Why? he wondered. Drawing dead spiders had been a big hit with the chicks when he lived in the hen house.
But he tried, and tried, to learn the lettering style they used on the freight cars and overpasses. He scratched the wall with his beak day in and night out, when he could get a night out, which had been tough with so many wives.
He had to move out, and move into the garage where his wall was, so he could practise all the time. He scratched until his beak was raw and bleeding, until his wattle wobbled, his head throbbed, his cockscomb fell flat, and he had to erase a large section of errors so the sight of them wouldn't be too discouraging, too damaging to his ego. He used to be the Cock of the Walk until he decided to give up his regular job in order to follow his dream of becoming an artist.
Ah, he sighed, his ego was in good shape then. He was the greatest, his wives told him. His dead spider pictures were the greatest, his children told him. Now his ego was battered and bruised, his beak was cracked and his wattle was cracked and yellowed.
To make matters worse, he'd been caught! Out of his right eye he could see his shadow on the wall. Out of his left eye he could see the farmer coming into the garage, carrying a weapon. Now instead of Cock of the Walk, he'd be a dead duck!
"Hey, Rocky," said the farmer, "good to see you. We thought a fox got you. I guess someone locked you in the garage by mistake. Glad I found you. I'll take you back to the hen house after I change the tire on my wife's car." The farmer held up the tire iron he'd been carrying, then knelt down beside the car.
"Yep," he said, "I'll have you back there in two shakes of a lamb's tail. I guess you got up into the tree and down from there."
The farmer continued to chat happily, but Rocky didn't pay any attention to him. He'd been caught! Him, Rocco Botticelli, the artist with a future in graffiti! He'd been caught and they'd make him go back to his eighteen wives, and his old, boring, everyday job... fertilizing!
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