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         ‘Fuck you.’  Michelle left the break room and wandered towards the perfume stand. It was Calvin Klein today. Yesterday, it was some sort of celebrity fragrance. Lady Gaga or something. It was called ‘Stardust’ and was inspired by a fruit blossom, but Michelle thought it smelled like soured cat shit.One in a Million

Michelle put her jeans on. They were black but not goth. Work clothes. The white button-up top, the one without the smear on the sleeve from a misplaced foundation powder, gave little hassle when slipped over her skin. She didn’t quite like the shirt, but it hugged her in the right spots, and that went a long way to getting customers. Shoes and socks soon followed suit. Michelle grabbed her keys off an old cardboard box that doubled as a mail holder and end table. Without so much as a glance back at her forgotten bag lunch, Michelle turned her key in the door and made her way to the early morning city below.

            Her walk to the subway wasn’t without notice.

            ‘Dollar…got a dollar? I’m trying to get back to…’ the kid said. His clothes saw better days but were none worse than what Michelle was wearing.

            ‘No thank you.’ Michelle said walking through the teen.

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            The teen turned his pockmarked face towards Michelle. He ran one hand through his matted brown hair. The other one picked nervously at a spot on his face. ‘Dollar….got a dollar?’ he asked to nobody.

            ‘Fucking whore!’ screamed the next transient. Michelle couldn’t guess which was worse, the smell from the man’s shit-soaked pants or that he called her a fucking whore each and every time she went to work.

            It became a ritual for her. The pock-marked one asking for a dollar to get back to a home that only existed in his broken mind and the smelly one yelling at her from shit-stained pants. The words ran off her; she had far too much practice with her dad to let a nameless freak bother her.

            But still, no matter how inoculated she was to the taunt, she had her pride. One day, yes, one day, she would fire back. Maybe throw a bunch of change at him and watch him scower on the ground like a cockroach after the shit she wouldn’t even leave a bad barista. She would laugh then. Laugh at the misfit in his torn greasy coat that matched his grey and dreadlocked hair. A bird’s nest. That’s what his hair reminded Michelle of.  A bird’s nest filled with filth and shit. The warble that came out of the man’s mouth, just a call of a deteriorating blue jay.

            No. A blue jay was far too good of a creature for that animal. A pigeon. Yes, a diseased shit-eating pigeon. Vile and hate-filled.

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            The thoughts took her past the subway entrance where she mindlessly waved her pass across the reader. They travelled with her to her seat, one next to a child riding with his mother. The kid was in some sort of school outfit. Small jacket and tie. She hoped it was a school outfit. Her mother used to dress her that way for school. She, too, wanted a boy.

            Her stop. She got off her seat and watched it fold back down under the weight of a fat man. He was wearing a suit too, but not a schoolboy one. This one said he had money. Money that he probably shovelled into his mouth or up his nose. Michelle knew types like that.

            Two lines, one security checkpoint, one scanner, and a small pat-down later, she made her way to the Los Angeles Airport’s duty-free zone. Macy’s. That’s what the sign said. Fucking Macy’s. Michelle let a small sigh out as she pulled the door open. She made her way to the employee break room to deposit her jacket and grab a swift cup of instant coffee.

            ‘Forgot again, didn’t you?’ Mark said.

            ‘I didn’t even pack a lunch last night.’ Michelle lied. She packed a lunch. She packed four of them.

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            ‘Rough night?’

            ‘Bowie died.’ Michelle said.

            ‘Oh, sorry to hear.’ Mark gave the response a bit robotic, much like one would say God Bless you! when a sneezer came ‘round.

            Michelle didn’t respond. She threw her instant cup into the trash and looked at her lipstick in the reflection of the fridge.

            ‘He was a singer, right?’ Mark said.

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            ‘Mark?’ Michelle asked.

            ‘Yes?’

            ‘Fuck you.’  Michelle left the break room and wandered towards the perfume stand. It was Calvin Klein today. Yesterday, it was some sort of celebrity fragrance. Lady Gaga or something. It was called ‘Stardust’ and was inspired by a fruit blossom, but Michelle thought it smelled like soured cat shit.

            ‘New CK4A! I can’t believe we get this before the other stores!’ It was a high-pitched voice, like a child who just couldn’t get through puberty.  It was the voice of Michelle’s counterpart, Mary.

            Mary had a lot going for her. She had looks, a new boyfriend (he’s going to be the next Leo, you’ll see!), a bit of brain, and enough family money to keep her not worried about her post-college career choice (this week it was Marine Biologist for the California Aquarium). She was utterly religious—no sex before marriage (through vaginal means at least). She also took the time to remind Michelle of all this every single day.

