A tourist wanders into a back-alley antique shop somewhere in Washington
DC. 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 a 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 thousands 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 the Potomac Tidal Basin 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 Basin, where they drown.
Shaken and mumbling, he makes his way back to the antique shop."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 congressman. "
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