The Tourist Trail
Once upon a time a Glasgow tourist wandered into a backstreet antique shop
in San Francisco's Chinatown. Looking around the goods on display, his eye was
caught by a life-sized bronze sculpture of a rat. The sculpture was very detailed
and lifelike, and it struck him as so unusual that he immediately asked the owner
for a price. The owner, a wizened, elderly Chinese man with a long white wispy
beard, smiled and spoke:
'Twelve dollars for the rat, and a further thousand dollars for the amazing story
'You can keep the story, pal' said the Glasgow man, 'But I'll take the sculpture
off your hands.'
The owner sighed but agreed to the sale and the tourist left the shop with the
rat under his arm. As he crossed the street in front of the store he saw two rats
emerge from a gutter and follow along behind him. This seemed a bit odd in broad
daylight but he wasn't overly concerned and kept walking. Before long, however,
he began to sweat nervously as more and more rats appeared and fell into step
at his back.
By the time he had walked two blocks he had at least a hundred rats at his heels.
Traffic was stopping in the street and passers-by were pointing and calling out.
He stepped up his speed, hoping to shake them off, but even more of the rodents
emerged to swell the procession, scrambling out of drains, abandoned houses, vacant
lots, and garbage dumps. He broke into a trot but he could not outdistance the
rats, who now formed a tailback stretching as far as he could see, all squealing
hideously. Down the hill ahead of him he could see the blue water glinting in
the harbour and he decided to make a run for it. His sudden sprint left the leading
rats behind for a moment but they quickly upped their speed and soon closed the
He pounded onto a pier, a desperate inspiration having come to him. At the water's
edge he climbed up a lamp-post, holding on with one hand while with the other
he flung the rat-figure as far as he could into the waters of San Francisco Bay.
Just as he had hoped, the rats followed the sculpture and in their thousands they
seethed over the pier and plunged headlong into the sea, where they churned the
waters to foam as each and every one drowned.
Shaking with relief, the Glasgow man made sure that the coast was clear then climbed
down, making his way back to the antique shop. The owner betrayed no surprise
to see him come in.
'So' he said, 'You have returned to hear the story I told you of.'
'Actually, no,' the tourist replied, 'But I was wondering . . . you wouldn't happen
to have a sculpture of a Rangers supporter?'