"The Casino (Part 2 of 2)"
The elevator door opens and it is empty inside. Sue immediately goes to one corner and folds her arms across her chest while John takes the opposite corner of the elevator and presses the button for his room floor. “You must think I am a bad person for doing this!”, she says, not looking at him but at the floor. “Doing what?”, he responds, “Getting some food and relaxing for a bit?” But he knows what she means and he wonders if he would resist if she were to offer herself to him as some sort of payment for what cash he has already given her or for the wad of cash he still has in his pocket?
The elevator door opens and he leads her down the hall to his hotel room and opens the door. She goes in first but before he has a chance to close the door, she halts and turns to him. “You are not going to murder me or anything are you?”, she asks and she is serious. “She has heard about such things happening,” she says. Oh why is she here, she wonders. “No, I am not going to murder you. I am just trying to help you. Get some food, relax for a while and if you want, sleep here tonight rather than drive home as tired as you are”, he says, waiting for her to clear the door so he can shut it.
With his response, she immediately heads for a chair in a corner of the suite and sits down and lights up a cigarette. He, standing now with the door closed, says, “Come on, I will show you around the place.” “No, I do not want to see it,” she says. “Come on,” he says insisting. “Come on.”
Finally, she gets up, still smoking and walks over to him. He, points to the bathroom, says, “See that, that large tub, that is what you should do, take a nice long bath and relax.” But she only turns away and heads back to her corner chair. She crushes out the cigarette she has been smoking and lights another. She is chain-smoking now and has her arms across her chest and her legs crossed, all tight, closed, protective.
“Strange,” he things to himself, “thought this might be my time to actually have sex, strange sex but now he does not seem to have any thoughts of sex at all. He really does just want to help this obviously close to the edge, woman.”
He sits down on the couch as far away from her as possible to help her feel more at ease and lights his own cigarette. “So ok," he says, "how about some food? Whatever you want,” handing her the room service menu. She does not take it. “Not hungry,” she says again to him. “Come on, you will feel better after you have eaten something,” again he says, urging her on.
“I am a bad person,” she says, “I have ruined my life, the life of my husband, children, my family. I won once, a lot of money a long time ago and thought it would be easy to do again and again but I keep losing and now I have used up all my husband’s savings and he only knows about part of what I have gambled and lost. He kicked me out of our house weeks ago but says he would get back together with me if I got some help with my gambling problem but I don’t have a gambling problem. Just need one big hit to make it all right. Have to make it all right”. She crushes out her cigarette and starts another. Her head is up and down now, eyes focused on nothing and not looking at him.
“Why am I telling you this? I don’t even know you!”, she says actually turning her head and looking at him.
“Maybe because you do not know me, you can talk freely. Look, after this night, I will probably never see you again or you me and so you can say whatever you want and who will ever know?”, he says, scanning the room service menu for something he might like to eat.
As he scans the menu, he begins to wonder if she, this whole thing, is some sort of setup? If there is a knock at the door before room service has been ordered or too quickly after it has been ordered, he is not going to open the door nor let her open it. If she is worried that he might murder her, he has become worried that she is part of a team than rob men of their money. A knock at the door, she opens it to let in a friend she knows and before you know it, they have robbed him or maybe even worse. “Crazy thoughts,” he thinks to himself, “If she is not really screwed up, she is one great actress and ought to get an award.”
“Come on, look at the menu,” he says to her again and then begins to read aloud from the menu. “How about some fish dish? Shrimp? How about a steak? You eat meat?” Nothing. She says nothing. Just sits smoking away with her legs and arms all pulled in tight, locked. “Ok,” he finally says, “I am getting the steak and you the shrimp and we can share if you like.” Again she says nothing.
He picks up the telephone and places the room service call and once the meal has been ordered, sits down on the couch, but this time closer to her to share the ashtray and to perhaps, get her to open up some more to him.
“I am a bad person,” she says again. “No, you are not!”, he responds.
“And what do they do at those meetings for gamblers with problems? How is going to some meeting going to get me the money I need to make it all right again?”, she says looking right at him for a change. “My husband says he will get back together with me, if I go to the meetings but I don’t have a problem, I just need one good hit, jackpot and it will be all right”.
