The Second Vow of Chastity Baker
“Okay! The church is booked, the reception is booked here at The Rotunda, the wedding cakes are ordered, my bridal gown and the bridesmaids dresses are ordered and ready, I have Charlie’s wedding ring…Oh Lord! What else? I know there are things I’m forgetting! Ugh!” Chas cried out of frustration, running around with the checklist in her hand, “Tori, what am I forgetting!”
“Chas! Calm down! Just sit down and rest, honey! We’re working on it! It’s all coming together! You’ll see!” Tori called back while helping to decorate the ballroom at the Rotunda.
“Great! And I want to make sure the wedding cake is complete in time!” Chas called back from the kitchen.
“Come on, Chas! Relax, girl!” Camille, another lady from the group urged. A third woman from the group, Emily gently grabbed Chas by the shoulders while Sandy, a fourth, pulled out a chair for Chas to sit in. Emily took Chas by the shoulders and gently guided her to the chair.
Pre-Wedding Day Jitters
“Sit down! Rest! We’ve got this!” Emily urged as Chas took a seat, sighed and rubbed her forehead.
“I just want this wedding to be perfect!” She sighed.
“A perfect wedding is like a perfect world- there is no such thing,” Sandy reminded her.
“Oh, come on, I need positivity around me right now,” Chas whined.
“Girl, if you don’t hush, we’re going to have to put you on the next episode of ‘Bridezillas’!” Emily began.
“Alright, alright. You ladies are doing a fantastic job. I guess I’m a little nervous,” Chas admitted, chuckling.
“Honey, you’ve just got the pre-wedding jitters. We all get those.” Tori chirped, “My sister was a nervous wreck during the week before her wedding. Trust me, what you’re feeling is completely normal. That’s why we want you to take a breather.”
A Spring Wedding
It was Springtime in Memphis and there were two weeks left before the big day arrived. Chastity Diane Baker, soon to be Mrs. Charles Riddick, was busy checking off her checklist of wedding necessities. Tori and the ladies from the S.A.S.H.E. (Students Against Sexual Harassment Everywhere) a group from the college Chas attended and whom held meetings every first Saturday of every month on campus, was busy helping Chas prepare for her upcoming wedding.
To save up for the coming wedding, Chas had taken a second job at the hospital as a nurses’ assistant. On top of two jobs, she was looking forward to starting Nursing School at the University of Tennessee – Nashville in the fall.
Finally, the big day arrived. Charlie’s’ family had make the three-hour trip from Nashville to Memphis, to attend the wedding. At eight that morning, Chas rose from her bed and walked over to her mirror and stared at her reflection for a moment, feeling blissfully happy. She could not believe that the most special day of her life had finally arrived.
“I’m finally going to be Mrs. Charles Riddick. Hmmmm, Chas Baker- Chas Riddick. That definitely has a nice ring to it. Chas Riddick!”
The Day Has Finally Arrived
It was a beautiful morning with the sun shining brightly in the sky. The flowers were blooming and the sweet fragrance of spring filled the air. Birds were singing sweetly in the trees. Chas concluded that she and Charlie could not have picked a better day to get married.
She had to be at the church at ten o’clock. Earl would arrive to pick her up at nine thirty.
She showered and fixed her hair into a French bun and wisps of bangs in the front. She put on her make up, then slipped into her gown and put on her veil. Chas wanted to look perfect for this occasion.
When she was finished preparing herself for her husband to be, she looked in the mirror. Chas loved what she saw. She was decked in a snow white long flowing satin wedding gown with a laced bodice, long train, and V-shaped collar. Her veil was made of white pearls and lace. Before long, Earl arrived to take Chas to her wedding.
There were several guests at the wedding, including Lt. Jenkins and some of Charlie’s’ fellow officers. Sandra was there also.
When the wedding ceremony began, Earl escorted Chas down the aisle as the organist played ‘The Bridal March’. As Chas slowly walked down the aisle, she thought of her brother, Ricky.
