Oct 082015

Civil rights are the rights of an individual to personal liberty, free from interference from government, organizations or other individuals. Civil rights include protecting the individual’s physical and mental well-being, protection from discrimination on grounds of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or disability and include rights such as privacy, the freedom of thought, speech, expression and movement. While in theory civil rights guarantee equal protection under the law, in reality many groups feel their rights are not as protected as other groups. This can lead to opposition, legal action and social unrest.

Reverend Jesse Jackson, Baptist minister, politician and civil rights leader, celebrates his seventy-forth birthday today. Jackson was born in Greenville, South Carolina, U.S.A. to a 16-year-old high school student and her 33-year-old married neighbour. When he was one year old his mother married a postal worker who later adopted the boy. Jackson maintained relationships with both men and saw them both as his fathers. He was teased at school for his out-of-wedlock birth, which he has said gave him drive to succeed. On leaving high school, Jackson received an offer to play professional baseball but turned it down to play football at the University of Illinois. He achieved a B.S. in sociology but dropped out three months before obtaining his masters to focus on the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King was said to be so impressed by the young Jackson that he put him in charge of the Chicago branch of Operation Breadbasket,  an organization dedicated to improving the economic conditions of black communities.

Let’s wish Reverend Jackson a very happy birthday with this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: via David Spinks CC.

Photo Credit: David Spinks via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is Bill Engleson, winner of MB1.50. Read his winning story and what he has to say about flash fiction here.


A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with CIVIL and ending with RIGHT(S) and incorporating the photo prompt.


Anyone, but especially you!


Why not! Because it’s fun. Because it’s a challenge. Because the winner will receive their own winner’s page, their story on the winning stories list, a ‘Who is the author?’ feature to be posted next week, entry into the ‘Micro Bookend of the Year’ competition, and a copy of this year’s winning stories compilation.


Now! Get your entry in BEFORE 5:00 am Friday (UK time: http://time.is/London).




Post your story in the comments section. Include the word count and your Twitter username (if you’re Twitterized). Don’t forget to read the full rules before submitting your story.

Anything else?

Please give your story a title. It will not be included in the word count.

Please try to leave comments on a couple of other stories. It’s all part of the fun, and everyone likes feedback!

Remember, only stories that use the bookends exactly as supplied (punctuation, including hyphens and apostrophes, is allowed) will be eligible to win.

  152 Responses to “Micro Bookends 1.51 – CIVIL [micro] RIGHT(S)”

  1. @Viking_Ma

    Dem Boids

    Civil had been shooting birds for the last sixty years. His aim was mean, his stillness that of a toad. He seemed permanently sheened with a glaze, and blinked slowly in the mottled sunlight beneath the bush where he’d found the best line to shoot.

    The birds never understood, never saw him nor sensed him. One moment they were chattering in happy lines, the next there was a crack and the middle bird fell to the ground. After a moment of gogglement, the rest flapped away in terror, until the next day.

    ‘Same old same old.’ Civil muttered contemptuously. ‘Such stupidity don’t deserve nuthin’. To life, dem boids got no right.’

  2. The Evolution of Disobedience


    Civil disobedience published 1849. In it, Thoreau argues that individuals shouldn’t permit governments to overrule their consciences, that they have a duty to avoid allowing governments to make them agents of injustice. 

    A bird through quirk of evolution has white feathers instead of black sits on a telephone wire with many other unlike birds in Detroit, Michigan in 1975.

    A musician in 2015 sees musical notes perfectly aligned in the sky, bars of beauty that one must be behind in order to oppose cruelty, ugliness, and injustice.

    A politician walks by and feels something drop on his head.

    A vote has been cast, a natural selection

    For the souls right.


    (110 words)

  3. @AvLaidlaw
    108 Words

    The Implacable Nature of Being

    Civil servants shuffle forms in some esoteric algorithm from the Victorian Age. It’s all paper here, ink pots and brass pneumatic tubes that suck bundles of papers deep into this bureaucratic labyrinth.

    “There’s been a mistake,” I say.

    “Through the double doors, third turn to the left.”

    I follow their directions.

    “Accidentally sent to me.”

    “Up the stairs. End of the corridor.”

    I perch in waiting rooms with the other supplicants like birds on a wire.