“I don’t know what goes on at those meetings but no, you are not going to get any money going to the meetings. The one thing I do know is that you must stop coming to casinos like this one. Like an alcoholic who thinks he can have one drink and then control his drinking, you appear to be the type person who cannot gamble in moderation, for entertainment. You just can not go to casinos anymore and thinking you can come here or anywhere and hit some big jackpot to make it all right, well, it just isn’t going to happen like that and in the mean time, you are only digging the hole you got yourself into, only deeper and deeper.”
“What do I need this crap for?”, she thinks to herself but is too afraid to say out loud. She thinks this man is ok, safe, will not harm her, but she can not figure out what he wants from her, other than sex which she is not sure about. A week ago, if someone had approached her and offered her money for sex, she would not have thought a second about it as no way she would do such a thing, but now, here, tonight, suddenly, she was not so sure. “Wonder how much he would pay and what he would want to do to me?”, letting the thought cross her mind. He breaks the thought, “It is a king size bed and so plenty of room and we will never even touch in the night,” he says, sort of talking to the room, rather than to her.
“Why did he just say that?”, she wonders.
A long silence begins and lasts until there is a knock at the door. He gets up from the couch and peeks through the door peephole to see a room service cart and attendant and not 3 guys with masks and guns.
He opens the door and the attendant brings the cart into the room and places it right in front of the couch. The food is uncovered and then the attendant leaves the room.
“They all think I am a whore!”, she says again talking to the floor. “Who is they?”, he says. “You think anyone down on the casino floor or even that room service attendant guys pays any attention to what other people are doing? No, they are just here for themselves and could care less about who is doing what to whom.” As soon as it comes out of his mouth, he knows he did not word that last sentence right.
Rob loves his job. Oh, it can be pretty boring if he has to work the day shift, but even then, there is always something, rather, someone, to watch. Rob is a voyeur, a natural borne voyeur and working casino video surveillance, he actually gets paid to watch other people without them knowing about it; talk about sweet! At bars in town with his buddies, Rob likes to brag about his job and how cool it is watching various people for hours and then when he gets off his shift, walk out onto the casino floor and right past someone he has been watching and they not even know who he is.
Rob wanted to be an air traffic controller but after he took some tests, they told him he was not stable enough, whatever that meant, but lucky for Rob, Floyd was working at the casino in surveillance and got him hooked up. Same old story, you got to know somebody to get anywhere in this world. Casino video is not air traffic control but the pay is decent and the benefits beyond the money are great.
Rob is in his mid twenties and always horny, thus as he sits in the semi-dark video surveillance room with 2 other surveillance guys, he always likes to find the prettiest girl in his coverage section and just watch her. About 3 weeks ago, the casino hired a new slot host and this woman is hot. Maybe in her early 30’s, long natural blonde hair; she always wears tight pants with a deep neckline knit top, which shows her awesome tits to the overhead cameras, and thus him. Sometimes, he has seen her look up at the cameras and wink! He has seen it! Every time it has made him instantly hard. God he loves to watch her but she never stays on the floor very long. Always hiding out in the big bosses office down off the floor. Rob can easily imagine what she spends so much time in there doing.
Rob has 20 video monitors in his section at any one time and so it is kind of like air traffic control. Like the floor cocktail waitress, surveillance has to rotate casino sections ever hour or so to keep from getting stale and not really seeing anything at all. 20 video monitors is a lot for anyone to try to watch at one time but Rob thinks he has the gift.
Supposedly he is to watch for casino employees stealing money when they fill slot machine hoppers with coins or when cashier personnel make change for a gambler and every payout over $1200 must be monitored and recorded. But what Rob really enjoys is when he catches a gambler stealing from another gambler. With a quick call to floor security, the offender is taken off the floor and given a good talking to. Usually the casino does not press criminal charges as it would be bad publicity for the casino but instead returns the stolen money to the rightful owner and bans the thief from the casino for life. One particularly good trick he has seen done is that a team of thieves work together where one distracts a gambler and the other casually picks up the bucket of coins or paper money which are in plain view and easy pickings.
Like stealing, the casino does not usually press charges when someone is robbed in the parking lot but when Rob gets that section to watch, he is real careful to pay strict attention, as armed robbery has occurred a lot in the parking area of late and the city police are on standby. The casino thinks that there are spotter people inside the casino identifying those with large sums of cash and then notifying those waiting on the outside when the victim leaves the casino for his or her car. “No rapes, thank God,” Rob thinks now and again but he not sure it could not happen.
