TREADING CLAMS

Francis Bennett

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TREADING CLAMS - AVAILABLE ON AMAZON - KINDLE EDITION

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"A blend of the humorous and the sentimental, the devastating and the hopeful. Bennett's eagerness and sincerity shine through.... impressive power". ~ KIRKUS REVIEWS

"A good story can transport you to another time, another place, another life. Bennett writes with the kind of description that makes you feel you've been there and it is still a faint memory. Vivid descriptions live throughout.... Adults and children will equally enjoy John White's experiences and find, by the end of the last one, that they wish for more." ~ Ben Sharpton, Author of 7 SANCTUARIES

 "Earlier in the week I had one of those dreadful days that leave you wound up and cross and I reached for a book to relax with. I didn't think about it - I picked up TREADING CLAMS because I KNEW that I would feel better for reading it. I did. Crabber worked his magic in these eight beautifully written stories." ~ Sue Magee, THE BOOKBAG UK


The story samples below are excerpts from TREADING CLAMS

 

BASEBALL

                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                               

Sometimes you just have to tell yourself the truth.  I don't actually like to do that too often, I admit, because I've developed this bad habit of dreaming about the future, about a lot of stuff that hasn't happened yet, but stuff that will be great when it does happen.  I've been doing it since I was a little kid, and it's turned into a bad habit.  Even after all that's happened I keep letting it all slip my mind, and I go back to making up a past that I like a lot better.  I don't lie to myself, actually.  I don't let it go that far.

Like, if you asked me did my brother Bobby drown while moving old lady Tessler's boat, I'd say yes, but I'd go back to talking to him when I went to sleep at night just as if he were still in the other bed.  I don't make believe that he's there, though.  I'm not like that.  I just sort of forget that he drowned and go right on talking to him.  I know it's a bad habit and all, and my parents remind me daily that I'm a dreamer, but I always talk to him about everything.  I like it, so I just keep doing it.

He was a terrific talker, Bobby.  He was interested in almost everything, and he had this great enthusiasm........ 

BASEBALL AVAILABLE ON AMAZON - KINDLE EDITION

 

AMAZON REVIEW

5.0 out of 5 stars The Reeses Pieces of Novellas June 18, 2013 

By YoTeach                         

"BASEBALL is the perfect balance of salty and sweet. If you read the book and you don't hear that kid talking right to you, you're not listening. 'Cause he's right there, right in your ear, the whole time.

You can spot the influence of Salinger, maybe, or early Stephen King... Reading BASEBALL, I sorely missed the 1950s. And I was born in '71. So author Francis Bennett is either a word magician, or the creator of the time machine. But whatever it is Bennett did to create BASEBALL, I hope he does it again!"

 

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THE FLAT BROWN STETSON

                                                                                             

                                                                                           

The entire McGee family was nuts, as it turns out.  I knew they were different from the very beginning, but I was attracted to them for some reason.  My mother always said that I was attracted to things that were not good for me.

I like “The Cyclone” at Coney Island, for example.  It's old and the guy who runs it is a drunk but that makes it all the more fun in my opinion.  A hundred year old wooden roller coaster could fall apart at any minute and a qualified engineer is required to check everything carefully every day.  The resident engineer of the Cyclone is neither qualified nor sober enough to give the great roller coaster a good look.  When you see him at the controls of the ride, bleary-eyed and weaving all over the place, you can bet that he never checks all the nuts and bolts and joints and tracks and brakes he's supposed to check before he starts up the ride.  You never know if he'll forget you're on the thing and fall asleep and leave it running for the rest of your life.  Every kid knew that.  It made the ride better.

I like smoking cigars, too.  They smell like wet leaves burning and sour the juices in your mouth for a month but blowing long streams of smoke and rolling the cigar around in your fingers has a relaxing effect.  It was easy to toss a nickel onto the counter of Oscar's candy store and make it look like you were selecting candy but snag a cigar from the open box instead, when Oscar wasn't looking.  Two or three of us would then head into the woods behind Oscar's and sit under a tree having a good smoke.  I was attracted to cigar smoking.

The thinner the ice the better the fun was another one of my rules.  I couldn't resist inching away from the shore onto the first freeze of winter to see how far out I could get before it started to creak and crack.  The first crack sent the old adrenaline flowing, and the challenge of getting back to shore was worth the risk of falling in.  I never walked by a lake starting to freeze in early winter without venturing out to test the ice.  I was attracted to thin ice.

The McGee family was pretty neat in my opinion.  They moved to Bay Sore from somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains.  Mr. McGee was a junk dealer and kept most of his merchandise displayed in the front yard of the series of shacks they lived in at the end of Tin Can Alley.  There were nine kids in the McGee family, six boys and three girls.  They were the dirtiest kids I ever knew, even the girls.  My friend, Younger McGee, never combed his hair, never changed his shirt, never cleaned his nails, and never, never, never washed his ears.......

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THE FIRE ISLAND NEWS

THE NEWS THAT MATTERS SINCE 1957

(Story excerpt from TREADING CLAMS...appeared in Volume 56, No 1)

THE PEARLS

                                             

 

                                        

Captain Kolonick was blind.  Most people don’t know a blind person, but I knew Captain Kolonick. Because I knew him since I was a little kid I’m not afraid of blind people like most folks are, although folks rarely admit it.  They’re probably afraid that blind people will hurt themselves by bumping into stuff or falling down suddenly when they’re around, and that would make them feel guilty or responsible somehow.  Maybe they’re afraid they’ll get blind themselves by hanging around blind people.  I don’t know.

Captain Kolonick was not scary.  He ran his own business, all by himself, and he was pretty good at it, if you ask me.  My father called him the ‘sole proprietor’ of the Fire Island Fisheries.  The Captain was a shellfish dealer.  He bought clams and oysters from the local diggers around the bay and sold them to the big hotels and restaurants in New York City.  The other wholesalers along the canal where his warehouse stood bought ‘swimmers’, as the Captain called fish, but he stuck to shellfish.  He was considered an expert.  He could feel an oyster, for example, and tell you how old it was, how long it had been out of the water, and where it had been caught.  The old diggers told me that he could tell if there was a pearl inside just by running his fingers along the outside front edge of the oyster’s lips.  They claimed that’s why you never got a pearl accidently when you opened oysters to eat them.  Captain Kolonick felt every oyster that came into his warehouse and stashed the pearls under a loose floorboard upstairs in his apartment for his retirement.

He knew his clams, too.  Simply by hefting a clam he could tell whether it was juicy and succulent or dry and tough.  We'd often see him tapping two clams together next to his ear and then sorting them according to some mysterious sound only he could hear.  The best clams, he said, made a tonk . . . tonk sound when you knocked them together.  If they went tick . . . tick, they wouldn't be the best eatin, he claimed.  I've been tappin clams ever since, but darned if I can hear the difference.

Clam digging was my first real business.  I started when I was twelve......