THURSDAY: Departure from the Ratz

BY CHRISTINE LYONS

Copyright is held by the author.

BELOW THE subterranean passageways of a Boca Raton hotel in Florida ran passages known only to the residents of this area. They were small rodent-like creatures with a very distinctive culture.

Once a year, as many as possible, would meet in the famous underground establishment called the Ratz Hotel. It was located in a great cavern underneath the homes of “The Others.”

It was a very complicated route to get to this famous place. Many of the younger generation had to follow their elders closely to find the cavern. Once each one had been shown the way, however, they never forgot it.

The convention at the Ratz began in early spring and ended a few weeks later but this year it was a very different story. As per usual, once the guests had arrived, the convenor invited them to enjoy friendship and camaraterie in the lounge where there were many rattan chairs set up in groups around ratteen tables. The waiters passed around glasses of Ratafia. Many stories, songs and ideas were started here as they got to know one another.

The Ratz boasted of having an indoor gymnasium. All the guests wanted to try it out to see who could run the ratlines and slide down the rodent ropes the fastest.

Each day ended up with a communal get together in the Ratz Nest restaurant where Rattlesnake Ratatouille was the famous dish of choice. The chef had to ration out the portions so everyone could have a taste of this rarity.

After a scrumptious meal, the guests were invited to a masquerade party. The Ratz Hotel provided all sorts of costumes, masks, wigs and make-up. The clients hurried off to their rooms to change, after choosing their disguises from a large container in the store room.

As soon as everyone appeared in the ballroom, the music began. The first dance was always “Putting on the Ratz” followed by a group who sang ratapella, accompanied only by a soft rataplanning on a bodhran. Many ended their evening with more Ratafia and had to stumble to bed.

There were many other things to do at the Ratz but most important was the passing on of new ideas at the training sessions. The rat-like professor ratified his existence by demonstrating new methods of food collecting. He described the necessity of rattening as an occasional method in collecting food. The professor also spoke of the terrible effects of ratsbane. Each lecture increased the guests’ knowledge.

Suddenly, during one of the lectures a rattling sound happened and the walls shook. This happened four times and each time was worse than the last. “Oh Rats!” screamed the professor. “Somebody has flushed. It’s a flood! Everyone out!”

The guests raced through the luxurious Ratz’ front foyer, now covered in smelly mud. Dirty water rose ominously up the delicately decorated walls. They rushed through the narrow passages and out into the dull, dark, dismal night. What a way to depart from the elegant Ratz Hotel — all because of a four flusher!

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