Bears Know Best
Edited by Carla Ann
Thirteen year-old Taylor Landt’s step-mother believes that he should be the next great football player for the high school he’ll be attending in the fall. Having a dad who is an accomplished professional linebacker, and growing up surrounded by professional football coaches and players should all but guarantee his ability to dominate on the field. Unfortunately he hates playing football, and knows his height and build will never allow him to be successful at the sport. Faced with an obsessive step-mother who ignores his obvious talents in other areas but instead thinks he is a blight on his father’s reputation, Taylor does the unthinkable and moves to Ohio to live with his mother who abandoned their family and left him with his father eight years ago.
Soon after his arrival, Taylor discovers there’s more to his inability to follow in his fathers’ footsteps than just his height. Will it be possible for him to make friends in a new town in the middle of nowhere outside the shadow of his dad's fame? Will Taylor be able to finally make peace with his mother who abandoned them all those years ago? And how long can he keep his secrets to himself?
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The Legal Stuff: Bears Know Best © 2012 By Tiffany Shar
This is a work of fiction. Names, Characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2012 By Tiffany Shar. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.
Like the first three books I posted here on BigCloset, I will be posting a full copy here on BigCloset. I will be posting it up in approximately 32 installments, but that may change if I feel like a posting needs more. The book has a total of 35 chapters and a short epilogue. The full version should be completely posted by September. For those that cannot wait however, I have an e-book version of the full book available from Lulu.com as of today. You may find it at My Store. My assumption is that the majority of my readers would be more interested in this edition of the book rather than a hardback or paperback. There are two types of eBooks available depending on how you wish to read it. One is the ePub format that you should be able to load on any e-reader (you may need an additional app, but I believe all will read it), and the other is a standard PDF formatted file. I believe the PDF is the best way to read it on a computer screen personally. If you enjoy this work perhaps you will consider supporting me by purchasing it ($8.95 for the eBook formatted files).
Thanks again, and I hope you enjoy reading Bears Know Best!
Warning: This part contains some violence.
I was so terrified, I didn’t know what else to do, I started bawling, “Please Rachel, let me go.” She was pulling up onto the tracks now. I could see that the lights a few intersections down were already blinking red and knew it wouldn’t be long before a train hit our car. It would be from my side too, the driver’s side.
I looked down at Julie, still clutched in my arms and then, closed my eyes and tried to calm myself down when I felt the crunch and screeching of tires.
Chapter 33: Morning Darkness - Continued
THE IMPACT WASN’T from where I expected it though; instead it was from behind us. I saw that we were past the intersection a moment later and heard, “Keep your hands where we can see them and get out of the car!” from a loudspeaker.
‘The police!!!!’ I thought, ecstatic that help had arrived.
“NO!!!!” I heard Rachel scream. She started searching frantically for something, and I was worried it was going to be a gun.
Apparently the police were worried about it too, because they suddenly smashed through the driver’s side window and held a gun to her head. “Don’t move,” I heard a calm command to her.
“Are you okay Taylor?” I heard him ask.
A normal person might think a question about, ‘how does he know my name?’ but I just answered, “Not really, but she hasn’t hurt me yet.”
“Hang in there for just a moment,” the officer said as her door was pulled open and she was shoved to the ground, searched, and handcuffed.
It took a few minutes to unlock my door and open it before I saw a man in an FBI vest that I instantly recognized. “Agent Paulski?” I asked, amazed I could remember his name.
“Yes ma’am,” he told me with a smile. “You’re again showing me what a brave young lady you are,” he told me.
“I just want to go home,” I said, feeling more tears streaming down my face.
“We’ll get you there Taylor,” he said. He tried to unbuckle the harness.
“It’s not going to work, she had someone do something to it to keep it latched permanently,” I told him through my tears and sobs.
He turned to the outside door and it looked like he was going to leave. I grabbed for his hand and held onto it, not wanting to let go. “Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere Taylor,” he said soothingly. He continued to hold onto my hand as he turned to the outside and yelled, “I need a seatbelt cutter over here!”
A moment later he was handed a tool with a knife attachment that sliced through my two shoulder straps in single pulls. He sliced at the two side straps and helped pull me free from the entangling mess. “Are you okay?” he asked, suddenly concerned I was hurt.
