Once upon a time there was a Good Kitty who liked to help with the housework. There was also a Bad Kitty who loved to create chaos out of order. And they were one and the same. His name . . . was Dickens. Good/Bad Dickens helped with the sweeping. He would hop upon the broom and ride it like a cowboy to help round up dust bunnies. Then he would hop onto the tidy pile of dirt and dust and scatter it like a demon dervish. Dickens loved nothing more than to chase those far flung bunnies back to their random burrows. Bad Kitty.
The Good Kitty half of Dickens helped with the dishwashing, hopping up on the dishwasher door to make sure each and every grimy piece of crockery was accounted for, then peering into the darkened depths to make sure none escaped. The Bad Kitty half of Dickens then wanted to join in the clinking and clattering resounding inside that darkened maw. His curiosity was not to be denied. This resulted in a tussle to remove Bad Kitty from the dishwasher. Which wasn’t easy. Bad kitty.
Good Kitty even lent a paw with the laundry. But the new wore off of that chore really fast. Laundry was too much like work. So . . . zzzzzzzzzzz. Bad Kitty quit and decided his best bet was to hold down the clothes basket.
But the most chaotic of household chores became the Making Of The Bed. Good Kitty did help flatten airy lumps by pouncing on them. But then, along came Bad Kitty becoming a lump, sneaking under the sheet while it was trying its best to be smoothed and tidied. Sometimes it just became impossible to smooth out that particular lump, so Bad Kitty just had to deal with being tucked away, lump and all. He eventually found his way out, but the bed was no longer tidy. Bad Kitty.
As Dickens grew, so did his imagination and curiosity. Sometimes he imagined himself a horse going for the Triple Crown. Or a whole herd of horses bearing heroes to rescues. And that’s exactly what he sounded like on the hardwood floors — like all the king’s horses running at once. How a growing kitten could make such a sound on little cat feet is a mystery. But the pounding got even worse if he was mad. This Bad Kitty could stomp. Apparently, Carl Sandburg never encountered a mad Bad Kitty.
GOOD KITTY HELPS TIE BOOT LACES. BAD KITTY WON”T LET GO.
At times Dickens imagined himself a secret agent . . . lurking. But Secret Kitty was not very good at being 007. He would hide behind the sheer green curtains — with his long raccoon tail sticking out and his big eyes peering out through his gauzy veil. He had tried to infiltrate the Al Katta, but was so inept he became The Spy Who Came in From the Heat — because Control said so.
Even on ordinary assignments, his aptitude for keeping a low profile was not in the higher percentile. When Secret Kitty tried to hide after shredding documents and furniture, he would lunge under the black box cabinet with his back legs splayed and his rump sticking out. As he got older, that rump became a big, tempting target for paper missiles. Bad People.
Time passed, and Little Dickens became Big Dickens, Kitty became Cat. Even as a kitten, Dickens was not overly concerned about water, as are most cats. He was fascinated by it. Especially running water. His eyes now become totally focused as he fixates on the mysterious water-worm coming out of the faucet. He moves from point to point, eyeing it from every angle. He’s especially interested in the hole the water-worm disappears into. Dickens cocks his head and gets a studious look on his face. It’s as if he’s studying for his PHD in water-worms and is figuring out its dynamics for his thesis statement.
After a few minutes of intense study, he begins experimentation. He crouches. Lunges. Snaps at the mysterious worm. He comes away puzzled. Shaking his damp head. The worm has spit in his mouth. Bad worm. He swipes a clawed paw through that curious worm body. It goes right through, wets on his paw, and just keeps on moving, down, down, down into that baffling black hole. Sometimes Dickens gets down into the sink and covers the hole with his paws. But the worm just goes around.
Dickens never tires of playing Albert Einstein. It began with his fascination with a flushed toilet. He could stand with his front paws on the rim for hours watching that mysterious vortex. But, unfortunately, it only lasts a few moments. So he watches the one inside that big black box his people sit in front of. (More about the box later). The one in the box doesn’t get his paw wet. A warning, however, for those who wish for privacy in the real loo. Einstein Cat keeps one eye always open for scientific opportunity, and sometimes the privy becomes full of surprises. Bad Einstein Cat.
But Dickens’ fascination with crawling things doesn’t end with water-worms. He’s discovered there’s one in the big box that his people sit and look at. But he just can’t get a claw into that worm to save his nine lives. It’s on CNN and Fox and Good Morning, America. It crawls across the bottom of that big box so full of bright colors, and talking people, and sometimes birds and rabbits and squirrels. The box is locked up tight so nothing can get out, and nothing can get in. not even his paw.
COUCH POTATO KITTY LOOKS FOR THE REMOTE
When Dickens first started noticing stuff in the box, and noticing that he could not get TO the stuff in the box, he would sally around behind it and peer at the back. Surely, these ordinary creatures within this strange structure, had to get inside it some way. But his investigations came to naught. So, if some sound or movement catches his eye, he hops upon the cabinet, sits on his haunches, and peers intensely at whatever is happening inside. Sometimes, even though he knows better from bitter experience, he tries to grab a bird or a squirrel. Or play or fight with other cats. But it’s always the same. It turns out to be a disappointment. Even the news-worm just crawls past his seeking paw without a care in the world. Safe from curious cats.
But, long ago, it was Dickens’ fascination with books and writing, and writing implements, that earned him his name. He would stand in the middle of a book that was in the process of being read. He would rub his jowls on its edges and purr. When a pencil moved he would watch, then try to curl his paw around it. He loves books. He loves writing. So, he became Dickens. Charles Dickens. And here’s a tip for all his feline fans and cat fanciers — he likes his milk shaken, not stirred.
— Carl Sandburg — The fog comes in on little cat feet.