Overall, today was turning into a great time. His ribs were a bit sore behind his left front leg but Teddy was not going to hold one kick from a surly ol' judge against a beautiful, freedom-filled afternoon. What more could a guy want besides a brisk walk in the sunshine with his best friend across fields and down roads, behind buildings and houses and even the occasional respite under a tree? Sometimes he thought he might miss the little metal water bowl back at the house but as long as Marilyn was walking and talking to him, Teddy felt pretty good about things. He had confidence that wherever they were going that she would take care of him and so he was as carefree as ever.
This buoyancy of spirit, however, was confined to only half of the daring duo. Marilyn trudged along with the stubborn naievite of a child but was slowly starting to forget how this plan was supposed to end. She knew that she and Teddy needed to get out of this town but the thoughts of where and how were slowly walking their way through her mind with each step she took. Recollections of her now-former home began to creep painfully into attention along with an irritating realization that she was hungry and thirsty. She and Teddy had walked several miles at an expeditious pace with few stops and she was realizing that she was not only spent physically and emotionally but she was also probably lost as well.
Marilyn stopped beside a pole barn and looked around. Teddy watched her for a second but was quickly distracted by what might be in the barn and proceeded inside. Marilyn followed, welcoming the coolness of the open-sided barn and was glad to find an old mower to sit on.
"Here, Teddy. Which one do you want?" she asked, holding out a choice of candy bars to the dog.
Teddy sniffed the first one he came to and tried to bite it but Marilyn pulled it away long enough to unwrap it and then handed it back to him.
"Good, because I don't really care for peanuts." The two of them shared their few bites of candy and Marilyn slumped back in the seat of the mower with a sigh.
Teddy was just finishing his when Marilyn saw his ears go up and forward and his body stiffened. He licked the last of the candy from his lips and let out a soft growl. Marilyn then heard the voices and looked up as two men in overalls approached the small barn. They were talking to each other but one man seemed quite disturbed and was gesturing with one hand as they walked. As they got closer, Marilyn recognized the gesturing man as the man from church of whom her father had labeled "Brother Thundermuffin" for his ability to raise a ruckus about everything that happened at church, none of it ever being done to his liking.
Marilyn slid off the side of the mower and was holding tight to Teddy as the two men got closer. She just knew that if they caught her they would call the cops and she would be put in jail and who knows what would happen to Teddy then? Her imagination quickly went to places she refused to go physically and she silently promised Teddy again that she would protect him.
A quick "C'mon" was all she said and all it took to bring Teddy in right behind her as she flashed out of the far end of the barn and right over the edge of the unseen creek into and under the rapidly moving water! She heard a splash, a bark and then nothing but darkness. The two startled men were unsure what they just saw.