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Write to Meow 2014 ~ Anthology of Stories, Poems, Essays

Write to Meow 2014

(My short story, “Cotton,” is in this collection of stories about cats.)

Grey Wolfe Publishing is pleased to announce the generous collaboration of authors from around the globe for this spectacular collection of 226 pages of poetry, prose and personal essay, all in tribute to cats!

100% of the proceeds of the sale of this book are going to support the extraordinary work of Almost Home Animal Shelter, a no-kill shelter in Southeast Michigan.

Now Available: $18

May be purchased at this link:

Or on Amazon at this link:


Unbroken ~ A Capsule Movie Review


Unbroken ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp 

Unbroken is a true American story about a boy born of Italian immigrant parents, one Louie Zamperini. As a child, Louie is bullied and inclined toward fighting and mischief, which includes smoking cigarettes surreptitiously and drinking liquor out of milk bottles. Feeling worthless, Louie turns to running at the urging of his older brother, Pete. He finds he is very good at running, becomes the fastest runner in history for a high school student, and ends up in the 1934 Olympic games, held in Nazi Berlin.

Fast forward a few years to World War II when Louie is a bombardier on a fighter plane. When the plane he is on goes down somewhere in the South Pacific, he and only two other members of his crew (Phil and Mac) survive. Adrift on a life raft, they believe someone will rescue them, but they find it difficult to maintain the hope that will keep them alive. After many days at sea with slim hope of rescue, one of the three, Mac, dies. Louie and Phil hang on, but just barely. Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse for them, they are captured by the Japanese and put in a prisoner-of-war camp, where they are routinely beaten, tortured and brutalized. The snarling young Japanese commandant of the camp, known by the prisoners as “Bird,” knows that Louie was an Olympic athlete and singles him out for special mistreatment, at one point forcing all the other prisoners to punch Louie in the face, which they are, of course, reluctant to do.

The only thing that keeps Louie Zamperini and the others alive in the face of unspeakable brutality at the hands of the Japanese is the determination not to give up. At one point, Louie says that making it through alive to the end of the war is the best way to get revenge. The will to persevere that he learned as an athlete in his younger days serves him well.

We’ve seen life in Japanese prisoner-of-war camps in plenty of other movies—The Bridge on the River Kwai, King Rat, Empire of the Sun, Paradise Road, The Railway Man, to name a few—so that aspect of Unbroken seems familiar. Also we have seen plenty of harrowing stories about survival in World War II. What makes Unbroken unique is that it was directed by a woman (Angelina Jolie) and that Louie Zamperini was a real—not a fictional—person that almost anybody could identify with. He died in 2014 at the age of 97. If you won’t give up, neither will I.

Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp

Selma ~ A Capsule Movie Review


Selma ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp 

In the American South of the 1960s, black citizens were guaranteed the right to vote but were systematically denied the right to register to vote by a system controlled by white officials. (If you can’t register, you can’t vote.) The new movie, Selma, is about the struggle to right this wrong and about the symbolic fifty-mile protest march from Selma to Montgomery that galvanized the country’s attention.

To politicians of the day, suppression of black voters in the South was a political football they preferred to stay away from. When Dr. Martin Luther King (David Oyelowo) seeks the help of the sitting president, Lyndon Johnson (Tom Wilkinson, the actor who seems to be able to play any part, from Ben Franklin to a transgendered woman), he (Johnson) wants to defer the matter to a future time, believing the country has more pressing problems, such as the Vietnam War and poverty. The demagogic governor of Alabama, George Wallace (a snarling Tim Roth), seems unable to effectively deal with racial issues in his state. He wants the president to handle the matter, while the president dresses Wallace down for not handling it on a state level. When the protesters, mostly black but some white, attempt to cross the bridge over the Alabama River, led by Dr. King, there is a bloody melee with an all-white police force. When the story and its accompanying images are beamed across the national airwaves, people everywhere are suddenly paying attention to what is happening in the South and waiting for what happens next.