“That parts just life,” I told him embarrassed. I knew there was a massive blood spot on my dress at this point, and that wasn’t something someone like him would probably understand if I didn’t explain it. “I’m having my period,” I sobbed.
He hung onto me and carried me to an ambulance that had shown up. I refused to let go of him though, so the paramedics checked me out while he held me in his lap. “Are my friends and my dad okay?” I asked suddenly. I panicked! What if she screwed up and poisoned them to death?
“Yes Taylor,” he said, “If you’ll be willing to ride with these paramedics we’ll meet them at the hospital.”
“They’re going there too?” I asked, scared again.
“Just routine, the girls are complaining of headaches, and your dad is a little bit drowsy still,” he told me, “But they’ll be all right.”
“Can you go with me?” I pleaded. The man had been my savior from the maniac on the plane, and now he was my savior from my maniac of a step-mom.
“If you give me a minute, will you wait with him?” he asked while pointing to the paramedic that I realized was checking my blood pressure.
I watched him walk to a police officer through the open door, he handed him a set of keys, and came back over to me. The paramedics strapped me to the gurney, but I was allowed to keep holding Julie. I knew that without her help I would never have made it out of this alive.
When the paramedics were sure I wasn’t obviously injured, Agent Paulski asked, “So what was a thirteen-year-old girl doing in a car seat?”
I sighed, “I’m not thirteen anymore, I’m fourteen now,” I felt a thin smile, “I’m surprised you remembered me.”
“Well, it was an odd flight, wasn’t it?” He smiled at me.
“You have no idea,” I told him. “Thanks.”
“It’s my job Taylor,” he said with a smile.
“No, I really mean it, if you hadn’t come and saved me I would be dead…” I erupted into tears again, and felt his hand squeeze on mine. The ambulance pulled into the bay of the hospital before I knew it, and I tried to find the release for the restraints on the bed so I could hug my Dad who was standing there.
“Daddy!!!!!” I screamed.
The paramedics helped me down off of the gurney and it was like a movie as the two of us ran towards each other and I leaped into his arms, absolutely bawling.
Chapter 34: Daddy’s Arms
I CRIED FOR a long time before I managed to finally gain some semblance of control over myself. “Shush, it’s okay Taylor, she won’t be able to hurt you ever again,” he told me patiently over and over again before I remembered my friends and managed to snap out of it.
“Can I see my friends,” I finally half-sobbed, half-spoke.
He looked at a doctor who nodded, “Go ahead down there. Before you leave I have a prescription for her for tonight.”
“Thanks Doctor,” he said.
I was still tightly grasping my dad’s neck and holding on for dear life like a toddler as he walked down the hallway. He finally set me down at the door with a look that said I needed to start walking. I was suddenly really thirsty, but that would wait until I saw my friends were okay.
“Taylor!” I heard from the three of them sitting on one bed. Danielle was hooked up to an IV still, and I felt my face pale.
“I’m so sorry I got you guys into this mess,” I started crying all over again.
“Stop that Taylor, you didn’t get us into this. Besides, we’re just glad you’re okay,” Alyssa said when we all started to get control again. I could see she had just as much of a tear-stained face as I did.
“I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be…” I said while biting my lip to avoid completely bawling again.
The four of us embraced as friends for a long time, before I heard, “They need to keep Danielle here for a bit, do you mind if I take Taylor back to the house to pick up some different clothes for her, and you girls?” Dad asked.
I looked down and realized I still had the dress on. It was probably leaving a stain on her bed too as long as I’d sat there. The girls still had on the satin pajamas that I knew I would have to burn when we got home. I grimaced and realized that Julie had the same clothes on. Poor thing, but at least she’d been able to help me.
Alyssa noticed me staring at Julie like she was the most valuable piece of the universe. “Taylor, why do you have Julie?”
I shrugged and said, “I’d be dead without her.”
“I’ll tell you later?” I suggested softly.
She nodded at me, “Okay. Are you okay with me staying here with Danielle and Breanna?”
“Of course…” I told her. “I wish we could all leave together right now,” I added.
Danielle smiled, “Go with your dad, I understand.”
I looked at her again, “I’m really sorry,” I tried to say again.
