Reluctant Bride, Chapter 4

Synopsis: You may remember that when I left you two weeks, Illona and Lorne were descending the slippery slope to marriage. Lorne’s mother had not only approved but assured Illona that Lorne would make a good husband, and eventually an equally good father. The only spike sticking out of the slope had been an obnoxious chap named Bill. By unbelievable good luck, Bill had been arrested in the actual act of attacking Lorne, though for an unrelated crime. Inasmuch as Bill had disappeared from the scene, we can assume he was serving time for his embezzling career.
We enter the scene once again, five years after the two had been married. They live together happily in a tiny house in the Toronto beaches area. At the present time they are enjoying a pre-dinner drink and reading the daily Globe and Mail newspaper.
“I see the feds are going to increases the defense budget,” remarked Illona.
“Do you think we need more money to spend on defense? Defense? Who is our enemy?”
“If we’re going to help other countries I guess we’ve got to have the money to do it.”
There was a long pause only interrupted by the rustle of newspaper.
“Uh, oh. This isn’t so good,” exclaimed Illona in a strained voice.
“What’s troubling you?”
“Here on page 15. Bill Snodgrass has been conditionally released after serving five years of a seven year sentence!”
Lorne suddenly put down his paper. “Do you think it is the same one?”
Illona paused. “I agree that ‘Bill’ is a fairly common name—but ‘Snodgrass?’ There can’t be many of them and even fewer of ‘Bill Snodgrass.’”
“Good argument. So supposing it is the same one. So what? We have moved. We have a private telephone number. I doubt that we will run across him socially. I don’t think there is anything to be concerned about.” Lorne tried to be assuring.
Illona countered, “Remember how he tracked me before we were married? Even down to being at the same gala and the same restaurant?”
“So maybe he can discover where we are. But this is 6 years later. I doubt that he would do anything…”
“Lorne, dear, don’t be so sure. He was a very vindictive man and I’m not confident that prison would knock that out of him. Well, we’ll just have to wait and see.”
She went to her computer to check for email and suddenly sucked in her breath. “Lorne listen to this.
Lorne observed, “An innocuous message for any outsider to read, but full of meaning to those in the know. Have you changed your email address in the last five years?”
“So that explains how he knew it… Well, I can’t think of anything we should do at this moment. I guess we’ve got to wait to see. Does he knows where you physically are? We’ve moved twice since we’ve been married and we have a private listing in the phone book.”
Illona screwed up her still attractive face. “I’ll try not to think about it.”
The next morning, She called him over again to look at another email message on her computer. He read over her shoulder.
Lorne looked grave. “Another simple message for any stranger reading it. No criminal intentions revealed. We could never have the police believe that you were being stalked. This guy’s not dumb.”
“So what should we do?” Illona was obviously worried.
“I don’t know. I guess until he makes his next move, we carry on life as usual… Speaking of which, I have booked two horses for us at the stable at 4:00 pm. I’ve asked for the one you love—Lucy for you, and Dominic for me.”
An hour later dressed in riding clothes, they arrived at the stable in the valley. It was an ideal spot for riding yet right in the middle of the city. Lots of hidden trails. Lorne had been teaching Illona the ups and downs of the sport and she had progressed beyond the beginner stage. He himself was reasonably accomplished.
The horses were ready and saddled up. They mounted and started on their hour’s country hack, riding through the twisting trails—such a welcome change from the city grid. It was a beautiful day for a ride and it was as if they had left the city far behind.
Half an hour later, they reluctantly turned around to head home. They were walking their mounts, side by side, to cool them down before hitting the home stable. Their casual conversation gradually turned serious. Illiona glanced at Lorne from the corner of her eye. “Do you think we ought to try having a child?” she blurted out.
“Haven’t given it much thought,” lied Lorne. “Do you want to?”
“Well I’m not getting any younger. If we are going to have a family, the sooner the better. After all, we’ve had five years or so just enjoying each other. Maybe this is the time.”
Lorne put on his serious face, but reached out and scratched Illona’s back. “Let’s…” They were rounding a hidden jog in the trail, and then they instinctively pulled up short. In the middle of their path was a very large man! He was on a very large horse. It made him appear all the more threatening. But even more threatening was the heavy calibre revolver he was holding casually in his right hand. The muzzle wavered back and forth covering the two of them. Lorne first thought was that this was a overly melodramatic. Then with a shiver he realized it was real.
“Well, well. Look what we have here!” Bill snarled. Yes, indeed it was Bill. “Two lovers practically caught in the act. Let me tell you, I don’t particularly relish the sight.” He leveled the gun casually at Lorne. Lorne could think of nothing to say. But he was surprised how calm he felt under fire. He glance at Illona quickly. She too seemed remarkably calm though her whole body was rigid.
Bill was nor happy with this too calm reception of his sudden appearance. He had expected fear and a begging for their lives. He raised his revolver, aimed at Lorne again, then at the last moment raised his sights and fired a shot in the air. PANDEMONIUM!!
