There was something about sound, the way it fell flat, the way it lacked direction, the way it failed to achieve clarity when the early June fog smothered the beach. It consisted of dumb silence, interrupted by muted trumpets of seagulls, like that jigaboo crap his Mom loved to listen to after she came home from a date, all lit up and cross-legged. Was it some kind of acoustic effect, like sound waves dulled by passing through droplets of water, or was it something more synaesthetic, like the way color changes the flavor of things? No matter what the scientific explanation, Thomas always knew when it was a foggy morning well before he opened his eyes, somewhere around 6:30 in the morning, usually, except for Saturdays when he tried diligently to death-march himself down to the beach to do calisthenics before sunrise, just like Jack LaLanne would.
The calisthenics usually turned into a sweaty, wheezing ritual less of physical strength than of will power. Or lack thereof, of both. The Artist would prefer not to think about it any longer, at least until next Saturday.
But today wasn’t Saturday, and he knew it was 6:30, because that’s when the dull throb of the plows stopped, finally, and Thomas always imagined that the fog and the sound of the tractor was one monotone, the sound of the deep grey that would finally be burnt up by the white fires of the rising sun. The tractors were plowing up clams by the ton, from the low tide sands where they buried themselves, waiting for the ocean to return so they could spend another goddamn day sucking water, in and out, in and out, though their weird siphon tubes. The town was famous for these clams. They held a week-long clam festival, every June. There was a huge concrete statue of a clam, right in front of the pier, where girls would sit in pink bikinis the same color as the pink painted siphon tube that thrust out from the opening in the giant concrete shell, which was usually all too much for poor Thomas, forcing a humiliating retreat to the trailer park, to his bedroom. Frank Gannon once mentioned the town on Dragnet, during the prescribed 30 seconds of stiff jovial conversation between Frank and Joe, in which the viewer was made privy to the fact that these men were Friends as well as Partners, Frank smacking his lips at the thought of sweet, delicious clam, served on the halfshell. “The clams, man. The clams.” The fucking clams. You have to be famous for something, right?
Dark gray, shapeless, flaccid clam meat, the color and smell of the morning fog. Every goddamn day, in and out, in and out. The clams are why Mom wasn’t home right now. Every morning, she went down to the beach to meet Danny who drove the tractor, Danny, who would let her take 20 clams. Danny used to work with Thomas’ father, when Thomas’ father used to work, when Thomas’ father used to live in town. And so it was, every morning, Mom and Danny, down by the tractor, Mom with clams, clams for dinner, another grey dinner, another grey morning, shitting out the clams, Mom and Danny, down by the tractor.