“Taylor, did you spike my drink?” Danielle asked annoyed.
I shook my head and stuttered, “N…n…no, that was…”
“Then don’t apologize again. It’s not your fault!” She said and gave me a hug. “Now go, obviously it’s been a much worse day for you than us!”
I nodded. Dad led me outside by the hand and I suddenly registered the fact that he’d been brought in by ambulance too, just like the girls. “How are we getting home?” I asked him at the doorway.
He didn’t get a chance to answer though, as I saw my savior again. “Need a lift?” He asked me politely. “I offered to take you guys back to your house when you were ready.”
“How did you get your car,” I asked semi-confused. My brain knew, but it wasn’t working that well.
“One of the local police officers was kind enough to drive it here for me,” he said with a smile.
“Oh,” I said. “Okay,” I said stupidly. My brain and mouth were not working the way they normally did, and I wasn’t really sure what to do other than follow him with Dad.
At the edge of the building I groaned. Outside the door there was a wall of cameras being casually slung about by news crews. “Oh no…” I thought to myself. I looked down at what I was wearing and especially freaked out. ‘I’m about to be on national television in this dress that’s got a massive blood spot on it, and makes me look like I’m in elementary school!’
I trembled at that point and couldn’t take another step.
“Umm… Do I have to go through that?” I managed to ask out loud.
“They won’t hurt you Taylor…” Dad said, not sure why this was different than a few times we left games together.
“Video of me in this dress will…” I muttered.
“Oh,” Agent Paulski grasped sooner than Dad. ‘He must have daughters at home,’ I thought to myself. “Wait here a moment.” He told us while pushing us back down the hallway away from the doors. Apparently the hospital told the news crews they couldn’t come inside, but they were waiting like piranhas for a juicy story of kidnapping and a star sports player’s daughter. Or was it son? I had little doubt that the tabloids would be eating into that part of things.
I trembled and found myself having trouble standing as I wondered what everyone would think back home. Back home. “Oh my God, Mom!” I said aloud suddenly and felt tears coming on again. “Does she know I’m okay…?”
Dad picked me up again and said, “Shhh… I called her as soon as they said they had you.”
“Can I talk to her?” I asked.
“I don’t have my phone with me, when we get home you can.” That seemed like an eternity, and I would have to go through the gauntlet to get out of there it seemed.
Or maybe not, Agent Paulski reappeared a few moments later and managed to lead us to a back entrance away from prying eyes. We hadn’t been there quite long enough for the crews to key in on every back exit apparently… That or they assumed that a star football player wouldn’t miss a chance to play to the press.
As we sat down I was grateful that Agent Paulski’s stereotypical black SUV didn’t have a locking back compartment. I did notice that his hanging vest didn’t say just ‘FBI’ on it though, it said ‘HRT’ and I suddenly knew how and why he’d been there so fast. In my days of attempting to be a boy I’d done a report on their unit, and I knew that meant he wasn’t an average agent.
“Do you happen to have a cell phone I might borrow?” I asked him as he sat down.
He didn’t even ask what I needed it for and I was dialing as soon as it was in my hands.
“Hello?” I heard on the other side of the line.
“Mommy!” I cried.
“Taylor, oh my God I was so worried about you,” she said. The babble on both sides of the phone was incoherent for several long minutes.
“I’m flying down there in an hour, so I’ll see you soon,” she told me.
“Yes, I do.”
“See you later then… I love you Mom,” I cried out the last sentence again.
“Thank you again,” Dad told him as we got out of the vehicle at the house, surprisingly uncovered by cameras.
“It’s no problem,” he said.
“No, I mean it… I might not have her if it wasn’t for you guys,” Dad said, his voice cracking up.
“She’s a smart girl Mr. Landt, she’s the reason she’s okay.” He smiled at me clutching my Dad’s hand and Julie like they was the only thing holding me to life. “The one thing I’m going to ask is that you let me follow you back to the hospital and do an interview with Taylor.”
I answered for him, “That’s fine.”
“Okay then.” He said and Dad and I made a dash for the door. While no reporters were visible, I wasn’t willing to bet there weren’t some cameras hiding somewhere. I so did not want to have pictures of me in this dress! Agent Paulski was of course welcomed inside and we left him sitting on the couch with instructions to help himself to anything in the fridge. He was family now in both of our books.
