By Tim Hayes

A conversation overheard on Broadway earlier this week…

“Will ya look at dat, Frank?”

“Whassat, Jerry?”

“Look! Look around! Can you believe dis?”

“I still ain’t followin’ ya, Jer.”

“It’s five-a-clock in the aftanoon, we’re standin’ here in the middle’a Times Square, and we ain’t been hassled once all day!”

“Why is dat a bad ting, Jerry? I kinda like not being hassled, for a change. Getting hassled is…well…sorta a big hassle.”

“Yeah, Goomba. I know. Nobody LIKES gettin’ hassled. But you get to a point where you expect it. And when it don’t happen, it gets weird. Almost like you miss it or sometin’ like dat.”

“Jerry, you are one weird cat.”

“DON’T SAY CAT, Frankie! What’s wrong witchu, anyways?”

“Oh, oh, sorry. I forgot. My brain’s been on the fritz for a while now.”

“Dat’s exactly wut I’m talkin’ about! Nobody’s thinkin’ straight anymores. I’m missin’ being hassled, you’re talkin’ about cats –“

“DON’T SAY CATS, Jerry! Geez, now YOU’RE doin’ it!”

“Holy cow, we gotta figure out what’s happenin’ in dis town lately. The whole place has gone off its rocker. I tell ya, I need sometin’ in my belly, some comfort food, to calm me down. You in?”

“Always, Jer, you know dat. How about our favorite place? Race ya to the door!”

“You go on ahead, Frank. I’ll pace myself, so’s I ain’t outta breath when I get there. It slows down the ability to feast the way I like ta feast.”

“Ha, ha! Okay, I’ll get us set up for a feast. See ya in a coupl’a minutes.”

“Yo, Frankie! Here I come! Headin’ around the corner! What’s on the menu tonight? Pizza? Garlic bread? Raviolis and meatballs? I’m ready to dig in! Hey, what gives? Where’s the feast, Frankie? Whattaya been doin’, eatin’ everything yourself?”

“No, no, Jerry – there ain’t nothin’ here! The place got totally cleaned out! They ain’t got no food! Nothin’ at all!”

“All right, dat’s it. I have had it with this stupid crummy town. First they’re splashin’ ya with that sanitizer crap, then they’re steppin’ all over ya, buyin’ everyting in sight, then they disappear totally – and leave nuttin’ for the rest of us. How are we supposed to survive in this nuthouse?”

“Well, I dunno, Jer. I kinda liked it when they all went inside and didn’t come out. Like we was set free or sometin’. Like somebody opened a big door for us to come out and not worry about nuttin’. Like we could almost be in charge again, like in the really old days. I kinda thought this was our big chance to finally take the whole place over. Didn’t you think that, too?”

“Yeah, it does kinda feel good to have the right-a-way on every street, not runnin’ and racin’ for your life every five minutes. As food chains go, we’re pretty close to the top, ain’t we? I mean, we’ve been around for thousands of years so far. You know sometin’ Frankie, you may be right. This might be the opening we’ve been dreamin’ about for a long, long time. There’s millions of us out here, while dem bastards is all still hidin’ inside. We’re starin’ at the chance to take over this whole city – finally – wit nobody to stand in our way. Except the pigeons, maybe.”

“Now THAT’s the Jerry I know! Where do we start, ol’ buddy?”

“We start with findin’ a garbage dumpster with some actual food in it. I’m freakin’ starvin’! What’s a coupl’a New York City street rats suppose’ta do – start a revolution on an empty stomach?”

“Ha, ha! Empty stomach. Hey, how’s about that Dim Sum place on Forty-first? I’m droolin’ thinking about slurpin’ up some’a dem noodles.”

“Yeah, good tinkin’. We’ll figure out the plan to take back our city after a little feast. Slurpin’ up noodles. You kill me, Frank. But hey, dey got more than noodles there, ain’t dey?”

“Sure, sure, Jer. I stick with the noodles, though, ‘cause the meat always tastes sorta funny at that place. Kinda like fried cat.”

“Geez, Frankie! DON’T SAY CAT!”

Forget spotting dolphins in the canals of Venice. Forget admiring majestic herds of deer walking the streets of St. Louis. As humans huddle indoors, animals have begun to reclaim the land. But these are just the preliminaries we’re seeing now. The cavalcade of critters is just getting warmed up.

This Broadway-born rat revolt is where the Great 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic Wildlife Uprising of North America truly began. Mark my words. You heard it here first.

Just wanted to get the story straight for the record, so you can tell your grandchildren someday.

But don’t say “cat.”

Copyright 2020 Timothy P. Hayes