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Steve Robertson

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The Honey Dipper Nightmare
By Steve Robertson
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Rated "PG13" by the Author.

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The Honey Dipper Nightmare

(*Author’s note: For the uninitiated, ‘Honey Dipper’ is a rather euphemistic term coined to add humor to what normally was a rather vile activity and occupation. Although in today’s civilized world, most homes are connected to public sewers. Formerly and still existent in rural areas, it was necessary for a system to built on site to take care of the metabolic wastes of the inhabitants. This was (and is) a concrete lined pit called a septic tank connected to a pebble filled drain field that was constructed in an area somewhere around the building. These still exist and can be identified by the raised earth that covers them causing the area to look as if a fallout shelter has been constructed beneath it.
Unfortunately, septic tanks need cleaning occasionally, which resulted in a business specialized in doing so. This necessitates the lid being removed from the concrete tank and the vile contents pumped out and disposed of. An exceptionally large truck with a horizontal cylindrical tank mounted on the back was designed for this. You’ve seen ‘em.

Amazingly, the contents resembled fresh honey in color, i.e. the euphuism, which has been associated with the company,“Honey Dipper.” Now, honey dippers have expanded and evolved into the portable toilet business as well.)

Zeke Daniels was a nice looking man. At 36, he hit the gym at least three times a week and kept his weight right at 190 pounds, which was good for a man six feet tall. He had dark brown hair that he kept trimmed neatly. As a matter of fact, he was fastidious about his looks and apparel to a point of zealousness. All of his clothes came from shops featuring the most avant-garde fashions and he had them laundered by only the best cleaners. To say he dressed wrinkle free was an understatement. Zeke was very popular with the ladies but so far, he had resisted the urgings of many and had stayed single.

Zeke’s job as factory representative for Ford Motor Company provided him with a comfortable income and his job required that he travel all over the south eastern United States, which comprised his territory. As the company’s representative, it was his job to contact the many dealerships and answer questions, provide for needs and report back to headquarters. He loved his job and the traveling was perfect for his style of life. He enjoyed the hotels and motels, and the restaurants and bars. Like the sailors, it could be said that he had a gal in every port—which wasn’t far from the truth.

Buster “Bubba” Higginbotham was opening a huge, new Ford dealership in Lumpkin, Georgia. It was a small town, but it served as a rural, farming village and the sales of large cars and especially trucks, were enormous. Plus, “Bubba” had his big face, and pictures of the dealership plastered on billboards, in newspapers and on television commercials throughout the area. It was a very important account.

There weren’t many places to stay in Lumpkin, but Zeke was able to find a lovely, quaint privately owned establishment called “Mom and Pop’s Country Inn.” It was actually very nice and he had a large, completely stocked suite that included three rooms and an open veranda that looked out over the pool deck. Crystal clear sliding glass doors separated the living room from the veranda. It also had a cozy little restaurant and bar attached that proved to be a popular hangout for locals, especially single women.

On his first day in Lumpkin, however, the weather decided to be a real toad buster. It was raining so hard that it was impossible to see farther than a few yards ahead of one’s self. There were also pyrotechnics as the lightning and resultant thunder flashed and boomed like Thor was hosting a fourth of July party. It was a great day to stay inside. Using his cell phone—the hotel phone cost extra, Zeke phoned the dealership and made them aware that he was in town. They understood that he’d wait for the weather to break before visiting the site. Flash – Booooom, lightning struck near the motel and the thunder shook the very foundations. The surprise of it made Zeke jump and duck his head. “Whew, that was close!” flew through his mind.

Zeke walked over to the sliding glass windows and opened them so he could smell the fresh air generated by the cleansing rain and enjoy the weather. He was not one to curse rain and what was normally called ‘foul’ weather. He was a nature lover and there could be no doubt that rainy days were the very things that made a healthy environment possible. It was actually a beautiful storm. The cool fresh air wafted past him as he looked out and listened to the drumming of raindrops on the world outside. As he watched and listened, lost in reverie, Zeke was startled back to present time by his cell phone, which beeped and vibrated in the holster where it hung on his belt. He had it programmed so that it played Beethoven’s fifth Symphony. Little did Zeke realize the significance of his choice of symphonies by Beethoven.

