Charles Pendelton
      © 2008 Marty Langdon
Chapter 16

               The land of dry tonics

No one bothered the deteriorating skeleton but the hungry tree it resided in. The passing

of time had overshadowed the age before it, and its young builders were now old men,
dying or dead. The steps going up resembled broken bones that inverted outwards,
where many of them were missing. A clear sign that they had fallen off and were left to
dissolve on the ground. Water could be heard gently rushing by as we departed from
this historic place, moving onward to the fourth gathering spot, up around the bend and
away from Eagle's Creek we went, walking casually and telling stories of days gone by.

We soon reached our place of solace, where worries fade. This enclave was surrounded
by a dozen oak trees; one, in particular, had another tree growing out of it. So isolated
were we on this straightaway path that it truly felt like we were lost in a mighty forest,
cut off from
modern-day civilization. I walked that advantageous trail as if I were
sleepwalking in
a dream while looking out from spiritual eyes that were attempting
to take in the alluring beauty of all I was seeing. As I walked
dreamily on, I started to
think about the Native American tribes who once resided and flourished on this land.

Once our ancestors got a foothold, they managed to roust the Indians from their own
land, leaving them with nothing. God, I thought, we are so terrified of another country
coming in and doing that to us, but we didn’t seem to have a problem uprooting
another cultural society if it was to our benefit. I then wondered if it was not beyond
the realm of fiction to actually find the remains of an old tepee or, better yet, one of
those dome-shaped wigwams that we could hang out in and toke on a little smoke.

                                                  How awesome would that be?

As we approached the 4th gathering spot, those thoughts departed and did not return.

Here by the path's entrance, was a cast iron horse head mounted to a red pole. The first
year we moved into the new house, the Calloway's put it out for garbage, so I brought
it here. I then used a post-hole digger before pouring half a bag of concrete mix in.
Carefully, I drew back while tamping the dirt firmly into place. No need to add water.
I just waited for it to rain. With a sinister face, that stallion looked menacing, and the
steel ring in its mouth made him come alive. “Be careful,” I said to Peter, “he bites.”

As we walked in, we saw the magnificent cluster of trees. On this huge American Beech
tree was a giant carving that read in swelled-up letters, MK L0vEs HT, surrounded
by fancy designs. I would have asked the old lady about this had I known of it then.
The lettering was deformed and blotted and below the heart was the date 1919.

For it to still be here sixty-three years later, it had to be carved pretty deep, and
the assiduous
task probably took over a week to complete. What else did one have
to do that was
so important in 1919? I am sure that in itself was relevant. I felt the
letters, and they were
smooth, like words on paper. In another few years, sadly, it
will succumb to the vicissitudes
of life and shall be gone forever.

Back when I first moved here seven years ago, I took a collection of old bottles from my
room and filled this nondescript area with them. Twenty-six bottles in all ranging
1870 to 1916 still ameliorate the land. Altogether it reflected the appearance
of a
fashioned bottle mine that was truly wonderful to look at and reminisce over.

                                                                               Pg 79

“These bottles haven't been touched since you last put them here,” said Peter in an off-key voice.
“That is amazing.” He then picked up one of the bottles to better examine it. It was pale green
and cloudy in color, but its texture was anything but smooth. Almost as if it was buffed with fine
sandpaper. That was an old bottle I found on the shore while digging. He slowly read the name
aloud before running his fingers along the raised embossing that bore its name, “H. Rummel.”

It had a 'blob top' unlike anything sold today, and the glass itself was much thicker. Carefully,
he placed it down before reaching for a much smaller bottle. This one was half the width, brown,
and square. It read Dr. J Hostetter's stomach bitters. “It's like a little museum out here, said Peter
calmly. “If anybody ever stumbles upon this place, they're either gonna take 'em or break 'em.”

             “That is why the recreants of our society have no business in our affairs.

                     I spoke the words like an aristocrat surveying the land he owned.

I then sparked up the doob, and we took six hits each. I looked at the tree again, and it appeared to
be changing. Was it moving before my very eyes? Young laughter could almost be heard coming from
deep inside the very tree itself, like those boys were still somehow here. As I looked up into the bough
of branches, I thought to myself how verdant and lovely is this paradise of mine. Faint as a whisper
and as rapid as the wings of a June bug in mid-July, did time begin to relax before unwinding
the past. The writing on that tree seemed to be more pronounced than it was only ten minutes ago.

