To all my Jonny Pals,
For Christmas of 1990, I crapped out a funny little story called Jonny, the King and the Gaseous Dragon in which my alter ego, the noble muse Jonny M, saved the kingdom of Graceland from a flatulent flying lizard. It met with a surprisingly popular reaction, so I made another booklet the following year and another the year after that. Ultimately, my Jonny Christmas stories became more and more elaborate, adding advertisements, games and other features until they became the online extravaganza you know today. They define the holiday for me and me for it.
So this year, to celebrate the thirtieth Jonny adventure, I am having Jonny and his beloved pug Boris revisit that very first Jonny story via time machine. It's been a sentimental journey as it's caused me to reread old stories that I haven't looked at in many years. While the technical aspects don't approach my current level, I discovered to my surprise that most of them are still pretty damned funny. But perhaps even more importantly, they all communicate my strong feelings for the Christmas season in the inimitable way that only Jonny M. can express.
I hope you enjoy this wild ride that this thirtieth story became for me. And I hope that my little tradition provides an entryway to the traditions and rituals that make up your Yuletide. The noble muse Jonny M. wouldn't have it any other way.
This story is lovingly dedicated to anyone who got a chuckle from these stupid stories over the last 30 years.
Hover your cursor over underlined textYeah, like that. for an explanation of its meaning.
Once upon a time there was a sleepy little town called Van Nuys. It had once been an anonymous postal zone in the boondocks of the teeming metropolis of the great city of Los Angeles, with nothing to offer but a thriving porn industry and a hoard of bored teenagers cruising their cars on the bergís titular boulevard every Friday night. All that changed almost twenty years before when a beloved celebrity broke ground on his fabulous estate in the center of town, and throngs of people had descended on the tiny hamlet as a pilgrimage to pay tribute to their beloved idol ever since.
The celebrityís name was Jonny M., a strange man who rose from obscurity to the highest echelon of fame and wealth seemingly overnight after he published a little story about his saving Christmas for a kingdom called Graceland from a flatulent flying lizard. Prior to that, he had eked out a living as a fluffer in garage pornos, providing oral stimulus to the stars between takes so that they could maintain their erections for the scene. He was always vague about his profession whenever asked, referring to himself only as a “muse” but after the publication of a little pamphlet he called Jonny, the King and the Gaseous Dragon, all that changed and whatever blowjobs he chose to give were for his own pleasure. Response to that first Jonny Christmas Story was so enthusiastic that he published an even more successful story the following December titled The Year Jonny Saved Christmas, and the accolades and wealth that followed were even greater.
Soon, the name Jonny M. became synonymous with Christmas and even when the quality of some of the stories were appallingly bad, like Jonnyís Prison Christmas (which had more to do with Jonny being anally violated while incarcerated than anything having to do with the Yuletide) or Jonnyís Wild West Christmas (thrown together in a single weekend when Jonny realized that he had spaced on writing anything that year), the public response was overwhelming. Ultimately, the muse (as he stilled liked to refer to himself) began hiring a team of ghostwriters and artists to create the stories for him (although he micro-managed them with an iron fist) and what started out as a crudely made throwaway with illustrations cut out and Xeroxed from a National EnquirerHere's a typical illustration from that first Jonny story thirty years ago. I'm sure you'll agree that I've improved a lot at this stuff.
evolved into an intricately-produced online spectacular with advertisements, games and video. But central to the experience was always a yarn of how Jonny saved Christmas for some poor schnook, and the appetite for the stories was insatiable. After thirty years of cranking out this Yuletide crap, the little muse had become an institution.
But Jonny himself had grown increasingly dissatisfied in recent years. For all the fame and wealth that the stories had brought him, the driving force behind his adventures was always his fierce devotion to the Yuletide season. But lately he felt cynical about Christmas and got his only real pleasure about the holiday from making crude jokes at its expense. What was worse, he sensed the same from everyone around him. When he was a little boy, his emotional momentum for Christmas started by watching wholesome, optimistic holiday programming like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Miracle on 34th Street. Now, kids set the tone for the holiday with sneering crap like Bad Santa, A Very Murray Christmas and Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. And of course, the annual Jonny Christmas story.
Jonny was awoken by his gorgeous maid.
It came to a head one morning when Jonny was awoken by Penelope, one of an army of gorgeous French maids who attended to his needs in the fabulous master bedroom of his spectacular estate of Casa de Jonny. In order to fulfill contractual obligations demanded by the “Suggest a Celebrity to Appear in the Jonny Extravaganza” contest, the muse had been enjoying a wonderful dream about the original cast of Charlieís Angels having a pillow fight while wearing skimpy lingerie. But when the smoking-hot serving girl roused him from his slumber by gently telling him over and over how wonderful he is (as was required in the contract/nondisclosure agreement she signed before being hired), he seemed in a black mood that his beloved pug Boris tried to cheer by reading to him from 1996ís Jonnyís South Sea Christmas (Borisí power of speech now openly accepted, unlike previous stories when it was just a result of Jonnyís drinking and/or medication), in which the island god Kummoniwannalaya demanded a virgin sacrifice from the Hunglowli tribe on the Yuletide. Rather than helping, it seemed to make the museís foul demeanor worse.
Jonny finally opened up about it later that morning during brunch at their favorite diner which featured headshots of the thousands of actors who had eaten there over the decades. As they took their seats at their favorite table underneath an oil painting of Jonny and Boris, the muse let loose before anyone could even open a menu.
“I remember when Christmas was an innocent, joyous time,” ranted Jonny. “Now it seems like everyone treats it as a crude joke. What happened?”
The table went silent as everyone stared awkwardly at their Whereís Waldo placemats. Finally, the quiet was broken by the velvety voice of the museís irritating acquaintance David Pinion, who was only invited to brunch because he sometimes picked up the check.
The others at the table nearly gagged at Pinionís directness. Jonny's beloved pug Boris always avoided the subject because he knew that the truth would devastate him. His friend Amanda only flattered him so that he wouldnít notice that she embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from him every year. And the museís treasured surrogate daughter MZ was staring at her phone as usual, oblivious to what was going on two feet around her.
“WhÖwhat are you driving at?” stuttered Jonny nervously, knowing full-well what Pinion was driving at.
“Christmas was a joyous, simple time until 1990 when you published Jonny, The King and the Gaseous Dragon,” responded his friend quietly but confidently. “Its enormous popularity started the change in peopleís attitude towards Christmas. And every story that youíve published since has chipped away at its innocence and wonder, until youíve finally perverted it into something cynical and grotesque. Youíve lined your pockets at Christmasí expense.”
“Youíve lined your pockets at Christmasí expense,” said Pinion.
The muse looked at the others at the table to dismiss Pinionís assertion. But as much as they had to gain from sucking up to Jonny, neither Boris nor Amanda could find an argument to challenge it. And MZ, who was intensely focused on the Twin Peaks Instagram feed, wasnít even paying attention. With no one to defend him, Jonny simply stared helplessly at his frenemy, unable to offer a response.
“Face it,” said Pinion when it finally became obvious that no one was going to refute his challenge, “If you want to know the cause of Christmasí decline, look in the mirror.”
Jonny refused to believe it. He left the diner (after making sure that Piion footed the bill) and returned to his magnificent Casa de Jonny estate, scoffing at the accusation. “All this was built from the Jonny Christmas stories. Are you telling me that such luxury could have possibly come from something that was detrimental to Christmas? No one loves Christmas more than I do!”
Boris looked up sadly at his master, not wanting to be the one to make him face the hard reality.
