The Truth (Conclusion of The Interview)

The Truth (Conclusion of The Interview)

Colton NooooooPandemonium broke out at Arthur’s proclamation.

Colton continued to wail uncontrollably. “Nooooooo! You can’t destroy Blue! I won’t let you!”

Anna held her son tight, trying to calm him, but the boy continued to sob.

Dray, Clara, and I confront ArthurDray, Clara, and I loudly confronted Arthur, each of us vowing the man would never harm Colton’s pony, Blue. Arthur swore, just as loudly, that he would see to it the beast was destroyed, so it could never harm another person.Didi whistling

Didi moved around, trying to capture the chaotic exchange on her tape recorder. Finally, she put the recorder down. Placing two fingers to her mouth, she whistled shrilly. The rest of us fell silent, staring at her.

Didi taping Arthur“That’s better.” She picked up the recorder again. “Now, Arthur, you stated the police and medical examiner determined your nephew had died of head injuries as the result of having been trampled by Blue. But are you certain of the police and forensic report?”

The man scoffed. “Of course!”

Didi frowned. “Well, then, it seems to me, Arthur, that your story has a major flaw in it.”

“Oh?” The man sneered at Didi.

She nodded. “I covered an incident last year when a child was savaged by a vicious dog. The animal was deemed dangerous and the police destroyed the animal right there, at the scene of the attack.”

“So?” Arthur looked down his nose at Didi.

“So, if Blue killed your nephew, why didn’t the police destroy the pony as a dangerous animal?”

“Good question.” I nodded.

Arthur rolled his eyes and snorted. “When my nephew was trampled, there were no witnesses. The police said there was no proof the animal was dangerous. They claimed it could have been an accident. They refused to destroy the beast.” Arthur’s face contorted with hatred. “It was no accident. The animal struck out at me when I entered the stall. It was obvious to me what had happened. That pony is dangerous and must be destroyed!”

I shook my head and held up my hand to silence Arthur as Colton started wailing again.

Didi and ClaraBefore I could speak, Didi turned to Clara, the alter ego of my character, Cleric. “Clara, didn’t you say you are absolutely certain Arthur is mistaken, and Blue did not kill his nephew, Andrew?”

Clara nodded.

“And didn’t you say you knew exactly what had happened?”

Again, Clara nodded.Arthur and Clara

Arthur pushed Didi aside and confronted Clara, standing practically nose to nose with her. “How can you know anything? You weren’t there! No one witnessed my nephew’s death!”

“I cannot explain how I know . . .”

Arthur stopped her mid-sentence. “You can’t explain, because there is no way you could know!”

Clara sighed. “I assure you I know what happened as certainly as if I had been there. I cannot explain how I have this knowledge. You must trust me.”

“Whether or not we trust you, I’d like to hear what you have to say.” Didi checked her tape recorder once more before gesturing for Clara to begin.

Clara looked at me, cocking one eyebrow in an unspoken question. I nodded. She paced around for a bit, her expression one of deep concentration. I knew she was choosing her words carefully.

Finally, Clara stopped pacing and faced everyone. “I will tell you what I know of the events of that day.”

Arthur scoffed, but the rest of us nodded.

Arthur and Clara 2stable hand“Arthur, do you remember a young stable hand, a painfully thin teenaged boy adorned with several piercings, whose long, stringy hair appeared to have had only a nodding acquaintance with a comb? On the day in question, he was dressed all in black – jeans, shirt, windbreaker, baseball hat, sneakers – and he had what I believe are called earbuds in his ears, as he was listening to music from one of his electronic devices.”

Arthur nodded. “I forget the miscreant’s name, but I recognize the description.” He narrowed his eyes and stared at Clara. “How do you know what he was wearing that day?”

Ignoring his question, Clara nodded. “And was this boy a skillful handler of the horses in his care?”

Arthur snorted. “Him? Skillful? Hardly! He was always looking for shortcuts, trying to get away with the least amount of work possible.”

Horses in barn aisle“Exactly.” Clara nodded. “Now on the day your nephew was killed, that stable hand was supposed to bring the horses into the barn, one or two at a time, and place them in their stalls, where feed and hay were awaiting them. Instead, he just opened the pasture gate and yelled at the horses, whooping and hollering. Since the horses were accustomed to being fed at that time, they all charged into the barn. They milled around in the aisle before entering the open stalls. Many of them entered the wrong stalls, and several horses engaged in kicking matches as they sought to protect their own territory and feed. One of the larger horses, a rangy seal brown thoroughbred, entered Blue’s stall, nudging open the door which your nephew had left ajar. The horse charged into the stall and knocked Andrew over. Blue tried to protect the boy, but the pony was no match for the larger horse. That animal is the one that trampled the boy.”

Arthur scoffed. “Then why was Andrew’s blood all over the pony’s hooves and coat? And why hadn’t the stable hand tried to help Andrew when he entered the barn and found him in the pony’s stall?”