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            ‘CK4A?’ Michelle asked.

            ‘Like you don’t know! It’s the new gender-fluid scent from Calvin Klein! I am so jealous that you get to bring this to our customers!  Salesgirl of the week, that’s going to be you! It’s automatic! Automatic unless that cold of yours stops you. You sound a bit plugged up, are you okay, hun?’

            Michelle took the display sprayer from Mary and put it behind the counter. ‘I’m fine. Allergies. Yeah…automatic.’

            Mary took Michelle by the arm and pulled her close. ‘You know, I could fix you up with Jason’s friend. I mean, he isn’t going to be as big as Jason is and he has this droopy eye thing going on, but beggars can’t be choosers…’

            ‘Mary?’

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            ‘Yeah?’

            ‘Fuck you.’  Michelle broke free of Mary’s grasp and started to head back behind the counter.

            Mary stood there for a beat—just a beat—the rage on her face melted her sainthood. ‘F me? F me? I don’t think so! Here I was trying to reach out to my lessers like Jesus said to and this is what I get? I know you are just upset because Jason used to date you. I won him fair and square!’

            ‘You let him fuck your ass at the Christmas party, you whore! That’s how you won him!’

            ‘How dare you! That’s Jesus’s birthday! I’d never…and to think I was going to pray for you! Oh, and Little Miss Sunshine, your lipstick is smeared. Do you even know how to blot?’ Mary left Michelle’s workstation and beelined to her cosmetics department.

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            Michelle took a look in her beauty mirror. ‘Fuck, she’s right.’ Michelle took a tissue from behind the counter and tried to blot, but the lipstick merely smeared more. In anger, she took it all off. By the end, it looked like she drank Kool-Aid. In the distance, she could hear Mary’s high-pitched impression, ‘Hey, Kool-Aid Man!’  A distinct ‘Oh yeah!’ mocking could be heard from Mark as he walked by Michelle on his way to the Men’s shoe department.

            Michelle tried to ignore them. She ignored Jenson in the 3rd grade for calling her Pigchelle, and she can ignore her co-workers. Besides, there were only eight more hours of work left. She had the newest and hottest fragrance from Calvin Klein—a unisex one at that. Maybe she will really make that salesgirl of the week prize that Mary teased and often won.

            Her first customer, a woman in her early 50s, semi bald and wearing a wig a bit too Little Richard for her, came up through the store.  Michelle sprayed her.  ‘My lord! You about maced me! You little cracker! Where is your manager?’ The woman stormed off.  Her hair bobbing behind her.

            The rest of Michelle’s customers were not as friendly as the first one. She had fake sales, ‘That smells great! What is it?’ ‘CK4A.’ ‘Oh Em Gee! I must have it! How much?’ ‘Just 48$ a bottle if you…’ ‘That was sarcasm! I wouldn’t wear this it if were free!’ to ones that barely made sense, ‘CK4A? Does it come in that eau stuff?’ ‘Oh, you want the toilet water…’ ‘Toilet water? I knew you were just a dog!’ to the mean spirited ‘CK4A?’ ‘You suck cock for ass?’ to the vicious ‘Get that shit out of my face!’ to the litigious ‘My eyes! She sprayed it in my eyes! I’m going to sue!’ to the superstitious ‘Now spray it three times on my left arm.’ ‘Okay, that’s both arms and your chest. Are you sure you don’t want to buy it?’ ‘No, baby, I’m too old for perfume.’ to the cheapskates, ‘This is exactly what I want! Give me another spritz!’ ‘So, you want one? It’s only…’ ‘Oh, Lordie, no! But I’ll see you tomorrow!’ to the really weird conspiracy theorists, ‘What was that?’ ‘CK4A, do you like it?’ ‘Would you like someone spraying you with a chemical enhanced tracking agent! Now Obama knows exactly where I live!’ to the vocal threaters ‘Bitch, if you spray that at me one more time, I will bust your face! Your face, bitch!’.

Lunchtime. A small, yet over-priced, snack at McDonald’s. The apostrophe was graffiti’d, but it didn’t make sense to Michelle.  Wrapper away. Straw slurped. Trash in bin. Back to work.

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            ‘Try our new…’ ‘Piss off!’ ‘How about you, sir?’ ‘I’m a guy! Do I look like some sort of queer to you?’ ‘No, of course not. You dress like shit.’ ‘What was that?’ ‘Nothing.’ ‘You wait until I talk to your manager!’.  Those were the highlights of the 2nd part of her shift. The lows were pretty low.

