A tourist walks into an antique store and sees under the front counter a small bronze statue of a rat for sale. Intrigued by the object, he asks the price.
"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," replies the tourist, "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 the tourist has walked two more 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.
Yet, 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 top of the light post, he watches in amazement as the seething tide of rats surges over the breakwater and into the sea, where they drown.
Shaken and mumbling, he makes his way back to the antique shop. "Ah, 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 sculpture of a lawyer."