Category Archives: Uncategorized

541-560

541. It was the most articulate ‘Go to Hell’ he’d yet been given, a thunderclap, the impression it made on him stuck the way cigarette scent would remain on fingers even after hands were soaped and toweled.

542. It was coming to an end, ellipsis or period or whatever punctuation, she was already impermanent, cigarette carried on a draft, and there were things he wanted to say to her still, but they were things he already had said before.

543. A woman in the midst of her thirties, Cassandra was oddly child-legged and child-learned—sometimes he’d see something behind her eyes light them while she otherwise expressionless made her way down a cigarette, knew something was occurring to her, fascinating, wondered each time would she say it, make it like an announcement, or did she realize on some level that whatever it was was something that should have occurred to her ages ago.

544. It was as though every woman she’d ever taken a liking to only knew words that were the length of their lips, so she had to make a game of it, find some pipsqueak eloquence in monosyllables and pause sounds and stammers, had long ago replaced asking for the impossibly long Cig-ar-ette, only ever bothered now with ‘You got a smoke?’

545. Bernard’s life had collapsed into a kind of architectural marvel of lunches with people he only knew from work, cigarettes handed to strangers during nights out he was too meek to turn down invitations to, telephone calls to his sister, masturbating in a kind of fussy way to old fantasies that didn’t quite get him there, and insomnia bouts of love-sick that had gained him fifteen pounds.

546. The week before and after Tuesday cramped around it, the day a rib poking through skin and side-muscle tangled to gnarls—Olivia tried to comfort him over the telephone, the pushes of her cigarette out nice to hear over the line, but also it sort of dampened his spirits not to smell the words she was saying.

547. A new animal—he contemplated it, not in the appropriate way, but like the purchase of a vintage record player or an impulse waste of ten bucks on some fancy import cigarettes—another cat, a first dog, a turtle, a snake—that excited him, to be the sort of person with a pet snake (or if it didn’t excite him, really, he anyway figured it was an easy pet to have and not give a shit about).

548. This way she chose and put on expressions, like a glove a hand went into one finger-all-the-way at a time, tug tug to place, fist closed, relaxed, this way she selected words so that everything she said sounded quoted from a revered translation of a watershed novel, this way she would take without asking someone’s cigarette from its lean to the ashtray, give the filter end hardly a kiss, stub the thing out as though off in some thought-train that could excuse what she’d pretend had been accidental.

549. This world needs a new kind of light, something else for mingling strands of cigarette to swirl in and make more beautiful.

550. Out the window, his gaze, his cigarette smoke, the cigarette itself, he himself, one day.

551. It was a shame that most of the words to describe her (traits, mannerisms, tendencies) didn’t rhyme with more interesting things—not that he needed to rhyme, but it seemed more about him to play with the idea of her in free verse, that it would be more accurate to her actuality to poetic her in A B A B or some such thing—she oft forgets/her cigarettes was a nice one, but in truth he didn’t so much think she forgot them as left them home on purpose to nurse her cheapskate nature.

552. ‘I’m not going to ask you what I think you believe I’m going to ask you,’ Darren said, taking the offered cigarette, mimicking Howard’s suspicious but amused expression as best he could, Howard nodding an ‘Is that so?’ and passing across the match booklet, scratching and itch at the pimpled loop of one nostril.

553. About in the shaped of a dumped bunch of laundry, he clung his face over the bowl of the toilet, retched some belches that were just, one at a time, the muddy reek of his last several cigarettes, then a monstrous bellow which produced a coin of phlegm, depressed the flush but the blot rode the roil out, floated gelatinous plump in triumph on the fresh fill of water, the cold of which refreshed him a moment before his stomach backfired another holler of expectorantless odor.

554. His younger brother had developed the junkie habit of constantly digging at the skin around his thumbnail with the tips of any other finger that could reach, it made Arthur feel ill at ease, even smoking a cigarette his brother’s hands moved, insectoid.

555. She’d gotten skinny as office carpet, it had only been a month, the transformation striking, in the drab crème colors she was wearing she truly resembled an animate cigarette.

556. ‘Must you fill every moment with music,’ she asked, a sigh like a body flung overboard, ‘must there be lyrics to accompany everything, must every fucking cigarette with you be a liner note?’

557. Dawn didn’t break, it was just the night starting to perspire, and Hank made the walk from the building door to his car—a sleepwalked ‘Have a good one’ to his relief—bulbous with vending machine burgers and forty-five cent paper cups of coffee, sat in the stale cigarette funk of his driver’s seat and stared at the overcast, trying to make out where exactly behind it the sun was layabouting.