    Finally I reach my destination.

    “I’m alive.” I hand over the death certificate, suddenly unsure if it is an error.

    She doesn’t look up from her forms. “Third office on the right.”


    “Civil?” Marty screams in my face, “I’ll show you CIVIL.” He is rubbing ochre paint onto his bare chest. Completely naked. Raging.

    I wish someone would come.

    The paint has partially hidden his genitals, for that at least, I am thankful.

    He finishes by tipping the entire bucket over his head, gads of paint drip from his eyebrows, running down in streaks.

    “Marty…” I begin, only to be drowned out by the clatter of paint containers being kicked, blue and red and yellow and green; daubs of each colour adorning the ochre. War paint.

    “Am I minority enough for you now? How dare you? What gives you the right?”

    109 words

  5. Name: dazmb
    Words: 110 smokable dope butts of love

    Title: The Summer of Love

    Civil disobedience was your starting point for a life controlled by the fall out of the past.

    Until you forgot what you were fighting for.

    And still your life is as makeshift as it ever was back then.

    So who won? What changed?

    Feels like the fall.

    Birds congregate before flying South.

    The Earth turns cold, cashes out hippy ideals from leaf to ash.

    And up above, all the while packing out another bowl, there’s that cosmic motherfucking croupier, reloading the decks even as you retake your seats at the table and birds take flight, smirking like people ever knew what was wrong, like they ever knew what was right.

  6. FATHER’S SIDE, YOU IDIOTS (110 words)

    Civil War statistics show that over 600,000 American men lost their lives. Brothers fought brothers over philosophical differences. These schisms die hard.

    My two great-grandfathers were two such brothers. My Father’s grampa owned a printing company outside Chicago. He hired African American men and women who were fortunate enough to escape the shackles of slavery and make it North.

    My Mother’s grampa owned a cotton mill in Georgia. He bought his African American workers like he bought all his other tools.

    Thanksgiving meals at my house are so upsetting that I can not eat. Both branches of the family still argue about which side was right.

  7. brothers (w/c 108)

    ‘Civil!’ barked our mum.
    My brother was fighting a losing battle with an itchy grin.
    We both knew what she meant. ‘Be civil to one another.’ We’d been arguing over something trivial … again, and she’d caught us just before our hands had curled into tight knots of lead.
    Our mum wasn’t big on long sentences. Short ones either for that matter. She’d developed the knack of packing everything she wanted to say into a single word. It made conversations with her complicated but mercifully short.
    ‘OK?’ It wasn’t a question and we both nodded.
    She entered the house and we continued with our fight.
    ‘No, right!’

  8. The Happiest Day of My Life
    95 words

    “Civil” ceremony. Protesters picketed outside, proclaiming our love an abomination. Their hate-filled chants almost drowned out our “I do’s”. Almost.

    Doves. Flew off before we could release them. They sat on a wire across the street, watching the shenanigans.

    Guests. Half of them refused to attend.

    Weather. Torrential downpour. We said our vows dripping wet. I brushed rainwater from your cheek.

    You. Looked at me. And took my hand. And smiled. “It’s perfect,” you said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

    And that’s when I knew that everything was going to be all right.

  9. Untimely
    108 words

    “Civil. Let’s be civil here.” Officer Monroe holds his hands out.

    The old man grumbles, gun sights on the birds perched overhead. Then, swearing, John lowers the gun.

    “Damn things woke us up.”

    “Damn things wake folks up. Guns do, too.”

    “Yeah, yeah.” John sighs, discharging the bullet from the chamber.

    “What’s really the problem here?” Monroe takes the gun.

    John folds his arms over his chest, glowers.

    “Now, I’m not accusing, John, you know that. This,” Monroe motions to the neighbors the spectacle drew. “Isn’t your thing.”

    John slackens. He pinches the bridge of his nose, eyes skyward. “She’s just so sick…” He swallows. “It ain’t right.”


    * * *

    Brian S Creek
    107 words

    * * *

    “Civil disturbance,” said Chris. “Called in two hours ago.”

    “Shouldn’t local police be here?” said Mike.

    “They were,” Chris replied. “They’re dead too.”

    “Dead? Not missing?”

    Doro Street was eerily quiet. Chris turned Mike’s attention up, where a large number of small, black birds sat along the telegraph wires that criss-crossed the street.