I walked slowly up to my room with Dad at my side the whole time. I didn’t know if he had figured out that the little girl room was part of Rachel’s sick plan or not, but it felt like he might have. I moved straight to where I had hung up a sundress for today, found a bra and panties in my bag, a pad out of my purse, and went into the bathroom.
I looked at my tear-streaked reflection, and felt like crying again. The pigtails that had been cute last night, seemed to taunt me since they had been done by Rachel’s hands. I tore at the ribbon and the pins she had used last night like they were her attacking me. I looked at my reflection and couldn’t believe it was almost a coffin I would have been in. I thought for one second before saying, “Daddy, I’m going to take a shower real quick.”
“Take your time Taylor; they don’t want to release Danielle for a few more hours yet.” Dad called from my room.
“Okay,” I said. It was as I was going to take off the dress that I sheepishly realized two things. One, I was still holding Julie, and two… Rachel had that same stupid button system on this dress.
“I thought you were going to take a shower?” Dad asked as he sat on the bed staring at me.
“I can’t get out of this dress by myself…” I said, more than slightly embarrassed.
“Oh…” he said. “You need me to help you?” He asked.
I nodded and turned around, “If you can just get the button undone and unzip it…” I said.
He tried for several minutes, “It’s stuck,” he complained.
“Can you find a pair of scissors and just cut this off of me?” I asked.
“I’ll be right back,” he said, and it took me a moment to realize I was alone again. I looked around the room and saw the accusing faces of dolls staring at me. ‘I think that was what Rachel had been going for…’ I thought to myself. ‘If I wasn’t really a girl in her mind, having all of these dolls staring at me would be unnerving.’ It wasn’t long before Dad returned, but in the time he was gone I was determined not to blame Rachel’s attempt to kill me on the poor dolls. After all… Julie had saved my life!
Dad used the scissors to slice alongside the zipper, starting at the neck and moving down well down into the skirt, obviously eliminating any possibility of salvaging any part of it. I went into the bathroom and stepped out of it. ‘It would have looked cute on a little girl,’ I thought to myself before adding, ‘but I don’t want to even look at it now!’
I took my time in the shower since I felt absolutely disgusting. I’d really needed a shower after dancing last night, and combined with the time of the month issues, I was not a happy girl. I scrubbed my hair clean several times in an effort to get any remnants of Rachel out of it. The thought that I had even remotely enjoyed her playing with my hair the previous night made me want to vomit. ‘I can’t believe I started to trust her…’ I said as I wiped my body down with the towel.
I had no doubt that things could have been so much worse, and not just for me. Danielle was the only person who had been nearly overdosed by Rachel. She wasn’t as small as I was, but close enough that I had little doubt I would have been unable to do anything at all if I had liked the taste of the mocktail last night. My act of dumping it out, and grabbing Julie with my phone were the only reasons I was alive. I wasn’t sure what would have happened to Danielle too, she was still on an IV when I left, so she may have been more seriously injured too.
I dried off but left my hair wet as I dressed as quickly as possible and went out to the bedroom. I found my own brush that hadn’t been held by Rachel and started brushing through it as Dad asked, “Ready?”
I shook my head, “No, but I need to get back to my friends. I feel bad that I left them there.”
“Why don’t you go grab a set of clothes for each of them,” he reminded me.
“Oh, right…” I said and went into their rooms. I grabbed something that seemed like they would be okay being seen on national TV in them. I had little doubt that we would not escape the cameras this time, and nor would they. When I got downstairs I saw Agent Paulski had drawn the shades in the rooms and knew instinctively why.
“How many?” I asked.
“A lot,” he said with a shake of his head. “Are you sure you don’t want to wait here and I’ll have some agents bring your friends?”
“Would your daughter want to be seen in what they had on, on TV?” I asked him.
“How did you know I had a daughter?” He asked, surprised.
“You knew what to do with me,” I said simply.
“Let no one ever say that you’re not bright!” He shook his head at me with a grin.
“Okay, first things first then, you guys have a car in the garage that you can drive right?”
“Yes, and I can get all of the girls in it,” Dad told him.