“Iím only three years old and I didnít appear in a story until last yearís Jonnyís Afterlife Christmas,,” said the pug gently, “so Iím probably not the best one to ask. What you should do is reach out to the people who were in your earliest stories and find out what they think.”
“Thatís it!” replied Jonny manically, rewarding Boris for his loyalty with a handful of ToFurkey chunks from a nearby crystal tray. “Everyone whose lives I touched at Christmas are indebted to me! Theyíll all confirm that Pinion is full of crap!!!”
But the next morning proved disappointing. Jonny called his personal secretary at midnight to have her reach out to everyone who had ever appeared in one of these stupid stories for a testimonial, but she was visibly terrified as she brought Jonny his coffee when he walked in the door, fearful at her notoriously hot-tempered employerís reaction would be to the bad news.
“I didnít have much luck,” she said, hiding behind a nude statue of Jonny near his desk so that if he threw his phone at her again, she would be protected. “I contacted everyone from The Year Jonny Saved Christmas onward, and almost all of them hung up on me as soon as they heard your name mentioned. The only ones I couldnít reach were the people in Jonny, The King and the Gaseous Dragon since Graceland, the mythical kingdom it took place in, fell into the ocean after its king died from a heart attack on his toilet while eating a peanut butter and banana sandwich.”
Jonny picked up the humanitarian award he received from the Van Nuys Chamber of Commerce and threatened the terrified woman with it. “Are you telling me that after all Iíve done for those ingrates, no one would speak up in my defense?”
“Uh, no, not exactly,” replied the secretary, now cowering behind Jonnyís elephant foot trash can that he brought back from an illegal safari in Kenya. “I did track down three guys who were willing to meet with you. Theyíll be at Casa de Jonny tonight to have dinner with you.”
“Excellent,” said the muse quietly while placing the tchotchke back on his desk. “Now weíll get to the truth of the matter!”
The muse was nervous as he awaited his guests in the beautifully appointed billiard room of Casa de Jonny. He was resplendent in white tie and tails and sipping a brandy while Jonnyís girlfriend, the famed actress Frances Fisher, played pool with Boris at Jonnyís $500,000 mahogany tournament table.
“Whoís coming tonight?” asked Frances, irritated that she was once again getting creamed by the pug and owed him over a thousand dollars in lost wagers.
“My secretary didnít say,” replied Jonny while draining the snifter of its last dregs of 2009 Louis XIII de Remy Martin Rare Cask Grande Champagne Cognac. “The coffee she brought me was lukewarm by the time I got around to tasting it, so I brained her with my mug. Sheís been in surgery all day, so I wonít know whoís coming until they get here.”
The trio didnít have to wait long. Just as the antique grandfather clock in the corner was chiming 7:00, yet another gorgeous French maid marched into the billiard room, followed by angry-looking three men.
“Here are your guests for tonight, sir,” she announced with an apprehensive tremble in her throat. “May I introduceÖ”
“You neednít bother, Liesel,” Jonny interrupted. “I know who these guys are.” Indeed, the muse recognized the three visitors instantly from his earliest Christmas adventures. One was Olaf the Satisfied, the sheep herder from Jonny, the Vampire and the Christmas Shepherds, who was famous for having sex with his woolly livestock. The second was Chocolate Brown, the enormous, intimidating pimp who the muse was incarcerated with in Jonnyís Prison Christmas. And perhaps worst of all was The Emasculation Kid from Jonnyís Wild West Christmas, the notorious outlaw whose trademark was castrating his enemies and ornamenting the hanging tree of Gallstone Pass with their cocks and ballsacks (remember, this was the one that was crapped out over the course of a single weekend).
“Itís nice to see you boys again,” said Jonny with an obviously forced joviality in his voice. “Can I offer you a drink?”
“Itís nice to see you boys again,” said Jonny.
“I didnít come here to let you buy off your conscience with liquor,” said the Emasculation Kid, brandishing the enormous knife that he used on his adversaries.
“We just wanted to see how you lived,” added Chocolate Brown while giving the once-over to an alarmed but secretly turned on Frances.
“After all,” chimed in Olaf, “itís not every day that you get to meet the man who ruined your life.”
“Ruined your life?” thundered Jonny, now on the offensive. “I made your lives! You three were losers headed down a path of destruction when I came into your pathetic existences and made you international celebrities. Take you, Olaf. At the beginning of Jonny, the Vampire and the Christmas Shepherds, your little sheep herding township of Drakuul was on the verge of insolvency. After the story was published, my publicist told me that it became a hotspot for tourists all over the world. Why in just six monthsÖ”
“Drakuul was DECIMATED,” roared the sheep herder. “Itís true, we were overrun with outsiders at first. Then, Donald Trump built a luxury golf resort there that immediately went bankrupt and dragged the rest of our town down with it. But you never bothered to check on our progress. Almost everyone living within Drakuulís borders died including my prized ram Dionysus, my beloved wife.”
“I wish that I had never laid eyes on you,” said Chocolate Brown. “When you came into the prison, I had six months until I reached parole. I was going to turn my life around and start a Christian ministry. But because you personified me to the world as a sadistic pimp, I couldnít persuade anyone to see me as anything else. In my own mind I was rehabilitated, but because of you I had no choice but to descend back into the violent and lawless world I came from because it was the only one where I could find acceptance.”
“I had plans of my own,” piped in the Kid. “You think I wanted to spend the rest of my life as an outlaw slicing cowboysí nutsacks off? Thatís a life for a young man. When I met you, I was taking correspondence courses from a school I found out about on the back of a match book to be a closeup magician; because there is nothing hot women find sexier than being cornered by a guy at a party so that he can amaze them with card tricks. But after your story came out, the only work I could get was at a traveling rodeo castrating bulls. In fact, I have to be back there soon for the midnight show!”
Jonny was crestfallen. It had never occurred to him that the other characters in his story hadnít enjoyed the same success that he did. But listening to these three souls, he realized that he had left a wake of destruction and broken lives in his rise to the top. This wasnít the man he wanted to be and he refused to allow it to be his legacy. When it became obvious that the muse was genuinely anguished at the outcome of his actions, his guests finally managed to suppress their rage and sit down for a luxurious, if uncomfortable, dinner. And when the three made their farewells at as early an hour as possible (with Frances taking off with Chocolate Brown), it was obvious that nothing was, or ever could be, forgiven.
Jonny and Boris saw their guests off and returned to the billiard room. “Itís only 9:00,” said the pug. “What do you say we turn on Netflix and binge watch GLOW again? Or if you want, we can just watch the scene where Allison Brie dances topless on an endless loop like we did last week. And the week before that. And the week beforeÖ”
“No,” said Jonny firmly before the readers of this idiotic story figured out what a perv he actually is. “We have to go to bed now. We need to get up early so that we can pay a visit to Professor Morlock.”
Longtime readers of these idiotic stories know Professor Morlock as the mysterious mad scientist who propelled Jonny and Boris into heaven in last yearís Jonnyís Afterlife Christmas. The muse hadnít seen Morlock since but he had an idea to set everything right and was sure that when the professor saw them, he would welcome the pair with open arms. But when Jonny and Boris got to his little shop that had been empty the year before, they were stunned to find a line of people waiting to get in that stretched around the block. Jonny was sure that the line was for something else but when he tried to get through the door, he was stopped by a beefy security guard.
“Get in line!” barked the sentinel.
“You mean that we have to stand in that huge line just to see Professor Morlock?” asked Jonny while Boris fidgeted with the nunchucks in his pocket, not liking the guardís attitude.
“No,” replied the sentinel. “You have to stand in this line to get a ticket to be in the raffle of people who will get to see Professor Morlock today. Move it!!!”
