Once upon a time (and I'm talking way back, when that green stuff in my refrigerator still looked like a dairy product), there was a little sheep-herding township on the Transylvanian coast called Drakuul. It was a happy little village, where the lighthearted shepherds had a uniquely close relationship with their livestock. Very close. I'm saying there was a provision in the town charter where you could marry one of the wooly beasts if you wanted.

But the citizens of Drakuul had become downcast of last. The old legends of vampires had sprung up in recent months, after some lambs had wandered off the trail just before Halloween and been found the next day: all of the blood sucked out of their bodies, leaving their owners widowed and eying their neighbors' sheep tensely.

"It's a plot to drum up tourism," said Olaf the Satisfied.

"It's a plot to drum up tourism cooked up by the Transylvania Chamber of Commerce," assured Olaf the Satisfied, whose own great flock was so massive that all of the shepherds around knew that he would never go lonely. But most of them had only one or two lambs to get them through the long winter nights. What were they to do?

"`Tis no joke," pronounced Old Boris the Gypsy, who could remember when monsters roamed the countryside, and whose own hand had been ripped off as a boy by a wandering zombie selling Amway products. "This vampire is real! And with all of the bloodshed and mayhem that he's sure to inflict, we'll all need to stay locked up in our shacks with our sheep. Christmas will have to be cancelled!"

The solitary shepherds looked at each other in despair. Cancel Christmas? The favorite time of the year in Drakuul, when the shepherds and their worn-out livestock would gather around the town tree and sing all the old carols, followed by a spirited show starring Olaf the Satisfied and his most agile sheep.

"We'll have to forget the show," grieved Boris to the disappointed shepherds, "and all of the other joys of the season as well. Let's face it, boys; there's just no one around here who's stupid enough to try and hunt down that vampire by Christmas!"

At about this time, a young muse named Jonny M. was being fired from his job as a department store Santa at the Budapest Wal-Mart. The muse had been dipping imto the Seagrams display ion the liquor department and had just puked on a seven year old who was asking him for matching Beavis and Butthead dolls. Ruefully, the muse looked in the European edition of Drama-Logue for a new job, and found his eyes sailing to an ad picturing a frustrated Olaf the Satisfied holding a well-oiled sheep. The ad read "Earn good money while you practice your craft! Vampire hunter wanted!"

Jonny had remembered Olaf from when the muse played a bondage slave in the holiday show two years before. It had been a degrading experience, but residuals from the super-eight film version saw Jonny through a very disappointing pilot season that year. Remembering what he had to go through during rehearsals, he grabbed a jar of Vaseline and made his way to Drakuul.

It was Christmas Eve when Jonny entered the tiny township's gates following the arduous journey from Budapest, but the muse was surprised to find that none of the usual trappings of the season that usually decorated the town square. He wandered through what looked like a ghost town, finally coming across a very dispirited Olaf holding tightly on to a very nervous looking sheep.

"Hi. Olaf," said Jonny, his stomach turning slightly as he remembered the presentation from two years before. "I hear we're doing a monster-themed show this year. Is this our star?"

The corpulent shepherd looked up mournfully at the muse.

"Christmas?" asked Olaf. "With that vampire lurking about, we can't celebrate Christmas. Christmas has been cancelled!"

Jonny was aghast. Cancel Christmas? The muse had never heard of such a thing. Granted, the way the sickos around here celebrated Yuletide, it might not be such a bad idea, but still…no! The holiday must continue, thought the noble muse. The vampire must be stopped!"

"I will stop the fiend," declared the pompous muse as Olaf the Satisfied sat amorously massaging the sheep's back. "I will wander out onto the moors tonight, and let the monster have at me. Then, I shall vanquish it into the dust!"

With that, Jonny grabbed a bottle of moonshine that Olaf had at his side to keep the sheep sluggish, and sped off into the forbidding Transylvanian night.

The muse wandered on the intimidating moors for hours, nervously searching for the demonic nosferatu. He was about to admit defeat when he sensed an evil haze envelope the fog. He spun around to behold an aristocratic-looking guy in evening clothes staring maliciously at him.

"Good evening," smiled the intruder to the startled muse. "I am Count Chocula."

Jonny stood face-to-face with Count Chocula.

Terror overcame the muse. It was the legendary vampire of yore, who would not only suck your blood out, but make your milk turn brown at breakfast as well! The fiend began slowly advancing on Jonny. The muse searched for something to say, when the night's calm was broken by the far-off screams of Olaf the Satisfied sodomizing his livestock.

"Creatures of the night," smirked the Count, "Vhat music they make."

Jonny stood frozen in fear as the vampire drew his face towards the muse's shivering neck. Jonny closed his eyes tightly, certain that the end was here, when the silence was shattered by the alarm of the muse's digital Sanyo wrist watch signaling midnight. Jonny tightened his jaw, and desperately muttered the last words he would ever say:

"Merry Christmas."