BlueClara shook her head and answered in a gentle voice. “The blood you saw on Blue was not Andrew’s. It was Blue’s. He was savagely kicked several times by the larger horse as he tried to protect Andrew. And the stable hand never saw Andrew because he never looked into any of the stalls. By the time that boy walked into the barn, the thoroughbred had eaten all the feed in Blue’s bucket and had gone into his own stall. Once the stable hand chased the rest of the horses into their stalls, all he did was close all the stall doors without checking.”

We all stood gaping at Clara, trying to wrap our brains around her tale.

Arthur was the first to speak. “You’re a liar!” His face was red, and his hands clenched into fists that he looked dangerously close to using. Dray stepped between him and Clara.

Narrowing her eyes as she stared at Arthur, Dray spoke calmly, but with steel in her voice. “My friend does not lie. For all the years I have known her, she has never uttered a falsehood. I am not certain she even knows how.”

“Then explain this fairy tale she has woven. There is no way she could have such detailed knowledge of that day unless she was there and witnessed the events she described.” Then Arthur’s eyes widened, and he pushed Dray aside to confront Clara once more. “Or are you saying you were there? That you did see what happened and made no attempt to save my nephew’s life?”

“I was not there,” Clara assured him.

“Then how do you know what happened?” This time it was Didi who asked the question. “Do you have proof of your allegations?”

ElfClara shook her head. “I cannot explain how I know these things, and I can offer no proof.”

“Because you are a liar!” Arthur folded his arms over his chest and glared at Clara.

“Without proof, it does seem a bit farfetched.” Didi frowned.

Clara chewed on her lower lip for several seconds. She gave me an apologetic look, then began. “I would like you to consider the . . . possibility . . . of what I am about to tell you, no matter how outlandish or improbable it sounds.”

Dray and I exchanged wary glances, as we both knew what Clara was about to reveal.

“I have an ability that is difficult for me to explain, and even more difficult for others to accept.” She paused, searching for the right words. “I can communicate, after a fashion, with most animals.”

“Are you trying to tell us you can talk with animals, and that’s how you know what happened to my nephew . . . because the pony told you?” Arthur looked at Clara incredulously, then doubled over with laughter. Once he stopped laughing and caught his breath, he placed his hand on Clara’s shoulder. “I was wrong! You’re not a liar, you’re delusional!”

Clara and Blue“I assure you, sir, I am neither. I do talk to animals, but they do not talk to me. They . . . respond to me. I have a sensitivity to animal’s emotions, and an empathetic ability to see images they place in my mind. I know what happened to your nephew because I saw it all happen through Blue’s thoughts as I stood with him in Anna’s barn earlier, calming him. He let me know through the images he placed in my mind, that your presence here upsets him because he knows you blame him for what happened to Andrew. He knows he is in danger from you, that your blind hatred drives you to destroy him.”

“That’s enough! You will never convince me that you can communicate with dumb animals; nor will I believe that pony did not kill my nephew. He must be destroyed!” Arthur tried to push past everyone and head for the door, but Anna and Colton stopped him.Colton

“No!” Colton was no longer crying. His voice was firm and commanding. “I believe Clara. I have worked with Blue. I can’t communicate with animals the way Clara does, but I have bonded strongly with Blue, and I know he is incapable of intentionally harming anyone, let alone a person he has been trained to help. You must believe Clara!”

“Clara, is there any proof you can offer of your ability?” Didi was still recording the conversation.

Clara lifted her hands, palms up, and shrugged her shoulders. “I do not know what evidence I can offer as proof. As none of you can know what goes on in an animal’s mind, how can I prove that I can?”

“You can’t.” Arthur sneered again. “And I refuse to believe some fairytale you have concocted.”

Colton persisted. “I believe you, Clara. You’ve told us of events that day that Arthur did not witness, so he does not believe you. Can you tell us anything about that day that Arthur would have seen?”

Clara wrinkled her brow and rubbed her jaw. Suddenly, she brightened. “Yes, I believe there is! I know what Andrew was wearing.”Andrew

Arthur scoffed, but Clara turned to him with a look of confidence. “Your nephew was wearing a red, short-sleeved pull-over shirt, crisp, dark blue jeans, and a pair of badly scuffed brown Western boots. His short, black hair barely peeked out from under a tan cowboy hat adorned with a brown, braided hatband.”

Arthur’s jaw dropped. He stared at Clara for what seemed like an eternity before collapsing in a heap on the couch. “There is no way you could know that, unless you were there.”

“Mom?” Colton reached for Anna, who understood. She led her son to the couch and helped him take a seat next to Arthur.

Colton and ArthurThe boy reached out, grasping for Arthur’s hand. “There’s no way Clara could know that, unless she was there . . . or unless she saw it through Blue’s mind, as she said she did. I believe her. I hope you can, too.” Receiving no response from Arthur, Colton pressed on. “I know Blue is innocent. He is gentle, and he is dedicated to helping me, as he was dedicated to helping his last owner, Casey, before me, and your nephew, Andrew, before her.”

Arthur looked at the boy, then at each of us. He heaved a shuddering sigh and closed his eyes against the tears that gathered in the corners of his eyes. Finally, he rose. “I guess I have no choice but to believe. I’m sorry, Colton, that my grief turned to hatred and rage. Your pony is safe from me now. I hope you have many years of happiness with him.”

