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, April 29, 2012

Chuck Meets an Orangutan

    Chuck wanted to meet an orangutan.

    That’s basically what started the adventure to the zoo.

    I wanted to visit the Schonbrunn Zoo for a thousand reasons, one of which included the fact that this fabulous Baroque-style zoo housed an orangerie which housed Vienna’s orangutans.  And who doesn’t want to come face to face with an orangutan?

    But, as we rode the subway system that afternoon to the zoo, I tried to explain to my rascal cat that the zoo had so much more to offer.

    “Chuck, this zoo is the oldest zoo in existence.  Do you realize that Emperor Franz I technically first brought visitors to see his menagerie of interesting animals behind the palace back in 1752?  Today that site--the zoo--is considered a UNESCO world heritage site.”

    When I ramble on and on and throw out what I consider interesting historical facts, Chuck always looks amazingly bored.  If you can, imagine the three of us (Chuck, my husband, and myself) riding in a subway car, ever alert for our stop, while I am whispering this pseudo lecture to Chuck, who is semi-stuffed in my smart bag.  He is not a happy camper. Because all he wants to do is to meet an orangutan.

    When we reach our stop, we climb the stairs to the outside and walk the few blocks to the Schonbrunn Palace, then follow the path to the zoo.  There will be no escape for Chuck because I’m determined to tell him what I know about this wonderful place.

    “Listen, there are over two millions visitors who come from all over the world each year.”
     Chuck, by now his head clearly visible out of the smart bag, is busy gazing around as we traverse a little used path to the zoo.
 “The zoo has more than 500 animal species and is considered one of the most modern zoos in the world.”

    Chuck shoots me a glance, and I wonder if he understands the concept of species or even cares, for that matter.

    “Okay, but Schonbrunn was voted the best zoo in Europe in 2009 and 2010.”

    We reach the entrance gate, and Chuck ducks back down as we pay our fee.

    Inside, we waste no time getting our bearings and scoping out the surroundings.  It will take us ten minutes to walk to the orangutan exhibit.  Chuck seems to be interested in little else.  But that’s how he is.  Once he puts his mind to something, he cannot be distracted.

    Finally, we arrive, and we are lucky that for the moment, the exhibit is  practically deserted.  A few moms with babies in strollers are nearby, but we have the perfect moment for my rascal cat to emerge and do what he’s been dying to do all day--meet an orangutan.

    I have no idea how this will go or what Chuck actually intends to do.

    I watch as he hops out of my bag and lands on the sand in front of the glass wall that separates the orangutan from us.

    The orangutan glances over and spots us.  Slowly, he meanders over in that lovely orangutan way, his long hairy arms propelling him along the grassy ground, until he can’t get any closer.  He presses his face up to the glass.

    Chuck peeks up at the orangutan, and the orangutan looks down at my cheeky boy in what I would call “wide-eyed” wonder.

    Obviously, they are curious about each other.

    I wonder--if the glass wasn’t there--if they would shake--hand to paw.

    But they don’t, of course.

    And I know little to nothing about orangutans at that moment, and ever worried about my Chuck, the horrid thought shoots through my head-- would this orangutan eat my cat, if he had the chance??

    Later, I do research and discover that orangutans don’t eat cats.  In fact, orangutans eat mostly tropical fruit, leaves, bark, sprouts, and insects.  They are also highly intelligent and use tools to forage for food.  Interestingly enough, they are also bothered, like humans are,  by mosquitoes.

    When the all too brief encounter is over, the orangutan shifts away from the glass.

    “Are you happy now, Chuck?”

    Chuck watches as this giant red ape saunters back to where he was originally, and I wonder if this was the first time this orangutan ever saw a cat?

    All I know is that this is the first time my cat has seen an orangutan.

    And I would bet all the rice in China that he’ll never forget it.


   Wild Point Island, my paranormal romance, is available on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com.  Recently it was rated 5 Stars by The E Book Reviewers, who said, "At the very core . . . is a multi-level mystery, with plot twists and turns that you never expected. And there is a deep touching love story that grasped my heart and never let go.  This is one book you must go buy now; once you start reading, you won’t be able to put it back down."  

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