Charles Pendelton
      © 2008 Marty Langdon
Chapter 18

               The olde greenhouse

Our 6th hangout spot was a hollow foundation to a pre-civil war house
built in 1853 and destroyed by fire in 1897. As we walked down sixteen
cracked and crumbling concrete steps, I noticed an inconsequential
amount of aggregate had been set in the mix to strengthen it. These
steps would take us to the far reaches of the cellar, where the humidity
seemed to peak. The four remaining steps had plant life growing out of
them, and yet they were undisturbed by the ever-moving process of time.

“How do you make this much mortar without a concrete mixer and
even then,
how do you get it all back here? asked Peter, full of latent
enthusiasm, while
looking for a place to sit in the boscage.

I responded by saying, a hundred and
fifty years ago you didn't have any
trucks, and you couldn't use a stagecoach
cause there were no roads yet.

“Then how did they get it back here, he asked

They put the satchels on horses and rode them in.

How many

“Hundreds. And before that they used Bulldogs.”

*Suddenly, Peter
begins laughing aloud*

“I gotta hand it to you. You really got me with that one.

Whenever we got high, we joked around a lot, and part of joking around usually
entailed the art of prefabricating complete nonsense. This we would do as an
attempt to try
and fool the other person, but mostly we did it for kicks. Indeed,
John was the reigning champ at this, but I was quickly gaining ground over him.

That's just a crazy little part of the way things were back then.
Everyone was carefree and lived peacefully within the order of society.
Now everyone has their own worries, jobs to go to, and never-ending bills to pay.

I can almost see it beginning to take shape in my mind, bellowed Pete aloud.
“Four hundred Bulldogs
all over Staten Island lumbering around with bags of
masonry powder draped
across their backs, like they were carrying life's burden.
I can almost see them coming now, trudging
through the woods with faces of despair.

With that, he fell to the ground in a fit of
hysterics and began to pound his fist into the
soft soil. I can't handle it, man,
he said, as tears came streaming down his cheek.
Such long faces.

In all actuality, and with no pun intended, they are one of the few creatures
on earth, that actually
appear to look sadder when the sun is shining.

“Picture if you woke up
one morning looking like that, Charles.
You'd wanna stay inside too!”

                                                               Pg 88

After the laughter subsided, we looked around and saw how everything had taken
form. In a mellow kind of way, it felt like we were in a large terrarium, o
ne without
a top. At least five degrees warmer was it down here than up there,
but felt like ten,
where it exhibited a semitropical atmosphere. As I gazed about
to find a world
encased around me, I could almost imagine myself being in the jungles of Vietnam
long after the war had ended. We made our way through a labyrinth of small
trees that had grown upwards toward the center and were now looking at bushes
that had accumulated around the corners. Not one thorn in here, thank God.

Wouldn't it be cool to see a tree carving from the eighteen hundreds,
asked peter blithely?

That would flip me out, man.

“I know right? replied Peter in a joyful tone. That would really
be something.
A tree carving from that period of time would have to be at least
a foot into
the tree by now. Eighty rings of bark is no whittle.

*We laugh*

“Any carving, regardless of how deep it is, would certainly be gone by now.
But what you must never forget is that what is carved onto a tree will forever
remain on that tree, kind of like a scar. No matter how faint it appears to one's
eye, it will always be there. Now if we had a TF-1 we could find it.”

What on God's earth is that?” asked Peter in a mystified tone.

“A TF-1 is a device with a small screen that allows one to see how old a tree is
by counting how many rings it has. The deluxe model comes equipped with a fine-
tuning knob that allows you to see in black and white what lies hidden beneath
the trees surface. A two-dimensional image that reads very much like an X-ray.
Meaning that anything that has ever been inscribed onto its surface would now
be made visible.”

Where the hell do you get one of those?

You could probably
find one in The Twilight Zone
under things entitled, what you need.”

Don't tell
me you just made that up, said Peter quite stunned.
That was very convincing.

I then motioned toward the rear of the building, where the remains of an old pot
belly stove were lying. I pulled it to its feet but could not find the top half. It
looked ridiculous in that position, so I laid it back down on its side again.
Peter was busy examining the wall on the other side of the cellar, so I used
my hands to part the trees in this wayward jungle. He then spotted something
lying in the weeds and bent over to pick it up. Hey Charles, take a look at this.

