Water Politics

Cynthia Nielson could talk to sharks, and it made her job at the aquarium the best one in the world.

The hornsharks preferred Jerry Seinfeld clips to play during eating sessions; whale sharks were interested in heated discussions concerning the world economy; leopard sharks were worried about Cynthia’s ovarian cyst. Tours, while simple for her peers, were a challenge for the young aquarist, as the carnivorous fish had killer personalities.

Despite being the focus of jokes in the breakroom, Cynthia spent all her time near the tanks. There was no question she had problems socializing with other humans, but there was something about the sharks that made her comfortable – happy, even.

“So, Marshall, get this,” Cynthia waved a celery stick at the 17 ton whale shark whose massive frame scaled the bottom of the tank, “Sarah asked me to come in early tomorrow since Chad called out. Looks like you’ll be having me feed you!” The woman giggled as she chomped at the celery. “Let me tell you, that so beats hanging around at home all morning watching the news or whatever old-person shows they air at that time.”

The shark darted above, blackening the miniscule observation tube. His voice shook the floor. “That’s fantastic, Cynthia. Now tell me, what are your speculations of the effects of the U.S. Fed bumping the interest rate? I’ve already my own opinions, but I’d like to hear yours.”

“Fed? Like the federal government? And an interest rate on what? Marshall, you’ve known me for three years, so you should know by now that I’m completely stupid when it comes to politics.”

Marshall sighed, making a sharp left at the rock mound and circling back to face the aquarist. “Of course, Cynthia, your knowledge regarding things that very much affect you every day is next to nothing – a fact I cannot understand. Though I am hoping one of these days you’ll do some research and humor me with a nice debate.”

“Yo, is Marshall talking his talk again?” asked a skinny leopard shark in another exhibit. Its squeaky tone got the attention of the other sharks.

A striped shark loomed above. “For God’s sake, Mumu can you be any more annoying?”

“Oh, shut it Fargoth. You don’t even know what a god is. You’ve been eavesdropping on those humans again, haven’t you?”

“ENOUGH!” A tremor rattled the exhibits, and an angry great white appeared from a black abyss. “It’s bad enough I have to live near you all, but if you really want to die, keep it up. For those of you who want to see this bimbo tramp tomorrow, I suggest everyone shut the fuck up.” Silence dominated the scene until the fish continued: “It’s obvious that I’m the real reason this pathetic shit hole continues to exist in the first place; those pecker-faced younglings, with their mouthed stuffed with yellow fluff balls and minds plagued with sex and drugs, make their parents pay big money just to see me eat. I’m a fucking celebrity, and all of you are inferior filter feeding scalawags –”

“Aw, hell, Bingo’s goin’ on one of his rants, boys.” The voice sprung from a dark cave in the rock mound. “Might as well ignore him before he mentions –”

“STARLA YOU BACKSTABBING SANDCRUNCHER. You still owe me a pound of krill from last week!”

“What the…? I didn’t even know you last week!”

“Don’t give me that!” Bingo cried. “You all go out of your way to pretend I don’t exist, and it makes me more sad than irritated, you know? All I’ve ever asked for was a nice portion of everybody’s food so that I can continue to grow stronger and even more terrifying and threatening than before! Is that so much to ask?”

Marshall nudged a section of glass closest to Cynthia, who had been too lost in what was going on around her to realize her break was over. “See this Cynthia? That’s a great example of the federal government, right there. If you stay longer, I’m sure you’ll get a lesson involving –”

“Bingo, technically you owe us more than we owe you; remember those extra portions you were taking because you were afraid the keepers were gonna sell you for being too small?”

A leopard shark shrieked. “Guys, Bingo’s kind isn’t even allowed in the tanks! So why not we focus less on technicalities and more on how he fucking got in here!” The tank erupted with chaos.

“And they say they don’t know politics.” Marshall grinned.

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