Flash Fiction Friday: Concerning Cancer of the Shark & Other Miscellaneous Maladies

I.

Sharks can, in fact, suffer from cancer. This fact is of some importance considering that a large number of people have, apparently, come under the impression that sharks cannot get cancer. The impression that sharks do not get cancer came, oddly enough, from a book entitled “Sharks Don’t Get Cancer,” which would seem to be relatively straightforward except the gentleman who wrote the book was, at that time, in possession of a rather large quantity of shark cartilage and relieved himself of the surplus by marketing it as cancer prevention[1]. What he did with the remaining shark cartilage or indeed how he got such a large supply, are mysteries that are probably best left mysterious, and are, in any case, somewhat besides the point, namely that sharks can get cancer.

I know that sharks can get cancer because my pet shark, Fred, is suffering from acute cancer of the gills. This is extremely inconvenient and, of course, sad but mostly inconvenient, as I had recently wagered that Fred could beat Beefsteak in a fair fight. Beefsteak, as you may be aware, is a lion formerly of the Surini Brother’s Circus of Tigers[2]. My cousin, a man of means and impulsiveness, purchased Beefsteak for his menagerie although he did not actually have a menagerie at the time. We had arranged the fight for a Friday afternoon[3] and Fred’s untimely diagnosis would no doubt make it seem as though I had chickened out. My cousin would never let me hear the end of it and would spend the rest of our lives lording his lion over my shark, which I simply cannot have. I explained this to Fred, as plainly as I could, and asked him to, cancer of the gills notwithstanding, do me this one last favor in memory of all our times together, and all the fish I’d fed him[4]. Fred, it must be said, was most uncooperative and refused to take part on principle. He made his feelings extremely clear when he attempted to devour my right foot. I didn’t push the matter.

II.

Monarch butterflies can, actually, suffer from gout. This is a scientifically proven fact, attested to by numerous highly regarded if more than usually eccentric scientists[5]

 


 

[1] Capitalism and quackery joined in happy and profitable matrimony. Presumably the invention of Viagra had ended his lucrative trade in rhinoceros horns.

[2] Despite being a lion, Beefsteak was relegated to second billing behind the Dancing Tigers of Peru, who could not only tango, but also perform ballet. Compared to this, jumping through a ring of fire, which admittedly Beefsteak could do most skillfully, was of only minor value.

[3] We never worked out quite how a fair fight could be arranged between a lion and a shark, although we had a few ideas.

[4] And my rather magnanimously forgiving him for chewing my left foot off.

[5] Twenty-three to be precise.

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