    “Very Hitchcock,” said Mike.

    “They’re not birds. They’re Liavits; creatures that feast on dead flesh.”

    Mike looked around them. “But there aren’t any bodies.”


    Mike continued to watch the carnivorous creatures above. “That’s disgusting?”

    “It’s a dark, dark world, my friend,” said Chris, “where bad things happen and the dead have no rights.”

    • I mean…it saves calling a cleanup crew right?
      Good old Chris and Mike, at it again! 🙂

    • OMG this is very creepy …. love ‘the dead have no rights’ not even burial rites 😉

    • Very dark…excellent Chris and Mike story.

    • Think they better get out of there … quick. 🙂

    • Perfect for Halloween season.

    • The saga continues! Job done for another week, Brian. “…and the dead have no rights” – sinister… Latin pun! 😀

      (“That’s disgusting?” – should that be an exclamation mark?)

      [ Mr Picky here… “THE MYSTERY OF DORO STREET” – very apt: found myself wondering:
      * What is the significance, if any, of DORO Street?
      * Why are these necrophagous avians called ‘Liavits’? I looked that up on the web and came up with only Liavit as a surname.
      * If they eat only dead flesh, how did the police officers die, and why is there no evidence of them left (bones, clothing, equipment)?

      #GoodStoryRuined ]

  11. Help Wanted
    110 words

    Civil Serpent? Sounds easy. And the pay is decent.”

    “A government job? Yawn. Anyways, you know I can only peck at a keyboard.”

    “Okay, well how about being a Valet Barking Attendant again? Didn’t you make pretty good money from tips there?”

    “No way. The last time I worked for one of those guys, the owner kept trying to ‘retrieve’ me. Guy was a total dog.”

    “Ooh, check this out. A local car wash needs an Auto De-Tailer.”

    “What’s that?”

    “It says here that you just have to sit on a wire and poop on cars… This could be the perfect job for you.”

    “I think you may be right.”

  12. Sunlight Tightrope


    Civil song played out on the skies page notes with soft bristling feathers strung out on ancient mandolins and the torque of violins drawing out a song of freedom sung by Marley over the Jamaican Blue Mountains stung with sunlight tightrope.

    And between each flight a pause of conversation coming through the stretched out wire of language.

    I sit here smoking a joint writing this with the news as tone-deaf as a ringing rock next to a flowing stream echoing discontent.

    I pick up the phone. I hear your voice; a gunshot typed on air.

    “It is the 1960’s calling collect!” The operator says.

    You read me my delayed rights.


    (110 words)

  13. Civil Simon the Pieman
    110 words

    Civil Simon’s neighbor Frank
    Was always stealing things,
    From pies upon the windowsill
    To Simon’s diamond rings.

    Civil Simon tried to forgive him,
    But when Frank stole his new truck,
    He said, “That’s it! I’m finished now!
    Listen, you miserable F – ”

    “ – rank, pay me my money back,
    I’ve no more mercy, I’m afraid.”
    Frank didn’t believe it – until
    Simon launched the hand grenade.

    “And hey,” Uncivil Simon said,
    “All those pies you ate?
    They were filled with crow meat
    I found on the interstate!”

    The crows above who heard this news
    Suddenly took flight;
    They knocked the weapon Simon’s way
    It rained pies, left and right.

  14. @firdausp
    (93 words)


    “Civil! You want me to be civil? That guy just washed his car. He even polished it. I feel totally criminal right now.”

    “Tut, tut! Simon, control–control.”

    “Look, it’s gleaming, calling out to me—Siiiimonnn!”

    “Don’t do it Simon.”

    “You can sit here, on your high cable, while I go do your dirty work too.”

    “Simon come back…nooo!”


    “That felt sooo good!”

    “It looks—”


    “Oh no! He’s here with his shotgun. Disperse guys…”


    “Phew! That was close, where’s Simon?”

    “I think he took a hit, serves him right.”

