CHAPTER TWO -
Avenger let his fleet, coal dark horse, Tornado, run as fast and as far
Heedless of the distance they had covered, Zorro was reminded when he
felt his steed tiring. As he gradually slowed his great mount, he saw
Tornado had brought him to the Madre del’Oro River at
the end of the granite formation known as the ‘Garden of the Gods.’
“Ah, Tornado, my
friend, you remembered me showing you this, my most private place away
from the outside world.” He quickly alighted from his winded horse
and, after satisfying himself that he and his steed were truly alone,
the Fox joined Tornado at the del’Oro stream and slaked his thirst.
Zorro craned his
neck up to gaze at the full moon. He lay down on the saddle blanket so
he could watch her Celestial Silver Majesty slowly begin her lazy
journey across the sky. She sat enthroned under a black velvet canopy,
which gradually became studded with stars, their own blazing light
guiding the moon through her eternal pilgrimage from sunset to sunrise.
It was said by the
pobrecitos of La Reina de Los Angeles that the heavenly
body was the Fox’s talisman against evil -- that the Moon was his
guardian, his shield and his strength. He had also heard that most
Angelinos - even some of the gente de razon - believed
that when he rode on the night of a Full Moon, Zorro was
invincible. Shaking his head over such wild notions, the Fox fetched
a flask of brandy from his saddlebags and drank deeply. Well, Diego
de la Vega failed to impress his lady love and now Zorro certainly
doesn’t feel invincible! he thought acidly to himself.
four-legged companion, do you wish to rest here for a while
longer?" His horse nodded in agreement. “Sí? Good boy! Sometimes
I do believe that you are human!”
Zorro stood in the
clearing’s damp grass near the stream and pondered what life would
bring him in the future both as Zorro and as Diego de la Vega. He
briefly bowed his head in prayer. But how could he ask the Almighty God
relief from the difficult path he had deliberately chosen in life? The
Fox felt in his answer in his heart before he voiced his question.
“Father, although I grow weary of my role as the Masked Avenger, I ask
Thee to continue to bless my work as El Zorro. As always, Lord God of my
ancestors, I wish only Sempre Deus vult.
As he finished
praying a sudden cool breeze blew across the river and made him shiver.
”Come, Tornado, although I shall continue my masquerade as El Zorro, I
still feel uneasy with my decision. It is as if I am at war with
myself!“ When he bent down to retrieve his brandy flask he could have
sworn he heard a voice say in his head: <Have I not always been
here for you, Señor Fox? > But when he jumped up with his
saber already drawn, he saw only Tornado standing on the opposite side
of the clearing in the moonlight, waving his head up and down as if to
encourage El Zorro to reveal all the pain in his heart to him.
I forgot how silently you can move!” But who spoke those words? I
am truly imaging things! Nevertheless, I cannot shake the feeling that I
am being watched. he thought.
again, this time partly from fear and partly from wonder. He
recapped the brandy flask as he walked over to his caballo and
thrust it back into the saddle pouch. The Fox rubbed his eyes and
thought he had enjoyed too much of the fiery liquid as he looked warily
around his camp. No one else is here. I am just hallucinating from
fatigue that is all.
DO YOU NOT RECOGNIZE ME? NO? THEN TURN AROUND!” It was a masculine voice, one that was accustomed to
issuing orders, having them obeyed without question --- and which seemed
Zorro did as he
was told and when he did, the Nocturnal Watcher’s silvery light
revealed the gentleman intruder’s features. Zorro‘s rich baritone
could only manage to whisper “YOU!“
The figure of the
young caballero chuckled softly at the Dark Angel’s
reaction to his appearance. He nonchalantly blew out some cigar smoke
that drifted into El Zorro’s hazel eyes. “Oh, a thousand pardons, Señor
Fox! Lo siento mucho for the cigar smoke, but then you like
cubanos as much as I do. I certainly did not expect you to
be so amazed to see me,” the caballero continued,
especially since we are morning shaving companions, eh? However, I am
very happy to see that you decided to resume your role as Zorro and thus
did not permit that witless Anna Maria ...”
Diego de la Vega, or should I say Señor Alucinacion!
The Fox interrupted his unexpected guest’s speech. As he resheathed
his weapon, he whistled twice for Tornado. Then Zorro threw his visitor
a jaunty salute. “Hasta la luego, you who are pretending
to be my alter ego!“
“One moment, por
favor,” Don Diego’s voice halted the Fox’s ascent into the saddle.
“Señor Zorro, who are we to define which of us, is an ’alter ego’
or the ‘mirror image’ of the other? Since we are one and the same,
you must know that I am speaking nothing but the truth to you, but ..
The Fox jabbed his
right forefinger into the caballero’s chest. “Why
are YOU here? The two men locked eyes, and then Zorro stalked
away. Tornado snorted and pawed the ground nervously. “I came to this
secret place --my private refuge to have some time away
from you, as well to drive her, Anna Maria, from my thoughts!”
