One Hundred Years in Sushi City
by VG Campen
On Wednesday Dan found an octopus stretched across the Honda's windshield, basking in the morning dew. Dan set his computer bag down and returned to the house, where he assembled a makeshift cephalopod-removal kit: a spatula to pry suckers off glass, a cookie sheet to scoop up the cat-sized animal and fling it into the hedge. At the spatula's prodding the 'puss turned an angry red. Its arms thrashed, recoiled, and re-attached to the car, deftly avoiding Dan's attempts to slip the aluminum sheet underneath it.
"Daddy, don't hurt it!" Piper called from the doorway. She ran to Dan's side, startling a roosting school of sardines out of the mulberry tree.
"Careful, pumpkin," Dan said, stepping back from the car. "These things bite."
"Only if you make them mad. Here, let me." Piper stood on tiptoe, reaching across the car's hood to gently rub her index finger between the golden, goat-like eyes. She stroked a tentacle until it twined around her wrist. Five minutes later Dan backed the Honda down the driveway as Piper waved goodbye, the octopus perched quietly on her shoulder.
At the train station, Dan parked and hunched over the steering wheel, angling his head to scan the sky while a radio reporter described the emergency landing of an Airbus A320 at Newark. The plane had plowed through a school of cod shortly after takeoff, clogging the engines and sending sashimi raining down on Hoboken. "And speaking of rain," added the jovial deejay, "cloudy with a chance of cetaceans across the Tri-State Area. So grab an umbrella and watch out for whale poop."
The sight of marine fauna cruising overhead still unnerved Dan. Not like Piper, who'd been born after the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf, after the last of the 2011 tsunami debris sank into the Pacific, after CO2 levels in seawater rose to unprecedented levels. By the time Piper learned to crawl, most creatures had abandoned the oceans. Oyster beds choked roadside drainage ditches and barnacles clung to car bumpers. An occasional shark dipped to street level after sundown, hunting feral cats and stray labradoodles.