Sit Down Comedy … October 18th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4201)

Sit Down Comedy

“Love your enemies.” A peculiar idea.

First, how does that happen? If you’re really a lover, how do you make enemies? Do some people just hate to be loved—therefore they have to hate you because you’re the one who loved them?

Or is it that you fail to love your neighbors, and in the meantime, they turn into enemies, so now you’ve got a real problem.

How can you love your enemies? Doesn’t the word “enemy” connote some sort of conflict?

Does Jesus love Satan? They’re enemies.

Does Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi love Donald Trump? They’re enemies.

There seems to be a prerequisite of a certain amount of disfavor, if not hate, in levying the word “enemy” onto someone else.

So what’s the purpose of the love? Are we speaking figuratively, as in, “compared to the amount of dislike we could muster, we sure seem loving in our discretion?”

Or is it that condescending “love your enemy,” like they do with gay people?

“I love the sinner, but I hate the sin.” How does one do that?

For this to work, the sinner would have to believe he or she is sinning, rather than following a sexual orientation. Any way you look at it, it’s hatred.

So how do you love your enemies? Doesn’t it express a weakness that leaves you vulnerable? Someone gets ready to punch you in the face, and you say, “Listen—I love you.”

Do we think it’s a deterrent?

Does “turn the other cheek” spare a cheek from being hit? Or just make you defenseless?

God knows, pessimism is a destructive virus. But likewise, optimism leaves us all gooey and doughy—half-baked.

I don’t know about you—I don’t want platitudes.

I don’t want someone to say, “Love your enemies,” and then if I try it, they chuckle and say, “No—not that way.”

Or, “Come on, kid. You’ve gotta stand up for yourself.” But we’ve been standing up for ourselves for a long time.

Israel stands up for itself in the Middle East. So do the Arabs.

Standing up for oneself is really the formula for a stand-off, isn’t it?

Yet what good does it do to introduce love into a volatile situation?

It seems so ridiculous to people, even those who claim to believe in the Gospel, that they try to ignore it and think of all sorts of ways to hurt one another.

How did I ever get goddamn enemies? Did I think I was loving, but ended up being an asshole? Or did I insist I imitate a loving person while being an asshole? Come on.

Words are useless unless you know what they mean.

When the words “love” and “enemy” occur in the same sentence, I, for one, need more information.

I’d rather not have enemies. Will being a loving person help with that? Now, there’s an idea.

I don’t want to pick a fight. Picking a fight is such a futile process. There’s a chance you’ll win. There’s a chance you’ll lose. But if you win, you still must have some sort of concern toward the person you beat the crap out of. Otherwise, people will think you’re wicked. I guess it’s alright to be hateful as long as you aren’t wicked.

When people say they’ll pray for you, do they? Or is the statement the prayer?

I think maybe the human race could do much better if high-sounding ideas like “love your enemy” were better explained, and really shitty attitudes, like, “every man for himself,” were exposed.

My thought is, if somebody is your enemy and you aren’t able to whoop him, you’d better find a way to get along with him.

And if you think you can whoop everybody, it’s safe to say that you’ll eventually get whooped.

I’m not in the mood for a good whooping—either to give one or to take one.

So I guess the thought is:

Once you find out that someone is pissed at you, control the vibe.

Nurture the energy that flows his or her way, and make sure they have no reason to turn the feud into a vendetta and the vendetta into a war.

 

 

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4196)

Sitting Forty-One

Three days passed.

Karin found it difficult to sleep. She nibbled like a rabbit, trying to sustain her energy. Although she watched all the news reports, she heard nothing. It literally seemed that Iz and Pal had vanished from the face of the Earth. She made many phone calls but was unable to get in touch with anyone who knew anything.

Then, on Monday morning, while she was warming up her coffee, a special broadcast came across the television screen from the International News Network. She was brought to a standstill, staring in disbelief. There, being played out before her eyes, in a news conference, was a guy at a podium behind many microphones. He looked like Matthew Bradley, her photographer/suitor. Yet she shook her head, rattling in her own brain. It couldn’t be possible—because this man wore the trappings of a Catholic priest.

