My Friend Chester

“This can’t be happening!” I silently screamed at myself.  “Dear God, please tell me this is just a very bad dream!”

My best friend Chester lay wounded and dying before me.  I tried to use my hat to give him a little shade from the relentless afternoon sun.  His blood ran freely and coated the grass around him as thoroughly and completely as the tears that filled my eyes.  With all that was going on about us, it might have seemed amazing to an outside observer that I could only think of Chester at this moment; but considering how close we had become over the past months, even my own great peril seemed minor compared to his agony.

Screams and shouts filled the air.  Men were dying all around us, I knew, many in the most horrific of ways.  Smoke and dust swirled around us, bringing the smell of gunpowder to my nose, and to my ears the echoes of the few who remained nearby.  I could not see more than half-score feet in any direction even when I wiped the tears from my eyes.  From where I knelt I could see not another living soul.  Chester and I seemed to be all alone; I couldn’t imagine a more appropriate way for the two of us to spend our last moments in this life.

He tried to lift his head, but only managed to raise himself a few inches before he cried out in pain.

“Shhh...” I whispered.  I shifted the pistol in my right hand so that I could remove the glove from my left.  Stroking his hair with my bare hand I spoke gently to him, as a mother speaks to her child after a particularly cruel nightmare.  “Don’t worry, buddy,” I said.  “I’m right here.  I ain’t goin’ anywhere.  It’ll be alright,” I said, probably more to myself than to my dying friend.  “Don’t worry...”

I first met Chester when I was still training to become a trooper in the Cavalry at Fort Lewis.  Like me, Chester was a veteran of the recent War Between the States.  I knew he had fought with the Confederacy and I often wondered if we had ever met on opposite sides of a battlefield although I never asked.

The politicians in Washington spoke only of reconciliation when referring to the South.  They wanted to put the “recent unpleasantness” behind us.  But like most Yanks who had fought in the war, I wasn’t all that keen on accepting “Johnny Reb” back into the fold so quickly – not after all I’d seen and all I’d been through; not after all the friends and comrades I’d watched dying at the hands of the Confederacy.  No, sir, I was not at all in the mood to “forgive and forget” – not yet.

But somehow I couldn’t help but make an exception in my heart for Chester.  His slightly graying hair and stoic, stately manner inspired immediate respect from me from the moment I first laid eyes on him.  He was truly the very definition of a Southern Gentleman.  No one had to tell me he had fought bravely through countless battles and skirmishes even though he wore not a single ribbon or medal upon his chest.  Most veteran soldiers of Chester’s stature would have been haughty and aloof, showy, boisterous, and stubborn; but not Chester, no sirree.  He was as humble as a shepherd, as friendly as a barkeep, and as strong as an ox; he was as willing a servant as the 7th Cavalry had within it.

Despite his vast experience, he was willing – even eager – to learn.  He quietly took in all that the Sergeant had to teach.  Sometimes I got the feeling Chester knew from experience that he was being ordered to execute a foolish order or to perform a duty or exercise that did not properly utilize his abilities to their fullest.  And yet he never failed to carry out a command with a willing heart.  He threw himself into every task as if it was ordained from the Lord Almighty.  He took care to perform even the most mundane task with zeal and commitment.

Despite his well-toned physique, he exercised vigorously every day, and when we were practicing our drills, Chester was famous throughout the company for the intense look of concentration he wore on his grizzled face.  He was clearly determined to set a veteran’s example for the younger, less experienced members of our outfit.  He threw himself into every drill, every attack, every charge, and every maneuver.  He ran like the wind, outpacing many who were far younger than he; and at the end of the day, when everyone else was exhausted, moaning and complaining of fatigue, Chester quietly went about his work, refusing to surrender, complying with every command, continuing to give one-hundred percent of his effort with nary a sigh or mutter.  His staid expression never betrayed the aching bones and inflamed joints he must surely have been suffering.  Indeed, he was an example to us all.

When I was a lad, my daddy (God rest his soul) gave me the best advice I’ve ever heard, even if I didn’t know it at the time.  He said, “Son, whatever path in life you choose, wherever you find yourself and whomever you’re with, always seek the richest soil, always build the strongest barn, always choose the steadiest path, the surest patch of land in the county.  Never hitch your wagon to anything less than the strongest set of oxen in the herd.  Never hang your hat on anything but the strongest oak you can find.”

