Flash Fiction: When the Teeth Grit

prisonwireBeggars can’t be choosy when you are left with nothing to do, but daydream of maybe getting out.  I came here when I was fifteen and while that might seem young, it wasn’t to me.  I had lived a life that people twice my age will never have lived.  The bad thing is I experienced those things that puts wrinkles on your face for all the wrong reasons. I made bad decisions outside of this place and inside too.  I’m not sure if I can ever be let out again, not where I could function properly.  I’ve become what they call “institutionalized.”  The sad thing is many of these people in here do belong.  Why?  Because they have no issues killing and we all know killing is bad.  If they got out, they’d kill again without losing any sleep.  I wasn’t one of them who killed, but I did enough things for me never to walk the streets of any city again or at least, I thought.

In the beginning it was easier because naivety takes hold of you.  You think you will stay clean on the inside and your hopes are high you will change.  The reality of the situation comes raining down on you when you find your life in jeopardy.  You realize how much people like to make you pay for your sins on both sides of the fence.  When I was told to get off the bench and go somewhere else, I had to do that without delay.  Those who questioned the authority got unnecessary punishment, if not at that time, then later when they least expected it.  After a fair amount of rebellion because I was ready for the challenge, the point came when my sturdy legs weren’t willing to subject themselves to the next level.  Everyone breaks eventually in this place, in some way, and I did that.  My inner resolve to survive became part of me.

I learned there are those who aren’t satisfied, and they are the ones who like to leave marks on your flesh.  They want you to suffer, and hate to lose power.  You grit your teeth every time their fists connect to your ribs.  You reach deep inside to not scream and think about how strong you were when you first entered.  You convince yourself you’re still a good person. You are as strong as them is what you keep telling yourself.  I lost pride along the way, but I was better for it.  I learned to grab the rope when it was offered.  It’s been almost 30 years since I came here, and now I’m leaving today.  I’m not sure how long it will last, but long enough to walk the streets one last time.


Book Writing Exercise

Begin writing with the following sentence: “That was the time he stopped believing ———-.”

That was the time he stopped believing all was going as planned.  It wasn’t his fault although others close to him would later say it was only his fault.  He had grown up in such unusual circumstances, but was it really all that unusual.  He had a mother and a father who loved him dearly.  He had siblings who looked out for him as his name was etched deeper and deeper on the sports plaques and awards and once out of high school, his father’s Alma mater opened its arms even wider.  He was captain of every team he took part of and was what you’d call a success by the time he graduated.  He worked his way up the ranks of his father’s company.  He was everything a parent desired and everything he received after that was earned although some thought otherwise  Jealousy is found within those you least expect.  They come out of the woodwork stating how much they despise the golden spoon.

His scrunched up face, combined with his open mouth, meant the news was startling.  At first he thought one of his brothers or parents had gotten into a car accident, but then he recognized the voice.  It belonged to a woman he had dated not too long ago.  She deserved a man who could make her happy, as much as he deserved another suitable woman.  He thought that chapter in his life had closed as their parting had been mutual.  It had not as he asked, “what are you going to do?”  The question every man asks when he finds out the woman he once had a relationship with is pregnant.  She didn’t answer him right away, but when she did her voice was full of raw emotion. 

“What do you mean?  What am I going to do?  I’m going to have this baby and raise it like any good person would!”

“I didn’t mean it like that.”

“It sounded that way.”

“Don’t get upset.  I’m just surprised, that’s all.  I haven’t talked to you in over a month, and now you tell me I’m going to be a father.”

“It wasn’t what I was expecting either.  I’m not even sure you’re father material.”

“Have you thought about other options?”

“Like what?”

“There’s many parents who can’t have children of their own.”

“I’m not letting someone else raise my baby.  Who knows how he will end up?”

“We’re having a son?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“You said how he will end up.”

“I meant it generically.  I’m hoping for a girl.”

“So, adoption is out?”

“Yes.” There was a long pause before she spoke again.  “I don’t know.  I can’t think about that right now.  I basically called to tell you the news.”

“We need to talk about this more.”

“I know, but not right now.”


“Maybe, next week.”

“What day?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Okay, I’ll wait for your call.  Do you want me to stop by later?”

“No.  Just wait ’til my call.”

“Are you sure?”