I soon began to dwell on the people living in Egypt and endless miles of marijuana growing wild
in the desert sand. As I thought of bronze men
cultivating and watering, it wasn't long before I fell
into a dream. From here, I drifted away like a lost airship: One with no wings, a dirigible.

Through the clear blue sky, I can see houses falling in Egypt. In their place, men are
building pyramids, for they are impervious to the winds of change.
The Great Pyramid
Hotel, which now stands before me, is as majestic as the Pharaohs who once built it.

I could see there was, but one entrance hole cut into the aeneous stone, and so I
sluggishly pulled myself across a sea of shifting sand
, blazing in the midday sun.

Deteriorating monuments stand faceless and gaunt, having all but turned to powder
from the constant swirling of windblown sand. Several large eggs can be seen on
the surface from a time when Cleopatra was queen of the Nile. Whatever was inside
them has long since dried up within their salmon-colored shells of terracotta.

On one of the disintegrating columns to the far right which appeared to be crafted of sand,
sat a black cat. The gorgeous feline, which had no earthly business being there, seemed to be
quite content roasting in the heat of his own oppression. How it got up there, I'll never know.

Around the hotel was a two-foot wall made of hardened clay. Many people gathered by this
wall to either sell their wares or converse freely. Others were tending to the field of sweet-
smelling marijuana, which spread like wildfire through the desert, penetrating the heart of the
well-established city. It was not unusual to see them growing around schools and nurseries.

As I finally reach the opening and walk through it, I am inside. How comfortable it is now.
The way one would feel turning on an air conditioner during a heat wave with the
soaring. As the room begins to cool down, that conflagrant inferno dissipates
once again to become a habitable sanctuary of bliss. To roll the naked body around on
those cool
bed sheets is actually more refreshing than an ice-cold glass of water.

                                                                               Pg 80

It's almost like love, in a way, when you can't get enough of your partner.
In those moments of heated passion, tell me you wouldn't do anything
to please that person you love.

Walking slowly, a beautiful lady steps forth from the shadows to greet me.
I am Hathor;
feel free to exercise your mind and spirit as you proceed.
I am sure you will find this place
most enchanting.

“Won't you guide me?” I asked in a passive tone.

“If I could, I would, but
I cannot stray from the entrance block,
or anything may happen to wander in. Go explore.”

Continuing my observation, I find this pyramid to be the size of a small metropolis. Its base was
wider than the Isle of Staten, and the pinnacle of its glory reached higher than anything else that
had ever been constructed by man. The entire structure extended upwards to a height of 60,001 ft.

As I walked over, my eyes, like telescopic lenses, descried an image to the far wall that
I perceived to be a map but came up short, for it was merely erosion. In an odd kind of
way, it looked like
a calico impression of a windstorm emblazoned on the stonewall.

Following the warm stray breeze that had found its way inside the cool enclosure, there
was a gentle sound of music playing somewhere off in the distance. The sound of
a gold
pedal harp. Several women were standing alongside a fountain
that had suddenly
stopped flowing, and before my very eyes, the water dried up, and the fountain cracked.

Eventually, I found a walkway chiseled into its polygonal structure. Next to this, inscribed
on the wall read, Rest-au-rant, floor 23, in an ancient form of script. You have got to be
kidding me. I decided to take the wind elevator because I was way too high to trudge up
twenty-three floors, even if it was all just
an elusive daydream.

Pressing the elevator button that was a rather large circle, approximately half the size
of an overextended human skull,
I paused to examine the face within the lighted glass.

Aside from its hideous features and skeletal physique, the child would be ingrained in our minds.
A gentle soul with a caring heart that finds misfortune around every turn but keeps on trying.

Indeed, it was an animated representation of that freckle-faced boy in the famous cartoon series
from the 1950s, “Paloma,” created by B. Raines. You remember, he was always trying to win
her affection but would fail miserably because she was the beloved damsel, and
he was just a
Oops, due to a glitch in time, Jane Ellsworth never met Tom Raines at the checkout counter
in France, and so the series was never created. Damn, now it's President Breckenridge.

“People, please stop using the time machine in the main quadrant!”

As the elevator door rolled open, the giant slab slid
gracefully into the wall without making a sound.

Wow, I thought, not only is it quiet but efficient as well.

Please, said the gentleman inside the elevator, do step in.

What is your name, kind sir, if I might ask?