She lifted the volume as he stepped toward the microphones, placing a piece of paper on the podium. “I have a brief statement from the IEA. The two boys recently rescued from the desert and carried to a decontamination center to be tested and treated for injuries have unfortunately died from exposure to lethal chemicals. The boys, Jubal and Amir, who became known as Iz and Pal, left a final statement before passing on. And I quote:

We meant no harm. We just loved each other. Isn’t that a good thing? We wish you all holy peace.”

The Bradley doppelganger continued. “Both the boys were given medication to ease their pain and passed away last evening in their sleep. The IEA asked me, as a man of the ministry, to speak to the public. And may I personally add in comfort and closing, it is just blessed to know that Iz and Pal have gone to a better kingdom.”

With this, the priest folded up his sheet of paper, nodded his head and stepped away from the podium as a barrage of questions was shouted at his retreating form.

But there were no answers. He was gone. That was it.

Karin sat in front of her television for a long time. She wondered why she wasn’t crying—then realized it might be because Matthew Bradley was impersonating a priest. In other words, if the priest ain’t really a priest, then maybe, just maybe, the boys ain’t dead.

Trying to be comforted by the possibility of a false report, nevertheless, finally her emotional will broke. Her anguish and fears began to strangle her internally, draining the life from her soul. She couldn’t breathe. She stood to her feet, attempting to regain the simple ability to take in air and release it.

She felt so foolish. She had been part of tragedies before. She had seen men and women mutilated by bullets, and children blown up by bombs. Why in the hell was this striking her so deeply? Why did she let these two boys into her heart? Why hadn’t she been savvy enough to realize that this had no way to have a happy ending? It was doomed by all those doomsayers who spread doom all over the countryside in the name of their Deity of Doom.

She finally was able to sit down and calm herself, on the energy of one possibility. Maybe Iz was with his friend, Pal, and they were both alive. Karin didn’t know if believing such nonsense was optimistic or just dangerous. But she was tired of being cynical.

As she gradually regained her composure, she heard a knock at the door. Startled, she slowly stood, walked over and opened the door. A young Arab man was standing next to Jubal’s mother. She searched her mind to remember the name. Yes. Shelah. That was it.

It was very unusual to see a woman in public during the day with such a young man—one obviously not her husband. Karin was suspicious.

The young man knew he had surprised her, sympathetic to her predicament. “I am Talsan,” he explained quickly. “I am Amir’s…sorry…I am Pal’s older brother.” He turned toward the older woman, then back to Karin. “I suppose you know that this is…”

Karin interrupted. “Yes, this is Iz’s mother. Shelah, am I right?”

The woman nodded her head, continuing the submissive profile she had displayed on Karin’s visit to her. But then, out of nowhere, she spoke up. “Yes,” she stated. “As you say, I am Iz’s mother. May we come in?”

The sudden burst of speech from the silent woman surprised Karin. She welcomed the pair into her house. Karin offered them food and drink, which they both declined as they took seats on the couch.

Talsan said, “There is much I should say but the most important part is to tell you that I love my brother, and I refuse to believe that he’s gone.”

Before Karin could comment, Shelah piped up. “I will go further. My spirit—the mother within me—everything I hold dear—tells me that my son is still alive and breathing.”

Karin looked at Talsan and then at Shelah. She wasn’t certain what to say. She wanted to agree with them because she felt much the same way, but three fools don’t make a majority. The newspaper woman inside her rose up and cited, “You both realize that they don’t normally give out a false report from the IEA—and whether you trust Americans, or anybody from the West, I have worked with them many times, and they’re decent folk who would certainly not harm two little boys.”

Talsan started to speak, but Shelah patted his hand and said, “We are not accusing anyone of harming Iz and Pal.” She glanced over at Talsan. “We are just saying…well, I’m just saying…”

Talsan interjected, “It is me, too.”

Shelah nodded and continued. “We are just saying that we have done very poorly by these children of God and it is we who are believing that God will allow us another chance.”

Karin found it very difficult to object. All the words being spoken were sentimental hogwash, but still, they were the thoughts stirring in her own heart as well. She decided to offer a possibility. “Did you hear the announcement from the priest?”

