"I guess it's a good thing I couldn't get the skin off," I said. "Now I just need to shape it a bit to make it look like it BELONGS in the painting. And then find a way to seal the skin itself. It wouldn't do to have it fall apart before the auction." I smiled. This was exciting... Overnight Boa had turned a tragic incident into a money making venture. I hoped... fingers crossed.
I fiddled with the painting most of the afternoon between my slow times. Everyone pretty much left me alone the whole day to work on it. News of the auction and my painting had spread through the zoo like wild fire. People kept coming in... Quietly... to view my work in progress. People I didn't even know came in to shake my hand and then leave quickly so I could work. I was getting really excited. This was all new to me and I liked all the attention. "But... Not too much... winks..." I snickered to myself. I didn't want all the attention to go to my head. But it was sure nice to be recognized as an artist.
I finished shaping the snake skin and when I stepped back to look at it I realized it looked like Boa's face. With an eye, a mouth... and of course her skin. I smiled to myself in satisfaction. This was actually a fun accident. My cares of the day seemed to fade away. Even Mr. Bobble stopping in to see how I was doing didn't bother me. He just loved the painting. He said it was PERFECT and that it was sure to fetch top dollar at the auction.
Now I just needed to figure out how to seal the snake skin so it wouldn't fall apart. Most of it was stuck to the painting and was totally dry. There were a few parts of the skin that stuck up so those parts needed sealing. I tried several spray sealants on parts that were to be thrown away. Brushing a sealant on had proved fatal to the skin. Spray was my only option. It took several trips to the hardware and crafts shoppes to find the right spray. The clerks looked at me strange when I mentioned what I wanted the spray for, but in the end I found one that worked just fine.
I left the painting to dry in my office that night. It was well ventilated and I locked it up tight so no one could get in and went home. My dinner was a lot cheerier than it had been the night before. So much had happened in one day. I went to bed... again... exhausted.
The weeks to the auction flew by fast. I kept checking the painting to make sure the snake skin was still there. The sealant worked great to keep the skin secure to the painting. It showed no signs of breaking off or cracking. I was confident that it would last for years for whoever bought it.
I was nervous the night of the auction. Lots of people showed up and word of my UNIQUE artwork had reached a few gallery owners and the news media. Mr. Bobble made sure that my painting was well protected. It looked grand on the easel with a red rope around it, so that no one could touch it. The added touch of 2 spotlights made the painting look like something in a fine art gallery. There were hoards of people lined up to see it before the auction. I stood by the painting and answered questions as honest as I could, telling them of the story of how the painting had gotten its skin.
"Boa is just one of God's little creatures... she was just doing what comes naturally to her... She didn't mean to shed all over my painting... but that sun was so inviting... she just had to lay in it,” Everyone laughed as I told my story. I lead the last of the guests around me to the auction area as I finished my story. I caught the owner giving me a glance. He smiled at me.
There were many items that had been donated to the auction and Mr. Bobble was pleased with every donation. He left my painting for last so that it was the BIG FINISH. My heart raced as I the auctioneer led the crowd to my painting. He waited until everyone was gathered around it and someone brought him a box to stand on. He stood on the box and the rest was a blur... Numbers called out so fast I couldn't understand them all. People yelling and jumping up and down... hands waving in a flurry. It was all so exciting and before I knew it... over.
My painting had been sold. And... It had fetched the most of all the auction items. Everyone cheered for the winner. I could live quite comfortably on what the painting had received, but, I promised the money to the zoo. It needed it more than I did.
All in all the auction was a success. The zoo made enough money to pay all the bills and do some improvements, and have a little nest egg left over for emergencies. Mostly due to my painting. The owner of the painting was thrilled when I said I would take a picture with him and the painting. The media was there to get their photos too. I felt like a celebrity. What a wonderful way to end a perfect day.
That night after all the guests had gone home, I went to my office. It seemed bare with the painting gone. Tomorrow I would start a new painting and my routine would go back to normal. I turned out the lights and locked the door and went home.
The next morning Mr. Bobble was waiting for me. He had newspapers thrown across my desk. He didn't even let me finish opening the door before he started talking.
"Look at all these headlines... They are all of you and your painting and the auction," he blurted out. "You're famous!"
I picked up a paper, and much to my surprise, I saw myself staring back at me, with the winner of the painting, a big smile on my face. "I look fat," I thought. I was smiling from ear to ear. "Artist sells artwork for record auction price... calls his artwork "God's Little Creatures."" Was the headline across the page.
"Come with me," Mr. Bobble grabbed my arm and pulled me out of the office. The paper I was holding flapped in the breeze. He led me to the entrance of the zoo and to an empty store. "I want to put a gallery for you here," he said. "Your painting was so popular last night... I had several people, including gallery owners, wanting more of your animal infused artwork." I shook my head yes and we chatted.
I headed back to my office and John was there to greet me. He saw the new canvas and asked me what I was going to paint next. I told him of the gallery that Mr. Bobble wanted to make for me and told him we needed to find more animal parts. He said he would help me on our lunch hour. We did our daily chores and at lunch he helped me comb the zoo for animal bits. A feather from a Peacock... A few whiskers from the big cats... before long we had a basket of items for my painting.
The weeks ahead were of painting and getting the gallery together, along with my usual chores, but I didn't mind. I actually loved painting all the more now. Mr. Bobble's wife helped decorate the gallery. My paintings looked grand on the walls and on easels. Spotlights framed each painting. When the gallery was finished Mr. Bobble, his wife, and John all led me outside to the front door. A crowd of zoo visitors had gathered around the door too. They all faced the door and when I looked around I could see a fabric cloth over the door where the name should go. Mr. Bobble motioned me to pull the string to unveil the new name of the gallery... GOD'S LITTLE CREATURES!