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Dulcinea

Dulcinea
By JD Sampson

Rating: pg-13
Warnings: None
Summary:  Murdock is wounded during a search for a runaway girl and finds solace in a classic novel.

ŸŸŸŸŸŸŸŸŸŸŸŸŸŸŸŸŸŸŸ

 

"Murdock, I don't think this was a very good idea.  We're a team for a reason.  We work better as a group."  Face squirmed in the driver's seat of the yellow Mustang, wishing he were anywhere but here.  No, wishing he were with Rebecca Talbot, Miss Burbank 1975.  They would have had dinner by now, French….no…seafood on the pier…then he would drive along the coast highway, find a quiet spot and park with the ocean in front of them like a movie-screen at the drive-in.  Face sighed and turned to look at his 'date' but reality came flooding back in an instant.

"Come on, Face.  We don't need the team for this one.  Besides, the Man of La Mancha doesn't travel with three consorts, only one, his faithful servant Sancho Panza."

"Ah, that's what this is all about."  Face faked left then went right, sticking his hand inside of Murdock's half zipped jacket.  "Let me guess." He wrestled the hardback book away from the pilot then settled back to peruse the cover.  "Don Quixote."  He opened to the first page.  "This is written in Spanish."

"Of course, it loses so much in the translation."

"Murdock, you don't speak Spanish."

"That doesn't mean I can't read it."  He snatched the book back and set it inside of his jacket on the left next to his heart.  "And this has nothing to do with the book, anyway.  Alyson's in big trouble and I promised her sister I'd find her and get her out of here."

"Alyson's sister is that nurse who sticks you with needles on a regular basis."

"Her name is Vivian and she's only doing her job.  Listen to me." Murdock shifted sideways so he could look at Face as he talked.  "Vivian was a nurse in 'Nam.  Maybe you knew her."

"Why would I know her?"

"Cause you knew all the nurses in 'Nam."

"Is that 'knew' as in the biblical sense or are you talking coffee and conversation?"

Murdock decided to move on without answering.  "So anyway, their parents were killed in a car accident leaving Alyson all alone until Vivian came back from 'Nam and by then she'd fallen in with a pretty rough crowd."

Face looked around at the 'rough crowd' and decided it was an understatement.  It was one of the worst corners in Hollywood, fairly tame by LA standards but still a haven for hookers, druggies and the occasional psycho. If Alyson was hanging here, she was definitely in over her head.

"All you need to do is proposition her and get her over here to the car. Then I'll talk to her."

"Wait a minute.  Why do I have to get her to the car? You're the friend of her sister!"

"Yeah, but….well…..she's….a lady of the evening and I don't know anything about picking up hookers."

Face felt his jaw drop before he could catch it.  "Well I like that!  Just how much hooker experience do you think I have?"

"Face, ssssssh."  Murdock put a finger to his lips.

"Don't sush me.  Believe it or not, Murdock, I don't usually need the services of a hooker.  I have plenty of women willing to sleep with me without PAY!"

"Face, ssssshhh."  Murdock tried a finger to his friend's lips but it was too late.

"Is there a problem here?"

Face whirled and came nose to nose with a motorcycle cop.  "Oh.  Hi!  No, no problem here."

"Could I have your name, sir?"

"He's Sancho Panza," said Murdock.  "I'm Don Quixote de la Mancha.  We're just visiting."

"Very funny," the officer wasn't laughing.  "Can I see your I.D. please?"

Face reached for his wallet.  "Officer, what you heard, about the hookers, it was a joke.  See I'm getting married next week and my friend here was pulling a prank on me.  He's such a kidder."

Murdock reached for his wallet.  "Yeah, I'm such a kidder."

"Take your license out of your wallet, sir."

Face pulled out the card that identified him as Toby Coldwater from Ventura.

"I don't have a driver's license," said Murdock.  "I'm not allowed to drive. I have a pilot's license though, you want to see that?"

The officer examined Face's license, then handed it back to him.  "Why don't you guys just go on home?  There's nothing out here that you'd be interested in."

"I told him that," Face said giving Murdock's shoulder a slap.  "Such a kidder.  Thank you very much, officer.  We will be on our way."  Face threw the car into gear and took off while he had the chance.

"Face!"  Murdock whined.  "What about Alyson!  I gotta find Alyson."

"No.  We're going home.  That was too close."  Face pulled up to a corner and stopped for a red light.  He was thinking of Rebecca when Murdock opened the passenger door and jumped out.  "Murdock!  You idiot!"  Stuck until the light changed, Face searched the street with his eyes trying to keep the pilot in sight.  He lost him in an instant.  Murdock was just too fast and even at this time of night there were too many people on the street.  "Damn you."

