That their ancestors' toil gave them right of ownership of the land was also questionable, because though shellfishing was
never associated with the Indians, it had been the Pamets who had lived on the Cape before the white man took over, who had started the shellfishing industry. Talk was always that the Pamets had lived in a kind of paradise here, had simply picked up the clams and oysters and eaten them. The truth was that they had harvested and cared for the shore waters in a very diligent manner. They had farmed the sea as they had farmed the land. They had used sea clams, spading the shells in with herring to fertilize their beanfields. Many of their implements were made from quahog shells: needles, hoes, pendants, even arrowheads. Shell heaps had been in evidence from the tip of the Cape to its foot. In this the historical light, if anyone could lay claim to the name Quahog People it was Frank Bumpus, a Pamet himself, and his organization. Quahog People was a good choice because it took a noun that the white man thought was part of his tradition and returned it to its proper placeâand that was just what the Quahog People planned to do with the land upon which the golf course sat.
The symbolic implications of the name had been arrived at by Frank Bumpus himself, and when he spoke to his people about them, he spoke eloquently. He told them that, like the Indian, the quahog was always there. Each year the crop was ravaged, but each year it returned. The clams moved along the coast slightly, but they never moved too far from the integrity of their home ground. At times the red tide got to them, but enough of the seedlings always lived through so that a new crop was insured.
The white man harvested and ate them, they were passive in their acceptance of this, but their numbers were large and self-renewing. They were silent and enigmatic in their thoughts, but their power to survive was beyond question. He knew, when he told them these things, that he was stretching the truth beyond the symbolic implications a bit, and they knew it too. He would have liked their name to have the consistency of the allegories in the medieval illuminations he had studied, would have liked them to have the force and complexity he had marveled at in Shiva
iconography. At the same time, he had argued that the name had a trickster quality to it. It was worthy of Hare and the African Anansi. Furthermore, its meaning would remain veiled to the white man: in this sense it would be a secret name, and that was important because it would symbolize their unity and closure, and thus their strength.
Frank Bumpus knew how much of this was politics, how much rabblerousing and magic, and how much pure bunk. Still, there were a lot of small chunks and pieces that came from the core philosophy, and these kept the rest of it in proper perspective. His enigmatic buffoon role on the links at Seaview was politics and a preparing of the false adversary as communications buffer once the occupation began. The Free the Skin Beach Coalition was bunk but of a fortuitous nature, in that it would serve well as a diversionary force. The kind of victory he hoped for was territorially minimal, and they would only need to hold the land for a short time for the tactical end to be accomplished. Visibility would grease the wheels; their lawyers would begin to handle it from there. The code post card had gone off, and he trusted that his relative, the tactician, was on his way, slowly and in an underground fashion. The government's people had been watching them all for close to a year now, but Frank Bumpus was sure they had them properly confused. Soon enough Bob White would be here, and then they could begin the specifics in earnest.
THE CHIEF WAS LIFTED FROM HIS REVERIE BY THE SOUND of voices. He could hear the Chair yelling out as the foursome he was in reached the top of the hill that fronted the fifth green, and he pulled his feet back from the cliff's edge, putting on and lacing up his left tennis shoe. He then took a large blue-and-white handkerchief from his pocket, tied it around his right ankle, and put his right shoe on as well. While they were over on the fifth green putting, he adjusted his cap, cleaned up his niblick by rubbing it against his leg, and stood up and dusted his clothing.
When Sammy, Chair, Eddie, and Wall were on their way over
to the sixth tee, Chief Wingfoot stepped out of the bushes that bordered it. He was leaning heavily on the shaft of his niblick and limping. The handkerchief around his ankle flopped against his tennis shoe as he moved out to greet them.
“Now what in the hell is this?” the Chief could hear the Chair say, a little too loudly, to Wall and the others. Sammy and Eddie nodded to the Chief, and when the four got close to the tee, the Chief addressed them.
“Good afternoon, gentlemen, I wonder if you could give me some aid; I seem to have pulled up lame.”
“Lame, my ass,” the Chair said under his breath, and then more audibly, “Why don't you sit here and wait a little? Some of the guys with power carts will be along, and they can give you a lift in. We've gotta move on.”
