It was the summer of 1983 and eight-year-old Danny Brown was having a terrible time. A shy and serious only child, he had recently been forced to move with his parents and, as far as he was ... [+]
"Kitsyyyyyyyyyyy," his owner, Marguerite, would call. "Boooooooooooooo!"
Every time the shaky old voice called for him, the other neighborhood animals would laugh.
"Kitsy Boo, Kitsy Boo, Kitsy Boo Boo Boo," the chatty birds echoed from the trees.
"Call me K.B," Kitsy Boo insisted. But no one ever did.
The only time Kitsy Boo had ever felt like a Kitsy Boo was back when he was a teeny, tiny kitten. Marguerite had found him early one morning, alone and shaking by the recycling bin. She'd fed him with a baby doll bottle—left over from her grandchildren—and carried him around for weeks in the pocket of her bathrobe.
But now, Kitsy had big feet and a thick, shaggy tail. He thumped down the porch steps and crashed through the tall grass. When he walked, his feet made a heavy pounding sound. Boom. Boom. Ka boom. He wasn't afraid to stay out all night. He wasn't afraid of anything. The trouble was, his name didn't match the cat he had become. Kitsy wished he had a name like Fang or Ceasar, Blaze or Modigliani.
"I get it," said Waldo, the cat next door. "Not that Waldo's the greatest name in the world but, believe it or not, I used to be called Tigger. Now I ask you. Do I look bouncy?"
Kitsy shook his head. "How did you change your name?"
"Easy," Waldo said with a flick of his puffy tail. "I moved to a different family."
Kitsy couldn't picture Waldo not being Waldo. He seemed like such a Waldo.
"To tell you the truth," Waldo added, "I'm not really such a fan of the name Waldo. I'm thinking of moving again."
Kitsy tried to imagine leaving Marguerite. But every time he'd almost get up the nerve, she'd do something sweet, like give him the juice from the tuna fish can or scratch him in that extra special under-the-chin spot that only she could find.
Then one day, Kitsy noticed boxes piling up in the house. Soon Marguerite began talking about "new chapters" and "fresh beginnings." Kitsy couldn't bear the idea of starting a new life with Marguerite somewhere else and being teased all over again once everyone heard his silly name. The time had come, Kitsy decided. When Marguerite moved, Kitsy would move, too. He'd find a new life, a new family, a new name.
On the day of the move, Marguerite's family arrived to help her. Kitsy stayed well hidden in the bushes while the furniture and boxes were loaded into the back of a big truck.
"You better make a run for it," Waldo instructed . "It's best to go while they're all busy."
Kitsy could see his cat carrier sitting on the porch, waiting for him. He knew there was a soft blanket inside and his little cloth jingle ball. He wondered what Marguerite's new life would be like. She said she would be living with her grandchildren. Kitsy thought that sounded nice. He liked small people, but then he thought about small voices calling "Kitsy Boo" over and over again. The idea was unbearable.
"Kitsyyyyyyyyyyy!" Marguerite called. "Booooooooooooooo!"
Kitsy hunkered down. Kitsy waited.
Kitsy heard the birds cheeping and the squirrels chattering and the dogs up the street barking. "Kitsy Boo, Kitsy Boo," they sang in their own teasing ways.
"Go!" Waldo said. "Now!"
Kitsy felt a pain in his heart. He would miss Marguerite. Other than the poor name choice, she really was a wonderful person. He loved his little blue dish full of food and her warm lap and . . .
"Kitsyyyyyyyyyyy Booooooooooooooo!" the calls were getting increasingly frantic. Marguerite's family began calling his name, too.
"It's your last chance," Waldo said. "Go!"
Kitsy knew he had to make a run for it. If he got across the lawn and over the fence, he'd be in another neighborhood, another world, and soon Marguerite would drive away with her family, and he would be free. Free to find a new family who would name him King or Boss or Kevin or Bob or Mr. Big or maybe even . . .
Suddenly, a small sugary smelling hand reached into the bushes. "Boom, boom, boom!" a voice giggled.
"Oh, you found him. My Kitsy Boo!" Marguerite cried, rushing across the lawn.
The small person held him close. "Boom, boom, boom." She pointed to Kitsy's feet, then stomped her own. "Boom, boom, boom!"
Then the sugary voice giggled again. "Ka Boom!"
The car ride was long and a little bumpy. And the cloth jingle ball turned out to not be the best travel companion. But when they finally arrived at their new home, one thing was very clear. This was, indeed, a new beginning.
Ka Boom loved his name.