Thinking some important person from Bubba’s dealership was phoning, he quickly flipped the device open and held it up to his ear. “Good afternoon, you’ve reached Zeke Daniels. How can I help you?” Zeke liked to be very professional and proper with his business phone voice. He was surprised with the one that replied to his, however.

What he heard was a deeply accented, gravelly, guttural, and completely unfamiliar response. “Who’d ‘ja say ya’ was? Dis here’s Lester. I’m acallin’ ta’ see if ya’ll got them ‘ports’ cleaned out fer me. I gotta get ‘em delivered and set up soon’s this damned awful rain quits. Le’mme speak ta Howard. He’ll know what I need.”

Wow, not only was it a wrong number, but who ever called him was obviously intellectually and verbally challenged. Nonetheless, Zeke was nice to everyone. In business, one could never tell who turned out to be a client or a customer of one who was.

“I’m sorry, sir. It seems as if you have dialed a wrong . . .”—FLASH --BOOOOOMMM!!! The Mother of all lightning strikes cut Zeke’s reply short. The cell phone flew out of his hand and away from his ear. He was flung across the room and lost consciousness. When he came around moments later, he had a splitting headache and his ears were ringing so loudly it sounded as if John Phillips Sousa and his band were marching past in all their glory. Stars were swimming around in his vision and for a few moments, he had lost track of time and space. Zeke didn’t know where he was. Little by little, it all started coming back to him. When he arose from the floor and located his cell phone, it looked as if it had been in a toaster oven. It was fried. He stuck it in the holster anyway. The rain continued to drum away at the world outside.

The next morning, Zeke still experienced ringing in his ears, although it was much abated and his headache necessitated a few aspirins to take the edge off the pain. Since his cell phone, a very important part of his professional life, had been turned into a melted mound of plastic; he drove to the shop across town that sold them. It was out of warranty, but still not old enough to qualify for a rebate. So as planned, the phone company was able to take him for the full cost of a replacement. The sales representative was amazed at the condition of the old one and when Zeke explained what happened, she could only shake her head. Somehow, it seemed lightning had played a part in the destruction of it. How in the world could that happen? He was relieved, however, to find that his SIM card was intact and could be inserted in the new unit. He hadn’t lost any of his valuable contacts stored on the card. Nonchalantly, Zeke slipped the replacement phone in his holster and drove to breakfast. He was feeling better all the time and his ears had just about stopped ringing.

The restaurant was one like those Zeke loved to patronize. It was a small, home-style place that smelled of great coffee and country cooking. He took a seat by a window and looked through a menu. A waitress who had all her hair piled on the top of her head and who called him ‘honey’ took his order and left a steaming cup of coffee and a glass of water. As he stared distantly out of the window, it happened to him for the first time. His new cell phone chimed once, indicating that an incoming call had just been missed. This puzzled Zeke, because he hadn’t heard the phone ring in the first place. How could he have missed a call? Before he could pull the phone out and take a look at the screen, however, he was startled to find himself sitting dazed at the table.

It could have been a dream or a daydream, but Zeke was completely cognizant of the reality of his surroundings including his arms crossed on the checkered tablecloth in front of him. He was looking at the world through a second pair of eyes as well as his normal vision, which took in his own arms beneath him. And there was a voice. He recognized it as the same voice he had heard just before the lighting strike. Zeke shook his head but it didn’t help. He was still trapped in the two different worlds.

The ‘other’ room he was in appeared to be an office of some kind. The sign written across the glass on the door to the office read: .CNI, REPPID YENOH, only, of course the letters were also turned backwards because he was reading from the inside of the glass. “Honey Dipper, Inc.” What was this? What was happening to him? Where was he? Zeke could do nothing but watch and listen.
The lower half of his peripheral vision also picked up on an enormous stomach, ensconced in a brown uniform shirt with hairy arms the size of ham hocks bulging from the shirtsleeves. One beefy hand held a phone to the ear—which he couldn’t see, but he could hear and see everything else as if he inhabited this body he was now experiencing. “Com’mon, Jode, ya’ll’ve known since las week tha’ we got ta have them pots set up at the Ford place. Thay’s havin’ a grand openin’ and thay’s gonna be a bunch of people there. Ya gotta drop everything and get ‘em over there raght now. Ya know Bubba’ll be pissed if’n they ain’t sittin’ there in an hour. ‘N ya don’t wanna’ piss off Bubba.”

