Muffy had a feeling her relationship with her boyfriend was on rocky ground when he professed he loved her with most of his heart.
“Come on now, darlin’. I gotta keep a little of myself in reserve. Who knows when the next Dolly Parton might show up looking for a guy like me? There’s not a single red-blooded American man worth his salt who wouldn’t want a piece of that action.”
Muffy was sixteen going on twelve when she met Teddy. She was mesmerized by his sharp green eyes and wide-toothed smile. She had been with a handful of other boys before but none had whet her appetite the way Teddy did. They had met while he was hawking cookware at the carnival. Teddy had less than a hundred dollars to his name and owed ten times that amount to the local bookie.
When he was eight, Teddy’s father, the beloved preacher Bob Jenkins, was electrocuted while baptizing members of his flock in the shallows of the Hutchison River. Teddy’s mother was so distraught she threw herself into that same river, floated downstream, and was never seen again. Some say she made it all the way to Owensmouth, while others had their doubts.
Muffy hated when Teddy said, “Come on now, darlin’ “. She knew it meant he was up to no good.
“Come on now, darlin’. I’ll be back tomorrow.”
“Why can’t I come with you?”
“I’ve told you. There are times I need to be on my own.”
“What’s her name?”
“What’s whose name?”
“The girl you want to be on your own with.”
Teddy wrapped his arms around Muffy and lifted her to the sky like she was the Stanley Cup.
“Darlin’, you know you’re the only one for me.”
“Then why do you love me with just most of your heart?”
“Now’s not the time for negotiations.”
“Maybe you’ll bring me back a present?”
“You can count on it.”
“Maybe one for Patty too?”
Teddy looked down at Muffy’s constant companion, Patty Play Pal, a three-foot, blue-eyed plastic doll.
He kissed Muffy on the forehead and strutted out the door.
The next morning, while Muffy was dressing Patty in her Sunday best, a knock at the door brought the sad news. Teddy had been found floating ass up in the Hutchison. Both of his ears had been chopped off and a rope had been secured around his neck, anchored by a dozen horseshoes. Muffy knew horseshoes meant good luck so she figured Teddy would be okay, wherever he was.
She contemplated jumping into the river just like Teddy’s mother had done. Muffy was a good swimmer and was confident she could make it all the way to Owensmouth, if not further.
She asked Patty Play Pal what she would do. Patty whispered that she’d never leave her best friend alone.
With a better grasp of the situation, Muffy placed Patty in the Radio Flyer and headed out for strawberry ice cream and a fun day at the park.
Banner Image: Pixabay.com