Not Long Tales … October 22nd, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4205)

11.

Tuesday’s Toodle

After thirty-five years of “workin’ on the railroad all the livelong day,” Gerald McCallister retired to a tiny, two-bedroom home with purple shutters, a mile-and-a-half outside the little village of Coreyville, Georgia. He was a single man with no children and no relatives who seemed to recall the “tie that binds.”

After months of going through the desperation of trying to find a purpose for his life, he was nearly on his last breath of despair. It was especially difficult late at night, when he found himself tumbling into the deep-dark caverns of depression, dwelling with deep consideration on his demise, even the taking of his own life. In those agonizing junctures of dismay, it seemed logical to leave instead of continuing the absurdity of repetition.

But each morning the sunlight offered such a cheery outlook that he sat down at a small wooden table he had made for himself years before and relished his cup of coffee and a plateful of sliced corn-meal mush he had fried to a crisp and drizzled with maple syrup.

But it was a to-and-fro that certainly could not continue. The agony of the nighttime was consuming the hope of the new day.

Finally one night his heart was overthrown by anguish, and he made a promise to all the blackened room around him. He believed it to be a prayer, though he was not sure it had the power to ascend. “If anyone is listening,” he said, “please hear. I cannot pretend anymore. I will not fake my life. I will continue to faithfully chase the weeks and months if you will do three things. Yes — just three things. Every day I will make a simple list of people, happenings or events that I wish to see, and during my walk to town, my journey through the village, my lunch at the diner, and my return to my home, if I see those three things, I promise to you — or to anyone who’s listening — that I will not grab my hunting rifle and climb into the bathtub, tuck it under my chin, pull the trigger and blow my brains into the face of God.”

Strangely enough, this petition gave strength to Gerald’s heart, for the next morning he had a true purpose — to pick his three things. He decided to call it his “Toodle List” — short for “To Do Today.”

Gerald McCallister was not insane nor was he in search of miracles. Just connection. He was never going to place anything miraculous or outlandish on his list — nothing beyond the spectrum of what was available in his community. Just three insignificant little jobs. He figured it was one task for the Father, one for the Son and one for the Holy Ghost.

The list he made on the first morning was a request for a squirrel running by his feet, a bird singing in a tree and hearing the sound of an automobile’s honking horn. Sure enough — during the four-and-a-half hours of walking to Coreyville and back, all three were provided. This went on for weeks.

Gerald decided to do his Toodle list every day except Sunday. On Sunday he made the walk into town to attend the Glory Land Church of God in Christ. It was a black church, and Gerald was white — what you might call “china white.” He didn’t care. He loved the music, he loved the spirit, and even liked it a little bit that they stared at him, wondering why he didn’t go to the Baptist Church down the street, that was of a lighter hue.

But more than anything else, Gerald loved it when the black folks got to prayin’ and would suddenly slip out of their native tongue, into a language he didn’t understand, which he was told by the pastor was “heaven speak.”

Reverend Kepling, the minister of the congregation, told Gerald, “It’s when you get so close to God that your tongue goes heavenly and your talkin’ to just Him and nobody else.”

Gerald thought about how marvelous that sounded. He, himself, had no such dialect. But he sure loved to listen to them chat away.

There was one other white man who came to the church occasionally, but he usually showed up for the choir concerts, to tap his foot awhile to the Gospel tunes. He didn’t know about the supernal speaking that went on, from the Earthly angels.

Yet even though Gerald attended the church, he never got close to anyone, only having lunch at the Coreyville diner once a month with the pastor — more or less because they would always eventually run into each other. During one of those luncheons, Gerald worked up the courage to tell the young cleric about the deal he had made in the dark room. He was about halfway through his explanation — in the middle of describing the requests he made daily of God — when the young minister interrupted, horrified. “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God!” he objected.

Gerald sat and stared at him, not certain of the meaning, but figured it was time to cease being transparent.

More time passed.

There was also an older woman at the church who expressed some fondness for Gerald, but when he finally worked up the courage to approach her about continuing their friendship outside the churchyard, she shook her head. She explained to him, “I likes you an’ all, but we lives in Coreyville, Georgia. And here I’m not a woman and you a man. Here, I’m black — and you white.”

