Tales of Hollywood Kitties
I was born on a warm night in the basement of an old Hollywood building close to Sunset Boulevard. During my first few weeks I remember Mama moving me and my three siblings from place to place. She was a first time mother and very young – a kitten having kittens. She didn’t talk much about my father, but she did tell me he was her first love, her only love. An alley cat with no connection or heritage to be proud of he had made it on his own. His turf included Alta Vista Blvd. and adjoining streets within half a mile of prime property off Sunset Blvd. He was a fighter and had the scars to prove it. I asked Mama to describe him so I would know what he would look like. She said he was handsome, velvet black fur, and piercing jade eyes. Just like me except I had inherited her unruly long coat. And had I been born a boy Mama said I would have been just like him – a charmer, popular with the ladies. Once she had caught him behind the Russian Caviar Shop with a glamorous actress – a pure breed. She was a blue Devon Rex, smokey eyes, and legs à-la-Cyd Charisse. Had it not been for her increasing hair loss, a hereditary condition that she blamed on her parents being first cousins, she would have been in A movies. Shortly thereafter her human dumped her in our neighborhood. Mama felt sorry for her, and she never mentioned my father again. For a short time we lived behind the Seventh Veil Strip Club, but the constant thump of loud music and people fighting in the parking had her move us again to a new site. One by one she would carry us across the street to the Saharan Motel. There the laundry room was nice and quiet. The machines hadn’t been working for years, and as the maids were using Mr. Kim’s Laundromat across the corner it was a warm and safe place. Then a car alarm set off. Mama told us it was moving time again, and there was a better place at the back of an old house. There was an old woman living there, and she didn’t seem like she would hurt a fly. Moving day was warmer than usual, and Mama had told us to stay close when a bright orange Camaro shot out from the back alley. I scurried for the nearest safe place and got separated from Mama and my siblings. Everything went dark, and I couldn’t move my body. I screamed for Mama but she was gone. I tried wiggling my body, but I was stuck. I called out for her for the longest time. I felt my body weakening. I was thirsty and my voice was no more than a squeak.
By a miracle this big hand grabbed me and pulled me out from behind a pipe where I got stuck. I looked into the eyes of a human. I heard oooh and aaahhs, and I felt a kiss for the first time. It was Mama!
Charlie, My Brother from Another Mother, and Father
Charlie, a.k.a. Charlie Handsome, Charlie Longfinger, Charlie Baba.
Charlie came to our family on a warm September afternoon in 2009. It may have been by coincidence, or was this the result of pieces of a greater puzzle falling into place?
The day had started in Downtown L.A. with a frail kitten taking the ride of his life in the arms of a well-meaning homeless man on the Metro Red Line . Somewhere between Union Station and Hollywood the kitten was handed over to two Texan brothers determined to help. They made their way through a swarm of tourists and bought a can of tuna at the nearest Seven-Eleven store. But the kitten was too sick to eat. And this is where the stars aligned - the ones in heaven, not the chewing gum laced stars on the broken pavement. As Mama was darting for the gym, a towel hanging out from her bag, she noticed a tiny creature from the corner of her eye. She had seen a lot of strange things on Hollywood Blvd., so she had to do a double take. At once she stroke up the conversation with the two strangers. Sure enough it was a kitten, bony, eyes encrusted, and his tiny lungs heaving for air. A quick assessment of the situation: Two out-of-towners with a sick kitten did not forebode well. She had to act immediately.
A woman, two Texans, and a kitten walked into a vet’s clinic on Sunset Boulevard. It was her regular vet and she had entrusted him for years with her own kitties. The diagnosis was dire with the next twenty-four hours determining the kitten’s fate. He was a placed in an oxygen tent and given antibiotics to fight off the infection that had crippled his lungs. Assured that the scrawny creature had received the best care possible the Texans went on to their Topless Hollywood tour as planned. Although the vet had warned Mama not to get attached she didn’t sleep a wink that night. The next day she called, and the kitten had started to eat. She visited him after work and brought him toys. Over the next days she grew more and more attached as he grew stronger. On day ten he had regained his health and demolished the insides of his crate. He was strong and restless. The vet said it was time for him to go. The chance of him getting adopted at the shelter was good. That day Mama cried. And made the decision to bring Charlie home.