Round Robin

Chapter 10: Tip of the Iceberg

The woman with the pasties went to the door marked PRIVATE. She was there for a long time and my buzz was starting to wear off. Sober, the chapel looked cheap, well cheaper, and dingy. Sad. Finally, The pasties and the women stuck to them returned with a woman with red hair. It wasn’t a natural red, more of a tomato red.

“This is her.”

“Do we know each other?” I asked Red.

“No, but we know the same man. We both married Simon.”

“Simon! That’s his name!” I snapped my fingers as the name rang every bell in my head. “Yes, that’s it. Simon. Wait; you married him too? He’s a bigamist?”

“Yes, he’s a bigamist. And a jerk. Well, since we’re step-wives I should introduce myself, I’m Ruthie, wife number two – I think..” Ruthie stuck a hand out toward me.

“I’m Trisha. I’m looking for Simon.” I shook her hand.

“Well, honey, you just missed him. I confronted him and he ran out of here like a bat outta hell.”

“Wait. What? He was here? Just now?” Did I nearly get run over by my husband and not even recognize him? What kind of wife does that make me? Not that he recognized me either.

“He made up some cockamamie story about being a romance novelist doing research. He was trying to get Reverend Archie to go through the files to find his marriage certificate. Come to think about it, it was his marriage certificate to you he was looking for.” Ruthie put her hands on her hips. I couldn’t discern if she was angry or just uncomfortable in her show-girl costume.

“Did he say where he was going?”

“No, he just ran out of here.”

I dashed out of the chapel and into the night air. Was he looking for me? Would I be able to find him? Could I remember what he looked like? What number wife was I? Simon. Crap, I should have asked for a last name.

To be continued….

Chapter 8: The Way We Were

“I just don’t know whyyyy I can’t find a good maaaaan,” Betsy whined. Her head was resting on the bar, her big hair flattened.

“Well, for starters, men are put off by whining drunk women laying on the bar in a puddle of melted ice.”

“You’re always so mean.” She hoisted her head up and grabbed a stack of cocktail napkins to wipe her running nose and mascara. I picked stray pieces of popcorn our of her hair.

“Let’s do something. You choose; we can up to my room and watch ‘Titanic’ again, or, we can go for a walk outside and get some fresh air.” Deep down inside I really wanted to get as drunk as Betsy, if not drunker. But I longed for a happy-drunk time not a whiny-drunk time. I missed laughing and feeling carefree. The last time I was here was so much fun. Well, until the next morning.

I looked around. Mr. Sad Disco Toupee was still trying to make a positive impression. I admired his tenacity. The umbrella still clung to his shoe. I admired that as well. Another siren was going off in the casino and cheers went up. People were happy. I wanted to be happy.

“I want to go to bed,” Betsy announced.

With Betsy tucked away and snoring in her bed, I decided to take a walk. The pool was still lively even at this time of night. A dance party was going on on the far end by the cabanas. I meandered to the pool bar and squeezed my way up to the bar. I ordered my favorite frozen green beverage and sucked it down and then ordered another.

When I’d had about four of my favorite refreshments, I stumbled my way down the alley. It was more out of curiosity than anything else. There, tucked away between the tattoo parlor and the ice cream shop was the chapel. I peeked in the window. It was as tacky and over the top as I remembered it being. I wanted to go in but there were two couples waiting in line for their turn with Elvis.

A man came dashing out of the chapel, nearly knocking me over. He didn’t say a word, not even a half-hearted apology. Jerk.

“Come inside, we need your help,” the woman said holding open the door. I couldn’t imagine how a half-naked woman with big hair and pasties with tassels holding a Bible could need my help. I must have looked foolish standing there with my mouth wide open not knowing what to look at – hair, tassels, Bible, eyes.

“We’re backed up and we need an extra witness.” She grabbed my hand and dragged me inside.

I stood by the next bride while the tasseled woman performed the rite of holy matrimony. I suppressed the urge to giggle every time the bride swayed and I would dutifully nudge her with my shoulder into an upright position again. At the end of the ceremony, I was handed a pen with a big plastic flower wired to it and shown where to sign my name on the witness line. I handed the certificate back to Tassels.

“Huh, that’s interesting,” she said.


“Your name.”


To be continued….


Chapter 6: Ships That Pass

“You promised, no men,” I reminded Betsy.

