Charles Pendelton
      © 2008 Marty Langdon
Chapter 32 (1970) pt 1

                              1970


As I recall, it was around three o'clock on the warm Friday afternoon
of
August 21, 1970. I was upstairs in my room playing with my new G.I.
Joe
action figure, and listening to Gingerbread Man by The Mirror, for
the six-hundred and ninetieth time. It was my favorite record, and nothing
would ever replace it.

Venturing downstairs for a drink, I reached into the dish
drain
for a glass and pulled out the tallest one.

Opening the fridge, I carefully poured myself some Hi-C.



Then something piqued my interest. I heard a noise outside and went
to the window to see what it could be. As I looked through the ruffled
pleated curtains, I saw a small
truck pulling away. It must have been
burning oil because it left a trail of smoke so thick, I wasn’t sure how
anyone could ride behind it without hitting something.

I then saw a female figure carrying
an assortment of boxes into the old
Llavarano house. Quietly,
she came out and walked around the side.

The distinctive waves of her long flowing hair caught my attention.
With a graceful stature, and in an effortless manner, she moved about
the premises with the finesse of an heiress.
A woman with such high
appeal that it would seem impossible for any man to ignore her.


Pulling open my dresser, I changed into a neatly ironed
T-shirt before putting on my shoes. I then decided it was
time to investigate.

“I'm just going out front for a little bit, Gramma.”

“Be careful. Don't go too far.”

“I won't, don't worry.”

As I gently closed the outer door, I paused for a few seconds atop

the porch steps to take a deep breath. Hearing the faraway sound of
a door slamming shut, I assumed she had gone back inside again.

The clamor of children scrambling down the block could be heard,
along with the distant echo of a stray dog barking. Down the street,
some neighborhood kids were playing games like hopscotch and
ringolevio. On any other day, I might have joined them, but this
was no ordinary day. Today would be a game-changer.

I then proceeded down the brick staircase
.

Since there was no walkway on that side of the street, I shuffled

past a heap of road gravel where a disfigured mulberry tree grew.
As horrible as it looked, it bore the sweetest white berries I had
ever tasted. A multicolored path of slate led me to the side door.

I rapped my knuckles firmly against the hollow-sounding door,
and the windows rattled throughout the house.



There was no answer, so I assumed she didn’t want to be bothered.

Turning around brought me to the edge of the roadway once more.

I then heard an indistinct movement on the other side of the house,
followed by the sound of an empty metal pail being placed on concrete.

Curiously, my eyes followed the sound.

It was only then that I saw an angelic shadow of a delicate figure so
enticingly
real, I froze. Her silhouette reflected against the house by
the rays of the morning sun made her hair appear to dance around
her shoulders as she moved, as though it were alive.

Nearing the street, she turned in time to see me looking.


“Hello there,” she said, waving politely. “I’m Harmony.”

“Hello,” I replied before approaching her. “I’m Charles.”

It was a beautiful day and as the gentle wind touched her hair, I could
tell she was unequivocally the most beautiful woman
I had ever seen in
my short lifetime. Standing a little over
five feet, she had a Mediterranean
complexion seemed to
intensify her jet-black, elbow-length hair. I could see
Harmony
differed from other women in that she was exotic and stimulating,
where other women were plain and ordinary.


I later came to learn she was of Indian descent.

The only South Asian woman I had ever seen up close,
and I was mesmerized. Heart-struck, I felt like a teenage
girl at a 1966 Beatles concert about to pass out.

With a red sequin blouse perfectly accentuating every part of
her amber skin, and the tight-fitting bell bottom jeans she
wore,
anyone could see she was up to date with the latest
fashion
trends. It didn’t take me long to notice she had the
most
adorable little beauty mark right below her left eye.

As
I stood before her looking up, I felt a bit woozy.




I struggled terribly and almost couldn't say it,
but I did, and the words flowed out with confidence.

“Has anyone ever told you, you have the most
beautiful brown eyes?”

I said it sincerely,
but it came out sounding overly romantic.




Harmony laughed before crouching down, and with
a warm smile, she said in return,
“You have to be careful
what you say to a lady.
I might fall in love with you.”

Upon hearing those words, I simply melted like a piece
of butter dropped into a warm frying pan. Maybe it was the
closeness of her face or how her lips moved, but whatever
it was, it must have been too much for my brain to process
because my head swooned, and my knees gave way.

