Today’s post comes from some trial illustration work I was doing this week on my day off. I’m hoping this villain is “just right” on the scary character scale.
“You are looking particularly tender and delicious this evening, My Dear,” said The Sewer Rat as he nervously chewed on his tail.
He had tried every trick he knew, and none had worked. This time, he was trying his best to seem kind and complimentary.
Gracie stared at him as she had always done while the others huddled together in a far corner.
“Why don’t you come out of that box he’s got you in. It is so much better out here. You don’t know what you’re missing.”
“Stop it,” said Gracie.
“Ah, so you can do something other than stare at me. That’s delightful. Almost as delightful as all of the wonderful things I can show you out here.”
“Go away,” said Gracie.
“Only if you will go away with me,” replied The Sewer Rat sweetly. “You can be My Dear Little Cordon Bleu.”
“I don’t know what that is,” said Gracie. “But it sounds French. Do you know more French words?”
Gracie knew immediately she had said too much, but it was too late. The Sewer Rat grinned with delight. He was sure he had snagged her with his trickery.
“It is French, just like all of the best ballet étoiles.”
“What does that word mean?”
“You dance ballet and don’t know what an étoile is?”
“How do you know I dance ballet?”
“Oh, I’ve been watching you, My Dear. I’ve been watching you for quite some time now.
“A ballet étoile like you could be transformed into the best cordon bleu. Ah, yes, My Little Cordon Bleu. Of course you could also be My Little Kiev if you like Russian ballet or My Little Moo Goo Gai Pan if you like Chinese ballet.
“The choice is yours, My Dear. Why don’t you find a way to come outside? I have beautiful plans for you. Beautiful plans indeed. We can talk about everything without the others poking their beaks into our personal business.”
“You and I, we have no personal business,” she said and turned and walked away without looking back.
There was no way for The Sewer Rat to get through the wire of their chicken run. Even though he protested about being ignored and pretended to gnaw through the metal mesh, Gracie would not show any fear. She kept thinking about how much she was loved. A heart filled with love has no place for fear.
“Have pity on me. I am not beautiful and talented like you,” he called to her.
He pretended to be terribly hurt, but Gracie knew better than to trust him.
“Adieu, Mon Cherie. Adieu,” he said, and blew her a kiss. “Délicieuse.”
He sulked away across the street and slinked down into his storm drain. The chickens all breathed a sigh of relief, but they knew he was not out of plans and schemes.
That evening when I was tucking everyone in for the night, Gracie asked me, “How would you feel if I became a ballet étoile?”
Everyone leaned forward to hear what I would say.
“I would be very proud of you. That is a great honor in France. It is actually the highest honor at The Paris Opera Ballet. It would mean you are a ballet star.”
“How would you feel if I became a cordon bleu?”
Everyone leaned forward even more. The answer to this question was much more important.
“I would be sad, more sad than I’ve ever been in my life. That is not a good thing for a chicken to be. It would mean you would never dance again. It would mean that you would not be with us any more. That would break my heart.”
“I thought so!” said Bessie. “I knew being a cordon bleu was not a good thing. And I will bet neither is being a kiev or a moo goo gai pan.”
“Where did you learn all of those words? It wasn’t from me.”
“From The Sewer Rat,” they all said together.
“And he smells funny too,” added Pearl.
Everyone nodded vigorously.
“What he was saying is that he wanted to have you for dinner, but not in a good way.”
“You mean he wants to…” they all said together but were too afraid to say anything more.
“Eat you,” I said. “But that will never happen. I will never let that happen.”
“I am going to find a way to put an end to this,” said Gracie. “One of these days, he may be tricky enough to convince one of us to go outside.”
And that night while everyone slept, Gracie stayed awake and thought and thought until she had the most excellent plan ever. It would prove that chickens are brave and it would get rid of The Biggest Scary Thing in her life and the lives of her friends once and for all.
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