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Regis Auffray

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The Vanishing Of Father Fabian
By Regis Auffray
Friday, October 31, 2003

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Recent stories by Regis Auffray
· Whoosh
· Nanor
· Daddy's Girl
· The Legend of Fawcett Brook
· Dead Man Dancing
· Sigh
· Ness
           >> View all 12


A mysterious disappearance still not solved.

          I have been asked so many times to tell this story that I’ve decided to write it all down and next time someone asks and I am not in a talkative mood, I can just hand them a hard copy or direct them to my web site.  I’ve been accused of telling stories that are too cut and dried; I don’t embellish the storyline with enough details some say.  Well, that’s the way I do it.  I got the information from the police reports, newspaper accounts and the local folks.  That’s about it.  It’s up to you to believe or disbelieve.
     As the story goes, Father Fabian just vanished.  He was there one day and gone the next.  That is not so bizarre.  A lot of priests get another calling or itchy feet or whatever.  But what is strange about the story is who else disappeared along with Father Fabian.
    
Father Fabian came to St. Elmo’s parish after the sudden but expected death of Father Leary.  The latter was eighty-one years of age and his time, as everyone in the parish was expecting, had come at last.  He died suddenly while playing a round of golf on a sunny Saturday afternoon.  It was a heart attack.  It was the perfect death.  He died doing something he loved in the company of friends on a sunny day.  We should all be so lucky.
    
Father Fabian was much younger than his predecessor.  No one knew exactly how old he was but he could not have been much more that in his late twenties or early thirties.  He was a handsome man who looked more like a movie star or a professional athlete than a parish priest.  He became the immediate heartthrob of the adolescent girls at the Catholic school where he taught religion and sponsored the swim club.  A lot of parents noticed that it was not as difficult to convince some of their usually less than enthusiastic daughters to attend mass on Sunday.  Some of them even went to evening prayers.  Father Fab, as the girls referred to the new priest, became an instant favorite with most members of his congregation, although some of the boys called him something else – also a three-letter name but ending with the seventh letter of the alphabet.  There may have been some jealousy or some belief in the rumors about the new priest.
    
And there were rumors about Father Fabian.  Nothing definite of course but there were hints about some kind of relationship that was not looked upon with favor by the church.  The young priest had developed associations with some of the lads of the previous parish.  Said associations were considered “beyond the proper boundaries” expected of a man in his position and Father Fabian had been dispatched to another parish clear across the country.  Some believed the rumors; some embellished them while others just did not care.
    
Allysia Sweeney, or Allie as her few friends called her, was a seventeen year old student in Father Fabian’s Religion 11 class.  She was a quiet girl, a middle child from a family of seven children.  A pleasant child, she had grown up mostly ignored by her busy parents and more outgoing brothers and sisters.  Allie was bright and did very well in school.  Her English teachers found her writing to be precise but also sensitive.  The poems that she wrote for assignments were profound for one so young.    
    
The events of September 11, 2001 greatly disturbed Allie.  She only saw the crashing of the jet liners into the twin towers once on television but she could not rid her mind of the horror.  No matter how hard she tried, the images kept replaying over and over in her mind.  She even had nightmares about it as she told her friends.  She needed to talk to someone about this and her teacher in religion class seemed to her the ideal candidate.
    
To Allie, Father Fabian was the perfect teacher.  He appeared sensitive, intelligent and open-minded.  He encouraged questions from his students and he discussed other topics besides religious matters such as poetry and music.  She admitted to herself that she loved him but not in the silly, giggly way the other girls were “in love” with him.  She imagined her relationship with the young priest as intellectual, platonic, pure; in short, ideal to her way of thinking.
    
One afternoon when Religion was the last class of the day, she went to Father Fabian’s office and knocked on the door. 
    
“Come in.  Leave the door open,” said the priest.
    
As Allie entered the office, Father Fabian took his eyes off the computer screen. 
    
What is known of the conversation between Allie and Father Fabian was obtained from the housekeeper, Mrs. Flannagan.  The latter was meticulous in her upkeep of the rectory and a superb cook; she was also an avid gossip.  Mrs. Flannagan felt it was her duty to “be up on things.”  Thus she listened quietly outside the open door of the office and, according to her side of the story; the exchange between the priest and Allie went as follows.
    
