Charles was worried about Charley. Her fifteenth summer, she topped six feet. Though, muscular, just like him and his sons, she was full-busted like her mother. As he sat across her from dinner one evening, he noticed a fine blonde mushtache beginning to show. Her voice was also deepening to tenor. Not the only one to notice, the kids at school had started calling her girly-man.
Of course Charley was confused, having no frame of reference for the changes. Fortunately, she enjoyed a warm friendship with Marzell who often stayed over at the Evan’s house, though she never invited Charley to visit her home. Marzell clearly enjoyed time with the whole family. “I can’t stand my stepfather. He just looks at me weird. Mama married him six months after Daddy died. He gives me the creeps. I try to leave Mama alone with her new family as much as I can. If I around, I have to help with Little Melvin, anyway. Isn’t that a stupid name? Melvin doesn’t fit a baby, does it? I can’t wait till I graduate so I can move back to Dallas with Grandma where all my friends and cousins are. I don’ know why Mama had to marry Old Melvin. We were doing fine at Grandma’s.”
Marzell was a petite, very feminine girl, a marked contrast to Charley. She was pursued by Roger, the grease monkey who worked at her stepfather’s filling station. Though she flirted with him a bit, she refused to go out with him. His sullen eyes followed her around whenever she had to go to the station. Over fried chicken that Sunday, Charley teased her about her sweetheart. “You ought to marry Roger. Y’all could raise a tree full of little grease monkeys.”
“I wouldn’t have him on a birthday cake! You take him.” She snapped back. “I ain’t never gonna marry!”
“Ha! You say that now!” Charley laughed.
“I mean it! I ain’t ever gonna marry.”
“I ain’t never gonna marry, either. I hate boys!” Charley snorted.
Hearing this exchange over dinner that day, Charles felt a little more unsettled and hoped it was no more than teasing.