Gamblers stealing money from each other, a little touchy feely here and there, that is about it. Burt, another one of the surveillance guys, claims he caught two men having sex down on the casino floor one time but no one believes him. “Man, those guys would have to be really stupid to do something like that,” Rob, thought when he first heard about the “incident”. The damn casino ceiling is dotted with video camera dooms although not all have camerasl but the gamblers and casino employees do not know which are real and which are fakes. Anyway, the idea of 2 queers getting it on, down on the floor, wants to make Rob just puke. He wishes the casino could keep fags out but they can’t by law and lucky for him, he only sees a couple now and again.
Sometimes, as Rob sits and watches, he thinks how really weird it is looking down on all the players and casino personnel. As there are no microphones attached to the video cameras, he cannot hear what is said or all the noise of the casino but he can pan a camera around as he wants to keep tabs on anyone he pleases and Rob, being a horny guy, likes to watch some of the prettier cocktail waitress. All the guys do it, so he does not feel bad about it, especially during the day shift when there are very few gamblers in the casino.
Cocktail waitresses: what a bunch of whack jobs! Rob tried dating one or 2 but they were all screwed up being divorced with kids and a chip on their shoulder from at least one or maybe 2 bad marriages. Some live with their parents while others live in a small apartment well outside of town. No thanks, not for Rob. Date? “No!” Watch? “Yes!”
If Angie is working the floor, he especially likes to watch her. Never dated her or even talked to her but although you are not supposed to, sometimes Rob burns himself a DVD copy of some portions of the night’s surveillance tapes of Angie. A little relief before bed always makes him sleep better. “The job has such great fringe benefits,” Rob likes to tell himself.
Tonight, not much has been going on down on the floor. Not very crowded but Angie is working and so if nothing else happens, he will just track her all night. Since catching a theft in the act cannot be predicted as to where and when, his supervisor has told him it is ok to pick one casino employee and track them around as they work the floor. As good a method as any to watch the action.
At first, Angie is not in the section he is covering. He glances at monitors in other sections and does see her but he may or may not rotate sections in just the right order so he has her for at hour or more in his section.
Meanwhile, he watches old men sit and watch their wives feed quarter machines and young couples in for a night of entertainment and nothing more, move from one machine to another after only putting in a coin or 2. For a moment, he though he caught movement at one console where one player tried to lift the coin bucket from another player sitting beside him but now the potential thief has moved on and so Rob is not sure what he saw or thought he saw. Some nights it is like that. Lots of false alarms but that is what they pay him for, to be watchful and expect the quick, sudden moves.
Sometimes, he feels like when he was a lifeguard at the local swimming pool. Long stretches of nothing happening but he alert as a watch dog just in case a body suddenly appeared lifeless on the bottom and of course, there were all those girls in tight bikinis which helped pass the time.
It is 9pm before his rotation coincides with Angie and she comes into view of one of his 20 monitors. “Sweet little Angie,” Rob thinks to himself and sighs. “Such a nice ass and legs!”
As he watches her move about his current section, he wonders if she knows, can feel him watching her? She never looks up at the video eyes but that does not mean she is not aware of them in the ceiling and the guy watching over her! As he watches, she gets a complete order of drinks and heads back to the bar to get the order filled. “Some night, he is just going to have to stop off at the bar on his way home and introduce himself,” he thinks, waiting for her to come into his section and then she reappears and appears to be looking for someone. Finally, she stops at a man with a woman propped on his shoulder and then Angie is on to the next gambler.
“God, she is beautiful. I could watch her all night,” Rob says out loud to his embarrassment.
She pretends she did not hear him but she knows what he meant. “Sex. He wants sex with me. Oh God, I am a bad person to be here in this room with this strange man and now I am thinking of taking money for sex! Perhaps my husband is right, I have a gambling problem. I wonder who much he would pay me to have sex with him. Oh, stop it. Stop such thoughts. My husband, I could not do that to my husband. I have already ruined his life with my gambling and now to have sex with this man! I am such a bad person”
“Come over on the couch and have some food,” he says, trying to get past his last remark. He takes up his knife and fork and begins to cut his steak. “I ordered it for you and the least you could do is actually eat some,” he pleads with her again.
