by Little Mouse
Mortimer Ratcliff reconsiders his life of crime.
Mortimer Ratcliff tapped his claws against the frosty window with impatience. A chill slithered down his black, fury back as a draft whistled through the cracks of the rickety shack he was hiding in. He smudged the frost around to make a peek-hole.
“Where’s Shifty?” Mortimer said as he blew his warm breath on his paws. “Shifty Lightfinger has never let me down. He’s the only one left that will help me.”
There wasn’t a mouse or rat left in Moratville that would willingly help Mortimer. They claimed that his heart was blacker than his fur. Every rodent ran when they seen him, now that he was on the RFBI’s (Rat Federal Bureau of Investigation) Top Ten Most Wanted Rats List.
He paced the small one room shack to warm his hind paws. Spying a chair in the corner, he pulled it over by the window and sat down. One leg of the chair was shorter then the others, so he rocked himself as he reflected back on his life. His life had been fun until the last few months. Now he was lonely, cold, hungry, and friendless, except for Shifty.
“Where is that little rat?” he asked the empty room and then went back to pondering some of the highlights of his life.
His mind drifted over the days when he began his deviant behavior as a young rat. He stole the student’s lunches and ate them. That was too easy, and too boring. So he started bullying the smaller and younger rat students into giving him their lunch money. That was more exciting until Principal Tatt caught him and expelled him from the Golden Rat Grade School. Mortimer vowed he would get even with the Principal. Two nights later Principal Tatt’s house burnt to the ground.
It warmed Mortimer’s black heart the most when he thought about the many times he embarrassed the town officials. A smile spread across his face as he remembered the time he stole the clock on top of the Court House in the center of Moratville. He left a note wedged in the gaping hole telling them that they had too much time on their hands. The clock still resides in the town dump under a ton of garbage.
“I still have a good laugh about that one,” Mortimer said to the cold, empty room. “The RPD (Rat Police Department) investigated the theft for weeks and never found a clue that could lead them to the thief.”
Mortimer’s shoulders stopped shaking with laughter as another memory pushed its way into his mind. The biggest cheese heist in rat history had been mastermind by him at Mac’s Cheesy Warehouse. He hired four rats from the sewer of Moratville to pretend to be warehouse workers. They loaded the large cheese crates into one of Mac’s company trucks and drove away with a ton of cheese. Mortimer sold the cheese and told the sewer rats to get rid of the truck. They refused to dump the truck and now reside in the Ratty Penitentiary. Not a nice place to live.
The thought of cheese made Mortimer’s stomach rumble with hunger. He rubbed his paw over his stomach as it growled again and said, “Where is Shifty? He said it wouldn’t take long to grab some food for me.”
He stopped rocking in his chair and started pacing again to warm his legs.
Mortimer looked at the chair and said, “Is my life as a criminal worth being so cold? I’m alone and hungry and I can’t count on having friends unless I pay them to be my friend.” He rubbed his cold front paws over his numb ears. “I’ve been a bully and a thief all of my life and that is all I know how to be. Maybe I need to lead a different life and become a good rat for a change. But how can I do that?”
His warm breath created a fog that turned into sparkling crystals that danced and twinkled. He rubbed his eyes in disbelief and watched the twinkling crystals slowly disappear. Looking into the darkness he asked, “Who’s in here?” He thought he could hear a tinkling noise.
A loud banging at the door startled him. He tried to look out the window but it was too frosty to see out. “Who is it?” he finally asked.
“It’s me, Shifty! I got just what you need. Open the door.”
Mortimer opened the door to find several Rat Police blocking his only escape from the little shack. He couldn’t see Shifty and he doubted that he would ever see him again. He held out his front paws to be put into paw cuffs. As Mortimer was led to the Rat Patrol car he realized that this was the best thing that could happen to him. Now he could serve his time and become a good, up-standing rat in the community. His life of crime and bullying was over and he was glad.