Sunday, May 07, 2006

from The Procession of the Mollusks (a novel)
--Eric Olson

In one of my dreams I was tending an oyster bed corralled off from a wide bay by an enclosure of rocks stacked up to create a sea wall. I made my way around the enclosure, dipping a long vacuum hose into the water. The hose, attached to a loud, diesel-powered engine stationed a few yards up on the rocks, was grafted onto my hand at the handle, its tube melding with my skin in a stitch-work of flesh and plastic.
In the water, the rows of oysters, their shells slightly ajar, pointed upward toward the surface. The vacuum tip brushed along their calcareous lips, sucking away algae and seaweed. A cacophony of gull calls filled the air
As I worked along the edge of the constructed pool, head down, focusing the tube on each oyster with meticulous care, a loud splash of water behind me made my head jerk to see where the sound had come from. On the bay side of the rock enclosure, the tip of what was undoubtedly a long tentacle had slipped out of the bay, over the sea wall, and was rutting around in the pool, attempting to grasp a tentacle full of oysters. The long arm flexed and rolled as it fastened its grip, the suckers contracting and relaxing like the pupils of enormous eyes, each surrounded by a ring of what looked like teeth.
I attempted to drop the vacuum, but, of course, it was attached to my hand, so I settled for dragging the tube along with me as I scrambled over the rocks toward the tentacle.
When I was close enough to where the arm was still rooting around in my pool of oysters, I slapped at it clumsily with the end of the vacuum tube, missing several times before finally making contact. The arm flinched, and from behind the sea wall, the body of whatever enormous monster the tentacle belonged to, hauled itself out of the water, standing upright to confront me.
I was surprised to see that the tentacle was actually one of many legs that were attached to a humanoid creature that looked suspiciously like a medieval friar or monk. His hair was cut into the familiar ring around the circumference of his head, leaving the wet skull bald and gleaming in the sun. Around his neck hung a massive ornate cross, studded with jewels and inlaid with sparkling gold.
The monk smiled sheepishly at me, shrugging his shoulders slightly, then retracted the offending tentacle, trying to hide the five or six shells that were affixed to the suckers.
“Those are my oysters,” I said. “They are not yours to take.”
The monk’s smile disappeared, turning into a pathetic, imploring pout. I sighed and waved my hand dismissively.
“Alright, go ahead. But don’t come back looking for handouts. Go steal someone else’s oysters.”
His face broke into a satisfied smile as he returned the tentacle to the bay side of the wall. He bowed his head in my direction, then slipped beneath the surface and was gone.
I continued tending to my oyster bed.


Blogger Izzi said...

that a boy

4:43 PM  

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