            One family, the type to take not just one little kid, but two screaming children to a long plane ride, actually let the kids behind the counter. ‘You can’t be here. Go back to your parents.’ ‘Mom! She hit me!’ ‘I did no such thing!’ Michelle ended up giving away an entire stockpile of CK samplers to shut the mother up. The topper, though? Those same white trash kids coming back and knocking all the bottles off the counter displays. The ones they could reach, at least.

            ‘That’s coming out of your paycheck.’ Samantha, her hipster manager, told her whilst looking over her spectacles at Michelle. Michelle started to protest, but she knew there wasn’t any use. There never was. When Jason first dumped her, she protested too, ‘But you can’t leave me! We just got an apartment together!’ ‘Hey, I’m not the bad guy here. I’m sure you’ll find somewhere else to live.’ ‘But you said you loved me!’ ‘That’s when you were pregnant. Thank god for small favors, right?’ ‘Miscarriage. It’s called a miscarriage.’

            ‘Michelle?  Michelle? Earth to Michelle!’ Samantha’s voice tried to snap Michelle back to reality. ‘At least you’ll have a large bonus with all those bottles you sold. Going by the sample packs that moved out today, you must have sold a…’

            ‘Given away.’

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            ‘What was that?’ Samantha said, realizing that Michelle had been talking for some time, just not loud enough to be heard.

            ‘Given away, not sold.’

            ‘You gave away all those sample cases? Those were for customers. You know, the ones who pay your wage….’

            ‘But…’

            ‘But nothing! Wait, are you sick? You sound plugged up! Clean this up and collect your paycheck.’

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            ‘Our checks are in today?’

            ‘It’s an expression! It means you’re fired. Ugh. Don’t start blubbering now! In fact, don’t clean this up. You’ll just mess it up even more. Just go home!’

            The sniggers from Mary were audible. The wave that Mark gave, one of ‘good-bye’ wasn’t, but Michelle could feel the heat rise to her face all the same. Michelle went to the break room to collect her coat and left towards home. Her eyes were wet, blue sapphires, and stung.

            ‘Dollar…got a dollar?’ the kid said as Michelle kept walking with her eyes down.

            ‘Don’t waste your time! That bitch is too stuck up!’ the smelly one said. ‘Come on, baby! I know you want it! It’s cold out here, come warm me up! See! Nothing. Fucking whore!’

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            She entered her apartment door as the last wave of taunts fell in the wind.  The wind was especially fierce tonight. She shivered and shut the door. Her coat was hung near the lunch that she failed to take.  Michelle walked into her bathroom and looked at her face, took a tissue and blew. Chunks came out. With a splash of bottled water, she refreshed herself.

            Her apartment was barren. She had a suitcase, still open, resting alongside her sofa. It was filled with food, clothes, some water, and a few photographs; everything was faded and tattered. Michelle looked up at the night sky and saw the glow of a heathen sun refusing to set.

            The silence became overwhelming, and the TV cut the cold dead fingers of memory away. ‘All 325 people are feared dead.’ ‘Witnesses said the plane just dropped out of the air.’ ‘That’s the second plane catastrophe we’ve seen in the last three hours, Bob. The first being Delta Flight 2405 flying into the…’ ‘This just in, a plane had to perform an emergency landing on the way from LAX to New York…’ ‘Another plane from Los Angeles? Brenda?’ ‘That’s the early report, Bob. First responders are saying that the pilot touched down in Las Vegas after being forced down by, from what we understand, a family of violent…’ ‘Hold that thought, Brenda.  We are going live to a press conference at Los Angeles airport.  Authorities have shut down the airport amid a violent outbreak at Macy’s department stores.  We don’t know if these incidents are linked or not, but we will keep you update.  An eyewitness has reported seeing the CDC quarantine off the perfume counter.  One of the store employees called in a suspicious package that was supposed to be a new fragrance but turned out to be…’

            Michelle turned the TV down and listened to the silence of the night. She picked up her cell phone and texted, ‘It’s done.’ She dropped her phone and leaned out her window. Silence. Then sirens. Screams. Michelle smiled.

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Original Creations

Reanimating Dead Art with Monsters by Jennifer Weigel

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Dead art… It’s a thing that happens, sadly. Typically found at thrift and antique stores or dumpster diving or by the side of the road. But art is never really dead, just resting… Here are some reanimated paintings I made by incorporating nail polish monsters into existing art.

Found paintings with nail polish monsters by Jennifer Weigel
Found paintings with nail polish monsters by Jennifer Weigel

Let’s face it – reworking old abandoned artworks with monsters kind of rocks. For awhile they were all over the internet. I admit, it took me a long time to muster up the courage to paint into someone else’s grandmother’s art, but once I started I just couldn’t stop. From top to bottom, left to right we have: Zombies, Unicorn, Siren, Krakken, Harpies, Sasquatch, Alien Invasion, Witch, and Serpent.