“I know, but it was nice of him to buy us drinks. He’s so cute. Don’t look, he’s looking at us.”

I looked over at the man at the end of the bar. He had a bad toupee and polyester clothing. He was trying to look younger than his middle-aged years and failing. It was sad. He waved at us and raised his glass. I rolled my eyes and Betsy wiggled her fingers at him and raised her glass back.

“Don’t encourage him. And how can you think he’s cute?”

“Not him. Eeww. But his friend next to him is really cute. Oh crap, the old guy is coming over. And he’s not bringing his friend.”

“I don’t think they’re friends.” I watched with negative anticipation as Mr. 1970s strolled over. He had hurricane glass filled to the top with a pink-ish beverage and an umbrella. On his way over the umbrella fell out and landed on the top of his shoe and stuck there. Sad.

“Hey ladies, what brings you to Vegas?” His breath smelled of cigarettes and rum.

“Business trip,” I said curtly. “Thanks for the drinks but we’re not interested.”

He glared at me and turned his attention to Betsy. “Are you hungry? Maybe we could have dinner together.”

Betsy panicked. “Oh, ummm, oh, no thank you.” She grabbed my hand with one of hers and the other she rested on my shoulder. “We’re together, if you know what I mean.” She batted her eyes at him and gave him a sheepish, apologetic smile.

The head nodded but the toupee did not. Sad. I watched with relief as he left our table and cruised to another table with four young ladies. His collar was turned up on one side, limp on the other, and the umbrella still clung to his shoe. I couldn’t watch anymore.

Betsy wasted no time whatsoever to glide over to the “cute” friend and took over the vacated bar stool. She placed her empty glass on the bar in front of her, running her finger around the rim. With a wave of his finger, the bartender brought a full glass. She was working hard, he was interested but restrained. This was better than watching the movie “Titanic” again, but the outcome was just as predictable.

I watched from my bar table the thrust and parry between the two. Betsy was clearly the aggressor. He was polite and he would occasionally rest his arm on the back of her stool only to pull it away. I couldn’t get a good view of his face; it was hidden behind Betsy’s hair. If I could just see his eyes, I’d know…

The sound of someone squealing and sirens in the casino caught my attention. Yup, about every 27 minutes someone won a jackpot of some kind. Twenty dollars was cause of a gigantic celebration. Someone brushing past me turned my attention back to the bar. Betsy had returned to our table.

“What’s up? Are you going to his room or is his going to yours?”

Betsy pouted. “No, he said I’m adorable but that he’s married.” she stared past me.

I followed her gaze and saw his broad shoulders and nice trousers stroll through the casino and disappear behind the Wheel of Fortune. Huh. A guy in Vegas with integrity. Who’d’ve guessed.

Chapter 4: Party Girls

Betsy lay on her bed, eyes closed, arms and legs spread eagle. She sighed deeply. “Oh my God. I can’t take it.”

“What’s your problem?” I asked.

“My love life is in the toilet. I need a change of scenery. I need a vacation.”

“You have more changes of scenery than anyone else I know. You need to stay in more.”

Betsy sat up and leaned forward. “Where did you go on your training thing?”

“Vegas,” I winced at the memory.

“Let’s go there!” She bounded off the bed and went to her closet. Clothes flew out and onto the bed. “We can go for a few days, hit the casinos, eat great food, site see, shop, hit a spa… It’ll be fun! Just us girls.” She hopped up and down and clapped her hands with gleeful expectation.

“Betsy,” I said shaking my head, “Vegas is not a good place to go. Bad things happen there. Things that can’t be undone. I promise, you do not want to go there.”

“Oh come on. You make it sound like a house of horrors. We’ll have a good time.” Betsy grabbed a suitcase and began stuffing clothes into it. “It doesn’t matter if I forget anything, I can just get it there. Go home Trisha and get packed. I’ll meet you at your house in an hour.”


I pulled out the dress I wore for my wedding. I have self control. I don’t have to repeat the actions of the past. I can just go to Vegas and have a fun week without making a fool of myself – or get married again. Yeah, I’ll keep telling myself that.

It was flurry of motion. The cab ride. Betsy’s Hawaiian shirt dress, big hair and sunglasses. The ticket counter and credit cards. Betsy giggling like a toddler going to Disney. Security lines and pat-downs. And after what seemed like a second and an eon at the same time were were on the plane.