Murray, pleased to meet your acquaintance.

Same here, old chap.

*I really do love saying old chap*

As the door closed, I shook hands with Murray before making my exit.
A firm handshake meant the man had character. Had he extended a fish
for me to shake, well, in that case, I would have been most displeased.

In a fanciful script above the ingress leading into the rest-au-rant
read the following words, The Egyptian Sands Restaurant.

“Why is there only one elevator per floor,” I thought to myself quietly?

“Eases the confusion,” said the wine steward in a gruff tone.

“How wide is this restaurant dining area?”

“It is comparatively larger than most with arranged seating and adequate accommodations.
Without striking a chord that would straighten Haydn's hair, I must say this area is exactly
30.7 miles from one side. . . (sighs) . . . to the other.

“Man-a-schevitz on ice,” I declared loudly, arousing attention from nearby patrons.

                                                                               Pg 81

I simply could not get over how enormous it was. I then tried to envision how hot
it must be in that
stone room box on the 670th floor, and it twisted my brain in a knot.

“The climb alone would kill you,” said the wine steward, reading my mind again.

“Do you really wish to know the technicalities?”

“By all means, I

“147 degrees, but it will reach 153 before day's end.
If you're thinking about going there, don't.”

I wanted to see what was going on outside, but everyone knows a pyramid is devoid of all light.

As I passed under a long arch leading into the dining room area, I gazed down at my clothes
to find I was standing in a salt suit. However, as I came out from under this arch and into the
rest-au-rant itself, I found I was dressed in a much better outfit. Off to the side of the dessert
trays stood two dogs who were rending my garments to shreds. “They fight over it,” said a
waiter. “It is salty, you know.” Loppo, the Maître d' assigned to the Egyptian Sands restaurant
on the 23rd floor, is most kind. “Would you be so sweet as to follow me to your table, madam?”

He speaks with a heavy foreign accent as the women in front of him blush.
“Oh Loppo.”

Soon he returned and greeted me with a pleasant,
“How are you this fine evening, my good sir?”

“Very pleased to meet your acquaintance, Loppo.”

“Please,” he says mildly, “this way,”
beckoning me forward as I follow in tow.
“By the window that is not there?”

(We all laugh)

“If you do not mind, this lovely lady looks very lonely.”

“No, no, I don't mind at all. It would
be my pleasure.”

As I gazed about the room, I saw jet-black sheets of polished charcoal,
which seemed
to resemble a form of obsidian glass adorning the ceiling. This hardened
stone, when
reflected with the lighting, created the perfect ambiance. Along the stone wall
literally thousands of hieroglyphics, stencil patterns, and innumerable stone paintings.

Standing directly across from this strikingly beautiful woman, I spoke with flair
while bowing my head
ever so gracefully. “Ma-dam,” I said with an air of
distinction but dragged the second syllable
to sound like a third-rate comic.
She immediately giggled and patted the seat for me to take it.

                                                      (Cleverly amused, perhaps)

*In the upper echelons of society, I believe I would fare quite well*

As I sank deep into the plush upholstery, I couldn't help but notice that she kept one white glove
on her left hand at all times. I wasn't quite sure if I should mention this to her. What if it was a
terrible burn or a scar or something? As she gently caressed the monogrammed table linen with
her free hand, she asked, “do you like wine?” She spoke as though she were afraid to stain the air.

“I love wine,” I said, pretending to be someone else.

“Then you should try this one.”

she pushed her glass toward me across the gaudy and heavily shellacked
stone table. With genteel
manners, I took the glass and brought it to my nose.
Ever so gently did I examine its color while
taking in its delicate bouquet.
Mildly fragrant with a subtle hint of nuts in the balance. I then took a sip.

“This wine is too watery,” I said before sliding the glass back to her.

                                                                               Pg 82

She looked at me with these sad puppy eyes before turning shy.

“Would you
have been so honest with me if I were someone else?”
I pondered the question,
but it made no sense.

She then touched the wine with her fingertip, and it turned
to blood.

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“I think you know.” Gently, she
began rolling her index finger around the rim
of the crystal wine glass, which
acted as a signal for the violinists to start playing.
As the classical sound of
violas, violins, and cellos filled the air, I looked away,
and that upset her.

“I'm over here.”

“Okay then, why don't we just take a look at our menus and...”

“Stop, you're ruining everything!”

“I'm sorry,” I replied, stunned.