He turned and left, and a few moments later, we heard his car heading down the driveway to the road.

“Well, I guess I can take those pictures of you and Blue now, Colton.” Didi smiled. “I have quite an article to write now!”Didi about to take pix of Colton and Blue

 

We hope you have enjoyed the multi-week mystery tale surrounding our friend, Colton, and his therapy pony, Blue. Be sure to return each week to see what my band of displaced characters and our friends are up to. We’ll leave the porch light on for you!

Arthur’s Allegation – (The Interview, part 5)

Arthur’s Allegation – (The Interview, part 5)

“Please tell me he’s lying.” Colton sobbed.

Colton crying

Arthur, angry faceClara and ColtonArthur’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!”

Arthur and AnnaAnna 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.Colton crying

“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.”

Didi taping ArthurIt 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.”

Art - leader - multi-genre (1)Arthur paused, sitting there, wringing his hands and clenching his teeth.Me

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.”

Andrew and BlueArthur 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.

Andrew and Blue 2Arthur 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.Andrew 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, angry faceArthur’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.

Colton Noooooo

 

 

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.

Could it be True?

Could it be True?

Colton continued to glare in the direction of Arthur’s voice. He repeated his question, his voice cracking with emotion. “What do you know about Blue, and why does your presence upset him so much?”

Colton confronts Arthur

My companions and I watched as Arthur glared back at the blind boy for many minutes. After a long, uncomfortable silence, Arthur sneered. “I know, boy, that pony of yours is totally unsuitable for you or any handicapped rider. He is a danger, a menace, and should be destroyed.”Colton angry

What?” Colton yelped. “Blue’s not dangerous! I’ll never let you destroy him!”

Didi quickly turned on her tape recorder as Anna, Clara, Dray, and I rushed to stand between Colton and Arthur. “Don’t worry, son.” Anna spoke to the boy but glared at Arthur. “No one will harm Blue.”

Arthur and AnnaWhen Arthur snorted, Anna went into full mama bear mode and unleashed her fury on him, standing nose to nose with the man. Her face was bright red and she was almost snarling. “How dare you upset my son and threaten his pony?”

John, Casey, and Old BlueColton and Peaches 2Arthur stepped back but refused to cower before Anna as she continued. “We’ve seen no evidence the pony is dangerous. The man who sold him to us provided glowing accounts of Blue’s gentleness, and the pony’s devotion to the man’s wheelchair-bound daughter. When we acquired Blue, he had recently lost his young mistress. Likewise, Colton had recently lost his beloved pony. Once the two of them worked through their respective grief, they worked well together. You seem to be the only one who considers the pony dangerous and it’s only been when you’re around that Blue has been anything less than the perfect therapy horse.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.” Arthur’s eyes mirrored Anna’s anger. “Listen to me! You don’t want that animal around your boy. That pony will hurt Colton! It is only a matter of time.”

Anna scoffed. “On what are you basing your accusations?”

Arthur’s hands curled into fists and his eyes and voice grew hard. “That pony killed my nephew.”

What? You’re lying!” Colton was near tears. “Mom? Please tell me he’s lying.”

Anna couldn’t answer her son. All she could do was gape at Arthur in disbelief.

Clara gently placed her hand on the boy’s shoulder. She glared at Arthur as she spoke to the boy. “Arthur is not lying, Colton, but he is mistaken. Blue did not kill anyone.”Clara and Colton

Is Blue a killer? Why does Cleric, aka Clara, believe that Arthur is mistaken? Be sure to come back next week for more of this mystery. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

Arthur Hijacks the Interview

Arthur Hijacks the Interview

angry scream of a ponyRunning to barn

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.

In the barn

DidiArt - leader - multi-genre (2)“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!”

 

ElfClara 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 . . .”

Elf cleric close-up“We must insist, Arthur. We will accompany you into the house and observe the interview.” Dray gave Arthur a withering look.Anna angry with Dray

“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.”Arthur trying to cajole Anna

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.”

Arthur interviewingOnce 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?”

John, Casey, and Old BlueColton and Peaches 2Arthur 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/
https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/05/26/an-anxious-day/

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/
https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/10/13/a-surprising-situation/
https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/10/20/will-arthur-be-a-problem/

“That’s true.” Anna looked confused.

Arthur trying to cajole AnnaArthur 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.”

Dray confronts Arthur“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.”

Clara confronts Arthur“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.

Blue with ears pinned backClara 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?”

Arthur squirms and stammersI 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?”

Colton confronts Arthur

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.

The Interview, Part Two

The Interview, Part Two

Colton getting Blue from paddock

Colton was wearing an ear-to-ear grin as he maneuvered confidently across the yard, opened the gate to the paddock, and snapped a lead onto Blue’s halter. “That’s a good boy, Blue. You and I are going to have our picture taken.”

Blue pricked his ears forward, listening to his young master. He bobbed his head up and down and allowed Colton to lead him from the paddock. He waited patiently as the boy turned and closed the gate behind them.Colton leading Blue

Colton started to lead the pony toward us, the two of them easily avoiding some bales of hay and several other obstacles. The boy patted the pony’s neck, and Blue rubbed his face on Colton’s shoulder, nickering softly.

