It’s not possible to explain how the Martians came to be here without first delving into the Fremont question, because were it not for Fremont, there’d be no Martians. The Fremont question is really quite simple:
Who was Fremont?
The question was first posed in 1993, on November second to be exact, by Karen, one of the two women with whom I shared an office in the loan servicing department at Fremont Bank on Fremont Blvd in Fremont California. As for me, I was just sitting there minding my own business.
“What”s that guy throwing out of that car?” She stood up and leaned over her desk for a closer look.”Is that a cat or a puppy? ”
As I remember it, I kept on minding my own business. It was Sandra who jumped up, dashed to the window, and with a “what the f….” had vanished through the door and was halfway to the elevator before I felt the breeze . It took a couple of minutes for my curiosity to kick in. By the time I got to the window Sandra was at her car, holding a black and white cat and pantomiming for one of us to bring down her car keys. I could do with a break from the computer so I fished around in her purse and came up with a charm filled chain of keys.
“What am I going to do with him?” she asked holding up the cat so I could see him. He looked at me and opened his mouth to voice a squeaky complaint.
He was a perfect tuxedo cat. I patted his head. “I’d take him if we had a box but there’s no way I’m going to drive 25 miles with a loose cat in my car.” It was a bold-faced lie.
“Ooh,” Sandra cooed. “I just moved and my cat’s carrier is still in my car.” I remember standing there semi-comatose as she yanked the carrier from the back seat up over the passenger seat and deposited the cat, my cat into it. “He’ll be fine here until five,” she assured me as she lowered the window. “It’s four-fifteen.”
By the time we got back up to the office word had spread. I was a hero, a dazed hero who was still trying to catch up to what had just happened. Voices buzzed all around “It’s so wonderful of you to take that cat.” I heard that a couple of times and I recall being assured “That God would bless me for the kindness I was showing.”
I drove the twenty-five miles to Los Gatos glancing from time to time at the black and white circle of fur sleeping peacefully in the passenger seat ” We’re just going to be kind of roommates.” I told him. “You can live outdoors in the little yard. I’ll feed you, and that’s it.” I stopped at the supermarket and bought cat food, and stood staring at cat litter. “Maybe I should get a bag , I thought. “I can’t leave him out on rainy days.”
Well, he was a crafty one right from the start. As usual I parked in my parking spot and came directly into my little back courtyard. I closed and locked the gate behind me. Like all fences in California it was a six wall of wood planks, “Privacy fence”. I lifted him out of the carrier. “Welcome to your new home.” I said, unlocked the sliding glass door and went in.
I had no sooner slid the door shut when he started meowing frantically at the door …the back door of my next door neighbors. I don’t know if he crawled under or climbed over the fence. It didn’t matter, he’d called my bluff
“Psst You! Get back over here,” I hissed. “I’m not supposed to have pets.”
I was pleasantly surprised when he darted back under and allowed me to scoop him up. For that day until we moved back to New York ten months later he stayed inside all day and when I came home, he hung out in the back yard or the parking lot until bedtime – with Willard, Blackie and Peppina, the other cats who weren’t supposed to be living there either.
Dr McCall was the second to question who Fremont was, the next week when I brought Fremont for his shots. He pulled him out of the carrier I’d bought after returning Sandra’s. He turned him this way and that on the examining table then proclaimed “He’s a teenager, about four months old.”Then he pried open his mouth in that way vets do that makes it looks so easy. “Holy crap!” he exclaimed. “He’s still got his baby teeth. he can’t be more than nine or ten weeks old.”
Well, when we returned two weeks later for his second round of shots, Fremont still had his baby teeth. And two months later when I brought him back to be neutered he barely fit into the carrier. When October rolled around and we flew cross-country, “I had to buy another carrier – a dog carrier. Fremont weighed twenty-three pounds without an ounce of fat on him.
Despite my reluctance to take on Pet “ownership” I must say Fremont’s presence provided a comforting constancy as I prepared to once again pull up my roots. The previous year had been the worst of my life. My younger brother had been diagnosed with lymphoma in July of 1992 on his fortieth birthday, and despite a grueling bone marrow transplant, his cancer returned full force , spreading to his brain. I traveled back to NY as much as I could and kept in touch by phone but as the cancer continued its march, conversations with him weren’t always what they seemed. He was on his own wave length. One Saturday afternoon my phone rang . It was my mother who previous to that day, had never initiated a phone call.
“I just got off the phone with James,” was her way of explaining why she was calling “He called me to ask if you want a black and white kitten.”
“Me?” I asked ” No I don’t want to get myself into that again.” My previous cats Brat and Joby had lived to be fourteen and I’d let them rule my life . “Does he have the kitten?” I asked.
“I don’t know but he’s very upset about it,” she said.
“My lease says no pets. Just tell him that.”
That was July of ’93. I never heard another thing about the kitten. In fact I forgot all about it for months. Jim died in August, and I encountered Fremont in November.
After I was settled in New York I had dinner with Jim’s girlfriend and asked about it. “What kitten?” she asked. “This is the first I’m hearing about it.”