"Billy, the Suicidal Octopus Who Loved Hockey"
Once upon a time there was an octopus named Billy. He spent most of his days in the Straits of Juan de Fuca, though every so often he’d find himself drifting to Vancouver up north or Seattle down south. And every time he’d find himself in front of a waterside bar where he could see the patrons watching a hockey game.
The speed! The brilliant tactics thought up on the fly! The most dextrous use of inflexible endoskeletal non-tentacle manipulators to put a puck in a net! Billy watched all these things and became sad. No one in the hockey game would ever want a boneless cephalopod for a teammate. Every night he crept up the side of the dock to watch a game, and every night he floated back to his home with the sad realization that the NHL’s only use for an octopus was in a bizarre sacrificial ritual in the faraway and possibly mythical land of “Detroit.” No one ever said that octopi were any better at geography than most high school students, and Billy wasn’t really much of a map enthusiast. So every night after the he’d just float in his little octopus hovel at the bottom of the Straits of Juan de Fuca and try drinking himself into an early grave with whatever was available. As his tiny liver grew harder and harder, Billy realized that if he couldn’t play hockey, he should just curl up and die.
Well, one night during his ever-more-frequent blackouts induced by chugging cans of Sterno, Billy felt a strange hand grab him from his hovel… wait, no, he’d woken up in a fishtank again at the market. “Oh yeah, this one’ll do real good,” he heard a guttural and clearly-uneducated voice yell out.
“Derrrrrryyeah, we just got dat one in last night from the West Coast. He throws real good, I bet,” said another voice.
Throw? Why would these people throw Billy? He’d done nothing to them.
“Ya think he’s gonna keep until I get ta Joe Louis tonight?” said the first voice with the grabby hands.
Joe Louis? Oh no! Billy had heard that name before! It was where they sacrificed an octopus to the Hockey Gods!
“I WANT TO LIVE! I WANT TO LIVE! RELEASE ME FROM YOUR HIDEOUS ENDOSKELETAL BONDAGE! SAVE ME, GREAT CTHULHU!” Billy screamed in his squeaky little octopus language of clicking beak and changing skin colors.
“Aw hey look! That octopus is goin’ all crazy colors on us!” the second voice said. “I hope he keeps that up during the game.”
No! No! Billy wanted to watch hockey, to play hockey with the friends he was sure he’d make in a rec league, not to die for it! It wasn’t fair!
Suddenly, he noticed that the plastic bag that held him and his dwindling supply of life-giving oxygenated salt water wasn’t closed completely. He could escape just by squeezing his body through it. He would be free! Soon he would escape from the death sentence that was Detroit! He wriggled and contracted his skin and moved his tentacles through the opening.
“Aw wait! He’s tryin’ ta escape!” the second voice said.
Yes! Billy was going to escape! He was- oh no. Billy forgot that due to his rock-solid liver he couldn’t squeeze through every opening anymore! Now that he wanted to live and escape and make his way home, the one reminder of his attempt at slow suicide was now to seal his doom! Oh, cruel irony! Oh, cruel fate! Oh, cruel- never mind, he just managed to fish the half-pint of Richard’s Wild Irish Rose out of the one guy’s coat pocket. He unscrewed the cap and drank deeply of the rotgut.
“Damn octopus stole my liquor!” the first voice said. The second voice just laughed.
Poor Billy was so lit by the time the hockey game ended, he didn’t even realize that he was flying through the air until the first draft of cold air met him over the glass of the rink. He crawled mightily across the ice, but in the end he could do nothing but expire quickly and messily, inking all over the ice.
His earthly remains were picked up in a shovel and dumped into a plastic bag. It wasn’t a fitting burial for man or beast, but for one brief shining moment, Billy’s messy panicked death brought happiness to thousands of other people just like Billy, people who were trapped in situations beyond their comprehension, trapped in a never-ending spiral of self-loathing and humiliation, trapped in the mythical land called “Detroit.” Oh well, at least he could take comfort in telling his fellow cephalopods in the Cephalopod Afterlife about how awesome it was to watch someone else do all the hard work and how awesome it was that Great Cthulhu signed a pact with this team and no one else’s. For all his attempts to be relevant, though, for all of his successes in octopus school and octopus college, he still wound up drunk, confused and in Detroit.
Yes, in the end, Billy understood what it meant to be a Red Wings fan.