Deep in the city, on the corner of the block, atop the tallest building on Market Square, lived a small rat by the name of Chandler. The rooftop provided ample space for little Chandler to scurry about, yet it was quite dangerous with the abundance of pigeons. It is a well-known fact that rats are the favorite delicacy of pigeons, especially runts. Chandler was a runt. He was the only one of his family to survive, the rest passed away when the big rain fell.
There was a constant supply of garbage and goodies for Chandler to feed on. The winds were strong and they brought with them many surprises. Chandler had recently found two eggshells, four berries, and one large acorn. The acorn was curiously large. Chandler liked to pretend he was a squirrel when he played with the acorn. He wanted to eat the acorn but it was too large for him to break, so he played with it instead. He liked to roll it back and forth, but he had to be careful not to get squished.
The winds were calm today, a sign of danger. The pigeons were sure to be out for a feed. Chandler decided to have a quiet day; he hid under a tent-shaped newspaper. He liked to look at the pretty pictures on the paper, but he didn’t know what they were. The colors fascinated him. Today, it had rained all day and Chandler had found shelter under a colored section of the paper. The colors were vibrant that day and Chandler enjoyed them. The rain pattered down over the paper and tore small holes in it. All of the pretty colors joined together and trickled rainbow droplets onto Chandler’s fur. That was the day that things changed.
Today’s paper was thick and Chandler felt very safe. He laid flat on his cotton-white belly, outstretched, with his hands beneath his chin. His large, oil-drop eyes blinked slowly. A gentle breeze tickled his whiskers and now he was tired.
The pigeons of the city were sometimes white, and other times gray. They were always fat. The fish market was constantly leaving behind scraps for the alley cats, but usually the pigeons fed on the remains. Another well-known fact about pigeons is that they are incredibly clumsy creatures. Many cats would fetch a hearty meal of the ignorant birds. However, atop the buildings, pigeons were the predators.
Day turned into night and the city grew silent. Chandler woke and was mostly hungry. He washed himself before he searched for food. Little Chandler was very particular about his baths. He always washed his ears first, then his feet. Occasionally, he would comb through his matted fur with his tiny paws. His fur was now rainbow-colored with only a few patches of brown. Chandler noticed something peculiar during his bath. He was growing thicker fur on his legs and the fur-colors were radiating softly. The small rat suddenly felt special.
“Hey, Louie. What d’ya make of this?” the large, gray pigeon asked.
The ivory-white bird perched himself atop a street light and folded in his wings.
“I’m not sure. Looks like a frog. Maybe a toad.”
“I can’t make heads or tails of it. What do you think it tastes like?”
“For once, could you stop thinking of food?” The white pigeon was upset with his inferior counterpart.
“I’m sorry, Louie. I’ll let it alone.”
The pigeons nested for the night. The gray pigeon, who was called Henry, knew very little of the next day’s plans. He left much of the thinking to Louie, his older brother. All Henry liked to think about was food. There was plenty of time to do so, but now they slept.
Meanwhile, above Market Square building, little Chandler was delighting in a small piece of fruit that he had found in the corner of the rooftop. His large, sharp teeth softly nibbled away at the dried treat. It had been awhile since he had a morsel so delicious. All was right in the world — Chandler thought. The little rat finished his meal and returned to his shelter. He would sleep like a king tonight.
The morning sun rose and shined brightly atop the roof. Chandler woke and stretched. He looked around for some food but found none. Anyway, he wasn’t about to eat without a bath first. Again he noticed that his fur was glowing. He wondered what this meant. He sat up, supported by his tail, and thought. It wasn’t long before he was thinking about food. A small berry fell from the sky and bopped him on the head. He looked up, and just as he had suspected, there was no berry tree. But where had it fallen from? His belly rumbled. He felt another bop on the head. He rubbed his head and searched for the culprit. At his feet he saw an eggshell. Of course there weren’t any egg trees in the sky, so something was definitely strange. He decided he would have to ponder some more after his breakfast.
The pigeons of the city usually searched rooftops for food during the morning time. Today they were out extra-early.
“Hey, Louie, isn’t that a mouse?”
The larger, smarter pigeon reported, “No. It’s a rat, dufus. A nice, juicy one for us to eat!”
The pigeons swooped down and aimed for their innocent prey. Chandler was too busy eating to notice anything, but a sharp peck in the side sent him tumbling.
“Ouch. Hey, what did you do that for? I think you pulled out some hair!”
“Well, I’m gonna pull more than that out, little friend.”
Chandler squeaked and ran for cover. The pigeons were much faster. Henry dove in and clenched Chandler in his beak.
“Good job, Henry!”
“Oh, thaaaaaaankkss.” Henry’s mouth popped open and Chandler jumped out.
“Nice one, cat food, you let him go!” Louie started to look for Chandler, but he was already gone.
“Where did he go?”
A large, strong looking pigeon flew up to them. “Who are you looking for?”
“We’re looking for a rat. Have you seen him?”
“Not around here,” Chandler said, “what does he look like?”
“Well, he’s small and brown with rainbow-colored pants…”
“Hmmm,” Chandler said, tapping his foot.
The pigeons looked down at his foot, then up at his rainbow-colored legs. “Aghhhh! He’s a wizard! Fly! Fly!”
The two pigeons zoomed away. Chandler chased them all the way to the ocean, then tired of the sport. He returned to his building. “How could I be a pigeon,” Chandler asked himself.
“I don’t know, but you sure are handsome,” replied a voice.
“What, who’s there?”
“I am. I’m Betty.”
“Gosh, you sure are pretty,” Chandler said, blushing.
“Thanks. So I haven’t seen you around, are you from here?”
“Well, I…No, no I’m not.”
by Anthony O’Dugan © 2021