A tourist wanders into a back alley antique shop in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Picking through the objects on display he discovers a detailed, life-sized bronze sculpture of a rat. The sculpture is so interesting and unique that he picks it up and asks the shop owner what it costs.
“Twelve dollars for the rat, sir” says the shop owner, “and a thousand dollars more for the story behind it.”
“you can keep the story, old man,” he replies, “but I’ll take the rat.”
The transaction complete, the tourist leaves the store with the bronze rat under his arm. As he crosses the street in front of the store, two live rats emerge from the sewer drain and fall into step behind him. Nervously looking over his shoulder, he begins to walk faster, but every time he passes another sewer drain more rats come out and follow him. By the time he’s walked two blocks at least a hundred rats are at his heels and people begin to point and shout. He walks even faster and soon breaks into a trot as multitudes of rats swarm from sewers, basements, vacant lots, and abandoned cars. Rats by the thousand are at his heels and, as he sees the waterfront at the bottom of the hill, he panics and starts to run full tilt.
No matter how fast he runs the rats keep up, squealing hideously, now not just thousands but millions so that by the time he comes rushing up to the water’s edge a trail of rats twelve city blocks long is behind him. Making a mighty leap, he jumps up onto a light post, grasping it with one arm while he hurls the bronze rat into San Francisco Bay with the other as far as he can heave it. Pulling his legs up and clinging to the light post, he watches in amazement as the seething tide of rats surges over the breakwater into the sea where they drown.
Shaken and mumbling, he makes his way back to the antique shop.
“Ah, so you’ve come back for the rest of the story.” says the owner.
“No,” says the tourist, “I was wondering if you have a bronze lawyer.”
This page was last updated December 10, 1996