                                                                                     The Gants - I wonder

                                                                              Pg 162
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Instinctively, she grabbed hold of me before I hit the ground.

As everything slowly came back into focus, I looked up
at her with loving
adulation and said, “You caught me.” I then felt very
embarrassed and
may have even blushed. There was a long pause
before I noticed a hint
of worry in her eyes, which alarmed me.


“As long as you’re okay,” she said in an uncaring voice. “Maybe you
should go now. I have a lot of unpacking and need to get settled in.”

Harmony averted her glance from me while she spoke, and it seemed
as if she was deliberately trying to avoid making eye contact. When she
peeked at me sideways, I smiled graciously before waving goodbye.

Turning away, I had made it across the road when tripping over the curb
sent me barreling head-first into my mother’s pink hydrangeas.

“Clumsy oaf,” I muttered before looking over my shoulder to see if the new
neighbor had witnessed the fiasco. No, she was busy picking
up a small
aluminum step ladder from around the side of the house and
must have
just missed it. I prayed I could make it to the backyard without
stumbling
or breaking something. All day, I tried to imagine being ten
years older
and fantasized about her being madly in love with me.

 
                                            A Group Called Eve - Within a world of you



But the fact is I was still a child.

I knew what I wanted, and
being mature for my age
gave me an incentive to go the extra mile.




Not that it mattered because I still suffered from nightmares and
was terrified of monsters living under the bed.
If I can’t protect
myself, I thought, then how can I protect the fair maiden?


But the sad truth is, you can never be more mature
than wisdom can teach you and considering I hadn’t
learned a whole lot in life, I needed to learn fast.




There was something so intoxicating about the moment our eyes
met for the first time it softened the unemotional
boundaries of
my infantile heart, exposing the inner man in me.


The man waiting in silence to awaken.

                              The Del Prixs - She'll be mine

Even though I was only six years old, and Harmony was eighteen,
it didn't distort my having a mind like a steel trap. Aside from being
clearheaded, clever, and overly thoughtful, I was also good-natured,
resourceful, and had a memory like an elephant.

That is why it was so easy to read people.

It's certainly an advantage when you can skim over an entire story
and automatically fill in the blanks on your homework assignment,
unlike the kids who had to read it repeatedly, and still not find the
answer. My maternal great-grandmother Theresa who couldn't speak
a word of English once told my grandmother in Italian shortly before
her demise I had an old soul. She lived to be 103, but I can still
recall that sweet, musty smell as I kissed her withered cheek from
where she sat in her antique rocker; and I could almost see the innocent
young girl she once was beaming at me with childish delight.

Now that I was on the cusp of turning seven, I thought of how deranged
it was to even fathom falling in love at such a young age. Not even four
years have passed since I was scuttling around with my Fisher-Price Corn
Popper toy. Most people from this era will remember this little novelty.
A colored stick with a round handle you push around and the colorful
balls bounce inside the clear plastic globe.

Sitting on the chair in my room, I dwelled on how crazy this whole
scenario would play out. Not wanting to torture myself any further,
I focused on how I could solve this unsolvable equation.

I knew in my heart that every problem has its own unique solution, but
I also knew that any outcome I was expecting would far outweigh the
odds of anything going remotely in my favor. It was just common sense,
but it wouldn't stop me from pushing all my chips into one enormous pile.

Honestly, what did I have to lose? Only time, I thought.
Time and a great deal of effort.

The following day, I thought about going over to see Harmony,
but could not bring myself to do it. The day after that, I didn’t
even have to think about it. I told my parents I was going
outside and hurried across the street.

I knocked on the wooden door, but there was no answer, so I
came back a half-hour later. As Harmony answered the door,
I looked up to find her covered in the most exquisite apparel.

Ever so serenely, she stood in a stunning peach brocade blouse
that appeared to be encrusted with gold embroidery. Around her
neck, she wore a stone-studded choker necklace that seemed to
sparkle as the sun reflected its glorious light upon it. This was
paired with
a matching set of gold dangle earrings. Beneath the
exquisitries
she wore a generous, ankle-length chamois satin
skirt I later
learned was called a lehenga.

Between her alluring grin and the little diamond sparkle pierced into the
right side of her nose, I could not pinpoint exactly which one was making
my knees buckle. That tiny diamond, however, clearly brought everything
into perspective. Like a magnet to my senses, it was imploring me to take
in all I was seeing. I couldn’t help but notice her hands either, adorned
with 
the hue of red henna, which I thought was a permanent tattoo.