Didi taking picturesI stood with Colton’s mother, Anna, and my companions, Dray and Clara (the alter egos of two of my characters, Dragon and Cleric). We all swelled with pride as we watched Colton, sightless since birth, and his pony, Blue, work faultlessly as a team. The reporter, Didi, snapped photos to go with her human-interest story on the blind boy and his therapy horse.

Suddenly, Blue stopped dead, feet planted firmly. Colton came to an abrupt halt when he reached the end of the lead that attached him to the pony.

AnnaDeja vu“Oh, not again!” Anna started sprinting across the yard as Blue pinned his ears back. The pony turned and trotted across the yard and into the barn, practically dragging Colton along with him.

“What happened?” Didi’s eyebrows shot up as she turned to us.

Where Arthur had lurked before“I’m not sure, but I think we may have uninvited company again.” I motioned to Clara. “You go with Anna and Colton. See if you might help calm the pony.” I gestured to Dray and Didi and led them to the area where Arthur had been found lurking the previous day.

A quick examination of the bushes and surrounding area turned up nothing. I frowned. “I was fairly certain we’d find something here . . . or, rather, someone.”

“You mean Arthur?” Didi raised an eyebrow.Arthur in a tree

I nodded. The three of us continued to look around but found nothing. Suddenly, Dray stopped and looked up, scanning the trees. She pointed to a nearby red elm and turned her head toward me. “Do you see something strange in that tree?”

I nodded. “A rather large nut, if I’m not mistaken.”

Didi giggled, then quickly raised her camera and documented Arthur’s extremely graceless descent. He managed to rip his coat in several places and skin his knuckles. As he dropped to the ground, he glared at Didi. “Put that camera away!”

“Arthur, aren’t you a bit old to be climbing trees?” I folded my arms over my chest and narrowed my eyes. “Just what were you doing up there, anyway?”What are you doing here again

Arthur scowled. He sucked on his raw knuckles, then examined his ripped coat before answering. “I have not abandoned the idea of writing this article. I am quite certain you and Didi will fail miserably at interviewing the boy and his mother and will embarrass yourselves no end. Then perhaps the boy’s mother will allow me to handle this story. I have not only the talent to write it, but also the contacts to place it in a prestigious publication, not merely a local rag.”

I raised an eyebrow. “I thought you said there was no story here.”

Arthur shrugged. “I may have been premature in my assessment. I’ve decided to continue researching.”

Me and ArthurI frowned. “Care to explain why you were conducting your research from the branches of a tree?”

Arthur gave me a look of pure innocence. “I did not want to spook the boy’s pony again. I thought by placing myself above its eye level, I would remain unnoticed.” He snickered. “But I can see that was not the case. Once again, the pony has proven it is not the astounding super-star of the therapy horse world it is reputed to be.”

I shook my head. “If anything, Blue has proven he can recognize danger wherever it lurks and protect Colton from it. Now, I suggest you leave before Anna comes out here and finds you trespassing again. She may call the police this time.”

“I’ll take my chances.” Arthur gave us a smug smile.

Arthur and DrayDray studied Arthur intently. “Why is it so important to you to write this article?”

Arthur looked down his nose and gave her the same look one would give something found stuck to the bottom of one’s shoe. “What business is that of yours?”

Dray narrowed her eyes and glared at Arthur.

I cleared my throat. “Answer her, Arthur.”

Arthur assumed another innocent look. “All right. Who said it is important to me?”

Dray snorted. “Well, you are putting far too much effort into it for it not to be important to you.” She gave him another intent look. “And I really think there is more to it than just wanting Didi and Missy to look bad.”

“Missy?” Arthur furrowed his brow and tilted his head.

“That’s what some of my friends call me.” I waved off further questions. “But let’s stay on topic. I agree with Dray. I think there is more to this.”

“Think what you want.” Arthur’s expression turned hard. “But know this – if I determine there is a good story here, I will be the one to write it, or no one will.”

Dray confronts Arthur“Again I ask – why is it so important to you to write this article?” Dray walked toward Arthur. “And I would suggest being forthcoming in your answer. I will know if you are lying.” Even in her guise of a beautiful and delicate elf maiden, there was something feral, something dragon-like, in Dray’s expression. It did not go unnoticed by Arthur, who gulped and tugged at his collar.

Before he was able to answer, Anna stormed out of the barn and over to where we were standing. She stood practically toe-to-toe with Arthur “Are you trying to cause my son serious injury?”

Anna looked as if she would strike the man, so I stepped between them and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Is Colton okay?”

Arthur and AnnaShe nodded. “No thanks to that man, though.” She pushed me aside and resumed yelling at Arthur. “What were you thinking? You saw yesterday what your presence here did. Why are you here again? Are you purposely trying to upset my son’s therapy horse?”

Arthur sneered. “Some therapy horse! I thought animals trained to work with the blind are supposed to be rock-steady and not spook from anything.”

I laughed. “You know, for someone who wants so badly to write a story on Blue and Colton, you sure aren’t showing the pony much respect.”

