He's sitting in the Ramsey County courtroom, jammed between other people also in, well, a jam. He doesn't think he ought to be among all these down and outers, but there he is.
He does stick out, so much so that a careworn older black woman next to him leans over and says, "You been here, before, honey?"
"I beg your pardon," says Shorty with a start.
"What's your name, hon?"
"Pat Shortridge, but I . . . "
"Friends call you Shorty?"
"Not to my face."
"All right, Pat." "Ever been here before?" she continues.
"Are you kidding? Me?"
"Ah, a newbie. Sorry for your bad luck."
"Can I give you some advice?"
"Well . . . "
"You back on the rent, ain't you?"
"Got an 'cuse?" asks the woman.
"Not really. We just don't have the money."
The woman smiles and gives him a conspiratorial wink. She says, "I got one word for you: rats."
"Rats? You have bats, lady, not rats."
The woman pats Pat on the arm and say, "No, listen to me baby. You got rats. That's why you not paying your rent. The place not habitable."
"We don't have rats!" Shorty says irritably.
"Shhhhh!" hisses the woman, "I'm tryin' to help you. You got rats, no judge gonna kick you out for not payin' the rent."
The woman open her large handbag revealing two Ziploc bags, each with a large dead rat in it.
"See," whispers the woman, "I got an extra for you."
Shorty recoils, and then he says, "I can't do that! Even I'm not that desperate."
"You can do it baby," replies the woman.
Just then, the bailiff calls: Hub Properties vs. Minnesota Republican Party!
Shorty flinches, looks at the bailiff; he looks at the woman, and then he reaches into her handbag for one of the Ziplocs. He stands up and walks to the bench.
Update: According to the Twitterverse, the MNGOP got a continuance.
Further update: This imagined dialog is based on a real case, observed but not participated in, by me. A defendant in an unlawful detainer action brought a dead rat in a plastic bag to show the judge that her apartment did have an infestation of rats and that she was justified in withholding rent. Pretty effective, too.