Vlad sat in his creative writing class thinking he had to be really creative. Not for this class, but for his father. Because he couldn't just come out and tell him. You don't tell Vlad the Impaler anything. Years ago his mother told his father there'd be no more marauding parties if he didn't clean the moat. The next day she was roasted on a spit and fed to the starving peasants.

So no, Vlad wasn't telling his father.

He could always ask, but even bringing up the question might put him closer to the briquettes. And besides, he knew what the answer would be.

"You haven't told your dad yet, have you? C'mon, Vlad, don't you think it's time to be straight with him? What's the worst he can do?"

Professor Bennett was going on and on about writing sympathetic characters, multiple plot lines, blah, blah, blah, and he never once made eye contact with Vlad. Professor Bennett was scared to death of Vlad. Well, actually not of Vlad, but of his father.

Early in the semester the professor had given Vlad an F on one of his short stories, "The Boy Who Cried Fuck," condemning it for weak character development and moral turpitude. (Vlad was pretty sure it had more to do with Professor Bennett being gay, and not caring for the multiple "up the ass" references.) Vlad's father had paid his professor a visit and, in his typical over-the-top style, burnt his house down. But fortunately, and atypically, he didn't impale its inhabitants. Though he did make a point of beheading every one of Professor Bennett's Hummel figurines.

Vlad shook his head in frustration.

Shit, shit, shit!

Kids went to college to find themselves and find out what they might want to do with their lives. He was surrounded by budding architects, biologists, teachers and nurses. These students were pursuing their dreams and they were excited! They were excited and their parents were excited for them. How could Vlad tell his father he didn't want to be a sadistic mogul?

He wanted nothing to do with hungry peasants, Romania, or whomever his father was warring against. (Since the Ottomans were no longer Ottomans his father was now attacking Muslims, Christians, and tourists wearing white tube socks.) Vlad just wanted to finish this last semester at the University of Georgia, go to LA, and become a cartoonist. He loved to draw, and until she was eaten, his mother had been his biggest supporter. His cartoons were similar to those of Gahan Wilson's, the prolific horror-fantasy illustrator. Vlad's were just more horror-realistic.

Vlad the Impaler looks like Luigi from Super Mario Brothers
Vlad couldn't bring himself to show his dad even his most whimsical pieces.

So no, he didn't want to follow in his father's footsteps. He didn't care how persuasive "Ruthless Overlord" would look on his resume.

Vlad sighed.

And then there was that Irish fantasist, Bram Stoker, making up that absurd story about his father. How silly! His father didn't drink blood, sleep during the day, or turn into a bat. Though one Halloween, roaring drunk, he did bring down the palace as a terrific Lady Gaga.

Class was over and Vlad shambled toward the student union. Enough already! He would call his father tonight! They would argue, and maybe Vlad could make his father feel guilty. But then again, getting a man to be remorseful who made mothers eat their children…

Vlad spotted Gary as he entered the cafeteria in the student union. Gary was his only friend, mainly because he was the only person more fascinated by Vlad's heritage than frightened by it. Vlad thought there was something wrong with him.

Vlad threw his backpack onto the table.



"Bethany's sitting over there with some of her friends so don't let her see you. We don't need another scene."

"Oh, shit. I'm so ready to graduate."

Vlad slumped down as much as he could without sliding under the table.

Bethany was actually a nice girl; her mistake was breaking up with Vlad. Well, that and his father finding out she dumped his son. God, what a disaster!

Fortunately, the authorities in Bethany's hometown of Macon were still, well…stumped. Vlad's dad was a bit more succinct, referring to them as "stupid peckers who didn't deserve to win the war or have slaves." The police still had no idea who had impaled, and left on stakes in Bethany's front lawn, her mom and dad, two brothers, and three hamsters.

"Since it's not safe you getting your own food, can I grab you a couple of tacos?'

Vlad scanned the crowd nervously.

"Thanks, but I'm not hungry."

Gary looked at Vlad, squirming to keep his head above table level.

"You haven't told your dad yet, have you? C'mon, Vlad, don't you think it's time to be straight with him? What's the worst he can do?"

Vlad gave his friend a blank stare.

"Okay, stupid question. But you're his only son so he won't….you know, he won't…well, what actually won't your dad do?"

