A man, visiting San Francisco, noticed a musty curio shop, which seemed to be forgotten by time. It seemed very out of place in the busy city. The man's curiosity was piqued, and he entered the shop. The store didn't seem to have much traffic, and the shelves were full of dusty, but interesting items. The man found himself strangely interested in a rather ugly brass rat on a shelf behind the counter. Ugly it was, but he had never seen anything like it -- it was so incredibly detailed, and life-like. He asked the shopkeeper for a price.
The man was pleased to learn that he could acquire the rat for only $5, and he handed the shopkeeper the money. But, before giving the man the rat, the shopkeeper sternly warned him, "This sale is final. If you leave the shop with the brass rat, I won't take it back under any circumstances."
The man thought the warning was curious, given that the rat only cost $5. Even if he decided he hated the rat, that was hardly an amount worth worrying about. He agreed to the shopkeeper's terms, and left with the rat.
At first, everything seemed perfectly normal. But as he walked back toward his car, the man started to hear strange rustling noises around him. Then he saw a life rat scurry out of an alley, and start to follow him. Suddenly, rats seemed to be appearing all around him, streaming out of sewers and dumpsters, all following him and milling about his feet.
The man began to run, but the rats kept up in increasing numbers. The man realized that he was being chased by literally tens of thousands of rats. The ground came alive, as the rats swarmed behind him.
The man suddenly realized the significance of the shopkeeper's warning, and knew what he had to do. He turned toward the bay, and ran as quickly as he could toward the water. When he reached the waterfront, he threw the brass rat as far as he could into the bay. The rats raced past him, following the brass rat into the water, where they drowned.
The man returned to the curio shop, and upon seeing him enter the shopkeeper shouted, "I told you, no refunds. I don't want trouble here. The sale was final, and you can't return the merchandise."
The man smiled, and replied, "Oh, I don't want to return the rat. I just want to know -- do you have a brass lawyer in stock?"
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