When he first gave me this advice I really had no idea what he was going on about.  But he repeated this saying so often to me as I was growing up that I eventually learned the words even before I understood the lesson Pa was trying to teach.  As I continued to grow, my mind grew ever more curious.  One day when I was twelve, my pa and I were riding fences when I finally asked him what the saying meant.

He explained, “It means simply this: Never accept second-best.  Never associate yourself with the second-wisest man.  Don’t marry the second-kindest woman you meet.  Don’t drink from the second-best bottle of rye.  Don’t conduct business with the second-most honest dealer.  Don’t learn from the second-best teacher.  Don’t befriend the second-smartest boy in your class.  Don’t buy the second-best pair of boots in the catalog.  And never – NEVER! – take the second-best gun to the fight.”

Perhaps it was my age at the time, perhaps it was because my young ears were still unspoiled by the cynicism of adulthood, or perhaps it was because the “old man” was truly wise; no matter the reason, I always carried this advice with me ever after, and it always served me well.

I suppose it was for this reason that I clung so closely to Chester from the moment we first met.  I immediately saw in him every quality I wanted for myself: strength, loyalty, honor, determination.  I soon discovered all this to be true of him, and more.  There wasn’t a better trooper in all of Uncle Sam’s army than he, and I always tried to model myself after Chester’s tireless example.  Soon we were inseparable.  We became each others’ best friends.  Lots of fellows teased that we were identical twins separated at birth, even though we looked nothing alike.  Others goaded us by saying we were actually secretly married to each other, which, in fact, was probably much closer to the truth than either of us would have cared to admit.

Some of the jokes were nothing more than honest funning around.  Others, I could tell, were born of envy and jealousy of the relationship Chester and I shared.  For even the most jealous of our critics would’ve been forced to admit, if pressed, that there was no better pair of troopers in all of Custer’s cavalry than my friend Chester and I.  As well it should have been!  We spent countless hours together, often drilling and practicing long after the others had retired for the night.

We performed flawlessly on our exams and were soon looked to as leaders in the company.  Almost entirely due to Chester’s steady guiding hand, I was awarded Corporal’s stripes.  Although Chester himself received no such honor, and I’m sure he should have resented it, I never sensed even momentary bitterness from him upon my promotion.  He seemed honestly pleased for me when I showed him the stripes I had just sown on the arm of my blue uniform.  There was not even a hint of insincerity in his congratulations; Chester had succeeded in amazing me yet again!

I thanked him most graciously for all he had taught me; I gratefully acknowledged the huge role Chester had played in helping me make the most of myself.  I put my arm around his neck and told him why I had chosen to befriend him when we first had met.  I told him of my father’s advice to always seek “the best”, to emulate the best qualities I could find in others, and to model myself after only finest of God’s children.  As was his manner, Chester said nothing in response.  He simply looked at me and blinked his eyes in what I knew was appreciation.  We never spoke of my promotion again.

As a new NCO in the 7th Cavalry I had much to learn.  I still didn’t feel as though I had learned enough to even be a trooper, much less a corporal.  Thank God for Chester!  He was my rock, my right hand through it all.  When a trooper who’d served longer than I balked at being ordered around by “a kid”, Chester never failed to jump straight into the fray, reminding everyone (including me) why I’d been put in charge.

In such circumstances Chester never had to utter a single word to the belligerent trooper.  He merely stood his ground unflinchingly, showing the stern face of determination for which he was so famous.  I never knew another man, including my own father and our Fort Lewis Sergeant, who could quiet a rowdy man with nothing more than a steady, silent glare.  I often tried to mimic Chester’s intimidating manner, but I could never execute it as effectively as he.  Inside I was always shaking in my boots with fear and apprehension; but not Chester.  He was as solid as the Cliffs of Dover.  I couldn’t imagine Chester shaking in his boots like I did.

In the field the two of us were as inseparable as ever – “like ugly on a hound,” our Captain always said.  Wherever one of us went, so went the other.  This was particularly unnerving for the Captain since Chester always wanted to serve from the front of the column.  Before the Captain could order someone out as scout or even ask for volunteers, Chester was off like a flash, and thus, so was I.  The Captain didn’t like the idea of one of his NCOs acting as the bait for any hidden Indian traps, but there was little he could do about it.  Chester and I were the perfect team.  More than once we escaped such an ambush in such miraculous fashion that the rest could only shake their heads and marvel at our wondrous luck.

