“Interview With a Shark”

Fiction by Carol White

   Oh, are you ready? Is the mike on? Okay then, let’s go. For those of you listening to the radio broadcast, please note that I’m signing to my interpreter who’s in one of those underwater cages. (As if I’m going to attack him during the interview!)
    Hello. For the record my name is Milton Sharkle and I am a shark. Why is your cameraman swimming away? I told you I’m not going to eat anyone. That whole thing is a crazy myth started by a movie we, in the sea world, call “J”; you know, the one with the sheriff who looks like he has a stick up his butt.
    A little information. Sharks are the most intelligent animals in the water. Yes, I know dolphins do all that dopey spinning and jumping around, but they only do it for special food. How demeaning. Those dolphins can be trouble, believe me, but they fool you because they always look like they’re smiling. Swim with the dolphins? Seriously? You’re safer swimming with us because we don’t, um, how shall I say this . . . molest you. Dolphins don’t care what sex you are; they just go for it. Degrading. Let me give you an example.
    We have happy hour down here just like you do on land, and mostly we go to the Shark-Shake. Everyone is welcome, even that old stodgy spinster, Miss Clamcake (how annoying is that name) who runs the mermaid school. I wish the mermaids would come back to the bar, but the dolphins are all over them and the bouncers (barracudas) had to show them out . . . the dolphins, that is. The mermaids stayed that evening until Miss Clamcake made them leave. Oh, they are beautiful but all mermaids live at the school and never fool around. Pity.
    Mr. Sharkstein, our attorney in these matters, had to speak to the dolphins about their deviant behavior, but they just started that idiotic squeaking and twirling. He probably put enough of a scare into them because they haven’t shown up at the Shark-Shake lately. I’m sure they’ll be back after all the fuss dies down because dolphins are too dumb to stay away from places where they’re not wanted. However, sharks are hospitable creatures and happy to let bygones be bygones. Dolphins also spend a ton of money on their drink of choice: seaweed and mussel smoothies. Our bartender, Pool, overcharges them, but they don’t care — dolphins have all that show money from SeaWorld, and they get so inebriated from the beverages they leave enormous tips.
    I e-mailed, oh yes, we have the Internet down here, The Honorable Maury (he’s a whale, but very small and OMG so sensitive about it) about the recent dolphin activity because he’s really the only judge we have for assault cases. The dolphins have been found guilty over and over, but nothing ever happens to them because they all bail each other out.
    Now, you know those spam e-mails you get about performance enhancement drugs or increasing the size of your penis? Who do you think sends those out? That’s right . . . your flipper friends. They have absolutely no class. We tolerate them because they love being chosen for SeaWorld, which makes people love the ocean, blah, blah, blah. A couple of whales have been showcased over the years, but that doesn’t always work out well. A shark would never stoop so low as to be a trained “fish.” (Yes, we know you call whales and dolphins mammals, but down here we’re all fish.)
    So, your question is: Why are people afraid of us? There is no reason for that fear. As you know, sharks are almost always in motion (give me a break, we have to sleep sometime), and if something or someone gets in our way, we generally have no recourse but to eat them, or crash the boat — although that’s a rarity.
    Let me ask you a question. Most of us who live in the water do not come up on land. Have you ever seen a fish in a shopping mall that’s not in a tank? I know turtles lose their way on the beach, but there’s a very nice group of humans who turn them around and send them back whence they came — the ocean. So, why must you insist upon swimming way out where you don’t belong, and where the waves are far more dangerous than sharks, and taking part in the worst offense — deep-sea diving?
    Sharks totally freak out when we see divers with all that equipment. Usually, we just swim away, but there’s a radical Tea Party group down here with zero tolerance for divers and they attack/eat/demolish them whenever they can. They’re never brought to trial because Maury (we don’t have juries, just the judge) would say the sharks are only doing what comes naturally.
    A word about the manatee. Lovable and sweet?  Hardly. They’re a bunch of phonies. Manatees actually mock humans who spray them with nice cool water at the docks they frequent. “Oh, this one let me pet it!” or “I’m going to send money for the Adopt a Manatee Foundation,” and then they head over to the bar (Pool makes them sit outside because it’s incredible how smelly those sea cows are, not to mention cheap) to play some sort of board game, all the while making fun of the humans who adore them. Lovable and sweet? Think again.
    What’s that? Oh, our diet. We eat a lot of bottom crawlers; mainly shrimp and lobster that serve no other purpose. They just creep along the floor of the ocean or hang out where they can be easily caught, so they are perfect shark food. No one misses them. You know those lobsters you see all plunked together in restaurant  tanks? That’s exactly how they stack themselves up in the ocean — no originality. And shrimp? Don’t get me started, but I will say they have no toilet training.
    Mostly our existence here is peaceful. (I may have exaggerated the dolphin situation, but that’s just a minor aggravation.) Be forewarned: do not buy the “no natural enemy” thing either. We all have them. Even Maury’s gotten stung by those nasty jellyfish demons. 
    I see your cameraman (he’s back in the steel bar enclosure with the interpreter — like that would save him if I had a mind to break in) is doing that rolling motion with his hands. . . . Yes, I know that means wrap it up . . .  but we haven’t yet touched on many other subjects.
     Oh, I see. Time for your lunch . . . tuna?

    Carol White is the author of the novel “Hidden Choices.” Her new novel, “From One Place to Another,” will be released by Trimark Press this spring.


Very clever! Never thought of the sea underworld this way--kind of fun.