Allie told Father Fabian of her feelings for him.  She stressed that her “love” for him was strictly spiritual; an ideal based on purity of emotion and thought.  She stressed that she wanted him as a friend; someone she could rely on to be there for her in times of distress.  She told him of her anguish about the state of the world and of the nightmares that kept recurring.  In short, Allie emptied her soul to the priest, trusting that she was doing the right thing for her own well-being. 
    
Mrs. Flannagan states that Allie talked on for at least five minutes before the priest stopped her. 
    
“Allie, I appreciate what you are telling me but I am not the girls’ counselor.  Sister O’Leary would be more than happy to be of help to you I’m sure.  I can give her a call right now and set up an appointment for you.  How would that be?” said Father Fabian.
    
For a moment there was silence and then Allie began to cry.  She said nothing.  She pulled out a notebook from her knapsack and let it drop on the priest’s desk.  Mrs. Flannagan barely had time to pretend that she had been busily scrubbing the floor as Allie came rushing out the door sobbing.
    
Father Fabian took the notebook but did not open it.  He got up, walked down the hall to Sister O’Leary’s office.  He knocked.
 

     “Come in,” called out the nun.
    
“I have something you should probably see,” said Father Fabian.  It belongs to Allysia Sweeney.  The girl is clearly upset but frankly, after this business that I’ve just come through, I don’t want to get involved.  Besides she’s a girl and therefore I think that she should be your responsibility.  By the way, she left this with me.” and Father Fabian handed the notebook to the nun.
    
“Thank you Father,” said Sister O’Leary.  I’ll look into it.”
    
The priest left and as the nun picked up Allie’s notebook, a sheet of paper fell out.  Picking it up, the nun read the following poem:

 

 

            A WEEK IN THE LIFE OF…

And night found her in the dorm
Tuesday she stayed in her room
The day promised too much gloom
Wednesday she felt a bit better
To her mom she wrote a letter
 


Monday started like the norm
 

Thursday she went back to class
Determined that she would pass
 

Friday she went to the beach
There was no one she could reach
Saturday she was not seen
Anywhere on the campus scene
Sunday shortly before dark
They found her body in the park
 

…A prophecy?
 

         
 

     Sister O’Leary put the poem back inside the notebook and made a note in her agenda for the next day.  She’d have to add another to her list of “troubled youth” she thought with a sigh.

 

     Since the members of the Sweeney household pretty much came and went as they pleased, Allie’s absence was not noticed until the next day when the school secretary phoned to ask why she was not in attendance.  Mrs. Sweeney was immediately alarmed since her daughter very rarely missed school.   She called her husband at work.  Other calls were made to neighbors and friends.  No one had seen Allie.  The police were called and shortly thereafter, a search party was organized.  At seven forty-two that evening (according to the police report and so that you know my research is based on fact), Allie’s body was found floating in the Watson Glen pond.  It was said later that this had been one of her favorite places to go to when she wanted to be alone.  The cause of death was attributed to drowning.  No one wanted to mention the “s” word but every one knew the choice Allie had made.  Obviously, some would feel more guilt than others but that is the way of things in such matters.
    
The funeral was attended by all of the student body as well as family and friends of the Sweeneys.  Unlike the funeral of Father Leary which had been more like a joyful celebration of a sendoff to heaven, the service for Allie was somber and uncomfortable for the congregation.  There were too many unanswered questions as is usually the case when one so young chooses such a drastic departure from this world. 
 

     Her closest friend, Jenny Howell, read a recent poem of Allie’s. It was entitled, “Different:”

I am different

I was born in captivity

My prison is my body

Misshapen and unresponsive

 
 

I am sad when that is all you see of me

My cage

Its ugliness makes you avert your eyes

Look somewhere else

 

I wish you could see

My beauty

Within

Inside the shell

I am a pearl

Inside the cage

I am a beautiful bird

My spirit is

A breath-taking butterfly

 

I am happy now

I know my time here is almost done

The bars of my cage are getting weaker

My bones are softening

 

Soon I will be among the clouds

I will be with the angels

There I will sprinkle stardust in their hair

 

There’s a reason why I came here

To reach but one person

To see you

see me

As I really am

 

When I read the words

Upon this page

I know that it is done

 

          Although the poem was obviously not directly about Allie herself, it revealed her sensitive and caring nature.  She had been a volunteer at the hospital, working with disabled children.  Someone sang Don Mclean’s song, “Vincent.”  It was an appropriate ceremony in all respects as far as most were concerned.
 