What in the world was happening to him. Zeke nodded numbly as the waitress asked if he’d like his coffee cup refilled but he was held captive by the other world he’d been flung into. His mind was numb and he didn’t know what was going on. As if his harried senses didn’t have enough to sort out, his olfactory weighed in. The smell, or smells would be better stated. The first was the odor of an unwashed, sweaty body, which seemed to be coming from somewhere below his vision. It was this porcine character whose eyes he was sharing. One of the odors Zeke disliked more than any other in the world was the eye-stinging, acrid smell of an unwashed underarm. Of all the bodies the fastidious man could have been cast into, it had to be a smelly one.
The second odor was emanating from the surroundings in the world where his vision and consciousness had taken him. It was the odor of some sort of disinfectant, designed to mask more unpleasant smells.

Just then, Zeke’s new cell phone rang. Mercifully, the weird world he seemed to be experiencing disappeared as if someone had popped a balloon in front of him. He was back to normal—at least his physical self was. His mind seemed to be several places at once, trying to sort things out. What had just happened could not have been real. It was his headache playing tricks on him.

“You all right, Honey?” The stacked hair waitress had returned with Zeke’s food. “Ya’ look lak ya seen a ghost or somthin.” Zeke shook his head and replied he hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before and pulled out the cell phone.

The call was from the dealership and Zeke got back to business as he identified his plans to join them in a half hour. He left a tip on the table, paid for his breakfast ham, eggs, grits and coffee and left the restaurant. It was a beautiful day. The warm sun felt good on his face as he jumped in his Ford F-350 truck and started the engine. It was a small town and the dealership was only a couple miles away.

True to form, Bubba had the dealership outfitted like a medieval pageant for a jousting contest. Colorful triangular flags flapped gently in the slight breeze and hundreds of helium filled balloons danced on their strings over the entire lot. The news media was in abundance. It was a perfect setting for Zeke’s company. The media exposure would be priceless. It would be a great event to report back to his department.

As Zeke drove into the parking lot next to the main building he passed a number of small, hut sized green buildings. Each one had Honey Dipper, Inc., stenciled across the front door. It was all he could do to keep from crashing his truck as he passed them, looking for a place to park. His thoughts were immediately interrupted, however, when he saw the unmistakable hulk of “Bubba” the Ford Man hop down the steps of the dealership and come striding towards his truck.

Bubba played defensive tackle for The University of Georgia and became quite famous in the surrounding areas. Although, his stint playing professionally for The Green Bay Packers was cut short by a knee injury, Bubba’s fame and popularity was unfazed. Everybody wanted to be Bubba’s friend and his size made it almost impossible for him to be missed, no matter where he went.

Bubba kept his hair cut in the traditional “flat-top” characteristic of athletes in his era. He was never seen without a huge grin on his face and he truly loved just about everybody. The clap on his back from Bubba’s huge paw, just about sent Zeke sprawling. The grin never left his face, however, and he felt like royalty as he was escorted to the building. As they passed the portable toilets, an unmistakable smell wafted to Zeke’s nose. It was a type of disinfectant odor. He was sure he had smelled it before.

Zeke’s thoughts were cut short by Bubba’s happy dialog, accented in a heavy southern drawl that seemed to have no punctuation, least of all, periods. It also hadn’t escaped Zeke that two absolutely gorgeous young women had joined them as they entered the giant building. Once inside, Bubba tossed a key over which the blond caught in midair, the other young woman was a brunette. “Ere ya go, Sally. Ya’ll take Zeke around the lot in the golf cart. Make sure he sees the truck department. I saw that ‘lil F-350 he drove up in. You and Jennifer make sure he gets treated like a king. I gotta get some pictures taken and they want to interview me for the 6 o’clock news. I’ll join ya’ll later.