A horn notified Face that the light had changed.  Hitting the gas, he drove down the street and hung the first right hoping to find a place to park.

@@ @ @ @

"I'm looking for Alyson.
  No, wait, she uses a different name….um…Amber.  Do you know Amber?"

The trio of street walkers traded amused glances.

"What ever you want from Amber you can get from us and then some, honey." The tallest of the bunch slipped an arm around Murdock and pulled him tight to her hip.

"I'm sure you're very capable, but I really need to see Amber. She's……she's……able to handle my condition."

The girl pulled her arm away.  "Condition?  What kind of condition?"

"Wind….millities.  Things go round and round and round in my head, it's ever so hard to focus so my aim is really bad."

This got a giggle from the girls.

"Check over on Ivar near Sacky's bar.  You might find her there."

Murdock pulled a few bucks out of his pocket and stuffed it into the girl's hand.  "Thanks, you're a peach."  He dashed away running the three blocks to Ivar then turning right or should he go left?  Skidding to a halt he flipped an imaginary coin.

"Heads.  Left."  And left it was.


@ @ @

"You're not backing out now, Amber."
  Monty grabbed a handful of Alyson's hair and pulled her backwards until her neck was taut.  "I want those pictures.  You hear me!  I want them now."

Alyson tried to speak, but her words came out as a pitiful squeak.

"I'm going to mess you up girl.  I'm going to mess you up good.  Who's holding the pictures?"

"Hey!"  Murdock tapped the man on the shoulder.  "Do you know the way to San Jose?"

"What?"  Monty half turned and that was all Murdock needed.  He hit the man with one quick jab to the face.  It was enough to drive him to ground howling in pain.

"Not so nice when you're on the other end of the punch is it?"  Murdock's hand shot out and caught Alyson by the wrist as she tried to flee.  "And is that the thanks I get?"

"Leave me alone.  I don't need you."

"I think you do."  Murdock sidestepped Monty's body so he could take hold of both of her arms.  "Vivian sent me.  I'm a friend.  Please, Alyson, let me help you."

"There is no Alyson anymore.  I'm Amber and no one can help me."  She tried to twist out of his grip.  "Let go.  You're hurting me."

"I don't want to hurt you but we need to talk."

"No."  She stomped down with her high heel catching the top of Murdock's sneakered foot.  It was his turn to yelp.

"Ow!  Hey!"

Alyson yanked again and got free this time.  She took off down the block.

Murdock ran after her ignoring the pain in his foot.  He had known her for only a few seconds but he knew in his heart that she needed his help.  There were bruises on her wrists and another on her jaw.  Her eyes were rimmed with black circles and beyond that was a dead look usually associated with sharks.  Alyson wasn't a shark.  She was a little fish who had gotten caught in a rip tide.

Murdock caught up to Alyson before the end of the block.  She was scared, but his legs were longer and hers were balancing on high heels.

"Why can't you leave me alone?"

"Why do you have to be so stubborn?"  He forced her to face him.  "Okay. I'll pay you.  I want to buy you for the night.  What's it gonna cost me?"


Alyson rolled her eyes and dropped her weight to one hip.  Now this was familiar territory.  "So much for the white knight act.  Fifty for a blowjob.  A hundred if you want to stick it someplace else."

Murdock felt his cheeks warm with a combination of embarrassment and fury. "What if I just want to talk?"

"Call it what you want, fifty bucks."

"Okay.  You got it."  Of course he didn't have fifty bucks on him, but he'd cross that bridge when he came to it.  "Now I think we better get out of here before your friend Monty wakes up."


@ @ @

The room she took him to was on the second floor of a transient hotel in what used to be a beautiful section of the city. Where rising stars had slept, now there were drug addicts, drunks and enough prostitutes to fill a chorus line.  It was hard for Murdock, passing all these souls that needed help.  He had to remember that he was here for Alyson and her alone.

"Do you want to undress me or would you rather watch while I do it myself."

Murdock sighed.  "Alyson, I don't want you undressed.  I told you, I just want to talk."

"I've heard that line before. Fine."  She sat down on the edge of the bed and put on her best 'I'm interested' face.  "If you want to play games that's okay by me."

"It's not a game.  I told you, your sister Vivian sent me.  She's so worried about you.  I came to take you home to her."

Alyson dropped her gaze to the floor.  "I don't have a sister.  You're mixing me up with someone else."

