Chuck had had enough.
That is the only way to explain what happened next.
Here we were--in the oldest of places--our bellies filled with the most delicious pastries--and about to embark down a deliciously narrow stone street to see not one, but two ancient castles, when Chuck . . .
Well, let me start from the beginning.
Erice. When you arrive and spend some time here, you feel like this place has been around forever. Ancient city. It looks old. And you almost begin to believe that you really can walk down a narrow street, slip into a deserted alleyway, or slide under an archway and somehow you’ll be transported to another place and another time.
If such a thing is possible, it will happen here in Erice.
We left Maria Grammatico’s excellent pasticceria and mosied on down to where the center of the city ends, to where you can gaze over the mountain to the magnificent vistas below--to where still sit--in all their splendor--two castles--two feudal style castles: Pepoli Castle and Venus Castle.
The Pepoli Castle, with its distinctive medieval characteristics, was built on a foundation dating back to Arab times. It was a feudal stronghold in its day, and we hold onto that fact even though today it’s an hotel.
The Venus Castle was built on the ruins of the ancient Temple of Venus and dates from the Norman period.
Both castles are striking in appearance. These are not Hollywood reproductions of what castles should look like--they are real castles and they have all the structural and decorative details that make a castle a castle: You can immediately spot the inner and outer courtyards. There is a knight’s house and the proverbial guard tower and keep. There is, of course, the outer wall with the gatehouse that one must pass through to get inside. The outerwall has a notched battlement. There is a ramp wall that cuts across the length of the castle and was built to protect the inner courtyard if the gatehouse was ever breached.
All castles, of course have their coat of arms in plain sight. These two castles also sport gothic windows and a hoard for authenticity.
Chuck took one glance at the castles and it was clear by the way he continued to stare, that he wanted to go into the castles. And why not? Cats love to sniff around, and as I mentioned before, their keen sense of smell is invaluable in a time like this. Chuck would be able to sniff, sniff, sniff and learn the entire history of the castle.
All the stories of all the people who lived in the castle would be his.
It would be like reading a novel.
So who could blame him?
That’s when it happened.
Without uttering a MEOW, Chuck took off . . . his oversized belly swaying under him . . . in the direction of Venus Castle, and I followed.
He disappeared almost immediately into an elongated alley that seemed like a tunnel.
“Chuck,” I called out.
But when the kid sets his mind to something, nothing can dissuade him.
Within minutes I was out of breath, but I continued to run after him. I could see him up ahead, making a beeline for the castle. And then he stopped.
He was just feet away from the gatehouse. There was nothing stopping him from strutting inside. But something had stopped him.
Finally I caught up to him.
“Chuck.”I whisked him into my arms and stared hard into his whiskered face.
His eyes said it all. He’d seen something.
“What? What was it?”
But just as impetuously as it began, his need to see the castle dissipated like so much smoke in the wind.
A ghost? Had the rascal cat actually seen a ghost lurking about?
What else could it have been that sent the fear of God in him?
I’d never know.
Log onto www.katelutter.com to read more adventures about Chuck.
My paranormal romance, Wild Point Island, is now available in ebook and mass market paperback from Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com.