I made sure to monitor Nicky Smith’s habits and follow him around as much as possible for research. You have to know your subjects well before you can write about them. I read that somewhere. I never took a class in writing; it just sort of came to me naturally. I’m gifted, you could say. Crafty. I hid in the cargo of the plane he took to Rome and made due with the company of several annoying designer dogs that wouldn’t shut up for the entire eight-hour flight. I’ll admit it; I ate one of them. Collateral damage. She was probably suffering anyway. Her name was Muffin, always shaking. I made sure to get her owner’s number from the doggy tag and send them a gift of eyeball and gut string. My only regret is waiting until hour seven to munch down, although I probably avoided a mutiny and a potential disaster if all the other dogs banded together and somehow escaped their cages. But I was free, unchained. I ruled over them like a prison guard. They were asleep when I left.
I arrived in Rome just hours after Smith fell asleep in his hotel, unable to fight the jet lag, succumbing to a pressure headache during landing. He doesn’t know I poisoned his complimentary dinner of Thai chicken with some Thai chickenshit I keep stored for special occasions. When he woke up, I made sure he saw me, but only briefly, as if he conjured me in a vision. The rest of his day was sluggish because of all the DDT I put in his water. I followed them to a cafe and watched silently as I wrote and observed. He was reluctant to talk and barely able to move, so sedated by all the shit I put in his food that he was becoming overly irritable. He drank four espressos and went to the Colosseum and gawked like the dumb tourist he was. I’m only now learning you must have empathy for the characters you write about to create a good piece of fiction that lives and breathes as much as its subjects.
Two days later, still unable to catch up on sleep, I found him in his room again, napping at 11 in the morning. I couldn’t contain my rage anymore. Why was he the one writing every day and getting recognized and receiving feedback from his peers? Why couldn’t I, a sentient rooster with the ability to understand and write and speak in English, get ignored in plain sight? I let loose and jumped on him with my spring-like step and scratched his face hard with my spur claws. He woke up horrified, and I looked on from behind a curtain. How would I get a novel out of this nitwit? There had to be some internal conflict, so I poisoned his food again and relegated him to the bathroom for hours glued to the toilet. Empathy is something I’m still learning to cope with and understand. He’ll thank me later for humanizing him, if he lives to see my magnum opus published. Whether or not that comes to pass is not up to me.
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