“Write a . . .?” Anna gaped at Arthur. “I thought I made it clear someone else is writing the story about my son and his pony.”

Arthur glared at us. “This article is rightfully mine. These two hacks stole my notes. They’re not only untalented, they’re also unethical. They have no business writing this story.”Dray and Arthur

Dray narrowed her eyes, and when she spoke her voice was almost a feral growl. “I do not appreciate you casting aspersions upon my friend. Now, one last time I ask you – why is it so important to you to write this article?”

Arthur ignored Dray and focused all his attention on Colton’s mother, grasping her arms. “Anna.” His addressed her in his smarmiest voice. “Anna, you know I’m right. You know I should be the one to write this story.”Arthur speaks to Anna

Anna stared at Arthur. Several emotions flickered across her face – anger, fear, confusion, and finally a calm acceptance. “Of course, Arthur. You will write this story. Come, you need to interview Colton.”

Didi, Dray, and I gaped at the departing figures as Anna led a smug Arthur toward the barn.

“What just happened?” I scratched my head.

 

Running to barnangry scream of a pony“I am not sure, but I think we need to follow them. Clara is still in the barn.” Dray took off after Anna and Arthur at a dead run. I grabbed Didi’s hand and followed. Halfway across the yard, we heard the angry scream of a pony.

 

 

What is happening? Why did Anna suddenly agree to Arthur writing the article? And what has Blue so upset? Be sure to come back next week and find out. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

The Interview

The Interview

Appaloosa for mesleeping womanYesterday’s trail ride had been fun, but it had been a long day, and I was sore from so many hours in the saddle after an extended hiatus from riding. Miles let me sleep in – I love that guy! – so, it was mid-morning before I stumbled into my office to start my day’s work.

Office

First on the agenda was contacting Didi. I fished her business card out of my pocket and dialed the number.

Calling DidiAfter identifying myself, I had to listen to five minutes of how grateful Didi was for my support at the last meeting of the writers’ group Lost in the Words. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/09/01/still-searching-for-answers/

Didi 2Lavinia2 - romanceDidi’s voice was strained. “You have no idea how nasty Arthur can be. He treats everyone as if they were untalented hacks – even Lavinia, who has been writing best-selling romance books for the last three decades – but he seems to have singled me out for especially harsh critiques and scornful treatment. If not for the other members, I think I would have quit Lost in the Words and given up on writing.”

Didi's handout“Well . . .” I tried to put it tactfully. “I do agree that Arthur’s treatment of all the writers in the group – you in particular – was disgraceful. However, he did have a point about your contribution. It was riddled with misspellings and grammatical errors, and those seemed to be the least of the problems.”

Didi sighed. “I know. I just threw it together in five minutes before coming to the meeting. I wasn’t very inspired after the way Arthur treated me at the meeting before that one. Trust me, though, it could have been an absolutely perfect excerpt from the works of Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Leo Tolstoy, Jane Austin – any of the greats – and Arthur still would have nit-picked it to death.”

I grunted. “He really seems to have a problem. More than one, actually. Yesterday, a group of my friends and I went to another friend’s horse farm for a trail ride, and Arthur was there.”

Didi snorted. “I didn’t think Arthur knew one end of a horse from the other, although I do think his actions remind me of one end.”

Hello ArthurI laughed. “Well, he wasn’t there for the ride. Actually, we discovered him creeping around in the bushes.”

What? Why on earth would he be creeping around in the bushes?”

“He was doing his due diligence, as he termed it. He was researching a story, a story that we were informed you are actually going to write.”

The silence was deafening. Finally, Didi replied. “Ummm . . . you must mean the human-interest story about the blind boy and his therapy horse.”

“Yes, that’s the story. Anna, the boy’s mother, told me you contacted her about it, and you told her you were a friend of mine.”Didi blushing

“I . . . I may have dropped your name.” From the sound of her voice, I could picture Didi blushing beet red.

“How did you learn of Colton and Blue, and how did you know I was friends with Anna and Colton?”

notebookDidi hesitated, but then sighed and the words rushed out. “I found Arthur’s notebook in the parking lot before the last meeting of Lost in the Words. He must have dropped it. When I picked it up, I swear I was only checking it to see to whom it belonged. I wasn’t going to read it, but it just fell open to his notes on Colton and the pony. A name was in there, listed as a friend of the boy and his mother, and a possible source for background information and quotes. When you were introduced at the meeting, I realized you were the person named in the notes. Marge, you have to believe me – when I first read Arthur’s notes, I wasn’t planning on stealing his story. But then he embarrassed me so badly in front of everyone . . . again . . . I decided to get even with him by scooping him on this story. And after the support you gave me when Arthur was so vicious toward me, I rationalized that I could stretch the truth a little and claim we were friends.”

“Well, I don’t condone it, but I certainly understand. But when Arthur found out you were doing the story, he called you a hack. Anna got upset and asked me to help you with the article.”

“Well, I really don’t need any help, but I do understand Anna not trusting me if Arthur bad-mouthed me. So, I guess I’ll accept any help you care to give me.”