“You sound stressed out right now.”

“Wouldn’t you be?”

“If I come over, we can discuss this more.”

“Not now.”

She hung up, leaving him wishing the call had been about a car accident.  In this situation, he knew what to do.  Being the youngest in his family, he was the one who convinced his older brother to give his marriage another shot.  He was the one who made the calls for his parents’ 50th anniversary.  He was the one who kept his composure during tense situations, but not on this day.  There was no rushing to the hospital to talk to the best doctors money could afford.  Surgery wasn’t required, and there was nothing to take away what he was feeling.  The anxiety and loss of independence he knew would still be there no matter how many pills he swallowed.  He had to convince her it was too early for him to be a father.  If that did not work, he looked down, almost in shame for what he thought.  It didn’t stay with him long, but long enough to remind him his life came first.


End of March Quotes


Poem: Of Knuckles and Perfume


Dear lady of the night,

I applaud you for all the things you haven’t given me,

And those things you will yet give me.

Thanking you enough for your hospitality cannot be done,

For you keep giving me something I shouldn’t have.

The hallways of your home have become my pathways to freedom.

Don’t worry, I’m never there long, just enough to reap the benefits.

You have nothing to fear.  I never mean you physical harm.

When you stumble upon my happenings, take a breath or two.

It’s not the crime of the century.

Remind yourself of the perfume you dab on your neck,

The color of scarf you wrap around your head,

The handmade shawl you bought at the market.

These things I have no use for, and what I took shouldn’t matter.

Let them bring you comfort in this time of loss.

Be open about our relationship not hopeless.

The time to know my name will come soon enough.

Dear lady of the brick house,

this is only one reality out of many.

Don’t cheapened the process with your tongue.

You hold onto possessions during the afternoon, knowing they aren’t enough,

and you cannot take your eyes from them when you should be sleeping.

Your denial entices me.

I see your body is broken.  It isn’t that you can’t have it back. 

You must persuade me in some way to return those things you claim to love.

Find a way to let go because your knuckles are not the color I want to see.



Poem: Not a Dirt Road


I came upon a fork on a dirt road,

with five options before me,

some must have been made by other shoes,

worn down year after year.

Confusion set in as my goal was to create my own path,

but I felt so tired,

and I wanted to get to the end quickly as possible,

even if the whole truth wasn’t there.

I spent a whole day entering each option,

giving equal time to the five dirt roads,

searching for the stumbles and failures of those before me.

More confusion set in as I found there wasn’t any answers,

none of my questions seemed important.

I propped against a dying tree,

not twenty feet from where I started my quest,

and realized my decision was mine alone.

No matter how much I stumbled,

how much I failed,

intensity of my thoughts,

the dirt moved the same distance whether I was angry or not.

I went back to the fork,

knowing it wasn’t a dirt road I was looking for,

knowing not exactly what,

but something else.



Three Writing Quotes

I sometimes browse the internet for quotes about writing by well-known authors who actually write or did write at one time.  I’m not one of them, yet, and by that I mean writing a book.  I don’t need to be well known, but it sure would be nice in the whole scheme of things, but plugging away at it is better than not doing anything at all.  Creating writing quotes is usually a sign I’m itching to get writing again (meaning flash fiction, short stories, but more my rewrite).  I would love to not have time to create quotes and devote all my time to writing (so I actually write the seven novels I set out to do) and exercising (so I don’t die prematurely).  Until that time arrives, I’ll probably keep up with quotes about writing and then tackle the next seven writing ideas.  The quotes are by Elizabeth Bowen.  She has good advice about other things too.








Gregory Peck Weekend Removed a Few Times

Quote from Moby Dick by Captain Ahab: “Sleep? That bed is a coffin, and those are winding sheets. I do not sleep, I die.”

Quote from On The Beach by Julian Osborne: “In the end, somehow granted the time for examination, we shall find that our so-called civilization was gloriously destroyed by a handful of vacuum tubes and transistors. Probably faulty.”

I regard Gregory Peck as one of the best actors of all time to grace the movie screens.  The first movie I watched him in was To Kill a Mockingbird and he will continue to be a screen legend.  Like this movie, Moby Dick and On the Beach, include pressing societal issues and in the case of Moby Dick, mental issues as well of Captain Ahab.  Peck would be nominated for five Academy Awards in his career and finally won and Oscar for To Kill a Mockingbird.