As one might suspect, at first I was not entirely comfortable in the role of Company Bait (i.e., Scout).  I had served as a mounted infantryman during what Chester undoubtedly would have liked to call “the War of Northern Aggression,” but after only a few months I had received a moderately severe wound to my left shoulder which put me in the hospital for several months.  When I returned to action, I was not yet fully myself and so I was assigned the duty of dispatch rider, a role which, as it turned out, I held for the duration of the conflict.  Thus, by the time I joined the Regular Army after the war, I had spent more time in relatively safe non-combat roles than I had spent as a front-line soldier.  This, along with the regularly nagging aches in my left shoulder, was among the most formidable obstacles I faced as a new trooper in the 7th Cavalry.

Chester, by contrast, had clearly seen more than his fair share of combat “up close and personal-like.”  His poise and demeanor were such as to be unmistakably those of a veteran trooper.  I suspected he had spent much time around combat officers during the war, although he never said so one way or the other.  Even if I had never noticed the deep scar that was mostly hidden behind his right ear, I would have guessed he had spent a great deal of time in combat, and in the company of great and powerful men.  He seemed to naturally carry himself as a great leader of men.  There was just something mysteriously leader-like in his mannerisms.  It was something about the way he held his head; the way he walked with great, confident strides; the way he looked you in the eye; the way he was able to bend men to his will without even having to say a word; there was just something about the way he commanded respect from nearly everyone.

His eyes seemed deep and thoughtful, introspective and yet bright, alive, and active.  He always carried a look as if he was deep in thought, but he was simultaneously alert and immediately responsive.  He had clearly developed the sixth-sense of every veteran soldier that somehow seems to alert them when danger is near and yet does not shackle them to a ponderous pace when the way is free from impending peril.  In that sense he was the perfect “point man” (as our Captain called the first man in the column).  He always set a reasonable pace – never unduly cautious, never recklessly aggressive.  That’s why, even though I was a non-commissioned officer in the 7th, I never rebuked Chester for his pace one way or the other.  I had full and complete confidence in his instincts.  My trust was well placed; when Chester was “on the point” he never once led us into danger.  I cannot even estimate how many troopers’ lives he saved as such a keen lead scout for our company.

One such instance occurred while crossing the endless prairies somewhere northeast of Omaha.  The local Sac and Fox tribes had been a generally peacefully people for many years and were, therefore, of little or no concern to us as we crossed their former lands on our way west.  As usual, Chester had jumped at the opportunity to take on the role of lead scout (to our Captain’s delight) which naturally meant that I would join him in the front of the column (to our Captain’s chagrin).

It is very difficult to concentrate on something after hours, days, and sometimes even weeks of nothing.  It’s too easy for one’s mind to wander, leaving one dangerously exposed to any surprises that lie along the path.  This is exactly what the point man experiences the vast majority of the time he serves in that role: absolutely nothing to help him keep his mind on this most important task, almost constant ‘nothing’ for days on end, hour after hour – until...  ...Until ‘nothing’ turns into ‘something’.  And when that happens, if his mind has wandered from his duty as scout, even for a moment, he’s most assuredly a dead man; and a goodly portion of his comrades will usually join him in The Everlasting in short order!

Unfortunately, that’s what has always made me a less than desirable lead scout; my mind has a tendency to wander at a moment’s notice.  Thankfully for us all, Chester was the exact opposite.  How he did it I’ll never know.  For he clearly possessed enormous intelligence; surely his mind had just as many potential distractions as mine.  Yet he never seemed to allow himself to “fall asleep” to the circumstances and the surroundings.  He had what I once heard an officer refer to as “situational awareness”.  And he had it in spades!

So, even though we were traveling with a relatively carefree outlook through this traditionally friendly territory, Chester, at the head of the column, suddenly stopped just as we were about to pass through a narrow gully.  He made not a sound, but his abrupt halt was immediately noticed by all who were behind us.  My horse stood as still as a statue with his ears pricked.  Chester was as still as a stone.  Even his head was motionless, but his eyes were alert and scanning all about.

