Don Octavio!: A Children's Story
Written, Created and Owned
J. A. Sholar
"Where am I? Where is this place?!" Those were the first words I heard Don Octavio say.
"You are on our family's farm sir." And those were the first words I had spoken to him.
How did I get here, lying down on this straw mattress?" he asked with a tense uneasiness.
"My sister found you. She said you fell off of your horse and then she says she watched it as it ran off," I explained.
"I did no such thing! I am Don Octavio Cortez, master horseman of the highest order! Where is my horse!?"
"I'm afraid I can only tell you what my sister said she saw, sir. No one else was even around but her. But she won't tell anyone. She only tells all of the interesting things to me first."
"Where is my horse then?" He seemed furious.
"Well it's, it's just like I say, sir. It ran off and...well I believe it took most of your things with it as well." I felt like he kept asking me the same thing. And I felt as though he didn't believe the only explanation I had to give.
Don Octavio paused, looking up for a moment as if to think. "Something must have knocked me off of it! Give me whatever the horse left and I will be on my way." He said this, seemingly accepting this turn of events.
"Oh but there is something," I remembered. "This one thing, a bag, a heavy bag filled with silver is what my dad said it is." I got the small messenger bag from under the bed where Don Octavio was resting and he took it from me with a suspicious eye.
"Thank you." He seemed to calm down, taking a breath and sitting up. He tried to stand up quickly but managed only to stumble back down.
"Slowly," I cautioned him. Again he attempted to stand, this time reaching his full height with no trouble. He was quite tall, but not towering. He was tan, and a baggy white shirt hid his lean and stringy figure as did the slightly baggy black pants that looked as though they'd seen a thousand adventures. However, the focus was stolen by his thin black eye mask which didn't even hide his face but did make him look very dashing.
"Why are you wearing a mask?" I asked, my curiosities always seem to get the better of me.
"That does not concern you!" he snapped.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to suggest anything or be nosey," I said, putting a hand in the air and stepping back some.
"I thank you for helping me but I am leaving now." He was not the kind to overstay a welcome.
"Please, won't you stay for dinner at least? The whole family has been speaking of you since you were found. I just know they'd jump at the chance to meet you, sir."
"I will stay for a meal, but please make no more questions of my eye garment." I couldn't make heads or tails about why he would wear such a strange item when I know it's something that has to draw many questions and attention. I figured since he was so touchy about it, I didn't press the matter.
"Of course," I continued. "But may I ask why you travel with so much silver?" This he did answer.
"My father was a silversmith at my home," he said with a softening and a distinct and lingering sadness in his voice.
"Where is home?" I asked.
"A village just outside of Madrid, Spain," he quickly responded.
"Wow, Spain!" I was indeed surprised and could not contain the fact. I couldn't believe someone from so far away was standing before me. But it occurred to me, the accent of his didn't sound distinctly Spanish.
"But you don't sound Spanish..." I added to my previous exclamation, blurting it out, although he didn't seem to mind.
"My accent has been colored by my many travels, Senor...."
I could tell he was feeling for my name.
"Cook, Edmund Cook is my name." I wasn't sure if he was used to using peoples' names or even used to people at that. "I think you lost your sword, I can lend you one if you'll be needing it." I said this but mostly I was just trying to fill the silence.
"I carry no sword senor," he said, sitting back down.
"What...how can you travel with no sword?" To me this seemed impossible.
"I need no sword. I am as God made me, that is enough," he said. I was impressed by this confidence.
"Well, how can you protect yourself?" Again I felt I just had to know.
"You shall see." Saying that, Don Octavio took three pieces of silver out of his bag which was laying on the bed. I was amazed at what I saw next. Throwing all three pieces in the air, Don Octavio then caught them in the same hand.
"How did you do that?" I gasped.
"Well Senor, when you spend your childhood with no toys and a pile of precious silver metal all day you learn to use your imagination. As a child a shaped my world into a world of games all around me, just waiting to be invented and played." I suspected he was giving me an answer he had practiced many times before to hide the true reason for the swiftness of his hands. Nonetheless, I just shook my head.
"I should really go tell everyone you are awake, and start my dinner chores." I said to Don Octavio as he laid back down on the bed.
"Very good. Until then I will rest and get my head together." So I left him there, to alert my family of his waking and warn them to make no mention of his mask.