Gerald looked at her, perplexed, but deep in his heart he knew what she was talking about, and unfortunately, he had to agree that she was probably right.

But this disappointment further fed the demon that kept trying to drag Gerald McCallister to the gates of hell. But once again, every morning came with light.

Most of the time, the Toodle list he made was so simple that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost seemed to have no problem completing their tasks. Every once in a while, the third one would be slow coming. Gerald figured that was just the Holy Ghost being new to the job.

For instance, one day Gerald asked, on his Toodle list, to see a rainbow. He thought it was plenty fair, because rain was in the forecast, but lo and behold, the weatherman was wrong. The day was brilliant and beautiful. So Gerald was on his way to leave town, a bit forlorn, wondering if he would have to follow through on his promise. All at once, he passed by the town fountain, spraying water into the air. The sun — the mighty sun in the sky — hit it just right, and suddenly there was a rainbow all around him.

Gerald felt like shouting hallelujah. He thought if he got started with it, he might even find his heavenly tongue, like the folks at the church. But looking around, he saw some children walking by. So he contained himself and instead sprouted the largest smile his face had ever known.

Today, for Tuesday’s Toodle, he had requested to see someone helping out another who was having car trouble. Secondly, he wanted the town grocer to say hello to him (which had only happened a half a dozen times over the months.) And finally, he wanted to catch a glimpse of a soul giving a donation to the homeless veteran who sat outside the hardware store. Everyone called him Sergeant Jack.

Well, the first two came quickly — so quickly that Gerald was nearly as excited as he’d been on Rainbow Thursday weeks before. But the third one — well, the third one became problematic.

Unbeknownst to Sergeant Jack, Gerald sat twenty paces away, watching for nearly two hours, as people stepped over and around the veteran, but no one gave the old soldier a single dime.

Gerald was astonished. Normally, Sergeant Jack was beloved and appreciated. Why were people ignoring him today? Was it a sign from God? Was God punching Gerald’s ticket, ready to take him home?

After three long hours, with tears in his eyes, Gerald stood to his feet and trudged his way home.

Upon arriving, he took off his shirt, removed his walking boots, grabbed his rifle and climbed into the bathtub, sinking himself deep into the tub, ensuring that most of the blood and brain matter would land inside instead of destroying the walls. He tucked his gun underneath his chin and he gently reached down to finger the trigger. He was careful not to pull it too soon — not until he was certain that the time was right.

He had one thought in his mind: A deal is a deal. He had never welched on a bet and he’d always tried to honor his promises. He could not understand why after all these months, the Father and Son delivered but the Holy Ghost was ignoring him.

Do I really want to live, he thought to himself, in a world where Sergeant Jack is ignored?

His confidence to pull the trigger was building with each moment as he realized that the only thing he had left was his integrity. After all, without it, his Toodle was just a game he played with himself, which made him not only a fool but a liar.

It was time to put up and forever shut up. He fingered the trigger, testing to see how much pressure it would take to pull it.

Suddenly there was a knock at the door. The knock was so surprising that Gerald nearly pulled the trigger accidentally. He remained quiet, waiting for the stranger to go away, but the knock came again, getting louder. It was followed by a voice — a familiar one. Reverend Kepling. He shouted, “Gerald! Gerald! Mr. McCallister! Gerald McCallister!”

He kept shouting, over and over again. Gerald was stymied. He didn’t know what to do. But he knew for a fact that he didn’t want this young man to discover him, headless. It could ruin his life and scare him away from the ministry.

So holding his finger on the trigger, letting up on some of the tension to so as not to complete the deed, he called out, as loudly as he could speak with a gun held under his chin, “In here!”

In the flash of a moment, the Reverend entered the bathroom and saw Gerald sitting there with a gun to his head. Trying desperately to maintain his calm through gulping gobs of dry throat, he said slowly, “What are you doing, Gerald?”

