Charles Pendelton
      © 2008 Marty Langdon
Chapter 18

                 The olde greenhouse

                                                                                                     


Our
6th hangout spot was the hollow foundation of 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.
The chatter of insects along with the faraway
sound of birds made me feel further than I wanted to be from society.




“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
dormant 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,
bemused.

They put the satchels on horses and rode them in.

How many
horses?

“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.
“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 89
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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. It was at least five degrees warmer down here than it was up there,
but it felt like
ten, where it exhibited a semitropical atmosphere. As Peter began rooting around, 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 then laughed.

“Any carving, regardless of how deep it is, would certainly be gone by now.
But you must never forget 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 with a fine-
tuning knob
that lets you see in black and white what lies hidden beneath
the surface of the tree.
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 titled, 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 90
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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
the
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 and 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 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 is 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 whittled 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 proceeded to 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 91
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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!

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                                                 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)




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                                    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

                     


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                                       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

                                                                           



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                                         This review was posted on Nov/3/22

                                                         alits29's review

                                            



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                                       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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                                     This review was posted on Dec/10/22
                                
                                             kanchanninawe's review

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



                                        Reader's Report by kanchan

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                                    This review was posted on Feb/6/23


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

                                        Reader's Report by Aly Sorrow

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                                                           This review was posted on Feb/28/23


                                                                    Reviewed by yashodha_95

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                                                This review was posted on Mar3/23


                                                           Tayyaba17's review

The Embryo Man and Other Tales of Woe: Chapter 18 - The Olde Greenhouse

                                                     Reader's Report by Tayyaba


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LL

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                                            This review was posted on Apr/8/23


                                 sidrahumar120's review


      The Embryo Man and Other Tales of Woe: Chapter 18 - The Olde Greenhouse


                                                 Reader's Report by Sidrah

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                                                          This review was posted on Apr/17/23
                                                                     Reviewed by aamnaaaa

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                                                  Reviewed by qeilisha

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                                                              This review was posted on Sept /3/23
                                                                   Reviewed by sampriktaada813

SP

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                                         Saleha Zainab - Sep 6 - Chapter 18
SZ
This chapter from the novel paints a vivid picture of a unique setting and captures the nostalgic
reminiscences of the characters. This chapter exhibits several elements commonly associated
with American novel writing.

Setting: If we talk about the setting of this chapter, It is the 6th adventure or a journey of author's
escapism. It starts by describing the setting of the old cellar, which is the characters' "hangout spot."
The author provides rich details about the crumbling concrete steps, the plant life, and the atmosphere,
creating a vivid and immersive setting. This chapter also portrays the beauty of the natural world, from
the cellar's semi-tropical atmosphere to the absence of thorns in the overgrown bushes. This celebrates
the wilderness and the idea of escaping into nature as a form of solace or spiritual renewal. This sense
of place is a hallmark of American literature sense of place for the reader. This setting also serves as a
metaphorical escape from the modern world.

Character: Characters in this chapter are not new to reader. Reader is very well aware of their bond and
nature through the context of previous chapters.

Nostalgia and Reflection: The chapter delves into a sense of nostalgia and reflection, as the characters
ponder on how things used to be carefree and peaceful in the past reflecting a desire to recapture a
perceived "golden age." This theme of longing for simpler times is a recurring motif throughout the chapter.

Imagination and Storytelling: The chapter explores the power of imagination and storytelling. Charles
and Peter engage in creative storytelling, such as the humorous tale of Bulldogs carrying mortar. This
emphasizes their desire to escape from their current worries and responsibilities.

Literary References: The chapter makes references to historical events and literary works, such as
the mention of the pre-Civil War house, the 1897 fire, the 1800s tree carvings and the TF-1 device
all tie the narrative to a specific historical context, contributing to a sense of time and place.

The cycle of the nature: The chapter juxtaposes the beauty of nature in the cellar with the decay of
the catcher's mitt. It highlights the cyclical nature of life and how even the most beautiful things can
deteriorate over time. It also taps into the notion of progress and change. Concisely, this chapter
serves as a contemplative and reflective interlude in the novel, exploring themes of nostalgia,
imagination, and the passage of time.This chapter aligns with the themes of American novel
writing style, mentioning war, nostalgic expressions, contemplative style and change of time all
these makes this novel a perfect fit in the rows of American novels.
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                                              This review was posted on Oct/20/23
                                            Reviewed by ritikagoyal587

RG


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                                                           This review was posted on Feb/8/24
                                                            Reviewed by mariya

MR



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                                                            This review was posted on Feb/26/24
                                                                          Reviewed by namra

NR

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                                                         This review was posted on Feb/29/24
                                                                Reviewed by sababaloch292

SB


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                                                            This review was posted on Mar/7/24
                                                                         Reviewed by adeeba

AD


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PG 89) The Oligocene Gardens by Jacek Yerka - http://www.yerkaland.com/

PG 89) Bull-dogs by Charles Burton Barber (circa 1881) - http://Bulldogs.com/y8fdboc

PG 90) Summer in a city
by Jacek Yerka - http://www.yerkaland.com/

PG 90) The Sargass sea bishop
by Jacek Yerka - http://www.yerkaland.com/

PG 91) The five and dime store, circa 1930's -
http://tinyurl.com/lb6l8uv

PG 91) Thomas Edison long style (replica) -
http://ThomasEd.com/y8fdboc