558. It was the last time—oh God this was a solemn and morbidly non-alcohol fueled vow, despite the flask tilts he’d taken between cigarettes pacing the platform an hour away from the first morning’s train—that he’d get stuck finding himself in bed with a girl who’d swooned over a book name he’d dropped, especially one he hadn’t even read.

559. Three things were precise, made up the clock of Tuvia’s day—the cat scratching sandbox over its shit, clawing the wall would wake her, a ringing phone to ignore every lunchtime, and three cigarettes, one between each commercial break of the show she watched before showering, laying to sleep with her hair dampening the pillow.

560. A slug on the doorknob, sweet Jesus—luckily he had a few cigarettes left, but if it was still there by the time he was through the pack something drastic would have to be considered.

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521-540

521. There was no mistaking Jermaine for someone who would be considered ‘well liked,’ he had the sort of anti-social hunch to him that made even his cigarette seem droopy-eyed and eager to insult the most honest mistake.

522. Tough to make up his mind about which was the more perfect thing: slowly blowing cigarette out, wordless, as response to a question or the use of the word yeah (especially as in yeah yeah yeah) in some rock-and-roll song.

523. The new medication had his hands swollen and to drag in some cigarette was like taking a drink of room temperature milk—the fever was reduced, though, his back didn’t ache, and he could tell, even in the dark, that his vision was starting to improve.

524. How long before he’d eventually approach the man, ask him what his business was parking the car there, filling it to capacity with cigarette smoke, the radio droning downbeats that could be heard as far away as the curb at the playground edge—it was every night for a week now, between the same hours, dismal cold out and no one ever seemed to approach the vehicle, and the buildup of inevitably finding the man suicided was beginning to weigh on his own mind, so in need of some distraction.

525. Cassie’s heart bled like the middle summer sun—anything for relief, if it would end the heat of her empathy, unwanted unwanted, she’d let herself be stubbed to some wall like a cigarette cherry, would not mind being broken and a tangle if she could just also be made cold.

526. Traffic whinnied and stamped, drivers the particular blank faces of doom and nothing they wanted on their radio, and the most blank of all was radioless, heaterless, cigaretteless Parker Hilman, to alter his features so much as a frustrated lower lip out would topple him for good.

527. These two deserved each other, both so enamored of their sophomoric conceptions of the Soul—likely they truly believed that when they went on about their fanciful descriptions of it that they were hard-fast accurate, had figured it out over hand rolled cigarettes and types of imported tea that cost as much in a month as my share of the rent.

528. The ugliness was temporary, get Janet a cigarette and she’d be a doll all over again lickity-split, give her that smoke to play costume with and she’d be a sultry flash bang, beautiful, she got that way best when she was playacting someone other than herself.

529. Mouthwashed the evening’s cigarette before going in to resettle Julian, the last thing I’d want was for him to catch a hint of cancer off my lullaby.

530. Her green-speckled-pink scarf was long, same as was her lady-length cigarette, same as were her eyelashes, same as was the song she’d picked out to sing.

531. Ten or eleven odd folks and the breathing tips of their cigarettes mingled in with the bulbs of the fireflies, this assortment of lights, bright some, dull some, tip tap tip tap tip tap in a patternless series of winking inside of a night full dark as shut eyes.

532. How she held her cigarette (a few times putting it to mouth, then away, arm at a bend of elbow, angled away forearm) at the bar counter was enough to show him she was a well cultured tight of snatch, the only desire soon in him to know did her shoulders drain pale, her chest blush hot from the whiplash of a cum.

533. A street hidden enough by the hour of past midnight, she walked with a melody in her head and after a stop to get a new cigarette going from the one she’d hardly puffed at for having been too busy humming, she began to sway and her arms long longed like violin strains off to all sides.

534. Corinna would sell herself Satan if someone else couldn’t, same as she’d willed her favorite cigarettes to be the brand of the man who’d unfaithfuled the pure from her heart.

535. The automatic door was slow and so a well pronounced thud of his face, nose numb aching as he stepped back, cigarette snapped nice completely, filter in one piece, whole tube in another, both there on the unvacuumed entranceway carpet.

536. The reheated soup didn’t warm him and beside that tasted awful, good enough to use as a place to douse cigarettes the rest of the morning, though.

537. He’d woke and slipped back in to dreams three times, full dreams, gaudy with detail but only a total of five minutes passing according to the clock—and like realizing this time passage shook his memory to work right, by the time another five minutes had passed, a lazy cigarette with only one leg off the bedside, the images from those long dreams were gone, leaving only enough fleeting impressions to fill maybe five minutes of explaining them.