Those exotic designs that seemed to crawl up her arms left me tingling.




It felt like all the oxygen had been removed from the air,
for I had seen nothing like it before in my life.

“Well,” she
said with a half-smile and two raised eyebrows.

It was like
looking into the eyes of a vision from heaven, and this
woman
needed no makeup at all, for she was undeniably gorgeous.

                                                  
The Avengers - Open your eyes

For a moment, I forgot how to talk.

I then said the worst thing I could have possibly said.
Like an android
with no hint of expression I uttered,

“Have I told you – how beautiful you look?”

Harmony crouched down and said, “Why are you doing this to me?”

My mind was as blank as an unused chalkboard.
She then grabbed my arm and squeezed it tight.

“Who put you up to this? Answer me.”

           (((But I could not talk)))

“Fine,” she said, “be like that. And don’t come back.”

“Wait,” I yelled, “you don’t understand.”

“What don’t I understand? That you’re a liar?”

As she moved to close the door, I said to her in complete desperation,
“I’m so sorry, no one told me to come here.”

I could now see she was
no longer upset, for her composure had
returned to normal. I then said,
while trying to hold back tears,
“I have no friends.”


                                                The New Era - Won't you please be my friend



“I apologize for becoming angry with you, Charles.
If you
want to be friends, that’s fine. But we can only be
friends
if we are completely honest with one another.”

And that is how it all began.


                                                                              Pg 163
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


That evening, as I lay down on my bed to sleep,
I thought about how wonderful it was to be alive.

To be living in such an inventive age, with every opportunity anyone could
ever hope for, was truly a blessing. As I listened to the wind blowing outside,
I grew more and more concerned about the shadows that had formed inside
my room. Worrying only animated them more until I found myself
under
the covers, unsuccessfully trying to prevent a full-blown panic attack.




                                             After a while, I drifted off to sleep.



As I entered the land of dreams, I saw an abundance of rabbits,
tending to their day by grazing and hopping about. Solely as an
observer was I there, for they did not seem to acknowledge my
existence. No people were present, only rabbits, and I was so
excited to be among them. A feeling of tranquility encompassed
me that I did not wish to leave.



After a brief interlude, there was a disconcerting pause, or should
I say, a moment of darkness, where everything in the present-day
world seemed to shift into a different gear. I then found myself in
a space capsule. As the small vessel circled the moon, preparing
to descend into the unknown region of space, I heard what appeared
to be a ticking sound. Not like that of a bomb, but that of time.
For the life of me, I cannot remember landing.



I remember wanting to exit the capsule but could not.


                                                     The Shadow Casters - Going to the moon

Monday morning, Mom roused me for school,
and a new week
of homework began.

Even though I didn’t see Harmony for an entire week, she would
honor her promise of us becoming friends. As our friendship grew,
we would spend time together whenever we could and by the end
of September, we were as thick as thieves.

For my own personal records, I wish I had noted in my journal the day
and the time I heard a particular song. It was in September, of that I can
attest, but the day has forever escaped me. It was a beautiful tune that
began
with a clarinet that I always though was a flute. The moment
I heard that
song, I knew it was going to be our song. Don't ask me
how I knew, but
I knew it. It was a song by some new band that would
probably dissolve
away before the new year began. (Or so I thought)
The way songs came
and went; it was only logical.

The name of the song was called, "We've only just begun" by a brother
and sister duet, strangely titled, The Carpenters. And boy, did they ever
prove me wrong. The melody somehow seemed to encapsulate the era
that we were living in, and even at the time of its release, I could still
feel and interpret the nostalgia within the embodiment of the music
that was just waiting to transcend our own chronological timeline.

Saturday morning, I awoke to the sound of a huge moving truck.
When I finally got around to getting up, I looked out my window to
see two men carrying a heavy wooden structure into the old house.
It appeared to be a large bureau, but I could not be certain, for my
view was obstructed by several tall trees. I observed them for some
time and rapidly lost interest when I realized
Harmony would not
be coming out.


Was she even in there?
Could she be showing them where to put the furniture?


It really didn't matter anyway.
I had to go with my mother today for shoes.




Every six months, she would take me up to Thom McAn or Buster Brown,
and I would try on a few pairs until I found something comfortable.