“I am not hungry,” she says again. “Please! It will make you feel better, I promise”, he says looking at her.
Suddenly she finds herself rising from the chair she has been in since she entered his room and crushing out her cigarette, moves to the couch and sits down in front of her shrimp and rice. Perhaps it is the smell of the food but for a moment, her mind is quiet and she takes up a shrimp and places it into her mouth, not looking at him and he not speaking. The shrimp is not very good but she says anything about it to him.
After she has eaten her first shrimp, she beings again. “My parents, in Korea, they were deaf. I mean they are deaf and as a little child in Korea it was very hard on me. I had to go everywhere with them and tell people what they wanted and people are not very kind to deaf people in my country. When I was in school, the other kids teased me about my parents and made fun of me. We were very poor and it was very hard. That is why I think I gamble now,” raising her eyes to meet his. He does not say anything but has stopped eating. “Yes, that must have been very hard on you,” he says finally and then asks, “So how did you get to the United States and are your parents here?”
She takes up a fork full of rice and begins to eat it. Like the shrimp it is not very good or not the way Koreans like it anyway and she chews slowly composing herself.
“My uncle moved here a long time before I was borne and he brought us here. I was about 12 when we came here and again it was very hard as I had no friends here and had to learn English so my parents could tell people what they wanted”.
He continues to eat his steak slowly but it obvious to her that he is listening.
“And you?”,she says, “What about you?
“Me? Oh, I am nobody really,” he says taking a bite of potato. “I am married with 2 daughters and now and again, I like to come gamble. Not much really to tell. I work at a bank and it is ok but nothing great and my wife is a school teacher and works very hard.”
She takes another bite of rice and looks at him. “How much would he pay me for sex?” Again the question crosses her mind and again, she is agitated by it. “If he does not want sex from me, why did he bring me here? Why is he being so nice to me?”
He takes a slip from his water glass. “Oh, before I forget, here is the room key card. You can come and go, as you like. I am going back down on the casino floor after we eat and you can stay here if you like or come back down with me. Either way, here is the room key for you,” and he places it on the table within her reach. She says nothing and is now picking at her food and appears to be done eating.
“Can’t you eat a little more?”, he asks. “It was so hard back as a child and we were so poor. I do not want to be poor again,” she says more to the room than directly to him. “I understand how you must have felt”, he says, although he is sure she does not believe him.
He eats the last of his steak and the last of the bread and sits watching her push the food around her plate.
“Do you believe in God?”, she blurts out, look straight at him. “Of course,” he says, “Why do you ask?”
“I have been praying for God to help me, to help me win one big jackpot so I can make everything all right but he is not listening or won’t help me,” she says moving her eyes back to her plate.
“I don’t know about asking God for a jackpot. Don’t think it works that way. Do think that God helps everyone when they need help and maybe that is why you and I met this evening. Maybe I am an angel.”
“Don’t say that,” she says obvious agitated. “Why?”, he asks. “I am such a bad person, an angel should be helping those that really desire it.”
“Again, I think God helps everyone one way or another. Like you meeting me. When I met you, you appeared so tired, so down, so depressed and all I could do was to offer you a bed and some food. I do not know what possessed me to ask you to spend the night with me. Maybe it was God, I don’t know.”
As he hears himself speak, he begins to wonder if God really is behind all this? She pretty close to rock bottom and needed some comfort, help and guidance and he on a mission to satisfy his crazy sexual lust. Maybe God interceded on both their behaves. It is strange that his feelings of sexual desire are almost gone which is a rarity for him and in its place some feelings of being saintly and it feels so all wrong. He hates it, is disgusted by it. He is no saint.
She continues to push around food on her plate and finally takes a bite of another shrimp and he gets up and goes the chair she was sitting in before he began to eat and lights a cigarette.
“You know,” he begins, “Going to one of those gambler meetings may not really hurt all that much and if it got you back with your husband, that would be good, wouldn’t it?
“I wish I was dead,” she suddenly thinks to herself. “I have lost all the money and now I am thinking of having sex for money. I am too bad to be alive.”
Suddenly, she is standing up. “Let’s go back down and play some more,” she says. She has to get out of this room before she asks him how much he would be willing to pay for her to have sex with him.
“Ok,” he says, “But I think it would be better if you stayed here, took a long bath or shower and laid down for a while. Honestly, you are not going to win some big amount of money down there tonight to fix all your problems”.