“This is so exciting!” Betsy squealed.

“I know. You’ve said so. Where are we staying any way? The Golden Nugget? The Bellagio?”

“No! But I want to see the fountains. We’re staying at the Luxor. They have the Titanic exhibit there. Isn’t that amazing?”

“The Luxor? Uuuuggghh.” I moaned.

“What’s the matter? I thought you’d like it there.”

“It’s fine,” I said turning away from her, hiding my face. Memories of the giant pyramid flooded me. The spotlight from the top – the beacon. The casino, the bar, the restaurants, the chapel in the alley. I wondered if I’d see whats-his-name again. I wondered if I would be able to  resist the urge to look for him. I wondered if I’d recognize him.

“We will begin our departure from the gate….” the announcement started.

To be continued….

Chapter 2: It’s No Big Deal

I can’t really say I’ve never been in a relationship. There have been a couple of times where I tried to attach myself to someone and be happy with it. It just never really worked out in the end. And recently, as in the last two years, Betsy was right, I hadn’t been with anyone. But that’s because of my secret. I don’t know why I keep it a secret, it’s no big deal really. I mean everyone gets married. And everyone splits up. So, I guess my life is pretty normal in that regard.

We just skipped the whole get the divorce part. So, technically, I’m still married. And actually, what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas. You’re married everywhere. I’d ask for a divorce if I could remember his name. And I guess, I’m a little embarrassed about turning what should have been a great drunken one night stand into a HUGE mistake I can’t fix. So, I keep it a secret.

It had been a great time. I was in Vegas on business. The last training session was boring so I feigned a headache and left. It’s Vegas, a girl is entitled to a little fun after all. And the idea of a group outing to go bowling or golfing with other people from my company didn’t sound like the kind of Vegas fun you want to have. Instead, I hit the pool bar.

I love pool bars. You sit at the pool, listen to reggae music, and you get served these cool drinks which are pretty colors with fruit and tiny umbrellas. My favorite drinks are the green ones. They are so refreshing. And they will get you drunk faster than you can slap your granny.

Eventually, you have to pee which means you have to get off your bar stool which means you have to stand and walk. Well, after too many refreshing green beverages, you can’t do that very well and you may step on your own flip flop. Fortunately, I was caught in mid stumble by a really great smile with big brown eyes. The rest of him was pretty good too. I giggled because I was drunk and embarrassed but it must have come off like I was flirting. Next thing I know we are hanging out and having a great time.

It was a magical night. There was food; an endless buffet of food. Music and dancing. And everywhere there was booze. I loved how his eyes crinkled when he smiled and laughed. His laugh was musical and infectious. We got married in a little chapel tucked away in an alley. It was very cliche but our officiant was an Elvis impersonator. We laughed all the way through the ceremony.

I may not know my husbands name, but I remember our wedding night. I still dream about our wedding night. He was an incredible kisser. He made my knees weak,  made me short of breath, and made my heart pound. I won’t tell about the rest of the honeymoon but lets just say, I will remember that night for the rest of my life. And I smile when I do. The next morning I woke up alone. A note was scrawled on a cocktail napkin. It read, “Thank you for a beautiful honeymoon. I look forward to our life together when the time is right. I will find you later my wife. Your loving husband.”

And that’s what I get for letting my guard down and getting all happy-feely. I’m married to a guy I don’t know. I don’t know his name, where he is, what he does, or anyway I can correct this huge mistake. So I just keep it a secret and try to go on with my life. And still, in the back of my mind I wonder if I’ll ever see him again. It’s no big deal really.

To be continued…..


Chapter 12: The End

“I wish for ice cream,” Dionne said.

“What?” Elvis asked sitting on a struggling Frankie.

“You said to make a wish. I wish for ice cream.”

“No, you foolish dragon. Breathe fire on Frankie.”

“Then can I get ice cream?”

“Get off me you stupid elf!” Frankie fought to throw Elivs off her.

“Dionne, please. I’m sure Mabel will write in ice cream for you. Just breathe fire on Frankie. I can’t hold her down forever. If she breaks loose she will erase us!”