So with a blond on one arm and a brunette on the other, Zeke was escorted out of the building and found himself squeezed between them in the golf cart. All troubles forgotten, Zeke was sure his stock was rising in the market. One dealership was pretty much like another. A new blond and brunette in his life were different. His only worry was that he’d probably have to make a choice between them as to which one to spend the evening with. Oh, well, he’d certainly had worse problems in his life. There was that odor again. They had just passed the portable toilets.

As it turned out, Jennifer was called away and he was left with Sally. That was fine with Zeke and he was elated when she agreed to have supper with him. The afternoon at the dealership went well and as the day wore on, Zeke was able to drift away and drive back to his motel. As usual, his first activity was to take his evening shower. He was to pick Sally up at six.

As he lathered his body, he thought about his conversation with her. Especially since he was on expense account, he intended to take her to the restaurant of her dreams. But, when he had asked her where she wanted to go, telling her she could chose any place in driving distance, she had replied delightedly that she would love to go to the Golden Corral. The Golden Corral! He’d offered her the restaurants of the world and she was enthralled with the idea of going to a fast-food buffet place. Hell, who was he to judge. He wasn’t exactly excited with the food, but if it made Sally happy, who cared.

Sally turned out to be delightful company. She had a good sense of humor and she was easy to talk to. She was actually quite beautiful. Matching her long blond hair was a perfect, angelic face and a body to write home about. She really seemed to enjoy the Golden Corral. When he suggested going back to his motel for a drink at the bar, Sally agreed without hesitation. The big Ford truck was headed back to the motel.

After a few drinks, Zeke asked Sally if she’d like to see his room. He’d been bragging about it to her, as it was a pretty special room. Without hesitation, she agreed. Zeke had to work at not showing his excitement that she was coming up to the room. He didn’t want to ruin a good thing by appearing overly sophomoric about her consenting to it. She was immediately impressed with the room, as just about anyone would be and wandered into every room, exploring it.

Then came the biggest surprise of all. Sally said she had experienced a day from hell and hadn’t even had time to relax in a shower. Would he mind if she used the one in the hotel and did he have some towels she could use.
Zeke fought the urge to start stuttering as he said it would be fine and he even found a complimentary robe for her to use as well. This was turning out even better than could be expected. It was shortly after nine in the evening when Sally grabbed the things and closed the bathroom door behind her.

Zeke’s cell phone chimed one time. He froze in his seat on the side of the bed as curious prickles ran up the back of his neck. His vision started getting strange. He was overcome with the same vile odor of unwashed body and a new smell—cheap perfume. His thoughts were a jumble of dread and revulsion. A beautiful woman was using his shower and he was being telepathically transported to some revolting place where the person smelled like unwashed underwear.

Then his vision and hearing kicked in. The unmistakable voice of a woman pierced the quiet of his room. She was giggling. He was obviously seeing the events through the eyes of whoever he had been transported “into,” whoever this ‘Lester’ fellow was. He was frozen in time and experiencing two places at once.

The floor wasn’t far beneath Zeke, but when he saw, smelled and heard what was going on in the ‘other’ world, he just about fell onto it anyway. Not only could he see a naked, hairy, bulging belly on the peripheral vision below the eyes. Not only was this body unwashed and absolutely vile, the eyes he was locked into beheld a vision that was quite possibly even worse. He was starting to feel convulsions in his gut. There was a distinct possibility Zeke was going to baptize the motel floor with vomit.

Standing there with papaya sized tits swinging in an huge, lacy pink bra and a pair thong panties that would fit Shamu, was the most ugly woman Zeke had ever seen. She was almost as round as she was tall. Her hair was frazzled and dyed almost fire-truck red. She had painted her lipstick on so that it missed her lips on all sides, making her resemble a giant goldfish. When she giggled, it was obvious that she had painted her buckteeth red as well. Her pudgy face was adorned with plastic glasses that turned up like a Chinese pagoda’s eaves on both sides and glass so thick they could have doubled as the bottoms of Coor’s light beer bottles.

It was quite obvious that she and Zeke’s host had amorous plans for each other. Zeke’s guts were really heaving now. The revulsion he was experiencing eclipsed anything he had ever experienced. It was bad enough that this was happening. It was tragic that he was trapped into it as if he was actually participating. His olfactory, joined his sense of sight and hearing to doom him into the dance of the behemoths.
“Now, come on over ‘chere Mildred. Lemme get a holt of them grapefruits a your’n.”