Didi told me she had arranged the interview with Colton for two o’clock that afternoon. I told her I would meet her there.

dragon talkingAs I hung up the phone, I turned and saw Dragon waiting at the door to my office. “Was that Didi?” She motioned toward the phone.

I nodded. “She’s interviewing Colton and Anna this afternoon. I told her I’d meet her there.”

“You will be careful, will you not? I do not trust that Arthur has so quickly and easily relinquished his claim on the story.”

“I’ll keep a sharp eye on the bushes.” I winked.

Dragon nodded somberly. “Perhaps I should accompany you. Two pairs of sharp eyes on the bushes are better than one.”Elf

I nodded. “Maybe Cleric would like to come, too.”

Dragon considered this for a moment, then nodded. “I will go ask her.”

I told Dragon we would leave directly after lunch.

arriving at Anna'sliving roomWe pulled into Anna’s driveway just behind Didi. Anna and Colton were in the yard waiting for us. Once the introductions were made, Anna invited us inside where she had refreshments set up in the living room.

After some general chit-chat, Didi set up a tape recorder and began the interview. I was surprised at her professional yet warm handling of the session. She quickly put Anna and Colton at ease and asked thought-provoking questions. She learned of Colton’s blindness and the number of unsuccessful surgeries over the years as the doctors tried to give him the sight he had lacked since birth.Colton and Peaches 2

Colton was very forthcoming as they discussed his feelings of isolation, and how his first therapy pony, Peaches, had helped him. Colton told Didi how much he loved Peaches, and how devastated he was by his pony’s death.

interviewThen Didi led Anna and me into a discussion of how we had found Blue. Dragon and Cleric, in their alter-egos of Dray and Clara, joined in the conversation as well. We did not mention the history my characters and I had had with Peaches, whom we had originally known as Mystery. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/sad-news/

Nor did I mention how we had learned of the auction where we found Blue. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/05/05/a-new-mystery/

We did explain how I had talked Anna into going with us and several other friends to an auction, how we had found Blue, and what transpired since that night.
https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/05/12/what-will-we-find-at-the-auction/
https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/05/19/a-good-deal-or-crazy/
https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/05/26/an-anxious-day/
https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/06/09/news/

We then told Didi about yesterday’s trail ride, keeping all the information about Arthur strictly off the record. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/10/20/will-arthur-be-a-problem/

DidiColton“How bizarre!” Didi shook her head. “But, really, nothing that man does can surprise me.” She turned her attention back to Colton. “Well I’m sorry I wasn’t here for the trail ride, Colton. It sounds like you and Blue were great together. I would have loved to get some photos of the two of you on the trail to accompany the article.”

“We could go out on the trail now, and you could get some photos.” Colton sounded hopeful.

Anna chided her son. “Colton, no one has their horse here today. I don’t even know if Didi rides.”

“I’m afraid I don’t.” Didi furrowed her brow. “But, if it’s okay with you, maybe I can walk out on the trail a little way with Colton and Blue and take some pictures.” When she saw Anna’s worried look, she hastened to assure her. “We’ll be ever so careful, and maybe one of you could come with us and make sure Colton is safe.”

“Mom?” Colton’s voice was beseeching.

Anna sighed. “Well, okay. I’ll come with you and keep Blue on a lead-line.”Colton's face crumpled

Colton’s face crumpled. “Aw, mom! How will that look in the pictures? Like I’m a little kid being led around on some pony-ride mount. Didi and her readers want to see that Blue is as great as we told her he is!”

I laughed. “Colton, I’m sure your mom will take the lead off Blue as soon as you’re posed for the photos.” I looked at Anna and raised my eyebrow questioningly.

annaAnna shot me a look that clearly said she wished I had consulted her before saying anything to her son, but finally she capitulated. “Okay, as long as Blue seems calm, and I’m convinced nothing will spook him.”

Colton whooped, and jumped out of his seat. “I’ll go get my jacket.”

Once he had his jacket, Colton proudly led us outside and went to get Blue. The boy had an ear-to-ear grin as he maneuvered alone across the yard, opened the gate to the paddock, snapped a lead onto Blue’s halter, and started to lead him toward the group.

As Yogi Berra would say, what happened next was déjà vu all over again.

Deja vu

 

Be sure to come back next week to see what happened. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.

Will Arthur be a Problem?

Will Arthur be a Problem?

Arthur extracting himself from bushesI don’t know how he managed it, but Arthur succeeded in extracting himself from the shrubbery with no sign of embarrassment. He did not blush, he did not lower his eyes, he did not sweat or slump or shuffle his feet. In fact, he looked rather arrogant. His brown eyes narrowed behind his dark-framed glasses, and his mustache and goatee didn’t quite hide the smug smile that pulled at his mouth. He brushed off his threadbare suit with an air of impatience and looked down his nose at the assembled group gawking at him. Not exactly the actions I would expect from a grown man found lurking in the foliage.

“I asked what you’re doing hiding in a clump of bushes, Arthur.” I glared at the man.

“So you did.” His tone was dismissive, and he continued brushing off his jacket and slacks.

