A rat! I had heard my whole life to insulate myself from them, that they are everywhere and so to remain on guard.
A RAT!! In my own home! My home! Under the same roof as my wife and family. Where I ate and slept (though uneasily).
There had been hints of course. Evidence willfully overlooked. Where was I? What was I thinking? I guess I got too comfortable and I let down my guard. I would not let myself believe that it could happen to me. In my home!
Once I faced the incontrovertible truth, the pursuit began in earnest. James Cagney’s voice came first: “You dirty rat.” But then I quickly moved in with the Corleones. My desire for revenge brought out my inner Sonny but then I realized, “It’s strictly business” and Michael came to the fore.
A simple plan. A simple trap. In a few hours the dynamic completely changed. His freedom now gone, his fate in my control, we stared at each other. I told him I would go easy if he gave me some info. Were there others? No dice. He wasn’t talking. Even though he was a rat, he still adhered to some code of ethics.
OK buddy, have it your way. I put him the trunk of my car and we took that long drive to the Northampton wetlands. How did I get here? An Iowa altar boy now on the verge of murder in a lonely Massachusetts marshland. Could I do it? What would Jesus do? Wrong question. What would Luca Brasi do? But Luca ended up sleeping with the fishes. Was that the road I was on?
I stopped the car, took him from the trunk and, placed him, still bound, on the ground. My hands were sweating and I could barely grasp my gun (OK, a rock). He stared at me. Begged, begged for his life. Squealed for it. “I won’t come back! I promise! I’m a rat for Christ’s sake! It’s not personal. It was only business!”
I felt cold. Unrelenting. In my home!!
I raised the rock. I paused.
I couldn’t do it. I let him run. He was laughing. And then….from out of a clear blue morning sky a red-tailed hawk swooped down, its talons gripping the rat and as the hawk soared over my head, the rat pleaded, “Can you get me off the hook, for old time’s sake?”
I shook my head.
I got in the car.