He handed me a deteriorated catcher's mitt that had been left by someone a
very long time ago, and for a second, I honestly wondered if the person who

left it there ever became a famous ball player. The lacing had all but withered
away and was black. My God, this thing is ancient. If I had to guess, I would
say it has to be from the thirties or forties. That old glove which had been
placed upon a three-foot cluster of lateritious bricks from a fallen chimney,
and discarded in another time by a passerby, was now under scrutiny.

                                                               Pg 89

Looking at the partially calcified mass of white pimpled bumps on a sticky layer of
green virescent leather, I was undeniably repulsed. Even nature in all its beauty has
uncanny ability to break down over time, and when it does, it is not a pretty
sight. What I saw was simply spores of mold growing on its decaying fabric.

If it was really left out in the woods for forty years
, then it was understandable.
Through the heat of summer with the winds and rain. Brutal winters freezing it in hale
and ice before thawing it out again, to undergo the process repeatedly, then sure.

I soon started to think of that old catcher's mitt and how wonderful it must have
looked in the store when it was brand new. How it smelled and felt, and how it
held up next to all the other gloves and machine autographed George "Snuffy"
Stirnweiss bats. Go you damn Yankees, I said aloud in my head with the
crowd of that era cheering! Like baseball cards themselves, it was the pride

of its day to every young boy growing up in the heart of North America.

Unfettered by time, free to live and dream without caring. Why was everything
better back then than it is now? Even further back to his father before him.
Free to craft heroes from a ten-cent novel, found at the local five & dime.  

Free to build hopes upon wishes was the adventurous heart. So chivalrous, and
true were those authors who made sure never to raise even the mildest blemish
upon the tender skin of the fair maiden, who I could now see riding off into the
sunset with her rescuer. The one who fought for her glory. To you sir, I remove
my hat and bow, but you and that young boy have long since withered away.
To become as fertilizer for the earth.
Salt to the sea. A better place perhaps.

One that beckons for my entrance.
*That dinner, I am soon to attend*

There is a particular area in our cord-like
brains that allows
imagination to fester, and at that precise moment in
time, it must
have been lighting up like an early Thomas Edison light bulb. 

These stories are best suited for dreaming as I know all too well,
for the only thing that becomes
of dreams are tears, and the only
thing tears are good for are to satisfy one's ailing conscience.

As Peter began petting a ladybug that had landed on his shoulder, a bead
of sweat rolled down the side of my face and neck. Feeling a wee bit restless,
I decided to take my little Case knife and whittle my initials into one of the
smooth trees. I began carving them directly above a faded World War II
medal someone had nailed into the tree years before. Pete seeing this said,
I wanna throw mine on there too. As I finished, Peter would carve his
initials directly under the war god's helmet. After muddling around for twenty
minutes, we walked back up the cracked and broken stairs to the awaiting
trail. Casually, we walked while listening to the peaceful sound of birds
chirping and insects buzzing until we reached our 7th little place of refuge.

                                              The Esquires - I still love you

                                                               Pg 90


Reviews for chapter 18

Michael Howard - "the partially calcified mass of white pimpled bumps on a sticky
layer of virescent leather" I don't even know what the hell I'm reading and I love it!



                                                 This review was posted on Aug/2622

                                           Lameez' review

  Beta-Read Report for 'The Embryo Man and Other Tales of Woe - Chapter 18'

                                    Beta Reader: Lameez Rushin (Lameezisreal)



                                    This review was posted on Oct/9/22

                                  nehanegi1905 's review
The Embryo Man and Other Tales of Woe: Chapter 18 -
The olde greenhouse

                                    Reader's Report by nehanegi1905



                                       This review was posted on Oct/24/22

                                                iqrabashir871 's review
The Embryo Man and Other Tales of Woe: Chapter 18 -
The olde greenhouse

                                              Reader's Report by Iqra




                                         This review was posted on Nov/3/22

                                                         alits29's review

             The Embryo Man and Other Tales of Woe: Chapter 18 - Reader Report

                               Beta Reader's Report by Alitha Igloria (alits29)




                                       This review was posted on Nov/21/22

                                                   Hajranoor's review

The Embryo Man and Other Tales of Woe: Chapter 18 - T
he olde greenhouse

                                            Reader's Report by Hajra





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PG 88) The Oligocene Gardens by Jacek Yerka -

PG 88) Bull-dogs by Charles Burton Barber (circa 1881) -

PG 89) Summer in a city
by Jacek Yerka -

PG 89) The Sargass sea bishop
by Jacek Yerka -

PG 90) The five and dime store, circa 1930's -

PG 90) Thomas Edison long style (replica) -