  15. Dealing in legal niceties
    @geofflepard 105 words
    Civil litigation isn’t cheap.’ Antonio dropped the lawyer’s invoice; caught by the breeze it flapped like an arthritic pigeon straining for its perch.
    ‘Sure to win.’ He’d known he’d lose once he’d seen the begowned barristers and bewigged judge, looming above him like vultures eyeing carrion.
    ‘Don’t settle; you’ll regret it.’ Antonio smiled as he climbed the stairs. He’d done with regret. He crawled to the parapet and leaned over.
    ‘We should appeal.’ Even an appeal for mercy was too late. Antonio hoisted the rifle to his shoulder and pointed it at the court entrance. He knew this was wrong but it felt so right.

  16. @stellakateT
    101 words

    What’s in a Word

    “Civil Aviation Authority ain’t moving us on” muttered the third pigeon on the left.
    “Is that what CAA stands for?” asked the bird on the adjacent wire.
    “He’s the cleverest here, we’re all bird-brained or so he thinks” the golden pigeon replied. “I’ve read the notice on the telegraph pole and it mentions electric lines and poison”.
    “Should we be worried?”
    “Not with the RSPB in our corner”
    “Royal Society for the Protection of Birds”
    “What else does it say on that poster?”
    “Something about humane measures”
    “Not sure about that one but it probably means we have rights”

  17. Tea and Sympathy
    (90 words)

    Civil words, on paper wing, whisper kindnesses into thin air. They flutter past her blank eyes and rest upon the mantlepiece. Their polished silver letters say they sympathise, but fail to express the brutal loss that now replaces him.
    The etiquette of demise paints a false, wan smile on her face, but strong tea served with weak words leave her unstirred.
    She sits on, resisting, still, the urge to smash every vase filled with death’s petals; to howl,how the hell could you know! and buries the searing pain while passing the sandwiches to the right.

  18. Name: @dazmb
    Words: 110

    Title: The wake up call

    Civil disobedience was the last thing on his mind.

    Waking, birds wheeled through the air, dive bombing his hangover, settling back on the telephone line, ready to start over.

    He made a mental note of the whereabouts of at least three smokeable joint butts.

    A purring paw tap, Ptolomy cajoling him to start the day.

    Leastways that’s how it should have been.

    But ever since he’d started feeding his cat a job lot of discounted dog food, Ptolomy’d developed an attitude.

    Ominously, the phone started ringing.

    Doper’s intuition, it was a call he’d regret taking.

    But for now, “God dang it Ptolomy, hitting me like that! It just ain’t right”

  19. Scuppered

    109 words


    “Civil Jones sang like a bloody canary,” said Twm Evans from the back of the choir.

    “Well, Blodwyn was perfectly clear about what she would do to him if she caught him with Sian Dairy.”

    Twm and Meirion crossed their legs in mutual appreciation of Civil’s suffering.

    “Scuppered our chances of the Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch Cup though, isn’t it?” said Twm. He glanced towards the back of the hall. Blodwyn was still there, glaring at them.

    The tenors got the message and distanced themselves from their unfortunate member. It could so easily have been them. Birds of a feather, they did not want to be the next one banged to rights.

    • I probably says a lot about me that this made me laugh… I love the names, I read the story in a Welsh accent to myself.

      • Glad you enjoyed it. My husband’s Welsh so it’s a little tribute to his side of the family 🙂 (Top tip for anyone trying to pronounce the place name, most Welsh people I know simply refer to it as Llanfair PG – they just like to laugh at the English tying themselves in knots!)

    • I enjoyed this Steph. My partner’s name is Sextus (the only one in America) so I love funny names. Nice take on the prompt, as always.

      • Thank you :). Can’t go wrong with Welsh, replace ‘u’ with ‘w’, ‘v’ with ‘f’ and ‘y’ for just about any vowel!

  20. @PattyannMc
    WC: 108

    What We’ve Become

    Civil times long forgotten, unrest and brutality became our mainstay. Chivalry became ghosts of our memories, no room for kindness in these taut times we dwell. We used to flock as birds of the feather. We used to cry out, all for one, one for all! Now, our mantra’s become, every man for himself.

    We use bloated words with no meanings, love, beauty, passion. Please and thank you, died and buried, replaced by expectation, and feelings of deserving. Silver platters are the norm in these sad times, laden with lazy riches not strove for, not earned. I’m sorry, rarely spoken as if to be forgiven is our right.

    • I would like to say that this is a terrible dystopian vision, but actually, most of it is true for Britain in 2015. Very well observed!