Gerald suddenly remembered that he had told the minister about his Toodle list, so earnestly — as rationally as he could — he explained that today’s list had gone unfulfilled. Unfortunately, Reverend Kepling did not remember quite as well. “What do you mean, unfulfilled?” he asked.

Frustrated, Gerald shifted his hands on the gun and replied, “It’s neither here nor there. I asked God to do something simple and told Him if He couldn’t, I would know that it was my Judgment Day.”

Suddenly, as if struck by the memory of an angel, the minister spoke up. “Oh, I know what you’re talking about! Wait, wait. What is it God didn’t do?”

“It wasn’t God,” answered Gerald. “It was Slow Joe, the Holy Ghost.”

Kepling nodded his head as if comprehending.

Gerald continued. “I had three things on my Toodle list today — you know that. The first two came quickly and easily. But the third one never showed.”

Kepling, grasping for inspiration, inquired, “Well, what was it, Gerald? What did the Holy Spirit fail to do?”

Exasperated, Gerald responded, “The Holy Ghost — well, the Holy Ghost was supposed to show me the sight of Sergeant Jack being blessed by a donation from one of the townsfolk.”

The pastor shook his head. Gerald, frustrated, replied, “Well, goddamn it, it didn’t happen.”

With this, Gerald motioned toward the trigger again. The minister rose to the occasion. “Listen. Listen, Gerald,” he said. “My brother, my brother — you got it all wrong. This was your fault.”

This surprised Gerald so much that he removed his hand from the trigger, taking his finger and pointing at himself. “Me?” he asked. “How was it my fault?”

Reverend Kepling burst into laughter. “Don’t you see? God can’t take your job and make it somebody else’s business. You were the one that came up with the idea to give a donation to Sergeant Jack. Not even the Holy Ghost can give your job to someone else.”

“What are you saying?” Gerald asked, confused.

Kepling inched his way over to sit on the edge of the bathtub. “I’m saying, Brother McCallister, that when you bring up being kindly to one of the lost souls of God, He is expecting you to have the good sense to know that you’re the one to do it, not someone else.”

Suddenly Gerald had a burst of understanding. His faith had been tested. The problem was, he was asking somebody else to do his business for him.

No wonder.

God was sittin’ there, right next to him, watching to see if Sergeant Jack would get a donation. But not from a stranger. No. From Mr. Gerald McCallister.

Suddenly in tears, Gerald slowly disengaged himself from his rifle, set it on the floor outside the bathtub, and climbed out. Crying like a baby, he pleaded, “I’ve gotta go to town, Preacher. I didn’t do my part. And I’m so tired. I’m so tired.”

Reverend Kepling supported Gerald as they walked out of the bathroom, clear from the present danger. “Brother McCallister,” he said, “it would be my honor to drive you into town in my car, so you can fulfill your third Toodle.”

Gerald stopped and gave the young fellow a hug. “Thank you, Preacher Man.”

They made their way into the car, drove into town, and found Sergeant Jack, who was about to head to the woods outside town to settle in for the night. They took him to dinner at the local diner and talked about things that none of the three men ever knew about each other.

 

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G-Poppers … July 20th, 2018

G-Pop was nine years old when Bobby moved into the village and started attending the little elementary school.

At first the parents thought he might be a Negro, since he had skin a couple of shades darker, and curly hair. But on careful inspection and tracking down some details, it was confirmed that he was Italian. This allowed him to be suitable for playtime and interaction.

But Bobby was different.

He wasn’t like all the scared children from our burg who were frightened to death to displease the grownups who held the key to play-time and candy. Bobby didn’t care.

When the teacher came into the room, the rest of the students fell silent–like attending a funeral. But Bobby just kept chattering, glancing up at the teacher and smiling back at all the other terrified third-graders.

He was the same way during recess. He played hard, rough and mean. But at the same time, he was sweet-talking to the girls, so they liked him. In no time at all, he developed a reputation among the teachers, staff and some of the parents of being a brat.

Yes. Bobby the Brat.

What concerned them most of all was that there seemed to be a breakdown of discipline across the board–because other students began to feel the liberty to be curt, selfish and overly aggressive.