“So am I,” she said, flustered and in a tone that could only imply deep sorrow.

With that, she began to remove the white glove from her left hand,
finger by
finger, until it was finally off. I noticed a silver ring on
her finger and moved
in closer to see what design it bore.

“Oh no,” I thought as I looked back at her, wounded and in shock.

“I am so sorry,” she said in that hauntingly familiar
voice. When I saw
who was looking back at me, I gasped. “Did you really
forget me, baby?”
she asked in a sad voice that went on to touch my heart,
mind, and spirit
alike. Just to see those eyes and hear that voice again blew
my heart
into a thousand pieces, a voice that was undeniably her own.

Suddenly, the world stopped, and everything was sucked back into its shell,
which fell to the floor and cracked open.

It was almost as if the earth froze, and all life became stock-still.

That quiet deadness of complete nothing, and then I was back.

Quickly, I felt a rush of emotion flow from my eyes and nose.
This startled Peter, who noticed something was wrong.

“You all right, man?”

“I'm not quite sure what just happened; excuse me a moment.”

I hastened away to an area where I could be alone.
It was there in the quietude of nature where I let myself go.

Once it started, it had to run its course.

“I never thought I would see you today,” I said to the wind
that rustled gently through the bushes as I wept,
unable to
break those fettered chains that bound my heart.

Removing her image from my mind was like closing the door to a beautiful dream.
Even though the memory brings intense emotional sorrow, you still feel compelled
to embrace it, knowing full well it will utterly destroy you in
the end.
I'll be home
soon, my love, I said to her in a shuddered voice.

                                          The Clue - She's the reason

“Just give me a minute,” I yelled in a deep voice, trying to conceal my anguish by attempting
to make it sound normal. She then was gone as quickly as she had come to visit me in thought.

Briefly, we sojourned in the comfort of this secluded resting spot before continuing
our excursion into the depths of the unknown. From there, we made our ascension
through uncharted territory in a delusional state from the weed.

                                                    The Reasons Why - Night time, day time
                                                                               Pg 83

Reviews for chapter 1

Raisa Vatrenko  - I never tried drugs before. Is this how you form stories so well?

Chas. Pen  - Thank you Mr. Bao for pointing out the artist who painted, "The medicine teepee,"
                    and so, I will now make the change from unknown to Joseph Henry Sharp. . .


                                                 This review was posted on July/27/22

                                            Lameez' review

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                                    Beta Reader: Lameez Rushin (Lameezisreal)


                                             This review was posted on Aug/30/22

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                                                This review was posted on Oct/4/22

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The land of dry tonics

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                                         This review was posted on Oct/12/22

                                                         alits29's review

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                               Beta Reader's Report by Alitha Igloria (alits29)


                                     This review was posted on Oct/30/22

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                                       This review was posted on Oct/21/22

                                                   Hajranoor's review

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                                       This review was posted on Dec/1/22

                                                   Alysorrow's review
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                                                           Tayyaba17's review

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                                                             This review was posted on Feb/23/23

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PG 79) The medicine teepee by Joseph Henry Sharp -

PG 79) Turn of the century tree carving -

PG 80)
Vintage advertisement of Dr. Roback's Stomach bitters, circa 1866 -

PG 80)
Atlas of Wander by Vladimir Kush -

PG 80)
Paris at 20th century by Gilles Roman -

PG 80)
Call of souls by Ilene Meyer -

PG 80)
# 164 by Bjørn Richter -

PG 80)
Black Cat by Ciruelo Cabral -

PG 80)
Egyptian flower girl by Frederick Goodall -

PG 81)
Egyptian princess by Boris Vallejo -

PG 81)
Warthogs by Ilene Meyer -

PG 81)
Egyptian woman
by Kinuko Y. Craft -

PG 81)
Skull with its lyric appendage leaning on a bedside table which should
             have the exact temperature of a cardinal's nest
by Salvador Dalí -

PG 81)
Secret Place by Keith Spangle -

Pg 82) Untitled by Tomasz Alen Kopera -

PG 82)
Giza Portal by Michael Pucciarelli -

PG 82) Whisper by Fattah Hallah Abdel -

PG 82)
Nude by Gyuri Lohmuller -

PG 83)
A Break in Reality by Xetobyte -

PG 83)
Awaken by the Angel by Samy Charnine -

PG 83)
When the memory returns remade by Gyuri Lohmuller -