“That would be fine,” the Chief said, “but I have business to transact, and I must get back soon. Could you not afford me some assistance?”
“Why the hell are you out here, anyway?” the Chair said sharply. “This is no place for the lame!”
“True, true,” Chief Wingfoot sighed, “but I am here, and I am in need.”
“Well, for Christ's sake!” the Chair said and rapped his thigh with his gloved hand.
Sammy had a wide grin on his face. Wall was standing off to the side, not wanting to get involved in the thing. Eddie was the only one who was busy. He was digging around in the large side pocket of his golf bag, pulling things out of it and tossing them on the grass of the tee. So far he had withdrawn a pint of Wild Turkey and a worn three-wood head cover he kept it in, a good-sized piece of fishing net, two lures with corks stuck on their hooks that he used when he plugged for bass, a paper bag full of sinkers, an obscure piece of scrimshaw, a fillet knife in a tooled leather sheath, a pair of torn undershorts, a pocket calculator, a rigid three-inch oyster measure, an ivory cue ball, and a pair of dice.
“Mother of God!” the Chair yelled when he saw what Eddie
was up to. Sammy's grin was widening, and even Wall could not hold back. He had his hand over his mouth, his head shaking, his laughter muted.
“Got it,” Eddie said, and he pulled a good length of thin nylon rope out of the deep recesses of the pouch. “We can truss up the carts together, hang the net between âem; we'll get you in okay, Chief.”
“Now wait just a minute,” the Chair said, but Sammy and Eddie were already at work. Before the Chair could get himself organized and formalize his complaint, they had hooked their two handcarts together with rope, Eddie tying complex nautical knots quickly and automatically, had hung the piece of netting, double-folded, between the two carts, and had helped the limping Chief over to the contraption, each taking him by an arm, and had lowered him into the sling. The Chief reclined there, his niblick in one hand across his chest and his other gripping the mouth of Sammy's bag, his legs spread apart, and his feet firm on the axles of the inner wheels. He was smiling graciously.
“This is just fine,” he said.
The Chair was steaming, and when he hit his drive, he shanked it badly. It sailed off into the rough on the right, between the fairway and the cliff that ran along the ocean's edge.
“Shit!” he screamed, and he jumped up into the air once. When he landed he spun around, something like a discus thrower, and flung his driver down the fairway a good forty yards; it turned end over end, and when it hit it rapped the ground loudly. He was instantly embarrassed at his loss of control, and he tried to be demure as he stepped back and waited for the others to hit.
Each of the others had hit shots like the one the Chair had just managed. And each of them had, at one time or another, lost control in a similar way. This, and a sense of fundamental comradeship that went with golf at Seaview, prevented them from responding to the Chair's behavior in any uncharitable way.
“Tough luck, Chair; you can still get there in three, still get
a par,” Sammy said before he drove his ball, and the others nodded and grunted in agreement. The Chief did not say anything. He just sat in his sling.
Sammy and the two others had good drives, and the Chair found his ball easily, hit a fair shot out of the rough, and was beyond the others in three. He tried to keep away from them, to disassociate himself in some way from the mad contraption with the Indian in it that Sammy and Eddie pulled down the fairway, but this was impossible; they were clearly a foursome. The bathers who walked along the path cut in the right rough, heading for the narrow dune passage that led down the cliff to the beach, stopped to stare and point. Somebody who was flying a kite at the edge of the cliff gawked at them, forgetting his kite for a moment, and it drifted in circles and fell in the middle of the fairway. It was a plastic skyhawk, and when the flyer tried to jerk it up again, it danced like an injured bird as the trussed-up carts passed over its line, caught a slight breeze, and rose up a few feet above the carts, flapping insanely, its line caught and twisted in the carts' wheels. The procession paused to disentangle the kite line; the bearded man who was flying it came out in the fairway to help with the mess, and the Chief reached down from where he was slung to give aid. Sammy's feathered fedora bobbed as he and Eddie worked with the knots and twists.