There was so much pressure on Bobby that when the time to begin fourth grade rolled around, he was gone. His parents left town.

Bobby the Brat had departed, so things went back to being orderly. Even though we all denounce the blandness of being orderly, disorderly comes with a nastiness which spews out poison which has been deposited in our “mad hole.”

Yes. All God’s children got a mad hole.

It’s a space deep inside where we stuff all of our frustration, misgiving and prejudice, thinking it’s a garbage can–but really, it’s just a container where our bigotries decay.

And then one day, we reach a point of rage when this poison is vomited out of our mouths.

It’s a mad hole.

It’s never cleaned out–ignored.

People try to freshen it–try to put a lid on it, so to speak, but as long as it exists, it will eventually erupt.

G-Pop wants his children to know that the truth is, you can’t get provoked unless you’re already pissed.

Nobody pissed you off. They just provoked you until you finally spilled all the putrid contents of your mad hole.

Often all it takes is for Bobby the Brat to come along and tease us with the notion that we aren’t crazy and we should speak out our stupidities loud and clear, for everyone to hear.

So we do.

Civility dies, kindness is mocked, being nice is deemed weak and the only distinction we have seems to be in the horror of our mad hole.

Mad hole

In my soul

Take it in

Make it sin

First the hate

Of your fate

Rots your brain

With things insane

It’s begun

Load your gun

Me against you

Us against them

Don’t wonder if it’s true

Repeat it again

Mad hole

Leaves a space

For me to despise

The human race

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Cracked 5 … November 7th, 2017


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cracked 5 logo keeper with border

Mysteriously, a gun has recently begun to speak. Such a phenomenon–everyone jockeyed in an attempt to get an interview with the gun. Wanda Waylings was selected via a lottery. Below are the five golden nugget quotes from the gun during Wanda’s interview:

A. “The NRA is right. I’m a gun. I don’t kill people.”

 

B. “But could you stop selling me to a bunch of nut jobs?”

 

C. “And by the way, I would suggest you start making your bullets out of Cheerios–then the worst thing that could happen is you end up with a cereal killer.”

 

D. “By the way, I am quite proud to shoot a deer to feed hungry children.”

 

E. “Here’s what you can do–targets, turkeys, squirrels, rabbits, and an occasional tree trunk. These are fine. I don’t like to be used to destroy people.”

 

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … June 7th, 2017

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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See Me Stop

Don’t tell me I’m livin’

When everything is dyin’

Don’t ask me to be givin’

To a system that’s lyin’

SEE ME STOP!

RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD!

How can you believe

If you never receive?

When will you release

And allow for some peace?

HALT THE FLOW!

BEFORE WE GO!

If God is good

And hell is hell

Why isn’t anyone

Doing well?

SLAM ON THE BRAKES!

IDENTIFY THE FLAKES!

Give me a shot of real

A bit of something to feel

A reason to bow and kneel

OR LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE!

I want to be happy

I don’t think that’s sappy

Tired of feelin’ crappy

STAND UP! STOP CRAWLING!

I believe in Jesonian

Give me ideas

SCREW THE GUN!

Just you, then me

To find an identity

And then we’ll see

“What will be will be”

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Reverend Meningsbee (Part 53) Surprise Party … May 7th, 2017

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Reverend Meningsbee

Constable Bill was able to convince Carla that she needed to stay with someone else for a couple of days while the investigation was going on, and also to make sure she was safe and sound from her notorious ex-husband.

Pastor Meningsbee suggested she stay with Mary and Martha, the two sisters from the church, who would love the companionship. They had an old Cape Cod home with three extra bedrooms, so there was plenty of room.

So Tuesday and Wednesday night, Carla tucked herself away in the loving hospitality of the congenial–and talkative–sisters.

On Thursday morning, Meningsbee stopped over, telling Carla that the police thought it was safe for her to go back home, and try to return to her schedule. Meningsbee decided to accompany her, as did Mary.

When they arrived at the stairs leading up to Carla’s apartment, they were surprised to discover Bill was already there. He had been driving by, and thought he would check and see what the status was on the property, and peering to the top, discovered that the door was open.

