Right, so I'm a procrastinator, and I just finished reading Thud! for the... sixth time, I think, and our dear friend Methodia Rascal was just niggling at me. So, instead of writing what I should be writing, I wrote a Pratchett thing for the... third time in my life.

Hmm. And it came out good enough.

Maybe when someone I know actually reviews my things, I'll feel more like being on-task...

Read happily!

Methodia Rascal didn't have any friends, but, if he did, they would call him 'Rascal'.

He liked how 'Rascal' sounded. It was playful and mischievous, and it made it easier to forget just how long it had been since he was either of those.

"Meth. Hey, Meth! You awake in there? Time for the rent! It's four days past due!"

…Or 'Meth'. 'Meth' also worked.

Methodia set down the paintbrush and said to the room at large, "Sorry, you g- peop- you good fellows. Hold that pose for a moment longer."

There was muttering and curses in two languages and at least seven dialects, clanking, and the vaguely threatening chink of chain mail.

Methodia went to the door, but didn't open it. "Um, Mr. Tinker, sir, if you could just wait one more day, I'll definitely have it."

The voice of the landlord was serious and street-smart. "Meth, you and I both know that your father was good folks and your mother was the nicest broad this side of the Shades, and you know that I'd like to wait another day, but-"

"So, yes, tomorrow then, hmm?" Methodia said hurriedly. "Now, I'm sorry to send you away like this, but I am rather busy with – Well, with business. And whatnot."

"Er, yeah, about the painting thing, Meth…"

Mr. Tinker was a very nice man, really. He had Principles. Of course, one of those Principles was Nevr Let Emm Stif on the Rente. Methodia had grown up here, and had 'inherited' the small – rather small flat when his parents had… departed. The problem was, Mr. Tinker's Principles didn't include an appendix on the subject of struggling artists.

"So, goodbye then, Mr. Tinker!" Methodia hurried back to the canvas and put one last line on a long, braided beard. He murmured, "Yes, thank you, Hrundra, I've got you just about finished now…"

Mr. Tinker reluctantly shouted, "One more day, Meth, an' then you're on the street certain sure. You got that?"

Methodia made some sort of sound that meant agreement. "Now, Mr. Graag, hold your club thingy a bit higher over your head, maybe…"

One of the dwarves not currently modeling stepped forward in a little storm of clicking metal and violently braided beard. "Vrngr kgnatn dlagt?"

Without looking away from the square block of grayish troll currently assaulting the two-dimensional Hrundra, Methodia said, "Morporkian, please, Thom."

A young, helpful dwarf with whom Methodia was more acquainted – for the sole reason of the dwarf's role as interpreter – said, "He says, 'You want we should…' Um, kgnatn is a difficult word to translate, but it's a very careful way of removing Mr. Tinker of various nonessential… bits… with a kgn, which is sort of shaped like a melonballer, if you've ever seen one…"

"I can generally imagine the situation. Tell the nice ma- dwarf thanks, but no."

"Right away, Cluck." There followed a string of very painful-sounding grunts.

Methodia looked up. "Did you jut call me 'Chuck'? My name isn't Charles, so, really, 'Chuck' isn't a good one at all. I would much prefer 'Rascal'."

Thom shrugged. "No, no. Cluck. Like a chicken."


"You're just being very chickenish lately, Mr. Painter. Painting a battle that happened thousands of years ago, using imaginary trolls and dwarves that fought there as models, skipping out on the rent. Rather chickenlike, I think. And the idea that a dwarf from Koom Valley actually spoke Morporkian this well… You see. Chicken. Therefore, Cluck."

Methodia looked around the sparse and empty room, and then at the grayish troll-blob under his brush, and then the patch of floor where Thom had been standing.

"Bawk?" he said.

A thin, thousand-year-old voice said, "The feathers and beak are dead giveaways, Cluck, m'boy."

Cluck attempted to stand up from his crouch, but his legs bent the wrong way and his wings wouldn't stretch and it'd been days since he'd had any decent seed. "Bkawk!"

He looked at the ground. There, on a neat little notecard, in carefully writing, were the words 'YOU ARE NOT A CHICKEN."

Methodia blinked.

Koom Valley surrounded him again, and Mr. Graag the troll looked rather impatient to stop holding the club a little higher and actually get on with the assaulting of Hrundra the dwarf, and the carefully-mixed grayish paint was starting to dry on his palette.

Thom was grinning. "You're way too easy, Rascal."

Methodia took a deep breath. "You're sure that all this will stop when I finish painting this thing?"

"Definitely moderately sure."

"Then I should hurry…"

Yes, 'Rascal' sounded all right.

'Rascal' was not 'Cluck'.

And 'Cluck' didn't necessarily mean he was a chicken…

Methodia sighed. He wanted to be finished with this whole painting thing. And maybe go into the poultry-meat-selling business, just to prove a point.