After that, I’d follow her around as she shopped for food and sundries
at the
local supermarket, casually eying prospective items as we strolled
down the
aisles of the aging grocery store, or I’d trail behind as she
picked up some
medicine from the pharmacy.



Today it was only the A&P. We spent most of the morning in there, and as
the elderly cashier with a grimacing scowl gently tapped the pastille-colored
keys, she would hit the motor bar, causing a systematic rumble of internal
metal parts showing each customer, the combined total of every purchase.

Yes, it was a noisy world, but things were getting done in an orderly
fashion, and that seemed to impress me. Upon leaving the store, Mom
was handed a receipt that stretched to a length longer than me.
                                        
                       
“Holy Chrysler,I thought, “a new world record.”



Sunday morning, I didn’t see Harmony either and the excitement soon
faded. Because of this, I didn’t feel like playing with my toys or doing
much of anything. Instead, I remained in my room to gloat upon and
ponder an almost hopeless situation.

I can remember getting off my bed and standing in the middle of
the room. Examining my physique, I made a front double bicep pose.
Considering I was below average height and build for my age, a ten-
year-old girl could have easily subdued me. But I was flexible and
wiry and would have eventually wrestled my way free.

Even so, Harmony accepted me for the scrawny little boy I was.

Maybe it was some inherent beauty that only I saw because whenever I
looked into her eyes, no matter what time of day it was, I was consumed.


My mother liked Harmony too and couldn’t say enough good things about
her. Sometimes, Mom would relay a message for me to give to her, and when
I wasn’t around, my mother and Harmony would get together and talk.


One of their talks entailed Harmony keeping me company at her house
until it was time for dinner. Another was me having dinner with Harmony
while my parents tried to resolve their issues over dinner at an unspecified
restaurant of their choice. Like CIA operatives on the
go, everything was
a covert mission with them.


I only knew what was happening because Harmony told me everything
they told her not to tell me. Even though there was a fourteen-year
difference between my mother and Harmony, they remained close.

That was until March of 1971 when Harmony began working with her
brother, did she spend less time with my mother and more time with me.
By the end of 1970, my parents were fighting about everything.
My father
would leave the house more often, coming back later each time,
while my
mother tried to hold it together the best she could. It almost
seemed like
they had become polar opposites.


I could not imagine them ever being in love, considering how distant
they were from each other, and their usual conversations
were more
like business meetings of a formal nature. On certain
occasions, I
would be ushered out of the room and told to, “go and do
something,”
which in my brain registered as, “put on the television so
you don’t
hear them,” but things weren’t always like this.


What I’ve heard from the inner circle of my family is that
the two were quite the match back in the summer of ‘58.

According to my grandmother, they eloped on a rainy Sunday night.

Tying the knot behind Sea Crest Farms in New Jersey because they were
spirited, young, and adventurous. Forever sealing their vows before God,
they created a child in loving unity, not knowing it later equated to sealing
their own fate by having my mother excommunicated from the
church and
sending my father to court to have the marriage annuIIed.


Whether you go to church or not, sometimes love is just doomed from the
start, but if you don’t take the initiative to at least try to
appease the yearning
that has grown in your heart, then
you may well live to regret it.



But for now, everything was fine, and time was moving
as
it should for a child beginning to figure out life.

What I lacked in knowledge, I made up for in confidence.

My mom not only made sure I was dressed to the nines, but also,
made sure I looked both cool and debonair when we were out together.
If you could understand that I wasn’t homely in any sense of the word,
then you would know that people usually took notice.

Whether it be a teacher in my school or a saleswoman in the department
store, I would always hear comments designed to enlighten my spirit.

Comments like, “Aren’t you charming, standing there with your hand on your hip.”

Or the attractive blonde lady with the Bardot hairstyle in the department store
aisle acting overly flirtatious as she made a remark to my mother, “Is that your
son, he has such dreamy eyes.” She then sighed and my mom proudly bolstered,
“He gets that from his dad.”


I guess one could say I was a soft-spoken child with a
charismatic personality. A boy who could rely on his own
subtle charm to unwittingly influence those around him.

My dad worked in construction, and my mom worked as a nurse in the local
hospital, so I was confident the future had good things in store for me. I was
also an idealist with genuinely good intentions who stood firm in his
beliefs
of what life should offer. I was lovable, loyal, and optimistic, and this
is what
Harmony eventually began to realize.


From what I recall, it was the chilly afternoon of December 17, 1970. A Thursday.