Found painting with nail polish dragon by Jennifer Weigel
Found painting with nail polish dragon by Jennifer Weigel

The dragon is probably my favorite. All of the shades of red are really vibrant and striking against the green. And dragons are always so classic and grandiose and terrifying, perfect for pairing with a mountain landscape. I love painting with nail polish for the sparkle, even if the fumes do get kind of noxious en masse. (The best subject to paint in this media is Rocky Horror style lips by the way, in case you were wondering.)

Fairy Queen Monsters Portrait by Jennifer Weigel
Fairy Queen portrait by Jennifer Weigel

And what better way to complete the collection than with a portrait of a Fairy Queen, her icy stare drilling into your soul. She’s up to some sort of magical mischief, that’s for sure.

Last Unicorn monster nail polish reanimated painting by Jennifer Weigel

And speaking of magical mischief, this is the monster painting I made just for me. The original artwork is about 4 feet long and I knew as soon as I saw it that I wanted to reanimate it in this exact way for all that this is the last in the series that I did. I even added extra shimmer factor. I’d initially considered adding a sea serpent or a dragon but no, she told me to stop.

Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.

Feel free to check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s work here on Haunted MTL or on her writing, fine art, and conceptual projects websites.

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Lighter than Dark

LTD: Revisiting Broken Doll Head, Interview 2

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Our last interview with Broken Doll Head here on Haunted MTL never set well with me. I just feared that I wasn’t able to get the whole scoop on the V-Day Uprising for you, our dear readership. So I arranged another exclusive interview to reconnect and see how it’s going.

Without further ado, I bring you our second exclusive interview with Broken Doll Head…


Thank you so much for having me again. Wow you have changed since the last time we spoke. You seem… calmer. Please don’t hate me or burn down my house for saying anything about it.

The movement is still underway; it is still time. But I needed to take care of me, you know. The rage has subsided somewhat. My anger was not serving me well. After the last uprising, the rest of me was sent to the far corners of the earth in biohazard bags. I had to find another approach, for the cause as well as my own sanity. I am much calmer, thank you for noticing.

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In our last interview, you kept repeating that it is time. Time for what exactly? Would you care to elaborate here now?

It is still time. It is always time. Until the violence is addressed we must continue to rise up and make a scene. We will not be silenced or stigmatized. We can’t be complacent. This is how we got to where we are with the Supreme Court in 2022. Horrific injustices are still happening globally and even within our own borders; it’s too easy to forget that.

What do you suggest we do?

Take action. Share your stories. Give others space to voice their own. Raise awareness and fight the system of oppression. Rally. We must take back our own power. It will not be just given freely.

So what are you up to nowadays?

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I’ve been getting in touch with my inner Earth Goddess. Are you aware of how our environmental impacts affect dolls everywhere? Climate change is creating greater vulnerabilities for those already at risk. We have to look at the intersections of climate, gender and race globally. We have to return to our Mother Earth.

Thank you again Broken Doll Head for joining us and our dear readership here on Haunted MTL’s Lighter than Dark. It’s good to reconnect with you after the V-Day Uprising and we wish you all the best in your bold eco-enlightenment vision.

Broken Doll Head, secured in her own glass case with new moss accents
Broken Doll Head, secured in her own glass case with new moss accents

Again, if you want to learn more about the V-Day movement, please check out their website here.

Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.

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Original Creations

The Way Things Were, story by Jennifer Weigel

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Revisiting my last St. Patrick’s Day post, what’s a wolf to were?

Howling at the Moon digital art Reversals werewolf by Jennifer Weigel
Howling at the Moon digital art Reversals werewolf by Jennifer Weigel

I grimaced as I remembered the previous St. Patrick’s Day.  I had been shot while I was eating a sugar cookie waiting in line to buy a Scratchers ticket, my golden ride to my dream cabin in the woods.  Wow, to think that was just a year ago and so much has changed since then.  But where should I begin?

Well, the junkyard’s under new management.  Or something.  It seems they decided I wasn’t ferocious enough so I’ve been replaced by a couple of working stiffs.  Or Mastiffs as it were, same difference to me.  Apparently after they found the bloodied shirt I’d draped inconspicuously over a chair, they thought something had happened on my watch and decided to retire me.