    • I agree with Sonya, so much self-centredness around us these days.

    • Thank you both, Sonya and Steph. Unfortunately, it’s true here in the U.S. as well. Every one is out for themselves, the minority beings those with manners and consideration for others.

  21. Famous Last Words

    ‘Civil servants is what we are, not soldiers.’

    Behind him, a synchronised shake of heads. Tone of his voice screams drill sergeant, though. His minions lining up behind him like birds on a wire, in their identical suits and crew cuts – let’s just say I know a liar when I see one.

    ‘So, whadda ya wan’?’

    A question to make him tell more porkies. We all know what it is they’re coming for, we’ve all heard the rumours.

    ‘Open your door.’

    No way, I’m gonna keep the semi-automatic hidden till the last sec. I’m gonna stand up for my rights.

    (100 words)

  22. Birdsong

    WC 110


    Civil behaviour flew out the window when Jackson moved into the downstairs flat. He introduced himself as an ex footballer who liked to paint.

    Trouble was he liked to play loud music while he worked, to the extent that I had to keep my windows closed, meaning I couldn’t hear the calming birdsong.

    After months of sleepless nights I added my name to the neighbourhood petition, but he ignored our pleas for silence. Eventually I came up with a plan.

    I invited him round for a drink and then hit him over the head with a frying pan. Now its lights out on the ward and it’s me that’s banged to rights.

    • I empathise, have suffered dodgy neighbours over the years, luckily going through a quiet phase at the moment. 🙂

  23. The Wire Above Jericho

    “Civil unions of same-sex couples do not an equal society make us.”

    “Chirp, chirp.”

    “The popular election of a darker brother does not an equal society make us.”

    “Chirp, Chirp.”

    “From the vantage point of this wire, we look down upon a land of intolerance …and injustice.”

    “Chirp, chirp.”

    “We have taken this land of seed and worm and, around it, erected the wall of Jericho.”

    “Chirp, chirp.”

    “We seal out the destitute, and hem-in the wicked.”

    “Chirp, chirp.”

    “Rahab is no longer among us. With the meek, she circles our walls and sounds her trumpet.”

    “Chirp, chirp.”

    “These walls will fall, and once again all will be right.”

    (109 Words)

    • Almost a bird version of Animal Farm. I enjoyed the story, particularly the image of the birds chirping their agreement to the pronouncements.

    • Nice. Out of the beaks of birds……….

  24. Civil Rights of a Flower
    Watering Rose-Tinted Glasses


    Civil rights taking place in a vase that sits by my window.

    The sky leaning clouds into the sun.

    Like the fire wilting in the place.

    You have no voice but you exist inside language.

    A beauty we strive for.

    Trying to reach some conclusion.

    Touching points of air then retreating.


    I have all my writing stuff in front of me as if you need rescuing.

    No one will know of your death.

    No constitutional amendment.

    You were executed for pleasure.

    My wife leans her head over your bloom pretending everything is the same.

    Is that what modern justice is?

    Watering rose-tinted glasses with tears?

    Is that what constitutes rights?


    (110 words)

  25. Blackbird

    “Civil partnership, is that it?”

    “What? No Mum, that’s something else.”

    “Oh. Well, what’s that other one then? Humourist or whatever?”

    I can’t talk to her, so I look out of the window instead. The smokers in the shelter look like bedraggled birds, waiting to spread dressing-gown wings and soar toward the sun. I wish I hadn’t quit.

    “We were partners though.”

    I look back, feeling my throat tighten.

    “I know Mum. I know.”

    She looks like a little bird herself, perched at the bedside. She’s still holding his hand.

    “It’s called a humanist ceremony. Yeah, I think he’d like that.”

    She smiles through tears.

    “Humanist. Yes, that’s right.”

    109 words

  26. Conversing in Pigeon English
    A.J. Walker

    “Civil conversation… I mean just once in a while!” said Eric.

    “Talking to yourself again?” Ash said.

    The rest of the gang pretended to be looking elsewhere.

    Eric shrugged. “May as well be for all the use it serves.”

    Rufus looked around. “We’s movers and shakers. Doers, not talkers. Bloody ‘ell bollocks, yous knows that.”

    “There’s no need for that swearing now for fucks sake.” Eric said.

