The Old Fisherman Who Was Fated to Be Eaten By a Shark

from Forty Fables by Adam Acidophilus


There was once an old fisherman who was convinced that he was fated to be eaten by a shark — and he lived his whole life in fear of this dreadful occurrence.

“It be certain – ” he would sigh. “I be fated to be eaten by a shark.” And nobody could talk him out of this assertion.

Every morning he would board his old boat, say an emotional farewell to his family, and set sail for the deep and shark-infested waters where he fished.

And every evening, to the astonishment of no one — except the old fisherman himself — he would return to port, on time and completely unscathed.

“Jesus, Mary and Santa Claus,” he would sigh — for he had not got the hang of religion. “It be only a matter of time now I should think.”

He survived this treacherous and provocative lifestyle for many, many years — suffering only occasional lobster bites and — on one occasion — a nasty slap in the face from a struggling halibut. So when he came to retire — which he eventually did — the old fisherman sold his boat and vowed that he would never put to sea again.

Instead, he took to sitting on the harbour wall, smoking his trusty pipe, and regaling passers-by with his dull anecdotes and a repertoire of old fisherman’s aphorisms.

“A crab may bite,” he would quip, “but it will never eat you.”

“Whereas a shark,” he would add, “probably will.”

But the old fisherman’s growing confidence was shattered one afternoon when a stray shark leapt from the depths of the harbour, snapped its jaws together inches from his face — and bit off the end of his pipe.

“Jesus, Mary and Santa Pod, I can’t say I’m surprised,” said the fisherman — who was — “The ways of the ocean be mighty peculiar.”

He wasted no time in moving inland — as far from the coast as he could get. “For he who lives by the sea,” he remarked, “shall die by the sea.”

He found a new home — took up gardening and forgot about sharks and death, and ruminated instead upon the harmlessness of flowers and insects.

Until late one winter’s night, when there was great storm out over the ocean, and many tons of fish were sucked into the sky, and shells and seaweed, and beams and barrels, which were carried by the clouds and deposited as rain across the land.

This debris also included a shark which, inevitably, crashed through his roof and landed in bed beside the fisherman. And though he was relieved to find it was dead — he was distressed to find that it was there at all.

“Jesus Mary and Santana!” he spluttered — for he had still not got the hang of religion. “There be no arguin’ with the science of the inevitable.”

So he packed his few possessions and made again for his old homestead on the coast. Unfortunately, halfway there, his pedal-operated flying machine developed metal fatigue and he plunged two thousand feet to his death.

Moral: To be eaten by a shark, that be the last of your worries.

© Adam Acidophilus 2011