Of course, the focus of Selma is Dr. Martin Luther King, his life and struggles. In the many scenes between him and his wife, we sense a tension between them and get the impression that their marriage is not all it should be. (These interior scenes are, for some reason, grungy-looking and dark.) Dr. King’s well-publicized marital infidelities are played down. (The couple’s children are nonentities, mentioned in passing and seen only from a distance.) Dr. King seems to not know that the FBI is snooping on him, listening in on his private conversations, seeking to destroy his family and his life. Once again, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI is the villain.

Selma is a history lesson wrapped up as mainstream entertainment. How historically accurate is it? Only those who were there and remember the events as they happened can say for sure. What is known is that President Johnson signed into law in 1965 the Voting Rights Act that prohibits racial discrimination in voting.

Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp  

A Brief History of Time ~ A Capsule Book Review

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A Brief History of Time

A Brief History of Time ~ A Capsule Book Review by Allen Kopp 

Did the universe have a beginning and, if so, will it have an end? Is the universe infinite, or is it curved around in on itself so that it appears to be infinite when it is, in fact, finite? What role does gravity play in the universe? Is the universe expanding or contracting? What are black holes and what causes them? What are worm holes? What is man’s place in the universe and how did he come into existence? Why are certain locations in the universe suitable for advanced life, such as man, and other places unsuitable? Is the universe what it is just so man can observe it and ask questions about it? (This would imply the existence of an intelligent creator.) What does Einstein’s general theory of relativity tell us? What is the uncertainly principle? What are quantum mechanics and how do they affect the study of the universe? What is a quark? A proton? A neutron? Of what is light composed? It is possible to travel faster than light? Is time travel ever going to be a reality? These and many other weighty questions are addressed by Stephen Hawking in his book, A Brief History of Time.

I don’t ordinarily read science books but was compelled to read A Brief History of Time after seeing the movie about Stephen Hawking’s life, The Theory of Everything. It’s written in clear, concise English (not overly wordy, as is the usual academic style), obviously aimed toward the reader who isn’t scientific and who doesn’t ordinarily read books on scientific subjects. While I can’t say I always understood what I was reading, I was sufficiently interested to keep going through to the end. I learned a few things I didn’t know before, not the least of which is the universe is a lot more complicated than people thought. With technological advances, new theories are being formulated all the time to understand the universe better. Maybe someday man will know the mind of God, or at least a part of it.

Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp

Hat in the House

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Hat in the House ~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp

Luster Gilman was from one of the poorest families in town. He had six brothers and sisters and he always wore overalls or hand-me-downs from his older brothers. He was small for his age, had intense brown eyes like a little fox and a hit-or-miss haircut given to him by his often-drunk father. All the Gilman boys had the same haircut, usually with a bloody knick or two.

I liked Luster because there was nobody else like him. He was funny in a way that nobody else was and he didn’t mind making fun of the teacher, Miss Meeks, behind her back when she lifted her fat arms above her head and showed the tops of her stockings. He could walk like her and he even claimed to have seen her smoking one time. He said she held the cigarette like she thought she was Lana Turner, which, of course, she wasn’t.

When Luster began to grow tiny horns on his head, he called my attention to them on the playground one morning at recess. They were little nubs about the size of baby beans.

“Now, why in the world would I be growing horns?” he asked.

“Maybe it’s not horns,” I said. “Maybe it’s something else.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. Warts.”

“Did you ever know of anybody to grow warts like horns?” he asked.

“Can’t say I have,” I said.

“What can I do about it?”

“Comb your hair over them.”

“It’s too short. Do you know how long it would take to grow my hair long enough to cover them?”

“Well, wear a hat until your hair grows out,” I said.

The next day Luster wore a French beret to school. It suited him somehow and nobody seemed to notice it much, but I knew Miss Meeks wouldn’t let it alone. About the middle of the morning, during arithmetic, she stopped what she was doing and looked around the room.

“Does anybody know what a gentleman is?” she asked.

After a moment of thought, somebody said, “A person who lights your cigarette and opens your beer for you?”

“Well, yes,” Miss Meeks said, “but there’s more to it than that.”

“Somebody who opens the door for a lady?” somebody else said.

“Yes, but these are things a gentleman does, not what a gentleman is.”

“A gentleman is a man who abides by all the rules of behavior and who thinks of others before the thinks of himself,” Latrice Laflamme said, eager, as always, to set us straight.

