Attack of the Clams
I took the iced tea glass from her hand, a strong hand, but one still slender and artful, as if Michelangelo had carved it from bone-white marble.
A hand that could caress me so tenderly I would twist the sheets in my sweaty, swarthy paws just to keep my body from shaking, and yet…a hand that could fire a Marine Scout Sniper Rifle at ten targets from 50 yards…and hit all of them.
She bent over to pick up some firewood, and her loose breasts tumbled into her tight tee-shirt like two ripe pears pressing against a plastic produce bag.
I like pears, especially the kind that explode wetly in my mouth with tangy showers of nectar, dribbling sticky juice down my unshaved chin. Perhaps, I thought to myself, I will pick some fruit later, and the idea sent a potent plume of power plummeting down past my overheated gozzle.
The energy was visceral, surging, animal, and I could almost feel it clattering in my ears, but then realized it was just the clam pot, bubbling and boiling, scenting the campground with the savory smell of salt and seafood.
The lid of the pot popped off from a particularly strong blast of steam, and she scurried over to replace it. But when she got to the fire, she froze.
Staring into the pot, her face went blank. She leaned down, looking more closely. I could see her body tense up, as if poised for action, like a spring tightly coiled and waiting for a trigger.
I had seen her act like this once before, when we were hiking around the lake one morning and carelessly came upon a large cottonmouth sunning itself on the path, its arrow shaped head only inches from her bare ankle.
Then she backed slowly out of danger. But today was different. The danger was evidently there, but she didn’t back away. Her curiosity compelled her to look more closely.
“Honey, I think you better take a look at this,” she said without taking her eyes off the pot.
“Yeah? What’s up, sweetie?” I said, without moving from his comfortable spot on the cushions.
“No, you need to see this. Really. Like…now.”
There was a sense of urgency in her voice that unnerved me, so I got up and walked over, a bottle of beer dangling from one hand.
“Get a stick,” she said, gesturing toward the woodpile with one hand, eyes locked on the pot.
“A whaa!?” I said.
“A stick, a stick! Hurry!”
I picked up a stick about as thick as a pencil and went over. For the first time, she shifted her gaze, looked at my stick, frowned, and then nodded her head towards the pot. “Take a look in there and see if you see what I see,” she said.
I leaned over the pot and immediately jumped back.
“Jesus!” I said.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
We ventured another look inside the pot. The clams, still immersed in boiling water, had opened their shells, as cooked clams are supposed to. Protruding from the openings were long, grey necks, as wrinkled as foreskins. But eerily set around each neck was a pair of beady, purplish eyes….angry eyes…eyes that were looking…back.
“Are those little peckers…”
“Alive? Yeah, I think so,” she said.
“They…they…should be dead,” I stuttered. “The water is 212 degrees f-f-f…”
“Well they ain’t. And I don’t like how they’re lookin’ at us.”
“Yeah, no shit. Kinda scary. Think we should try to eat them? I’m gettin’ kinda hungry.”
She slowly turned her head and looked at me as if he had just sprouted moth wings from my eyebrows. Just as she was about to speak, a sharp gurgle ejaculated from the pot and a mud green blob of steaming hot clam mucus jetted from the water and splatted on her exposed neck.
“Ouwww,” she screamed in pain, jumping back. “What the fuck!”
Another shot of clam snot whizzed past his nose, but a third, fourth and fifth found their marks. We howled and ran as stinging mud missiles zinged in an crescendos cascade from the pot, leaving us in shock and awe.
“Clam attack,” I hollered, diving behind the woodpile.
She was already sprawled flat in a defensive position behind the cooler, a skill learned from her years of working with the Marines, even though just as an accountant. She was counting the clam shots and keeping a mental ledger.
275, she summed to herself, and currently dispensing at 12 snot shots per second with a 27.3% rate of increase. If we don’t do something fast, we’ll be overrun in less than 92 seconds.
She flipped open her cell phone and dialed my number. I answered.
“Bravo1 to Delta Fox! Bravo1 to Delta Fox. Do you copy?” she barked.
“Hello?” I said, peering first at the number on the tiny screen through squinted eyes.
“The clams are shifting their attack tactics. They are taking the fight to us,” she said. “We need to move now!”
I peered around the wood pile and looked towards the fire pit, now nearly obscured with smoke and steam. Through the haze I could see the pot had rocked off its stand and lay on its side, spilling water and clams into the fire.
