In all the commotion Marilyn had not even realized she had stood up. Don walked over to her standing by the booth and said quietly, "Let's go." He started walking toward the kitchen. He looked back at her as if to ask if she was coming. She glanced once at the people by the door of the restaurant who were taking turns looking at her and Don and Jimbob. Nobody seemed to know what to do but there was alot of talking and alot of staring. She grabbed the plate of pancakes from her placemat and walked toward the kitchen.
Don was walking out the back door and nodded to the man who was doing the cooking. The cook nodded back to Don and went back to his grill without a word, oblivious to what was going on at the front of his establishment. Don kept the door open just long enough for Marilyn to scoot out and then he let it go and started walking through the back alley.
"Aren't you going to wait?", Marilyn asked incredulously.
"Well...the police, I guess."
"Do you want to wait for the cops?", Don asked and stopped walking.
Marilyn stopped too but then started walking even faster. Don smiled slightly as she caught up to him still carrying the plate of pancakes but now sporting a determined expression. They found Teddy around the corner and fed him the pancakes as they walked down the sidewalk. They walked several blocks with Marilyn's mind whirling about everything that was happening. It seemed like years since she had been home. She looked over at Teddy next to her. His coat looked dingy and ruffled. She looked down at her clothes that were filthy and then at the man next to her. She hardly knew this guy!
As if sensing her distress, Don slowed his pace.
"Let's sit down here for a minute and rest", he said and eased his lanky frame down to the curb. "I'm tired".
Marilyn followed but Teddy remained standing.
"Well, what now, Marilyn?", Don inquired.
"Whad'ya mean?", she stammered.
"Where are you going to go now?"
Marilyn thought for a second and tried to act like she had a plan. "Well, you see..."
In the pause, Don started talking. "I guess your momma must have really hated that Teddy, huh?"
Shocked out of her act, Marilyn turned to look at Don and said, "What? No, she loves Teddy! She thinks Teddy is great! And Teddy loves her, too!", she said defensively. "Why do you say that?"
"Oh, it must be your father, then. I guess he must hate dogs. That's why you left".
Marilyn shifted around so she could see his face. "No, no, no. He loves Teddy, too! In fact, he said Teddy is as good of a dog as he's seen and the best watchdog ever. Teddy knows when somebody bad is around. He can tell if somebody is bad or not. He growls at 'em. He would probably tear somebody up if they were mean to anybody in our family!"
As Don scratched Teddy behind the ear, Don said, "Hmm...well if they love Teddy so much, don't you think they are probably missing him about now? They probably wish he would come back home so he could protect them". He waited for a moment for that to set in and then said, "Dont'ya think?"
Marilyn looked at Teddy, trying not to let tears form in her eyes. He looked back at her and licked his lips and smiled like only Teddy could do.
"What has Teddy had to eat since you have been gone? Besides a few pancakes?", Don asked.
Don could barely hear the response. It was muffled and quiet. "Part of a candy bar..."
The three of them sat in silence for several minutes on the curb. A siren wailed in the distance and Teddy squirmed anxiously, trying to lick the tear rolling down Marilyn's cheek.
Finally a word.
"Maybe...maybe I should get Teddy home now." she said. "Momma and Daddy will be missing him. They need Teddy around the house, you know."