“But if I breathe fire on her, I’ll be erasing her. Then I’ll be an eraser,” Dionne burst into tears. “I don’t want to be an eraser! Waaaaa! Hic!” Dionne’s crying brought on a case of the hiccups. Her second hiccup came out as a ball of fire.

“Yes! That’s it! Just aim your hiccups this way!” Elvis cheered.

A teary Dionne turned toward Elvis. “What? Hic!”

Elvis dove off Frankie just as Dionne’s fire ball hit square in the center of Elvis’s cloak sending up a plume of smoke.

“Whoa! Those are some hiccups,” Elvis said with a low whistle.

They stared at the blanket. It was scorched but otherwise in tact. The figure underneath was still.

“Is Frankie okay Elvis?” Dionne asked.

The figure below began to move and the cloak slowly slid off to reveal a dazed and confused Frankie. She was dressed in her fairy dress and wearing her wings. She shook her head and flapped her wings. Fairy dust fluttered all around them.

“What happened?” Frankie asked rubbing her head.

“What’s the last thing you remember?”

“I was visiting my sister in her story Summer in Fairy Land when I was hit in the head from behind. How did I get here? What story is this?”

Dionne bear-hugged Frankie sending dust all over. “I thought you weren’t yourself! I’m so glad you’re back!”

More and more words filled the pages. Pages began flipping. Characters returned; confused at first, but happy to be back in place again.

“II think it’s safe to go back to our stories now,” Elvis said.

“How do you know?”

Elvis pointed to the last two words….

The End

Chapter 10: It’s a Secret

Elvis flipped through the pages of the mysterious book. “The only words in chapter 1 are ‘run fast.’ The only words in chapter 2 are ‘erasers are coming.’ We know this already. How is this book going to help?”

“I don’t want to be erased!” wailed Dionne exhaling a wisp of smoke.

“At least you’re not burping fire balls anymore. That’s a good thing, right?” Frankie said.

“Chapter 3 only says ‘they can be destroyed,'” Elvis continued.

“Well, then perhaps Mabel left the instructions in the next chapter,” Frankie said rolling her eyes.

“I have a cousin Mabel,” Elvis said. “I wonder if this is her. She’s a writer of sorts.”

“How can you have a cousin who’s a real person? We’re fictional characters.”

“Yeah, well, that’s complicated. Chapter 5 is more interesting. Listen. ‘The erasers can be defeated. All things in fiction are possible. You must use your imagination to control the situation. Don’t let them get close to you even if you know them. Follow these rules. Step 1: Sprinkle fairy dust on yourself. It will protect you. Step 2: An elvin cloak can be used as wings to help you soar up and out. Step 3: Dragon’s breath – a flame – is a signal flare. Help will be on the way.'”

Frankie and Dionne looked at Elvis blankly. Dionne hugged her tail, straightening and polishing her scales. “So, if an eraser comes I need to send up a signal. But to who? How do we know we won’t signal another eraser to come wipe us out?”

“Like, what….they hunt in packs?” Frankie crossed her arms. “I’ve got plenty of fairy dust, but I don’t have my wings so I can’t fly. If the elvin cloak acts as wings, the writer probably wants Elvis to fly. Dionne, you can fly. Can I catch a ride on you?”

“Sure, I guess so. But where would we go?”

Elvis continued, “This is so cool. The words are just appearing here in real time. The narrator says ‘You fly out of the book and warn others. Spread fairy dust.'”

Frankie said, “Okay, if you’re so smart, Mabel, how do we know who is an eraser and who’s not? And how do we defeat them?”

Elvis read, “‘Shmendrick.’ Hey, that sounds like my cousin! ‘It is your cousin you big dummy. Listen up. Erasers are within you, within all of us. They are the secret desires we have. Destroy the secrets and you destroy the erasers.'”

The sky began to lighten with the opening of the cover. The trio looked up in fear and dread not knowing what was approaching. Just what sort of secret desires could be their doom?

To be continued…

Chapter 8: All Things Are Possible

Mabel stood frozen with disbelief in the recording studio. How? How could this be? How could he be an eraser?

“Mabel, mi amor, stop your silly writing and come away with me. We’ll travel the world as we imagined and see all the beautiful things there are to see.” He tried the door knob but it was locked.

Mabel’s mind reeled. She had to shake off this betrayal this unimaginable betrayal, and think! Think fast! “Carlos, I can’t believe you’re here. I can’t believe this is real.”

