The angry scream of a pony spurred us on as we raced toward the barn. Running inside, Dray, Didi, and I skidded to a halt several feet behind Anna and Arthur.
Clara was in a stall at the back of the barn, trying to calm Blue, who was stomping, kicking, and baring his teeth. Blue’s young, blind master, Colton, was in the aisle, facing in the general direction of his mom and Arthur.
“But why, mom? I don’t understand! I thought Didi was writing about me and Blue.” Colton’s forehead was furrowed, and his hands were clenched. “Blue doesn’t like Arthur, and I don’t, either. I don’t trust that man.”
“Don’t talk back to your mother.” Arthur narrowed his eyes. “She said I am going to write the article, and that’s that. Now, come inside so I can interview you and your mother.”
“No.” Colton stayed where he was, face red and arms folded across his chest. “You need to leave. You’re upsetting Blue.”
“Colton!” Anna gaped at her son. “Don’t be rude! Now come in the house so Arthur can interview us.”
Colton shook his head and didn’t budge. “I won’t, mom!”
Clara slipped out of the stall, latching it behind her to keep Blue contained. “It is all right, Colton. We shall all go in.” Although Clara spoke to Colton, she raised an eyebrow in the direction of Dray and me and gave us a slight nod.
Arthur objected. “You’re not wanted or needed here. Anna, the boy, and I will go . . .”
“We must insist, Arthur. We will accompany you into the house and observe the interview.” Dray gave Arthur a withering look.
“Now wait just a minute!” Anna turned and glared at Dray. “How dare you invite yourself into my home?”
“Anna, trust us.” I started to move toward her, but Arthur blocked my way.
Colton spoke up. “Mom, I won’t go in and talk to Arthur unless our friends go with us.”
Anna looked confused. Arthur took her hands in his and started speaking in his most beguiling voice. “Anna. They don’t need to be here. You know I’m right, Anna. Tell them to leave. Tell your son to come with us.”
Anna stared at Arthur for several long minutes before responding. When she did, her voice was calm. “Of course, Arthur. Marge, you and your friends need to leave. Colton, come with me.”
Colton stood his ground. “No, mom. I’m sorry, but I will not go without our friends.”
Finally, seeing no way around it, Arthur threw his hand up in disgust. “All right, then. They can stay. Let’s just get this done.”
Once everyone was settled in the living room, Arthur began. He covered much of the same information Didi had during her interview of Colton and Anna – Colton’s previous pony, how Colton and Anna had acquired Blue, how the pony had performed on the previous day’s trail ride. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/10/27/the-interview/
During the interview, Colton was polite, my companions and I remained quiet, and Anna seemed mollified about our presence. But then, the interview took a curious turn.
“When you discovered the pony you call Blue had been trained as a therapy horse, didn’t you think it peculiar he was so sour and unresponsive?”
Arthur had addressed the question to Anna, but Colton cut her off as he jumped to his pony’s defense. “Blue had just lost his owner. He was in mourning. Of course, he was sour and unresponsive.” The boy’s voice was strained, and his face was red. “I had just lost my first pony, Peaches, and I was just as bad. It took us time to get over our respective losses and begin to work together.” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/05/19/a-good-deal-or-crazy/
Arthur scoffed. “The way the animal acted yesterday and again today – balking, spooking, and running off with you – you have to admit he is not a good animal for someone with a disability.”
Again Arthur had addressed the comment to Anna, but again it was Colton who responded. “If you will remember, sir, it was your presence that caused Blue’s behavior. After you left yesterday, he was the model of a perfect therapy horse on the trail.” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/10/06/heading-for-the-trail-ride/
“That’s true.” Anna looked confused.
Arthur immediately jumped up, pulled Anna from her seat, and took her hands in his. “Anna. You know I had nothing to do with the pony’s behavior, Anna. He is just not a suitable animal.”
Before Anna could respond, Clara walked over to her and pulled Anna away from Arthur. “Do not listen to this man, Anna. He is a mesmerist.”
“What?” Arthur scoffed, although he turned beet red. “Don’t be ridiculous.”
“So that is why you cannot influence Colton. He is blind, and a mesmerist must be able to maintain eye contact with his subject.” Dray narrowed her eyes.
Anna looked confused. “I don’t understand what’s going on here.”
Clara raised an eyebrow at me questioningly, and I nodded. She turned to face Arthur. “Would you care to explain your purpose here, Arthur, or shall I?”
Arthur all but snarled as he answered her. “I don’t know what you think you know, but my only purpose here is to get a story.”
“I think not.” Clara stood her ground as Arthur glared daggers at her. “You are here because of a past connection with Blue.”
Arthur’s eyes flew wide and he looked as if Clara had slapped him. He gaped at her for many long minutes, his labored breath coming in jagged gulps. Finally, he calmed himself, and reached for Clara’s hands. “You don’t know what you’re talking about, my dear.” He gave her an ingratiating smile.
Clara snatched her hands away from Arthur. “Oh, but I do, sir. And you will find that in addition to Colton, your hypnotic abilities will work neither on me nor on Dray. So, why not explain your true reason for being here. You may start with Colton’s pony, the one you referred to as the pony you call Blue. If you have no previous connection to the animal, how did you know he used to go by a different name?”
I snickered at the sight of Arthur squirming and stammering. I had suspected, when my cleric, Clara, had raised her eyebrow and nodded at me in the barn, she had learned something from Blue.
“Well, Arthur? I’d like to hear an explanation.” Anna frowned at him.
“So would I!” Colton glared in the direction of Arthur’s voice. “What do you know about Blue, and why does your presence upset him so much?”
Yes, why does Arthur’s presence upset Blue so much? And what is his real motive for wanting to write this story? Be sure to come back again next week and see if we can get to the bottom of this little mystery. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.