"No, no I'm not.  Look."  Murdock reached into his jacket and took out his book.  Flipping through the pages he found a photograph.  "She gave me this picture of you.  Look."

The photo showed a happy, smiling young teen on a swing in a back yard.

"I'm not that girl."

"But you could be.  Why do you want to stay here?  You'll die out here.  If you're not hooked on drugs you will be, if a john doesn't kill you first or Monty….what the heck was his problem?"

"How can I go home? How can I live in a house with a garden and a picket fence with the things I've done?"

Murdock sat down on the bed and gently took her hands in his.  "Alyson, your sister doesn't care what you did.  She only cares about what you do now that you have a chance to get out.  She cries when she talks about you, honey. She loves you so much she cries."

Alyson pulled her hands away.  "You're wasting your time.  Do you want your fifty bucks worth or not?"

"Hey, it's my fifty bucks, I can do what ever I want."

The door to the room opened with such force it banged against the wall and started to arc back into position before it was kicked by Monty.  The pimp charged into the room, but this time he wasn't alone.

Murdock jumped up and blocked Monty's path but it was a temporary fix.  A wiry Latino grabbed his arms while another man planted a fist in the pilot's stomach.

"Don't!"  Alyson shrieked as Monty took a handful of her hair.

"I want those pictures, bitch and this time I'm not playing games."  He let go of her hair then slapped her hard enough to send her sprawling across the bed.

Murdock tried to stand but he too was felled with a punch.  "Leave her alone."

"Big man.  Mr. White Knight gonna save the poor bitch?  I don't think so. She's not exactly the kind you bring home to mama."  Monty crawled onto the bed, pinning Alyson beneath him.  "It's a shame you didn't get a taste of her.  She's so sweet when she wants to be." He grabbed her around the throat and pressed her down into the broken, lumpy mattress.  "Tell me where you hid those pictures or I start breaking ribs."

"I have them."  Murdock cringed at the sight of another fist coming his way, but it never made contact.

"What do you mean, you have them?"  Monty sat back on his heels still pinning Alyson to the bed.

"The photos you want.  She gave them to me for safekeeping.  I hid them. She has no idea where they are."

Monty considered this a minute.  She searched Alyson's expression, then climbed off of her and approached Murdock where he knelt on the floor. "What kind of pictures are they?"

"I don't know.  I didn't get a chance to look.  I hid them just before you grabbed her tonight.  I swear, you let her go and I'll take you to them."

"I have a better idea.  You tell me where they are and maybe I won't beat the hell out of her."  Monty made a grab for Alyson but before he connected Murdock hit him full in the stomach.  The Latino tried to pull him off, but Murdock caught him with a kick to the kneecaps.  Alyson scrambled up the bed and picked up the lamp from the side table.  Standing on the mattress she swung the light like a baseball bat taking out the third man as Murdock continued to struggle with Monty.

Alyson jumped down from the bed and made for the door.  She had a chance to run to make a clean get away while the men fought but something held her back.  Changing her mind she scooped up Murdock's book and used it to belt the Latino.

With one more punch, Murdock was able to wriggle away from Monty.  He grabbed Alyson by the hand and pulled her along as he ran out the door. "Come on.  They won't be out long."  He hit the stairwell doorway then bolted down the stairs as fast as he could without tripping the girl.  They both tumbled into the lobby gasping for breath but as much as he wanted to Murdock knew they couldn't stop.  The elevator was descending and he didn't want to see who was inside.  Still holding Alyson's hand, he ran out of the hotel.  Would have been a perfect moment for Face to pull up but no such luck.

"This way," Alyson urged, taking over the lead.  She pulled him to the right but only made it half a block before another man joined the pursuit.

"Stop them!"  Monty's yell hit Murdock's ears just before the bullet.  He felt the smack, the sear of pain and everything went cock-eyed for a moment. Alyson screamed and he thought maybe she had been shot as well.


@ @ @

"Take that you villainous monster.  Take that and that and that."

"Sssh."  Alyson pressed her hand over Murdock's mouth, using the full weight of her tiny body to hold him still.  "Please," she whispered.  "Please be quiet."

Quiet?  This was not a time for quiet.  Murdock tried to tell her so but the words came out only as muffled noises.  How strange.  How very very strange.