Mildred giggled. “Shucks, Lester, you wouldn’t know what to do with ‘em if I did.” Giggle again.
Lester, Zeke had been sent to Lester’s body and Lester was trying to get into a sexual relationship with Shamu, more commonly known as Mildred. “Oh, my God!” passed through Zeke’s mind as he swooned on the side of the bed. His eyes, ears and nose were trapped in the room with Shamu and Body Odor and they were about to ‘get it on!’ “Oh, my God! Oh, my God!”
An uproarious squeal and peal of laughter erupted from the room just as the lights went out. Lester’s grunting and heavy breathing filled Zeke’s ears and the nauseating odor of too much cheap perfume and body odor permeated every pore in his nasal passage. It was then he realized that although it was dark in the room, his ears and nose were still at work. This time he almost really tossed his cookies when the slurping started. He didn’t even want to guess where that was coming from. It was just at that moment that Zeke’s cell phone rang. Poof, the spell was broken.

He could hear singing coming from his bathroom, but it wasn’t comforting in the least. For once, all thoughts of spending time with a woman had left him. He sat on the side of the bed, completely dazed. The door opened and out through a mist of steamy air walked a Venus in a motel bathrobe drying her long blond hair with a towel.

When Sally saw Zeke sitting on the side of the bed, she stared at him, hair momentarily forgotten. “Zeke, you are white as a sheet. Are you all right? What on earth is the matter?”
Zeke not only didn’t know what to say, he had momentarily lost the ability to use words to describe his feelings. All he could do was stare straight ahead. Slurping, Shamu, body odor, and cheap perfume filled his head. Sally was really worried that he was suffering a stroke or heart attack or something. Finally, “I don’t feel so good…” rasped out of his mouth and he fell over on the bed. Not wanting Sally to misunderstand, he followed up with “…must ‘a been that fish I ate for supper.”

To her credit, Sally elected to stay with Zeke for the night. She liked him a lot and wanted to be sure he was okay. She curled up around him and he lay there in a catatonic state, not sure what was happening to him. When he awoke in the morning with the beautiful lady curled up next to him, he experienced a miraculous recovery. Sally, convinced that it was some sort of food related illness, forgot all about the previous night. Zeke had another name and number in his little book.

The big day at Bubba’s lot was over, but Zeke needed to spend a couple more days in town anyway. Secretly, he wanted to spend time with Jennifer also, but he knew better than to push his luck. Zeke could see that the triangular flags were flapping and helium filled balloons were still swaying colorfully in the breeze over the shiny cars and trucks on the lot as he turned off the main road into the lot. Just as he entered, he was conscious of a huge brown truck with a horizontal cylindrical tank affixed on the bed in the back that was leaving. It had four portable toilets strapped on a platform in the rear and Honey Dipper Services, Inc. was emblazoned across the passenger side door as it passed. Zeke slammed on breaks and stared as the truck disappeared in the distance.

As he jumped out of the cab of his truck, he enjoyed having Sally come trotting over to him and planting a warm kiss on his cheek. It wouldn’t do to be too obvious with affection and the two kept it cool. Zeke had the compulsory visit with Bubba, who was delighted that the company rep was spending so much time with him and his new dealership. It was still early and Zeke hadn’t eaten breakfast so he decided to get a mid-morning brunch at the same cafeteria where he had eaten the previous day.

He sat at the same table and the waitress with the hair piled on top of her head called him “honey” again and took his order. This time, however, Zeke’s mind was completely occupied and it wasn’t on women or business. It was on the predicament he continued to find himself in. there didn’t seem to be any logical explanation for what was happening. He flipped open his phone and looked up ‘missed calls.’ There was a strange number listed twice: *&&-.&(-%&.%. What in the world kind of number was that. When he pushed redial, all he got was a message stating that it wasn’t a working number. He close the phone and slid it back in the holster on his side.

His food was served and he stared out of the window, lost in thoughts. Unbelievably, his phone chimed once more indicating he had just missed a call. Before he could pull it out of the holster, the brightness of open space and a dazzling mid-day sun momentarily blinded his vision. There was the belly in a brown uniform shirt protruding out below, the beefy, hairy arms and the omnipresent odor of unwashed body. Zeke about lost what he had eaten when he thought about the events he had witnessed the night before and realizing that the odor of not having washed prevailed.

