Archive for June, 2012

The Fox

The Fox

By William Currens Devol

Copyright May 2012

The Fox, El Zorro, was on the prowl. He moved like his namesake. He blended with the shadows. He was itching for a fight; the Governor was hatching a plot to relieve poor villagers of their pitiful homes and their land.

A boot scuffed. Zorro froze. He heard a match scrape on a boot heel. He saw the glow of the match as it arched towards the cigar stuffed in the unshaven and meaty face of Sergeant Garcia. As the Sergeant puffed the cigar to life, the match burned down to his fingers.

“Yieee,” Garcia said as he dropped the match and waved his injured fingers about.

Zorro chuckled inwardly at the antics of the fat soldier who strained the buttons of the biggest uniform Zorro had ever seen. Garcia was a good man at heart, but he answered to the Governor. That was unfortunate.

The Sergeant removed the cigar from between his lips and replaced it with his burned fingers. He sucked at them for a minute and wandered off in the general directions of his barracks.

Zorro stepped back into the feeble light cast from a candle in the window on the second floor of the hacienda in which he had found the deep shadow.

“Don’t move a muscle,” snarled the voice of the Governor as several muskets were cocked and pointed at Zorro’s back.

Zorro laughed loudly, “You will never learn will you, Governor. Please accept my apologies, but I choose not to be caught today.”

The long, black leather bullwhip shot out from Zorro’s cape. It’s tip wrapped twice around the banister on the porch on the second floor of the hacienda. Shots rang out, but Zorro had already climbed up his whip, yanked it free, and was running along the banister like it was a mile wide.

The glass in the hacienda’s windows on the second floor began to explode as the soldiers that had not fired in the first volley fired behind the streaking figure in black…

“Bill, are you trying to break your neck,” Grandma yelled. “Get down off that banister. What do you think you are doing?”

“I’m escaping from the Governor and some soldiers,” said the slight, tow headed six-year-old. He was in the complete Zorro costume he got for Halloween last year.

The pants were a little short, but Bill could tuck them into the tops of his second favorite possession, his black cowboy boots with the red stitching on the outside. The red stitching showed a cowboy waving his hat from the back of a bucking Bronco.

Grandma walked over and held out her strong arms, “You are going to crack your head open, yet,” she said as she reached for the boy who let her hug him close and set him back on her front porch.

“You’re going to put your eye out with that sword,” Grandma said. “You’ve only got one good eye, Bill. Be careful, and stay off the banister.”

“Yes, Grandma,” Bill said. “But the eye with the patch on it is a good eye. Mom said the patch was to make me use my other eye and make it stronger.”

“I know, Baby, but you only get two eyes; try to keep both of them,” Grandma said. “And what is that above your lip? Is that black marker?”

“It’s my moustache,” Bill said as he ran off the porch and onto the sidewalk next to the house.

Grandma stepped onto the sidewalk to tell her grandson not to break his glasses, but Zorro had escaped.

Zorro would never admit he was nearly captured, but he knew in his heart how close it had been. If he would have hesitated for a second, the soldiers would have had him in their sights.

Zorro used the bullwhip to swing down off of the back roof of the hacienda. He coiled the whip and hooked it on his belt. He looked both ways up and down the alley, put his thumb and forefinger of his right hand up to his lips and whistled.

Almost immediately Tornado, a jet black stallion, came galloping between two out buildings. The powerful horse put his head down and raced right up to Zorro. Tornado slowed for a second as Zorro bounded into the saddle and sank his boots deep into the tooled leather stirrups.

“Make haste, my friend,” Zorro said and Tornado did just that. Zorro looked back once to see the Governor throw his hat down in disgust at being bested again.

Tornado slowed to an easy gallop when he and his master were beyond fear of capture.

“Well, we shall try again tomorrow night, Tornado,” Zorro said as he patted the neck of his horse. “But there are too many people looking for Zorro and his black friend. Perhaps our mutual friend Don Diego de la Vega can be of assistance.”

Zorro laughed loudly at his own joke and started formulating a plan.

Paladin awoke in his suite in the Carlton Hotel in San Francisco. Boy hadn’t opened his curtains, but he could tell from the bright corona around the heavy, black velvet drapes that the day was well begun. He would have to give Boy stern lecture about forgetting to wake him.

He arose and dressed. His client had hired him the day before and had paid the $1,000.00 fee in advance and in cash. The client had said there would be another thousand if the job was completed by Monday, and Monday was only four days away.

Paladin buckled his black belt around the waist of his black pants after tucking in the black shirt. He pulled on his black boots and noticed that his pants would need to be let down. He would make sure Boy got that done as soon as he got back from this job.

He went to the gun cabinet where he pulled a key from his pocket and unlocked the cabinet doors. First he tucked the double-barrel derringer into his belt. Next he withdrew his black holster with the chess knight symbol on the holster. Then he gently placed his Colt Peacemaker with the ivory handle grips embossed with the knight, as well into the well-oiled leather. He laid the gun and holster on his bed and pulled a set of black saddle bags from the cabinet before relocking it.

