The next few days blurred as Charles and Cora tended Charley. With a concussion, broken ribs, and a reopened surgical wound, he was bedbound. Not surprisingly, pneumonia soon followed. He was laid low for weeks refusing to tell what befallen him. When Charles heard rumblings that Melvin was boasting of the beating, he paid Melvin a visit at the filling station where he lounged with his beer-drinking buddies in an empty bay.
“If you ever come near Charley, again, I’ll see you regret it!” Charles told Melvin.
“What do you think you’re gonna do? I’m twice the man you are! ” Melvin blustered, “I can take you and your little girly-man that he/she ever comes around Marzell again.
Infuriated, Charles swung. Melvin found himself on the ground with a missing front tooth and bloody nose. Charles was lean, but muscular, a fact Melvin hadn’t considered.
“This ain’t over!” Melvin hurled at his back.
”You know where to find me, any time. Beating up an inexperienced eighteen-year-old kid is nothing to brag about.” Charles was done.
Long after midnight, Marzell’s brought roused Cora from her bed. “ I have to see Charley!” Cora was surprised to see her in a scarf and raincoat since it was a moonlit night.
“Miss Marzell, you know yore daddy ain’t gonna like this none. You don’t want to bring no more trouble on Charley. And why are you wrapped up so? We ain’t looking for rain.” Marzell winced as Cora took her scarf and coat. “Let me see yore face.” Cora said. “Oh, you pore thing! That devil beat you, too. Ain’t nothing too low for him, beatin’ on a little ol’ gal.
”It don’t matter now. I’m marrying Roger. He’s waiting in the car. I just can’t leave without telling Charley. It wouldn’t be right.” Marzell told Cora.
”No, Child. You can’t marry that boy. You don’t even like him. Just wait till Dr. Charles gets back. He’s out on a call, but he’ll help you figure something when he gets in. Cora’s heart ached for the battered child, knowing how she’d come by her injuries.
”Cora. I need a husband. I’m going. I have to get away from Melvin. He’s always after me. My mama caught him tryin’ to mess with me and says it’s my fault. Roger wants to marry me. I’ve got nowhere else to go. It’s the only way.”
”You are in a bad spot. Go on up and see Charley. He needs to know you are a good friend.” She sat nursing her coffee waiting for the girl to come down. In a few minutes, Roger was at the door asking for Marzell.
“Can you come in, Roger. I’ll tell Marzell you’re here.” She greeted him.
”Thanks, Cora. We got a lot of miles to cover. Just so you know, we’re gonna wake up the preacher, then head on to Spearsville, but I’d thank you not to noise it around. We need a few days before Marzell can call her Mama.” Roger confided.
”What you gonna do?” Cora asked kindly. “You got a job lined up?”
”Maybe. Mama’s brother is foreman at the tire plant and he’s gonna try to git me on. We can stay with my mama till we git a place. She run her ol’ man off so we can stay a while. We’ll be alright. If that don’t work out. I’ll find something else. I’m used to workin’ hard.”
“Take good care of Marzell, Roger. She’s had a rough time.”
”I know, Cora. We both have.”