Moby Dick (1956) is an adventure and drama about Captain Ahab and his quest to get revenge on the white whale who physically injured him, but more to seek revenge for his damaged pride.  It is told from the viewpoint of Ishmael, one of his crew.  I have yet to finish reading the book, which has sat on my shelf for over two decades now.  This story is adapted from Herman Melville’s book, screenplay by Ray Bradbury and John Huston, and Norman Corwin where no credit was given.  It is directed by John Huston and stars Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab, Richard Basehart as Ishmael, Leo Genn as Starbuck, James Robertson Justice as Captain Boomer, Harry Andrews as Stubb, Bernard Miles as The Manxman, Noel Purcell as Ship’s Carpenter, Edric Connor as Daggoo, Mervyn Johns as Peleg, and Royal Dano as Elijah. It doesn’t have a rating and is 1 hour and 56 minutes long.

The film opens with Ismael meeting a Polynesian cannibal named Queequeg.  He along with Queequeg agree to take part of a voyage despite being warned about Captain Ahab.  On the Pequod, there are others who serve as company and some of them comfort to Ishmael including Starbuck, Stubb, Tashtego, Flask, Daggoo, Peleg, Elijah, and Fedallah.  It takes a while for Captain Ahab to appear, but when he does everyone finds out how ruthless and unforgiving he is when it comes to whales.  As they find success on these hunts, stories are bountiful including the real reason Ahab never wants to be on dry land.  The various ships they encounter have stories that paint a bleak picture for them.  Ahab might never find the white whale, but he will continue until the sea or the whale stop him.  When Moby Dick is finally seen, Ahab does everything in his power to weaken the white whale.  The chase is on and after Moby Dick destroys boats and terminates lives, Ahab has no choice but to go eye to eye with him.  The visuals in this movie are stunning, and while it clearly is not an actual whale, the final scene between Moby Dick and Ahab is one I will remember for a long time.  Despite Captain Ahab being a character I would not want to meet, I give Moby Dick a rating of 100% for the acting, direction, production design, and everything else that makes it a perfect movie.


On the Beach (1958) is a drama and romance about Commander Towers and his duty to his crew and survivors of the radiation fallout after World War III, including Moria Davidson who grabs his attention despite increasing tensions between the two.  This story is adapted from Nevil Shute’s book and screenplay by John Paxton. It is directed by Stanley Kramer and stars Gregory Peck as Cmdr. Dwight Lionel Towers, Ava Gardner as Moira Davidson, Fred Astaire as Julian Osborn, Anthony Perkins as Lt. Peter Holmes, Donna Anderson as Mary Holmes, John Tate as Adm. Bridie, Richard Meikle as Davis, John Meillon as Ralph Swain. It doesn’t have a rating and is 1 hour and 56 minutes long. I would say this is more depressing of the two films because of how death is presented.

The film begins in Australia where devastation from war has killed most of the inhabitants in the northern hemisphere.   It is in the south where people seek refuge including the American Commander Towers.  Most of them know the severity of the situation including Lt. Holmes and encourages his wife to face the fact they might die.   A few remain hopeful that the radiation poisoning will not reach them.  Despite the small chance of finding a few survivors, Towers and his officers sail on the USS Sawfish in search of them.  When they reach the west coast, the reality of the situation becomes authenticated in several ways.  This leads to the officers dealing with the inevitable in their own way whether it be through car racing, romantic getaways, or nostalgic monologues.  As USS Sawfish submerges underwater for the last time, it’s a somber ending to what could have been.  Unlike Captain Ahab, I wouldn’t mind meeting Commander Towers, but not under these circumstances.  The acting in this movie too was perfect.  It didn’t hold my attention as much as Moby Dick, but it was a near perfect movieTherefore, I give On the Beach a rating of 96%.




