RW Spryszak

The Oyster Eater

Near the bathing hut the oyster eater was hypnotized by the monotonous silver green waves that broke and dissipated on the sand. The blue light just below the surface of the sea, an orb, twirled in a fury just out of reach. Hiding but absolute. Sometimes there is too much garlic. Other times the orb looks like a tiny star submerged in the water. He couldn’t decide which to correct first. So, in the end, he did nothing. When the ice shelf broke off and drifted into the sea the water spilled over the edge of the glass. It was a result no one seemed ready for.

He poked the last creature and ripped it from its shell. Swimming in salt and sauce. Kicking, he sucked it down. It went slithering glob-like to the gullet. A magnificent descent. One dozen oysters gone and the sea never the worse for wear.

An hour before two women went into a single tent to change into their bathing suits. But they were behind the tall red fabric held up by a permanent frame for longer than anyone would deem reasonable, which aroused suspicions and blood flow. Long enough to change into lizards, he should imagine. Once in a while, it seemed, elbows and knees disturbed the placid curtains. And deep, manly, satisfied moans drifted into the sea air from inside. A mystery in there. “Maybe not so much lizards as marrus orthocanna,” he thought, visibly. And there it was. The difference between the worlds. The blue orb ordering its minions, marching the sardines out to battle, helmets askew, cocky, weapons slung, ready to invade. While all the time the human kind stroke obscure places on the map of the body and tittle into the wind, silly.

It was going to be a long war. “Maybe I need another dozen,” he thought as he poked his little finger into his ear and broke off chunks of something from inside that fell to the sand. A horn blew in the fog. He hadn’t noticed the mist coming in off the water until then. Raising a hand he summoned the waiter, who emerged from the bathing hut smeared with lipstick and sweat, happy to march off to the kitchen to bring another round like an armed sardine. True warrior.

It was his contribution, to his way of thinking. If these things were going to try to take back the land the best thing to do is eat the denizens in staggering numbers. Oyster crackers. Steaming pots of black calamari. Tuna steaks. Shark fins. Eel. Eat them all. That will teach them. The justice of the sanguine canal.

This was exactly the moment the priest, in his blackest long robe that hid his unpolished brown shoes, emerged from the fog with a long curved sword and ran into the tent screaming the Lord’s Prayer, backwards. “Evil from us deliver, but temptation!”

The eater could hear the weapon cutting into the women inside the hut. Like slicing open watermelons or pigs or even apples. What emerged, when it was over, was a man praying the black rosary, the light of heaven descending from a cloud, suddenly, making him a saint for all time. Lifting him into the air as he walked. Making the eater wish he’d ordered two dozen instead of just one.

All of this distracted him from the orb beyond the monotonous waves that at first held his attention. The blue orb. A crystal thing with tentacles. Emerging from the water like a balloon. One eye watching the eater. The other eye scanning the beach for crabs. The third eye peering hard at the skyline of the city, plotting the path this destruction would take.

Water takes the path of least resistance. The Ancient Ones wrote this strategy six thousand years ago. Maybe ten. Water is clear when held in the palm of the hand. Turns cloudy when poured into deep glasses. Is black at the bottom where you go to drown. It breaks up light close to the surface, but refuses to allow it into the deeper regions. A simple approach, really. Water can slice a rock or heal a wound. And this is exactly the point. This was the plan of attack. Few men would ever see it.

When the second dozen oysters arrived, finally – because he thought he was going to die of hunger by the time the waiter made his way back – the orb had already passed overhead and was smacking into the buildings on the waterfront, slowly and systematically busting the walls, kissing the bricks, and something something to the windows. There was some screaming. Shots were fired. There was too much garlic in this batch, but at least the bread was fresh. The waiter stepped over the river of blood meandering through the sand from the hut, adding up the bill in his head to guess at what his tip would come out as.

It was all a matter of preservation now. In his fever to produce the idea of true purity (that is to say, no other man poking around to complicate the DNA) the birth canal becomes a one way street and perfect equals virginal and the answer is always supernatural. The oyster eater by the bather’s tent realized this as he watched the blue orb.

Now he knew. Crystal clear. So he dropped the baguette and ran through the streets of the seaside town.

“It can’t be a coincidence,” he yelled. “It has to be the voice of God.” He pounded on door after door, repeating this mantra over and over.

But finally Pascal, the betting man, had enough of the things that came out of the sea. He never believed the warnings. He hated having the peace of his parlor upset by talk of the West. Sick and tired of it all, in fact, having lived in this port for the past eighty three years and used to seeing his share. “Enough of this nonsense,” he said, as he stopped dropping breadcrumbs on the floor so he could find his way home again to the land that used to be. “The water does this every spring.”

And when the eater pressed his face against the glass window of Pascal’s shop he took his pistol out of the drawer by the register and shot him in the open mouth of his head.

Glass and gray and bone flew out the back of the eater’s skull and landed in the rainwater collected in the gutter by the curb across the street, mixing with the oil there like rainbows and islands. Continents of multicolored patterns on the surface, blown by the breeze into monotonous silver green waves that broke and dissipated on the cobblestone. The blue light just below the surface of the pool, an orb, seemed to twirl in a fury just out of reach. Hiding but absolute.