To Zeke’s amazement, Lester was singing the lyrics from Walt Disney’s Song of the South while he worked:
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay
My, oh my, what a wonderful day
Plenty of sunshine headin' my way
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay

Mister Bluebird's on my shoulder
It's the truth, it's actual
Ev'rything is satisfactual
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay…

The four brown port-a-potties were lined up in front of him. Lester took a pair of grimy gloves from the seat of the truck and pulled them on his fat hands. Zeke grimaced while he was experiencing all of this.

Next, the Honey Dipper man attached a large hose to the coupling in back of one of the units and flipped a switch on the back of the truck. The odor was awful and there were some kind of insects buzzing around everywhere. With a slurping noise, the pump sucked all of the contents from the holding tank inside of the unit. No one else could see what Zeke was seeing. He was sitting rigid in his chair, a knife clenched in one fist and a fork in the other. He was staring off into space as if he were watching a murder mystery. Behind the counter, big hair put her hand up and whispered to the cook who stood beside her. “That there boy just ain’t right.”

Lester kept on cleaning port-a-potties and gleefully singing his song. Next, he grabbed a scrub brush and a bucket of suds and attacked the inside of the unit. It is always amazing as to how nasty human beings can be. How in the world the got the results of having eliminated their bodily wastes all over the walls and everywhere else inside of the brown plastic edifice was little less than a mystery. How had they done it? Certainly they hadn’t brought a paintbrush with them, and other methods seemed out of the question.

At any rate, Zeke was amused that Lester was happily singing away while performing his grisly task. It gave the old saying, “Ignorance is Bliss,” new meaning. Now Lester was removing the hose from the coupling on the rear of the portable toilet and attaching it to the next one. The smell was nauseating and the flies were buzzing in the sunshine everywhere. “Slurp!!! The next holding tank was sucked dry.

Thankfully, Zeke’s cell phone rang, snapping him back to the present and his table at the restaurant. The tab for his meal was there in front of him so he left double the amount he owed and most of his food, as he got up and walked out of the door. Big hair and the cook just watched in amazement. “He must be a damn Yankee,” opined the cook. “All them folks up north ‘r crazy anyhow.”

Zeke drove straight to the cell phone company place of business. He knew better than to tell anyone else what had been happening. In the first place, nobody would believe it and in the second, they would surely characterize him as a real ‘nut case.’ That was something someone in his position could not afford to be labeled as. Nope, he would just keep everything to himself and ask questions about the phone and possible services.

The same woman who had sold him the new phone was alone behind the counter. Zeke asked her to check his phone. When she saw the strange number in the ‘missed calls’ listing she knitted her brow. “Mister Daniels, I have no idea what kind of number this is or even how it got on your phone. No number I know about has a series of symbols or digits like that.”

Zeke told her he had been having trouble with unsolicited calls, which included being bothered by the several times his phone indicated he had missed an incoming call. She replied that everything had to pass through his SIM card inserted in his phone. Then it hit him. The events were related. The phone, the wrong number, the lightning strike, his headaches and unconsciousness, the missed calls that caused him to be transported to where ever the person he had been talking to when the lightning struck happened to be at that moment. The SIM card was the only constant in all of it. The phone was new. It had to be the card.

Zeke paid for a new card. He politely declined when the clerk offered to have his information transferred from the old one to the new. He asked for an envelope and dropped the old SIM card into it, folded it and slid the envelope with the SIM card inside into his shirt pocket.

Thus ended Dapper Daniel’s double vision and experiences. He would never again, however, use a cell phone when it was raining or when he heard thunder outside. He turned them off and placed them somewhere away from his body. Never again would Zeke pass a Honey Dipper truck without the lyrics of “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah” coursing through his brain.


       Web Site: Ranch Boy Book

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Reviewed by Lane Diamond 3/12/2008
So THAT'S why they say not to use a cell phone in a storm? I enjoyed it. Very funny, though it would be just a bit easier to read if you indented the first lines of your paragraphs.

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