Carver Simons toted the clams to Sag Harbor to sell, and Jonah took half a dozen and ate them raw on the steps of his shack. Somewhere over Indian Field the moon hung low, but Jonah could not see it, concealed as it was over a sky of low, choppy gray clouds, like waters skipping over the vault of the firmament.
The clams had a stinging, turgid flavor, but Jonah Graves ate them nonetheless, parting with his better judgement.
At dawn’s first rays he was puking over a bucket behind his shack. The continued retching rang out like a dissonant bell, and several of his neighbors entered his home. They looked at the clam shells. A man sniffed one and grimaced. They lay Jonah on his bed and a woman fetched a rag and soaked it in Witch Hazel and pressed it to his forehead.
Jonah was at sea. His vessel, a small dingy, was tossed by a violent, lush storm. The water poured into the hull, over the top and through cracks in the wood. All along the deck, a slick mucous of glimmering algae, like flung effulgence, made it all but impossible for him to stand without falling.
He grasped the side of the boat, spewing vomit into the stiff, unforgiving wind. But the pulse beat of the sea was words, Indian words, the like of which he had not heard since he was a tot, and they chanted some divine and melancholy tune, to the song of this vengeful water. These words had hands, as incorporeal as the mutinous wind, and they held Jonah Graves down, pressing him against the boards of a boat he could not control. Then a great beast reared up from the black water, and its mouth, ringed with the detritus of a thousand violent meals, consumed in cyclonic rage, set to swallow him whole.
But then he was back in his shack, and objects were falling to the floor. Pottery smashed. Glass shattered. He was being held down by strong hands which brokered no compromise with his wild, pleading words. He imagined it was his neighbors, but looking up through the murk of the room, superimposed upon their features were the outlines of their bones, just beneath their taut, brown skin.
And when Jonah emerged from his fit three days later, everyone from Indian Field to Free Town claimed he was a man under some rueful spell.