Rat Boy was walking through the back alley of the cheese factory one summer night , when he felt an empty pop can hit him.
“Go away!” screamed one of the employees of the cheese factory. “You rats are just a disease waiting to happen.”
Rat Boy’s first instinct was to argue with the employee. However, he thought better of that idea. He knew he was lucky that all he got hit with was a pop can. There had been reports of some rats narrowly escaping getting hit by bricks.
Rat Boy decided that it would be better for him to get out of that alley just as quickly as he could. His mother had warned him to stay away from the cheese factory but he insisted he would keep safe. He had to get some food for his mother and his baby sister, Cecilia. His mother’s hours were cut back at the restaurant where she worked, leaving barely enough money to pay the rent, never mind food.
Rat Boy had heard that any cheese left outside of the cheese factory was poisoned so, even though he saw a few pieces here and there, he didn’t touch them. He would never risk feeding that to his mother or baby sister. He cared way too much for them to put them at any kind of risk.
Rat Boy knew another source of cheese that came from the cheese factory that was not poisoned and was free for the taking. At the far end of the cheese factory, there was a small bin that contained the trimmings of the cheese wheels. It was meant for the homeless in the city but the little amount that Rat Boy took, it made no difference to anyone.
“I see you got some cheese trimmings,” said Mother, the next morning, seeing the cheese on the kitchen counter. “Cecilia and I are very grateful to you for providing for us.”
“I could have gotten a lot more,” said Rat Boy. “However, I didn’t want to be greedy.”
“You were right in taking just what we need,” said Mother. “There are a lot of homeless people that need that cheese too. Did anyone try to hurt you last night?”
Rat Boy told his mother about the pop can that hit him and how the employee that threw it told him that rats are a disease waiting to happen.
“There are some mean people out there,” said Mother, checking the fur on Rat Boy’s head to make sure he wasn’t hurt.
“I am fine, Mother,” said Rat Boy. “The employee didn’t throw it all that hard.”
The rat family sat down and ate their cheese trimmings. They all felt good having something solid in their stomachs. Later that afternoon, Cecilia became very ill.
“Are you positive that you got the cheese we ate this morning from the bin meant for the homeless?” asked Mother. “Cecilia is very sick.”
“Yes, Mother,” said Rat Boy. “I am positive.”
Mother took Cecilia to the hospital.
“Your daughter was not poisoned,” said the doctor who examined her and ordered a bunch of tests. “It appears that she does have a bad case of the flu.”
Mother was very relieved to hear that Cecilia was not poisoned. Rat Boy was relieved as well. He was getting angry with himself thinking that somehow he made a mistake and inadvertently poisoned his sister.
“I am sorry for doubting you,” said Mother.
“I was doubting myself too,” said Rat Boy. “I am so glad she just has the flu.”
“Me too,” said Mother, hugging Rat Boy tightly.