By John Wiswell
I'm at the Shark Café like every Monday morning. It was a long night, so I'm pounding Double Hammerheads while the yuppies sip Maco and Great White Chocolate. Great White Chocolate? Like that's even shark anymore. They might as well sell candies here — but of course, they do. Gummybears and jellyfish are right next to the dried shark fin. Some days you wonder if shark has gone too populist.
Just when I’m thinking darkly of Shark Café, along rambles a good reason to support them. Wearing only flip-flops, jeans and Mardi Gras beads (in August) comes a man, swinging his arms in the ASL sign for “Shark Cruelty.”
“Shark is murder! Shark is murder!”
A couple of businessmen pick up their laptops and cups and leave for the subway. The others leave the open-air part, heading into the safety of the glassed-in part of the Shark Café. I could never drink in there. Smells like an aquarium.
“Give it a rest,” I call. “Shark’s no worse than Seacow or Whale Oil Refineries.”
Since I’m his only audience the guy stomps up to me. His ponch pokes the velvet rope that denotes where Shark Café’s seating area stops and the public sidewalk begins.
"Do you know how many dolphins die so you can get half-off on that shark?"
"None. Shark Cafe has been free of dolphin labor since the '90s. If you owned a TV you’d know that."
His Mardi Gras beads and gut swing over the velvet rope. He does not take a seat. “I donated my TV to a family of dolphins that were delocated by your supposedly harmless shark farms! Sharks never do that to people. They’re moral creatures.”
“Oh come on. If you’ve ever gone deep sea diving you’ve seen their Human Cafés. They pay out the nose for upper-middle-class blends.”
"Shark is murder!"
"A morning without shark is murder," I say, and illustrate with a long pull. There's a little whipped fish on my upper lip. I leave it there and beam at the protestor. He takes a swing at me, an openhanded haymaker. I duck and he only catches the top of my head. It feels like a fish has just swum over my scalp.
All the same I back further into the velvet-roped area. He doesn’t pursue – doesn’t want to be mistaken for a customer at a place like this. For the first time I take a good look at him. His dull skin suggests a distinct lack of Omega-3’s and Asian sex – the two key symptoms of shark deficiency.
“When’s the last time you had a cup, buddy?”
“Shark is murder!”
“If I give you five bucks do you promise to spend it here?”
“Shark is murder!”
I roll my eyes, then notice another eye rolling in my cup. A shark eye. Oh, it looks succulent. But it’s full of necessary nutrients. I take the tall cup and leave it on the table closest to the protestor.
“Listen, guy. I’m going to leave this here. No telling what happens to it.”
Before he chant another slogan, I turn and head inside. I’ll order something else – something less intense. I come back out with a Cinnamon Twist Sandshark. The protestor and the Double Hammerhead are gone.
And they say no good is done in the city.
John Wiswell writes humor, horror and anything that fits in-between. He has been published at Weird Tales, Flash Fiction Online, Enchanted Conversation and Untied Shoelaces of the Mind. He writes daily on his blog and is currently seeking representation for his first fantasy novel.