Vlad held up his hands and wiggled his fingers.

"I won't draw. These fingers will be pickled, barbequed or sautéed."

Gary waved his arms in protest.

 "Shut up! Shut up! I don't want to hear it. I don't want to hear any more about your father's despicable acts. Shit."

Vlad laughed.

"What's so funny, Vlad? No offense, but you're laughing about a lunatic who impales gerbils, for chrissakes! Jesus. What's a gerbil ever done to him?"

"It's just, if I couldn't laugh at it all, I'd cry. And they were hamsters."

"Well, no offense, but fuck your dad. I used to have a gerbil and they're practically the same thing."

The two sat in silence, the cacophony of college sounds surrounding them.

Finally Gary leaned forward and quietly asked, "So what are you going to do, Vlad?"

There is no easy solution to Vlad's conundrum. But since you, the reader, have invested a few minutes of your time to get this far, I'm asking you to help Vlad. That's right, it's "Choose Your Own Ending" time: Vlad's future is in your fingers.

Choose Vlad's adventure:

#1 – Send Vlad to LA, away from his father

#2 – Send Vlad back to Romania to join his father















#1 – Vlad goes to LA!

Venice Beach boardwalk

Vlad graduates, but instead of flying east to Romania he flies west to Los Angeles. He doesn't tell his father about this routing change and goes into hiding.

Recognizing that everyone in Los Angeles reinvents themselves, Vlad changes his name to just the initial V., has his lips plumped up with collagen, and is immediately hit upon by Donald Sterling.

V. settles in Venice where his identity is cloaked by musicians, jugglers, and the exotica of mankind. He sets up his easel on Venice's boardwalk, and finds immediate success with his charcoal portraits of tourists, enhanced with haunting Gothic overtones. He also meets a beautiful, tattooed mime from Teaneck, New Jersey and they move in together. In a rebellious moment, V. has "MOTHER" tattooed on his chest, and his nipples painted as flaming embers.

V. has never felt so free. He has never been so happy.

Of course, it doesn't last.

After scouring West Hollywood, and impaling 167 male prostitutes on Santa Monica Boulevard, his father arrives in Venice. (Not content just being a barbarian, Vlad the Impaler is also terribly homophobic.)

Venice is immediately burnt to the ground.

V.'s beautiful mime girlfriend is marinated and eaten, tattoos and all. She doesn't make a sound.

V. and his father fly a red-eye out of LAX. It's a direct flight to Bucharest.

Yes, Vlad the Impaler is angry, but he understands that there are temptations in the West. And not everyone can accept the role of leadership.

But his son will.

Vlad the Impaler will take away his son's pens and paintbrushes. And, as if that's not enough, he vows to remove his son's fingers and reattach them willy-nilly; he won't sketch too well with both thumbs on one hand.

Sitting in his aisle seat, Vlad the Impaler sighs. It is so difficult being a father today.


#2 – Vlad goes back to Romania!

Romanian village street 

Vlad returns to Romania, afraid of what his demented father might do if he doesn't.

Vlad the Impaler is delighted and has a Welcome Home party for his son. Everyone from the village and surrounding provinces attend the party, knowing that if they don't they'll be parboiled. Everyone has a good time and the deviled eggs are a huge success.

Vlad the Impaler begins his raiding and plundering anew, but can't persuade Vlad to accompany him.

Finally, just to shut his father up, Vlad joins him on a head-hunting foray into Moldavia. The weekend is a wonderful success, though Vlad never pulls his sword or spear. Instead, he documents the bloody grotesquerie in colorful drawings.

His father is furious, but upon seeing Vlad's collection of sketches he's astounded. He had no idea his son was so talented! Vlad's drawings are so vivid! So shocking! So perverse! They are fantastic! They are better than anything that crazy Hieronymus Bosch painted! (And without all the religious bullshit!)

Vlad the Impaler is proud and soon his son's artwork is appearing all over the province. On murals in the villages, in churches, and on the windows of the only fast food place allowed in town: the homophobic-friendly Chick-fil-A.

It isn't exactly where Vlad envisioned his fine arts degree taking him, but at least he's not putting heads on stakes, and for this he's thankful.

Vlad is happy.