They both nodded their heads. “Good,” Karin said. “Because his final thought was that the boys had possibly suffered enough and were redeemed to a better kingdom.”

Talsan jumped in. “I know this could be true. I’m not a fool. I’m an educated man. But it does seem ridiculous to accept the words without confirmation.”

“And beyond that,” Shelah emphasized, “Should there not be at least an attempt for us to let God, the authorities, but mostly the boys know that at the end of their journey there were people that loved them? People that sought them out and people that honored their memory?”

Talsan dipped his head as tears filled his eyes.

Karin realized that whatever powers may exist in the universe, Somebody Somewhere had granted her this visit from mother and brother, to restore her faith—and to help her make a decision she certainly yearned to do.

She took Mother Shelah and Brother Talsan by the hands and said, “I want to thank you for being brave enough to come here. But I wonder if you could be just a little braver still. Would you agree with me—no, more than that. Would you join me on a trip to America to make sure that these two great fellows really have gone to a better kingdom?”

Shelah quickly nodded her head, eyes glistening. Talsan thought for a minute, but then realized there was no way to avoid such a journey and ever be certain in his soul.

An unlikely trio of pilgrims made a covenant with one another to travel to the States to learn the truth about two wonderful guys that they all loved.

 

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4175)

Sitting Thirty-Eight

Before Karin really had a chance to absorb what the editor had said, or even welcome him for that matter, Iz and Pal came running out of the tent, tossing the bullhorn down the hill, and disappeared inside the portable toilet, slamming the door behind them.

The editor quipped to Karin, “I guess that would be the visual representation of getting the crap out of here.”

She smirked and feigned a chuckle. It really wasn’t that funny but the attempt at humor was certainly welcome in the midst of the ongoing farce.

A man possessed, the politician screamed, “Who’s going with me? I’m going up there to get those boys! Who will join me?”

Before anyone could respond to him, attention was diverted toward two huge clouds of dust billowing across the desert in the near distance, heading this way.

The rally-goers just stared, and in less than a minute a pair of stretch limousines, bright yellow, came speeding their way into the camp. The limousines came to a halt and men jumped out of the doors, popping everywhere. Finally, after many had made their exits, one short, portly man in a yellow suit emerged from one vehicle.

He wasted no time. He apparently seemed to know his mission, slowly climbing the hill with a friend and heading toward the Port-a-John.

The politician squinted, staring at the arriver. “Who’s that?” he asked to no one in particular.

Karin looked over at the editor, who grinned. “I told you—I made some calls.”

The large tubby man dressed in yellow arrived at the Port-a-John and politely knocked. For about thirty seconds, there was an inaudible conversation going on through the door. Then all at once it opened, and he went inside, slamming it behind him.

Karin was not quite sure what the occupancy limitation was on a Port-a-John, but considering the girth of the yellow man, they had certainly reached it.

The crowd turned silent, standing like statues, gawking at the scene. The politician was just about to raise his bullhorn when even more clouds of dust appeared in the distance. Rumbling, nearly sounding like they were growling, three humongous truck/vans, looking like huge cracker boxes on wheels, arrived with smoke and heat, backing up the crowd and leaving the surrounding folk encased, choking in dust.

These trucks were bright orange with yellow spheres on the side, with lettering in green: I-E-A. Inscribed beneath the sphere in script were the words, “International Environmental Agency.”

It looked and felt very official. The back door of one of the vehicles slid open and out jumped one—two—three—six—eleven men donned in shimmering orange suits with air hoses and plastic faces in the front, looking like they had landed from outer space. Simultaneously, the other two trucks opened up. More orange-suited creatures leapt to the ground, bustling and hustling, nearly knocking over unsuspecting townspeople.

Karin soon lost count. Thirty? Forty? Maybe even fifty. She had never realized how frightening activity could be—how overwhelming it was just to be surrounded and encompassed by so much orange.

The audience, startled, having not recovered from the first barrage of vehicles, was inundated by the arrival of still more. These were smaller, purple trucks—four in all—with a white sphere on the side, bearing a large A-I—“Armistice International.” These trucks were occupied with people dressed in purple jumpsuits, who unloaded equipment, machines, computers and what appeared to be metal detectors.