Seeing no other alternative, Jonny and Boris trudged to the back of the line which had already grown by another block since they had had their exchange with the guard. Jonny said nary a word about why they were seeing Morlock and Boris sensed that he shouldnít ask, so they simply stood among the others in line who looked like they belonged in the cast of a Fellini movie. After an hour, the line finally got moving. 90 minutes after that, the pair arrived at the front where they encountered a bearlike man selling tickets.
“How many tickets do you want?” asked the fellow, never bothering to look Jonny in the face.
The muse was confused but his desire to see Morlock was unwavering. He held up a crumpled five dollar bill and asked “how many tickets will this buy me?”
The man narrowed his eyes menacingly and fixed his gaze on the muse.
“Tickets are a hundred dollars each and you can buy a maximum of five. If you donít want any, step aside. There are plenty of other people here who want to pay for a chance to see Professor Morlock.”
Jonny's pockets were empty.
Jonny searched his pockets but found only lint and an unused condom he had hopefully stuck in his pocket before going to a party in 2009. The look of desperation on the museís face made Boris realize how serious this was, so the pug quietly took 10 hundred dollar bills from out of his wallet and silently handed them to his master. Boris and Jonny exchanged a meaningful look as the muse took the cash, and then thrust it in the burly manís clammy hands.
“My friend and I will take five tickets each.”
The throng of people surrounding them were all far too creepy-looking for Jonny and Boris to want to talk to, but the little pug couldnít help but notice that they all had the same intense look of yearning that was etched on the museís face. The pair stood wordlessly on the sidewalk waiting for something to happen, and at noon the man finally stopped taking money and stood on a platform to talk into a loudspeaker.
“The professor will be seeing only FIVE new clients today,” he announced as the crowd clamored around him. “I will call the winners and they will be escorted into the inner sanctum to consult with him. Everyone else will have to try again tomorrow.”
The man began calling out numbers. Every time a winner was announced, the lucky ticket-holder reacted with an hysterical meltdown that made it seem like their wildest dreams had just come true. Four numbers were called, and all four were met with the same ecstatic response. Finally, the man reached into his bucket of stubs to call the final winner. Everyone seemed to stop breathing.
“Iíve been coming to this line for six months,” muttered an elderly woman standing beside Jonny, seemingly to herself. “Iíve got to win today. Iíve just got to!”
“DEC-1961,” shouted the man. “Who has ticket DEC-1961?”
The crowd rifled through their tickets, desperate to find the winning number. Jonny studied the five vouchers in his hand but none had the correct combination of digits. His chin sagged to his chest and he moved to leave and formulate another plan, when he saw Boris standing on his hind legs trying frantically to be seen and holding a ticket as high as he could.
“I have the winner!” shouted the pug.
Morlock was already consulting with the first lottery winners in his laboratory, so Jonny and Boris were ushered into the strange little curiosity shop that served as a front for his eerie experiments. They remembered the musty boutique well from last yearís Jonny story, with its shelves stacked with shrunken heads and monkeyís paws, but now it was peopled with thuggish mobster-types who gave them killer looks if they dared to make eye contact. Boris, with his ninja background, quietly made mental note of which gangsterís windpipe he would crush first if any shit went down. Jonny, however, was terrified into submission until the familiar face of his old friend Professor Morlock appeared from out of the shadows of the laboratory with his new client following close behind.
“I can get you into the afterlife and Iím sure the murder victim will exonerate you completely, Colonel Mustard,” said a clearly exhausted Morlock to his overjoyed customer. “Just remember, like it says in the Christmas storyÖ”
The professor stopped in mid-sentence when he saw Jonny and Boris standing before him. The muse expected a warm welcome and thrust out his arms to give his friend and bear hug, but Morlockís face twisted into a scowl of hatred and he pointed his bony finger to the exit door.
“You!” shouted the professor. “Youíre the one who ruined my life!!! Get the HELL out of here!!!”
“Get the HELL out of here!!!” shouted Morlock.
Morlock lunged at Jonny to attack him but Boris met the assault with an effortlessly affected leg-sweep that sent the professor sprawling to the floor. Jonny immediately knelt down to help his friend up but the professor fought off any attempts to assist him and got to his feet with his dignity only slightly bruised.
“Whatís the matter, Professor?” asked a bewildered Jonny. “The last time I saw you, you were wishing us a Merry Christmas. What happened?”
“That idiotic story of yours is what happened!” snapped Morlock. “Before that, I was working in happy anonymity. But after the public read that I could send them to the afterlife to visit loved ones, they havenít given me a momentís peace ever since!!!”
“But it looks like youíre making money hand over fist,” replied Jonny enthusiastically. “Boris and I had to pay a thousand dollars just to get in here.”
Morlock looked nervously at the thugs around him. He suddenly affected a friendly, business-like demeanor and began ushering Jonny and Boris into the laboratory. “Yes, Iím sure that I can get you into the afterlife, sir. In fact, youíre a prime candidate forÖ”
As soon as the thick wooden door was safely closed, Morlockís tone changed abruptly.
“I donít see a penny of that money, you idiot! In order to get the afterlife machine running, I needed plutoniumÖplutonium that was supplied to me by the Russian Mafia. After that story of yours came out, they realized what a cash cow my work was and theyíve made a slave of me ever since! I wish that I had never laid eyes on you!!!”
Now it was Jonnyís turn to change tones. His face suddenly curled into a wicked smile.
“Then I think my little visit can be mutually beneficial,” said the muse. “I too regret ever cranking out any of those stupid stories and I came to you to see if you could construct a time machine that would send me back thirty years to the very first one to keep the younger me from writing it. If I never wrote that first story, this whole Jonny Christmas mess would never have happened.”
Morlock said nothing. He merely sat at his desk and began writing down complex mathematical equations on a note pad. Occasionally he would walk over to his bookshelf and consult some dusty tome, and then return to his calculations. After forty-five minutes, he finally looked up from his work.
“It can be done,” he announced sagely. “But it wonít be easy. First, Iím going to need a lot more plutonium, which means Iíll be digging myself into more debt with the gorillas outside. But you will be facing even more danger. To begin with, the initial Jonny Christmas fable was only three pages long, which is less than half the length of where weíve already reached so far in this moronic story. So you donít have much time to find the young you and keep him from finishing the story. Also, everyone you encounter will be thirty years younger than your ancient ass. That means youíll essentially be invisible to them. So in addition to taking Boris to protect you, youíll need to take someone in their 20ís to interpret for you. Can you handle that?”
A sly smile came across the museís face and he warmly scratched Boris behind the ears.
“It can be done,” he said.
Jonny had met his young friend MZ when she stage-managed the production of Richard III in which the muse gave his legendary performance of the title role. The experience was immortalized in Jonnyís 99-Seat Theatre Christmas but when the dust settled, MZ came to be one of the few people characterized in a Jonny story who maintained an affection for him afterwards. It was hard for her to get past the constant onslaught of dick jokes that were perpetually being launched from Jonnyís mouth but once she did, she found him to be a kind, generous and even fatherly figure. For his part, the muse realized that MZ was one of his few friends young enough to be able to visit him in the old folkís home that he would inevitably be committed to, so he did whatever he could to nurture the relationship.
MZ was a deeply talented artist who had a great future ahead of her, but for the moment she was making ends meet by working in Happy Harmonyís Malt Shop. She enjoyed the gig, even though it was the place where all the local “cool kids” hung out, a group she didnít feel much connection to. So it was something of a shock when Jonny dragged his ancient ass in with Boris following close behind. The young artist was busy waiting on her clientele so the muse and his pug sat in stools at the counter waiting for her to have a free second. They were immediately set upon by the coolest and best-looking kid in the joint.
