The Reef's Shark

This story is dedicated to seldom and Sir William Shakespeare's character Ophelia, from Hamlet, who both taught me the value of nonsense.




"Hey non nonny, nonny, hey nonny;"

                                              -- Ophelia


The water was clear and bright, above coral that was stark and bleak. Two fish swam nearly alone, their brightly finned tails were shining back and forth. Gills fluttered.

A pair of black eyes watched them, from the shadows of a rocky outcropping. A thought in the watcher's mind, They will be a sanguine meal.

"It's another bad day for him," bubbled the blue one. She floated above the white coral, in a hall of pink discoloration.

She is a luscious one. Oh, how I wish to bite into her.

The other fish turned around, orange and red stripes flaunted carelessly. He answered her languidly as if speaking against the current, "He will get better in time, when we find the right dose and drug."

In the distance, an eel swam, curving its dark green body like a reed in the wind above.

And the watcher, the white death, just kept watching his desired prey. They were each a smooth crescent in the water, tempting him with bright colours he so rarely saw. I bet I'm the only shark in this reef; no, in this ocean, that isn't colour-blind!

"I like him on a good day," blue-and-yellow answered, "But today, he's looking at us funny."

"This job gets to me too sometimes," answered the warm-coloured one. "But, as they say, there are plenty of other fish in the sea."

This is driving me crazy.

"What, you don't mean..." she paused, nervously, "you've given your two weeks notice, haven't you?"

"I've thought about it," he admitted, gills still for a moment. "But I'd never leave you."

Just swim a little closer, now.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

The striped fish did not answer her. Instead, he looked back at her with unblinking eyes.

Kiss her, now, you little guppy! Give me my moment to attack...

"You know I don't date co-workers," she said calmly, and turned to see the approaching eel. "Well, it looks like our patient has a guest."

Both have turned tail, now's my chance!

The great white shark opened his jaws, white teeth gleaming, and swam towards them, fins flailing. However, he had forgotten about the glass window through which he was watching the pink hall. His face hit the glass, and he recoiled in humiliation.

The man and woman in the pink hallway turned towards the window, startled by the noise. The woman, in a blue blouse and bright yellow skirt, asked, "Should we restrain him further?"

Behind the door, the crazed fiend was flailing his tied-down arms in his straitjacket, as if they were fins. He was gnashing his teeth at them, pretending to be a hungry shark.

The man seemed rather unfazed, as he crossed his arms over his red and yellow striped t-shirt. "He'll calm down soon. This is just a brief case of it. He's probably hallucinating still, even on the lowered dose. I imagine he's unsettled by Casual Friday once again. He probably doesn't like our bright clothes."

They both looked at him through the shatter-proof window of the white and padded door, in the white and padded cell. He had fallen onto the soft floor, unable to hurt himself, and was now sitting calmly with his arms tied against his chest. He had short and messy brown hair, and a set of dazed blue eyes.

"It's a shame," said a new and male voice, from behind the man and woman. "That you must restrain his right hand while he's like this. Because, from what I've heard, he writes his best stuff when he's like this."

"Who are you?" she asked, turning towards the guest who had been walking slowly down the hall. She looked at his nametag and eyed his visitor's pass cautiously.

"I'm here to see the patient of this room," the man said. "I'm from The Reef. Y'know, the publishing company?"

"Where's his editor?" the other man asked him. "She usually handles everything."

"Bonnie is sick today. She's okay, though. Should be in next week. She sent me instead. Umm... what is this, Casual Friday?"

The woman, nodding, looked at the representative of The Reef with an amused look, taking in his olive green business suit and his  black hair which was geled into spikes.

He carried a black leather briefcase with dull golden buckles.

She smiled, "You're not too bright. Errr... I mean, not wearing anything bright! So-o-o, you'll survive long enough in there." Winked, "Have fun!"

The other man opened the door and ushered him into the padded cell. As he closed it, and watched through the window, he whispered, "Must you flirt with him around me?"

