by Cynthia Reeg -
Rudy plopped onto the hard school bench.
"Welcome back, students, to Beginning Magicians Art Class." A smile creased Professor Bumbles' wrinkly face. Rudy had heard rumors that Professor Bumbles was the oldest teacher at Merlin Memorial Academy. More than five hundred-years-old.
"Today, students, we'll finish drawing our dragons for the school art contest."
Why couldn't the school have a Quickest Disappearing Act contest or a Magic Spell Olympics? Rudy might have a chance at winning one of those. Headmaster Ghouligan always said, "Magicians should be well-rounded in all areas of their education." Rudy sank down. He wished he could do his own disappearing act right now.
"Having a little trouble here?" asked Professor Bumbles. Rudy nodded. His drawing looked like a flabby toad.
"If you want to stay a few minutes after class today, we'll work on your dragon together," said Professor Bumbles. The end of class gong sounded. Rudy watched glumly as everyone nosily filed out. Everyone except him.
"Let's begin again." Professor Bumbles waved his magic wand. Rudy's toadish drawing vanished. "Now close your eyes. Picture your very own dragon."
Rudy closed his eyes. "All I can see is black."
"Try again," said Professor Bumbles with a wink.
Rudy took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He thought of bright dragon eyes. Sharp dragon teeth. A smoking dragon nose and a bumpy dragon tail. "Whoa! I see it!"
"Good. Now keep your eyes on your dragon and let your fingers do the drawing."
Rudy touched his magic pencil to the paper. He imagined pointy dragon claws and giant dragon wings, and he kept his fingers drawing.
"That's it," said Professor Bumbles. You can draw. Wonderful, Rudy!" Clapping his hands, the ancient professor stumbled. His glasses fell to the floor, broken.
But Rudy hardly noticed the professor's problem. Rudy was staring at his paper with his mouth wide open. There was the same dragon he'd pictured in his mind now on his paper. Rudolph Houdini Magus – the awful art student—had drawn a super dragon!
"Oh dear," said Professor Bumbles, fumbling through his pockets. "I think I have another pair of glasses here somewhere. And I know I have some paint you can use, Rudy. It's on my desk…or perhaps in my desk...."
Rudy reluctantly left his amazing dragon drawing to help search for the paint. Tugging on a heavy bottom drawer, Rudy nearly fell over as it creaked open. "Yikes!"
Lime-green lizards, magenta mice, and rainbow-colored bugs crawled in and out of the half-open paint jars. When the colorful critters crawled back into the paint, they disappeared!
"Ugh!" A purple frog hopped into Rudy's lap. "I think I found the paint, Professor Bumbles." Rudy tossed the slippery frog back into the drawer. Purple paint now polka-dotted his pants.
Rudy spied a sealed paint jar in the far corner. On the jar's lid, faded letters spelled "DRAGON." He grabbed the jar and slammed the drawer shut.
Professor Bumbles' squinty eyes studied Rudy's find. "Yes, that's it…I think. Use that paint on your dragon. Look at the picture in your mind as you paint. Concentrate and let your fingers flow."
"Thanks," said Rudy, picking up his things. "I think this dragon is going to be something special."
Racing back to his room, Rudy put all the supplies on his desk. He opened the dragon paint carefully.
"Yuck!" What an awful smell! It stunk like rotten iguana eggs. Could magic paint go bad like spoiled goat's milk? Rudy shook his head. Now he was making excuses to keep from finishing the picture. What was he afraid of? The paint or himself?
Rudy picked up his brush and dipped it deep into the smelly paint. He would paint this dragon just as good as he'd drawn it. What did Headmaster Ghouligan always say? "A good magician is a confident magician. Believe in yourself and you can create magic."
Rudy puffed out his chest. "I believe in me!" He closed his eyes and imagined his dragon. Bright yellow eyes. Deep red scales. Shiny white teeth. Glowing green wings. And a blue-spotted tail. With a steady hand, Rudy stroked the paint-filled brush across the paper...