Larry the Rat was just finishing up his dinner when he heard a knock on the front door of his home. Who would be visiting him now? Maybe it was a package. But it was late for package delivery. Larry was suspicious.
He’d only moved into this house recently. It was a long move from his hometown, but sometimes long moves are needed. Long moves can be good. A new start, right? He didn’t want to be called Larry the Rat anymore. Just Larry would be fine. And when he started making some new friends, that’s who he would be. Just Larry.
When Larry was back in his hometown, he had what a lot of people would consider a thankless job. It wasn’t a good job or a bad job, and by that I mean, he didn’t work specifically for the good guys or the bad guys. He worked for both. He was a rat. Larry the Rat worked his way up the chain. You wouldn’t think a rat could get away with the same trick twice, but the good guys did enough to keep the bad guys guessing and Larry was never the one to blame.
But, Larry the Rat didn’t feel he was compensated well enough for the amount of risk he was taking. He was in the system pretty deep. Both systems, in fact. Larry had a special gift for living two lives. And this last summer, he determined he was going to live one life for the rest of his life. No more helping anyone. A free agent with a clean record. The good guys told him it was a smart career move and provided some excellent record cleaning assistance.
As you would expect for a professional like Larry, he told no one where he was going. Not the good guys, and certainly not the bad guys. He bought a typical house on a typical street in a typical neighborhood in Nowhereville. The perfect place to ditch his rat surname.
But the preparations didn’t end there. He built a panic room in his new house – completely impenetrable. And although it wasn’t obvious from the outside, all the windows of the house were reinforced. It would take a very large-caliber rifle to blast through on a first shot. Any other attack would require multiple shots, which no one would risk that kind of exposure in a neighborhood like this one. At the sound of the first gunshot, Larry would be squirreled away in his panic room, calling the good guys for a quick favor.
Not only the house windows, but the doors were completely reinforced, too. No shooting through them, no way. He’d also seen enough drug raids to know how battering rams worked and what was effective in slowing them down. Again, just more time to get to the panic room.
Tonight, the massively-reinforced front door was being knocked upon. And Larry the Rat was suspicious about that.
Walking silently, out of the view of the reinforced windows, he came up to the front door. Larry listened closely for any indication of who it could be, friend or foe. The heavy door gave no clues who was on the other side. Larry looked through the security peephole in the door. It was black. Larry saw nothing.
The knock came again and Larry started, jumping in place. “Damn it.” he cursed himself. Did he make any noise? If he did, should he just man up and ask who’s there? Should he turn on the outside light so he could see who was out there first? Either one would expose his location. Larry looked back to where the panic room was. How many windows were between the front door and the panic room?
Larry calmed his mind for a moment. What a crazy vision. The whole mafia lined up at each window, blasting away fruitlessly at the thick glass while he dashed down the hall. His house was more secure than most any bank. He had time to live.
His calm was immediately broken by a sheet of paper slid partially under the door. He pulled it through. Legal-sized paper? The paper had an advertisement on it. In big, bold letters at the top: PEST REMOVAL. The logo was an upside-down rat in a cage. Larry dropped the paper without seeing anything else. He didn’t want to see. But curiosity got the better of him.
Larry moved back to the peephole. Still black.
Without warning, although the delivered flyer should have been sufficient warning, Larry’s eye was pierced. A long, thin, metal rod fired through the peephole, into his eye and with enough force to spear his brain and exit dramatically through the back of his head. Larry’s shock denied him a scream of acknowledgement that his assailant had hit his mark.
The man outside was quite aware of his success as he watched his end of the rod shudder and then incline as the section inside the house was pulled down from an unseen weight – the weight of Larry the exterminated rat.
Inside, Larry was trying to bargain his way out of his imminent death. “Next time, reinforced peep hole. No, external cameras. Yeah. With night vision. And maybe… maybe… hmmm.”