Who is Chuck and why does he like to travel?

I was born to be a writer and when I wrote my novel Wild Point Island, Chuck, my orange and white recently rescued feral tabby, got it in his head that he wanted to travel to the island and see the place for himself. Well, of course, Wild Point Island, can only be seen by revenants (you'll have to read the book to find out who they are) and Chuck is no revenant so instead, I concocted a plan to take Chuck with me when I travel around the world, which I do frequently. Not an easy task. First, I have to deflate the poor kid of all air, stuff him in my carry-on bag, remember to bring my portable pump, and when I arrive, I pump him back up. Ouch. But he's used to it by now and given the choice to either stay home in his comfy cat bed or get deflated, he pulls out his passport, ready to travel, every time.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chuck Is A Hero-Spots Leopard Up A Tree

Chuck has been getting on my case lately. He thinks I make him look bad. Unheroic.

So . . . in the interest of fairness, and to keep my little or ah, hum, well, he’s not quite so little anymore, my chubby, well, chubby, isn’t exactly the right word--plump? Okay, to keep the “belly boy” happy, I’m blogging this week about the time we were on safari and Chuck saved Stephen’s life and, perhaps, all our lives in the safari vehicle--because of his . . . and I’m not exactly channelling here because the kid is looking right over my shoulder as I type and practically dictating this blog--because of his superior eyesight and extra-sensory sense of smell.

That’s right, the typical meow may only have the intellect of a two year old child, (I am not referring to my Chuck, of course), but the common house cat--not that Chuck is common by any means-- makes up for their childlike intelligence with their natural inborn skills.

Case in point. We were riding along on the plains of Kenya. And if you can imagine miles and miles of open land, with nary a tree in sight, with elephants roaming around us and other assorted wild animals. To stay alive, we were told to stay in the safari vehicle. There would be no hopping out to catch a closer glimpse, say of a baby hyena--if you haven’t had the good fortune of reading that adventure, please follow the link: http://averyolive.blogspot.com and read all about how Chuck has a near death encounter with a babysitter hyena when he impulsively decides he just has to meet two adorable baby hyenas. Anyway, Chuck now understood the dangers involved.

But it was nearing lunch time and Stephen, our driver, knew of a good place to have our picnic lunch--smack in the middle of the plains--under a big giant--what Stephen called a “sausage tree,” because what hung from the branches of this lone tree looked like, yeah, you guessed it--sausages.

So we drove for what seemed like twenty miles and pulled alongside of this “sausage tree.” Now, Stephen does not carry a gun with him. Let me make that perfectly clear. Even though we are on safari, it is against the law in Kenya to kill an animal. We are only there to photograph the wildlife. So, literally on the plains, you take your life in your hands. But Stephen is a professional and as we were driving to the tree, he was scanning the area on the look-out for any living, breathing creature that might cause us harm, because the idea was that we were all going to embark from the vehicle and eat our picnic lunch under that tree BECAUSE IT WAS SHADY.

Stephen believed the coast was clear. He jumped out of the vehicle.
All was well.

But, of course, it wasn’t.

That’s when Chuck sprung into action.

My Chuck.

Because he just happened to be awake and not “cat-napping,” which is what was usually the case on our long safari rides. And he just happened to be intrigued by what looked like sausages hanging from that tree.

Chuck glanced up, and he saw a leopard with his kill--some poor defenseless gazelle which was now hanging limp over a branch. A gazelle that the leopard had dragged up the tree. A big tree. And now that we--seven humans and a cat had arrived below the tree, this leopard could only assume that we were there for one thing--that gazelle.

The time it would take that leopard to leap down from the tree on top of Stephen could be counted in milliseconds. We learned that later.

Chuck growled and pointed his paw at the leopard. Then he let loose a blood curdling screech, which caught Stephen’s attention. Stephen whirled toward us.

Someone shouted, “Leopard in tree.”

Stephen hopped back on the safari vehicle. He was shaken up, clearly aware of what could have happened because in this one instance he’d forgotten to look up the tree.

The leopard crept down the tree, and he waited in the bushes, eager to defend his kill.

Stephen made an executive decision. We started the engine and went to find another tree, but not before Stephen came to the back of the safari vehicle, grabbed Chuck, and gave him a big hug. “Thanks, little man.”

No doubt about it--Chuck was a hero that day.

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