“Good, I’ll go ahead and watch to make sure no one gets into your garage when you drive out, and I’ll get in front of you once we’re both driving.” He walked Dad through a few other precautions and I headed out to the car. My hair was still wet, so I sat in the backseat that had tinted windows darker than the front seat. I could see the camera flashes going crazy as we passed, and it seemed like news crews were videotaping us leaving too, and wondered how out of control that part of this was going to get.
The bag next to me held not only the clothes for the girls, but also Julie. I couldn’t bring myself to be caught on camera with her, but I also couldn’t bear to have her anywhere but with me either. ‘Not quite sure what I’ll do if this attachment to her continues at school…’ I muttered to myself.
The reporters at the hospital had been clued into our arrival, so there wasn’t much to do but go ahead and brave the throng of them after Dad drove as close to the entrance as he could. Fire zone parking citations would just have to be waved today we figured. It didn’t hurt to have an FBI agent with us, and several city police cars also closed in around our vehicle to provide cover.
“What can you tell us about your kidnapping?” I heard reporters ask over and over again before we were safely inside the hospital. I walked with Dad and Agent Paulski by my side to the room where my friends were still gathered around Danielle and playing a game of cards of some sort.
“You’re back!” Alyssa said and hopped off the bed to give me a hug.
“Of course…” I said, feeling emotional still. ‘This is ridiculous…’ I yelled at myself.
“Well, I wasn’t sure if you would want to come back through all of that,” Danielle said while pointing at the TV displaying the rolling headline of ‘Star Football Player’s Daughter Kidnapped, Wife Arrested on Attempted Murder Charges.’
“She was trying to kill you?” Danielle asked. I guess that hadn’t been clear when I came in earlier.
I looked over where Agent Paulski was standing, “Do you want to go ahead and take my statement now? That way I don’t have to tell the story too many more times today?” I asked.
It occurred to me that I had yet to tell Dad or anyone else the full story. The police and Paulski would have the majority of it from the 9-1-1 tape, but I knew he had to hear it from me.
“Normally we would do this alone, or with a parent, but” he said while nodding at Dad, “I think you’ve been through enough today. As long as your friends are quiet we can do it with them… After all, they were targets too.”
He pulled up a chair for himself and I joined the girls on the hospital bed next to Danielle. Dad sat next to us on a chair and held one of my hands. “Last week Rachel seemed to get a little… ‘weird’ I think is the right term. We’ve been fighting for as long as I can really remember, but a few months ago things heated up to the point where we only screamed at each other anytime we saw each other. I finally had enough…” I told him about the barber shop incident, and I saw the shock on his face as he realized everything I’d been through. I wasn’t really comfortable with this all being public record, but I knew it would be from her lawyers soon enough too. “That’s all why I was surprised she called me so pleasantly last week. Something seemed wrong when we came in, and I guess it was just intuition that she was up to something… even though she was being so nice.”
I looked at Alyssa, nodding at me, and she squeezed my hand that wasn’t in Dad’s.
“Anyway, we had a great time last night so she could lull us into a sense of trust. Towards the end of the night she suggested a cool idea of making ‘mocktails’ as part of our girl’s night in. She made one for each of us, but none of us were standing there when she made them. I personally couldn’t stand the taste of it… I think I may have tasted a bit of bitterness in it too – maybe the drug?” I asked looking up at Paulski who shrugged.
“They haven’t identified it specifically yet, that may have been it,” he told me. “Go on.”
“Rachel went to the bathroom and I decided I could politely get rid of the terrible drink without her knowing. I’d only had a single sip and couldn’t bring myself to drink anymore… I threw it out in the sink and ran hot water down to make sure she couldn’t see the ice… When I got back to the living room she insisted we get into our sleeping bags and I assumed we’d all be up for a few hours talking. I guess the drug must have been kicking in quickly though because Alyssa, Breanna, and Danielle started talking about how tired they were all of the sudden, and it was like the party just suddenly died.”
I sniffed a bit, and rubbed my face to discover it was wet again, ‘I have to run out of tears at some point…’ I thought.