“Yes, mi amor, in fiction all things are possible.” He picked up a chair and hit the Plexiglas trying to break his way in.

Mabel put on her headphones and started speaking.

“The door was welded shut and there was no way for the betrayer to enter the room. The glass could not and would not break. He could not reach her.”

And the door was sealed shut, thwarting Carlos’s attempts at entry.

“Why do you keep us apart, my darling? I’m mesmerized by your beauty and can only do as you ask. I will protect you with all that I am and all that I have. I could not bring harm to you.” Carlos reached out with his velvet voice and silken words. His big brown eyes showed a warmth and sensitivity. His broad shoulders and well-muscled form offered comfort and security. 

Mabel wanted to believe him. She longed to be held in his arms and to feel safe. He was handsome, caring, smart and she could tell all her thoughts, hopes and fears to him. He kept her secrets and listened to her without interruption. He shared her dreams of traveling and adventures. He was her hero and… He was her creation. Her dream man. He wasn’t real.

Mabel closed her eyes and spoke again into the microphone.

“The beautiful woman said, ‘Carlos, I no longer lover you. We can no longer be together.’

Carlos clutched his chest. ‘Mi amor, you are breaking my heart. I cannot live without you.'”

Mabel watched Carlos mimic the actions in her narrative. She continued.

“‘Carlos, I cannot save you. I must go on with my life without you.’

Carlos said, ‘I’m dying without your love. I will die and return to dust.'”

And with her final words Carlos fell to the floor, lifeless, and turned to dust. Mabel spoke new words and opened the door.

“In fiction all things are possible. Brilliant!”

Once more Mabel put on the headphones and began speaking into the microphone. “Once upon a time there were wondrous creatures great and small, magical and not. They happily lived in wonderful books teaching lessons and having adventures. One day, a terrible magician appeared and tried to take away the stories. He made evil beings called erasers and sent them out into the world of stories to destroy them and the characters who live there. But one day, the evil magician made a terrible mistake and a narrator learned how to control them…”

To be continued…..


Chapter 6: Drawing Straws

Francesca glanced at her two companions Mabel and Bob. “Um, what do you mean by a ‘ritual sacrifice’? Who, or what, gets sacrificed? And how?”

The dark man turned his hooded head toward Francesca. “One character type must be completely eliminated. Make them extinct. The ‘how’ is between the three of you. But know this,” he leaned closer to the trio bringing a chill upon them, “you will do it or you will become extinct.” With that, he disappeared in a puff of smoke.

The trio coughed and waved their hands in front of their faces. “Gah! I hate that. Is he not aware that second-hand smoke is bad?” asked Bob.

“I don’t think he cares,” Mabel replied. “And what’s with you, Francesca? Have you gone completely mishegas? You can’t confront him; you’ll end up being the ‘sacrifice’.

“I just don’t know about this. We were hired to write fiction. New fiction. Now he’s all dark and twisted and smokey and wanting us to rewrite fiction and make characters extinct. And what’s with the cauldron? So cliché.  I don’t get it.”

“We don’t need to ‘get it’ we just need to do it. So, who’s it gonna be? Aliens? Fairies? Elves? Witches? Worlocks? Wizards? Who?” Bob asked.

“Not elves. Those are my people. I have a second cousin who’s an elf. He’s an ass, but still, he’s mishpocheh.” said  Mabel. “There’re a number of inter-species marriages to consider. What happens to the children? If we eliminate fairies and there are half-fairy half-elf children, do they cease to exist too?”

“I can’t believe you all are even talking about this!” exclaimed Francesca. “I suggest we take out the dark and twisty guy. Let’s make him extinct.”

Bob and Mabel looked at one another and then to Francesca. “That would certainly pull us out of our current predicament. Of course, he hasn’t paid us yet for what we’ve already written…. Hey…, I don’t think he’s gonna pay us.” Bob said.

Shmendrick.” Mabel rolled her eyes. “I’m in. How do we eliminate the Dark One?”

Francesca shrugged. “I don’t know. We need to do some research. Let’s go to the library and see what other authors did to eliminate their villains. And, I have a feeling, we’ll need to get some help.”

“Oohh! This sounds like an adventure story!” Mabel said. “My elf cousin, Elvis, was in an adventure story. I bet if we could find him, he would know how to gather people toward one purpose.”