“Very good, Latrice!” Miss Meeks said. “Now can somebody tell me what is the opposite of a gentleman?”

“A lady?” somebody said.

“A bum?”

“A convict?”

“A lawyer?”

“Yes, but we can go farther than that,” Miss Meeks said. “A person who isn’t a gentleman is a selfish person. A lout. Does anybody know what a lout is?”

“A bug?”

“No, a lout is a person who flaunts the rules of polite society and does things that nobody else does just because he thinks he has a right to do them. A lout is a person who. Wears his hat in the house!

She pointed to Luster Gilman with a flourish and everybody turned and looked at him.

“Go hang the hat in the cloakroom, Luster,” Miss Meeks said.


“I said take off the hat and go hang it up.”

When Luster came back from the cloakroom, minus the beret, everybody was laughing at him and pointing. Miss Meeks just let them go wild for a few minutes before settling them down again to arithmetic.

After school that day I waited to have a word with Miss Meeks as she was leaving.

“Miss Meeks,” I said. “Luster had on that hat for a reason.”

“What? What hat?”

“The hat you made him take off.”

“Nobody has a hat on in the house for a reason,” she said.

“He’s growing horns and he was trying to cover them up to keep people from seeing them and laughing at him.”

“He’s growing horns?” she said, staring at me with her frog-like eyes. “Why would he be growing horns?”

“He doesn’t know why.”

“Evolution seems to have taken a strange turn with him,” she said.

“So you’ll let him wear the hat in class?” I asked.

“Absolutely not! If I let him wear a hat in the classroom, others will want special privileges for themselves. We can’t let that kind of thing get started. There are rules, you know.”

When Luster’s horns grew to be about an eighth of an inch long, everybody started noticing them. He tried to cover them up with his lank, sandy-colored hair, but they still stood out like nipples on a boar hog. People began calling him names like goat boy, nipple head, and the little devil.

After a few days of teasing, ribbing, and name-calling, Luster was sick of the whole thing.

“I’m going to take a knife and gouge them out,” he said.

“That’d hurt too much and they might grow back,” I said.

“I wish I was dead.”

“There’s worse things than growing horns.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. Having two heads.”

“I’m going to run away,” he said.

“Where to?”

“Someplace where horns are appreciated and other people have them besides me.”

I wasn’t surprised when Luster disappeared. He was there and then he wasn’t. Everybody thought he had been kidnapped or murdered. Volunteers searched for him in the woods. They dragged the rivers but, of course, found no trace of him.

Luster’s mother and father were in the newspaper and on TV. They were both suspected at first of doing away with Luster but were eventually cleared. I had to believe they were secretly relieved they had one less child to take care of.

In a few months people stopped talking about Luster and moved on to something else. If most people chose to believe he was dead, I believed he was alive somewhere, laughing at the colossal joke he had played on the world.

Twenty-five years later I had escaped the small town and was living in the city. One evening I was at the library, thinking about absolutely nothing, when I noticed a man sitting at a table looking at me. I looked at him, looked away, and then looked back. Something about him was terribly familiar.

He stood up and, as he came toward me, I knew it was Luster Gilman as a grown man. The same fox-like eyes, small nose and ears. I couldn’t tell if he still had the horns because if they were there his hair covered them up.

“I think I know you,” he said.

“You’re Luster Gilman,” I said.

“You remembered.”

“Everybody thought you were dead.”

“I know.”

“Where were you?”

“If I told you, you probably wouldn’t believe me,” he said.

“Is it that fantastic?”

He looked over his shoulder. “I can’t talk here,” he said. “I only have a minute. Give me your phone number and I’ll call you in a few days.”

I wrote my address and phone number on a piece of paper and gave it to him and he was gone.

I waited for Luster Gilman to call me but he never did. Not in a few days. Not ever. I tried to find him but there was no trace of him in the phone listings or anyplace else. I even consulted a private investigator but he came up with nothing.

Had Luster Gilman as a man even existed? Had I imagined seeing him at the library because there was a part of me that needed an answer to what happened to him? Was my seeing him just another one of his impish jokes? Maybe I would have to wait another twenty-five years to find out. There had to be an answer somewhere.

Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp

She Wants a Boy She Can Dominate

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She Wants a Boy She Can Dominate

She Wants a Boy She Can Dominate ~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp 

Joe Gillis was bored and he wasn’t used to being bored. He paced the floor of his spacious bedroom, looked out one window and then another. Crossing to the desk, he picked up a cigarette and lit it. How many had he smoked since breakfast? Dozens, probably, but he didn’t care. He crushed out the cigarette, not really wanting it, and lay down on the bed. He stared at the ceiling, at the ugly water stain there in the shape of Antarctica, and picked up the novel from the bedside table, The Naked and the Dead.

He read about five pages before Norma came bursting into the room. He was used to his privacy and didn’t like people walking in on him whenever they felt like it, even if that person was the great Norma Desmond. He would have to insist that a lock be installed on the door, even though it was a house without locks.

“What is it, Norma?” he asked, closing his eyes and resting the open book on his chest. “Can’t you see I’m busy?”

“How is the script coming, Joe dear?” she asked.

“It’s finished,” he said.

“Oh, Joe, you really are a marvel!” she said. “My only regret is that I didn’t meet you years ago. What a team we make!”

“That makes four scripts I’ve written for you. What good is a movie script that’s never filmed? It’s like a symphony that’s never played.”

“Oh, they will be filmed, my darling! Of that you can be sure! The great directors of the day will line up for the chance to film them. Just wait and see.”

“If that happens, Norma, I’ll be very happy for you.”

“Don’t say it that way, Joe. It isn’t only for me. It’s for you, too!”

“Whatever you say, dear.”

“I have a wonderful idea for our next project,” she said.

“Oh, Norma! I want to take a little time off. Get out of the house for a while.”

“Don’t you like it here?”

“That’s not what I’m saying. I need a change of scenery. The chance to see some friends.”

“There’ll be plenty of time for that later, Joe. I want to keep working while I have the fire in me.”

“Last time I noticed, I was doing all the working.”

“I want you to write a film treatment of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.”

“With you playing Anna, of course!”

“Isn’t that the idea?”

“Norma, you’re too old for Anna.”

“I could pass for thirty-five.”

“Do you realize what a huge undertaking it would be to write a script from a novel of that size, Norma? It’s over eight hundred pages.”

“I know, Joe, it’ll be a big job, but you can do it. I know you can. I have such confidence in you!”

“It would take months.”

“That’s all right, Joe. Take as much time as you need.”

“And after I put all the time and effort into writing the script, will anybody be interested?”

“Of course they will!”

Anna Karenina has already been filmed.”

“I know, but not with me in it!”

“Does anybody want to see a fifty-year-old woman playing a character in her thirties?”

“There you go harping on age again! Age doesn’t matter!”

“Tell that to the world.”

“True stars are ageless! I could play the part at any age!”

“Maybe you could play all the parts. Including the men.”

“Oh, Joe, that isn’t funny.”

“Why don’t you get yourself a new agent and re-enter films by playing character parts. Grandmothers and goofy aunts.”

“Do you know what you’re saying? Stars of my stature don’t play secondary parts. I’m a star! I was born to be star and a star I shall always be.”

“Whatever you say, Norma.”

“So you’ll get started on the script tomorrow?”

“Why not today?”

“There’s just one thing,” she said.

“I’ll probably be sorry I asked, but what is it?”

“I want our version of Anna to have a more upbeat ending.”

“Meaning what?”

“I don’t want her to kill herself this time.”

“I don’t know, Norma. The suicide is what makes Anna what it is.”

“We’ll demand that the audience see Anna in a different light. Instead of being crushed by her disillusionment, she’ll vow to fight on, to make her life meaningful and not so self-centered. That’s the lesson she will have learned from her travails.”

“Who am I to tamper with Tolstoy?”

“What do you mean, Joe?”

“If I do a screen adaptation of Anna Karenina, I’ll have to do it the way Tolstoy intended.”

“Are you saying you won’t write the ending I tell you to write?”

“Yes, that’s what I’m saying, Norma. To preserve what tiny shred of artistic integrity I have, I will only do it as it was originally written.”

“Do you want me to get somebody else?”

“It’s a moot point, anyway, Norma. Nobody will ever produce a screenplay of Anna Karenina with you playing Anna.”