He had gotten into his squad car, circled the neighborhood, and lo and behold, came upon the faded red-rusted pickup truck that had been sitting out in front of the diner just two days earlier. Opening it up, he found a bloody seat, maps, Gus’s driver’s license and an empty box of bullets.

So he hurried back to the apartment to secure it before allowing Carla to settle in.

Seeing that the group had arrived, he told them to stand back, pulled out his gun and headed up the stairs. He was about halfway along when Carla broke rank, ran up the stairs, pushed past him, opened the screen door, kicked the inside door with her foot and bolted in.

Everyone was screaming at her to stop. The constable recovered first and scurried up behind her, followed by Meningsbee and Mary. Each one reached the top and peered in like little birds peeking over the top of the nest.

Carla was standing completely still, staring down at the body of Gus, who was perched in a chair, apparently having bled to death from his wound.

Bill walked over, checked for a pulse and shook his head. Carla asked him, “Is he dead?”

“Dead as they get,” he said.

She stepped up, reached into Gus’s pocket, pulled out the gun and aimed it at him. She shot once, twice, three times.

Meningsbee shouted at Bill, “Aren’t you gonna stop her?”

He shook his head. “No. He’s already dead. It’s not against the law to kill a dead man. She’s got a lot of pain to work through, and if I’m countin’ right, she’s only got three more shots.”

Carla stopped at four and handed the gun over to the officer. She fell to the ground in a heap as Mary came over to hold her.

Meningsbee said to the constable, “What do you think happened?”

Bill replied, “Well, I’m no professional with autopsies, but I’d say he died.”

Meningsbee sighed. “I know that. I mean, why here?”

“Well, my guess is, if you look at where he’s sittin’, he’s got a direct shot at the front door. I don’t think he planned on giving her another chance to stab him.”

“Damn,” said Meningsbee.

Bill laughed. “That’s kind of funny. My mother used to have an old saying she’d pop off with when she ran across something unusual. She’d say, ‘That’s like hearing a preacher cuss.’ And here we are. And I just did.”

No family could be found for Gus, whose real name was Gerald Blevins. Suggestions were made to send him to a pauper’s grave in the big city, but Meningsbee felt it would be good to have the funeral right there in town, at the church, so that a very damaged and distraught Carla could be surrounded by loved ones.

On Saturday morning at 10:00 A. M., a funeral was held for Gerald Blevins, who no one had known one week earlier. Since there was no family, there was no eulogy, and since there was no eulogy, there was no need to “praise Caesar.”

Meningsbee felt he had one purpose–to let Carla know that the 128 souls who showed up for the funeral were there for her, not a murderous stranger.

He took his place in the pulpit rather than his usual position on the floor to add more gravitas to the situation. He began.

“I knew Gerald Blevins for about twenty-three minutes. I can’t tell you much about him. He claimed to be a Christian, although we know he did many un-Christ-like things. Of course, we all do.

“Now, I’m not saying this to compare each and every one of you to this dangerous fellow. I’m just saying that none of us know the height breadth and depth of our loving and merciful God. For if we found out there was some limitation, all of us might need to shiver in our boots because we exceeded His grace.

“But this gathering is not about Gerald. Gerald will have to make peace with God and settle his own score. This is about Carla. This is about a woman who has struggled all her life. She’s worked harder than any lady should have to, and raised two wonderful children, only to be invaded–yes, that’s the word–invaded by this foul presence.

“Gus said he wanted money. I suppose he did. I have no idea what he was going to use it for. He never told me. I offered to give him a couple thousand dollars of my own money that I have squirreled away from my book royalties. I actually told him I won it in Las Vegas. First, I would never go to Las Vegas. Second, I would never win.”

A nervous chuckle.

“But in that moment of his life, money was more important than his soul, his future, and the feelings of another human being.

“Carla, all of us gathered here today want you to remember, this is your home. There’s no other town in America that’s going to love you any more than we do. And we want you to stay. We want you to try to find happiness. We want you to continue to be part of us. And we want to watch as the love of God settles into your heart and creates healing.