He started to buckle the holster around his waist, but he remembered that firearms were not allowed in the Carlton dining room. Paladin left the gun and the saddle bags on the bed and smiled as he double checked the derringer in his belt. He pulled his black hat off of the hat rack and tossed it on top of the saddle bags before heading down for breakfast.

“Aren’t those the same clothes you had on yesterday,” Grandpa said over his copy of the Logan Daily Press. “And what’s that on your lip?”

“He’s Zorro and that’s his moustache, Gerald,” Grandma said. “Zorro, would you like some pancakes?”

“If I was Zorro, I’d be wearing my mask,” Bill said. “I’m Paladin.”

“Well, Mr. Paladin,” Grandma said. “Would you like some pancakes?”

“Yes, Grandma,” Bill said. “Can you make them in the shape of a six shooter?”

“”I’ll see,” said Grandma and she dipped batter into a skillet.

“Mr. Paladin, what are you going to do today,” Grandpa asked.

“Mr. Archer of the Cross Country Railroad wants me to find a bunch of sidewinders that have been robbing his trains,” Paladin said. His hand went to the derringer in his belt and he smiled a cold smile. “And when I find them, I aim to put them out of business for good.”

Paladin tugged backward ever so lightly on Curley’s reins. The big bay stallion froze immediately. Paladin patted his neck softly,

“Good horse,” he whispered and dropped to the ground silently. He tied Curley to some brush under a nearby tree.

Paladin upholstered his gun and crouched low. He began to move along the ridge being careful of where he stepped. A loud cracking sound made Paladin turn his head involuntarily. The wind had dislodged a big dead branch high up in an oak tree. It has come crashing to earth.

Curley was spooked and reared up on his hind legs. His reins pulled free of the brush, and he galloped away down the ridge.

“Darn horse,” Paladin said and took another step before he looked back at his feet.

Bill found he was tumbling down a steep shaft that had been covered with some honeysuckle vines. His gun hand struck something really hard and he cried out in pain. His Paladin Peacemaker flew out of his hand. Bill had the fleeting thought that the Peacemaker was his favorite possession and then there was a sharp pain just above his good eye and all was dark and peaceful.

Paladin lifted his head and groaned.

“They must have clocked me a good one with a rock and tossed me down this old mine shaft,” Paladin thought.

Bill couldn’t see. He pawed his own face. His hand came away wet but he hadn’t lost his glasses; at least Grandma wouldn’t kill him. His right eye was patched and he could see dim shapes now with his left. He carefully felt around his left eye. It was real swollen and very sore. He had a cut that was still oozing blood. He’d need stitches probably.

Bill tore the patch off of his right eye and put his glasses back on.

Paladin took an inventory of the damage he’d absorbed. There was the cut over his left eye. It was bleeding, but that was slowing down. He had a championship shiner in that eye, but he could still see out of it. After he wiped the leaves off of his right eye, he had no problem seeing with it at all.

His right hand hurt badly, but he flexed it and decided it was just bruised. It was swelling, but he could shoot with his left hand.

“You can’t shoot at all if you don’t have a gun,” Paladin said in a voice that sounded slurred to him.

Paladin rolled over on his back, leaned against the side of the mine shaft and looked up at the sky far above him. The sky whirled about, and Paladin was overcome with dizziness and vomited into his own lap. Everything went black again.

Paladin woke in his hotel room. The room was bright and his head hurt; he closed his eyes. He could smell the clean sheets, and his head hurt. He decided he’d go back to sleep for a while and solve the mystery of how he got from the bottom of that mine shaft to his hotel room much much later.

Bill opened his eyes and saw his Grandma’s worried face. His Grandpa was standing behind Grandma with the same look.

“Marjorie, the boy is awake,” Grandpa said in a thick voice as he reached into his hip pocket for a handkerchief.

“Bill, Bill, do you know who I am,” Grandma said as tears leaked from her eyes.

“Yes, Grandma,” Bill said realizing his throat was very dry. “Can I have a drink of water?”

“Gerald,” Grandma said to Grandpa. “Go tell the nurse he’s awake, and have her see if Doctor Webb is still making rounds. Go now, and ask them if he can have some water.”

“I’ll be back in two shakes,” Grandpa said as he hurried out of the room.

“Where am I,” Bill asked.

“You are in Mount Saint Mary’s Hospital in Nelsonville,” Grandma said. “You have been here two days. You fell down an old well up at the Zimmerman place. You cracked your head real good. You got ten stitches over your eye, and you broke a bone in your right hand, and your Mom and Dad are on their way and probably won’t ever let you stay with us again.”

“How did you find me,” Bill asked closing his eyes and leaning back into his pillow.

“When you weren’t home for lunch, your Grandpa went looking for you,” Grandma said. “After asking people if they’d seen you for about an hour, Maddie up on the corner said she saw you heading toward the Zimmerman house.”

“Grandpa finally saw that black broom you use for a horse next to a broken well cover,” Grandma said. “Now hush and wait for Doctor Webb.”

“Good horse,” Paladin said as he nodded off for a short nap.


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