Some time later when I came back to the room where Don Octavio had been re cooperating. I was eager to tell him how anxious the family was for his appearance at the dinner table. When I entered the room, realizing how impolite I had just been by not first knocking, Don Octavio was counting his silver pieces.
"Is there enough left to continue your adventures?" I asked with such concern you would have thought as though it were me in his place.
"Adventure has little to do with money, Edmund, adventure is a way to conduct one's journey through life. Life is about living, young friend, money is merely a distraction from adventure."
"Oh. Ha ha, of course!" I answered him sounding like I had understood this, but at the time I didn't have a clue what he meant.
"Ah but come now Senor Cook, would you be so kind as to show me to this family of yours whom you speak so well of. And has shown this poor rugged stranger such kind hospitality."
We had but a small farm and the farm itself had never in it's history produced more than a bare minimum of crops. Yet, we were very happy, and thankful with great respect for the life my father had toiled so hardly to carve out for us, his loving family.
As Don Octavio and I entered to take our places at the dinner table, my father got up and stood from his chair to greet him, out of everything this is one of the things I remember quite vividly. I honestly can't recall most of the conversation that took place other than it being very jovial. And that in addition to me, both my mother and father and much to all of our sup rises even my sister were all very taken with him.
Our meals were never large but always very filling and to me, there is little else in this world that compares to good company and full stomach.
"So Mr, Cortez" My mother broke a momentary silence. "What brings you here to Little Valley Point?"
"I am passing through...on my travels." Cortez replied.
"Travels?" My father inquired to bring himself into the conversation.
"Yes Senor, I have left my home. I can remember one day, sitting on a rock and looking out to the sea and I realized, there is a whole world of such wonderful things outside of my sleepy little village."
"Boy, I wish I could've done that when I was a young man. But, you settle down, raise a family, that's the best adventure any man could have." My father chimed.
"But I'm a young man and I wish I could do that now!" I interjected although not active in the conversation until then.
"Senor? I was wondering if you might oblige to the nearest outpost or market?" Turning back to my father Don Octavio said this to him but received an answer from my mother.
"Let's see..." She paused to think touching her index finger to her chin. "If I had to say, the nearest one would be just a short walk.." She hesitated and continued in an almost apologetic tone,"...And a very long boat ride anyway."
"I will take you there tomorrow,Mr. Cortez." My father finally answered. Through out the meal my sister remained quite quiet and very reserved, Don Octavio didn't eat much, but from the lankiness of his build,no one at the table seemed to be surprised by this. And because of my previous warning, Don Octavio's mask was never mentioned.
When our meal was finished we each broke off and said goodnight to one another, our haul ting dinner for our guest had taken it's toll and made all of our eyelids feel unusually heavy so one by one we went to bed.
Early the next morning I made sure I was up before my father or Don Octavio as I wished to join them. And as sure as I had just finished dressing my father was already risen and asked me to wake our guest so that we might all three of us go together.
Don Octavio was also awake when I had entered the room to wake him. "I didn't know we had tea." I said noticing him sipping from his cup.
"You were right Senor, you don't. Tea is always on my person."
"Oh....why's that?" there was much more to this man than met the eye.
"Because this, is a very rare tea. Given to me in China." He replied, seemingly not bothered by these questions.
"Wow! You've been to China!" I felt humbled to be speaking with a man so well traveled. Finishing his rare tea, Don Octavio left the very plain room and walked outside to meet my father who had been waiting for us.With little more than a hello to each other, we set off.
A short walk brought us to a small but sea-worthy boat, on the back of which was a beautiful wooden plack reading 'The Wayfare.' We boarded the small vessel with several other people, none of whom seemed to have any interest in engaging the others.
There was however, a point during the trip that I did start a conversation with Don Octavio and felt lucky in that it let me learn somewhat of him. As he spoke, stopping occasionally to run a hand through his inky black hair, or adjust his eye mask he told me of his travels and reason why he went on them so.
He told me of that small village previously mentioned. His father, the silversmith was very good from what I had heard. And although his father made many weapons, Don Octavio never learned to use one. He was young of course, but had several years on me, perhaps putting him in his early or mid twenties. He left his village some time earlier, and his reason for doing so was the sole purpose of leaving.
He had been all over the world and yet, now he was here for having been thrown by a horse. I suspect he wouldn't ever admit to himself that he was as skilled as he said he was, and that he wasn't so great with animals. Soon after he had finished his story we left the boat single file, on once again to dry land.