Suddenly, the tiny hill in the middle of nowhere was transformed into a beehive of activity. There must have been nearly one hundred technicians, constructing a headquarters and gradually moving up the hillside toward “Camp Iz and Pal.”

Several of the orange-clad invaders took off their headgear. They were women—tall, Nordic and stern. They passed leaflets out to all the people. Karin looked over at the editor. He was wide-eyed with wonder. Breathlessly he exclaimed, “I didn’t make this many calls!”

Then one of the leaflets was thrust into Karin’s hands. She glanced down and read it.

“You must disperse immediately. You are trespassing on private property and interfering with an international investigation. This area is off-limits to the public and has been deemed to be an unsafe locale with a possibility of toxic waste and a location of deadly weapons and war mines. You have ten minutes to vacate or be arrested.”

Karin couldn’t think. Nothing seemed to make sense. What was going on? Then she looked up the hill and saw the stout man in yellow (strongly resembling a walking lemon) emerge from the portable toilet. As soon as he stepped out, he motioned and ten men climbed up, picked up the toilet, carried it down the hill and carefully slid it into the back of one of the orange trucks—apparently Iz and Pal therein.

Then the rest of the army of orange and purple beavers busied themselves pulling down the tent, picking up garbage, digging holes, placing unknown specimens into plastic bags, while running other pieces of garbage under detectors.

The teams of purple and orange were a professional whirlwind, and within five minutes’ time it was as if the boys had never been there, in the solitude of the sand.

Holes were placed in the ground, encircling the entire region with orange tape, warning “TOXIC WASTE.”

Meanwhile, people stumbled to leave—at first slowly, and then at a frantic clip, as if running from monsters.

Karin stood and stared at the scene before her. She had to do something.

Then the truck containing the “Iz and Pal Port-a-John” slammed its door shut, the mysterious man in yellow climbed into his limousine, and the vehicles headed off toward the city.

Karin tried to scream her objection, but everything was so loud that her voice made no sound.

 

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4161)

Sitting Thirty-Six

Most people knew him as the editor of the newspaper but were unaware of his name nor anything about his background.

He liked it that way.

It had been his experience that the more people know about you, the less they are truly concerned and the more interfering they become.

He knew who he was. His name was Alexander Omar Percea. He was a confirmed bachelor and he was old enough that it was wise to forget the exact number.

He had been raised by an Egyptian diplomat who had made it his mission to set in motion peace talks between the Arabs and the Israelis. His father was a gentle man, who became more irritated and agonized over the years as there was no progress toward understanding. Yet he taught his son one very important rule: once you have done what is available to be done by you, don’t do any more. He explained to his young offspring that lamenting the opportunity to change the world only leaves one hating the people in it.

Alexander considered many occupations where he could pursue his aspirations and finally landed on journalism.

But now that the printed word was becoming less and less appreciated and effective, he took his father’s advice. He continued to do what he knew how to do and let it play out however it wanted to play out.

Alexander had the guideline of never getting involved in the type of adventure which had left his father dead of a stroke at age fifty-six. He loved his father very much, but as a young man, he stood back watching the soul of his dad being eaten by the wolves of indifference.

Not for him. Matter of fact, he verbalized his feelings while standing over the coffin of his daddy. “Father, I love you. But I won’t be you. The world can have my time. The world can have my interest. But they shall not have my spirit.”

Alexander had settled into his role as an editor, behaving like an old chicken, pecking at words and sentence structure, putting out the very best newspaper he could. Confident that he had done so, he was able to sleep at night without having his internal being tugged from all directions.

That is, until Miss Karin (as he called her) lured him into the story of the two boys in the desert. Even while hating himself for allowing his mind to be fluttered away with concern for the lads, he acknowledged that he was entrapped—hoping that just this one time, there could be a merciful happy ending to a story in his homeland instead of death and destruction.

He couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t think. He found himself worrying, much the way his father had over his two “children”—Israel and Palestine.

But as promised, Editor Alexander Omar Percea sat down and did what he could for the cause and was finally able to convince himself that it was enough—because it was all he had.