     Allie was buried.  Flowers were placed upon her grave.  Everyone went home and it seemed a little more quiet than usual in St. Elmo that night.
    
The few parishioners, mostly elderly, who came to early mass the next morning, were surprised when Father Fabian did not arrive on time.  He was never late.  They were still waiting some minutes later when they were startled by cries coming from outside the church.
    
It was Mr. Franks, the caretaker.  He was yelling from the cemetery.
 

     “She’s gone!  The grave is open.  The coffin is empty.  Oh, dear Jesus!”
    
It was true .  Allie’s grave was indeed open to the faint morning sunlight and the pale blue sky.  There was no body in the coffin.
    
And that’s it.  That’s where the story has to stop because there is no ending.  Father Fabian has not been seen since the afternoon of Allie’s funeral.  The police file remains open.  And if you want to criticize my storytelling, go ahead.  I’m used to it.

 

         

Copyright © 2003 by Regis J. Auffray
All rights reserved


 
 

 

 


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Reviewed by Jane Noponen Perinacci 5/10/2012
Personally, I like your style of writing. It's not tangled up with a bunch of much mish mosh that just gets in thw way of the reading!!

What if she was an "un-dead", and she and Father Fabian found each other again? Oh, me and my imagination!!!!

Thank you for the fine story!

Jane
Reviewed by Marie Wadsworth 2/10/2012
I found this story to be very intriquing and compelling. It has a lot of potential. I was interested in it as a story for my GED students to practice their reading. (It will be serving in that purpose.) I'm Catholic and that drew me to this story. You touch on a problem the Catholic Church has had with inappropriate relationships with its parishioners. I knew a priest in our parish who accused of an inappropriate relationship with a youngster and he was forced to retire. I later found out the accusation was false and made in anger. I wasn't angry or annoyed by the fact that Fr. Fabian was rumored to have inappropriate relationships with youth. The way you presented it was an accusation that was being investigated. I liked the factual approach that's why this particular issue didn't bother me so much.

I was curious why you chose this particular story. How did you know about it? The way you tell it is as if you were an investigting detective or a reporter reporting on the crime. Were you a detective or a reporter? I felt like you knew these people personally. Did you?

This story has a lot of potential and I don't mean to criticize; I do want to encourage. This has a James Patterson or Patricia Cromwell feel to it. Yes, it's based on fact but they take it and it's a case where someone can make a story or novel out of it. I wondered why you didn't. You had me interested and then you just left the readers wondering what happened at the end. Why? I know that the case is open and that was the way the incident was written in the police report. And so? You spent a lot of time on it and you were so knowledgeable that I would have -- and other readers too -- would have bought any story you written it. You could have written an ending and I and other readers would have believed it, even if it wasn't true. If it had been a solved case and you gave an ending as long as it was realistic, I and other readers would have believed it and enjoyed it. I don't think you would have gone unrealistic with your choice of ending (unrealistic in aliens were responsible) because you had established your narrator as knowledgeable and credible source. Since you left it as an open-ended story, I thought about coming up with an ending but it was your story and I think you should finish it. I'm going to give my students an assignment to write an ending to your story.

I was disturbed by your criticism of yourself in the story. I know my opinion doesn't count for much but as I've said it has real potential. You could add some more details from the narrator and other material if you wanted to make it a novel or in the short story too.

This story has real potential and I think it could be a best-selling story. I encourage you to re-explore it. If you ever get it published, I want a signed copy.

I'll let you know what my students' responses are to the story. Remember what they say have to be taken with a grain of salt.