“I guess I had some sort of instinct to fake being asleep, because it was probably a good thing Rachel found me asleep when she came to check on me. It seemed kind of creepy that she stared at me for a few moments, at least I think that’s what she was doing…” I shuddered again. “Anyway, I thought she was turning over a new leaf though and went to sleep myself, probably just enough of the drug to keep me that way a little, because I didn’t even notice this morning when she picked me up and was carrying me up the stairs until we were almost to my bedroom.”
I smiled a bit, “I guess I know why she looked so shocked when I woke up…” I shook my head. “She asked me if I would go with her shopping for some breakfast stuff before the others woke up and it seemed innocent enough. I was more concerned when she asked me if I would wear another one of the dresses she’d designed and saw it looked like something a preschooler would wear. Actually, I guess an eight-year-old would be okay too…” I thought to myself, “anyway, I decided not to fight her on it to keep her happy. She didn’t want me to grab my purse though, and for some reason that made me nervous. I saw my iPhone was right next to Julie…” I winced with embarrassment of how much I had personified her, “the doll that we bought the day before,” I allowed, “and managed to sneak it into the front of her shirt and held her tight. I don’t know why, but I knew I wanted to be able to call for help.” I shook my head and could feel heavy sobs building inside of me.
I knew I couldn’t have continued on if Dad hadn’t been standing behind me rubbing my back and assuring me silently that I was safe now.
“Down in the car it felt like déjà vu, because she had put in a new girls booster seat and wanted me to ride in it.” Agent Paulski looked at me with confusion, “I’m only four-feet, seven inches tall, and sixty pounds,” I told him. He got it. “What middle-schooler wants to sit in a booster seat?” I asked him with a grimace. “I discovered it’s just as much about bone structure and that’s why the age of eight mattered more.”
“I get it,” he said.
“Anyway, we had huge fights a couple years ago until I convinced Dad and got him on my side. She was being insistent and annoying, so I just went ahead and got in… it wouldn’t kill…” I nearly completely lost it then, but I bit my lip and continued, “me to sit in it. I was really annoyed when she ‘helped’ me into it though, and insisted that I use the harness that was built into it. I know those have height limits, but this one must have been high enough I didn’t have a problem fitting… barely, with those straps on. She buckled it up, and got in the car after flicking the child lock on the door. I realized then that I… umm…” ‘God this is embarrassing,’ I thought, “hadn’t changed my pad this morning and wearing a white dress was going to be a problem. Being seen in public in the dress was nothing compared to having that extra problem I figured. I told her I needed to run back upstairs, but she shook her head. It was when I tried getting the harness to release that I realized something was really wrong.”
I took a deep breath, and felt my throat was dry. Someone had put a bottle of water next to me and I took a deep drink from it, trying to remain in control.
“It was when she said something about ‘That damn idiot in Canada,’ and something about pills that I really started freaking out. She said a couple other things that made me think she was crazy… and well, I discreetly dialed 9-1-1 and tried to make sure the operator knew to stay quiet.”
I looked at him then, “She got that,” he told me. “She was worried it was a prank or a misdial for a few moments, but the longer you two talked the more she understood.”
“Do I need to talk about all of that?” I asked.
“We have most of it on the recording, but we still need to hear your side if you can,” he told me with a calm voice that was reassuring.
I sighed. “She started arguing with me on whether or not I really was a girl. She had this delusion in her head that I came up with all of my problems just to get my way and be a sissy or something… She said some really mean things,” I said while looking down. “I got the feeling that she’d gone through a ton of different options and ideas of how to get rid of me in a way that would make it look sad and get sympathy for her and Dad. She knew that he was strongly considering divorcing her, and she refused to let me be the reason she lost his money.” I said coldly. “She thought if I died in a tragic accident at a set of train tracks, played that she was mad at herself for making me sit in the booster seat that I hated when we couldn’t get it to release, that it would build fame and fortune for her.”
I was crying now. “She’s crazy.” I told them.
Dad picked me up off of the bed and just hugged me non-stop for an endless amount of time. I heard him ask if Paulski was done, heard him tell the girls I had picked up a set of clothes for all of them, but I didn’t really notice much else. I was in the only place I could think of safety at that moment, in my daddy’s arms.
It’s about time for Taylor’s tale to wrap up, and that will come in the next post. It contains two chapters and an epilogue that I don’t think are quite long enough to have their own posts. Thank you all for reading and commenting, I really appreciate it!
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