Chester, my best friend since I was 14, wasn't like the other kids. He was hairy and had disproportionately long arms. Most of this was because he was an orangutan.

He sat next to me in science class, is how we met each other. One day, before the teacher came into the room, I turned to him to ask about the homework assignment that was due that day and he was picking his nose. Gross, I thought, I don't want to talk to this weirdo.

"Hi, uh, Chester, right?" I asked.

He smiled back at me and tilted his head to the side. I took that as a yes. His finger was still embedded in his nasal cavity.

"I was thinking about this problem set we were supposed to finish for this afternoon, but, uh, I had a little problem with it." I was lying, I hadn't even looked at it yet. "I was wondering if you could let me look over yours."

After pulling his finger from his nose and wiping it on the chair, he bounced up and down a few times and clapped his hands. He reached into his knapsack and pulled out a neatly completed copy of the homework assignment and, with slow, deliberate strokes, whited out "Chester" and wrote in "Dave", my name, in its place. He handed it to me and smiled. He sure smiles alot.

I thanked him and turned it in. Naturally, he received an F for the assignment, but his overall average was one of the highest in the class. Starting that day, we were best of friends and hung out all the time.

Several years later, in high school, Chester and I were hanging out before the morning attendance bell. We were playing catch, as usual, when it started to rain. Chester, not being a very big fan of water, ran inside before I even noticed the downpour.

The bell rang and we hurried off to class. I reminded him that I was had my car on campus that day and could drive him home. He squealed and slapped his palms on the ground, a sign that he and I used for "Cool!"

That afternoon, it was still raining heavily. We got into my car, an old Datsun, and pulled out of the school's parking lot. As we drove down Overwood Dr, we turned left at the main traffic light onto Westlin Blvd. Unfortunately, there was a tractor trailer barrelling down on us with his lights off. I didn't even notice he was there before the truck slammed into my car. We slid sideways for a good distance, I remember the whole thing in slow motion.

The car eventually ended up in the front lawn of the courthouse, which was located on that intersection. I had slammed my head against the driver's side window and not noticed it until we came to a stop. My head was throbbing and there was blood trickling down my face. Chester was caught in his seatbelt, but still breathing.

I got out of the car to survey the damage. The Datsun was totalled, and the driver of the truck had hurt himself on his steering column. The truck itself was pretty badly mauled, too -- the fender was crushed and the passenger side wheel had been ripped to shreds.

I opened the other door to my car and helped Chester out. It was pouring down rain, but we were both all right save a few scratches and bruises. We held each other tightly as the rain drenched us.

Chester and I still hang out together occasionally, but we'll never forget our afternoon of moist monkey love there on the steps of the county courthouse.

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