“Arenít you Jonny M. and Boris, sir?” asked the youth politely. “Iím a huge fan. Can I take a selfie with you?”
After that obligatory ritual was accomplished, the young man turned his attention back to Jonny.
“I love your Christmas stories, man!” enthused the youth. “When I was a kid, I used to buy into all the sentimental Hallmark Holiday stuff they rammed down our throats about it. But after I read Jonny's Animal Shelter Christmas, I realized what a sham it all is. Now Christmas is just a day that I can sleep in, watch the premiere of some overlong, over-produced Martin Scorsese movie, and tally up the receipts of presents my sucker family got me.”
Jonny fumbled for a response just as MZ found a moment to speak to him. As the teenager sauntered away to post the fuzzy selfie of him and his heroes on the social network, the museís young friend couldnít hide her annoyance.
“Youíre not supposed to be sitting at the counter!” she scolded. “This is reserved for cheerleading squads, football teams and assorted homecoming kings and queens from the nearby high schools. We have booths set aside for people of your generation in the shed across the street.”
“Youíre not supposed to be sitting at the counter!” MZ scolded.
“I need your help with something,” said Jonny, ignoring the dig at his advancing years.
“I already told you that I would ask Happy Harmony about naming one of the specialty sandwiches after you,” said MZ, “but sheís not really a fan of yours so you may have to settle for one of the dessert items like cinnamon sticks or flan.”
“Thatís not it,” said the muse, trying to hide his disgust for the nasty-ass smegma that the malt shop tried to pass off as flan. “Do you remember our last brunch when Pinion talked about how destructive my Christmas Stories are?”
“Not really,” replied MZ. “Once you got on a roll telling dick jokes, I pretty much tuned everything out.”
“Iím going back in time to keep myself from ever writing a Christmas story,” announced Jonny, choosing to overlook his young friendís inability to appreciate the hilarity of his dick jokes. “And I need you to come with me.”
Jonny laid out the entire plan to MZ, who became so enraptured by the mad scheme that she failed to notice the dozens of patrons who wanted their checks or who needed a barf bag after making the mistake of ordering the flan. She listened carefully, patiently questioning some of the less thought-out aspects of the museís plot and talking it through with him until it was organized to her satisfaction. After considering all the plusses and minuses of the idea, she gave her final verdict on the project.
“Iím in,” she said.
Jonny waited for weeks for Morlock to get back to him. And months. But the professor never returned any of his calls. Jonny and Boris even took part in the lottery to see him from time to time but they never again pulled the winning numbers. August turned into September and September turned into October. Ultimately, the muse had to crank out another one of his Christmas stories and while it met with its usual success, it really pissed off the Womenís National Basketball Association. Jonnyís birthday on December 15th came and went but since he had given up drinking some years before, he no longer accepted gifts of alcohol that had once been a tradition and the day passed like any other. Frances had run off with Chocolate Brown, MZ was working overtime at the malt shop and even Boris was spending most of his time with a female poodle he met at the dog park, so Jonny was alone. Christmas was almost upon us and for the first time in his life, he didnít give a damn. In fact, he might have missed the holiday altogether if Boris hadnít asked him if he had sent the mortgage payment for Casa de Jonny that was due on the 24th of every month. It was only then that Jonny realized it was Christmas Eve and he was going to spend it bingeing Netflix and crying. Or thatís what he thought until just before noon, when his phone rang and on the other end was Professor Morlock.
“The time machine is completed,” whispered Morlock urgently into the receiver. “I need you, Boris, and your young friend to meet me in the parking lot of the Van Nuys Mall at midnight. Donít be late!”
“Wait a minute!” demanded an irritated Jonny. “Iíve been waiting for months to hear from you! Where have you been?”
“The Russian mobsters donít give me a second to myself,” replied Morlock. “I had to call in every favor anybody ever owed me to pull this off. Tonight is the only time we can do this because the Mafia guys are having the traditional Russian Christmas Eve meal of borscht and a sweet drink made from dried fruit and honey boiled in water called ĎVzvarí with their families. Itís now or never!Russians actually celebrate Christmas on January 7th but the point is that Morlock could only do the thing on our Christmas Eve for the purposes of the story. Just go with it.”
Morlock hung up. Boris was not happy about canceling his date with Sophie but was finally assuaged when Jonny promised to foot the bill for a weekend trip for them at the Morongo Casino Resort Spa. MZ was reluctant too because Christmas Eve was the most lucrative night of the year at the malt shop, but the desperation in the museís voice made her decide to give up her shift and go with them. So at 11:45 that night, Jonny, Boris and MZ pulled into the deserted parking lot of the shopping mall and found Professor Morlock wearing a radiation suit and waiting for them with his time machine.
Jonny couldnít believe his eyes.
“Itís a fucking DeLorean?” the muse asked incredulously. “Youíve got to be shitting me!!!”
The time machine was a DeLorean.
“The scientific principles of Back to the Future are essentially sound,” explained Morlock. “Of course, I made some improvements of my own.”
“Back to the Future?” asked MZ. “Isnít that that old movie starring the guy with Parkinsonís Disease? It was made before I was born.” She got out her phone and began surfing the net while Jonny made a mental note to start screening classic cinema for her once a week, beginning with Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari. Then he remembered something.
“Wait a minute! In the movie, Michael J. Fox takes off from the parking lot and lands in the exact same parking lot in the past. We need to go to the mythical kingdom of Graceland, and that fell into the ocean decades ago!”
“Thatís one of my improvements,” explained Morlock. “In addition to the time parameter, I added a GPS to the system. Youíll not only arrive back in time but in the exact place you need to be!”
“But that place isnít there anymore!” countered Jonny. “If something goes wrong and Graceland isnít back where it was, weíll be heading smack-dab in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean!!!”
“Thatís a risk youíre going to have to take,” said Morlock as he set the arrival time to December 25, 1990 at 8:30 a.m.
“That's not the only risk we'll be taking,” said Boris after focusing his attention under the hood. “I've looked at the engine and this thing is going to break down fifty yards after the ignition is turned.”
The professor closed his eyes and took a deep sigh of someone having to speak with individuals of inferior intelligence. “Kindly explain to this animal that this is a time machine, not a ...”
Before Morlock could finish, a van with logo of the Los Angeles Sparks came screeching into the parking lot. Behind the wheel was the teamís power forward Candace Parker.
“Itís the WNBA,” said a horrified Jonny. “Theyíve come to exact revenge against me for this yearís Christmas story!!!”
“Everybody scatter!” screamed Morlock.
The professor dived under the tow truck that had brought the time machine to the parking lot with while Jonny, MZ and Boris jumped into the DeLorean. With the van bearing down hard on them and the Amazonian players inside easily able to pummel his puny ass, Jonny floored it. The stainless steel freak show began sputtering smoke but its acceleration slowing started climbing as the WNBA van was almost touching its bumper. Jonny desperately beared down as MZ and Boris clung to each other in horror. The DeLoreanís speed rose to 86 MPHÖ87 MHPÖ88 MHP. And thenÖ
Öthen it disappeared.
At least thatís how it seemed to the women chasing them in the WNBA van. Jonny, Boris and MZ suddenly found themselves in blinding sunlight rocketing across a pristine field. The muse slammed on the brakes so the trio could take stock of the situation.
“I donít know where the hell we are,” said MZ, looking at her smartphone, “but I have no Internet reception whatsoever.”
“Donít ask where we are,” replied Boris, “but when we are. According to the controls, today is December 25, 1990, just like Morlock said it would be.”
