So we took turns going down and calling out the back door and checking all the closets and the basement. No cat. Now Fuzz has stayed out overnight before and for more than one night as well, but not in a very long time. I was pretty worried. When I woke up at 5 AM, I went down to call for him again, but still no Fuzz.
This morning, I suggested to Gretchen that she call the local Humane Society to see if someone had picked him up. This seemed unlikely unless he were badly injured, but I'd lost one cat to the outdoors with no further final resolution and I really didn't want to lose another the same way.
As I headed off to work, I stuck my head out the patio door. "Fuzzbucket! Here Fuzz!"
And I heard a rustling and a "Meow! Meow!"
About 15 seconds later, he popped over the fence to my right and ambled into the house, walking past me, and up the stairs to flop on the bed with Gretchen. Showed me, I suppose.
I'll let him out again, of course. He wouldn't be happy if I didn't.
And if you love something, sometimes you need to let it go free. Even if it means that you may never know what happened to it.