But the clams were not standing still. In some freakish explosion of accelerated evolution borne in a cauldron of sea water, fire, and Old Bay seasoning, the clams had not only sprouted eyes but crude, crab-like legs, enabling them to scurry out of the fire and into the nooks and crannies of the campsite.
“Holy Mackerel!” I said into the phone, “They’re like roaches!”
“It’s worse than that. Look to your left, under the pop-up.”
I swung my gaze to the left, and what I saw made me nearly wet myself. The clams were organizing, arranging their growing numbers in platoons and phalanxes.
At the head of their neat rows and columns was a particularly, large and gnarly looking clam, one I had sucked out of the muck earlier today and had anticipated slurping down its muculent body in one gulp with Tobasco sauce and a shot of tequila.
Now Commander Clam was in control, one eye on his troops, and the other stretched backwards, studying the field of battle.
The crackle of my cell phone snapped me back to attention.
“Delta Fox, we are moving to plan ‘Mexican Mayhem’. Do you copy?”
“Er, yes, I think so. What do I do?”
“Toss me the hot sauce.”
“Toss me the hot sauce. It’s on the picnic table and closer to me than you. I’ll distract them.”
“But those damn things are shooting…”
I did as I was told and scampered towards the table as she stood up and bleated like a calf, waving her arms. The clams were distracted by her antics, and a festoon of fiery phlegm fired her way.
He grabbed the Tobasco sauce, and while rolling to the ground in a somersault, tossed it to her. She caught the bottle in one hand. Twisting off its cap in a single, deft move, she aimed the bottle at a nearby clam and slapped the bottle’s bottom with her open palm. A short stream of hot sauce shot out and went straight into the eyes of the clam, who promptly tucked up tight into his shell.
One down, 35 to go, she thought.
I watched her in amazement. She never missed. With every slap of the bottle, a clam went down. She was systematic, cold even, calmly walking through the camp site like Dylan Klebold, firing shots of Tobasco sauce as fast as her skilled hands would move.
Hands that caressed, true, but hands that also killed. In what seemed like only seconds, all clams but one had shut down. Commander Clam stood alone on his crab legs, defiant, both eyes forward, its gaze fixed on her and unwavering.
“You are going down, you Son-of-a-Clam,” she said, a cruel smile playing across her luscious lips, perfectly painted with Revlon “BlackCherry” #5 lip creme.
Commander Clam and she both fired at the same time. He missed. She didn’t.
An hour later, after a few beers and shots to calm ourselves, we talked about the massacre.
“It’s been one hell of a day,” she said, taking a swill from her beer.
“Indeed it has been,” I said. “I’m just glad you were here, sweetie. That was some shootin’ you did there. Nice job.“
She acknowledged my complement with a nod of her bottle toward mine.
“Say, I’m still hungry,” I said. “”Think we should, you know, eat them?”
She looked around the camp site, its ground strewn with the bodies of dead clams, soldiers in an epic, Darwinian battle to survive, an errant detour in the enigmatic evolutionary process that would one day, eons from now, might have led to the clam’s descendants teaching college, building starships, becoming Elvis impersonators.
But for now, that chapter was closed. The fittest had won the day.
“No,” she said, slowly getting to her feet. “Whaddya say we just go out for Thai?”
Books by Brant
For Christmas 2018, my brother, a pilot with American Airlines, gave me a gift that became the experience of a lifetime: 12 months of free travel anywhere American Airlines flies.
Thus began a year long journey that took me from the rocky coasts of Portugal, to the hot sands of Morocco, to the mangrove swamps of Panama, with many places beyond and between. In cheap hostels and the backwaters of the nomadic milieu, I discovered a treasure chest of colorful and fascinating people. I tell their stories and a bit of my own.
The trip became as much a spiritual and emotional journey inward as it was a literal outward one, and found me in a place those of you who are in the second half of life are likely to recognize.
With references to the philosophies of Carl Gustav Jung, Jesus, Bob Dylan, and the Buddha, Blue Skyways is an international romp by a man in his 60’s with not much more than a pack on his back, and still much to learn.
A suspense/thriller novel!
When a university student uses advanced software to analyze dreams from around the world, he discovers odd, unexplainable patterns in the data. Where one dream ends, another begins…even though the dreamers are strangers. Unique objects appear in one person’s dream and reappear in another's.
The patterns form a map pointing to an ancient, lost object, but when the student is mysteriously murdered, his deadbeat brother and estranged wife embark on an international race to recover the map's buried treasure. Along the way, the troubled couple are opposed by dark forces of the religious underworld, who launch a global pandemic to ensure the map's secret remains lost forever.