“And to find the answers weíre looking for,” uttered Jonny, pulling a weathered copy of Jonny, the King and the Gaseous Dragon out of his pocket, “weíre going to have to go there.”
The muse pointed to a magnificent, Disneyesque castle sitting about a mile in the distance overlooking a glorious ocean vista. “Thatís Graceland. We did get here before it sank into the Atlantic. Letís check it out.”
Jonny turned the key in the DeLorean ignition, but the car just sputtered and died.
“I guess if weíre going to do this thing,” said MZ, “weíre going to have to walk.”
The trio pushed the time machine behind some brush to hide it and began the short hike to the palace. On the way, they noticed a poster for the production of A Christmas Carol in which Jonny played Bob Cratchit that brought the muse to the obscure kingdom in the first place.
“That little turd could have used that show as a great opportunity,” said Jonny, strangely referring to himself in the third person, “but he was more interested in getting plastered and goofing off backstage than he was in giving a good performance. Every time I think about it, it drives me nuts!”
As they walked, MZ and Boris quickly learned that Jonny hated the younger version of himself. As he described the show, he made sure to emphasize every minor mistake or lapse in judgment that any young person might make as they climbed the ladder of experience. But to Jonny, even the most insignificant error lingered in his memory as being unforgivable. MZ became so overwhelmed by his verbal self-flagellation that she would have welcomed him launching into a string of his asinine dick jokes, but his attention was mercifully redirected when they reached the castle entrance. Just as they were about to enter through its welcoming gates, the wind changed and the air became so foul-smelling that the trio nearly performed a rarely-achieved synchronized group upchuck.
“According to the story,” said Jonny, consulting his copy of Jonny, the King and the Gaseous Dragon while covering his nose with his signature pork pie hat, “Graceland is being threatened by a flatulent flying lizard who keeps buzzing the castle early in the morning and laying nasty-smelling farts near the throne room. I guess our next move is to check out the throne room.”
The inside of the castle seemed deserted, which the group assumed was due to everyone being at home to celebrate Christmas. But after finding a map of the citadel and tramping towards the throne room, the stench became so unbearable that it would be impossible to spend more than a few minutes outside.
“Jesus Christ,” said Jonny while barely being able to breathe. “That little moron didnít describe anything about how bad the stink was from that dragon in his story.” Ö
“How could you possibly not remember this smell?” asked MZ while trying to dull the funk by stabbing herself in the nose with an exacto knife she was carrying. “I mean, you were there.”
“That asshole drank so much at the time that I barely remember anything about the 1990s,” sneered Jonny about himself. “I'm trying to gather clues from this stupid pamphlet. Itís not my fault that he didnít know how to write.”
The argument was stopped by the three almost accidentally stumbling across the door to the throne room. It was a magnificent chamber decorated with artworks that immortalized Gracelandís many triumphant times. But the air wreaked so badly that the paint was literally peeling off the walls. The only people there were the king, who was clearly stoned out of his mind and surrounded by used hypodermic needles and half-eaten peanut butter and banana sandwiches, two guards who could barely stand from the stench, and a young woman so beautiful that she emitted a glow which seemed to shield her from the noxious farts.
The throne room wreaked so badly that the paint was peeling off the walls.
“Princess Wisteria,” muttered Jonny to himself, apparently able to remember something from the episode.
“Can I help you, fair lady and her noble hound?” the princess warmly asked when she saw MZ and Boris, since Jonnyís aged, sagging ass was invisible to her twentysomething year-old eyes like Morlock said he would be. That tidbit was lost on him as he began rambling at her.
“Weíre looking for an anorexic-looking dweeb with Coke bottle glasses which he thinks make him look intelligent but they really make him look like even more of a geek than he is,” said the muse. “He said that he was going to take care of the dragon but heís really just going to get drunk and luck into finding out that the dragon likes getting drunk too. Has he been here yet?”
Wisteria continued looking sweetly but blankly at the travelers as if nothing had been said, so MZ reluctantly stepped in.
“Weíre looking for aÖa kind of a skinny guy, I guess,” she translated skeptically while studying Jonnyís paunchy gut. “He wears glasses and he likes to drink.”
“Oh, you mean Jonny M,” beamed the princess. “He was here earlier this morning and said that he could take care of the dragon for us. I thought he was really sweet if you can get past all the dick jokes.”
“Tell me about it,” replied MZ.
“I begged the king my father not to let him go,” the princess continued, “but thereís a prophecy which says that if a hero doesnít take care of the dragon on Christmas Day, that Graceland will fall into the sea. His majesty was so desperate for a knight to at least try that he even promised Jonny my hand in marriage if he did.”
Jonny searched through the story to find any reference to the prophecy and was appalled that his younger self had made no mention of it, but MZ was more interested in the last thing Wisteria said.
“You mean if Jonny gets that dragon to stop farting around the castle that youíll actually marry him?”
“Absolutely,” replied Wisteria stoically. “I would do anything to save my people”
The elder Jonny had heard enough and grabbed his young friend by the arm to lead her out of the castle, with Boris following close behind. They fought their way through the stench until they finally made it through the castle gates. God took pity on them because they wind once again changed directions and they were able to breathe again.
“I know exactly how to track down that imbecile,” said the muse. “We just have to follow the empties.”
Sure enough, they found a depleted vodka bottle. A few hundred yards later, they found another. They were on young Jonnyís trail, but MZ wasnít finished talking about Princess Wisteria.
“I donít get it,” she said. “Princess Wisteria said sheíd marry you if you took care of the dragon and according to the story, you did. But you never mentioned anything to me about marrying a beautiful princess and knowing how you like to brag about getting a woman to so much as give you a second look, I find that unlikely.”
“You really think that skinny idiot could get a woman like that?” replied Jonny coldly. “He screwed it up like he screwed up everything else. Letís drop it.”
They walked in silence for a while but ultimately the trail of vodka bottles went cold. MZ finally broke the tension when she spotted a convenience store in the distance.
“Letís go in there,” she said. “I want to get some Slim Jims.”
“The convenience store!” exclaimed Jonny excitedly while referring once again to the story. “Thatís where that moron got a six-pack of beer to take to the dragon! Theyíll know where he went!”
The muse ran happily to the little shop while his two companions labored to keep up. When they entered, they were confronted by two lesbian enchantresses, one dark and one fair, behind the counter.
“Can I help you?” they asked.
“Oh, come on!” shouted Jonny while hitting himself over the head with the booklet. “All Jonny says in the story is Ďpoint me to the nearest convenience store.í He doesnít even mention that the place is run by two lesbian enchantresses? Like the readers wouldnít find that interesting?”
Fortunately, the enchantresses were just old enough that the aged muse was visible to them. “Was your son in here a little while ago?” asked the brunette. “I swear there was a kid who looked just like you buying Budweiser not half an hour ago. Nice guy but boy, he told a lot of dick jokes”
“I still say that his ID was fake,” added the blonde.
“Believe me, that moron is no son of mine,” answered Jonny. “Can you tell me which way he headed?”
The enchantresses were in the middle of giving the muse elaborate directions when MZ and Boris dumped a pile of beef jerky, cans of Alpo, pepperoni sticks and other meaty snacks next to the cash register. Jonny, who had become a vegetarian some years before, looked at the protein-based sludge distastefully.
Jonny looked at the protein-based sludge distastefully.
“Donít you have any fresh fruits and vegetables?” he asked.
“This is a convenience store, not a farmerís market,” shot back the blonde. “Thatíll be $5.50.”
“Thanks for all your help,” said Jonny while plunking down the cash, forgetting how much cheaper everything was in 1990. “Solstice Greetings!”