He prayed. Not just to one God; Allah, Jehovah, Jesus, Buddha–to every religious icon he could think of. There was no need to leave any deity ignored when Iz and Pal could use all the help that heaven and Earth could muster.

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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)


Iz and Pal

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4085)

Sitting Twenty-Five

As it turned out, orange construction cones make great soccer goals for runaway boys in the desert, dreaming of football stardom.

Iz and Pal were desperate for a diversion—a way to physically explode with energy, allowing their muscles to stretch and ache. With the arrival of the cones, the soccer balls, the tennis shoes and the hamburgers, they had the makings of a deliriously exciting life.

Sweet play.

They vigorously kicked the ball, imagining acclaim and cheers in the great arenas of the world capitals as renowned soccer players, drawing applause and the favor of men with the pleasure of many women.

They fell, exhausted, in the sand, laughing, liberated from conventional restraints, simply content to live in the moment’s lingering bliss.

Nothing seemed wrong. Therefore, nothing was wrong.

During one of these respites, Iz posed a question. “Pal, what do you think will become of us?”

Pal, still ablaze from the fervor of the game, asked enthusiastically, “Do you mean before or after we win the World Cup?”

Iz frowned. “No, really. Where do you think this is going?”

Pal realized his friend was once again turning serious—an attribute he didn’t favor much but decided to tolerate from his more melancholy partner. Settling into some solemnity, he replied, “I don’t know.”

Iz perked up. “I think I do.”

Pal drew a deep breath and inquired, “Well, tell me what’s gonna happen.”

“They’re going to take us back,” said Iz. “They’re going to make us go home.”

Pal shook his head. “They haven’t been able to do that so far.”

Iz shifted to his knees, grabbing his friend by the shoulders. He stared into his eyes. “That’s because they still think we have a hand grenade. When the soldier tells them the truth, they will come for us.”

Pal’s eyes welled with tears. “I don’t want to go back.”

Iz settled down on his backside and looked at Pal carefully. “Don’t want to? Or won’t? Which is it, Pal? You know we have to decide. It could happen at any moment. We have to decide.”

Pal was confused as to what Iz might be referring—very concerned. “We have to decide what?” he posed cautiously.

Iz didn’t miss a beat. “We have to decide what we’re going to do if they come here and try to make us go back.”

“Well, we don’t have a hand grenade,” Pal said flatly.

Iz shook his head vigorously. “Don’t be stupid. Did you think we were going to use the hand grenade?”

Angry, Pal rose to his knees. “Don’t call me stupid. I hate that. If we weren’t going to use the hand grenade, why did we have it?”

Iz scoffed at him. “To scare them away. That’s why. But they won’t be scared anymore. I can just feel it. They’re coming for us.”

Suddenly Pal was overtaken by a streak of tenderness. “Iz,” he said, “I won’t let them take you.”

“How will you stop them?” demanded Iz. “My father is so angry—so mean. I can still feel his anger pouring all over me, making me shrink before his eyes, becoming a little ant that he could step on at any time and mash with his foot.”

Pal was shocked by the words. It was a true revelation into his friend’s soul, but a sudden one that left him bewildered. He reached out to touch his comrade’s arm. “Listen,” he said, “No one’s going to mash us anymore.”

Iz looked up with a glassy stare. “Are you with me, buddy?”

“You know I am,” said Pal.

“No,” insisted Iz, gaining an unnatural intensity. “Are you with me?”

Pal was startled. “With you for what?” His friend’s reactions sometimes seemed chilling, foreboding. There was something frozen, perhaps dead, in the heart of Iz that never quite warmed or showed life, no matter how much joy came into their situation. Pal felt equal—but still overwhelmed.

Iz continued. “Are you with me to the death?”

“Death?” Pal lurched back, unable to hide his shock.

Iz shook his head. “I won’t go back alive.”

Pal drew a deep, ragged breath. “Iz, I don’t want to die. I came out here because I wanted to live.”

Iz rose up and pointed his finger at Pal, screaming. “But what if they won’t let us live? What if they just come out here and act like we’re silly little boys and spank us, ridicule us, and take us home? I’m telling you, Pal. I can’t go back to Pada. I will not be that scared little ant anymore.”