“And just why not?”

“Audiences aren’t interested in literary adaptations. They want laughs. Singing and dancing.”

“I can do that, too!”

“So, you would make Anna Karenina into a musical comedy?”

“I don’t know why not! I can do my Chaplin impression. People love that!”

“How do you explain Chaplin in a story that’s set before he was even born?”

“I don’t know. You’ll think of a way.”

“Norma, I can’t tell you to get out because it’s your room in your house, but if you don’t go away and give me some peace, I’m going to jump out the window and make sure I land on my head!”

“Oh, Joe, now you’re being abrasive. I know that side of you is always there, but I do hate seeing it. I think people should always remain ladies and gentlemen.”

“I have a terrible headache,” he said, “and my stomach hurts from all that rich food you serve in this house.”

“You’re being a big baby now,” she said.

“I don’t care what you call me.”

She lay down on the bed beside him, took hold of his arm and wrapped it around her neck. “What can mama do to make her little boy feel better? I know what! Let’s go to my boudoir and have a little afternoon lie-down. We’ve got the whole house to ourselves. We can make as much noise as we want. Max is out polishing the car.”

“You’re not my mama, Norma, and I’m not your little boy, and, anyway, little boys don’t do with their mamas what you’re suggesting.”

“Oh, Joe, you’re such as old stick! There are times when you have absolutely no sense of humor!”

She attempted to nuzzle his ear but he moved away from her.

“Get off me, Norma! You’re making me sick!”

“Oh, I make you sick, do I?”

“Just go away and leave me along and I won’t feel compelled to hurt you.”

She sat up on the bed, sighed and lit a cigarette. “I have something very important to tell you, Joe.”

“Can’t it wait? I told you I have a headache.”

“I want to get it out in the open.”

“Well, just say it, then, and let’s be done with it.”

“I’m going to have a child, Joe. Your child.”

He raised himself on his elbow and looked at her. “Don’t you think that’s carrying things a little too far, Norma?”

“It’s true.”

He laughed. “I think it’s just a cruel joke you’re playing on me to get me to do what you want. I’ll bet Max is in on it, too, isn’t he?”

She took his hand and put it on her stomach. “Don’t you feel it?”

“Wait a minute,” he said. “I’ve only been here two months.”

“What does that prove?”

“If it’s true—and I’m not saying it is—how do I know it’s mine? How do I know it doesn’t belong to Max or the gardener or the boy who delivers the groceries?”

“Now you really are being insulting!” she said. “It’s true there have been many men in my life but never more than one at a time.”

“Have you had it confirmed by a doctor?”

“I don’t need to.”

“How do you know it’s not a tumor or something? I won’t believe it’s true until it’s been confirmed by a doctor.”

“Very well. If you promise to go with me, I’ll make the appointment.”

“How is it even possible? I’m thirty-two and you’re fifty.”

“Age has nothing to do with it. Some women’s childbearing years extend well into middle age.”

“Why didn’t you take precautions?”

“Men always leave everything up to the women, don’t they?”

“You’ll be seventy years old when he’s in college. If he even lives that long!”

“We’ll raise him together, Joe. We’ll take care of him while we grow old together.”

“What are you saying, Norma?”

“I want us to get married, Joe. We’ll sneak away like a couple of young lovers and drive up the coast. We’ll find one of those scenic little chapels that overlooks the ocean and have the ceremony performed there. Oh, Joe, it’ll be so lovely! Just like a scene from one of my pictures!”

“I’ll never marry you, Norma!”

“Why not? You’re not already married, are you?”

“No, I’m not already married, but the list of reasons I won’t marry you is a long one. The first item on the list is I don’t want to be married. To anybody, but especially not to you!”

“You don’t need to resort to cruelty, Joe.”

“Sometimes that’s all that’s left.”

“You don’t want to be a part of your son’s life?”


“I know what to do, then. I’ll go downtown at midnight. It’s sure to be raining. I’ll find the address that was given to me by a nefarious friend. There’ll be a single lightbulb over a doorway in an alley. I’ll knock and be admitted by a hard-faced woman in a dirty white uniform. I won’t be able to see the doctor’s face because he’ll have it hidden behind a surgical mask. He’ll have blood stains on his white coat, which will be the last thing I see before he puts me under the anesthetic.”