538. Darla yawned like a dog, the thin high pitched chirp at the end of it, the bubble pop of a lip smack after, a trait Arthur alternately adored and despised, usually depending how long it’d been since his last cigarette.

539. They had no need to speak to each other about it—even were the tragedy one not quite so immense, they both knew that it was no more possible to share another’s mourning than it was to know the draw of someone else to cigarettes, certain poets, or lovers who’d cuckolded them.

540. In a mire so desperate of wanting, not able, to sleep or even keep eyes closed, the sounds took on volumes quite strange—here, scratching his scalp through aching hair, a sound even if her remarked it usually would not be one he’d really notice, here, now, it sounded like a cigarette lighter being tried tried tried tried tried with cold fingers not even scraping up so much as a flint spark.

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501-520

501. Third time he stirred—this time upset at the chill in the apartment and that there was nothing remotely like a blanket on the sofa where he was roughly curled—the television glowed a long image of a man with blank expression, smoking a cigarette, slow slow slow movement of the camera in until the eyes filled the screen—or maybe not, he may have been asleep again, dreaming the cinematography, eyes tick tock tick tock in slumbered lids.

502. A slanted time he was having of it in his head, juggling lovers no task for those with consciences or stomachs that couldn’t handle cigarettes by the two packs a day.

503. The slouch of every customer in the store was the same, identical ordinariness plaguing their postures with equal weight, the phenomena also on the backs of those in the loitering area out in front—people with cigarettes would straighten up on lethargic drags in, then would sink back to their semi-deflated attitudes.

504. The area between the yogurt shop (‘shoppe’, the sign technically read, and all the adolescents pronounced the word as two syllables) and the discount pizzeria (the gas station around back of this or this around the back of the gas station) had become quite the hangout, any kid not old enough to buy cigarettes or bold enough to approach a twenty-something stranger in a parking lot (or not having the double-price commonly necessary in such a proposition) could come by all the free chestfuls of tar they might want, a kind of rite of passage (not just the young kids getting their first drags, but the older kids offering their first corruptions).

505. Calvin was a true lurker, didn’t hide the fact he’d peer through windows at whichever gal caught his fancy, didn’t make any distinction between a lady who seemed likely to say Yes to his always offered cigarettes and one who certainly wouldn’t even if someone’d told her cancer would cure a cheated heart.

506. Too much of this drink, citrus headache and a squint of lime eyes, smoke from her cigarette mingling sour from the tart coat of her mouth roof and her gullet the whole way down.

507. It started getting a little more serious, her demeanor and postures and eyes all quite indicative she had the desire—no, the intention—to drag him to a fuck-bed later, but his condition was none improved—yes, he was aroused, which was something, but the erection his cock managed was no stronger than the stiff of a cigarette.

508. Nor warm nor cold just coffee-blooded the sort of animal he’d be called, and soft spoken on top—cigarette-nerved, though, it must be said, he’d clatter like a crab claw if he went a whole length of city block without a nicotine kick.

509. It was unbearable—she was the sort who read Ulysses the way one might comb a corporate tax return, three other volumes open on the desk with Joyce’s cracked wide breast spilling guts and his broke bones thick with haunted sing-song marrow—she read with an accountant’s stiff beak poking word-at-a-time and double dotting the i of each’s definition, but still felt it looked right for her mouth to hold a cigarette—it was unbearable.

510. This autumn turned out to be a veritable deluge of stiff-as-corpse aesthetics, none of the writers across two continents able to venture past their turtle shells to expose an honest nerve to public poking—cigarette sales were bloat, though, a whole new factory under construction by December, the machine operators dreading a sudden dam-break of voluptuous ‘Fuck-all!’ from those lot in their dull orbits around unclackering typewriters.

511. It was a letter from Veronica—he sniffed the stamps, skewed funny in the envelope corner, figured he’d be able to whiff what cigarettes she was smoking from the lick she’d tongued to the now set adhesive.

512. Graceful at least as much as a bobbing rubber-duck, he made his backpedaled exit, that last cigarette he’d earlier slipped to his shirtfront pocket coming in handy as a reason to turn, pretending it was easier to strike a match positioned that way to the wind.

513. Stickers on the kitchen wall the same, just more under grease and surrounded by wallpaper peeled, as when he’d affixed them there twenty-five years ago, his brother still above-ground, his father, too, and his mother with skin person-pink and not cigarette-tooth brown-apple.

