Internationally-famous sports prognosticator, Paul, the Octopus, has been found dead at his home in Germany.
Paul's meteoric rise to fame began pedestrianly enough in the depths of the Mediterranean, when he was plucked from the roiling sea by a Greek fishing boat intent on selling him to the local fishmonger. On the way back to their village, the fishermen began arguing about their hometown soccer team. Paul, desperate to be spared from a certain death by drowning in some cheap marinara sauce at some rundown tourist cafe on the Greek coast, told the fishermen that he could make them wealthy by picking the winners and losers of upcoming sporting events.
The Greek fishermen laughed that lusty laugh that only Greek fishermen can laugh after drinking too much ouzo, but decided to give Paul a chance, apparently completely oblivious to the fact that an octopus had just spoken to them.
They put Paul in a small tank on their vessel and returned the next morning with the sports page from the daily newspaper, The Galatakion Gazette. Paul predicted the outcomes of four soccer matches that day, including the hometown Domvrainis Doves losing in an overtime thriller to the roundly-despised Skordhianika Scorpions.
The fishermen, profoundly amazed by their new-found meal ticket, sold their fishing boat and became professional gamblers, making millions of drachmas off Paul's predictions. Ultimately, as is wont to happen in these cases of easy money, the lifelong friends had a falling out and, after a day and night and day of heavy drinking, began fighting with each other. Paul's tank was nearly knocked over in the altercation, when he was spirited away by person or persons unknown to Germany, where he was booked into the local aquarium under an assumed name.
Paul reveled in the spacious surroundings of his new digs and enjoyed performing for the visiting children and making them laugh. He felt the sting of rejection, though, when he would crawl up the front glass of his tank after spotting a pretty young fraulein, only to have her recoil in squeamish disgust at the very sight of him.
Then, one day, a pigtailed beauty sidled up to the viewing area and gazed longly at Paul's engorged tentacles as he deftly made his way along the sandy bottom of the tank. She came day after day, week after week, until one day Paul worked up the courage to speak to her. He spoke at length of his past growing up in the Mediterranean Sea, of his capture by the Greek fishermen, of his brush with death and anxiously awaited her reply.
"Ich spreche nicht griechische," she purred coyly. But, of course, she did.
The two became fast friends and Paul was soon picking winners of soccer matches for young Bruhilde. Paul became quite the celebrity and, with the arrival of the World Cup Soccer Games this past year, that notoriety spread exponentially when Paul correctly tabbed the winners of all seven of Germany's matches, as well as giving Spain the nod in the championship tilt.
But, with fame, came accusations. Paul was indicted as co-conspirator in several illegal gambling operations around the Mediterranean, including Sicily. Paul confided to Oprah this past fall in an exclusive interview that he was giving up the sports-handicapping business. He had accepted an invitation from Punxsutawney Phil to join him in rural Pennsylvania in America and be a weather forecaster. Paul said the change in scenery would do him good and, at his age, working one day a year sounded "pretty darn good."
Paul was found early yesterday morning by his handlers, out of his tank on the bone-dry floor, each tentacle chained to a concrete block. A note pinned to the cephalopod's dried, brittle skin read simply: Calamari!