Lucy, with Illona on top, spun around in panic, grabbed the bit in her teeth and bolted full speed in the direction she had come from. Bill’s horse reared, a reaction for which he was ill prepared. Lorne kicked Dominic forward, at the same time wrenching the hard riding hat from his head. As he passed Bill, he swung it and hit Bill full in the face. Then he wheeled his horse around and galloped after the retreating Illona. Bill was thrown off balance and it took him a moment or two to recover. He was not an experienced rider. But when he had manoeuvered his animal back to earth, he took off after the two disappearing horses and spurred his very large horse into a gallop.
Illona in the lead had lost control of Lucy. She was simply hanging on to his mane for her life. Lucy swung off the main trail to take a little-used cross path. Lorne followed and then, somewhat behind but catching up rapidly, came Bill. His big horse was also the fastest runner. Lucy carried Illona through the door of a tumble-down, roofless shack. Instinctively Illona ducked and the door lintel brushed her back. Lucy slid to an abrupt stop as she realized that she was in a closed building. Maybe the similarity to a stable quieted her. She stood quivering and breathing heavily. Lorne followed a second later. He was the more experienced rider and he ducked the lintel with no trouble. He pulled his horse to a halt beside Lucy and Illona, and wheeled around facing the door. Bill came charging up the path. He also was simply hanging on at this point., his pistol tucked into his belt. His horse crossed the threshold of the shack without incident. But not so Bill. The lintel caught him square on the forehead. There was distinct “crack!” as it broke his neck. The big horse skidded to a halt. Bill tumbled off, his gun went flying. He fell and lay prone on the dirt floor. His blind eyes stared up at a ceiling that no longer existed. His revolver glinted in the sun a few feet away.
Lorne looked over at Illona. He saw with alarm that she was on the verge of hysterics. He jumped off, reached up and pulled her off Lucy. He took her by the shoulders and shook her ruthlessly. She snapped out of it. “Whew. That was close,” she gasped. “I nearly lost it… What are you going to do now?”
Lorne reached in his pocket and pulled out his cell. He dialed 911. She heard his end of the conversation: “I’m reporting a fatal accident on a riding path in the Wagamish Valley… Thrown from a horse… I’m positive he’s dead. I think he broke his neck. No vital signs… That’s not easy to describe. We’re off the main path on a little used trail. There’s a broken down shack at the end of that trail… Yes, that’s a pretty good description… An ambulance, I guess, to take away the body. And the police, of course… Yes we’ll wait here… Thank you.”
Bill then phoned the stable and told them what had happened. They were quick to respond. “I don’t imagine you’ll be wanting to ride any more tonight. We’ll send a car to pick you up with a couple of men to ride the horses home.”
He put his phone back in his pocket and wrapped his arms about Illona. “This has been a terrible experience for you but we have each other and that’s the important thing. Just lean against me and relax. Take a few deep breaths.”
They waited in silence for quite a while then heard a siren and saw flashing lights through the trees. A few moments later two policemen and a police woman arrived. They examined the body. One policeman turned to Lorne. “He’s dead alright. Friend of yours?”
“His name is Bill, I guess WILLIAM Snodgrass. I don’t know his address. He’s really just an acquaintance rather than a friend. My wife, Illona knew him a few years ago. He has a criminal record, I believe.”
“How did he break his neck?”
“He tried to ride his horse through that doorway at the gallop and caught his face on the lintel.”
“Very effective,” said the policeman drily. “What about the gun?” He pointed to it where is still lay on the dirt floor.
“He threatened us with it. Even fired a shot over our heads. I doubt that his intentions were very friendly.”
Illona butted in and gave a brief history of her relations with Bill.
The policeman continued to question the two of them, writing down items in a note book. A few minutes later and the ambulance appeared. It could not get down the narrow path. Two men bearing a stretcher came down and carried the body away. Then the car from the stable with three young men. Eventually the policeman finished his interrogation. “Well,” he said, “I know this has been quite a day for you. You can leave now. Don’t go out of the city until we tell you it’s OK. We may need further information. “G’night ma’am, sir.”
“Good night officer.”
As they were getting into the car from the stable, Illona turned to Lorne. She was still sheet white. “What do we do now?”
“We go home,” he answered matter-of-factly. “We just go home. Finis!”

7 Responses to “Reluctant Bride, Chapter 4”

  1. Fran Deacon says:

    Most of us I think realized that nasty Bill would surface again but not on a
    horse, and not with such drama. His death
    through ignorance was appropriate and Lorne and Illona can live happily ever

  2. charles kirby says:

    Well…I never expected to read such a ‘racing-to-a-stop ‘ episode from Lyman Henderson ! Good read, Sir !
    Of course the usual question: “Then ? ? ?”

  3. Jack Long says:

    Wow that’s quite an ending. The only thing is we really don’t know who Bill was and what his history was with Llona.
    She told the police but she didn’t tell us.
    Good story though.
    Glad it had a happy ending.

  4. Rose says:

    That was a great ending Lyman. Quick, to the point and efficiently executed … pardon the pun. Once again, thank you for the entertainment.


  5. Victoria Henderson says:

    I just knew we hadn’t seen the last of the bad guy; but I never imagined an equine finale! Very exciting.

  6. John Crossley says:

    A surprise ending but a delightful story. Keep up the good work.


  7. Silvana Ness says:

    I enjoyed it. An entertaining plot and justice done, too.

    Looking forward to your next offer.

    Have a great holiday!


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