Reviewed by Morgan McFinn 1/30/2012

A compelling and most intriguing story, Regis. Nothing to criticize about it. Although, I'm with those who wish it had gone on longer. If a true story, please update us when the mystery is solved.
Reviewed by J Howard 11/18/2011
a favorite read...i love a good suspenseful story, conning me to walk the walk all the way thru. good read.
Reviewed by Lena Kovadlo 7/28/2011
Is this based on a true story or all fiction? Interesting piece of writing.
Reviewed by Mary Lacey, Desertrat 2/17/2011
Reg,

Critize it!! You had be riveted from beginning to end. No, not criticized put applauded. This is one of the best 'unfinished' stories I've ever read, if not the best. Hugs.

Mary
Reviewed by Steve Groll 11/9/2010
That was one of the best stories I have read on AD so far. It kept my interest and enjoyed it.
Reviewed by Darkest Angel 3/29/2010
A very well told story, and it is mysterious, as well. Unfortunately, the nosy, Mrs. Flannagan, didn't keep up with the story very well, after all. Shucks! Thank you for the story--it's good.
Reviewed by Donna Chandler 2/26/2010
I enjoy a good mystery and this most certainly is a good mystery ... extremely well written.
Reviewed by Debi Fairchild 10/31/2009
This is really an awesome story. It kept me hanging all the way through. And I loved the poetry the girl wrote in the story.
Reviewed by Anne Marie La Porte 2/17/2009
This is a very unassuming piece. You write as if you are actually speaking to the reader which is a skill to possess. I usually opt to write in the third person as I find it hard to write in first person and make it sound the way you do.

The ending is left wide open and there are so many questions dancing through my mind. That is a sign of good story telling when the story ends and you want more:)
Reviewed by Melissa Mendelson 12/14/2008
As always, I am far from disappointed when I sit down to read the incredible storytelling dancing across the screen, and eagerly I scroll down to read more and more until I reach its end. And then I am left in wonder and in thoughts, and it is writing such as this that I truly enjoy because it keeps my mind working. :)
Reviewed by Hatshepsut Maatkare 10/25/2008
Ooooh....I loved this story! It was eerie and suspenseful, and left me wishing there was a Part 2.

:)
Reviewed by Mary Coe 12/19/2007
A very good write. This was very interesting reading.
Reviewed by Sheila Roy 11/16/2007
Wow! Quite the mysterious ending, Reg. Love how the voice in this story tells it like it is. The second poem in this is especially creative and moving. I think combining poetry and storytelling is like mixing peanut butter & chocolate...oh so good & natural. The two fit together perfectly, especially in a story like this. Poetry left behind is the ideal way for the deceased to have one last word. Just like in my "Remember the Sun", as you said. (My second part also has a poem in it, but it's the exact poem I wrote for the grieving mother I mention in my comments. Will post soon.) What better way to showcase well-rounded talent? That's what I see here...well-rounded talent! I enjoyed this story with the suspenseful ending! You left it open for a second part with new twists and turns, should you ever choose.... Hugs:) Sheila
Reviewed by David Perry 9/4/2007
I loved this as much or more than I love all of you work, which is a lot. So many questions...
Reviewed by Riley :) 12/10/2006
geez! you are such a good writer!!!! i know the ending left me hanging and i willl not critize for it because that is how it ends. I love your stories.
Reviewed by Delia Latham 11/25/2006
Ahhh, Regis ... excellent storytelling! Wouldn't this one be fun to turn into a novel? With your talents, it would certainly be a #1 bestseller!
Reviewed by Rhonda Galizia 11/11/2006
I LOVE YOUR STYLE OF STORY-TELLING, REG! TO ME, IT IS PERFECTION!

And what a riveting story you have told! You rank right up there with the Ellery Queen Mysteries - and that was a collaboration of 3 minds!!!

You are so gifted, Reg..I really hope you give us a continuing saga, in the files of Father Fabian & Allie!!

You deserve an award for this. I'm in great admiration
Love&Hugs, Rhonda....I'll forward it to Jason; he'll love it!
Reviewed by Karen Vanderlaan 11/11/2006
good story-i enjoyed reading it
Reviewed by Jackie (Micke) Jinks 11/10/2006
Reg - WOW! There is certainly nothing to criticize in this story! Captivating from the very beginning. I am fascinated by the "inconclusive" ending, leaving your readers to visualize their imagined closure. So many scenarios pop into my head!

Uhmmm...if ever more evidence comes about, or even some gossip, you will surely give us more of this amazing tale, yes? YES!

