Ted has become addicted to Samoan chips.
“These Bongos are bloody amazing!” He crunches chips in his mouth, crumples a shiny pink wrapping in his hands, then tears open a second packet. Not Bongos this time, but chicken flavoured Ringos.
“I always liked Ringo.” Teresa snatches a couple of chips too. “He was the best looking one, didn’t have all the airs and graces.”
“What you talking about?” Ted regurgitates a bolus of starch. Then swallows.
“The Beatles!” shouts Teresa. “John, Paul, George and Ringo.”
“Nah.” Ted shakes his head. “Only ever been one rock band.”
We didn’t have to ask who. We knew. Ted has gone partially deaf from standing too close to the speakers at their concerts. AC/DC. Perhaps the real reason he never says much. He might not hear the reply.
“Well stuff that. You coming snorkelling?” Teresa picks up her mask, holds it against her forehead.
“Nah.” He stares at the horizon, perhaps seeing a ghost of the Jaws fishing boat, the Orca. “What if there’s a shark?”
“Too shallow, you dope. There’s only fish.”
“Sharks are fish.”
“No, they’re not. And there aren’t any.”
“Them giant things they had on TV, then?”
“Yeah.” Ted takes a nervous wheezy breath. “They’re dangerous. If the shell closes on your hand, you’re never coming back up.”
“Then don’t put you hand in!”
Kate and I say nothing. We never intervene in their disputes. Like the clams, it’s too dangerous.
It hadn’t helped that Ted googled giant clams earlier. Typically, he bypassed all the ecological stuff – how Asian appetites for clam meat were endangering the molluscs – and instead rushed straight to the sensational. First the Natural History website that reported the death of a Filipino diver, Etem, when his left hand became stuck in a giant clam as he tried to retrieve the ‘Pearl of Allah’. Then the US Diving Manual, where Ted located instructions for severing a clam’s adductor muscles if he needed to free himself.
“So you coming or what?” Teresa glares at him though perspex.
“Nah.” Ted leans back in his chair and reaches for an unopened packet of Samgos, another Samoan starch snack . “You go if you want. I’m just gonna stay here and get through these chips.”