Having nothing to carry and no horse to ride, we three just started down along the narrow road which was surrounded by open fields and mountain borders.
"What a beautiful place this is!" Don Octavio exclaimed, startling both me and my father.
"It is, kind of." I responded. But as we walked I began to see what Don Octavio saw, it was something I had never noticed before. Finally I looked up to see the velvet blue waves overhead pretending to make up the sky. It looked so nice.
Towering mountains capped with snow, contrasting with the pale wheat fields, and occasional grassy hill or tree. Fifteen minutes or so into our walk my attention was caught by a very short, chubby man who was jumping to reach the top of a cherry tree. As we passed him, it seemed we too caught his attention, hearing him speak out to us.
"Excuse me lads. Can one of you gentlemen reach for me these cherries?" And before my father could answer, Don Octavio was beside the little man in a flash.
"Of course I will help you Senor!" Don Octavio looked down at this small man with his heavy brow, large overcoat and brown pants, sloppily sewn together. Don Octavio leaped into action, and leaping about on the ground he moved in such a fluid motion, shaking each cherry branch as he touched it.
No sooner had he touched a branch than most of the cherries fell from it down on to the little man, covering him nearly to his chin. The little man was so overjoyed by this that he freed himself from the cherries and shook Don Octavio's hand so vigorously that his whole arm shook with it.
"Where is such helpful hand headed?" Asked the little man to Don Octavio. Although I wanting to be a part of the conversation had taken liberty to answer for him.
"To the shops, not far from here."
"Ah! I will go with you, yes, this is very good. I have been told of so many delicious foods there to be found!" And with that, the little man gathered all the cherries he could hold and we went on our way, one traveler added.
"So tell me strange small friend, what is your name?" asked Don Octavio
"Such joy from cherries, I never introduced myself! I am Dorian.
"And I am Don Octavio Cortez." said he.
"My name is Edmund, and this is my father." I said, pointing back towards him walking slowly behind us when finally my father spoke.
"So Mr. Dorian" said my father.
"Dorian will do sir." He interrupted.
"Dorian," my father continued. "What is it that brings you here, other than attempting to reach your cherries that is."
"You see." Dorian paused to answer. "You see, almost every day I pass that cherry tree, on my way to and from that market. Today I decided I wanted some of those cherries and resolved to have them. But much to my dismay, I found I could not reach them."
A few moments of silence passed as I assume our trio was thinking of our next part in the conversation. Don Octavio was the first to come up with something to say.
"Is that the same marketplace to which we are heading? Up and to the right?" He pointed to the fork in the road where on the side were a handful of buildings. To the left, nothing could be seen.
"That's it. isn't it Dad?"
"The very place." My father said nodding his head.
"This is very good!" interrupted the little man Dorian. He already was walking far ahead of us with excitement. When we reached the market he had gotten so far ahead of us that he was already there. He was eating a piece of meat so large I had never seen the likes of what it could have previously belonged.
"Ah, Dorian. You got away from us." Don Octavio said, walking to greet him. Soon after my father and I followed to them.
"Don Octavio, what will you wish to buy?" I hadn't even wondered what he may have lost and needed again until this very moment. Don Octavio looked to the sky and took a deep breath as he thought.
"You know Senor.......I'm not exactly sure. I suppose it best to look around. It's the only way to find out what I need." I found some logic in this, however illogical it sounded. So Don Octavio milled and wandered about with Dorian the little man, while I had decided to follow my father.
"Edmund! Just wait until they see these!" My father said, holding up dresses he had just purchased for my mother and sister. It was no sooner had he done so when Don Octavio and Dorian walked back to us. Don Octavio, holding his old shoulder bag, now once again flush with goods.
He slung it over his shoulder as I glanced down some toward Dorian who had now moved on from his meat to an over-sized pear. Now Don Octavio was wearing a brilliant red scarf, which I believe would have looked foolish on anyone else. He was now also wearing a black Spanish style hat, which I'm sure was similar to the one he had lost. On a man such as he, it seemed right at home on his head.
"Very nice." Complimented my father.
"Yes, you know, I did not think that there were such fine garments outside of Spain."
"Ha ha! Baked goods!!" Dorian exclaimed as though the baked goods stand were a long lost friend or some found treasure. "Come now Octavio, let us go!" He urged seemingly that he and Don Octavio had bonded in this short span of time.
Don Octavio couldn't restrain his sly smile to Dorian's excitement. "Yes my friend, let us fill your empty stomach." he chuckled. As they approached the stand my father turned to me.