Micke
(had missed earlier when my 'puter was down, but sure glad I found it now!)
Reviewed by Debby & Gordon Rosenberg 11/8/2006
wow...this held my attention all the way (great story telling) and then leaves the reader with their own imagination to conclude...i think its great
Reviewed by Richard Hiebner 10/29/2006
Wow man, what a tale.
So much to imagine, so much to assume.
The style is perfect for drawing the audience in and creating a expectant atmosphere. I so want to know what happened to the priest and the body, yet been a story that is true it will be to me one of those to be thought over and mayhaps come up with a end for myself.
Reviewed by Joyce Devenish 10/23/2006
Hi Reg,
No! I certainly don't want to criticize. And I'm sure no one else could. I am an emotional kind of person so now I get a good cry.
God Bless Joyce
Reviewed by Daring Sunshine 10/19/2006
Spellbound, thinking what's happening next; tension; emotion - wonderful write; as Alexandra said; it was be good to have a chapter 2. You have my vote.
Peace&Grace,
Sharon
Reviewed by MaryGrace Patterson 9/18/2006
What a fabulous spellbinding story. Excellent ! Who ever doesn't appreciate your work , sadly has something missing !!!! M
Reviewed by Alexandra Riera 4/11/2006
This story was absolutely brilliant, pity it finished so quickly! I wouldn't mind reading a chapter 2 at all.. in fact I would love that!
Reviewed by Birgit and Roger Pratcher 12/13/2005
Your story-telling is excellent, any critics probably are either blind or, well, who would listen to them after your work reading anyway? But, it would be cool if there was a sequence...even though it is kind of good too, if your thoughts wonder off at the end of a story...
Birgit and Roger
Reviewed by Sandra Mushi 11/4/2005
No! No! No! This can not be the ending, Regis! Go back to St. Elmo and dig some more. Lol. This is such a fantastic write, Regis!! Intriguing!

God bless,

Sandie.
Reviewed by Poetess of The Soul Sheila G 8/18/2005
I think YOu my man left ALOT to the imagination~! :) YOu wrote this, you dreamtp this up- I know *( well, I really don't know) but, common- you didn't read this somewhere,and decide to write it- in your word and feelings of your heart - right Regi... Yea, keep me guessing.. I have to say- this is enthralling, kept me in suspense to th e very END- I liked this guesome - spooky- suspenseful -gorilitic story! YOU have a way with words and thoughts- Poetry and novel writing.... Go 4 it..Regi... I am Proud to call you my friend..a nd I want a book-- Let me know when their in print, I'll buy 1 or 2 or 3.. have to start a new book shelf but... Oh well- reading to be read- and enjoyed and savored- I could never even -think- of critisizing you and for what- for being creative and ending a story on your terms... It's yours to end where you feel fit....... I'm keeping this 1 too---- I'm floooooooooored- my mouth has dropped and I can barely type another word- what a story REgi- or article- and piece of info- found only by you-WArmly,Sheee Have a peaceful and restful night ahead-Sweet DReamzzzzzzzzz....
Reviewed by Sage Sweetwater 8/7/2005
Regis,

I live in the mountains and just a few acres away from me is the Trinity Ranch. It is a place where monks come to meditate, a Catholic Diocese mountain retreat. I see them in white tunics cavorting about and I always have my cassette tape in playing Gregorian and Byzantine chants. I love these monastery chants.

Father Fabian is one of the monks here ... just thought you would like to know where he is hanging out these days. This is an excellent story that comes from within the realms of ghostly religion. Good work, Regis!

Sage
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 7/6/2005
excellent story, regis; very well done! bravo!

(((HUGS))) and much love, ton ami a texas, karen lynn. :D
Reviewed by Joyce Hale 5/22/2005
Excellent mystery, Regis!!! I am *into* short stories of mystery and fantasy, and I must say your tale about Father Fabian and Allie are among the best I've read. I very much enjoyed the poetry woven into it - it placed your story among the best!

Peace.
Reviewed by A Serviceable Villain 3/29/2005
Regis,

In a word - brilliant!! Thanks for this amazing write my friend!!


