Hola. My name is Don Rosseto de la Vista Cruza, as my father was before me but with hairier shoulders. To the people of los Muncipios del este, I am but a mild-mannered writer of pandemic pamphletos. I am particularly proud of that which depicts a miniature dog with the large bulging eyes who says, “Do Not Forget to Chihuahua-sh Your Hands!”
When I hand my preventive papers to the people, though, they laugh in my face. This is not good prevention. They say, “You are loco, señor. The pandemic has not come to our pueblos. It is only in the big cities. We will wash a little, but 20 seconds is too much time. You are a cute little burro but you will never have the shoulder hairs of your padre.”
Then they walk away from me only one metre apart, singing the Mexican folk song, “Tiene pantalones pequeños” (“He Has Little Pants”).
You would think that this would leave me to feel sad and bald-shouldered. Ha-ha-olé! Here you are mistaken, for while by day I am Don Rosseto de la Etc., by night I am usually sleeping. But by evening, I am…
It is a much shorter name, si?
I remove my studious glasses, my camisa no femenina and my average-size pants and don much leather. I am told the señoras find the leather makes me look like a hombre rapido. Yes, I am very rapido with the señoras, but not now in the time of what the gringos call “the crown virus.” We must all keep our distance, even those who are irresistible, or as we say in Spanish, “irresistible.”
But the people, they do not know that I, Don R de la VC, am ZORRO! For, in the semi-dark of evening, I complete my disguise with the mask—the mask of COVID! With my nose and mouth covered, no one knows who I am! It is just like I am in high school!
Heeding the call of injustice and household gatherings of more than 10 people, I leap onto my trusty steed Gatito and speed from my hacienda towards the villages. I stop several times to adjust my mask, which does not hold up well to all the speeding.
I arrive at El Mercado del Incontinente Matador. Using my lariat, I scale the wall of the marketplace to the roof and swing through an unlocked upper window. I silence the awakened señorita with a coupon for a free quesadilla. Then, I emerge onto the mezzanine and leap dramatically to the shop floor.
“Horchata!” I cry.
“Señor Zorro!” says the startled shopkeeper. “You know, the door was open.”
With my piercing brown eyes, I pierce him with a long, piercing glare.
“I am sorry, amigo,” says the merchant, “are you angry right now or in medical distress? It is so hard to read facial expressions with the mask.”
“Your customers,” I say, “they are not too many of them wearing the mask. It is to protect themselves from the infection that rages across our countryside.”
“Does it really, though? I thought it was more to protect others.”
“That too, yes. We must all work together.”
“True, true, Señor Zorro,” says the man. “But the authorities have not been very consistent on this point, you have to admit.”
“Perhaps, but now they are; masks are recommended. You must insist your clients do so.”
“Oh no, it is up to them. Besides, all my customers are from our village where there is no infection. They never leave and we never have visitors because of the fumes from the burrito farms.”
I want to grab the shopkeeper by the collar and pull him close. But of course I cannot. Instead, I growl fiercely, “I recommend it.”
“Okay, Señor Zorro, have a nice night. Please use the door to leave.”
The conversations continue much like this as I storm the village’s tabernas, farmacias and concesionarios de automóviles. Everyone acknowledges that masks are a good idea but few think it necessary for them. Dismayed and disheartened, Gatito and I return home. We do not speed. My puny shoulder hairs shrink in shame.
But unlike Gatito, duty never sleeps, and the next evening I resume my rounds. As I summersault through the window panes of dentists’ offices and rappel onto the parapets of post offices, I discover that clients all around are wearing masks—not nearly as handsome as the mask of Zorro but effective nonetheless.
I burst back into Incontinente Matador and discover that the merchant too and all his customers are effectively masked.
“So, mi amigo,” I say, “you have heeded the warnings of Zorro!”
“No, no, not at all, señor,” says the shopkeeper. “The government passed a law today that says we must. And so we do. We are an obedient people. We just want to be told what to do. Would you like a tarta de pop?”
I decline the traditional Mexican pastry and depart by standard means. My work here is done. My village is safe. I return to my hacienda and change out of my Zorro costume, quickly, for the mask is muy caliente.