Chester's Dream

He was running. Running like the wind, running like the very air propelled him. Straight brown hair slick with perspiration, large deep brown eyes squinted in joy, a grin splitting his handsome face. Every once in a while he would look back over his shoulder just to see if any competitor was even in sight. Yapping dogs would hurtle from their yards, hackles up as they raced after the young man, but after a few minutes, would be left panting in the wake of the dust his pounding bare feet churned up.

The young man had always been a runner, running everywhere as a small boy, and when only thirteen, could outrun any man who dared challenge him. The pure joy of speed made him not even think about the gasping men left in his wake.

When the War Between the States began, the young man was made an Army cook, but even cooks had to occasionally lay down their ladles and pick up a gun when the long war had depleted the supply of men. Being of a positive nature, Chester no longer thought about the terrible moment the merciless Minnie ball had shattered his right knee. Or of the long, grueling days teaching himself the best and fastest way to walk and run, developing his own peculiar but effective swinging leg gait.

"Well, Chester, how about we go over to Delmonico's for some breakfast?" That is, if you're hungry?"

The handsome Marshal's blue eyes crinkled in amusement as his loyal assistant shot up from his bunk in the office, pivoted on his left foot, right leg stiffly straight, and headed for the door, snatching his battered black hat from the lower peg on the wall.

"For land's sake, Mr. Dillon, I'm always ready for breakfast! I could eat a whole horse-or any other animal!"

As the two tall men slowly walked back to the office after eating, a small, rumpled older man hurried to catch up.

"Chester! Matt! Where in tarnation is the fire?!"

Mat and Chester turned and paused, giving Doc Adams a chance to catch up. When the three friends reached the Marshal's office, each settled gratefully into one of the three wooden chairs lined up out front. Doc looked at Matt and Chester leaning back, hands on their contented stomachs, having obviously enjoyed a large meal.

"About time you got back to work, Marshal! I had my breakfast hours ago, and have already been out delivering Sarah Green's fifth baby!"

Matt grinned back at Doc, enjoying their long-running banter.

"Doc, I'm still recovering from the gallon of turpentine you poured over that cut on my arm yesterday!"

Doc harrumphed, rubbing a hand over his mustache, trying to hide his own grin.

Chester nodded off, smiling slightly, to the voices of his two close friends. He dreamed of a lean, young, overall-clad, barefoot boy with deep brown eyes and straight brown hair. He was running.