Reyes Takes a Vacation;
A Crossover in 4 and 1/2 parts.
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,
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.
“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
“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.”
“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,
“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
“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.
Diego turned to Corporal Reyes and greeted him. Then he said to
both, “Come in and I will have my servant bring out some
“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
“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.”
Captain William Buck Rogers, at your service,” Buck formally
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?”
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
“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.”
“Let me guess, Capitán, you are in need of some
suitable clothing as well?”
“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.”
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?”
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
“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.
“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.”
“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.
“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.