Douglas Hackle


Yo, like Poe, I was drinkin’ a cask of amontillado.

With on-fleek boyband music rising up the hill from the amphitheater below, I held the cask high to take a deep draught as I watched a beautiful girl dancing on the twilit grass—barefoot and nymph-like; pale, lithe arms waving and weaving like albino serpents; shoulders swaying; white daisies and baby’s breath woven into long, lush, black hair plaited in an arabesque waterfall braid; pomegranate-like breasts sheathed in the wispy chiffon of a boho-chic dress, breasts jiggling a jig all their own.

One of the girl’s friends took her by the hands—they spun each other around, heads tossed back, laughing with Dionysian abandon.

Deep in my cups—or cask, I should say—I struggled to maintain balance as I pedaled my dank unicycle over to these girls, my cask of amontillado balanced precariously on my head as I focused all my energy on avoiding an embarrassing topple onto the ground. But I’d seen and shared enough Dat Boi memes on Facebook over the years to know that I’d be okay so long as I held out my arms like the wings of an aeroplane.

I rolled up to the raven-haired girl just as she and her friend unlocked fingers. Not one to waste time, I commenced pedaling circles around her; just as the male peacock parades its tail feathers to capture the attention of the female, just as the male sea turtle circles the female in a courtship dance, so did I show off my sick uni skills. The girl danced on, though now she turned with my revolutions, following my orbit around her heavenly body with a wary sidelong eye.

Her smile vanished; she was all arched eyebrow and unimpressed duckface now.

Damn, I thought. Best pull off a sick uni trick real quick or your gonna let this one get away, slice. So I attempted a 180-degree hop-spin. Now, had I successfully executed the trick, I would’ve segued into pedaling backwards, and the shit woulda been hella sick. But like I said, I was FRIGGIN’ INEBRIATED. As such, I tumbled mid-spin, landed hard on my ass, the cask of amontillado breaking apart as it struck the ground, spilling its sweet, golden contents out into the grass like a cracked egg.

The girl and her friends laughed and pointed at me as I sat there on the ground looking reeaaaal dumb, my cheeks hot and ruddy with embarrassment. Grimacing, I pounded the ground three times with the butts of my fists so damn hard it hurt. The girl then caught me off guard when she came forward, bent down, offered me her hand. I took it in mine, pushed myself to my feet.

“Um, can I, like, get you a…a dead sewer rat from Afghanistan?” I blurted.

Just as I finished uttering this ridiculous sentence, I executed a loud, smacking facepalm. Christ, I thought. Really, dude? That was the best pick-up line you could come up with? Can I get you a dead sewer rat from Afghanistan?

“Um, I think I’ll pass on the dead sewer rat from Afghanistan,” the girl said, wrinkling her nose in distaste. “But I might settle for a cask of amontillado.”

This made me grin ear to ear. Actually, if you want to get all technical about it, it made me grin even broader than ear to ear; in fact, I grinned so broadly that the corners of my mouth continued moving up past my ears, rising behind and above my temples, traveling up the sides of my head until they met at the top of my forehead, at which point my face fell the fuck off.

But who the hell needs a face when you have a dank uni, sick uni skillz, and a big-boobed hot honey at your side, eh?

After I remounted my wheels—oops, wheel, I mean—I took the girl’s hand in mine, and together we descended the hill to the concessions area, her walking, me pedaling. We got in line at the cask of amontillado stand. After I bought us each a cask, we moved in closer to the stage to check out the band that was playing—a boyband called WE BOYZ 4-LYFE comprising just two members. One member was an armless old man—dude had to be at least ninety—who banged at the bloodied keys of a rickety, old upright piano with his equally bloodied, abraded forehead. The other member of WE BOYZ 4-LYFE was a dead sewer rat from Haiti. It lay perfectly still (and dead) on a drum stool placed at the center of a huge, sprawling, forty-piece drum kit. However, because it was deader than a dog turd sealed in a dog turd-sized coffin, set on fire, and dropped off the Eiffel Tower, the rat couldn’t play drums for shit (or play any musical instrument for that matter [or, for that matter, do anything]), which meant the music of WE BOYZ 4-LYFE consisted entirely of the old man’s discordant, insanity-inducing piano noise—song after song after song of it.

I must say they were quite good. Certainly one of the best bands I’ve ever seen—boyband or otherwise. Nevertheless, after a few songs, we wandered away from the stage toward the surrounding woods where we could better hear ourselves talk.

“You know you left your face back there on the hill,” the girl said after hoisting her cask of amontillado up for a sip.

“Oh, yeah?” I retorted with a scowl, sounding an awful lot like Moe from The Three Stooges.


“What’s it to ya?” I said in the same petulant tone.

“It’s nothing to me. But it’s something to you. It’s your face!”

“Oh, yeah?”


“Oh, yeah? What’s it to ya? Oh, a wise guy, eh?”