I turned my head ever so slightly to reassure myself that the company was still behind us.  The Captain’s right hand was still raised signaling the column to a halt.  Everywhere troopers, sitting in their saddles nearly as motionless as Chester, were slowly reaching for their Winchesters, drawing their rifles ever so slowly from their packs.  Everyone knew that Chester didn’t normally stop without good reason.  Even though we were supposed to be in friendly territory, we trusted Chester’s instincts far more than the last newspaper we had read a couple weeks previously.  Trusting Chester’s instincts more than anyone, I was already holding my Remington revolver and was now slowly cocking the hammer into firing position.

We were right to trust Chester’s senses.  If we had been privy to the recent editions of the Omaha World Herald we would have read about the incident on the Missouri River three days earlier.  A group of half a dozen ranch hands, after a night of drinking at the local saloon, had ridden off toward what they thought was home.  The ranch on which they worked had been newly acquired by the owner, thus there were no fences to demark the property lines, and the drunken ranch hands were too new to the area to have memorized the local landmarks.  They were lost and they didn’t know it.

Just as the sun was beginning to brighten the rolling prairie from the east, the riders, due west of what they thought was their new home and thinking they were now on their employer’s land, turned into the sun to ride the final three miles east toward the ranch.  It was at this very moment that they crested a small hill and saw what appeared to be three cattle thieves butchering one of the boss’ cattle in the valley below.  The ranch hands immediately opened fire on the “thieves” with rifles, eventually felling all three despite still feeling the effects of the night’s whisky.  It wasn’t until they approached the three wounded and hobbled “thieves” that the ranch hands realized their mistake.  They had shot three Indians who were still working on a bison they had killed the previous evening.

Fortunately the men had not killed any of the ‘red-men’ they had shot.  Unfortunately they did not have their full mental faculties at that moment in time.  After a few minutes of panicked debate, one of the ranchers had abruptly pulled out his six-shooter and killed all three wounded Indians.  Their timing couldn’t have been worse.  A nearby Sac hunting party, having heard the rifle shots, had just come into view as the ranch hand murdered the wounded Indians.  Rather than immediately seeking vengeance, the hunting party split up.  Two raced back to get help, the rest stealthily followed the drunken white-men as they meandered all about, searching for the proper route home.  When they arrived, the Sac hunters sent another brave to provide the warriors with directions to the proper ranch.

If the Ranch Boss had been informed of his men’s shenanigans, he might have rushed to town so that their actions could have been explained to the Sac.  Instead the drunken ranch hands kept silent about their encounter with the Indians and went directly to bed hoping they would awaken to learn it had all been a bad dream.  They never awoke at all.

By midday more than thirty Sac and Fox warriors had met up with the hunters who had followed the ranchers.  By mid-afternoon the ranch house and out-buildings were ablaze and all thirteen settlers had been massacred including the six drunken miscreants, all of which were killed while they slept after which they were relieved of their scalps before their bodies were consumed in the fires.

The following day, after news reached town, an angry mob cried for “Injun Blood”.  Cooler heads might have sent for the Army in Omaha or Fort Des Moines.  But there were no cool heads to be found.  An impromptu militia had been formed from the townsfolk along with farmers and ranchers from the outlying territories.  They swarmed upon the nearest Sac settlement, a small village on the banks Missouri River.  This hapless group of Indians never even knew what hit them.  Not having received word about either the murder of their three brothers nor of the massacre at the ranch, they met the rampaging townsfolk with nothing more lethal than strange curiosity as to what these crazy ‘white-men’ were up to.  Not being informed of the late incidents they were utterly unprepared for the wrath that was about to befall them.  With the fury of the townsfolk at fever-pitch, the people of the Sac village met their demise, one and all: man, woman, and child.

It was this tragic series of events that had led us to the little ravine in which Chester so accurately detected a dangerous presence.

Like the poor souls of the Sac village on the banks of the Missouri, our company had received no news whatsoever about the events that had transpired.  But we had little doubt now that we were indeed in some manner of danger.

Was this the hideout of a gang of outlaws?  An Army patrol had stumbled across such a lair last May while on its way back to Fort Cheyenne.  None of them survived the encounter, or so we’d been told.

Or perhaps we were facing a less human adversary.  Although only slightly less human than bands of cruel renegades, a pack of wolves, if sufficiently large and hungry, was more than capable of attacking a group of men on horses.  Even a single mountain lion could have posed a mortal threat to any one of us, particularly if she felt her den of cubs was being threatened.

