Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction
The New Yorker and the OysterA New York attorney got tired of the rat race, so he quit his job at the law firm and moved up northeast, to a place called Down East, and built an oceanfront home on the coast of Maine. It was a big change, but he loved the solitude, the sea breezes, the shore birds, and the relaxed days of fishing.
He did get lonely at times, but New York had been lonely too, just in a different sort of way. In the city he was surrounded daily by thousands of people, all of whom acted as if he didn’t exist. At his new home, he was lucky to see another human being in the course of a week. To tell the truth, when he did run across locals, they didn’t really seem any friendlier than city people. In fact, they seemed to have outright disdain for outsiders. Still, all in all, he enjoyed life there. The only real exception would be the huge storms that blew in from time to time. They were something that he hadn’t been prepared for.
Being unfamiliar with seaside life, he didn’t realize what conditions could be like when the big winds came, and he would have been taken totally unawares if not for a rather strange event.
One day, as he was walking on the shore, looking at the waves and the clouds, a seashell came running up onto the beach and yelled, “What are you doing out here? There’s a big Nor’easter coming. Time to batten down the hatches. Get back to your house and board it up, and tie down anything that might blow away.”
Somewhat dumbfounded, to say the least, he decided he had better not ignore this omen, and raced home to do as he was told, and it was fortunate that he did; the storm turned out to be a real doozie.
Strangely enough, the same thing occurred before the next big storm arrived, and the following one, too. Finding this somewhat perplexing, he decided to see what he could learn about this strange phenomenon, so one day, when he saw a lobsterman working on his traps, the New Yorker attempted to engage him in conversation. Not surprisingly, response was limited, but he kept trying anyway, and finally got to the topic of the weather.
“You sure get some big storms here on the coast.”
“Don’t they make you nervous?”
“They sure do me. I’d hate to have one take me by surprise. Do they ever catch you off guard?”
“They don’t? Why not? Do you have some way of telling when one is coming?”
The New Yorker figured that this would probably be his best opportunity to bring up the subject that concerned him, and decided that he had better make his move while the guy was in such a talkative mood, so he got up his courage and said, “Speaking of that, the strangest thing has been happening to me. Every time some really bad weather is on the way, this oyster comes up out of the water and warns me of the coming storm.”
The old lobsterman stared at him, an incredulous look on his face.
“You don’t believe me, do you?” asked the lawyer.
“I swear it’s true.”
“So you think I’m lying?”
“Just crazy, huh?”
Taken aback at being called ignorant by some uncultured fisherman, the lawyer was tempted to give the local yokel a piece of his mind, but he decided to bite his tongue, and instead asked rather subduedly, “So you’ve never heard of anything like this happening?”
“Didn’t say that.”
“What? I thought you said you didn’t believe my story.”
“I don’t. Ain’t no oyster ever done that; not that I ever heard tell of,” the old man continued on, disbelief still written all over his face. “They don’t teach you fellas nuthin’ back in the city do they!” he almost spat, “You tellin’ me you never heard of the clam before the storm?”
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