“Well?” I crossed my arms over my chest and raised one eyebrow.

Arthur ignored me.

annaArt - leader - multi-genre (2)“Who is this man?” Anna stepped toward us.

“This is Arthur, a journalist and author who runs the writer’s group Lost in the Words.” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/09/01/still-searching-for-answers/

Anna placed her hands on her hips and gave Arthur the once-over. “So, what is he doing on my property, uninvited, and why is he lurking in the bushes, scaring my son’s pony?” Her voice was harsh, and her face hard.

“I don’t know, Anna.” We both continued to glare at the intruder. “Care to explain, Arthur?”

The man shrugged. “I am exercising due diligence.”

Rocky confronting ArthurMy characters, who had been edging closer and forming a semi-circle around Arthur, Anna, and me, snorted at the man’s explanation. Rocky moved forward, standing toe-to-toe with Arthur. “And just what is that supposed to mean? You almost caused Anna’s son, Colton, a serious injury by spooking his pony.”

“Yes.” Arthur snickered. “The pony is rather flighty for a therapy animal, one supposedly well-trained to work with the blind.”

“You seem to know an awful lot about my son’s pony.” Anna pushed past Rocky to confront Arthur. She was visibly struggling to keep her temper under control.

“Yes, I do. And now I know everything I need to know.” Arthur started to turn away, but my characters blocked his path.

I cleared my throat. “From the beginning, Arthur?” I worded it as a request, but I was sure my expression left no doubt it was a command.

Art - leader - multi-genre (1)Colton and BlueArthur sighed. “Very well. I was alerted to the possibility of a wonderful human-interest story. A boy, blind from birth, had a therapy pony who was so well trained to work with the blind, the boy was able to ride him on the trails all by himself with no chance of danger.”

newspaperArthur paused and studied his fingernails for several moments before continuing, a sour look on his face. “I have been tipped off before to possible story ideas. When I was younger and less experienced, I would go right to the subject and tell them I wanted to do a story. Half-way through an interview, I would realize there was no story. But people get angry after you’ve told them you are going to write a feature article about them in their local paper, but then you have to tell them they are not worth a story.”

He paused, looking down his nose at us. “So, I started to research more carefully, to verify the facts I was given before approaching potential subjects. Most times, I found the tips I had been given were baseless.”

Arthur pointed at Colton and Blue. “Case in point. I was told your son and his pony would make for wonderful copy. So, I decided to observe them, to see if the pony was as great as I had been told. And, of course, it’s not.”

“He is too!” Colton’s face was red, and his hands were balled into fists. “And there’s already a journalist who’s going to write a story about Blue and me.”

“Oh?” Suddenly, Arthur didn’t look so smug.

“Yes.” Anna nodded. “Someone contacted me yesterday. She said she was a friend of yours, Marge, so I figured you had told her about Colton and Blue.”

I shook my head. “I never mentioned them to anyone. What’s this journalist’s name?”

Anna’s brow furrowed, and she rubbed her chin. “Didi something-or-other. I can’t remember her last name.”

What?” Arthur guffawed, sounding like a braying donkey. “Didi? That hack? She can’t put two words together and have them make sense.”

Anna frowned and started rubbing her forehead. “Marge?”

Didi 2Backyard 050I reluctantly started to agree with Arthur, but then I saw Colton’s face crumple. I sighed. “I do know a writer named Didi. She’s a member of Lost in the Words. I never told her about Colton and Blue, but if you’ve agreed to let her write a story about them, I’ll help her.”

“That pathetic little sneak probably saw my notes and decided to scoop me.” Arthur was so angry he was almost spitting as he whirled to confront me. “And if she gave you as a reference, you were probably in on it with her! Two hacks trying to steal my story! Well, I get the last laugh! There is no story here!”

I shook my head. “I didn’t try to steal anyone’s story, Arthur, but I have news for you. The laugh’s on you. There’s a whale of a story here, and I’ll make sure Didi gets it all – every single column inch of it.”

I continued smirking until Arthur narrowed his eyes and took a step toward me. He lowered his voice to a near-feral growl. “You’ll regret this!”

I blanched and my blood ran cold as I remembered Crawford’s warning. “You know, you’ve made a powerful enemy in Arthur.” https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/09/08/still-looking-for-answers/

I gulped as I watched the writer turn on his heel, push past my characters, and storm off toward the road.

Blue calmed downOnce Arthur was gone, Blue settled down. Anna still wanted to cancel the ride, but Colton begged so hard, she capitulated. “But you must promise to keep Blue in the middle of the group, where other riders can help you if you get into trouble.”

“I promise, mom, but I just know Blue and I will be fine.”

Tor and Centaur

Various terrains for the ridewildlife on the trailMy Foreman, Tor, led off on his ebony stallion, Centaur, setting an easy pace. The trail wound through a variety of terrains. We rode through woods and past farm fields, through an outcropping of rocks, along the banks of a large lake, and across a shallow stream. Blue was nothing short of amazing, deftly taking his young, blind rider around all obstacles and never once shying at any of the birds and wildlife that popped up along the trail. Soon, Colton and Rocky were competing again to see who could identify the most birds.