“Which one of your pictures is that from, Norma?”

“I won’t have to go alone, though,” she said. “Faithful Max will go with me and hold my hand.”

“Yes, what would we do without Max?”

“So, that’s what you want to see happen?”

“Of course not!”

“Then you do care? At least a little?”

“When it’s confirmed that there really is a baby, we’ll talk then about what’s to be done.”

“Oh, Joe, I think that’s a good plan!”

“And, in the meantime, could we possibly not talk about it? And, please, please, please, don’t tell Max or anybody else until you’re sure!”

“All right. Anything you say, darling.”

She went to the mirror, began primping her hair and face, wiping away the rivulets of mascara.

“I have a wonderful idea,” she said. “Let’s go out someplace for dinner.”

“I wasn’t planning on having any dinner,” he said.

“You’ll have to eat something. How about some spaghetti and meatballs? That’s what I’d like to have. Does that sound good to you?”

“I’m not fit to be seen in public.”

“Take a shower and put on some clean clothes. I’ll wait for you.”

“Anything you say, dear.”

“I’ll have Max get the car out. Come down when you’re ready. And don’t dawdle! I’m hungry!”

“Yes, sir!”

He felt a little conspicuous in the open car with her. He felt people turning their heads and looking at him. Older woman, obviously rich and eccentric. Younger man, a little rough around the edges. He had gigolo written all over him.

They hadn’t gone very far when Norma realized she was out of the brand of cigarettes she liked. She had Max stop at the curb in front of a drugstore and sent Joe in to get them, not without giving him the money for them, though.

“And hurry up!” she said. “It’s no fun sitting in the car like this waiting for you to come back.”

He bought the cigarettes and as he was leaving he saw his old friend Artie Green sitting at the counter having his dinner. He went over and sat down beside him.

“Hey!” Artie said. “Joe Gillis! Whatever happened to you? I thought you were dead.”

“I’ve been here all the time, Artie,” he said.

“Are you all right? I mean, you haven’t been sick or anything, have you?”

“No, not sick. I’ve been working, is all.”

“That girl, Betty Schaefer, that you were working with at the studio, told me she went to your apartment and found you had moved out and left no forwarding address.”

“That’s right. I’ve been staying with a friend temporarily.”

“Every time Betty sees me, she asks if I’ve heard from you or seen you. You must have really made an impression with her.”

“Artie, can you hide for a few days?”

“What? Why would I do that?”

“There’s a dragon waiting outside for me in a golden chariot. She’s going to kill me and I know I deserve to die, but, worse than that, she’s going to force me to marry her because she says she’s going to have my baby.”

“What? I think you’re hallucinating!”

“I’m not sure there is a baby but if there is the blame is going to fall on me and I don’t see how there’s any way to get out of marrying her unless I disappear or unless I kill myself. What would you do if it was you?”

“You’re not making any sense, buddy boy! Explain it to me slowly.”

“Is there a back way out of this place?”

“For employees only, I think.”

“Can you hide me at least for tonight?”

“Yeah, I guess I could put you up.”

“Let’s go.”

Before Artie had a chance to ask a store employee if it was all right for them to use the back way out, Joe was already gone.

He ran down an alley, almost falling a couple of times, turned right down another alley and ran for two blocks. He didn’t stop to wait for Artie but believed he would catch up and would know where he was.

He turned left into another alley, believing it was the way back to the street and far enough from the car so that Norma and Max wouldn’t spot him. He stopped to retie his shoelace and when he looked up, there was a man standing there in a shadow. He didn’t know until the man stepped out of the shadow that it was Max.

“You can’t stop me!” Joe said.

“No, I can’t stop you,” Max said in his heavy German accent. “We can find you, though.”

“Why can’t you just leave me alone?”

“You raped Madame and left her carrying your child. You can’t run out on her now when she needs you most.”

“It’s a lie,” Joe Gillis said, but even he knew how feeble those three words sounded. The biggest rat who ever lived. And with her old enough to be his mother.

Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp

Clara Bow Wishes You a Happy 1928!

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Clara Bow Wishes You a Happy 1928


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