Boy Who Cried Shark
Out of my room . . .
Down the stairs . . .
Into the hall . . .
“Sorry, Puddles!” I call back as I crash into our moth-eared catfish, sending him spinning out of control and bouncing into the wall. I don’t stop to find out if he’s all right. I must get to the jellyfishion before Mom and Dad!
It’s Saturday night, and if I don’t get there RIGHT NOW, they’ll put on the news or some terrible sappy movie. They’ve been washing the dishes while I’ve been cleaning my room. There’s always a rush to get to the den first after dinner, but tonight I have to get there first. So, instead of doing a total cleanup, I used my tail to sweep the mess
under my bed. If Mom doesn’t look too closely, I might just get away with it.
I come to the end of the hall, hook my dorsal on the doorframe, spin sideways (so my goofy hammery head doesn’t get stuck in the door), and then-WHAM!-I’m in the den. Before Mom and Dad. YES!
Sailing around tail first, I slide into the finchair closest to the flat-screen jellyfishion and reach out with the flukes on my tail to flick the remote control off the coffee table and-
-down on the on button.
With a shiver and a fizz, the jellyfishion comes to life and I left-hammer the three button, just in time to see the judges for The Shark Factor being introduced. Pumping music blares and lasers burst across the stage, lighting the huge undersea set. The announcer, with his big, booming whale-size voice, waits
for the pumping music to stop and then shouts out the names of the judges as they appear.
That’s Paddy Snapper, the saltwater crocodile from Emerald Island. He slithers down the ramp on his yellow belly.
That’s Ellie Electra, the smooth-bodied electric eel with ultra-shiny skin. She shimmies down the ramp and wraps herself around Paddy.
That’s Bobby Barnacle, who is so tiny, he slides down the ramp under his own
personal magnifying glass so that everyone can see him.
And lastly, it’s Marcus Sea-cow, wearing his trademark leather pants. He waves his pink tail at the audience, and
with ocean-size smiles the four judges float to their huge clamshell seats.
“Oh no. Not this.”
I look around at the sound of Dad’s voice. He and Mom are swimming in from the kitchen. I grip the remote control tightly.
“I was hoping to catch some of my interview on the news,” Dad says. Dad is mayor of Shark Point, and there’s nothing he likes better than seeing himself on jellyfishion.
Mom flops down on to the sea-sponge sofa and groans. “Harry, do we have to watch this trash?”
Most weeks I wouldn’t have minded. I mean, there are only so many times you can watch a fish being told he sings like a ship’s horn that’s got a seagull stuck in it. But this week . . . oh, man . . . this week I have to see the special guest
who’s opening the show.
We’ve been talking about it all week at school. Me, Ralph (my pilot-fish friend) and Joe (my jellyfish pal) have been finding it really difficult to concentrate in class. In the end, our teachers had to ban anyone from even mentioning The Shark Factor.
“But, Mom,” I say, “I have to watch it tonight.”
“Why?” she says, looking puzzled.
I let out a massive sigh. “Seriously, Mom, if you were any more uncool, we’d have to stick you on an iceberg. Gregor the Gnasher is singing
his first ever single tonight.”
My stomach is doing little flips just thinking about it. Gregor the Gnasher is a great white shark and my number-one hero. Not only is he the Underwater Wrestling Champion of the World (signature move: the fin-chop with tail-driver), he’s also an action-movie star and now he’s breaking into the music business as a rapper called G-White.
Tonight’s performance has been the talk of the interwet, and the number of ‘GREGOR’ fan pages on Plaicebook has tripled in two days-making
the system crash.
Marcus Sea-cow floats up from behind his desk.
“Ladies and gentlefish, welcome to The Shark Factor!”
The crowd goes wild.
Marcus Sea-cow grins and gestures to the stage. “And now, opening the show with his debut single, ‘Bite It,’ please welcome the one, the only, Geeeeeeeeeee-White!”
Horns ring out across the stage. Then comes the beat of drums. Search-lights start flashing through the water. A huge, glittery curtain opens at the back of the stage and
there’s Gregor, floating fin-high on a column of bubbles. Two dolphins wearing shiny dresses are dancing on either side of him. Around his neck is a big gold shark’s tooth, hanging on a gold chain that’s so thick, it looks as
if it came from the anchor of a cruise ship. He’s wearing a red Shike tracksuit with diamond-encrusted sneakers on each fluke of his tail.
The audience has gone crazy. I sneak my tail toward the remote to turn the volume up. Sea-cow, Barnacle, Electra, and Snapper float up above their judges’ desk and start clapping along.
G-White nods to the beat as the dolphins sway beside him.
“I’ve got a big bite cuz I’m
a great white,” he raps.
I have to put my fin across my mouth to stop myself from squealing like a girl-shark.
“Great white!” the audience shouts back to him.
G-White grins, showing every single one of his three thousand and seventeen teeth. “I love causing FRIGHT, cuz I’m a great white!”
“Great white!” I join in with the audience.
“He’s not too bright, he’s a goofy great white,” Dad mutters.
I turn around and glare at Dad. He’s shaking his head as he looks at the screen.
