At least the mayor didn’t throw me down the well. Instead, he and his cronies lowered me on a rope.
‘Consider this empty well your new home,’ the mayor hollered when I reached the bottom.
‘Despot,’ I shouted back.
‘That’s the attitude which has forced me to put you here, Max,’ the mayor answered. ‘We’re suffering a drought and your response is to insult us. You’re a parasitic would-be painter who contributes nothing.’
‘I’m a transformational artist,’ I declared. ‘A revolutionary spirit.’
But the mayor had gone.
A bray resonated down the well’s shaft. I stared up. Although the light above was fading as night fell, I could just make out a donkey’s head.
‘Leonora,’ I said, ‘throw me the rope.’
Another bray echoed.
‘Typical,’ I muttered. ‘The mayor and his confederates have taken it.’
I thought for a moment and brightened up.
‘Bring me my paints and brushes, Leonora,’ I called. ‘And a candle and matches.’
With a nod, the faithful donkey disappeared.
By the time she returned, I could see nothing. A series of objects fell around me followed by a hee-haw.
I managed to find and light the candle. By its light, I saw my oil paints and brushes.
‘I’m going to paint my way out of here,’ I told myself.
Using a broad brush and whatever tubes of colour came to hand, I began to render a multi-hued ladder onto the stones of the well. As I completed each rung, I climbed onto it and progressed upward. In less than an hour, I’d reached the top. Leonora stood patiently waiting.
‘Now to surprise those who’ve treated me so badly,’ I told her.
We hurried to the dried-up fountain in the town square. No one was about. I set to work and painted water gushing from the fountain’s pipes, then over its side.
‘Quick, let’s go,’ I said to Leonora, leading her away. ‘The town is about to flood and the residents will be rather damp.’
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