One fine morning the citizens of Clam Cove awoke to discover that their bay, and many bays down the coast, appeared to be blocked by a very long something.
It was almost like a big island, except it kept going into the distance a far ways, and some people said it might be a whole continent.
"Strange continent," said Muskie the fisherman. "No trees on it or nothin'. Just bumpy white hills."
"I guess it's a new kind of continent," said Edna Huffenmyer the other fisherman. "A Modernist continent."
"Very convenient," said Muskie. "Why, we can sail right out there and settle it, easy-peasy."
So Muskie and a passle of other folks from Clam Cove sailed out over the now very narrow Atlantic Ocean towards the continent they were going to name Muskie, unless they were going to name it Edna, or perhaps Mayor Mulligan because he was funding the expedition, or at least he had lent them the flag for it.
Unfortunately for all concerned, which was not yet very many, because not many had woken up yet, the boats that sailed out over the Atlantic Sound were met by a wall of water rushing towards them, and if some of them didn't bother to turn right around and beat feet for Clam Cove well they would be heading in that direction in half a moment anyway.
And when all the boats were washed up on shore and everyone took a head count (twenty, plus one because Gloriana Muganda had brought her favorite hand puppet along), they looked out over the water and saw that the continent had changed it shape. Now it looked kind of soft, and beige, at least on the bottom. On the top it was almost like looking into the top shell of a very large clam.
And then the top part closed with a giant splash, and a thudding boom.
"Ah ha," said Mayor Mulligan. "It's an oyster. Why, I bet it's as wide as the world."
And then Muskie grabbed another boat that hadn't been smashed on the rocks, and went out there to see if he could give that Oyster a piece of his mind.
And the oyster must have given Muskie a piece of his mind, because he and his boat came in on the next wave.
Well, then everyone else started to wake up. Millicent Murfreesboro rolled out of bed and grabbed her shotgun, before realising that the oyster outside her window was a lot farther away than she thought. The dog catcher had about the same problem, and decided to head out to Mussel Shoals to see if he couldn't find a bigger net. And Old Margaret the Lupine Lady said someone ought to check if that thing really was as wide as the world, because if it was, then there was no point trying to get around it.
So Muskie grabbed a boat that hadn't been smashed on the rocks and set out south down the coast.
Forty minutes later he came puttering in from the north and said, "Yep."
Well, that was when everyone flipped their gizzard. Most folks ran to church, where Reverend Hopkirk gave an extemporanous sermon about how God sends these things to test the faithful. Some folks ran to the synagogue, where they complained about how God had sent them ten boatloads of food that they couldn't eat. Some folks ran to the mosque and started praying to God because really, what else are you going to do in a situation like this? Although one person believed that the oyster might actually be God, and that everyone ought to pray in that direction, until someone smacked him on the back of the head.
It might have gone on like that for a while until there came a fellow down to the beach, a young fellow in wading boots with a steely look in his eye. A fellow named Johnny. (Because of course he was.)
And Johnny said, "Fellas, there's only one thing you do with an oyster that size. You eat it."
And Old Margaret said, "Well, it's a darn shame we're all vegetarians."
And Johnny said, "Alright, I'll just have to do it myself."
And Edna said, "Are you nuts? It's an oyster! You can't cut it into bite-size pieces! How will you fit that whole thing in your mouth?"
And Johnny said, "I've got this here fork and this here carving knife. Should oughta work."
And Muskie said, "We can't exactly steam an oyster that large can we?"
And Johnny said, "Praise the Lords for making raw oysters edible!"
And Mayor Mulligan said, "How can you eat that whole thing?"
And Johnny said, "Hey, you ever heard of Melinda Mae? She ate a whole whale one bite at a time."
And everyone nodded and said they remembered little Melinda Mae.
So Johnny went at it. And he sliced and he diced, and he chewed and he swallowed, and for a whole year he ate nothing but raw oyster, plus some celery for variety. And bit by bit, the giant oyster went away, until at last there was no more oyster, and the big shell finally closed for good.
And there was a whole new land for people to spread out on, at least until the whole thing sank when someone accidentally dropped a barbell set on it and broke clean through to the sea.
Everybody said that was a darn shame, but they all gave Johnny a hearty handshake for doing his best and saving their cove from being a lot smaller than normal.
Now, the way I've told this story, it doesn't seem like that much of a crisis, if young Johnny could take care of it so easily. Fair enough, fair enough. I didn't tell you where the real crisis came in.
The real crisis was when it turned out that oysters don't agree with Johnny, and he barfed everything up.
They say that if you turn your nose to the wind just right, you can
still smell the oyster. Because we’re still cleaning it up. Where the
hell is a firehose when you need one?