Blessings,

Robert
Reviewed by Patrick McCormick 3/25/2005
Regis,
This was a fantastic read. I wanted it to continue to conclusion, but perhaps one day there will be closure. How often we ignore how sensitive some quiet young girls can be. You certainly seem to have been attuned to it here.

Pat
Reviewed by Koty Lapid 2/22/2005
I loved the introduction and the end of this story very much... a real story-telling piece... and of course I liked the middle of the story also... and I have the hope that one day I will know the end of the middle...
Reviewed by Huda Orfali 12/17/2004
Very intriguing. I'm very curious to know the ending. I love your style, Regis.
Love & Peace
Reviewed by Shirley Cheng 9/4/2004
Is this really nonfiction? This is very intriguing, and there's nothing wrong with your writing style. I fully enjoyed it.
Reviewed by Sarah Tagert 8/30/2004
well done on this marvelous write!!!
Reviewed by Tami Ryan 8/4/2004
I think the poetry interludes were key in this story. Well told, Regis. Thanks for this offering.
Reviewed by Mark Rockeymoore 7/28/2004
um, did you make this up? lol sorry for asking the obvious, but this story was astounding! i've read your stories, your poetry over the past couple years, but never anything like this, regis. i liked it, and hated the ending! i want to know what happened! man. good write, god write indeed!
Reviewed by Joni Latham 4/5/2004
The perfect short story. Keep 'em guessing.
Very spooky though. Reminds me of the guy who kept his wife's corpse around the house. Whenever they would bury her, he'd go dig her up again.
Reviewed by Nickolaus Pacione 2/24/2004
Nice use of poetic interludes. I do write in mystery but there is more Horror involved with it. thank you for the review on the epic. The Poetry in the story seems to be the driving force behind this one. It really carried the story.
Reviewed by Mitzi Jackson 2/19/2004
i am not much of a mystery reader, but i did enjoy this
got my imagination going...i mean maybe she wasn't really dead
maybe her and the father had a thing going and he injected her with something, later her got her out in enough time to come back.... maybe they are on a beach somewhere enjoying each others company...maybe he saw her true beauty...ok ok ok but you get my point
i enjoyed this :)
Reviewed by Susan Sparks 2/7/2004
I enjoyed this; it was clear and easy to read and is a true mystery in every sense of the word. Obviously you're used to criticism--I like the fact that you have invited it. Must have thick skin.
Reviewed by Graham Donnachaidh 1/26/2004
Hello Regis....
Is there no more of this ??

I found it a great quick read....but I want there to be more...

or is this all there is...I loved it...

Graham
Reviewed by Stephanie Sawyer 1/24/2004
I'm so glad there's another writer among us who is not afraid of tackling issues in the church. This one may not be as direct as mine get regarding issues on community, but nevertheless, it grabs the readers attention point-blank from the beginning and holds it mercilessly through to the end. Thanks for sharing it with us.
Stephanie S. Sawyer see "Fool That I Am" and "The Church's Closed Door"
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 1/8/2004
i like this
Reviewed by Valerie Roeske 1/2/2004
Regis, glad you shared this, hope one day the truth will be found, if this is a true story, keep up the great write's, you have much to offer this world, take care Val
Reviewed by P. Michaels 11/10/2003

Regis,

I'll place my stamp of approval on it, too. Excellent!
Reviewed by Regina Pounds 11/7/2003
Smooth writing, clear, concise..fascinating story...beginning drew me in..nothing jarred.

Regis, obviously you have experienced the bite of non-constructive critics. Send them over to my den to read my article about critiquing. (I didn't come here to plug my own work. This just seems appropriate. I detest harmful critics)

You write well. Never doubt it.

As for this story...one can imagine the ending. Good material.

Gina
Reviewed by Fr. Kurt Messick 11/4/2003
First draft? It seems rather polished writing to me. More?
Reviewed by Tinka Boukes 11/1/2003
Most fascinating write Regis!!

I will never criticize this!!

Love Tinka
Reviewed by Kate Clifford 10/31/2003
Criticize? never. Enjoyed? Definitely. You told what needed to be told and the whole story is understood. If you ever learn of more being added I hope you write about it! Great write for Halloween Night.
Reviewed by Mr. Ed 10/31/2003
I would not criticize this, Regis! I found it fascinating. But this cannot be the end? Or can it?

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