By Meredith Fitzsimmons
The wedding had been picture-perfect. That is, until the clams showed up.
Todd and Kristi held hands beneath an arbor interwoven with pink roses. Around them sat a small group of friends and family, their bare feet resting in the cool, powder-white sand. Getting married on the beach had been Kristi’s idea, and everyone agreed it was a wonderful place for the active, fun-loving couple to join each other in matrimony.
The sun shone brightly in the clear blue sky, and waves broke gently along the shore. Nearby, smiling islanders in pastel tuxedos prepared for the reception by pouring fruity drinks into coconut shells and setting fire to a pig. Todd’s mother reached for a Kleenex — she couldn’t believe her little boy was finally getting married! — and that’s when she saw the clams.
There were several dozen of them at the water’s edge. These clams were unusually large and seemed to project a vague sense of menace, which was unusual for Caribbean clams. Todd’s mother quietly nudged her husband and nodded toward the ocean, but he wasn’t impressed.
“Clams,” he whispered. “Just a bunch of stupid, friggin' clams.” And then they turned their backs to the shore, unaware that the clams were now moving out of the surf and up onto the beach in a pair of single-file columns.
It was when Kristi began to recite her vows that she saw the advancing party of mollusks. They were moving much faster than she thought clams could move, swinging themselves from side to side with a malevolent swagger that put the bride ill at ease. The minister was worried, too. He picked up a Bible and clutched it tightly to his chest.
The clams took the string quartet by surprise. The musicians scattered, and there was a cacophony of screeching strings and splintering wood as the clams demolished a cello and two violins. Now the guests began fidgeting in their seats. Some of the approaching clams began opening and closing their shells, making a sound not unlike Canada geese being strangled. Over the din, Todd urged the minister to continue with the ceremony, but he chose instead to cower behind a nearby sand dune.
The clams cleared a path through the startled guests, rousting them with their horrible squawking and implied threats of violence. Kristi began to sob, but this didn't seem to matter to the clams, who bullied their way right up to where the bride and groom stood. Then the largest of the clams slowly opened its shell. On top of its soft, glistening body there was a set of four Crate & Barrel pewter coasters.
“For you,” the bivalve said in its thick, wet voice. “On this very special day.” Kristi was stunned by the unexpectedly kind gesture. “Why thank you!” she said, bending down to softly stroke the clam's shell.
And then she reached for the coasters, and the clam shell snapped shut, severing Kristi’s hand at the wrist. She shrieked and flailed her bloody, handless arm in the air, splattering her would-be-husband as well as her resplendent Julianne Tiswick gown. Screams of horror erupted from the guests. Todd grew woozy and crumpled to the ground.
Amid the chaos, the clams opened and closed their shells, over and over, their terrible honks filling the air. And as Todd faded into unconsciousness, he remembered that he had heard this sound before, during a film in his freshman marine biology class. Yes, it was unmistakable: the cruel laughter of heartless shellfish.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
By Meredith Fitzsimmons