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. Strangely, he feels drawn to it. The sculpture is so interesting, realistic and compelling that he picks it up and asks the shop owner its price.
"Twelve dollars for the rat, sir," says the shop owner, "and a thousand dollars more for the story of its frightening secret."
"You can keep the story, old man,"the tourist replies with a sneer, "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 when he sees the waterfront in the distance at the bottom of the hill, he panics and starts to run full tilt.
No matter how fast he runs, the huge swarm of rats--now not just thousands, but millions--stay just behind, squealing hideously as he nears the water. By the time he sees the water's edge, a trail of rats twelve city blocks long is behind him. Rushing toward the water, he makes a mighty leap, jumping up onto a light post... grasping it with one arm as with the other he hurls the bronze rat into San Francisco Bay as far as he can heave it. Pulling his legs up and clinging tightly to the light post, he watches in both horror and amazement as the seething tide of rats surges over the breakwater into the Bay, where they drown in huge numbers and disappear into its cold depths... not to be seen again.
Shaken and mumbling to himself about the terrible experience he has just witnessed, he makes his way back to the antique shop where he bought the bronze rat, the seed of a new idea forming in his mind.
"Ah, so you've come back for the rest of the story," says the owner.
"No," the tourist says in a hope-filled voice, "I was wondering if you might also have a bronze Republican?"