“Wait,” said the brunette. “What did you just say?”
“Solstice Greetings,” repeated the muse. “I know that enchantresses donít observe Christmas, but you celebrate the Festival of Winter Solstice. “Tha mi an dÚchas gu bheil na gobhair agad an-cÚmhnaidh a ítoirt seachad bainne ýr agus gum bi pailteas fala maighdeann agad airson do chomharrachadh."I hope your goats always provide fresh milk and that you have abundant virgin blood for your celebration."”
The pair stood staring at Jonny dumbfounded. The blonde finally broke away and rushed out towards the rear exit.
“Iíll be right back,” she chimed.
“No one in Graceland respects our Pagan beliefs,” said the brunette earnestly. “Because of the kingís crazy fetishism about being a Southern Baptist, weíre regarded as second class citizens. And because weíre vegans, Lacie and I canít even find a decent restaurant. Weíve had to create our own vegan recipes. Most of them induce vomiting, but our vegan chips are delicious.”
She pointed to a sign behind her advertising the chips to would-be customer.
“Wait,” said MZ, hoping that the readers of this stupid story would make the connection from some of the earlier illustrations. “Youíre Robin of Lacie and Robinís Vegan Chips? Theyíre amazing! We sell out of them at the malt shop where I work every day!”
Jonny laughed nervously at his companion making a reference to the chipsí future popularity, and stuffed a Slim Jim down her throat, but Robin seemed not to notice.
“Weíre looking for financial backers if you know anyone.”
“Iíll ask around,” answered Jonny, wanting to change the subject from events in the future. “Iím sure your being lesbians makes things difficult around here for you too.”
“Actually, it gets us all kinds of discounts,” the enchantress said cheerily. “But it can be frustrating. When that kid who bought the beer figured out we were a couple, he made a bunch of salacious jokes about having a three-way.”
“Iíll bet he did,” sneered the muse contemptuously as MZ threw up in her mouth a little, knowing full well that old Jonny was just as likely to make similar stupid jokes. “Just sit tight for a decade or two. Between Harry Potter, Rachel Maddow, The L-Word and the invention of Beyond Meat plant-based protein, you and Lacie will be in the vanguard.”
With that, Lacie bounced happily back into the store with a wagon-full of fresh fruits and vegetables.
“These are from Robin and my garden,” she said. “We donít usually give Christmas presents but since you wished us Solstice Greetings, we want to honor your holiday too!”
“I only wish that I had a goatís skull filled with virginís blood to give you,” said Jonny as the enchantresses winked at each knowingly, having already covered that part of their celebration. “But this is more fruits and vegetables than the three of us could eat in a month!”
“I cast a spell on it that will keep it all fresh until you eat it,” smiled Lacie. “And take the wagon, too. You still have a long journey ahead of you!”
The enchantress wasnít kidding. Jonny, the King and the Gaseous Dragon only said that “Jonny hiked along the rugged mountain trail for hours looking for the dragon” but it was an treacherous path in which the trio had to answer questions from a demented dwarf before they could cross The Bridge of Doom (a peril in which MZ was almost flung to her death when she got a string of Seinfeld trivia questions fired at her and she was only saved when Jonny and Boris mimed the answers to her out of the dwarf's sightline) and encounter savage mythological beasts who might have devoured them were it not for Borisí badass ninja skills. But every time they had a brush with death, all Jonny could think about was how the detail was left out of the story.
“When I see that little shit, Iím going to give him a piece of my mind,” fumed the muse. “The story he wrote is crap, and these illustrations are embarrassing. I canít wait to tear into him!”
He didnít have to wait long. When they turned the corner, they were met by the sight of a very sad-looking dragon drinking a beer and sitting in deep consultation with a rail-thin, pasty-skinned young man gigantic glasses and an even bigger Adamís Apple sticking out of his pencil neck. Yet for all the extra pounds, wrinkles and gray hair that her elder companion carried with him, MZ was astonished at the similarities between the two.
“ItísÖitís you!” she gasped.
“So youíre telling me that before you could even throw your first Tupperware party,” the young man said in astonishment to his dragon friend, “the people of Graceland were driving by your cave at night and chucking empty beer cans at you?”
“I had no choice but to lay noxious farts in retaliation,” answered that dragon.
“Thatís a tactic Iíve used once or twice myself,” chuckled the youth. “Let me ask you thisÖ”
Before he could pose his question, he was interrupted by Jonny, Boris and MZ entering the clearing.
Jonny, Boris and MZ entered the clearing.
“Uh, hello,” said the young man warmly when he noticed the travelers. “This is my friend Sal the dragon, and Iím Jonny M.”
“This is MZ and Boris, and my name isÖWerker. Hack Werker,” replied the elder muse warily, knowing that his younger self wasnít yet familiar with the pulp novelistís work.
“Thank God you brought some food!” exclaimed the dragon happily. “My young new friend is a bottomless pit for alcohol, but Iím pretty loaded.”
“Try this kiwano,” said old Jonny, handing Sal a horned melon. “I discovered them a few years ago when I became a vegetarian.”
“I wish that I had the discipline for that, replied the dragon while greedily inhaling the fruit. “I just think Iíd miss meat too much.”
“Itís actually really easy after about a week or two,” assured the old muse to his scaly new friend. “In fact, Iíve discovered a lot of vegetarian recipes that are delicious and easy to make!”
MZ and young Jonnyís eyes were already glazed over at the oldstersí conversation. The young muse tried to break the ice by telling some dick jokes which only made MZ turn away in disgust, so he went to his signature move of narrowing his eyes seductively and awkwardly attempting to hit on the young woman. MZ recoiled in horror.
“Where I come from,” she said while smacking him across the noggin with a pepperoni stick, “we have something called the #metoo movement where women are finally fighting back against constantly being objectified by men like you. If you stop ignoring everything about me above the neck and donít try to explain things to me like I donít have a brain of my own, youíll be a lot less obnoxious”
Almost by reflex, MZ began rattling off a laundry list of things about men that she found irritating. They were attributes that anyone who subscribes to Rose McGowan's Twitter feed were well versed in but they came as news to the 1990-era muse and were qualities that he found all applied to him.
“Wow, Iím sorry,” relied a clearly repentant Jonny. “No one ever had the guts to explain it to me like that before.”
“Anyway,” MZ continued, “youíll go a lot further with women if you respect them as individuals and listen to what they have to say. Not me, I mean; that would be like that guy with Parkinsonís Disease hitting on his mother in that old movie. But most women will like it. And maybe ease off on all the dick jokes. Those get really old really fast.”
“Youíve given me a lot to think about,” admitted the muse. “Iím glad we had this talk.”
MZ was astonished at how open young Jonny was open to personal growth as opposed to his relatively uptight elder. She tried to follow up but the young man had turned his attention to the other conversation.
“I love your look, Hack,” he said. “Your beard and pork pie hat are the definition of cool. And where did you get that shirt? Isnít that the amazing actress Frances Fisher? I just saw her in the TV movie Sudie and Simpson on the Lifetime Channel. With programming like that, this cable TV thing just might take off!”
The shirt young Jonny was referring to was the stylish tee that the old muse was wearing which was emblazoned with one of the countless covers of novels written by the writer whose name he was borrowing. “I made it in a computer program called Photoshop. You should check it out. I have a hunch that youíll really like it.”
“Iíd love to get into computers like that,” admitted young Jonny, “but I have no aptitude for it. Whenever Iíve tried to do anything with them, it comes out so badly that I get furious with myself and I give up. When I think about some of the crap Iíve turned out trying to get better, I wind up just chewing myself out for not already knowing it.”