“Would some of you folks come up here and give Carla a hug?”

Carla embraced everyone who came her way in a dutiful manner. She thanked Richard for his kind words. She checked with the constable to make sure no expenses had been incurred by the county for the burial.

Then she went up to her apartment, packed her bags, got in her car and left without saying another word.

Meningsbee was heartbroken. But he understood.

When you live in a small town, once a major tragedy happens in your life, you’re almost always remembered as “that lady who had the crazy husband, who died in her living room.”

Sometimes it’s hard to heal when other people keep probing for a sign of an open wound. Somewhere out there in America, nobody knew anything–and that was the next place Carla needed to call home.

Meningsbee prayed for her. Meningsbee thought about her.

And being a man, Meningsbee always wondered what could have been.

 

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G-Poppers … December 30th, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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Jon close up

G-Pop was considering unusual circumstances.

What would he do if he found himself in a parking lot and a gentleman with a gun ran up, demanded the keys to his van, pushed G-Pop inside, started the vehicle and took off down the road, G-Pop in the passenger seat?

A strange situation–yet it demands more calm than action.

  • Who is the man that’s taking his van?
  • Could he be a policeman commandeering the vehicle?
  • Is he motivated?
  • Is he desperate?
  • Is he of sound mind?

All good questions that need answers before G-Pop would try to struggle with him to take control.

First, there’s a gun involved. Secondly, since the fellow is now in charge of the van and driving, it could be dangerous or lethal to interrupt his process.

People always admire heroics, but the truth of the matter is, lots of heroes die.

G-Pop doesn’t want to die.

G-Pop doesn’t want to be foolish.

G-Pop doesn’t want to make a point just so he can claim bravery.

You see, much of the same situation is facing our nation:

Some think President-elect Donald Trump is crazy.

Some folks believe he’s an economic genius.

There are those who insist he’s a lewd, vulgar predator.

Then you have his supporters, who claim he’s a family man with nothing but good intentions.

All of this debate is useless.

President-elect Trump has the keys. He has the guns at his disposal. He’s in charge.

So what should G-Pop’s approach be?

What should an intelligent American do, given the information we have of an authorized election which established the will of the people?

The same thing you would do if you were in the van being driven down the road.

1. Find your seat.

It is not wise to be stupid.

2. Buckle up.

Just in case this ends up in an accident, it would be a good idea to be protected.

3. Get as comfortable as possible.

The human brain does not work well when it’s festered by confusion.

4. Talk common sense.

Yes, talk to the person who’s driving. Hell, pray for the person who’s driving your van. Let him know who you are, what you feel and why you feel that way.

5. Help if you can.

The last thing in the world you want to do is disrupt someone who may feel intimidated.

6. See if he knows what he’s doing.

If he is a policeman and just needed your van, then everything will probably be alright.

The foolishness of trying to fight against what has transpired instead of finding a way to live our lives in decency and order is not only self-defeating, but contrary to the philosophy of this country.

Every four years we elect a leader. Our leader is Donald John Trump.

Before we become frantic, we should at least see where this is going to take us.

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PoHymn: A Rustling in the Stagnant … June 22nd, 2016

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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PoHymn Orlando

To He Who Robbed Our Pulse

(Dedicated to the Souls in Orlando)

How easy it is to kill

To end the dreams of Jack and Jill

Who went to fetch some fun

‘Til confronted by your gun

Removing all their will

 

You claim faith in God

But then prove you’re a fraud

By destroying His greatest desire

You make the message a liar

Placing the young in a tomb.

 

Did anyone see your hate?

Could they stop the fate?

That crushed the hopes of so many

And produced the graves aplenty

Making the children helpless

 

It is time for a simple path

To expunge the bloody math

And let us look for a friend

Instead of promoting the end

Of God’s great human embrace

 

So as we contemplate the morrow

Let us rise from festering sorrow

And push to find something brighter

Lifting burdens, making things lighter

Listening instead of yelling

Laughing instead of cursing

And talking instead of shooting.

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