"Edmund, son. I talked it over with your mother an with Don Octavio and for a time." He looked at my putting his hand on my shoulder. "We think you should join him on his adventures."
"What? When did this happen? I was in such a shock!
Quietly he said only "Yesterday night son."
"But suppose...what if I wished not to go. What if you needed me at home? Father?" I waited anxiously for his reply.
"Son, I know I never said this to you before. But I always regret never having the chance at your age to experience life in this manner. I know that if you too pass up a chance such as this, you will make but one regretful old man instead if what you truly could have been son." He thought carefully in choosing his next words.
"And besides, your mother told Don Octavio not to take you far. No more than a month from home."
"And Don Octavio said it's ok?" Already I felt my nerves begin to overtake me.
"Of course son. He said it would be nice to have a companion for a time. He likes you I think. The fresh eyes with which you see the world." At this point my father knew already I was giddy to agree. And I knew he had already told Don Octavio as much as Don Octavio approached.
"I'm glad you are joining us Edmund." he said.
"Is my father coming too?" I said, unsure of who us meant.
"Dorian Senor. Your father of course must take care at home." Don Octavio said, gesturing to Dorian then my father as he spoke.
"Oh." Was all I could think to respond before my father and Dorian rejoined us.
"Well then," said my father as though thinking of a fond memory. "Son I guess, well, this is good-bye for a while. No need to make our new friends wait, you'd have to take the boat and retrace all of our steps if you walked back home with me.
And suddenly, it was good-bye for a while, just as my father had said. "Well, I guess I'll be home soon and,"
"Don't worry about home now son. That's the point." My father interrupted. With that advice he handed me a small pouch which I didn't look in at the time. Now however I know it was filled with a bit of gold and silver.
Saying a sad fare-well to me, my father reached his hand up to shake Don Octavio's and then much lower to shake good-bye to Dorian. Walking away I didn't realize how sadly my father walked. It was slow and sort of mopey and it didn't match his personality.
Ever since that, I have started noticing things I never had noticed before. From the market we traveled along an ever more narrow and abandoned road then we had before. Suddenly, without warning we heard the faint sound of a drum, then a flute, and finally a lute.
I enjoyed the sounds, but for some reason, they had put Don Octavio on his guard. Dorian suggested he walk ahead to see what was going on, and although we both protested, Dorian scurried ahead of us. We walked a while longer until Dorian came running back to us.
"Never have you seen such a thing lad!" And Just as Dorian suggested there we saw three men, dressed all in red except for green vests and hats. They were dressed something like Robin Hood; One with a drum, one with a lute, and one with a flute.
"What are you three men doing here?" Don Octavio asked as though the men were intentionally placed there to do us harm.
"Traveling, we are on our way to the village called Bryerton, it's just through these woods." The timid minstrel pointed out the path ahead, winding around the woods.
"But we stopped for fear of robbers, they line the forest near the road." Another of them spoke.
"Then I shall protect you!" Don Octavio sprang forward, leaping as though he was to thrust the sword he did not have.
"As will I!" Dorian said from behind him. All eyes then falling on me.
"Yes, I will too then, I guess." I said with a shrug of my shoulders.
"Then music shall be to your accompaniment!" The third minstrel spoke, as brave as any loin's roar. They gathered their instruments and we all ventured into the forest. Walking for what seemed like an hour and no one speaking, we just listened to these three men play their merry tune.
When the men did break, and there was a chance to speak, it was Dorian who always grabbed it.
"My stomach speaks to me lads! And it says it is mighty hungry!" His voice rose up. Then the three men talked about themselves briefly and the third, who carried the drum spoke up.
"As a group we too vote that we are hungry with speaking stomachs."
"Curious people you three men are." I said shaking my head at them. Don Octavio then took command of our intention as leader of our group.
"Then we shall rest here for now." He said, Dorian obeying the command before he could finish his sentence. "Yes, Edmund and I shall go look for food. Dorian, you stay and with our friends."
Dorian gladly obliged and Don Octavio and I set out for the woods. I had quickly and luckily found some blueberries and in picking them, seemed to have lost sight of Don Octavio.
I waited and finally he came back with an arm full of apples and a burly man whose face was obscured by a hood.
"Who is this?" I said trying to get a look at the man.