She glowered, "I wasn't flirting."

In the room, the man from the publishing company sat down across from the patient on the padded floor. He set his briefcase down beside him, unlocked its buckles, but did not open it.

The patient stared blankly at the wall.

"Well, you best-selling author types sure don't skimp on the decour," the man said.

"Who are you?"

"Hello, nutcase," he said. "I'm from The Reef. Now, umm... I have some questions for you from Bonnie, about your manuscript. Nut case? Nut case nut case nut, case? Nut case nut case - nut case nut case. Nut case nut case nut case nut-case." The man paused at this point, to make sure that he had been understood. "Nut case, nutcase nuuut-caaase! Nut case nutcase nut case nut case. Nutcase nutcase nutcase. And, she also wanted to know if you've decided on a title for your story."

"Nut Case," the patient answered, wiggling about in his restraints.

The man opened his briefcase, then, and revealed a plastic encasement molded to hold several small things in varying shades of brown. It was like a box of chocolates, except the chocolate had been licked off. They were nuts! And this was a nut case. For it held peanuts, cashews, pistachios, almonds and two walnuts that were clumped together like stone testicles broken off an old Greek statue.

The patient coughed, This guy goes on and on about nothing. He's full of crap. Bonnie must have sent him to punish me.

The man, then, took one of the walnuts from the case in his briefcase, and examine it in his hands with a ponderous look upon his face. Then he spoke, "Well, umm... if I have not been misinformed, that's what you called your last novel. Nut case nutcase, nut ca-a-ase?"

"In a nut shell," the man in white said, eyeing the walnut in the other man's hands, "that's what my last story was about. And that's what this story is about. Someone crazy. Not that I'd know anything about that, now, would I?"

"Well, we can't publish another book under the same title. That's just ludicrous."

"Fine," he said, eyeing the cashews thoughtfully, "We'll call it Brief Case."

"Quit looking at my notes, those are confidential." The man closed his briefcase, still holding the walnut in his hand. He then took a red pen from the pocket of his olive green suit, and held it above the walnut. "You're sure about this? Nutcase nut case case nut case? This isn't just a whim? Nutcase? Nut case nut case? Nut case nut-ca-a-ase, nut case nut case."

"I'm sure," said the man in the straitjacket. "Bonnie can always change it later. This is just a title to pass up to your superiors. The pretentious blowfish and manatee wanna-bes that run The Reef."

The man from the publishers eyed him carefully.

Oh geez, this man is ridiculous, thought the writer. Full of coffee, and it all tastes like crap. And he just ignores my roommate, how very rude.

The girl in the corner of the room, sitting quietly in the shadow, was contently humming to herself. Her eyes were closed, and she looked at peace in her gray straitjacket.

The man gripped his red pen firmly in his hands, and wrote 'BRIEF CASE' diagonally across the walnut. It looked like the walnut was bleeding. Then, he looked over at the writer he'd come to see, "Did you write anything this week?"

"Not today. They don't let me near my laptop on days like this. New medication, tastes like bad coffee. But earlier this week, I've written lots. But they won't give it to you, I won't let them. I'm not done editing it. I'll pass it by Bonnie next time she's here, if it's ready then." He'd spill bad coffee on it.

"Well then, nut case nutcase. Nutcase nut case nut-nut n-nut case. Nutcase? Nut ca-a-ase! Well then, goodbye."

The great white shark remained silent as he watched the eel slink away, towards the discolored pink coral that tainted his quiet edge of the reef.

And from the corner of the room, the girl laughed, "Hah hah, hah... ohhh, hah! Heh, did you see the size of those walnuts in his briefcase?"

"You're sick, you know that?"

Her blond hair fell loosely around her face, veiling it in mystery. The mermaid girl had pale skin, and a large nose.

Her gray tail looked to him as if it would not make a good meal. It simply wasn't colourful.

She smiled at the shark, admiring his teeth, "Takes one to know one."

The End

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