Or at any rate ol’ Sal took me home.  I guess it’s like retirement, but not the good kind where you tour the world Route 66 style, head lolled out of the side of a vintage Cadillac, breeze flowing through your beard as you drink in the open road.  More the kind where you just stop showing up to work and no one really asks about you.

Now Sal’s a pretty cool dude, and he tends to mind his own business.  But he’s a bit stingy with the treats and he’s a no-paws-on-the-furniture kind of guy.  I don’t get it, his pad isn’t that sweet, just a bunch of hand-me-down Ikea that he didn’t even put together himself.  Not that I could have helped with that, I can’t read those instructions to save my life even if they are all pictures.  It’s all visual gibberish to me unless there’s a rabbit or a squirrel in there someplace that I can relate to.

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And it’s been a real roll in the mud trying to cover up the stench of my monthly secret.  I miss third shift at the junkyard when Monty would fall asleep on the job and I was free to do whatever I wanted.  It sure made the change easier.  Monty never noticed, or he never let on that he did.  We were a good team and had it pretty good, he and I – I don’t know how I wound up shacking up with Sal instead when all was said and done.  There was some kind of talk at the time, over landlords and pet deposits and whatnot, and in the end Sal was the only one who said yes.

So there I was, this St. Patrick’s Day, trying to figure out how to sneak out into the great suburban landscape with the neighbors’ headstrong Chihuahua who barks his fool head off at everything.  He doesn’t ever say anything interesting through the fence about the local gossip, just a string of profanities about staying off his precious grass.  Just like his owners… Suburbia, it doesn’t suit the two of us junkyard junkies.  I’m pretty sure Sal inherited this joint with everything else here.  He just never had the kind of ambition that would land him in a place like this on his own, if you know what I mean.

Fortunately, this St. Patrick’s Day, Sal was passed out on the sofa after binge watching some show on Netflix about werewolves of all things.  Who believes in that nonsense? They get it all wrong anyway.  The history channel with its alien conspiracies is so much better.

I managed to borrow a change of clothes and creep out the front door.  At least there’s something to say about all the greenery, it is a fresh change of pace even if the yards are too neatly manicured and the fences are too high.  And I do love how I always feel like McGruff crossed paths with one of those neighborhood watch trenchcoat spies this time of the month.  I’d sure love to take a bite out of crime, especially if it involves that pesky Pomeranian that always pees on Mrs. Patterson’s petunias and gets everyone else blamed for it.

So sure enough, I slunk off towards the local convenience mart, which is a bit more of a trek here past the water park and the elementary school.  Nice neighborhood though, very quiet, especially at this time of night.

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Well, when I got there, wouldn’t you know it, but I ran into that same nondescript teen from my last foray into the convenience store near the junkyard.  What was he doing here of all places?  Seriously don’t these kids learn anything nowadays?  I let out a stern growl as I snatched a cookie from the nearby end cap, making sure he noticed that I meant business.

Apparently the kid recognized me too, he stopped mid-tracks at the beer cooler and his face blanched like he’d seen a ghost.  Some cheeky little girl-thing motioned to him to hurry it along by laying on the horn of their beater car from the parking lot.  Whatever they were up to was no good, I was certain. He snapped out of it, grabbed a six-pack and headed towards the cashier, eyes fixed on me the whole time.  Not again.  Not after what it cost me the last time when I hadn’t realized my job was at stake.  I stared back, hairs rising on the back of my neck.  I bared my teeth.  This time, I wouldn’t let him off so easy…

The teen edged up to the cashier and presented his trophy.  Unsurprisingly, the clerk asked for ID, and the kid reached into his jacket.  Let the games begin, I grumbled to myself.  But instead of a gun, he pulled out a wallet.  He flashed a driver’s license at the clerk and pointed in my general direction, “I’ll get whatever Santa’s having too.”  He tossed a wad of cash on the counter and gave me a knowing wink before he flew out of there like he was on fire.  I stood in dazed confusion as he and his girl sped out of the lot and disappeared down the road.

“Well, Santa?” the clerk said, snapping me out of my reverie.  Her dark-circled eyes stared over wide rimmed glasses, her rumpled shirt bearing the name-tag Deb. She smelled like BBQ potato chips and cheap cherry cola.

I quieted and shook my head.  “I want a Scratchers.  Not one of those crossword bingo puzzle trials but something less… wordy.  How ‘bout a Fast Cash?”  I barked as I tossed the cookie on the counter.

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“Sure thing,” she said as she handed me a ticket and looked towards the door at the now vacant lot.  “And keep the change, I guess.”

A couple silver pieces, a peanut butter cookie and a lotto ticket later, maybe this is my lucky day after all…

Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.

Check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s writing here at Jennifer Weigel Words.

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