“Listen,” she said, halting and turning to face me. “Why don’t we skip all the niceties, unicycle boy: you wanna get your mitts on these tits or what?” She squeezed her breasts together, expanding her already ample cleavage.

“Um (gulp),” I uttered, wide-eyed. “Yeah, I guess I sorta do.”

“And would you like to peel the frilly pink panties off this heart-shaped ass?” she asked, slapping said heart-shaped ass for effect.

“Er, yes, I suppose I would.”

“Then get me a dead sewer rat from Afghanistan.”

“What? Now hold up a sec, shorty. I already asked you if you wanted a dead sewer rat from Afghanistan. You said no, remember?”

“A girl has a right to change her mind. Get me a dead sewer rat from Afghanistan, or I’ll have nothing more to do with you ever again.”

Shit, I thought. As far as I could tell, the only place I could get a dead sewer rat from Afghanistan was, well, a sewer in Afghanistan.

“Alright. But if I do go all the way to friggin’ Afghanistan to get you a dead rat, where can I find you when I get back to America?”

“My address is 124 Conch Street, Bikini Bottom.”

I scrawled the address on a gum wrapper, pocketed it.

“Well, I should probably get going,” I said. “Looks like I have a long trip ahead of me. I don’t even know how I’m going to get over there. I may have to join the military or something. Hopefully I won’t get killed in combat.”

“Good luck, unicycle boy!” the raven-haired girl said, clasping my hand for a moment before turning away, laughing as she ran back up the hill to her friends.


After barely surviving boot camp, I did two back-to-back three-year tours in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army, 76th Infantry Brigade. The sewer rats there were damn near impossible to hunt or trap, and they tended to cannibalize their own dead, so that it was not until the end of my second tour when I finally got my hands on one.

When I arrived back in the States with two Purple Hearts, two missing arms (got too close to a grenade blast during an ambush just outside of Kandahar), a nasty case of PTSD, and one dead Afghan sewer rat, the first thing I did was try to visit the raven-haired girl.

It didn’t take me long to figure out I’d been punked.

Punked hardcore.

See, turns out 124 Conch Street, Bikini Bottom is the address for fucking SpongeBob!


Man, I still can’t believe I fell for that shit! Alack and cursèd be the day I was born!!


Six months after I was discharged, the raven-haired girl came to visit me at my home.

“Hi. I heard you were back from Afghanistan,” she said after Higginsworth, my muscle-bound butler, brought her into my parlor. Her face glistened with tears. “I’m sorry I tricked you. I was just having a little fun. I didn’t think you’d actually risk your life to become a soldier and go all the way to Afghanistan to get a sewer rat just to hook up with me. I…I hope you can forgive me. And maybe…maybe we could, like, still go out some time?”

“Sorry, dollface, but you’re a little late. I guess you didn’t hear. See, after I got back from Afghanistan and realized you’d tricked me, I decided to start a boyband. We’re called BOYZ ON FLEEK 4-EVAH. I’m the piano player. I play the piano with my head. The other member of the band is the dead sewer rat I brought back from Afghanistan to give you. He’s the drummer. He plays a motherfucking fifty-piece drum kit. Well, he doesn’t actually play it ’cause he’s dead as dogshit, but who cares? Him being dead didn’t stop us from signing a ten-million-dollar record contract with Sony BMG just last month.”

“You’re in BOYZ ON FLEEK 4-EVAH?” she asked, her mind completely blown. “You guys do that song ‘I Banged Like Ten Supermodels Today. What the Hell Did U Do Today, Nerd? I Bet You Shit Your Lime-Green Nerd-Pants and Then Cried Like a Tiny, Little Bitch!’”

“Yup, that’s us.”

“I love that song! You guys are like the hottest thing right now!”

“Yeah, I know. Hey, you know what? I’m actually sort of on my way out the door right now. See, we’re about to kick off the North American leg of our world tour. Sorry, but I’m gonna have to ask you to scram.”

The girl wept anew. “I’m sorry for how I treated you, unicycle boy. I love you! Please take me with you!”

“You had your chance, dummy. Higginsworth, please show this little trollop to the front door.”

Higginsworth grabbed the raven-haired girl by her arm, dragged her away.

I never saw her again.

Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say.



As you might well imagine, over the course of the next year, while I toured the world with my boyband, I nabbed more ass than a goddamn Chinese zoo! But after a while, the rockstar life began to wear on me, and I found myself longing to be a soldier again. So I reenlisted, and my superiors granted my request to be put back on active combat duty despite me no longer having arms. Fitted with custom-made boots that contained retractable spring-loaded blades in the soles—thereby allowing me to fight with my feet—I was shipped off to Iraq, where, within four months, I managed to get both my legs blown off.

After recovering from these horrible injuries for three months in a U.S. military hospital, I asked to be sent back to the warzone. Due to my exceptional record of valor and the great physical sacrifices I’d already made for my country, my request was immediately granted. This time they shipped me off to Syria and provided me with a high-tech combat wheelchair controlled using a mouth-operated joystick.

