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 22, 2012

Chuck Visits Charles Bridge for Good Luck




Does a cat even need good luck?

 But let me start from the beginning.

 Prague, the capital of The Czech Republic, is a beautiful city to visit. The ancient Victorian style buildings make you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. There are cable cars that run down the main street of Prague. And when you’re sure that you can’t absorb even one more quaint shop or cobblestone street, there is the Charles Bridge, an icon, which I have to admit, I hadn’t heard of until I came to Prague.

 Now, I suspect, that Chuck learned of the bridge from that cow he met in France, when they were snuggled together near the barn. She probably told him all about the bridge, probably told him that he was NAMED AFTER THE BRIDGE.

 That part isn’t true. Chuck (and he’s heard this story a million times) was named after a good friend of ours, who also happens to be a rascal. The Charles Bridge had nothing to do with it. Anyway, I’m sure that’s the reason why Chuck was inspired, almost obsessed, with the need to see the bridge and walk it.

Once we arrived in Prague, Chuck could think about nothing else. Now, luckily, the Charles Bridge was about a twenty minute walk from our hotel. So, the next morning, early, we hiked to the bridge, amidst the early morning mist and when we arrived, I filled the Chuckster in with what I call the “bridge background” as we admired the stone structure before us.

 After all, this wasn’t any ordinary bridge. This bridge had history. “This bridge is old,” I told him. “Construction began in 1357 under King Charles IV.” And as I said those words, I thought about how old this bridge was. I mean 1357. That’s old. Really old. “It was finally finished at the beginning of the 15th Century, and it was the only way to cross the Vitava River until 1841.

 In fact, this bridge connected the Prague Castle with Old Town and made Prague an important trade route between Eastern and Western Europe.” In other words, I thought this to myself because the Chuckster is adverse to too much explanation, without this bridge, Prague would have been NOWHERE instead of a very hopping place. Chuck shifted a bit in my arms, and I knew even with my brief explanations, he was anxious to get on the bridge.

 “Now you’ll notice, the bridge is made of stone, and it was called the Stone Bridge until 1870 when it was re-named the Charles Bridge.”

 Chuck made as if to jump down. If I wasn’t going to take him to the bridge, he had plans to get there himself. But I held him a bit tighter and kept on talking. “This bridge has seen floods, executions, and battles.” And I would have described some of the executions, but there was more squirming.

 “Chuck, I’m telling you this for a reason.”

 The squirming stopped.

 “When you’re trotting across, notice all the statues. There are 30 different baroque style statues, the most famous statue, of course is John of--”

 I never finished my sentence.

 Chuck took off, leaping out of my arms, in a super strong twisting fashion, heading across that bridge like a rascal boy with a mission. Where the hell was he going? Luckily, we were there early and the bridge was almost completely deserted.

 Which is not the usual state of affairs.

 The Charles Bridge is famous and besides the millions of tourists that visit each year, the bridge is jammed with painters, vendors and kiosks.

 I took off after him and by the time I caught up with him . . .

 There Chuck was--poised in front of the most famous statue.

 I finished my sentence. “John of Nepumuk. National Saint of the Czech Republic. Who was drowned in the Vitava River by King Wenceslaus because he refused to tell the King what the Queen had told him.”

 Chuck looked up at me.

 I knew what he wanted.

 Good Luck.

 It’s an old wives tale.

 Rub the statue for good luck.

 Sure enough, you can see the green has actually been rubbed off the statue where so many people have touched John the Nepumuk to get their share of the luck.

 I lifted the belly boy up and he ever so delicately placed his paw on the statue.

 “Did that girl cow put you up to this?” I asked, needing to know.

 But Chuck didn’t answer. Not that I thought he would.

 And Chuck, who’d had enough of being a rascal for one morning, snuggled close afterwards, as we walked across the Charles Bridge and admired the view, not once, but twice, and then we headed back to the hotel for breakfast because, after all, we don’t call him “Belly Boy” for nothing.

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