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, June 24, 2012

Chuck Visits the Forbidden City

    Chuck knew next to nothing about the Forbidden City when we arrived in Beijing, a city of 25 million people.  All he knew when we landed in China was that I had a list of places I intended to see and no amount of meowing was going to talk me out of it!

    The Forbidden City--the Chinese Imperial Palace located in the middle of Beijing--has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987 and is the largest collection of ancient wooden structures in the world.

    The size of this walled city is staggering.

    I think this is something Chuck should see.

    Chuck has this heartfelt sigh that he lets loose when he knows he’s defeated.  That sigh only makes me more determined to make Chuck want to see this impressive piece of history.

    When the day arrives, we walk through Tiananmen Square on our way to this home to the Chinese Emperors for over 500 years.  My plan is to WOW him with facts.

    “Chuck, this city was built primarily of wood and marble.”

    He seems determined to ignore me.

    “Chuck, construction of the Forbidden City was started in 1406, but it took fourteen years to complete and required over a million workers.”  I know these facts but as I say them, I’m amazed myself.

    “The City contains 980 buildings and 9,999 rooms.”

    I see the look in Chuck’s eye.  He’s wondering if we’re going to have to visit the close to ten thousand rooms.

    “Unfortunately, we can see only a small portion of the city now because they’re still in the process of renovating.”

    No reaction.

    “Chuck, 24 emperors have lived in the Forbidden City.  The last one was evicted in 1924 after a coup.”

    By this time we’ve reached the impressive wooden gate that we must pass through along with the thousands of other visitors.

    From then on, there’s a lot of walking, a lot of people, and way too much to see.  Despite the haze that seems to always hang over China--the government refers to it as clouds--the sun still manages to break through.

    “Chuck, there is something up ahead I think you’re going to want to see--a genuine throne.  Where the Emperors used to sit.”

    Chuck looks interested.  And, of course, that’s where everyone seems to want to go.

    There is no way you can go into the “throne room.”  You must stand outside the very large opening that allows you access to the room, shove your way through the crowds, and then peer in.  It would seem almost mission impossible to get Chuck close enough and high enough to see without being seen and then to get a photo of the throne myself, but people are amazingly oblivious to their surroundings as they, too, struggle to find the best place for their shot.  No one notices Chuck, or if they do, no one reacts.

    Maybe it’s because only eight years before when I visited China for the first time--without Chuck--the Chinese were allowed no pets--no cats, no dogs--only birds.   Now, because their economic situation has improved, the government restriction has also let up.  Each family may have one dog.  There are no restrictions as to the number of cats.

    The place is jam packed.

    Chuck is really into the throne, and as I boost him above my head so he can see it (Bob is snapping the photo), I feel a wiggle and know exactly what Chuck is thinking.

    He wants to sit on that throne.

    King Tut.  King Chuck.

    Is he crazy??

    In China?

    I grab hold of him tighter, my hands clutched like a vise, but he wiggles out of my grasp and lands on the ground with a thump.

    The worst case scenario pops into my mind.

    Chuck leaping up and over, through the enclosure, and then racing to the throne.  Sniff.  Sniff.  And by the time he’s ready to ascend the throne, the Chinese police would have the poor kid in handcuffs and off to the pokey.

    I shout out, “Help.”

    Strong hands pull Chuck up and shove him back into my arms.  A fellow tourist, a complete stranger, assessing the situation, rescues my cat from a certain fate.

    “Cats are not allowed here,” he says.

    I’m so mad I can’t even look at Chuck.  Instead I turn to Bob.  “Did you get the picture?  Of the throne?”

    He nods.

    Then we both give Chuck a dirty look.

    The Chuckster.  He’ll never change.  Not ever.  

    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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