Fred Longworth

LEGEND SAYS that long ago they were confined to bodies of water, and they would swim around devouring fish and seals. I find that legend hard to believe. I mean, look around you. The sharks are everywhere. They perch on the parapets of office buildings. They leap onto the counters at the drive-through windows of fast-food places. They hide in the bathwater and terrorize little children. I think there are too damn many of them! It's obvious they're not domesticated. And you should NEVER give the nod when a shark asks to "cuddle" with a grandparent.
     I wish the authorities would get rid of them. Unfortunately, the government has designated them endangered. So if you so much as tug on a dorsal fin, you can go to jail.
     Just last week, I was in a Walmart trying to buy a couple of plastic wastebaskets. A shark had climbed inside the stack, and every time I tried to remove the top basket, it would jump up and nip at my hands.
     I went and got the manager. He came over and leaned over the basket. Putting a little plastic device to his lips, he made some gurgling sounds, and used his hands to make a "give me, give me" gesture. Up popped a fin holding an I.D. card. He took it from the beast, and studied it.
     "I can't do a thing," he said with a shrug. "The shark has a permit."
     So, when I drove home with a pair of plastic trashcans, they came with a resident predator. I dumped the shark into an aquarium in the den.
     My ten-year-old daughter thinks he's real cute and calls him "Squirmy." She keeps raving about how big he's getting. My spaniel refuses to come inside. The house cat has taken to sleeping on the roof. And the wife and I are frantic. We can't find our two-year-old son.

Fred Longworth restores vintage audio components for a living. His poems have appeared in numerous journals including Able Muse, California QuarterlyComstock ReviewPearlRattapallaxSpillway, and Stirring

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