There is a shark in the middle of the road. You halt your car with a shoeless foot: friction. You stop and there is a timelessness. You stop, everything is rapid/vapid/stupid. You just sit there a while.
The shark moves his jaws in a way that forms noise. Noise that reminds you of when you listened to whale song to get you to sleep at the age of 25. You commend yourself on that good decision. You commend yourself on every decision, and every decision was a good decision. Somewhere there is a great hall full of ties, dress socks, leather shoes, and hair pins that are clapping for you. They are clapping for all your achievements and gains. You say a speech. You thank your Mother. You thank your Father. You thank your dog. You thank your God. And then a shark is in the middle of the road.
The shark is in the middle of the road. It is still making noise. You open the car door and move closer. This all feels like a very suburban Jaws. The theme music starts playing in your head, but not in the correct order. You get the violin part mixed up with the cello part. The shark may as well be given a name: you have shared this time with it, you have bonded, you are friends. He is deaf, you are dumb, you are perfect for each other. You are not wearing any shoes. The gravel is condensed with warmth and germs, but it’s ok, that doesn’t matter right now. You approach the shark who you call Eugene. You go to touch it and you realise you have probably gone insane. No one drives past, it is an enclosed road filled with darkness from the croak of a late summer. There are stars but there isn’t enough time for stars right now. They can wait. They are all waltzing together to the tune of your heartbeat. They laugh in sync and gloat away.
Eugene stares ahead at ultimate truth and a plastic Woolworth’s bag. He (you call him a he because all animals are attributed the male gender, even though they could be female, so you won’t be any different) flips his tail a little; a word. You say “I do not understand interpretive dance, and never will. I was made to do ballet when I was younger by my mother” and he continues to lay there. You misinterpret it for disgust. “Do you want to go for a ride” you ask Eugene. Eugene flips his tail again in a way that could mean anything, but there is a close bond between animals and humans that always works out perfectly and safely, so you decide to take Eugene with you.
You attach Eugene to the roof rack of your car like the unused surfboard you only put there to impress grandmothers and eastern European waitresses. You are a great guy. Your cologne is your father’s cologne and he gave it to you as a leaving present. “Thanks, Dad” you said, and you would only use it when the deodorant ran out. You thought that maybe this is why there is a shark on top of your car. It is some sort of karma that God has given to you due to your relentless deodorant spraying habits. You are polluting the world, so you have been given this as a punishment. You think that you are a mariner, and this is your albatross. But you are different, you are an opposite. You are doing a good deed by giving it a ride. You are on the mailing list of the National Association of Shark Lovers. You have a park bench with your name engraved on it somewhere due to your talent. Whilst driving you imagine your ceremony, and you are giving out your speech again. This time you mention your undeniable efforts to sustain the environment. Cameron Diaz looks at her new husband with an amazing smile, and claps a lot for you. You truly are a great guy.
A short time passes and you arrive back at your home. There are no lights on and you are always consciously wary of burglars who may be in your house stealing prized possessions such as:
a. the taxidermy model of your cat that you loved and cherished until it used ten out of nine lives
b. the certificate of your graduation from an average ability university
c. the fake two pence coin you found on the floor, and liked
d. the gigantic yet broken pastel coloured shell you found on the beach at some point
You arrive back at your home. There are no lights on and you realise that your house is fine. The market value price is still the same and nothing has been taken and you can sigh a sigh of pure relief. You go to take Eugene inside and make him a cup of tea or perhaps coffee; this is your choice. This is your part of the story that is entirely your own decision. Fortunately it has no dramatic impact on the ending of the narrative. You haul him in on your surfboard and he kind of smiles. You aren’t sure if it a smile or a snarl. You assume it is a smile due to your hospitality. You put him on the fake Turkish rug on the floor of the living room. You say “One or two sugars” and his smile diminishes. “Does that mean you want one” you say, and Eugene is sterile. “I will just put brown sugar in then” you say, as if it is the conclusion of a mutual agreement. A few minutes later you walk in and place the cup by his mouth. Eugene flips his tail a bit. You decide to pour the tea or coffee on him and he seems strangely calm with it. You think about dinner. You have not eaten and the day has nearly ended and you must refill yourself to go on, you must not deny yourself such happiness. You go to the cupboard and take what you want to eat out of the cupboard. Among the tins you notice a can of alphabet soup. The kind that is drenched in this salt-water-tomato-sauce and it is even possible to make words out of it. You have the ingenious idea to feed it to Eugene, the beautiful mute.
You feed it to Eugene. You use a silver spoon and it slithers into his vital organs without fuss or reaction. You feel a sense of triumph. Eugene starts to speak the letters you feed him. He says ‘J’ and ‘O’ and ‘Z’ and ‘A’ and ‘T’, in a shrill temperament. It reminds you of a terrible first date.
There are more letters in the tin and every single letter is fed to him. He begins to talk.
“Why didn’t you put me back in the sea, like I asked you to”
“You didn’t ask me to, you can’t talk. You have only just started talking”
“You are a liar”
“Maybe. Where would you like to go?”
“I want to go back”
You leave abruptly to dissipate what is rightfully yours back into the wild. On the never-ending radio men talk of women, the weather, and themselves. It all seems very awful to you, and it reminds you that things will never truly change. You switch between frequencies until something mind-numbing plays on the radio. This is your life, at the age of 25. Above the front mirror the stars have changed position by this time and you feel like they are aligning to form a cloud and rain on you. Water from above, water from below: water upon water. You say a few words, something that sounds reminiscent of a funeral. Eugene says nothing apart from broken sounding vowels. There is very little gas left in the car.
You reverse until you reach the back of the pier, and you open the boot with outstretched arms. Eugene swims off at the end of the pier without even looking back at you. You think “well, there are plenty more fish in the sea” and you think that you are a comedic genius. Your hands are on your hips, you are a pioneer of something. You think back to your ceremony. Your ceremony is now a celebration of your modern eco-friendly stance and the hilarious puns you make when lecturing about the Importance Of Mother Nature to anyone who listens. After you leave the ceremony, you kiss your wife and fall asleep in the passenger seat.