Pal nodded his head in agreement, if not understanding. “So what do we do?”

Iz scrambled to his feet and ran over to the portable toilet. He opened the door, reached in, grabbed something and returned quickly. He held a pink stick in his hand. Breathlessly he explained, “Pal, these came with the toilets. They are poison. If they come for us, we will break this stick into two pieces and each one of us eat our half.”

Eat it?” Pal shouted.

“I won’t go back,” repeated Iz calmly.

Pal wanted to object. Pal needed to reason with his perplexed, confused friend. But Pal was just twelve years old. So a sense of allegiance swept over his heart.  He felt no need to resist. The plan was made, and it seemed to make sense.

Time would tell.

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The K Word … April 16th, 2019

Jonathots Daily Blog

(4017)


THE

Related image

WORD


I lived in Nashville, Tennessee for nearly twenty years. Overall, I found it a very pleasant experience.

Yet seventy-four miles south of my home, on Interstate 65, was a town called Pulaski. It is the community where the Ku Klux Klan began. So most assuredly, confidently and sadly, I will tell you today’s word that should never be used again—the “K” that should not be spoken—is the Ku Klux Klan.

The K Word is the Ku Klux Klan

It’s not so much their views. I don’t agree with anything they say. Yet if they were coming from a position of personal experience, I might need to consider their perspective. But no member of the KKK has spent fifteen years playing in the National Football League, surrounded by black men. If they had done this and come out with a negative insight, then I would have to conclude that they had a right to their opinion.

Or if some of the members had lived in Israel for ten years and after the visitation, had stated that Jews were greedy and less than human, I might question their premise but certainly would have to acknowledge that they had been involved in a live-in experiment.

But there’s no member of the Ku Klux Klan who has spent any time with members of the black race or the Jews. They are not well-traveled individuals who, after careful research, developed a doctrine of the division among the races, with the hypothesis being that “white people are better.”

These are little boys and girls who were never allowed to formulate their own thinking but instead, absorbed the prejudice, anger and fallacious notions of their ancestors.

Unfortunately, these ancestors came to the conclusion that keeping their cotton crop in the black was much more important than the blacks who made it possible for them to have a cotton crop in the first place.

They are childishly ignorant—ignorant because the philosophy they cling to was long ago abandoned by people of reason, science and emotional well-being; childish because they’re still trying to please parental figures, aunts, uncles, grandfathers and ancient kin who held to a belief system that found its only power by leaving others powerless.

There is a school of thought that if you want to do away with the Ku Klux Klan, then let them speak their mind, let them be heard, and they will be revealed for who and what they are.

Unfortunately, unfoldings in our country over the past ten years tell us that giving breath to a murderer is granting license to murder.

This is why I’m saying the KKK should never be mentioned. It should not be discussed. It should not evoke either anger or apathy.

We should pretend that it does not exist until it’s so small that evolution can swallow it back into the earth—where it will finally die—with the graves of those who were once so presumptuous.


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Iz and Pal (Bedouin Buddies)

Iz and Pal

In a basket full of oranges, it is often the singular, lonely apple which gains attention.

This is an endearing characteristic of the human race—we are intrigued by difference while simultaneously frightened of the diversity.

So in our day and age, in the midst of clamoring for resolutions, often based on military might, a breath of fresh air comes into the atmosphere of pending war in a region ironically referred to as “The Holy Land.”

Amir and Jubal, two boys who grew up in different camps of a raging, never-ending conflict—one Arab, one Jew—find one another. They rename themselves “Iz” and “Pal” and strike out to change the world around them by creating a love between them. They determine to maintain their friendship amidst the granite-headed thinking of a stubborn society.

“Iz and Pal” chronicles the journey they take, the friends they encounter along the way, the surprising enemies—with a stunning resolution which will keep you riveted to the pages of this odyssey in exploring the value of peace.

Starting next week, I will share sittings from this novella with you, and hope that, in its simple way, it can transcend the pessimism of fruitless negotiations and invite an essential revelation:

After all, no war is ever finished until the children say “No more.”

 

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