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, March 4, 2012

Chuck Plays the Slots And . . . Almost Loses His Fur

I don’t talk about it much, but the Chuckster is a Jersey boy, through and though. That is why March will be devoted to my fair state of New Jersey and most specifically to Atlantic City.

Recently, Chuckie decided he would pay a visit to the Jersey shore AND no, not to see if he could catch a glimpse of SNOOKIE--get that thought out of your head.

He’s more sophisticated than that.

The kid had compiled a list of typical touristy things to do.

And number one on that list was PLAY THE SLOT MACHINES.

Yeah, I know the Chuckster is way under age to play the slots, but let’s face it, considering Chuck is a cat, age was the least of his problems.

And because the casino was sure to be mega crowded, we figured it would take some careful calculations to sneak the belly boy into a rather famous casino down in AC so that no one would know he was there. We had to think long and hard about how we would accomplish such a feat.

I mean, no one brings their DOGS, OR CATS, OR HAMSTERS, for that matter with them, when they gamble. So this was going to be a first. I felt sure there were cameras-what I would call spy cameras--all over the joint. If Chuckie dared to peek out of my smart bag, he would have to be wearing some kind of disguise--floppy hat, anyone?

We talked this out at length before we walked into our preferred casino (which will remain nameless.)

“Okay, so here’s the plan,” I said to the kid, while we sat in our luxurious room on the 43rd floor overlooking the beautiful Atlantic City ocean. “Getting you down to the casino is no problem. I can walk in there. You’ll be hidden in my smart bag, as usual. Then I’ll find the least crowded slot machine.”

Chuckie tilted his head as if he were listening intently. Which was a good sign.

I continued. “But you’ll have to wear some kind of hat. A disguise.” Suddenly, a panicked look shot into his eyes.

“I know. This is not the way you imagined it, but the casino folks have spy cameras everywhere. Once you peek your head out, if they see you, you’ll get kicked out. You don’t want that to happen, right?”

A casual shrug from the kid let me know he was following my argument even if he wasn’t totally buying it.

“You can sit on my lap, get an eye-view, and use your paw to . . .” But we had already discussed how to play the slots.

D-TIME was three o’clock in the morning. I wasn’t thrilled about gambling in the pre-dawn, but it seemed reasonable to play with the least amount of people wandering around. And sure enough, our trip down the elevator was uneventful.

We walked through the lobby area and into the casino and no one gave us a second glance. Chuck is very disciplined in such moments, and barely uttered a whimper.

I was making my way to the back part of the casino, having scoped out the place the day before, looking for the least busy area, but in all honesty, at three o’clock, one place was as good as the next.

I plopped myself down at a slot machine on the end and inserted my GOLD CARD. Oh, yeah, I’m a real professional and figured I might as well rack up time on the card with the Chuckster gambling.

The most amazing part was that the kid didn’t seem nervous at all. Maybe because he was playing with MY money. I had flipped him a $20.00, and we started at Coyote Moon, but quickly mover to Poker.

We were cruising along--losing at a reasonable pace, and I do believe Chuck was having a good time, when suddenly a man popped out from nowhere. Now, maybe, he had a bit too much to drink, but he didn’t seem too surprised to see Chuck sitting on my lap.

“Hey, there, little fellow,” he said. “Having any luck?”

Chuck, of course, engrossed in the game, completely ignored him.

I knew it was too late to shove Chuck inside my bag, so I acted as if it wasn’t unusual to have a cat playing the slots. I smiled. “He’s not very good at the slots, I’m afraid.”

The man careened closer. “If I can give you a word of advice. Does he have his own GOLD CARD?”

I narrowed my eyes at him, thinking was the guy kidding, but no, he seemed totally serious.

I smiled again. “No. He’s playing with my husband’s card.”

“How many GOLD CARDS do you have?” he asked.


“But do you have your own card? In your own name?”

I was trying to figure out what the guy was getting at--one GOLD CARD or two GOLD CARDS. What was the difference? Plus I was keeping a half eye on Chuck, watching his paw hit the button. “Why?”

“Because you can rack up points faster if you both play under one name. That’s the mistake me and my wife made . . .” And then he proceeded to tell me a long winded story about how his wife had insisted on two separate cards, which turned out to be A BAD IDEA.

When he finally finished talking, I thanked him profusely for the advice. By this time, Chuckie had gambled away every last cent. He was lucky his fur coat was attached, or he would have lost that too.

“Well, kid, what do you say?”

Before Chuck could say anything, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I whipped around, just in time to confront the same “advice man,” who now was rip-roaring mad.

“Well, I’m sure sorry I came over and talked to you and your cat,” he said, a bit too loudly. “Somebody ripped off my machine. While I was standing here talking to you, I was robbed. $500.00. Can you believe it?’

Mr. Advice Man turned and pointed to his slot machine across the aisle. That’s when I spotted two casino personnel drifting our way.

“Duck, Chuck. Into the bag. And don’t say a word.”

Mr. Advice Man sprinted over to his machine. I could just hear it now. “I was over there telling this lady and her CAT . . . and somebody . . .”

It was time to go.

With Chuck safely back into my smartbag, I remembered to remove my GOLD CARD and skeddadled back to my hotel room, passing a magnificent statue along the way, who reminded me of a certain Roman general.

“I’m thinking tomorrow,” I said to Chuck, “we can try walking the Boards or . . . ” and that’s when Chuckie came up with another brilliant idea.

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