T.J.'s first mistake is believing that RW and Melvin plan to pay for the pistol they promised to buy him. When he accompanies the brothers to the mercantile store and the three of them find the store closed, the brothers enlist T.J.'s help in breaking in. T.J. helps them but is wholly unprepared for the brothers' acts of violence.
When T.J. threatens to expose the Simms brothers (RW and Melvin) for stealing the pearl-handled pistol from the Barnett store and for attacking the Barnetts, the brothers proceed to beat up T.J. to within an inch of his life.
After beating T.J. up, the brothers fling T.J. into the back of their truck and make their way to the pool hall down the street. T.J. is hurt so badly that it is a full hour before he is able to crawl out of the truck and make his way home. He gets a ride with a farmer who is headed for Smellings Creek and gets off at the intersection after Soldiers Bridge. He does this in order to avoid running into the Simms brothers should they take the Jackson Road home.
However, T.J. is hurt so badly that he can't make it home by himself. He stops over at the Logan home, and Stacey tells him that he will help him get home. Cassie protests and insists on coming along. In the end, Stacey, Cassie, Little-Man, and Christopher Logan all accompany T.J. home.
At the Avery home, T.J. begs the Logan kids to keep a watch out for him until he gets inside safely. However, no sooner does T.J. get inside when two pick-ups and four cars drive into the yard. The Wallace brothers, the Simms brothers, and other men get out from their vehicles and proceed to physically terrorize the entire Avery family. The Simms brothers are only there to cover up their own culpability in the robbery affair.
When Mr. Jamison shows up and tells the brothers to leave the matter in the hands of the law, the Wallace brothers threaten to lynch T.J. and Stacey as well. Cassie goes home to fetch her father and Mr. Morrison in order to provide some back-up for Mr. Jamison. The aftermath of the whole affair is that T.J. eventually gets sent to jail. The novel ends on a sad note; the implication is that T.J. will almost certainly be tried, held solely responsible for the robbery, and sentenced to a harsh fate.