514. The calculator confirmed there had been errors in this little budget she’d written by hand four times, not the sort of mistakes she’d counted on though—what a dreadful turn indeed, here she is crossing out the entire word Cigarettes and the, she’d thought, modest dollar amount set aside on its behalf.

515. Purple and green of bruises down her left arm, she had excuses for them and had false admission that the cigarette burn was a self-inflicted one—there was an odd pride to the way she presented the lies, they were her inventions and obviously, like with all that she did, time had been spent in their composition and he almost didn’t have the heart to call her out, help her, maybe, but make her feel a failure as a craftsman on top all else.

516. Up on the seventh floor his bathroom still felt subterranean, a windowless rectangle hardly long enough for the tub and toilet it contained (he could swear there was some odd overlap good math could prove, though the naked eye could not get it) and in this coffin-cave he’d smoke cigarettes, head at the end of the tub with the faucet, make a game of tossing the butts toward the maw of the toilet, not caring at all, or ever cleaning up, if they missed and sniffled their last scribbles of smoke on the never-in-two-years scrubbed tile.

517. She was nervous, her coat not enough to hide her, smoked a cigarette, which only made her nervouser, decided just not to move when her name was finally called.

518. The last name Cuthbert took up a whole panes of three window, letters taller than him (well some of them, not the U the E or the R) and letters reflective enough to check his hair in, to note some missing quality to his face sans cigarette, those things a habit he needed to reclaim.

519. Apparently, if this newspaper was to be believed, the thump over his kitchen the previous night—the one that had made him curse and raise Fuck you fingers to the ceiling, the noise distracting him from his train of thought while pacing in a relay of cigarettes, working himself into a fury from make-believe giving Janelle a piece of his mind—had been the woman up there taking a wrong step and knocking her head into a coma, one her returning-from-work husband had found her laying, slightly head bloodied, in.

520. His cigarette was soundless, but the uneasy ambulance yowl seeming to get no closer outside and the percolations of the coffee pot seemed to be how it would sound if it wasn’t.

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481-500

481. In this state, what should have been the white of Cynthia’s eyes had a clear quality, sockets shallow cups of saliva, and the pupils were dull orange going grey, tips of cigarettes no one was breathing in.

482. By this time, overnight burn of computer screen while he smoked cigarettes in the semi-dark of light bulbs dying and others dead and unchanged actually felt artistically proper, to lug out the typewriter wouldn’t feel bare-boned enough, not scruffing the barrel bottom, would seem a peculiar, poseur indulgence.

483. Tanya, as she normally did, sat up and made kissy sounds for her cat to come over after an obligatory moment or two of sighs and flop touches with hand back to David’s afterglow ribs or thigh side, David, as was his wont, giving the cat a tap to its nose after fishing his cigarettes from crumple of trouser pocket, moving off to the bathroom to open the window for a smoke.

484. The fire would consume the orchard, help could not arrive nearly in time, but the trees would not be razed before everyone working that day plucked a few, ate them gingerly while others had cigarettes—tossing these thoughtless into dry patches of grass—singing a song to shared handclaps, an anguished and charming sense of laughter while the billow of smoke off distant lurched its drunkard way nearer.

485. Nobody could concentrate on their own small talk over the bow-wow of the neighbor’s argument going on (it’d been an hour, a bottle or a dish or something the piercing highlight) so it’d become just a group of five or six of us (I don’t remember if Shelly had already gone) somberly minding our beers and cigarettes, a linger of toe scrapes on the cement of Donald’s porch, waiting for sirens maybe we should have been the ones dialing for.

486. It wasn’t her voice, that was clean, too bright really for the lyrics, but the tone of the guitar, as though strung with six cigarettes, that made the ballad of heartbreak seem olden, murderous, rather than young love balderdash, just another girl who thought the kisses she’d took came from somewhere else than a man’s mouth.

487. The driver head-nodded I should come over despite the On Duty not being lit, doused his cigarette in (it seemed to me due to the way his sniffed his nose around, squinted beforehand) an exact bead of water on the taxi hood, let out a gargling sequence of inarticulate sighs before introducing himself and asking me where we were headed.

488. Thirteen stops the metro bumbled through, delays due to a shared rail, delays due to overcrowding and nobody wanting to be the ones to wait out a bit longer, thirteen stops in just under two hours that was usually hardly twenty minutes, the cigarette he’d tucked nice behind his ear now reeked of stale sweated scalp, in his mind he was dragging from a tube of his dandruff.