“Yes, we’ll find him and let him do it,” said Bob.

“I said he’d know how to do it. Not that he could do it. He’s an ass with very few friends. But, he could tell us how to do it and perhaps introduce us to a few characters willing to help us not eliminate them.” Mabel answered.

“I forgot about the Erasers. How do we keep our Erasers from following us, or reporting back to ol’ Dark and Twisty?” Bob asked.

“One of us will have to stay back here and keep the erasers busy. Write a story without any characters. Keep making mistakes that will keep them busy erasing,” Francesca said.

“How do you write fiction without any characters?”

“Can we make up some unreal characters and then erase them?”

“No. When you write a character you give it a personality, make it talk, it has thoughts, it has potential even if it only becomes a secondary character or a walk-on character. A character is a person as soon as it’s conceived. Erasing it, would be the same as erasing one of the characters we already know.”

“Then we write a fiction story with only one character – a narrator.”

“But that’s suicide! Who wants to commit suicide?!”

They looked from one to another and fell silent for a moment. Each looking inside themselves for the ability to be the sacrifice, or worse, to be the one to condemn one of their cohorts.

“We’ll have to draw straws.”

To be continued…


Chapter 4: Seventh Circle of Hell

I hoisted one heavy box up the pull-down ladder and into the attic. Even for this time of year the attic was hot and stuffy. A nice change from chilly temps downstairs. Before I brought more boxes up, I thought I should look around for the box of Christmas decorations Grandma wanted me to schlep down. At first glance the attic looked neatly organized but when you took a closer look it was more of a warehouse. Boxes stacked on boxes, floor to roof, rows in front of rows. The the idea of spending the day searching for the decoration box made my head swim. If it wasn’t in the first wall of boxes, then it was in the next, or the next. Not hours of searching, we’re talking days. The aunties had put the boxes from my room at the base of the ladder making it an acrobatic feat to get down; I managed and went in search for Grandma.

“Um, Grandma, that box of decorations you want… where is it?”

“In the attic, silly,” she said rummaging through the top drawer of the antique secretary which stood in the corner.

“Grandma,” I sighed, “there are a thousand boxes in the attic. Can you be a little more specific?”

“Louisa Jane, don’t exaggerate. There most certainly are not a thousand boxes. My last count was two hundred and eighty-three. Phooey!” she slammed the drawer shut and started into the second drawer.

“Okay, of the two hundred and eighty-three boxes where might the decoration box be?

She closed the drawer and moved to the desk and began her search anew. “Christmas is when Santa comes. Santa lives in the North Pole. So, the Christmas decorations are on the north side of the house. Oh, I give up!”

“What are you looking for, Grandma?”

She straightened up and put her hands on her hips. “What dear?”

“What are you looking for, Grandma?”

“I can’t remember now. No matter, it’ll come to me.” I left her standing in the living room scratching her head and ascended into my seventh circle of hell.

The north side of the house had a wall of boxes that was four across and four high and, mercifully, only two deep. Still, moving and searching through thirty-two boxes was daunting. Not one of the boxes was labeled and I decided that I just might do Grandma and the Aunties a huge favor and label them. Eventually, someone and some point is going to have to go through all of it.

Starting on the top left I searched and labeled and replaced. Most of the stuff was old children’s toys and clothes. The toys were certainly collectors’ items and wouldn’t pass the safety standards for today’s children’s’ toys. I made a mental note to ask about them. Maybe Grandma and the aunts would be willing to part with them, sell them, and put aside the proceeds for future use. The Christmas decorations were not just one box; there were five of them. And all five were the last boxes I went through.

Once the boxes, and I were freed from the attic, it was another staircase down to get them all into the living room. I was happy to be done with that chore, happy that I was able to help Grandma, and angry that I had forgotten to put on my fitbit. I’m sure I completed my entire week’s scheduled workouts.

“Oh good!” Grandma beamed at the boxes. “Thank you dear. Now, let’s get started and cheer this place up.”

“Grandma, I was going to take a nap. I have to work tonight so…”

“Oh please, you can nap at work. The dead people won’t care. Now, where did I put the tape?” Grandma resumed her search through the drawers. I slipped out and went back to my room. I needed a little shut-eye. Believe it or not, the dead people do care.

To be continued….



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