Top Ten Deadliest Dictators from the Past

dictatorshipI’ve been on a huge history kick lately.  I’ve been watching movies based on historical incidents, shows with historical aspects, and reading various material out there with historical elements.  It’s easier to focus on the glaring downside of political leadership.  For example, dictators who kill with impunity their own people.  While it’s more advantageous to focus on the present and the situations nations and people face today, the past is just as important.    Given the differences of views and jockeying for power within and between the political parties and factions, let’s hope for the best, concerning today’s political climate.  As I recently was told, sometimes you have to disconnect from what is happening on the political stage because the issues will always be there.  Piggybacking on this, changing the angle you’re standing at sometimes helps your perception of the issues.  While they may be the world’s most talked about political leaders and dare I say influential (mostly bad than good), how they came into power and retained power is fascinating.  Here are the top ten deadliest dictators according to World Atlas.  They rank in the order of the number of lives taken, which ranges from the low millions to almost 50,000,000 million (close enough, right?) people, and the worst part is some of them believed they did nothing wrong.

#1 Mao Zedong

“When there is not enough to eat, please starve to death.  It is better to let half the people die so that the other half can eat their fill.”

Mao Zedong was the Chairman of People’s Republic of China from 1946 to 1976.  He is responsible for killing around 47,263,517 of his own people. Of the 47.2 million that died, 36 million was from starvation.  It is known as the Maoist Catastrophe.  Zedong died in 1976 after a heart attack.

#2 Adolf Hitler

“How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.”

Adolf Hitler was the Chancellor of Germany and then Führer of Nazi Germany.  He is responsible for killing an estimated 13,674,790 Jewish Europeans and those he deemed a threat to the “Germanic Europe” he envisioned.  It is known as the Nazi Holocaust, but Soviets, Poles, Roma, Disabled, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Gays, Blacks, and opponents died as well.  Hitler died in 1945 by suicide although some believe he escaped with Ava Braun.

#3 Joseph Stalin

“Death is the solution to all problems.  No man – no problem.”

Joseph Stalin was the General Secretary and revolutionary of the Soviet Union.  He is responsible for killing about 13,038,405 of his own people.  It is known as the Great Purge, meaning he killed anyone who was a threat, but the Gulag and famine killed millions as well.  Stalin died in 1953 of a cerebral hemorrhage.

#4 Chiang Kai-shek

“We live in the present, we dream of the future, and we learn eternal truths from the past.”

Chiang Kai-shek was the military leader and politician of Republic of China. He is responsible for killing around 10,511,124 of his own people under Nationalist rule including Taiwanese during the White Terror.  Chiang died of natural causes in 1975.

#5 Leopold II

“I do not want to miss a good chance to getting us a slice of this magnificent African cake.”

King Leopold II of the Belgians was the sovereign of Congo Free State.  He is responsible for killing an estimated 10,588,090 Congolese Africans.  He brutalized the inhabitants of Congo through starvation, forced labor, and violent deaths.  Leopold II died in 1909 of natural causes.

#6 Hirohito and Hideki Tojo

“They do not depend upon mere legends and myths.  They are not predicated on the false conception that the Emperor is divine and the Japanese people are superior to other races.”

“It goes without saying that when survival is threatened, struggles erupt between peoples, and unfortunate wars between nations result.”

Emperor Hirohito and Prime Minister Hideki Tojo were the leaders of Japan. They are responsible for killing about 9,317,081 under Imperialist rule from East and Southeast Asia, Oceania, and the Pacific.  Hirohito died of duodenal cancer in 1989 and Tojo died in 1948 by execution (hanging).

#7 Pol Pot

“Since he is of no use anymore, there is no gain if he lives and no loss if he dies.”

Pol Pot was the leader of Kampuchea (now Cambodia).  He is responsible for killing around 2,039,657 under Khmer Rouge regime.  It is known as the Cambodian Holocaust with mass executions, forced labor, and malnutrition.  Pot died in 1998 of natural causes but other ways suggested have not been confirmed.

#8 Enver Pasha

“You are greatly mistaken.  We have this country absolutely under our control.  I have no desire to shift the blame onto our underlings and I am entirely willing to accept the responsibility myself for everything that has taken place.”

Enver Pasha was Triumvir of the Ottoman Empire (also known as Turkish Empire).  He is responsible for killing about 1,989,284 as leader of the Young Turk Revolution.  It is known as the Armenian Holocaust, which were those who lived in the Ottoman Empire.  Pasha died in 1922 by the Russians although accounts vary of who killed him.

#9 Kim Il-sung

“The most important thing is our war preparations is to teach all our people to hate U.S. imperialism.  Otherwise, we will not be able to defeat the U.S. imperialists who boast of their technological superiority.”