“That’s four for me, and only three for you.” Colton laughed.

“Four? What four? You got two.” Rocky was laughing, too.

“Oh, no! I got four.” Colton was adamant. “I heard the cheer-cheer-cheer-purty-purty-purty of a Northern Cardinal back by Mr. Mulligan’s fence.”

Northern Cardinal - male (2)

“Okay, I will give you that one. It was a beautiful male. But I got a female Northern Cardinal along the outcropping of rocks further along the trail. So that’s one apiece.” Rocky sounded smug.

Northern Cardinal - female

Colton nodded. “Then in that same spot where you saw the female cardinal, I heard the feee-beee and the chick-a-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee of some Black-capped Chickadees. And I heard the Ol’-Sam-Peabody-Peabody-Peabody of a White-throated Sparrow there, too.”

“Okay, but that is still only three.” Rocky grinned.

Colton held up four fingers. “I also heard the eh-eh-eh of some White-breasted nuthatches there, making four for me. There were a lot of birds on that area. You said it looked like someone had thrown some bird seed and cracked corn on the rocks there.”

“Yes, I saw Dark-eyed Juncos and a Fox Sparrow eating there.”

Colton grinned. “Yup. Three for you, four for me.”

“I think you are cheating.” Rocky laughed. “I think Blue is telling you where the birds are hiding.”

Colton scoffed. “You’ve forgotten to listen. You’re only using your eyes, and a lot of times the birds are hidden.” Suddenly, a huge smile split his face as he pointed toward the lake we were riding past. “Do you hear that bird? Sort of like ohhh-OHH, ohhh-OHH? That sounds like a Trumpeter Swan. That’s five for me!”

Trumpeter Swans

Rocky looked over toward the sound. “Yes, there is a pair of swans there. But I also see some Wood Ducks and Pied-billed Grebes. So, we’re tied again, five apiece.”

“But I hear the honking of Canada Geese and the quacking of Mallards. Seven to five!” Colton laughed again.

Looking around as the trail veered away from the water, Rocky cried out in triumph. “A pair of American Goldfinches and an Eastern Meadowlark! We are tied again!”

Colton shook his head. “Sorry, but I hear the cheer-up, cheer-a-lee, cheer-ee-o of an American Robin in the tree. I’m ahead by one.”

American Robin

“There are some White-crowned Sparrows in the underbrush and on the ground. Tied again.” Rocky laughed.

“I hear something chattering.” Colton listened intently. “But I guess I can’t count a Red Squirrel, can I?”

Red Squirrel

“Nope. The contest remains a tie.” Rocky sounded smug.

By the time we had returned to Anna’s farm at the end of the ride, the score was still tied, and between them, the two boys had racked up an impressive total of 30 species.

barbecueIt took a while to unsaddle all the horses, water them, groom them, and turn them out to graze in the paddock, then wipe down our saddles and put all our saddle blankets on racks to dry from the horses’ sweat. My characters and I took care of Anna’s mount, Rosie, so Anna could start the barbecue. By the time we were done, the tantalizing smell of grilling dinner was causing our stomachs to rumble and our mouths to water.

picnic tableClara sat next to me at the picnic table. She smiled as we talked about the ride. “Blue is a superb successor to Peaches, or Mystery, as we knew her. Colton was listening for birds and talking to Rocky while depending on Blue to carry him safely along the trail, just like Mystery used to.”

I nodded and raised an eyebrow. “Well, Mystery did tell you where to find a new pony for Colton.”

Clara, my cleric, smiled at the memory. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2019/05/05/a-new-mystery/

Blue calmed downSoon Anna joined us. “What do you two think?” She nodded toward her son. “Didn’t Colton and Blue do great on the ride today?”

Clara and I nodded.

I grinned at Anna as she refilled our glasses with sweet tea. “I don’t think you could have found a better pony for Colton if you had cloned Peaches.”

“You will make sure this girl, Didi, does a good job on the article, won’t you?” Anna furrowed her brow. “If any of Colton’s classmates read it, I want Colton to be proud of the article.”

“Do you have Didi’s phone number?”

business card“I’ll give you her business card before you leave.”

“Then I’ll call her tomorrow and let her know I’ll help her with this.” I gave Anna a reassuring smile, and she returned it warmly.

The barbecue was a big hit. We were all enjoying ourselves so much, no one was in a hurry to go home. By the time my characters and I saddled up again and headed for home, we were all very full, very tired, but very happy.

Elf cleric close-up

Appaloosa for me 2“I saw Anna give you one of Didi’s business cards.” Dray was riding alongside me. “Are you really going to help her with the article?”

“You don’t think I should?” I frowned.

“I think there is more to Arthur than meets the eye, and I do not think he will like you helping Didi.”

“You may be right, but I’ve already promised Anna and Colton. So, I’ll deal with Arthur if the need arises.”

We will deal with Arthur . . . when the need arises.” Dray smiled a wicked smile.

What does Dragon, aka Dray, sense about Arthur? Will the need really arise to deal with him? Will I need Dragon’s help? Be sure to come back next week and see what happens. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.