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All I Want for Christmas is my Frigging Oysters—Dammit

Low tide in Owl Harbour ain’t no place for them that has a weak stomach or sensitive disposition. The mud flats smell right pungent, especially at the mouth of the Mushamush River. The Mushamush River drains the Mellow Mush Marsh. As foul as it is, the river delta is right some good for the oysters of Owl Harbour. Keeps them at a steady temperature all year round even though a mile out might be all frozen.

 It were about five to two when Clyde and I got to Purdy’s wharf. The winchwoman named Fran said to meet her at two. I’m a punctual man. My father always used to tell me, ‘Son, if you are on time, you’re late,’ so I always show up to my appointments five minutes early. The young woman was there already, and as I suspected, she weren’t alone. In her company were two big fellows wearing grumpy looks—the kind of look you wear to show folks you mean business.

“Follow us,” she said, “but leave the horse.”

“The hell I will,” I answered her back right smartly. “Clyde’s my back-up, he comes with me.”

“I seen her glance at one of the big ugly blokes she brought and he just shrugged. It took that for a ‘yes’ and nodded to Clyde to follow. We continued on, sneaking into a warehouse with a busted lock. Inside was another bloke, sitting on a barrel smoking a pipe. I took note of his rifle leaning against the barrel; still within easy reach.

“Hurry up,” said the pipesmoker. “Heard the law’s been snooping about.”

“There’s the crate of oysters,” said Fran pointing to a plain wooden box, about two foot by two foot by three foot. “A hundred and ten pounds of fresh oysters.”

“How fresh?” I asked.

“Crated fresh this morning,” said one of the big ugly blokes. “You ain’t going to find none no better.”

“Open the crate,” I said.

Fran nodded to the bloke on the barrel. He took another haul off that pipe of his then hopped off his perch and took a crowbar to the crate. Sure enough, it were full up with oysters just like they said. I didn’t really believe that they would cheat me at this point in the game, but Id’ve been a fool to take them at their word. So I reached down into that crate, took one of them bivalved mollusks in hand, and pried it open with my knife so as I could take a good whiff.

“Okay,” I said. “We got a deal.” But before anyone could exchange spit-palmed handshakes we got interrupted by a piercing whistle of the kind often blown by constables.

“HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!” a man called out. It were the sheriff and his deputy, rifles aimed square at us. “THEM OYSTERS IS CONTRABAND!”

I figured we were buggered on account of none of us had our guns drawn. But it were Clyde that stepped in. He reared right up on the two lawmen with a fearsome neigh.

Now, I’m going to interrupt my story for just a minute to tell you a little something about my horse Clyde. When he rears up in such an excited state, like he done, there ain’t no man on this earth that wouldn’t be humbled.

The distraction was all we needed. Even before Clyde’s front legs landed back on the ground the three blokes and Fran drew their arms, outgunning the Sheriff and his men by two to one.

“Dammit Fran Farquhar!” said the Sheriff. “You best watch yourself. This here is a bad lot you’re getting all mixed up with.” But that were all he said. He and his deputy reholstered their guns then turned and walked away.

“Hurry up and grab that crate,” she said to me. “It’s not likely they’ll be back—but they could. The steamwinch is just down on Lower Water Street.”

So with a nod to the two men I pocketed my knife, hoisted that crate up onto my shoulders and with Clyde at my side, followed the woman down the street.

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  1. Mr Tenk Mr Tenk December 22, 2014

    he better come back with my oysters while they are still alive

  2. Tepic Harlequin Tepic Harlequin December 22, 2014

    Oysters are supposed ter be alive? All frozen an such? Cor….

    We goes down the Wall in Clockhave ter gather muscles in season, there’s some right plump ones at the far end, just right fer selling up the toff end of town. Course, fer me own eating, i preferes the ones a from the other side – they is smaller, yep, but…… well…… they arn’t right by the sewer pipe…….

    (This is from childhood, where a certain bay had two rocky outcrops at either end, and locals always harvested the right hand outcrop for exactly this reason!)

  3. Morgan Douglas Morgan Douglas December 22, 2014

    I just want to educate any city-folk that might be reading along on what some call ‘safe domestic hygienic practices‘ for the handling of all your fresh moluskan products. Once you dig them buggers out of the mud, or sweep them up off the beach or whatever, you got yourself about *three days and no more-unless you shuck them and pack them in ice. Now don’t blush at my language – shucking ain’t no bad thing. Once you’ve done with your shucking you can store them for up to seven days. But I ain’t no shucker and I figure Boots might be the sort who likes to just pop them oysters with a knife and swallow them raw. So I’ll get them to him live and fresh.


    *Footnote: some says you only got one or two days but them ain’t folks you want to eat with on account of they’re always pestering you to wash your hands before you come to the table.

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