Kim Il-sung was the leader of North Korea.  He is responsible for killing an estimated 1,576,388 of his own people due to oppression from labor camps, starvation, and executions.  Kim died in 1994 of a heart attack.

#10 Nicholas II

“I am not ready to be a tsar.  I know nothing of the business of ruling.”

Nicholas the II was the Czar of the Russian empire.  He is responsible for killing around 1,161,895 of his own people although this number seems low.  His ineffective leadership during the Russian and Austrian war led to massive casualties, as well as deaths resulting from worker revolts.  Nicholas the II died in 1918 by a firing squad along with his immediate family.


This is by no means exhaustive because when you account for world leaders that aren’t dictators and/or probably care to preserve their political image a little better, especially in today’s world, the offshoots to this are many when you account for other variables.  For the sake of time, simplicity, and statistics, these were the leaders that consistently rank among the top as ruthless and/or careless dictators year after year.


Journal Entry Type #5


I live with someone who thinks I should listen to more music.  He’s probably right.  I should.  I no longer have my CD player that most everyone had as they graduated high school and went off to college or worked a job somewhere.  The CD player eventually stopped working, but the cassette player was still fine.  I seem to be stuck in the 90s as that is the decade I was in high school.  Maybe, I’m just missing those years and having some nostalgia.  Why?  I don’t know.  The Reality Bites movie was all the rage and Winona Ryder still hasn’t won an Oscar although people have clued into the weird faces she has the ability to make.  A recent poll asked who was the best grunge singer: Eddie Vedder, Layne Staley, Chris Cornell, or Kurt Cobain.  My roommate asked me this all important question.  We had the same answer and in the same pecking order.  Two minds think alike even though he’s a Millennial and I’m a part of Generation X.  And if you’re wondering what the answer is, it is should be this: Chris Cornell, Layne Staley, Eddie Vedder, and Kurt Cobain.  Sorry, Kurt but Chris blows your voice out into outer space and then some.  Sure, Eddie Vedder has that voice, but Chris Cornell really had that voice.  Does anyone remember Layne Staley? I sure do.  Don’t get me started about the current singers, pop stars in particular, although K-Pop is an interesting phenomenon.  Do I listen to it?  No.  Will I give it a try?  Probably not.  This brings me to the Millennials.  They get a bad rap and while some of it might be true, a lot of it is not.  Unfortunately, I have adopted some bad Millennial stereotypes myself such as being glued to my iPhone too much and addicted to social media at times.  I catch myself being too absorbed with what is going on with the British Royal family although lately I’m like enough about the supposed fights among the members and then by way of that seeing the boneheaded things certain reality stars are doing or not doing.  I call it social media pollution where I have to ask myself again, “who the hell gives a crap about person X or person Y?”  Or another question, “why the hell does this bother me so damn much?”  Or better yet, “why am I looking at this?”  I try my best to give everyone a fair shake and forgive those who I feel are severely lacking, but for a select few there isn’t much they could do to change my mind.  They take up precious oxygen that could be used by others who need it more. 

This brings me to the purpose of this blog, I suppose, and that is how much should a person fight for the things they believe in and when do they let go of the fight when it clearly isn’t working in his or her favor.  I used to get amped up more back in the day about topics I was passionate about, but now it’s like “I’m no longer in my 20s or 30s and while I’m not freaking out that my life is passing me by (okay maybe a little bit), I’ve taken a more “not give a rat’s ass attitude and get on with my life as best I can.”  I might sound a little jaded here, but I’ve lived a life trying to better myself in every which way possible and while sometimes I failed miserably, other times I didn’t.  I plan on writing a humorous, sarcastic, realistic, and maybe somewhat emotional book later about what it means to have my brain.  I think it could be fascinating and entertaining at the same time.  Someone once told me it must hurt to have my brain because I think so damn much, and at this point in my life, I doubt I’ll change that much.  Yet, when it comes to the power of my brain and its overload, in some ways I have because I can now learn to think “fuck it,” say “fuck it,” and do “fuck it” in the sense of fucking scrap everything I had planned on a certain day and just exist.  Some days I need to just exist and not have a massive plan written down on paper and in my head and just live.  This is what my life has always been, constantly trying to catch up and as my roommate says, “jam packing a thousand things into one day.”  As you can probably guess, this isn’t such a great way to live, let alone healthy.  It causes great stress among other things such as pressure.  So, as I inch closer to 50 although as of right now I’m closer to 40, it won’t be that way forever.  This begs the question of why some people think it isn’t right to ask a woman her age.  My response to this is “I don’t care if people know my age,” because I would hope you’d be able to ballpark it given how the more than a few strands of white hair on my head  are clearly visible (still not sure how I feel about this) and the lines on my face that used to not be there are definitely there.  For the first time, I admit that if I had an unlimited supply of money I might do something to decrease the size of my pores and the wrinkles on my face, but this is vanity speaking.  It’s better to think about the things I don’t have in terms of illness and focus on the things I want in life that mean way more to me than losing my wrinkles. 

