Introducing: RAT

How does a man live a fulfilling life when he’s certain that deep down he’s nothing but a rat?

The dirty streets of 1980s Baltimore offer the perfect environment for a lost young man to sniff out his own domain and build a nest. But when that man is convinced there’s little good about him, life becomes a frustrating exercise. It’s only now, after nearly twenty years in Charm City, that Raymond Conrad may have finally found his place.

Conrad, as everyone calls him, has settled into a solitary routine of working as a book acquisitions editor for a small publishing company and spending his free time alone in his apartment, reading magazine articles and dreaming about a world he doesn’t belong to. Still fighting against isolation and his own rat-like tendencies, Conrad struggles between what he’s sure is his true nature and the good person he longs to be.

Despite his best efforts to ignore it, his rat self always finds a way to breakthrough. The problem is, he can’t quite convince himself that’s a bad thing.

Then he meets Calypso, the beautiful young woman who cares for the plants in his office. Although he can’t imagine what she could possibly see in him, he wants her like crazy. But there’s something about the head-strong Calypso that intrigues him beyond carnal knowledge. Could she be his ticket to something like happiness?

A whirlwind relationship lands Conrad right where he thought he wanted to be…until Calypso’s secrets are revealed, throwing Conrad’s plans for redemption into chaos. Is it possible that Calypso is as ratty as he? And if so, can two rats make a good life together, or are they destined to drag one another back into the gutter?

A primal scream of a novel, Rat will take you on a winding journey through one man’s search for belonging and harmony in a world that doesn’t make it easy.

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"Rat listened to the hypnotic sounds of train wheels clacking on rails. A red light exploded behind his eyes, and he heard the empty sound of his heartbeat stop. Then he was dead.

But the moment before the last pearl of consciousness plunked down into the black lake of nothing, he gulped air like a defib patient and came back to life."

— Excerpt from Rat

meet the author
Kevin Lavey

Kevin Lavey is the author of Rat and numerous short stories published in literary magazines. He has been recognized for his writing including awards from the Maryland Writers Association and the Maryland State Arts Council.

He began his lifelong love of writing while at the University of Michigan. Now a retired teacher from Baltimore County Public Schools, he has other novels and short stories in the works.

He is inspired to write stories that help him make sense of the world. He believes writing provides a singular way to explore what it means to be a human being.

As a writer, he finds resonance in a judgment from the I Ching, “Perseverance Furthers.” Write with enough devotion and authenticity and you just might get to the heart of things.

He taught in Baltimore City public schools for ten years and in an alternative school in Baltimore County for fourteen years, during which time he became a national board-certified English teacher. 

He is a trained mediator and a practitioner of that elusive martial art, aikido.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan, a Master’s of Arts in Reading from Towson University, and a Master’s of Arts in Leadership in Teaching from Notre Dame of Maryland University.

"But early on, back in June shortly after they married, he started receiving messages from Big Rat Inside. Big Rat Inside told him that true rat identity demanded that he live alone. Die alone."

— Excerpt from Rat