Old Jonny self-consciously hid his copy of Jonny, the King and the Gaseous Dragon behind his back. “What you need is a project to work on that youíre so excited about that you donít care if it turns out badly. You just need to get it out of your bones and down on paper so you can share it with the world.”
“Maybe,” replied the young man wistfully. “But the only thing Iím excited about now is getting my buddy Sal excited about Christmas.”
The dragon was busily devouring the rest of the fruits and vegetables that the trio had brought with them, and only snorted in reply.
“Whatís so exciting about that?” asked elder Jonny earnestly.
“It isnít just about the day,” replied young Jonny with an excitement in his voice, “or even the season. But I feel that Christmas is a concept that brings out the best in all of us, and it does it with such joyousness and celebration that it burns into our soul like a flame in a candle. It breaks my heart that Sal and the people of Graceland are engaged in this pointless feud, and itís my hope that we can use the good cheer of Christmas as springboard for a happier life for all of them.”
“You sold me,” said Sal, greedily gulping down the last leaf of kale. “What do you say you and I fly back to Graceland and make peace with the king and his people?”
“You sold me, too,” added elder Jonny quietly. “Youíre a much nicer guy than I rememÖI mean, expected. And I agree with you about Christmas. Iím proud of you.”
“I like you too,” smiled the young man, unused to such compliments. “I hope that when I get to be your age that Iím just like you. Youíre smart and kind and your dick jokes are hilarious.”
“I hope that when I get to be your age that Iím just like you,” said young Jonny.
MZ rolled her eyes while Old Jonny teared up with emotion, despite his best efforts not to show it.
The young muse hopped on the great dragonís back. “My friend and I are returning to Graceland to share some Christmas cheer with its citizens and try to talk this out. Can we give you three a lift anywhere?”
The old muse, MZ and Boris climbed aboard.
“And while weíre in flight,” added young Jonny to his elder self, “why donít you tell me more about this Photoshop program? It sounds interesting!”
After a short flight, Sal the dragon landed softly about a mile outside the walls of Graceland where the DeLorean was hidden.
“I guess this is where we part ways,” said young Jonny. “Iím really glad I met you three. And Iím glad you told me about Photoshop, Hack. I have an idea to turn this adventure into some find of Christmas story, and youíve inspired me to make it happen.”
“I wanted to talk to you about that before we parted,” said old Jonny sternly. He turned to MZ and Boris and gently asked “Can you two please slide onto the ground and give us a moment alone?”
MZís heart sank as she put her feet on terra firma, since she had grown fond of young Jonny and hated the idea that he was going to be talked out of turning his dream into reality. But she and her friends were facing more immediate problems. They needed to start the DeLorean and return to the future.
“If I remember that movie right,” she said, “donít we have to wait for a bolt of lighting to get it going?”
“No,” replied Boris as he looked under the hood. “The connections going to the ballast resistor are broken. I bypassed it by running a temporary jumper wire from the battery to the coil. That should get us home. It serves us right for taking a time machine thatís made out of car that is essentially crap.”
The pug turned the ignition and the car started like a dream. Just as the roar of the engine sounded, the great dragon flew away towards the castle, leaving old Jonny standing in its shadow.
“Did you talk him into not making a Christmas story?” MZ asked.
“I did what needed to be done,” the muse replied coldly. “Letís get the hell out of here.”
“Iíve got the parameters all set,” said Boris, tossing Jonny the keys. “Letís go home.”
The muse started the DeLorean and gunned it to 88 MPH. All seemed well as the car disappeared into a blinding light but when it decelerated into re-entry, something was horribly wrong. They were in the shadow of the Kremlin.
“You crazy pug,” said Jonny looking at the controls. “You didnít set us to return to Los Angeles on December 25, 2019. Weíre in Moscow on January 28, 2015. You missed the mark by almost five whole years~”
“My bad,” apologized Boris, opening the passenger door. “I guess thatís what you get for having your technical work done by a dog. Let me just step out to take a quick poop and weíll try it again.”
As they waited, MZ looked at Jonny sadly.
“I really wish that you hadnít stopped yourself from making your Christmas stories,” she said. “Maybe they were cynical and asinine, but they made you happy when you were making them and they made everyone else happy when they read them. So what if they werenít sentimental sap like Charlie Brown or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? They had become a tradition to a lot of people and thatís what the holidays are about, a ritual to hand from one generation to the next. I wasnít even born when you made your first storyÖI mean, when you decided not to make your first story. But I came to look forward to them every year. And now that theyíre gone, Iíll have a hole in my holiday season that can never be filled by anything else.”
“How long does that pug need to take a dump?” asked Jonny to himself, obviously wanting to change the subject. “I swear, Iím going to put him on a diet of chewing gum and Red Bull so that heís always constipated.”
Just as the muse finished the empty threat, Boris got back into the car. Jonny shot him an annoyed look and turned to fidget with the controls.
“Iím setting us to return at 12:30 a.m. on Christmas morning. That way, the WNBA van will have disappeared and we wonít be in any danger.” Jonny once again gunned the exhaust pedal and the DeLorean sped to 88 MPH, disappearing into a blinding light. When they stopped, the trio found themselves back in the empty parking lot of the Beverly Center. The time was a little after midnight and the date was December 25, 2019.
When MZ awoke the next day at 2:00 in the afternoon, she was certain that what she remembered from the night before was just another of her vodka-induced nightmares. Indeed, when she ventured out into the world to take part in the many Christmas festivities that she had been invited to, it seemed like nothing had changed. Everyone was abuzz about Jonnyís latest Christmas adventure in which he saved the holiday for the WNBA, and all of her many friends maintained the same cheerful cynicism about the Yuletide as before.
It was a Christmas like any other, which meant that she was forced to make an obligatory appearance at the one seasonal ritual she really loathed: the annual Christmas Party at Casa de Jonny. Everyone the muse knew would still be pissed off at him for his Christmas story and boycott the thing, while Frances would have conveniently booked a gig that took her out of town. That meant MZ would be forced to go to the estateís massive ballroom where she, Boris and Jonny would stare awkwardly at each other until she could come up with an excuse to leave. But as much as she hated it, she couldnít let Jonny down. So she took a gulp of eggnog for courage and hopped in an Uber to get it over with.
But when she arrived at the gates of Casa de Jonny, the lot was overflowing with cars. An overworked security guard waved her through and when she walked through the doors, she was stunned to see the ballroom packed with people. Literally everyone who had ever appeared in a Jonny adventure was there, only somehow their fortunes had radically changed. Chocolate Brown was now a renowned television evangelist. Olaf the Satisfied was there with his ram Dionysus and he owned the largest flock of sheep in the northern hemisphere. The Emasculation Kid was now a famous magician and was hitting on Mara Marini by insisting that she pull a card from his deck so he could tell her what it was. Candace Parker had just signed a ten-year, $300 million contract with the Sparks. Glenn Simon was there with 28 year-old Joey HeathertonWhen Glenn won the annual "Suggest a Celebrity to Appear in the Jonny Xmas Extravaganza contest" in 2015 for his entry of 1970's sexpot Joey Heatherton, I screwed him over by picturing him with Ms. Heatherton when she was 70 years old rather then her heyday when she was making semi-erotic commercials for Serta's Perfect Sleeper mattresses. I hope that this makes it up to him.
, fresh from filming a Perfect Sleeper commercial. Indeed, every guest at the party had seen their wildest dreams come true.
Everyone who had ever appeared in a Jonny adventure was at the party.
MZ made her way through the throng to talk to Jonny and found him kanoodling in a quiet corner with Frances. When he noticed his young friend, the muse extricated himself from his lip-lock with his girlfriend and gave MZ a warm hug.
