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, September 23, 2012

Peace Hotel - Part II- Time Travel

(When Chuck, the rascal cat, wanders out of the lounge area of the Peace Hotel while Bob and I are sipping our Bloody Mary’s, we panic, and there’s a mad dash for the hallway.  Bob scampers off in one direction.  I go off in the other.  My heart pounds, not daring to imagine that the poor kid may be lost forever in the hotel, in Shanghai, in China.  This is PART II of that harrowing adventure . . . Part I was posted on Monday, September 17, 2012.)

Someone taps me on the shoulder.
It’s got to be Bob holding Chuck, telling me that he didn’t go far, after all.
        I’m about to heave a welcome sigh of relief.  I turn around. 
But I’m wrong.  
The Peace Hotel is well-staffed.  A well-dressed gentleman is standing there.  He smiles and says, “Can I help you?”
I fumble with my answer, “No. I’m looking for my . . .”  I’m not stupid enough to say “cat.”  I quickly insert the correct answer, “ . . . husband. He just wandered away.  We were in the bar. Having drinks.”
The hotel attendant nods.  
“I’ll just go back there and wait for him,” I add, hoping to get rid of this smiling attendant, who nods again and finally begins to walk away. 
I almost collapse on the floor as I watch him fade into the distance.
Chuck, where are you?
Could he have returned to the bar area?
Cats are great at leaving their scent behind.  That would be the logical thing for him to do.  Follow his own scent back to where he knows we are, once he realizes he’s in a mega strange place.    
I almost run down the hall now, convinced that Chuck is in the lounge area, waiting for me, probably propped up on the chair, eating our snacks . . .  
I refuse to accept any other possibility.

And that’s when it happens.  I spot the rascal cat, slinking out of a room that leads into the hallway.  Immediately he freezes when he sees me. Guilty, no doubt.  Luckily, we’re alone in the hallway. There are things I’d like to say to this cat, but I can’t speak because my throat feels so tight it’s as if I have a noose around it, so I whisk him into my arms and shove him into my smart bag.  
At least he’s safe.  Now I have to find Bob and tell him.  
I have every intention of doing so . . . because I can only imagine the anguish Bob’s going through.  He loves Chuck as much as I love him.
Somehow I become distracted. 
The room Chuck sauntered out of seems to beckon to me.
There is a soft light flowing into the window from outside. It‘s dusk, which some overly imaginative people refer to as the witching hour.  I glance into the room, and the furnishings, even the paintings on the walls, seem to harken back to an earlier time.  
Instantly, I’m reminded of “Somewhere in Time” and the scene where Christopher Reeve visits his college professor who reluctantly tells him of a moment when he felt sure he traveled backwards into the sixteenth century.  Only for a moment when the room around him flickered and the furnishings changed.  
      Time travel.
I step into the room and walk toward the window, heavily decorated with drapes. I expect, when I gaze out, to see Nanking Road filled with pedestrian traffic and cars, part of the modern world that exists around Shanghai, China.
But even as I shift the opaque curtain aside, in my heart I know I’ll glimpse a different world. For I expect this is a very special room.  By some quirk of time and space.  
The door has been left ajar for a reason.  
Chuck wandered into it.  
I was drawn to it.  
And now . . . carefully I pull the sheer drapes aside and gaze out.
And my heart metaphorically stops.
Just for a few seconds I see the hustling and bustling Nanking Road that I’ve only glimpsed in black and white photographs.  
A Nanking Road full of color and life.  I scan the scene before me and greedily take in all the details:
      Bicycles have huge woven baskets attached to the handle bars.  A red cable car squeaks past.  Several old-fashioned looking box-shaped cars drive past with their windows down.  Large cloth signs hang from poles suspended from the buildings that line the street, advertising the storefronts, in Chinese, of course.  The large, bold lettering sways in the breeze.  Men in suits wear hats, and the ladies are all in dresses. These pedestrians are in stark contrast to the rickshaw drivers who in baggy trousers and T shirts pull their load behind them.  One rider, asleep in his conveyance, wears laced, flat leather-like shoes that resemble our modern day sneakers.  

My God.  I must be  transported back to . . . the 1930’s . . .
I hear my name and stumble away from the window.
He’s standing in the doorway.  “What are you doing in here? Did you find him?”
I nod.  Should I tell him?  Should I admit that for a few seconds, I was transported back in time? No. He’ll think I’m crazy.      
“Thank God. Well, let’s go to dinner.”  That’s Bob.  Hungry.
With Chuck safely squirreled away in my smart bag, we find our way to the nearest elevator. This hotel is so posh there’s an elevator attendant waiting to push the buttons for you so you land on the right floor.  
She smiles.  “Can I help you?”
“The Dragon and the Phoenix.”
In the restaurant, we’re seated near a large picture window, but I can’t look out of that window right away.  When I do, the view of the Huangpo River is spectacular.  Boats navigate down the river.  And, yes, they are modern boats.

  My tiny foray into the past is over.  
The Peace Hotel.
Some spectacular place.
And for once, Chuck’s rascal behavior has led to a good and wonderful thing.  
The kid will get extra snacks tonight.

        To read more about Chuck, log onto www.katelutter.com

         My paranormal romance, Wild Point Island, is now available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com in paperback and ebook format.  

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