A man was browsing in a curio shop and, attracted to a brass rat
on a shelf behind the counter, asked the shopkeeper for a price.
They haggled long and hard and eventually they agreed. The brass
rat changed hands, but as he took the money, the shopkeeper,
furtively glancing toward the rear of the shop, warned the customer
in hushed but ominous tones: "This sale is final. If you leave with
the brass rat, I won't take it back under any circumstances."
The man, ignoring a chill creeping up his spine and the tinge of
horror suddenly drifting through the shop, nodded his agreement and
hurriedly left with the rat.
He had walked but a block or two towards home when he noticed a
live rat come scurrying out of an alley and begin to follow him. Soon
there were others, all following him and milling about his feet.
He began to trot, then jog. then run, but the rats kept up. More
and more joining in until, after only a few minutes, thousands of
rats, incisors flashing like tiny scimitars, were chasing the now
wide-eyed, puffing, crimson-faced man.
He ran desperately for the river and heaved the brass rat into the
water with all his strength. To his amazement the live rats followed
the brass rat, and in seconds all had drowned in a swirling sqweaking
whirlpool of fur, fang and flesh.
The man thought for a second and then turned and ran, arms and legs
furiously pumping as though being chased by hounds from the deepest
depths of hell, back to the curio shop.
Startled, as the man practically crashed through the door, the
shopkeeper shouted: "I told you the sale was final! You can't return
the brass rat!"
The man, struggling for breath, frantically gasped: "Return it? No.
No. You don't understand..." And then, tears welling in his eyes,
his voice becoming a pityful pleading whine, he said: "I came back
to see if you have any brass lawyers."
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