Tundra changed in many ways over that first year with Mushroom. His new roaming territory had expanded greatly and now included several square blocks in any direction. Many times I saw him prowling the sidewalks, lacing a track in and out of trees and bushes, and dashing beneath cars as far away as four blocks down Bacon Street. He would often come home with black oil stains on his white fur from skulking beneath sports cars and low-slung jalopies. I knew that since he was fixed, Tundra wasn’t seeking out females in heat; I believed he was looking for fights. My suspicions were confirmed when Josie relayed an incident to April. Josie had been walking on the sidewalk a few blocks away when she happened to bump into a woman who was an acquaintance of hers. As they chatted, Josie noticed the woman narrow her eyes as she looked across Josie’s left shoulder.

“Whose white cat ‘is’ that, anyway?” the woman said with disdain.

Josie turned her head to see Tundra running across the street and to safety beneath a red Jeep. Josie thought it best to feign ignorance. “Uh, I don’t know,” she said. “Why?”

“Because,” the woman said through gritted teeth, “he comes to my house almost every day and beats up my cat.”

Tundra, the darling and compassionate white kitty from Pacific Beach, was now a remorseless Ocean Beach brawler.

Tundra’s relationship with Elaine had also changed. Before the Mushroom episodes began, Tundra and Elaine used to clean each other with their tongues and lie together sleeping for hours at a time. But now Tundra had little patience for Elaine. If Elaine didn’t lick his head just right he would slap Elaine’s face, rise disgustedly to his feet, and swagger off with macho indifference. I knew the change in Tundra had broken Elaine’s heart. When Tundra was off on one of his fight expeditions, Elaine resigned herself to waiting on the lawn or bedroom windowsill for him to return. Placing her chin on her front paws she’d close her eyes and wait. Philosophically too, she seemed to be waiting; waiting, perhaps for Tundra to finally come home from the selfish path he’d chosen to wander down so long ago.

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