I’m at a point where I’m subtracting crap that doesn’t work for me (mainly mentally and emotionally) and hopefully working to add stuff I desire (mainly physical and monetary).  I live a life of plotting, editing, and sorting enough that writing without much planning is a good thing.  I call it diarrhea of the mouth.  I also call it a reminder to get my ass back in gear with my rewrite because my life is a circle of continuous action and non action.  I don’t have time for sharp edges like triangles and squares anymore.  I don’t have time for overly caustic people who can’t even put themselves into another person’s shoes.  I’m not asking for a week’s length of time, maybe a few minutes, but I find this lack of commonality alarming.  I get humans are different people because of race, class, and values. We all don’t have to think and act the same.  We seem to be in conflict as a collective whole where people minimize important issues while exploiting others that are taken way out of context.  We’ve never reached the middle ground as a society, and while I’m a loyal supporter of a few causes and beliefs (being you will never convince me that dog fighting is a good thing or that you will never convince me to sit down for a complimentary paid lunch at the fanciest restaurant LA can offer with any of the Kardashian family including Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner), I think it has to be there somewhere. It’s hard given the current political atmosphere to remain quiet all of the time, and while I might post something that will irritate some people (those hardcore supporters that will go down in flames defending their beliefs), I’m not going to be silent because of fear I will upset someone.  I consider myself respectful in most circumstances, but I’m not a shameless agitator either.  I realize the political climate is fragile and not just in the U.S. although from where I’m sitting, it seems the U.S. is dominating world headlines for all the wrong reasons.  I often wonder how the world views the U.S. as a collective whole.  As I’m learning not to carry the weight of others and world issues on my shoulders, I’m curbing my need to also not over think these issues either.  My focus has been more inward, on what I have control over and can change.  With this in mind, I think it’s time to crack out any one of my CDs collecting dust and crank up the tunes and forget about labels and get shit done without pressure.  You know how it goes, right?


Book Recommendation: SuperFreakonomics

“Most of us want to fix or change the world in some fashion.  But to change the world, you first have to understand it.”

-Steven D. Levitt-

“I’m a writer.  I’ve been a journalist for my whole adult life.”

-Stephen Dubner-



Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Original Publication: October 20, 2009

Reprint Publication: May 11, 2011

Page Number: 320

This is the follow-up to their popular first book called Freakonomics.  It is written by the same people who wrote Freakonomics.  Levitt continues to be an economist and has had some controversy along the way.  Dubner continues to be a writer and journalist.  SuperFreakonomics explores interesting topics as the first book, and did not take much to read it in a short span of time.  The various topics from prostitution, suicide bombers, drunk driving versus drunk walking, hospitals and hand washing practices or should I say lack of, global warming effects and solutions, and altruistic intentions are all included in this book.  I may not have agreed with everything written, but it opened my eyes on entertaining other points of view.  When you factor in the statistics, most of it is pretty self-explanatory.  The evidence shows you are more likely to get hurt walking drunk than driving drunk.  They explain why suicide bombers should be life insurance even though it makes no sense when you think about it. A small group of highly intelligent scientists, inventors, and others who belong to Mensa differ in how to reverse global warming, and it is this part I found most fascinating because it challenged some of my core beliefs.  There is no disputing that science and technology serves a positive purpose for future improvements and longevity for humans and overall survival.  In what paths are taken, this still remains the question.  If you admire people doing all the hard work to provide interesting material that’s easy to read, this is the book for you.


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