Unfortunately, we would probably have chosen any of these over what we, in reality, faced.

Chester was moving now, ever so slowly backing in the direction from which we had come.  Everyone followed his lead.  Soon we were all slowly, silently walking our horses backward, our eyes peeled all the while.

As much as my normal human instincts cried out for me to join the rest in looking to the walls of the ravine above, searching for movement, my eyes were impulsively drawn to Chester’s.  He was scanning his surroundings with practiced precision, looking, listening, smelling, sensing.  I wished I could read his mind as it whirled into action, processing every bit of data his senses could acquire.

It was the fact that I was looking at Chester, trying to read his thoughts, that saved my life from being the first life lost that day.  Chester’s head snapped to the left, looking somewhat behind us.  I saw his head move in the direction of the Sac bowman even before I heard the telltale “thwang” of buffalo sinew reverberating against the bow.  Chester jumped, startling me greatly.  My horse kicked up its back legs violently, hurling me to the ground at the very moment that the Indian arrow passed directly through the air space my head had been occupying only a split second earlier.

As the entire company raised their firearms in unison to fire on the Sac archer, Chester sneaked a quick peek to see if I was alright.  He looked down at me as I lay in a heap beneath my horse.  At that very moment, as I lay on the ground looking up at my best friend in the world, an arrow began to protrude from Chester’s neck.  It was as if time had suddenly been slowed to a snail’s pace.  At first I didn’t know what to make of the arrow head and shaft protruding from Chester’s neck.  My mind simply refused to process the facts before me.  My friend had been hit in the neck as he’d turned to check on me.  But that isn’t what confused me so terribly.  Chester suddenly wore an expression I had never seen on him before.  Gone was the steely-eyed confident gaze to which I’d grown accustomed.  In its place was surprise, confusion... fear?  Chester didn’t even look like Chester with this new look in his eyes.  The strangeness of his expression caused me to freeze in place beneath my horse.  I heard no sounds, felt absolutely nothing in my body or my mind, it was as though time had stopped.

After what might have been hours or perhaps not even a second, I was hit – not with a bullet or an arrow, nor any physical projectile.  But it was every bit as devastating to me as if it had been solid shot from a six-pounder that hit me.  I was hit by a realization:  Chester was going to die.  That was the look in his eyes that I could not identify, that I did not recognize.  I didn’t recognize it because I had never seen it before – nor even imagined it! - in Chester’s eyes.  But I had seen that look in other men’s eyes.  No one who has ever seen that look can ever forget it or fail to recognize it in another’s eyes.  And yet my mind was still having difficulty comprehending what was happening before me.  Chester was dying?!?  No, that couldn’t be, could it?  To me he had always seemed immortal.  I had never even considered his death.

I was startled back to reality by an enormous thud.  My horse had been shot and was now lying on the ground in front of me, struggling at the arrow that was causing him such pain.  At that moment my mind shifted to some state of unconscious reflex.  I did not look at Chester. I did not look at my horse. I simply reacted instinctively. My body and mind were operating purely by reflex, entirely outside my control.

There were Indians atop the ravine, two-score feet distant, shooting arrows and rifles down upon us.  I pulled the trigger of my Remington revolver but nothing happened.  It must have discharged when I fell from my horse.

I re-cocked the hammer with my thumb, aimed at a feathered figure atop the ridge and fired – all in a single effortless motion.  He fell to the ground so that I could no longer see him.  My eyes and hands were operating purely automatically now, cocking the hammer, aiming carefully, firing my pistol, and repeating the process with machine-line precision.  Without even realizing it, I had been unconsciously counting my shots, including the shot I didn’t even know I’d fired as I fell from my horse.  When the revolver was empty, I cracked the breach in a single motion and was soon reloading and firing again at our attackers.

After reloading a second, third, and fourth time, the blood must have resumed flowing to my brain because reality began to set in, at long last.  And what started as a trickled was soon a flood of reality.  Sounds began to register in my ears:  men screaming, calling out for each other and crying out for help, loud explosions as dozens of firing pins struck dozens of cartridges in quick succession.  Smells began to drift past my nose, finally stirring my olfactory senses.