She does not respond but instead grabs her purse and heads for the door. “Ok, ok,” he says, “I’m coming”.
Chapter 10 (Written 20 June 2005)
When John and Sue reach the casino floor, Sue bolts out of the elevator and starts towards the high dollar slot area, almost at a run. John, startled at how quickly she is moving, yells after her to slow down. To him, it is almost as if she needs a fix, a drug fix of spinning wheels and cannot wait any longer. John speeds up his pace but does not run and eventually, Sue slows down enough so he catches up to her.
“There are some high dollar slots at the other end of the casino we could try,” he says pointing away from the area they met in. She says nothing in response but only seems to kick her movements into overdrive.
When they reach the high dollar area, she immediately points out a machine and says, “Try this one, this one.” He sits down and puts in a couple of hundred dollars and spin after spin draws up exactly nothing, with her the whole time, eyes glued to the spinning wheels like it was some sort of drug and as he sees this connection, addiction she has, it scares him. He wonders if he could become like her? Is he like her now and does not even know it?
“Ok, maybe this one,” pointing to another machine and he willingly obeys and moves to the slot machines she has pointed out. “What has he gotten himself into with the woman? Going to be a lot of fun spending the evening on the casino floor with this crazy woman looking over my shoulder and telling which machines to play!”
She watches as he loads the next machine with several hundred dollars and again, spin after spin, comes up dry. “It is he! He is bad luck!”, she thinks to herself watching him. “If he had not sit down beside me to start with, I would have won. I need to get away from him and use the money he has given me to win the big jackpot I need.” Sue thinks beginning of a way to get away from John without it being too obvious that she is going to gamble again after he has made it clear, she should not. “Like my husband. I don’t have any gambling problem other than this guy being a big bad luck near me!”
John finishes spinning off the last of the initial slot machine load and looking up at Sue says, “Lets go back to the other high dollar slot area. Maybe we can have some luck back there.” Sue says nothing but does begin to follow John as he makes his way towards the other end of the casino.
About half way there, John feels a hand on his shoulder and when he turns, it is Sue and she is on a cell phone trying to talk to someone over the noise of the casino. He cannot hear what she is saying but wonders who it could be that she is not trying to shield the noise of the casino from the caller. “Guess it was a caller and not someone she called,” he thinks. Then she is off the phone and turns to him. “I have to go home now. When I left my son’s house this morning, I took the only set of house keys and now he has gotten home and cannot get into his own house. Oh why did I bring the house keys with me?” “You going to be ok driving home now?”, he says, honestly concerned for her driving such a distance, along, after dark in the mental state she is in. “Oh, I will be fine,” she says and heads towards the casino exit. “Here, I will walk with you,” he says and takes up one of her arms as an escort. When they reach the casino exit, they push through the door and out onto the sidewalk and she turns to him. “Thank you for being so nice to me,” she says and gives him a hug. “Sue, it was nice to meet you but remember, do not ever go to a casino again and think about those gambler anonymous meetings your husband suggested,” he says hugging her back and then she releases her hug, turns and heads out towards the parking lot and her car.
John turns to go back inside the casino and breathes a sigh of relief. “At least I am rid of that woman. Do hope she gets home safely though and gets some help,” he thinks, making his way back through the casino to the high dollar slots area. At first, he looks around for that cute little waitress, which was the point of this whole trip, but suddenly he knows that the moment, urge, desire for that, her, is now come and gone and that it will never come again. Yes, God has interceded this evening and kept him from doing something foolish and he is thankful.
Finally, he reaches the high dollar slot area and again sits down in front of the $20, double gold, 7’s machine or "Screw Them" although John does not know the machine’s true name. He begins feeding in $100 bills to load up the machine with credits and to settle in, in hopes of hitting something decent in the way of a jackpot.
“Complimentary beverages,” startles John as the waitress Angie is almost on top of him when she calls out her song. “Sure, ok,” he says, handing her $100. “What was up with you and that Korean lady?”, Angie asks rather boldly but she does want to know.
“Nothing. She was, is, a compulsive gambler and just needed some help. I took her back to my room and tried to get her to eat some food but she has left now to go home now,” John says in reply, nothing to hide or feel bad about and Angie believes him.