“Merry Christmas! Weíre so glad you could make it!”
“Never mind that,” she hissed quietly so that no one nearby could eavesdrop. “You were supposed to tell your younger self not to make that Christmas story. What happened?”
“It turned out that I actually really loved that kid,” smiled Jonny self-consciously, “and he turned out to really love me. So I decided that people were going to make Christmas what they needed it to be no matter what I did, so I just told him that he was awesome and to follow his instincts because they would always take him where he needed to be.”
“And how did everyone get so successful?” asked MZ.
“I told him to put all his money in Lacie and Robin Vegan Chips,” smirked the muse, “and then start a trust fund to pay off everyone he mentioned in his Christmas stories. Everyone here loves me!”
“You mean,” said MZ disbelievingly, “that all this came from Vegan Chips?”
“I also told him to invest heavily in Apple and amazon.com stock,” admitted the muse. “You may be surprised to learn that you're now number 14 on the Fortune 500 list of the richest people in the world, between Bruce Wayne and Thurston Howell III.”
Before MZ could respond, she was interrupted by Professor Morlock.
“There he is,” enthused the mad scientist. “Thereís the one who eliminated the Russian Mafia so that they could never bother me again!”
“I did that?” asked a surprised Jonny.
“Not you, you narcissistic bastard,” replied Morlock. “Boris here is my hero! Now I can get all the plutonium I want on Craigslist without any hassle.”
“Thatís what our side trip to Moscow was about,” whispered the pug to his master. “I also took out Vladimir Putin so weíd never have to deal with Trump.”
“You did all that in five minutes while we thought you were pooping?” sputtered Jonny.
“Hey, Iím a ninja,” the little dog replied. “Iíve got mad skills. Anyway, I now control 99% of the worldís underground plutonium market so if you need any, Iíll give it to you at a fair price.”
The muse wanted to get more details but he was silenced by a team of trumpeters announcing the arrival of someone of immense importance. To his astonishment, Princess Wisteria floated into the ballroom. She was thirty years older than when he had last seen her, but even more beautiful and still glowing effervescently. She made a beeline to Jonny, who bowed deferentially.
“Rise, you idiot,” chuckled the princess, enveloping Jonny in an affectionate embrace. “I bring greetings from the king my father, who couldnít be here because heís editing his latest greatest hits album.”
“BuhÖbut I thought you had all perished when Graceland fell into the ocean,” said Jonny.
Wisteria looked at Jonny with confusion, and then broke into her lyrical laugh. “Oh, you mean the old prophecy. But surely you know that the kingdom was saved by a hero when you visited that Christmas.”
“I did that?” stammered Jonny.
“Not you, you narcissistic bastard,” replied the princess. “It was the old man who you saw in the clearing. He turned on Sal the dragon to a vegetarian diet and that made his toxic farts smell like a rose garden. In fact, Graceland now has the best air quality in the world because of it. I donít know who that ancient geezer was, but he saved countless lives that day.”
Jonny beamed proudly, which only Boris and MZ picked up on.
“But I thought that after he saved the kingdom,” said MZ, “that you were supposed to marry Jonny.”
“I was all set to go through with it,” answered Wisteria, casting a grateful eye on the muse. “But Jonny gallantly dropped out of the picture when he realized that I was actually in love with a young prince who those two enchantresses who ran the convenience store cast a spell on that turned him into a newt. Say hello to the people, Ruprecht.”
Her companion, resplendent in a military uniform and curled mustache, bowed to the assembly.
“He's as dumb as a bag of rocks,” explained Wisteria cheerfully, “but God he is gorgeous. Anyway, Jonny not only released me from my commitment when he figured out the situation, but he got the enchantresses to reverse the spell.”
“You can read about it in Jonny, the King and the Gaseous Dragon,” said Jonny, “which in this reality is now 2,987 pages long.”
“You can read about it in Jonny, the King and the Gaseous Dragon,” said Jonny.
“It seemed like everything worked out for you in that department anyway,” said MZ, motioning towards Frances who was beckoning to Jonny to join her on the sex swing in their Saran Wrap-covered bedroom.
“That was because of the advice you gave me in the clearing that day,” said Jonny. “It changed my whole attitude about women. It was only after I stopped thinking of them as nothing but sex objects that they started thinking of me as one.”
“But I didnít say that to you,” replied MZ. “I said that to youngÖ.oh.”
“It was the best Christmas present anyone ever gave me,” said the old muse. “And as I look back on the last thirty years of my Christmas stories, maybe most of them were pretty sophomoric and cynical, because thatís where my head was at the time. And if my latest adventure has taught me anything, itís that you shouldnít lament the mistakes of yesterday because they end up yielding the wisdom of today. So to anyone who winds up actually reading this stupid story to the end and not just scanning the illustrations to see if I used their picture anywhere, whether they take it as the display of love and affection that I intended it as or as the exercise in stupidity that it ended up being, I wish them a joyous and an unforgettable Christmas. And whether thatís a cynical statement to them or a gooey and sentimental one, it will always be one of the most loving sentiments that I can express.”
So all was happiness at Casa de Jonny. The Emasculation Kid wound up striking out with Mara Marini but he scored with Ambrosia, the smoking-hot erotic dancer from Jonnyís New Orleans Christmas. Olaf the Satisfied renewed his wedding vows with Dionysus in a ceremony that was picketed by the Westboro Baptist Church. Sal the dragon went full-on vegan and filed a wrongful death class action suit against Oscar Meyer on behalf of all the animals they had ever slaughtered which went nowhere in the courts but got him a lot of great press. And everyone who had ever been mentioned in a Jonny Christmas story had the best Christmas ever and saw all their dreams come true, even if those dreams turned out to be something a little different from what they originally thought they were.
And happiest of all was Jonny M. As he looked around the ballroom and saw all his friends having the time of their lives, he felt a surge of pride in knowing that his efforts of the last thirty years had actually amounted to something. So with a wink to Boris, he popped some Vitamin E tablets and a few green M&Mís for a night of passion with Frances that was so intense that he would suffer another mild heart attack which was totally worth it.
And happy holidays to you, dear friend. Whether you look back on your past with affection or as a series of cruel lessons that you barely survived, know that the path that it carved for you resulted in a human being that I treasure. And whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa (I donít know anybody who celebrates Kwanzaa but I always throw that in to look cool), the Winter Solstice or nothing at all, I hope that the season brings you peace, joy, tranquility and a chance to reflect on the wonderful person that youíre inevitably evolving into.
And know that you always have a loving friend in Jonny M.
(and a team of ghostwriters)
Angel Financial Backer
Anything in Jonny's refrigerator with an expiration date of 2010 or later
Lacie & Robin
Olaf the Satisfied
The Emasculation Kid
Fat Man in Line
Gorgeous Woman in Line
Man Selling Raffle Tickets
Employee of the Month
Girl on STD Poster
Model in Coffee Ad
Model on Pig Ear Strips
Sports Illustrated Cover
Rolling Stone Cover
Amiga World Cover
Graceland Magazine Cover
People Sexiest Man Alive
Tiger Beat Cover
Cute Boy on Tiger Beat
Playboy Playmate of the Year
Sal the Dragon
The Tooth Fairy
Jean-Luc Le Pťtomane
Cardinal St. Louis
The I.T. Dept. Gremlin
George W. Bush
Dr. Skye Terrier
Mary Kay Dean
Deborah Resnik Levin
Sheeler & Sheeler
Dan E. Campbell
Rosanna De Candia
Paul St. Peter
Edward G. Robinson
Sara J. Stuckey
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