My eyes began to wander as I slowly regained my sensibility.  There was the Captain, lying atop his dead horse.  The Captain’s eyes were wide open and staring at the sky, but his soul was no longer in him.  Beyond the Captain and his horse, I could see the rest of the company stretching out in a staggered, random line.  Horses – dead and alive – were lying on the ground while the troopers tried to shield themselves behind their mounts.  Some were firing at the ridgeline, others were lying motionless.  A few were clutching various places on their bodies and crying out in vain for some assistance.

I cocked the hammer of my pistol and aimed at the cliff above me once again, but before I could fire an aimed shot, a fire erupted in my back, just below my right shoulder.  The pistol fell out of my hand.  I turned my head toward the obnoxious pain in my back that was screaming, demanding my immediate attention.  But the closer my head came to being able to discern what was causing the pain in my back, the more intensely the pain shot down my arm and up my neck.  I was forced to abandon my attempts to use my eyes to discover the cause of the pain.  Instead I reached my left arm around my chest and over my right shoulder.

I recognized the feel of the wooden arrow shaft almost before my hand touched it.  I looked down at my chest, expecting to see the fletching of the arrow that had apparently pierced my chest and was now protruding through my back.  But there was no arrow in my chest.  That could only mean one thing:  the shot must have come from behind!  I reached for my pistol, but my right hand wasn’t working as it should.

I turned to my left, looking toward the line of horses and men that was my company and tried to call out, “Flanking attack!”  But I could barely hear my own voice over the din of battle.  I closed my eyes and took a deep breath to try calling out again when a new fire erupted in my back.  I could feel the warmth of my own blood flowing down my shirt.  When I opened my eyes, I could no longer see any of the men of my company; the air was thick with smoke and dust.  Even the Captain’s body was hidden behind the fog.  I was dying.  And I was all alone.

“Wait,” I realized, “No I’m not!”

I struggled to turn back to the right, despite the pain it caused.

“Chester!” I called out, barely able to speak louder than a whisper.

With great effort I was finally able to turn over, my head resting on my dying horse’s chest.  I looked over at Chester and desperately searched for life in his eyes.  I would have jumped for joy if I could have when I finally saw Chester blink.  My eyes began to fill with tears – tears of sorrow to see Chester in such a predicament, and tears of joy that he was still with me.  I struggled to force my right hand to pick up my pistol.  When I finally succeeded, I realized I would probably never be able to fire it successfully.  But, still, it felt comforting to hold it in my hand.  Then my attention immediately returned to my wounded friend.

“This can’t be happening!” I silently screamed at myself.  “Dear God, please tell me this is just a very bad dream!”

My best friend Chester lay wounded and dying before me.  I tried to use my hat to give him a little shade from the relentless afternoon sun.  His blood ran freely and coated the grass around him as thoroughly and completely as the tears that filled my eyes.  With all that was going on about us, it might have seemed amazing to an outside observer that I could only think of Chester at this moment; but considering how close we had become over the past months, even my own great peril seemed minor compared to his agony.

Screams and shouts filled the air.  Men were dying all around us, I knew, many in the most horrific of ways.  Smoke and dust swirled around us, bringing the smell of gunpowder to my nose, and to my ears the echoes of the few who remained nearby.  I could not see more than half-score feet in any direction even when I wiped the tears from my eyes.  From where I knelt I could see not another living soul.  Chester and I seemed to be all alone; I couldn’t imagine a more appropriate way for the two of us to spend our last moments in this life.

He tried to lift his head, but only managed to raise himself a few inches before he cried out in pain.

“Shhh...” I whispered.  I shifted the pistol in my right hand so that I could remove the glove from my left.  Stroking his hair with my bare hand I spoke gently to him, as a mother speaks to her child after a particularly cruel nightmare.  “Don’t worry, buddy,” I said.  “I’m right here.  I ain’t goin’ anywhere.  It’ll be alright,” I said, probably more to myself than to my dying friend.  “Don’t worry...”

A moment later he was gone and I sobbed uncontrollably.  I wondered if anyone had ever cried so hard upon the death of a loved one.

I could feel the life flowing out of myself now.  I looked one last time into Chester’s deep, brown eyes; then I laid my head down, closed my eyes, and spent my final moments thinking of my best friend, my constant companion, my mentor, and my inspiration: my faithful horse Chester.

        An original story by

 ~ Joel T. “Whoopy-Cat” Illian

        23 December 2004