” he said.  “I would like to keep some money to do things with,” he added.  “Without Sergeant Garcia borrowing it all from me.  And Señor Buck said he could win some money for me playing bruha.  He is very good at it.”

Diego smiled, knowing the good sergeant well, but he was somewhat alarmed at the men’s solution to the problem.  Even though he was taking a liking to Señor Buck, he knew very little about this Americano.  “Ah, would it have something to do with Señorita Bastinada?” he asked.  “And by the way, I would be happy to keep any money you wish to save. 

Reyes blushed and nodded.  “Gracias, Don Diego.  But even if you did keep my money for me, which is a good idea, it would take a very long time before I had enough to be able to court Señorita Bastinada.  She is not getting any younger, you know.”

Diego nodded in understanding and then gazed meaningfully at Buck.  “And you think you can do this?”

“I have always been good with games of this nature,” he said in English, understanding that Diego was concerned about the corporal’s welfare.  “I wasn’t called lucky Buck for finding nickels on the road.  It was partly for my skill in games of chance.” 

“There are some unscrupulous individuals out there who play bruha after the soldiers and vaqueros get their pay, Captain Rogers.  And this month, the pay for both came almost the same day,” Diego explained.  “The bruha players are like locusts in the pueblo these days.”

“I have no . . . thought of playing against Corporal Reyes’ friends,” Buck said in Spanish, so that Reyes would understand him.  “That would not be fair.”  He grinned.  “There would be no . . .” and here he used the English word, “ ‘challenge’ if they all play like he does.”

Diego laughed and then became serious.  He liked this man, but he wanted him to understand the seriousness of what he and the corporal were undertaking.  “You will be careful with the corporal’s money, Capitán.”  It was a statement, but seemed almost to be a slight threat.  

Buck now understood what Reyes had said about Don Diego.  He was very fair-minded for all that he was of the upper class in this society.  He really did care about what happened to the soldier.  “I will stop at Corporal Reyes’ original fifteen pesos if I cannot win against these card players.”

Diego nodded.  “Let me guess, Capitán, you are in need of some suitable clothing as well?” 

Buck nodded.  “Yes, and please, just call me Buck.”

“You are a bit shorter than I, but I think I have something you can wear,” Diego said.  “Come with me.”   Diego decided he needed to talk to this man in private.  While he felt him to be an honorable man, there were too many doubts about this scheme to let things go unquestioned.   “And Corporal Reyes, please make yourself comfortable while we are finding something suitable for your friend.”    Reyes smiled happily, taking the open bottle of wine from Bernardo and pouring more into his glass.

 

When they were in Diego’s bedroom, the young hidalgo turned and said bluntly, speaking in English for his guest to understand, “It was obvious that you have told Corporal Reyes things about yourself that you did not wish me to know.”

Buck gazed into the younger man’s eyes.  “Actually there are things he assumed that I didn’t wish you to know—at least in public.”  While this man seemed very intelligent and looked to be open-minded, Buck had to keep reminding himself that Don Diego was also a pre-industrial age man.   “Corporal Reyes thinks I am an angel.”

Diego stared wide-eyed for a moment and then grinned.  “That sounds like something the corporal would believe.  But you are not.”   Even given the penchant for Reyes’ simplistic thinking, Diego was wondering how the corporal would believe this man was a heavenly being.  

“No, but the truth is even stranger.  Understand, though, that I am not here to do the corporal or anyone else any harm.  I am here by accident.”

“Where should you be?” Diego asked.   “And by the way, I feel I am a good judge of character.  My inner instincts say that I can trust you.  Will you trust me with the truth?  If you are in trouble, maybe I can help.”

“And I feel I can trust you, but sometimes that is not enough,” Buck said, then he shrugged.  “I am supposed to be on the planet, Qoordor, but a vortex of some kind brought me to Earth.”

“What?”  Diego gaped.  Now he understood what Buck Rogers had told him about the truth being stranger.  “You make it sound as though you are from….”  Here Diego pointed to the sky.  “Somewhere in the heavens . . . or rather space.”

Buck smiled and nodded.  “Now do you see why I let Corporal Reyes believe as he does?  I came through the vortex, a spatial gate, so to speak, looking for all the world, I suppose, like some devil from Hell.   Lots of smoke, fiery light and a nasty smell.   He ran and later, when he saw me at his campsite, he thought I was the angel that ran off the devil.  With my meager Spanish, I knew I couldn’t explain the truth to him and even if I could, I don’t think he could ever understand.”

“If I did not see this,” Diego said, pointing to the special uniform, “And did not have that intuitive feeling to trust you, I wouldn’t begin to understand or believe you either.  As it is, I still don’t totally understand.”

“You said something about me being in trouble,” Buck began as Diego handed him a pair of button up pants.  He studied them—no zipper.  “I am in trouble.  I have no way of getting back.  I can only wait for my friends to come and get me.”

“But how will they know where you are since you have left the area where you appeared?”

“Exactly.  They won’t. But I do want to help Corporal Reyes and think it will take my friends a while to figure out how to come through the same ‘gate’ that I came through.”

“But what if they are sooner than you expect them?”

Buck sighed.  “That is the real problem.  I don’t know, Don Diego.”

“Then perhaps someone can wait and meet your friends if they come while you are still away.” 

“You?” Buck asked.

“Me or a friend of mine, one whom I trust.”

“Ah, you won’t spread this all around, will you?  I really don’t want to start some kind of big panic or something.”

“No, if I have to ask my friend to watch for your friends, he will only know just what he needs to know,” Diego assured the angel/other worldly visitor with a reassuring smile.

“I just hope Wilma trusts him, or you, for that matter,” Buck said. 

Diego looked questioningly at him.  “Wilma?” 

“Colonel Wilma Deering.  She is my friend.  She is also my commanding officer.”

“A woman military commander?” Diego asked.  “You are indeed from a strange place.”  He paused.  “But you said you were from America.”

Buck sighed.  “Complicated, but suffice it to say, I was until I started exploring among the stars.”

“I think that if your friends are concerned about you, they will listen to whomever is there to meet them.”  Diego found a shirt and jacket that matched the calzoneros and handed them to Buck.  Soon the Americano was dressed for a trip into the pueblo.   “Shall we go back down?   I would assume that the good corporal has finished the bottle of wine I left him,” Diego said with a chuckle.

Buck grinned.  “It’s no wonder.  Your wine is infinitely better than that sour stuff he had.”

Laughing, the two men walked down the stars and rejoined Reyes in the patio. 

 

 

 

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