The vampire stopped, just as he was about to sink his fangs into the underdeveloped muse's pencil-neck.

"Vhat did you say?" asked the Count.

Jonny's eyes opened slightly, surprised that he didn't number among the undead.

"I said Merry Christmas," said our hero, shaking out some liquid from his pant leg that he hoped was some of Olaf's moonshine from the bottle he was carrying, but frankly doubted it. "It's midnight, which means it's Christmas Day. Happy Holidays to ya."

"Christmas?" asked the vampire with a quizzical look. "Vhat's that?'

The muse gave the monster an astonished gaze. Surely this was a joke. But when the vampire persisted in having the doltishly confused expression on his face, Jonny knew that the villain was serious.

"Christmas," said Jonny, slowly taking a gulp from the moonshine bottle. "The day people set aside each year to celebrate life and love and good fellowship."

The vampire continued his stare.

"People celebrate the day in different ways," said the muse, now pouring the hooch down his larynx. "Many people consider it a sacred holy day observed as the birth of the Son of God. Some see it as a secular celebration of friendship and family. There are as many ways to celebrate Christmas as there are people celebrating it. Personally, I think the shepherds of Drakuul take things a bit far. But the important thing is to spend the holiday with the people who mean the most to you.

A tear welled in the vampire's eye.

"It sounds like a great holiday," said the Count, dabbing his eyes with the hem of his black cape, "but I don't have any friends. Once I meet somebody, I suck the blood out of them and that's it."

A dangerous hobby," warned the muse.

"Oh, I always wear a condom on my tongue," assured the Count as Jonny grimaced, lamenting the reaction of the people who are reading this stupid story at that joke. "But thanks for the concern."

The two enemies stared at each other in silence, the stillness being broken only by the orgiastic howls of Olaf the Satisfied in the distance.

"Why don't you come and celebrate Christmas with me?" asked Jonny with gulp. "The holidays are for sharing with friends, and I'm guessing a friend is something you could use."

Daybreak found the shepherds worried for Jonny's safety. They gathered at the edge of the forbidding moor armed with torches and crosses to smoke out the villainous vampire when they were astounded to see Jonny emerge from the fog being bashfully followed by Count Chocula.

"He's the one!" screamed Friedrich the Solitary as the mob rustled in anger. "He's the one who sucked the blood out of my ram Bubba, leaving my nights cold and lonely!"

"Let's get him," yelled Olaf the Satisfied.

But just as the rabble was about to pounce on the startled Count, they were instantly halted into submission by an indignant cream from Jonny M.

"Stooooooooooooooooooppppppp!!!" shrieked the muse, who had finished off the entire bottle of kerosene-based moonshine by himself. "So you guys are going to beat up my buddy Bela here on Christmas day. On Christmas day! Just because he sucked the blood out of some of your sheep. Sure, it was a weird thing to do, but it's a lot less weird than what some of you perverts get away with! This is a day of forgiveness. Of rebirth. A day when we can overlook the misdeeds that our enemies have done to us and love them as brothers and sisters in the human family."

With that, Jonny passed out in a pile of sheep shit.

The vampire and the shepherds looked timidly at each other. Old Boris the Gypsy glanced up at the rising sun.

"Aren't you going to turn into a pile of shriveled bones if you stay out here?' asked the shepherd.

"No," answered the vampire with a grin. "That's just movie fiction. We vampires stay out of the sun because it dries out our alabaster skin."

With that, the throng broke into cheers.

"By gum," said Olaf the Satisfied, "this'll be the best Christmas ever. Let me get my ram Dionysus and I'll put on a sheep show that'll knock you fella's eyes out!"

"What is it with you guys and the sheep?" asked Jonny as he spit out as clump of manure. "Why don't you get girlfriends like everybody else?"

The shepherds looked at each other in confusion.

"Girls?" asked a bewildered Olaf. "What are they?"

Jonny and the Count looked at each other in astonishment. Within seconds, Chocula was on his cell phone to his castle, summoning his priestesses to the little township for the biggest Christmas blowout since the Bronze Age.

So all was happiness in the small village of Drakuul. The shepherds married the priestesses and gave up their addiction to sheep, allowing the happy animals to graze at the roadside with no fear of bending over to get the really choice clover. Count Chocula gave up his vampire career and made a fortune as the host of a late night horror movie show, And Olaf the Satisfied gained worldwide fame after an appearance on a two-part Rikki Lake Show.

But happiest of all was young Jonny. M. He looked around at the joy and prosperity around him and felt a special glow in knowing that he had contributed to it. So, with a final tip of a mug of egg nog to Count Chocula and the rest of his friends, the muse jumped on the back of Dionysus the friendly sheep and rode into the Christmas sunset, happy that he had finally found a date for New Year's Eve.

And happy holidays to you, my friend. Whether you are celebrating Christmas with family and friends, Hanukkah with loved ones, or just watching some perverted shepherds get it on, know that you always have a devoted friend in Jonny M.

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