The Shopping Cart Pirate narrowed his eyes. “The Sharks are circling.”
The Blonde Buccaneer, her sled pulling aside his cart, nodded at his grim words. “Like, we gotta get outta here.”
The Sharks pranced across the Asphalt Sea, their sneakers squeaking under the hot, hot sun. They leaped and danced as they circled the duo.
Blondie’s mega-Chihuahuas yipped ferociously at the men in flamboyant green, blue, and red leather coats. They sang to each other, flicking switchblades. One had a gun.
The Sharks were certainly not the most dangerous predators of the Asphalt Sea, but they were among the most feared. The Shopping Cart Pirate had first heard the music – blaring horns and conga drums – hours ago. He’d urged Blondie to move faster, and he’d summoned the wind. It did no good. As soon as the Sharks heard the beat of your heart through the soles of their feet, they could follow that rhythm to the end of the world.
“We’ll need to face them, my dear.”
“I ain’t no deer. You see any antlers up on my head?” Blondie glared at him.
“My apologies, fair maiden.”
“Are you ready to fight?”’
“I was good enough to take your eye. I can handle a few Broadway rejects.”
One of the men, his hair slicked back into an awful black mess, snarled.
“Yes. We will need your cunning. Will your steeds help us?” The pirate muttered to her, but kept his eyes on the dancing circle.
“You mean my puppies? They only eat organic bad guys. Do you see how much grease these creeps have? No way.”
“Hm,” he answered. He drew his rusty cutlass from its cardboard sheath. “If I distract them, you can get away.”
“Nothing doing, pudding. You need my help.”
“Did you just call me pudding?”
“Sure thing, honey.”
“Just as you have requested I not call you as an animal, I ask you do not address me as food.”
The pirate grumbled under his breath. “Are you prepared?”
“Say the word.”
“Now!” The Shopping Cart Pirate released the wind, even as he swung a grappling hook and threw it at one of the Sharks. It tangled around his feet, and he fell to the shimmering blacktop.
As soon as he missed the beat of the song, two other Sharks turned on him. Blood in the music.
The Blonde Buccaneer heaved her mega-Chihuahuas to a halt and dashed to the nearest Shark, her blade in hand. “Hey! Your music’s boring!”
He thrust a switchblade at her. She blocked the weapon, spinning in the heat. He kicked up – perfectly in time to the music, of course – catching her on the chin. She bounced back, using her momentum to slash at him. He raised a comb, catching her cutlass between its teeth.
“Crackers! You’re not just Sharks – you’re Greaser Sharks, ain’t ya?”
He laughed in answer, twisting the comb and shattering her blade, the steel clattering to the ground.
The Shopping Cart Pirate danced with his enemies. The predators moved to a Caribbean beat. They thrust and jived with menace. The pirate, though, moved with all the grace of a drunken ball. He stumbled in the heat, but to the tune of a magnificent waltz. The tempo of each dance was the same – he blocked every switchblade, every terrifying comb – but he moved in three while the others moved in two. The clashing styles created a new battle – one not of blades, but of music.
He began humming to himself, ignoring their syncopated rhythms. It began to work. The Sharks coordinated their movements with the beat. He was wreaking havoc by refusing to join in. Soon another one faltered. Another.
And as soon as they missed the beat – others began noticing. They turned on one another.
The Shopping Cart Pirate waltzed back to his aluminum boat and swung himself in. Enough chaos here; they wouldn’t give chase now. He turned to see how Blondie was doing.
She had a blow-dryer applied to the head of one of the Sharks.
He was crying.
“All that grease ain’t good for your hair, honey, I don’t care what the other boys say.”
That grim smile returned to the pirate’s face. “I attack their pride of rhythm, you attack their idol of hair?”
She shrugged. “Whatever works.”
“Shall we, fair maiden?”
“Stop calling me that. I ain’t been a maiden for a long time.”
“Hey, my author thought long and hard before he rejected a Legally Blond/ Pirates of the Caribbean mash-up!” She jogged back to her sled. “Let’s get outta here.”
“Though you are unconventional, it is good to know I need not rescue you.”
“Back at you, buddy!”
The two rode off under the hot sun of the Asphalt Sea, leaving the Sharks shaking and attacking their weaker members.
The Sharks had been so shaken, the music so bloodied, they didn’t notice the menacing chords emanating from the west. A line of dark clouds blotted out the sky. The temperature dropped.
When the sun shone again, all the Sharks were gone. Only a single plastic comb lay on the ground where they once danced.
This is a Barrelbottom Tale.
The Shopping Cart Pirate was last seen in The Shopping Cart Pirate Attacks!
The Shopping Cart Pirate returns in The Shopping Cart Pirate Pillages!