The foursome playing the fifth and parallel fairway came over the hill in their power carts, stopped at the top, turned to the right, and came down to see what was happening. Just then the specter of a hang-glider, huge and casting a broad shadow into the rough, lifted from below the cliff's edge near the lighthouse and began to drift along. The rider must have seen the goings on on the fairway, because he drifted a little too far inland, lost his updraft, and began to sink in wide circles, finally coming to rest about fifty yards from the cluster of power carts, kite, men, and contraption. Wall rushed over to the glider, helped its occupant to his feet, and began to talk seriously to him. A tourist bus had stopped in the parking lot of the lighthouse, and a line of
senior citizens-women in flowered dresses and gray hair, with a few old men in baggy suits behind them-had made their way down the path between cliff and fairway and had stopped to watch the spectacle. A few gulls drifted in with shells in their beaks and began dropping them on the fairway's hardpan. Then the fog came.
It had been coming in slowly and for a while. It was thick, damp, and heavy. As it moved, it pushed against a clear line of sunlight. There were no clouds in the sky in front of it. When it had reached close to the beach below the cliff, the woman and her two children had packed up and left. They were tourists. It was their first time on the Cape, and the organic-looking density of the approaching fog had frightened them. The jagged lines of lobster-pot markers looked like fairy lights for a moment as the fog passed over them, the sun shining in the space between the wake and the fog bottom, and then they blinked out like small, serial firecrackers. From the cliff the fog could be seen as a distinct mass between the sea and the wispy layer of mist above it, and above the mist the air was clear and the sun still bright. When the fog got fifty yards from the shore, a young man on the path in the rough noticed it, and with his head turned back over his shoulder, he reached out and touched the young woman with him, causing her to turn and see it also. They looked at it for a moment, and then the young man struck a kind of sunwor-shiper pose, his arms wide apart and his head elevated in a kind of joke. They were on their way to the beach when they had stopped to watch the hang-glider float inland and fall to the fairway. Then they had, with the others, watched the goings on with the golfers, the contraption, and the kite. But now they wanted the sun to take the fog away. It would spoil their beach day, and he lifted his arms to pray to it. His young woman friend could not contain herself, and she yelled out.
“Look at the fog! Look at the fog!”
Many in the group of senior citizens heard her, and most of them turned from the sights on the fairway to look. By this time
the fog had reached the sand, and after it crossed the beach and hit against the base of the cliff, having nowhere else to go, it started to fold in on itself, to thicken, and to climb. Many of the elderly people got nervous, the flowers on the dresses shifted; their line on the path broke as they looked, piecemeal, out at the cliff, over at the fairway, and back at the bus near the lighthouse in the parking lot. The fog came over the crest first where the light-house was, covered the bottom half of it, and then it sucked up the bus. Some of the people had started back that way, but when the bus disappeared they stopped; and others of them turned, only to find that the fog was coming over the whole length of the cliff edge, folding and moving toward them.
Out in the fairway, the golfers had disentangled the line of the kite. The Chief rested in his sling. Sammy and Eddie got up, and the kite flyer, when the line was loose, trotted back toward the rough, pulling his string, watching the kite rise quickly. The golfers watched him get up and go, and then they saw the
flowered dresses and the bathers and the fog behind them. The flyer stopped when he reached the edge of the rough, but his kite kept rising, and as he watched it go it disappeared, and he was left holding a rigid string that stood up straight in the air. Most of the old women and a few of the baggy-suited men started to come together in a kind of common purpose. Their line was disheveled in the rough, but when their feet hit the fairway it firmed up again. They came to the hardpan running and hopping, occasional clamshells thumping into the ground among them.
The golfers recognized their force immediately, and they headed for the power carts, hoping to get the carts between themselves and the oncoming flowers that were now losing their colors as the fog touched them. The Chief in the contraption was out front and vulnerable. He wound his fingers in the netting of the sling and braced his feet. Sammy and Eddie held tight to the pull-cart handles, and Sammy used his other hand to hold the crown of his hat. Wall and the hangglider pilot, though they were to one side at a place where
only a few bathers would pass them, struggled to move the grounded glider out of harm's way. A little breeze had come up, and the glider was fighting them; their arms extended above it, they tried hard to hold it down. It lifted one or the other of them occasionally above tiptoe.