“Well, look at him,” Dad says. “He might have lots of teeth, but I bet he couldn’t think his way out of a wet paper bag.”
“Oh, come on, Harry. It’s not exactly poetry, is it?” Dad says. “In my day we had real singers. Fish like Sting Ray and Sealion Dion. Now she could reach those high notes. This fool couldn’t pitch a tent, let alone a tune.”
Now Mom’s shaking her head too. “I really don’t know what anyone sees in that ridiculous big tooth-head. He’s all teeth and no pants.”
I can feel myself getting
really angry now. I’ve been looking forward to this all week, and now they’re ruining it. “Be quiet!” I hiss. “I want to hear the chorus.”
But they won’t clam up.
“Bite it? Is that all he can sing about? Being mean? I don’t think that’s a very good example to be setting for the youngsters of Shark Point,” Dad says in his “serious” voice.
“He’s not mean!” I protest. “Not really.”
“Gulp in ONE BITE, cuz I’m a great white!” screams G-White from the jellyfishion.
Mom and Dad just look at me.
I’m torn. I just want to listen to the song, but I feel like I have to defend Gregor. He is my hero after all. I want to be like him. Even if the only thing I could gulp with one bite is a minnow. Actually, I couldn’t even manage that
when I met Marmaduke the Minnow, my new friend. That doesn’t matter, I tell myself. I have to convince Mom and Dad that G-White is a good shark now.
I open my mouth to continue the argument, but Mom holds up her fin.
“Not another word, Harry,” says Mom. “I think we should turn to another channel; I’m really not happy about you watching this. Great whites shouldn’t even be allowed on jellyfishion, the way they frighten communities. It’s a disgrace.”
“But Gregor isn’t like that anymore,
Mom. He hasn’t eaten anyone for two years, seven months, and eleven days!”
“No, Harry. I’m sorry,” Mom grabs the remote from my fin and flicks the jellyfishion channel.
Oh no! It’s Drownton Abbey! Two terribly fancy crabs are having a terribly fancy conversation, while doing some terribly fancy kissing, in the terribly fancy drawing room of a TERRIBLY TERRIBLE COSTUME DRAMA!
“Mom, it’s just an act! Gregor isn’t scary. He just pretends to be!”
“Well,” Dad says, “he’s scaring us by polluting the waves with his awful noise.”
I can tell that they’re not going to let me see the rest of the performance. The thing I’ve been waiting for the whole entire week is ruined.
“You two just don’t understand!”
I swim up from the chair and swish out of the den, slamming the door behind me. I go straight to my room and throw myself onto the bed.
“It’s not fair!” I shout, with a couple of prickly tears in my eyes trying hard to get out. I wipe them away with the tips of my
fins. Then I beat my fins on the bed.
Barrap! Barrap! they go as they hit the seaweed blanket.
Actually, that’s not a bad beat.
Thud. Thud. Swish! goes my tail.
That rhythm’s pretty good, I think to myself. Suddenly, I feel a little bit better. Maybe I’ve discovered a cool new talent. Maybe I’m not so different from G-White after all. I mean, he’s a huge great white wrestling, movie, and singing star, and I’m just a little nobody hammerhead, but what if I can rap too?
Barrap! Barrap! go my fins.
Swish. Thud. Thud! goes my tail.
“I’m a hammerrrrrrrrrrrrhead. And that’s a bit bad actuallyyyyyy,” I rap.
It didn’t even rhyme.
I try again. A little faster on the barraps
“H-h-h-h-hammerhead. I’m kinda blue if you look at me in the right light, and sometimes nearly red.”
No, I’m not. I’m never red. That’s just really silly.
I need something better that rhymes with hammerhead.
Lots of cool things rhyme with great white. That’s why G-White’s rap sounded so good. I have to think . . . .
“Hammerhead . . . hammerhead . . . sounds just like jam and sea-bread.”
That is clearly the worst rap in the history of the world. Ever.
And then I hear someone laughing.
I look up from the bed, and see Larry, my lantern-fish night-light, and Humphrey, my humming-fish alarm clock. They’re both rolling on the floor, clutching their sides and giggling like crazy at my dorky attempts to rap like
“Stop laughing!” I yell.
Larry looks at me, his lantern flashing on and off as he chuckles. “You mean you weren’t trying to be funny?”
“Are you sure?” asks Humphrey, buzzing away happily.
Larry and Humphrey help each other off the floor, both trying-and failing-not to laugh.
“Be quiet, you two!” I shout, pulling the seaweed blanket over my hammer. “I’m trying to sleep.”
But I can still hear them giggling
as they swim back to the shelf above my bed. Great. I bet G-White’s alarm clock and lamp don’t ever laugh at him.
Sometimes it really stinks being a hammerhead shark. Sometimes it’s even worse. And then there are days like today, when just about everything goes wrong and it’s worse than worse can be. As I drift off to sleep, I hope that some day I’ll finally get to meet Gregor the Gnasher. If I met Gregor, he could show me how to wrestle, or act, or rap . . . .
Then no one would laugh at me.
I bet he could teach me stuff that would blow Larry and Humphrey and my mean parents out of the water!
But until then, I’m just going to be a dull hammerhead-that NOTHING COOL RHYMES WITH!