    “See… nature. It’s our nature.” said old Bert.

    “Oi! Look at that bird over there!” Barney said.

    Bert looked over and cringed. “That pigeon goddess is me ole flame!”

    “That’s me ma!” said Eric.

    Bert gulped. “Son, you’ve got me bang to rights.”

    (100 words)

  27. I Dreamt I was Giving the I Have a Dream Speech


    Civil rights message I was giving to thousands of people. I couldn’t hear my words. The Washington Monument in front and Lincoln dressed in perfect flowing marble, behind.

    I could feel anticipation of the crowd. The excitement of giving a great speech. All faces lit with hope.

    When I was done having a dream inside my dream, there was silence. No applause. I saw dark clouds forming. The clouds became the Vietnam wall. And behind me, Lincoln stood becoming a dove and flew to a nearby telephone line. The better angel of his nature perched in heart flight.

    Then I woke
    and I realized that
    dreaming is a civil right.


    (110 words)

  28. Ruminations within the Panopticon
    110 Words

    “Civil engineers have taken their titles too literally.” Michel glared at the pigeons atop the tower from under his floppy Phrygian cap. “Gone are the days of prioritizing the public’s physical safety. ‘Well-being’ has become a quantifiable measurement of compliance, of servitude.”

    I kept silent, knowing he’d continue. However, the pigeons’ collective cooing commanded my ears.

    “Individualistic thoughts are cen…” Coo. “…out of the public.” Michel continued, oblivious to my struggle. “Our actions are being moni…” Coo. “Everything has been instit…” Coo. “…tionalized. It won’t be long until…”

    The pigeons’ resonance resounded and absorbed the rest of Michel’s argument.

    He turned toward me, “Don’t you agree?”

    “That sounds about right.”

  29. — Burtons Suit Blues —

    “Civil Ian,” says Kenny, king of office nicknames, “what happened in the Gulf?”

    “Wish I could say, Kenneth,” says Ian, “but then we’d need a new driver.”

    No point telling his colleagues about his former life as Lance Corporal Thomas in The Band Of The Blues & Royals. Tours in Bosnia and Croatia before that chemical spill in Kuwait.

    Ian winces at the familiar pain shooting up his leg. I’m on Nurofen, he thinks. Bird had something stronger.

    Demobbed, he can still play sax, albeit sitting down. Saturday nights on the Vanguard stage, he shuts his eyes and imagines Dizzy to his left, Miles to his right.

    108 words

  30. A Line in the Sand

    “Civil? Me be civil to that entitled little sh-”

    “Watch your language and keep it down! He’ll hear you!”

    “Jane, He treats me as a pigeon does a statue. Just craps all over me.”

    “Michael, that’s uncalled for!”

    “Well, it’s true. He only thinks about himself, no-one else. Honestly this can’t go on.”

    “What do you suggest?”

    “I’d love to knock some sense into him.”

    “Michael! You can’t be serious.”

    “We have to make a stand, and present a united front. He’s only eight years old. No new iPhone for Christmas, right?”

    92 words

  31. @GeoffHolme
    Word Count: 90

    Bird on the Wire

    “Civil disobedience,” said Officer Denman, “Refusing to obey laws and regulations, pay taxes and whatnot – non-violent means of forcing concessions from the government – that’s one thing, pal. But planting a bomb in a crowded shopping mall, killing dozens of innocent victims…”

    The suspect grinned and began to sing. ”Like a bird on the wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir, I have tried in my way to be free.”

    “Hey, Denman!” yelled Sergeant Nelson, “Quit trying to reason with the murdering bastard. Just read him his goddamn Miranda rights.”

  32. Not Good and Getting Better
    (100 words)

    Civil strains at the leash of responsibility, held back while hatred unleashed batters down respectability wrenching God-given breath from innocent souls.

    Mans inhumanity to man rises tsunami-like, sweeping the last vestige of decency from a landscape littered with broken spirits.

    And ravenous bigotry sits like birds on a wire, waiting to swoop in for the kill.

    The Grim Reaper piles the bodies high. While pleas for mercy fall on deaf ears, and the rest of humanity turns a blind eye.

    Life, liberty, happiness. Have they no champion? Are there no brave hearts? None rise up to defend inalienable human rights.

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