"Ah, Edmund, this is Gregorio. He wished to rob me. I talked him out of it." Don Octavio stated matter-of-factly. My eyes widened twice their normal size.
"Talked him out of it? How is that possible!" I shouted, when the would-be robber answered.
"Well, he reasoned to me how bad of a thing it is to rob someone. So, he is going to show me the way to town that I might apprentice a wood-worker." Again I was amazed as the man's rough voice hit my ears.
"Well, ok then. Good- that's a good thing then." I still couldn't believe it.
"Here, this is for you Don Octavio," the man said, handing him a very small and artfully crafted wooden bird. "It has always brought me luck." "Oh, and," he went on, reaching behind him as I tensed, expecting the very worst. Instead however, he handed Don Octavio a large staff which I assume was carved by the very same hands.
"For Dorian" the one time robber explained. And with little more, he departed toward a future trade.
"Nice man." Don Octavio said looking over at me.
"That really just happened right? I'm not crazy?" I said in an attempt to grasp what had just happened.
"You need to give people their chances Senor." Was all Don Octavio said, ushering me back to the others.
When we did get back, the eager Dorian took our food and distributed it, unfairly among everyone. But we were all happy with our one apple and fifteen blueberries to Dorian's five apples and thirty blueberries. I didn't tell them what happened in the woods; I didn't want to scare them and I thought, who'd believe me anyway?
Dorian, to spite his bounty finished first and as soon as the last bite was eaten, we continued on our way.
"Octavio?" The flutist asked.
Don Octavio answering "Yes?"
"Well you see, we were all thinking that since Dorian told us you go on adventures quite often." He looked back at the other two minstrels. "Could you tell us about some? We want- we want to write a song about it, about you on your adventures.
"Yes! Of course Senor! I shall tell them until you beg me to stop!" Don Octavio said joyously as he began to regale them with some of the stories he had previously told me on the boat. He had finished the end of a very exciting one, and before he had time for the next we had reached the bustling town that was Bryerton.
Don Octavio led me to a small Inn. To my surprise, there sitting quite comfortably at the in was my father!
"Dad!" I exclaimed with great joy, running over to embrace him.
"Ha ha, hello Edmund, hello! Seeing me, I guess you probably figured out that this short little trip was merely to see how well you will fare on a real adventure with Mr. Cortez." I hadn't but unconvincingly tried to appear that I had. Don Octavio laughingly walked off, going I should think to find the others.
"Son, Edmund, tell me. How much of the money I have given to you is left?" Asked he.
"All of it father" I removed the pouch to show him.
"Fantastic son! That's my responsible boy!" I wonder if that too was a test to see if I would squander this generous gift on mere useless trinkets or simply have lost it all together. "Well then, if you still want to travel we will use that money and after that, you and your companions are free to go where ever you want son."
I was indeed excited at the prospect saying "Yes father! Let is go and get equipped!" Going into the local shop I purchased a heavy jacket, a backpack, a hat much like Don Octavio's and I few other things that my father thought that I should have. Soon after Dorian, walking with staff in hand, obviously delivered by Don Octavio, ran into the shop and urged us to come out.
As we departed the shop, we saw Don Octavio riding up on on open carriage pulled by two strong horses. One black and one gray.
"A gift from our friendly Minstrels, friends." Don Octavio said with a smile in his voice. My father climbed up next to Don Octavio and I got in the back, helping Dorian up after me.
"So where are we going now?" I asked.
"Well," said Don Octavio "We shall stop back at the Cooks' farm, visit a while, and return your father, and then..."
Don Octavio stopped to think but I couldn't help express my enthusiasm. "To who knows where!"
"Yes!" Verily agreed the small man Dorian.
So this is where I am now. On the way back home, but not for long. Sitting in the back of the wagon with me new friends. Somewhat wiser and excited for an adventure like I have never been so much before, out to explore. We have a lot of bonding to do. I plan to come back soon after I leave my family once again. But at the same time, also plan to follow the adventures of Don Octavio.
Maybe even, by my companion requests pen down our strange travels and adventures. For now though, I'm just going to enjoy the ride waiting to get back to my family, however briefly, say my good-byes and remember what it means to always have a loving home and family to come back to before the adventures begin.
I find a man that has no strong family roots, or forgets the one he has, is one who will blow around this Earth aimlessly without fun, desire or purpose. The now, for most of is, the most important thing is to have our adventures, but always have a place we can call home. No matter what part of the world home may be located. After that......the rest is just fate and luck.