“I wish he could be here for this,” She thought sadly, “My little brother should be walking down this isle with me. He should be the person giving me away to my husband, not Earl.” Chas had tried so hard to get her brother out of the situation he was in. She never believed for a second that Ricky wasn’t trying. Every time she had gone to Memphis to visit her brother, he had lost yet another crummy job and was still living with his girlfriend. And now he was so broke that he could not make the trip to be at her wedding and she knew Ricky really wanted to be there. How her heart ached! Chas only hoped that having to bounce from job to job was the worst of his problems.
The organist began playing Clarke’s “The Prince of Denmark’s March”. As she slowly made her way down the aisle between the rows of pews with Earl escorting her, Chas could see a beaming Charlie waiting at the alter with the minister, decked in his formal police uniform. When Earl and Chas arrived at the altar, Charlie joined arms with his bride and they both faced the minister. She slowed her breathing as the butterflies swarmed in her stomach.
The minister opened his Bible.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join this man and this woman in the holy bonds of matrimony…” began the minister.
As the minister continued, Charlie and Chas looked at each other and smiled. They were full of anticipation, so full of hope of things to come. Their future together looked so bright. The happy couple were so eager for the minister to get to the part where Charlie would kiss his bride. They were overwhelmed with happiness. Chas stood there and cried tears of joy.
When the ring bearer presented the rings, the happy and hopeful couple each took one and Charlie placed the wedding band on his bride’s finger before saying his vows. Once he was finished, it was Chas’ turn to say hers. She looked lovingly at her husband-to-be as she took her vows.
“…I now pronounce you, husband, and wife. You may kiss the bride.” said the minister.
Charlie took Chas in his arms and kissed her gently.
During the reception, the entire Riddick family got to meet Charlie’s’ new bride. A huge luncheon was held at The Rotunda. The inside of the ballroom was decorated with huge white bows in every corner. Each table was covered with a white satin table cover and topped with a beautiful white candle surrounded with baby’s’ breath in the center. Everything was garnished with pink and white roses and baby’s’ breath. Candles were lit, giving off a romantic setting and there was plenty to eat. A long buffet contained barbecued and fried chicken, pork chops, country style ribs, potato salad, baked beans, corn on the cob, beef steaks, and other foods. Desserts and beverages were also among the smorgasbord of different foods. A huge wedding cake sat in a corner behind the buffet, trimmed with yellow roses and surrounded by bowls of nuts, mints, and wedding punch. The sounds of beautiful music filled the air.
Charlie and Chas took the first slice of cake. The newlyweds fed each other their first bites as the guests took pictures. Then, they picked up their glasses of wedding punch and gave each other a sip of the other’s glasses.
Chas reflected on the night she’d met Charlie, just a few years earlier, which was the night he’d arrested her for drugs and prostitution. It was amazing how things had changed since then. Chas had matured from a young, teenage junkie and prostitute, who loathed cops and had a bitter outlook on the world, to a blushing bride who realized that the night Charlie had arrested her had been the night he had saved her life.
The arrest had been just the swift kick in the pants, she needed to make major changes in her life and redirect her path. Charlie had lit a fire under Chas. He had opened her eyes and made her realize that if she didn’t make changes soon, she would likely end up in prison, or worse, dead in a ditch somewhere.
It had taken a while, but miraculously, Chas had gone from hating Charlie, to loving him, to marrying him. It had not been the typical start to any relationship. Not by any stretch.
When the reception was over, guests threw rice at the newly married couple as they both exited the church. Chas turned around.
“Get ready, all you single ladies out there!”
She tossed the bouquet in the air. Charlie’s’ youngest sister, Brooke caught the bouquet. Next, Charlie removed the garter from Chas’ leg and threw it into the crowd of single men and several of Charlie’s brothers from the Memphis Police Department cheered, whistled and clapped as a smiling Earl leapt in the air, reached for the flying garter and caught it before holding it up for all to see. Lt. Jenkins gave Earl a thumbs’ up.
In front of the church, sat Charlie’s new SUV, a black Ford Explorer, decorated with shaving cream and streamed with bunting. Cans hung from the back of the SUV and the words, “Just Married” were boldly written with soap on the back windshield. He and Chas got into the car and drove off, waving at the cheering guests. They had made reservations at The Blues Hotel, a first-class hotel in downtown Memphis.