“Please tell me he’s lying.” Colton sobbed.
Arthur’s face contorted with anger, but Clara didn’t flinch. She kept her hand on Colton’s shoulder and continued glaring at Arthur as she repeated what she had said to Colton. “Arthur is not lying, Colton, but he is mistaken. Blue did not kill anyone.”
“Are you sure, Clara?” Tears streamed down the boy’s face.
“I am positive.” Clara’s voice was firm.
Arthur scoffed. “You cannot possibly know what happened. I tell you, that animal is a killer!” He turned to the boy’s mother. “You must believe me! You don’t want that beast anywhere near your son!”
Anna moved forward and stared at Arthur, her eyes narrowed and her mouth in a tight line. When she spoke, it was through clenched teeth. “You’re upsetting my son again! Let Clara tell us what she knows.”
Arthur shook his head defiantly. “Whatever she has to say, she is wrong. She cannot possibly know what happened.”
“I assure you I know exactly what happened,” Clara stated calmly.
“Tell us, Clara. Prove to that man that Blue isn’t a killer!” Colton’s face was streaked with tears, and his voice cracked with emotion. Anna embraced her son as Clara moved to stand toe to toe with Arthur.
I stepped between them, frowning. “I have a better idea. Let’s hear what Arthur has to say first. Then Clara, you can explain how he is mistaken.”
“I am not mistaken!” Arthur glared at us, and his voice was close to a growl.
I refused to be intimidated. “Okay, then tell us . . . calmly . . . what happened. Why do you insist Blue killed your nephew?”
Beet red and narrow-eyed, Arthur started yelling. I held up a hand. “I said calmly.”
It took the man a few minutes to get regain his self-control. Finally, he shuddered, went back to the couch and flopped down, shoulders slumped and eyes averted. Slowly, he began. I saw Didi move closer with her tape recorder.
“My nephew had been diagnosed in infancy with Cerebral Palsy. It was not a severe case, but my nephew appeared to worsen as he reached school-age, even though CP is not a progressive disease.”
Arthur paused, sitting there, wringing his hands and clenching his teeth.
As Arthur’s silence stretched to many, long minutes, I spoke. “I’m so sorry.” As much as I disliked the man, I couldn’t help but feel real compassion for his pain.
He looked up, a confused look on his face, as if he had forgotten where he was. He scowled at me. When he continued, his voice was raw with emotion. “One of Andrew’s doctors suggested that equine therapy might help. I told my brother I thought the idea was insane, but he ignored my concerns.”
Arthur jumped up and started pacing. “Andrew started attending therapy sessions at a facility where he was eventually paired up with one particular pony. The therapists told my brother they felt that Andrew and the pony had bonded well, and that the boy would make more progress if he consistently worked with just one animal. My brother instantly offered to purchase the pony, and the facility agreed. I think it was just a ploy to get all the money they could from my brother. That animal cost a king’s ransom.”
I nodded. “Trained therapy horses are very expensive. That, and the fact that not everyone has their own stable, is why most people who need equine therapy don’t purchase their own horses. They go to a facility that offers equine therapy on horses owned by the facility. That way, too, a trained therapist is always there to work with the client.”
Arthur shrugged. “My brother had a number of horses boarded at a large stable. The stable had several empty stalls, and my brother saw no problem with boarding the pony there, too. He bought the pony and hired a licensed therapist, well trained and experienced in equine therapy, to work with Andrew and the animal.”
“So, what happened?” I furrowed my brow as I studied Arthur for any signs of deception.
Arthur sighed and took a few moments to collect his thoughts. “Things went well for a while. Andrew adored the animal and actually seemed to be benefiting from his therapeutic riding.” Arthur paused, frowning. “After his therapy session one day, Andrew was supposed to sit in the clubhouse and wait for his father and me. We were riding two of my brother’s horses on the trails. But as Andrew had gotten older, he wanted to do more and more for himself. The way the police and medical examiner pieced it all together, Andrew managed somehow to get from the clubhouse to the barn all on his own. It was only about a hundred feet away, but that was a huge distance for Andrew with his forearm crutches. The police theorize Andrew entered the pony’s stall and attempted to place a halter and lead on the beast. The pony trampled Andrew, and the boy died of head injuries.” Arthur clenched his fists and his face was full of hate. “I was the one who found Andrew in the stall. That beast was standing over my nephew with Andrew’s blood on his coat and hooves.”
We all gasped.
“How awful for you!” Didi murmured, as she checked to make sure her tape recorder was still running.
Arthur’s face contorted with hatred again. “I told my brother to have the animal destroyed, but he wouldn’t listen. I was going to take matters into my own hands, but the stable owner found out. He stopped me and contacted my brother. Later that same week, my brother took the beast to an auction and sold it, without telling me. It has been ten years since Andrew was killed. It has taken me all this time to track down the animal. It must be destroyed before it can harm anyone else.”
“Nooooooo!” Colton wailed.
Is Blue a killer? Will Arthur find a way to carry out his threat to destroy the animal? Or can Clara convince him of the pony’s innocence? Be sure to come back next week for the conclusion of this adventure. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.