“You are such a good man,” Angie says, “Wish you were not married.” “Well I am,” John says and turns back to press the spin button on “his” machine.
“I have seen the Korean lady around a time or two but not too often,” Angie says, trying to draw John back out of his machine and into some more conversation. “Oh,” he says in reply. “She told me she had never been here before.” “Oh, now, I know I have seen here in here, in the evening, like tonight. Never with anyone,” Angie responds and John’s mind becomes confused. Was the whole thing some scam, hitting the spin button on old “Screw Them” one more time.
When Sue reaches her car, she does get into it but sitting there thinks about the $2000 in her purse that John gave her. $2000 will not solved my problem and proceeds to get out and walk back into the casino using an entrance as far away from the high dollar slot area as possible. “Perhaps without bad luck John around, I can finally win. Please God, let me win and make it all right,” she says to herself. And what will she say to him, if she runs into him? “Oh, my son called me back and found a spare key and she had looked for John but could not find him! What does she care? She did not owe this man anything!” Once inside the casino, she makes her way to the area she and John had been in just before she left to go to her car and finds a machine that just called to her to be played. “This time for sure,” she says to herself, feeding the $10 machine, $500.
Chapter 11 (Written 20 June 2005)
From 2am until 4am and casino closing, the casino is pretty thin of gamblers. At this time of morning, only some locals and those staying in the hotel are still on the floor. All have the perception, belief that the machines should pay off this time of morning as the machines have been played all day. This belief is no more accurate than the idea that slot machines are more likely to payoff when the casino opens each morning but this does not deter gamblers from hitting the casino early or late.
At 5 minutes to 4 o’clock, the announcement comes that the casino is closing in 5 minutes and John is back on old “Screw Them” again thinking after he has feed it thousands of dollars, it just has to hit soon and he would like it now rather than loosing his jackpot to someone in the early morning. In go more $100 bills and he spins the wheels as fast as he can, all to no avail. Old “Screw Them” figured out this gambler hours ago and knows he does not have to pay out anything, especially, this time of morning.
At 4am, all slot machines freeze such that they cannot be played anymore and all machines with credits in them begin to dump coins into the coin tray until all credits have been paid out. John has timed his feed of money such that at 4am, he does not have any credits in “Screw Them” and he gets up and heads to his hotel room. He is tired. The long drive to the casino, that whole thing with Sue, whatever that was and then these last few hours of loosing his ass to that damn $20, double gold 7’s machine. “Why does he continue to come? He is addicted to the lights, the sounds, the possibilities on the spinning wheels, the oddity of the place as much as Sue is. No, not that much,” he tells himself as he walks a long.
At 20 minutes after 4am, only the cleanup crew, waitress and slot machine mechanics remain on the casino floor. With the doors locked, the security guards head for the employee lounge to change into street clothes for the ride home and the video surveillance crew puts all cameras on automatic, which allows the ceiling mounted video cameras to continuously scan and record the casino floor for the reminder of the morning without any actual crew at all and the casino central computer begins to silence each and every slot machine in the casino.
At 4:45am, in a totally silent if not still well lit, gaudy, casino floor, the only people on the floor are the slot machine mechanics opening up machines which have broken or jammed during the casino day and repairing them. Most slot machines are pretty reliable and in any one night, no more than 30 machines out of 3000 will require repair.
Slot machine mechanics are a special bred, having to be background checked continuously and trained at the factory. Using the tools they have at their disposal, they could easily set the payout of a specific machine very high for one specific period of time and then have a friend or relative come and “hit’ the fixed machine for thousands of dollars. It has been done before and the casino is always on the look out.
At 5 am, the central computer which is attached to each and every slot machine in the casino has finished polling each machine to determine the net take of the machine during the last casino day. The central computer is very impressive with old “Screw Them” as he reports, with a smile, that his net for the day is $25,000. Not a bad day at all.
At 9am, the central computer has finished determining the payout of each and every slot machine in the casino and has now updated each machine to reflect the new payout odds and the first of the waitresses, security staff, slot machine coin personnel begin arriving for the opening of the casino for another day.
It will be another couple of hours before John awakes after his long night of gambling and will curse himself for loosing so much money again.
Sue is already awake at 9am and thinking how she can get her hands on some more money. “Have to make it right,” she thinks staring at the bedroom ceiling in her son’s home.
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