Diego de la
Vega’s face paled. “I know how you feel, Zorro, but there is no
escape from yourself. I created you. Remember?”
In a blur of black
silk, the Fox twisted the Diego’s apparition’s arms behind him, and
thrust his razor sharp blade against de la Vega’s throat. “I am sick
of you constantly reminding me of that fact!” The Fox spoke so
venomously that the young caballero flinched in fear.
be careful with.... that weapon, Señor ... lest you be tempted to do
something rash!“ he sputtered. “Bernardo keeps that blade quite
sharp,” Diego told his alter ego.
“Then you should
not try my patience!“ Zorro’s mouth twisted bitterly, “ I have
spent the past two years listening to you, Diego de la Vega, and
kept hidden from our father, a prisoner within your thoughts! You are
jealous of my deeds as El Zorro, and now it is my time.”
yelled back, and, twisting free from Zorro’s grip jammed the flat of
his left hand into Zorro’s neck, sending him to the ground. But Zorro
leapt up quickly and wrestled his alter ego until they were both
“I still seem to
be standing, Don Diego.” El Zorro smirked as his idly traced the gold
brocade on the caballero’s jaqueta with the tip of his sword. “Admit
it, Señor, you have grown to hate me! “
Young de la Vega
could no longer evade Zorro’s probing questions. “SI! When
you first rode as El Zorro the thrill of fighting for justice
invigorated you beyond all your expectations! Por Dios! Señor
Fox, surely you have not forgotten the intense pleasure when you saved
Magdalena’s life? Or Rosarita’s? Even, God help us, Anna
detested the young caballero’s appearance, he
forced himself to closely examine his alter ego. The Fox saw an
immaculately groomed gentleman, who wore only the most elegant cut of
clothes and smoked the finest of cigars. Here was a man who blithely
treated the world as if it held nothing but pleasure for him. This
specter’s lifestyle appalled him. Zorro felt anger from the depths of
his being for this ‘man. ‘ Now he was uncertain which one of them
was the phantom. It felt real to him whenever he rode Tornado.
Was he not El Zorro, the strong and wise hero who saved
innocent people from the likes of the corrupt Comandante Enrique
Sanchez Monasterio? Yet it was his eyes that stared out from
Diego’s face when he enjoyed refreshments with Sergeant Garcia in the
tavern. DIOS! WHO WAS HE? He wished that he had never come to his
secret refuge this evening. The apparition continued talking, and Zorro
felt helplessly mesmerized, unable to walk away from it. He also
realized that he had to listen, for his sake as well as this young caballero’s.
“You have become
so ARROGANT,“ his alter ego continued, “that you truly believe you
are the ‘perfect hero!’ Hah!” The hidalgo shrugged
his wide shoulders. “I have permitted you, ‘Masked Avenger,’ to
take over my entire life!“
Zorro narrowed his
eyes. “On the contrary, Senor de la Vega, it is you who has controlled
me and until recently, kept me concealed from the important people in
our lives.” And worst of all, it was me, the Fox, whom Anna Maria
loved and not you, Don Diego! Your jealousy and hatred you
tried to get rid of me! Had our father not successfully intervened, I
would have been tossed aside just like one of your soiled fancy laced
shoulders sagged dejectedly as he turned away from Zorro. He stared up
at the Lunar Companion in her monthly fullness. “You
speak the truth!” he finally said. “I became jealous
of myself. I did want to put aside the mask and the sword.
I did want a normal life. Tell me, Señor Fox, was I wrong
to desire Anna Maria’s love?”
Zorro threw down
his saber, which almost shattered as it clanged against the rocks.
“No, Señor, I cannot fault you for having normal urges a man has for
the woman he loves. To think I actually despised you for pretending to
be a foppish dandy. We both have allowed our feelings for Anna
Maria to cloud our judgment.” The Fox said as he withdrew the brandy
flask from his saddle.
“Sí, and, my
Masked Avenger, my brother, surely you now realize that she never loved
us. Anna Maria is simply an idol with feet of clay. She worshipped
the mystique of the Mask and not the man it concealed. You! Me! Us!”
The outlaw pulled
down the band of black silk that camouflaged the upper part of his face.
He grasped Don Diego’s arms and then embraced him. “My mirror image,
my brother, my SELF! How did I allow this self-hatred to flourish?”
“I am equally
guilty, Señor Fox.” Both men stared at each other through tear filled
hazel brown eyes.
wanly. “I have a feeling that our desire for a woman’s caress and
love will be fulfilled. My -- our faith in God shall make it so. Perhaps
we have only to look about us!” He yawned. “I am sleepy. And
father will be greatly worried that we are returning after midnight!”
The Fox chuckled.
“Uno momento. Let us toast to celebrate our good fortune.” But when
he turned around after retrieving the flask, Diego was gone. <What
the? > He shrugged and sat down to finish the brandy that
he’d poured for Diego. Before long Zorro’s head drooped to his chin
and sleep overtook him.