The footsteps faded and after a moment there was silence in the old building.  Relative silence anyway.  She could still here the sounds of traffic in the street, the occasional car horn and blast of punk rock pouring out of a radio.  It was a miracle that they'd managed to escape. After the gunshots, a motorcycle cop appeared and then another man, a blond in a sporty car.   Fearing for her life she had led the wounded man on a twisting, turning trail through back alleys and parking lots until they arrived at the back entrance to the Galaxy Theater.  The security guard at the old movie house had taken pity on her one day and had offered her some food and drink and after a few sexual favors he had showed her how to sneak in the back way if she ever needed a place to stay.  He would look the other way as long as she didn't come in on the few days in the month that the theater was in operation.

"Can you see them?"  Murdock asked when she allowed him to speak once more. "They are waiting to do battle."

"They're waiting to kill us if that's what you mean."  Alyson went into the bathroom and came back with a wet pile of rough paper towels.  She packed a bunch of them against the bloody wound in Murdock's leg, pressing down until he gasped from the pain.  "Sorry but I know what I gotta do.  I have to stop the bleeding.  You put pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding."

"Dulcinea."  His hand groped the air and after a moment, she reluctantly caught it and held it in hers.

"Just be quite.  You need to rest."  Blood had soaked through the pile of towels.  She threw them aside and ran to get more.

"Dulcinea.  Don't go, my lady.  I will protect you," Murdock called.

Alyson returned with a larger stack of towels.  Dropping to her knees beside him, she undid the buckle on his belt then yanked the leather loose from its loops.

"My lady!  What are you thinking!"

"I'm thinking I have to stop the bleeding or you're going to die."  She threaded the belt under his thigh, piled more towels over the wound, then slipped the tongue back into the buckle and pulled it tight.  Murdock moaned as he tried to twist away from the pain she was inflicting.  "I'm sorry. I'm sorry.  But I have to do this."  Alyson stuffed the long end of the belt under itself to secure everything in place.  It wasn't the best solution, but it was better than nothing.

"Why are you so sad?"  Murdock raised his hand and nearly touched her face before his arm fell to his side once more.

"You're kidding me.  Right?"  Finding a clean, wet towel, she used it to wipe the sweat from his forehead.

"You are a gift from heaven.  The voice of an angel, the face of a goddess, I'm not worthy to cast my eyes upon you."

"Oh sure.  That's me, an angel who sleeps with strangers for fifty bucks."

"You do what you must.  Still, they can not change what you are inside." His eyelids slipped shut and for a second Alyson was afraid that she had lost him permanently, but after a moment he began to mutter that name over and over again.  "Dulcinea.  Dulcinea.  I see heaven when I see thee Dulcinea."

"Don't talk about heaven.  You're not going to heaven.  You're staying right here!  Do you hear me."  She gave him a shake and his eyelids popped open once more.  "I have to go get help.  You need to stay here and hang on.  Can you do that?"

"For you, my lovely…anything."  He smiled at her in a way she had never seen before.  It wasn't the leer of a lusting john, or the smile of pimp who saw dollar signs when he looked at her.  This smile was so sweet, so kind.

"I don't deserve your kindness," she said softly.  "It's my fault that you're hurt."

"No no, ssssh.  A knight does what he must and sometimes the road is very rough.  There are dangers……but….."  He took a deep breath then moaned on the exhale.  "You must find my servant.  My aide, Sancho, he'll know what to do."

"Sure, sure."  Alyson set her hand on his cheek and was surprised by the way he leaned into her touch.  She was used to an entirely different kind of touching, ironically, nothing this intimate.  The touching she was used to was cold and devoid of feelings.  "I'll try to get help.  It may take a little while.  I'm not sure where to go.  The cops won't listen to me and I have to be careful, if Monty spots me…."

Murdock grabbed her hand.  "Sancho.  He was with me.  Never travel without my trusted man servant Sancho."

"Yeah, Sancho.  I'll look for him.  What kind of horse is he riding?"

"Mustang.  Yellow.  He's yellow….blond.  He's got blond hair, big smile."

Yellow Mustang?  A blond man?  Alyson thought of the stranger who had appeared just after the police.  "That's your friend?  Really?  Oh my god. I saw him.  Wait.  Hang on.  Just hang on.  I promise I'll be back soon."

"Of course you will."

His trust was true and the feeling was almost more than she could bear.

@ @ @ @

Face drove around the block five times moving as slow as he dared as he scanned the alleys and streets for some sign of Murdock and the girl.  The cops had converged in front of a flop house on Ivar and a half hour later they were hauling away a pimp and a couple of hoods.  Face had heard the gunshots and on his second pass around the block he saw the blood but the trail had disappeared into an alley full of trash.  One of them had been hit.  Murdock he assumed.  If it had been the girl, the pilot would have come looking for help.