Not one month into my tour of duty in Syria, I rolled over a landmine, blew my torso and wheelchair to smithereens. Luckily, the medics got to my bodiless head in time to connect it to a newly developed, high-tech blood circulation/respiration system specifically designed to keep bodiless heads alive. So, reduced to nothing more than my head, I was sent back to the States to convalesce in a military hospital.

Do you think that getting physically reduced to a head kept barely alive on life support finally took the fight out of me?

Hell no, it didn’t, my tiny little sons!

After a few months, the Army granted my request go back into the fray. Perhaps you’re wondering what possible good could a head kept barely alive on life support do in a combat situation? Again, we must thank the wonders of modern medical science and the latest advances in military technology, as the Army custom-built a motorized, armored, weaponized unicycle for me designed with a sophisticated gyroscope system that kept the thing upright at all times so that I never had to worry about keeping balance myself. In order to ride it, my head was placed into a high-tech, armored, weaponized helmet that locked onto the seat. I controlled the uni with a mouth-operated joystick system integrated into the helmet. Let me tell you, that battle uni was friggin’ awesome, and when I rolled into motherfucking Somalia on the damn thing, I fucked some serious shit up for a while.

Unfortunately, not a month into my tour of Somalia, my sick uni and I were vaporized by a nasty roadside IED. With my head now gone, all that remained of me was, well, nothing. Nevertheless, the Army sent my nothing back home to the States to recover from its injuries.

So, now reduced to nothing, do you think I was finally ready to retire from military service?

Fuck no, I wasn’t, my tiny little daughters and nieces!

Again, and despite me being nothing but nothing, the Army granted my request to continue to serve my country as a soldier. As such, they put my nothing on a plane to friggin’ Liechtenstein of all places (unfortunately, the scenic, little Alpine microstate had been recently invaded by friggin’ Haiti of all countries).

Care to take a guess at what my nothing did to help fight those crazed, machete-wieldin’, Voodoo-hexin’ Haitians after my nothing arrived on the bloody, smoke-billowing battlefields of Liechtenstein?

It did nothing.

Because, unfortunately, when you’re nothing, all you can do is nothing.

As such, my superiors had no choice but to fly my nothing back to the States and give it an honorable medical discharge, which, if I’m going to be completely honest about it, was fine by me, as I was getting kinda bored with the soldier life by that time. What I really wanted to do was get my boyband back together, go on tour again, and get back to nabbin’ more ass than the goddamn Bubonic plague.

So as soon as I arrived back in the U.S., I tracked down my old drummer—i.e., the dead sewer rate from Afghanistan. Unfortunately, while I’d been away fighting baddies in exotic lands, he and the former drummer of WE BOYZ 4-LYFE (the boyband that played the festival where I met the raven-haired girl) started a new boyband called WE BOYZ NO MATTA WHUT, MY TINY LITTLE SON!

What did a boyband consisting of two drummers—one a dead sewer rat from Afghanistan, the other a dead sewer rat from Haiti—sound like? Well, as both members were deader than dried-out white dogshit, neither was capable of making any sort of sound at all, so that every one of their songs was nothing but three or four minutes of silence. Nevertheless, WE BOYZ NO MATTA WHUT, MY TINY LITTLE SON! was friggin’ huge, selling out dozens of stadiums and arenas all over the country during their first U.S. tour.

Anyhow, I begged the dead rats to let me join the band. I tried to tell them that their music was already nothing, so what harm could possibly come from adding my nothing to their nothing, right? But the rats wanted nothing to do with my nothing because, being deader than dirt, they were incapable of wanting or not wanting anything.

Then that smug, ungrateful, self-important, putting-on-airs, crooked, backstabbing dead Afghan sewer rat was all CRAW! SLAW. KRAW? SLAW! CRAW. SLAW? KLEET KLEET KLEEK CLEEK? m32hdsafd34saklfjdsklafjiojdsiofjdo73afjiowrjeq9fgirj390ghr392gnri9032gnr924n3g9r4n290gKdsanr8gn04fg0ri3nq2fi903emfi90jn34i9fnfg943jng904jn23g90ijn4230gj40235fhg93j0423jg5042j3g054tg54jt045jt90j45390t45902jt9045j5t9g04jt905j490tj4390jdnzsvnseyruiodanfnwue9rfn243nrgvn249ith892nghru94nhgu89rndsfjnkedwofgri9thj45hg542h3g9r4h239fg5rh4392gh594hjgi50w4jgio0r4jmf89ntu4m89thnr89wfhc8nrh43tf8mh4gh3g5hj3mt5j3890tj5490tj43yjjdtj92r3ut8943wjf9rhj329rhj39wfhr893hj9r8h3g89rh9grh89ghr89hgr894h3g89rhefmnwogrnweiognri90g90rewgi90rjgr4tg94gj9t4h3g895h48923gh4892ghr84h2g89h84325435432


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