I came back from school and went directly to my aunt’s house, for I enjoyed spending
time with my cousins. Patty was home and had introduced me to a toy called Jacob’s
Ladder. I was fascinated by this contrivance and for the life of me, could not seem to
figure it out. It comprised little square blocks of wood that, when turned upside down,
would create a visual illusion as the pieces flipped around.

At around four o’clock, I said goodbye to my cousin Patricia.

Scurrying out of the house, I was excited to find out what Harmony was up to.
I then ambled down the block. The sky had changed from ominous to dark and
foreboding, and it seemed like nightfall was already upon me. The wind howled
as I knocked on the front door.

The many trees surrounding the house made it seem even darker. I could now
hear gentle footsteps approaching. Harmony quickly pulled open the door, but
only so she could see who was knocking. I could not see what she was wearing
because the room was obscured by darkness, and so, as I entered, she gradually
turned the round plastic knob on the light dimmer switch.

My mouth went dry, as she gave me one of those slow provocative smiles
that stimulated my very creative imagination.


Aside from this, she looked like a model from another planet
or something you might see on a Star Trek episode.

I mean, what clothing store carried that fashion line?


Before me, she stood adorned in a rather risqué blue cutout dress,
the color of sapphire. The embroidery which seemed handcrafted,
was highlighted in lines of black velvet trails, which were infused
with elegantly decorative silver markings followed by intense
swirling patterns that almost seemed to rise from the fabric itself.

It wasn't as bold as it was shocking to the eye, but the exquisite
drapery was way too ostentatious to be worn outside. Even in one's
native country, wearing such fine apparel anywhere other than in
refined social circles, I am sure would be frowned upon.


“Aren’t you forgetting something?” she asked, striking a pose,
as if waiting for a well-deserved compliment.

Standing akimbo, she observed me with a wry smile.

Candidly entreating me to visualize the entire aspect of her being.
One that captured the undefinable essence of my heart.




            “If I must say, you leave me breathless.” I tried to be flamboyant with words,
            but wound-up sounding like an idiot. Well, she doubled over with laughter.

                                                         And that was a start.

                                                  The Optic Nerve - What's been missing                                        


                                                                              Pg 164
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Worthy of Publishing" reviews for this particular chapter


Peter Von Harten - This is AMAZING!!! =) I love the nostalgic feel. *rating = 5 stars*

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
If any image on this site is considered to be offensive, it will be removed. If it has been copied without
proper consent, please contact me immediately and the image will either be removed, or credit shall be
given unto the person or persons responsible. Whether it be an artist, photographer, cartoonist., etc.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


PG 162) Hi-C advertisement
circa 1971 - http://tinyurl.com/m5cprf

PG 162) Mask V. transformed
by Leon Kubasski - http://tinyurl.com/l2za8pc

PG 162) Tijdzoekers
by Jacob Christian Poen de Wijs - http://tinyurl.com/mfs722k

PG 162) Zebrocerous
by Ilene Meyer - http://www.ilenemeyer.com/ 

PG 163) Sleeping beauty by
Scott Gustafson - http://www.scottgustafson.com/

PG 163) Retrato del nino Carlos Pomar Margrand
by Antonio Maria Esquivel - http://tinyurl.com/l88mjc6

PG 163) The Inundation Of The Biesbosch In 1421 by Lawrence Alma-Tadema
- http://www.alma-tadema.org/

PG 163) Auto erotic immolation by
Heidi Taillefer - http://tinyurl.com/kcr28ta

PG 163) Unbalanced by Karl Kwasny
- http://tinyurl.com/k8z7uwd

PG 164) Scary night
by Wes Lowe - http://tinyurl.com/k4cscz2

PG 164) The watchers
by Nathan Spoor - http://www.nathanspoor.com/

PG 164) Pushing clocks by Mark Bryan - http://tinyurl.com/26v656p

PG 164) Space capsule by Unknown

PG 164) Buster Brown's
Easter Parade of shoes - http://tinyurl.com/kvre9tu

PG 164) Leaving grocery in rain
by Amos Sewell - http://tinyurl.com/nrwj9rn

PG 164) Untitled
by Brad Yeo
- http://tinyurl.com/md6j637

PG 164) Wedding in the Spring
by Jon Whitcomb
-
http://tinyurl.com/7cfoo7f

PG 164) Rakassa
by Anastasia Kvadrovich - http://tinyurl.com/lzbdj95