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


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

Venturing downstairs for a drink, I reached into the dish
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 over
to the window to see what it could be. As I looked through the ruffled
pleated curtains, I could see 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 what looked
like an
assortment of boxes into the old Llavarano house.

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 be dancing
around her shoulders as she moved, as though it were somehow alive.
Nearing the street, she turned just 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 at a little over
five feet, she had a Mediterranean complexion that seemed to
intensify her jet-black, elbow-length hair. I could see Harmony
was different from other women in a sense that she was exotic
and stimulating, where other women were plain and ordinary.

I would later come 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.

I stood before her looking up, I began to feel 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 as sincere as possible,
but it came out sounding overly romantic.

Harmony started to laugh before crouching down, and with
a warm smile she said to me 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 the way 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 found myself looking up
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, and that alarmed me.

“As long as you’re okay,” she said in a discerning voice. “Maybe you
should go now. I have a lot of unpacking to do 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 to myself, before looking over my shoulder to
see if the new neighbor 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.

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

Not that it mattered in the least, because I was still suffering from
nightmares, and 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 very first time that it softened the unemotional
boundaries of my infantile heart, exposing the inner man in me.

The man who had been 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 the fact that I had a mind like a steel trap. Aside
from being clearheaded, clever, and overly thoughtful, I was also
clear-minded, 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 again and again, and still not find
the equation. My maternal great-grandmother Theresa who couldn't
speak a word of English once told my grandmother in Italian, shortly
before her demise, that 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 of who she once was beaming at me with childish delight.

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
she wore a generous, ankle-length chamois satin
skirt that 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, really 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
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 never seen anything 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
needed no makeup at all, for she was undeniably gorgeous.

The Avengers - Open your eyes

For a brief moment, I forgot how to talk.

I then said the worst thing I could have possibly said. Like an android
without any hint of expression whatsoever I uttered the following words:

“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
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 begun to form
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 make its descent 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 do 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.

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 began to lose 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 or so, 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 in itself 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 kind of 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. Once in a while, 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 own personal 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 going on 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 begin spending 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.

It was hard for me to 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 very 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 would later equate 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 begun to grow in your heart, then
you may very well live to regret it.

But for now, everything was fine, and time was moving in the
manner it should for a child just 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 pretty 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
I think this is what Harmony would eventually begin 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 truly fascinated by this contrivance and for the life of me, could not
seem to figure it out. It was comprised of 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 tended to stimulate 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 to be 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 nevertheless, 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 to be 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*

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PG 162) Hi-C advertisement
circa 1971 -

PG 162) Mask V. transformed
by Leon Kubasski -

PG 162) Tijdzoekers
by Jacob Christian Poen de Wijs -

PG 162) Zebrocerous
by Ilene Meyer - 

PG 163) Sleeping beauty by
Scott Gustafson -

PG 163) Retrato del nino Carlos Pomar Margrand
by Antonio Maria Esquivel -

PG 163) The Inundation Of The Biesbosch In 1421 by Lawrence Alma-Tadema

PG 163) Auto erotic immolation by
Heidi Taillefer -

PG 163) Unbalanced by Karl Kwasny

PG 164) Scary night
by Wes Lowe -

PG 164) The watchers
by Nathan Spoor -

PG 164) Pushing clocks by Mark Bryan -

PG 164) Buster Brown's
Easter Parade of shoes -

PG 164) Leaving grocery in rain
by Amos Sewell -

PG 164) Untitled
by Brad Yeo

PG 164) Wedding in the Spring
by Jon Whitcomb

PG 164) Rakassa
by Anastasia Kvadrovich -