"Damn."  Face pulled the car into a parking space in front of a leather shop and got out to use the pay phone.  He would call BA and Hannibal and get them down here to join the search.   They would have to canvass the buildings one by one, starting close to the hotel on Ivar and working their way outward.  If Murdock was hurt, they couldn't have gone too far.

"Sancho?"

Face whirled.  The young girl looked ready to bolt.  "What did you say?"

"Are you Sancho?"

Sancho?  What was that?  Some kind of street slang?  "Sancho?  Panza! You're looking for Sancho Panza!" The girl took a step backward.  Face wanted to grab her and demand answers but she looked so frightened he was afraid to move.  "Are you Alyson?  Did Murdock send you?"

She glanced around, scanning the street in all directions.  Trust wasn't something that came easily to this girl, Face could see that but something had sent her searching the streets for a stranger named Sancho.

"Is Murdock hurt?  I saw blood.  The police, they arrested the guys who did it.  You're safe, Alyson.  Please, take me to him."

Silent she turned and began to run.  Face followed, praying to god that she was leading him back to Murdock.

@ @ @

"Dulcinea?
  Where are you my lady?"  Murdock rolled to his side, then pushed himself up to his knees.  The pressure on his leg sent a wave of pain shooting up his thigh.  A warm flush filled his face and the room began to spin.  "I shall not be delayed in my duties.  I will defend your honor.  I will thrash the villains that dare to lay hands on you, my angel, my Dulcinea."  When the wave passed, he pushed himself up to his feet leaning all his weight on his good leg he stumbled to the wall and hugged it for support.  "Blast it all.  You fiends.  You in human monsters.  I shall not be put down so easily."  He followed the wall to the right.  The first doorway he found led to the bathroom.  Pass it.  Keep going.  On to another door but this one wouldn't budge when he pulled on the knob.

Prison

They had imprisoned him as they do with all men of vision.

"Oh no, no, no, my lady.  How can I defend thee if I am locked inside these walls."  He tugged on the door but still it wouldn't budge.  Murdock shifted his weight, intending to use all his strength but a new pain shot through his leg sending him to the ground with a cry.  "Alone.  Don Quixote dies alone."  He closed his eyes and pictured the angelic face of the lovely Dulcinea.

@ @@

"Murdock!"
  Face grabbed the pilot's wrist and felt for a pulse.  He found it easily but deemed it too fast for comfort.  "Stay with him while I get the car."

"Hurry," Alyson dropped to Murdock's side and set a comforting hand on the pilot's shoulder.  "He doesn't look good."

"Just stay with him.  Talk to him.  Keep him going.  I'll be right back." Then he disappeared leaving Alyson alone with the pilot once more.

"Murdock.  I found your friend.  I found Sancho."  She gave the pilot a shake but received no response.  "Come on, say something.  It's me Amber. Alyson.  Remember?"  Nothing.  "Can't you say something?  Just one word, so I know you can hear me.  You can hear me, can't you?  What was that name? What did you call me?"  Tears rolled down the young girl's face as she dropped her head to his chest hoping to hear the sound of his heart beat if nothing more.

"Dulcinea."

It was barely a whisper.  So soft, she wasn't sure she even heard him speak.

"What?"

"My lady."

"
I'm here."

"I'm here," he repeated.

"I'm Dulcinea."


@@@@

"I brought you a present."  Vivian sat down on the edge of Murdock's bed, then handed him a flat rectangular package which was wrapped in party paper. "Actually, it's from Alyson."

"Really?  Why didn't she bring it to me herself?"

"She's in rehab.  She won't be out for a couple of months."

Murdock's smile faded.  "Rehab?  Drugs?"

Vivian nodded.  "But the doctor says that her prognosis is really good.  She really wants to recover and make a new life for herself.  I'm going to have my sister back and I owe it all to you."

"Nah, I didn't do nothing.  It was her.  She saved my life."  Gently he patted his bandaged thigh.

"So open it."  Vivian prodded.

"Okay."  He ripped off the wrappings and let them fall to the bed.  Inside he found a hard bound book; Don Quixote.  Murdock opened the cover and read the inscription inside.

To My Man of La Mancha

From your humble servant Dulcinea

"She said you'd understand."

"I understand.  You tell her that I'm touched and I expect her to come by here the first chance she gets.  Now get back to work.  I've got windmills to fight."

Vivan picked up the trash and took it with her when she left the room. Shutting the door behind her she looked through the viewing window at her patient.  Murdock's eyes were closed.  His arms were folded over his chest, holding the book close to his heart.  Don Quixote was off on another adventure.

 


Dulcinea by JD Sampson

 

 


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