489. Days are as morbid as night, just in the light (if there is any) or by a belief in the meaning of clock hands one can convince themselves the dead aren’t just as present and watching in afterlife judgment, the cigarettes not just as lonesome because there are so many, snaking the air of stutterstep crowds, the betrayals not quite as severe because the beds haven’t been tumbled in yet, are still waiting for the betrayers to have the fucks they’ll think up weak tea deceits to cover.

490. The cigarettes popped down like sugar pills—if they were medicine, I’d be well overdosed from cure.

491. She waited neat, patient, calm as a church song for him to show up, figured if she allowed any impatience it would put a curse on him—swiping cigarettes was something she couldn’t fathom how he managed, and if being good at ‘wait-for-me-here’ was her part in things, she would do it, reverent and no protest.

492. On murky days he liked the dullard thud of the horse hooves when they were walked in the thicker dirt of the inside arena, he would walk outside the place, trot window to window, stopping at each for a cigarette drag and to watch the ripples of equestrian musculature, the pompous swat of tails, and arrogant lay of brushed manes.

493. Slumped to the dash in the parked car in whichever this lot was (he did peek but just didn’t remotely recognize the place) he stared at the coffee cup of squid cigarettes, tried to inhale through his fisted sinuses, each attempt rewarded with a papercut of headache just in back of his eyes.

494. Biggest disappointment over this country so far: cigarette brands were no different and the few that were, they were sold like specialty packs, not like the proper indigenous things to suck on down streets, over billiards, working up drunk nerve to try outsider-suave on some local.

495. There were talons of wind and rain getting good gores off the poor bastards having to make a dash from building to car out there—Clark shivered even defended by space-heater and under his shoulder draped extra coat, watched his thinned reflection smoke its thinned cigarette in the pane, figured to just sleep in the office that night.

496. In the letter, though it wasn’t how he felt (was always using correspondence to try on some manner of air) he complained how his painter friend Nicholas had given up cigarettes, how this seemed to be going against the Gods, as if one seeks aesthetic immortality in the form of canvas and pigment the trade off should be don’t you dare ever try to healthy a few extra days onto your actual life.

497. Her laugh would definitely be spelled Haw-haw, yes it would, was like she said it when something amused her, said it slow to make sure a transcriber wouldn’t miss it—Haw-haw—nothing like the gravel of his chortle, sorry cigarette chuckle, sound of something left to burn too long on a pan.

498. Cigarette in the cat litter—hers? what in Christ’s?—she sat to the carpet and held it, dusting the granules of blue from its strangled pose, sniffing it, spent a few minutes sifting the grains of the box to see if any other oddities would come of it.

499. It became frustrating that he couldn’t get the pouring smoke of the cigarette he set on the curb to show up in the photographs he took, not just the curb, at all, wherever he set the cig to shutterbug it, like his lens couldn’t capture smoke—and this thing had cost him four months lunch money and a trip to the pawn shop with shit his brother might one day come back for.

500. Marybeth chained cigarettes the way a stray cat strayed.

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461-480

461. ‘Nothing makes the insecure feel better than being told reading books amounts them to something,’ he said, lulling the car another turn, still not the right direction, road going single lane, straight old cigarette off Southerly.

462. The fireworks were distant, the pift of them bursting no louder than a cigarette cough into soft curled fist.

463. He’d spent the night in an adolescent insomniac business of dying his hair, going through the closet to find shirts he owned but could not recall (and pants too, if there were any) burning a design of dots around the lapel of the hand-me-down blazer he liked so much with one of the cigarettes he’d swiped from his sister’s purse, filling out a comic book order form from the back page of an issue of a Darkhawk so old certainly there would be no one at the address were he to actually send ten dollars (pity, he got gloomy now wanting those decade old mags).

464. The two of them, even at odds as they were over a bit of crooking from the grocery store gone wrong, still met to smoke a joint between them and four regular cigarettes, to plan on how the one might get the girl with cinnamon-red hair to fall for him, to plan how the other might get in better shape without really having to ever work up a sweat—laughter, laziness, some still bitter feelings as they parted, but both assured in silence they’d wait for the bus together, next morning.

465. All this effort he’d put in to filling an hourglass with collected cigarette ash and exactly nothing slipped from top bulb to reservoir beneath, hardly any even if he shook the thing monstrously.

466. Lucy Jinx ahem ahem ahemed her way from conversation cluster to conversation cluster, complimentary cigarette from each, and every eye that should not have been following her ass followed her ass and her flat breasts in profile as she busy bee pollenated the room with her pheromone hair, the cropped cut of it not washed in a week but still kind of watermelon bubblegum tart.

467. One could almost see the brown rash of pumpernickel skin this old man on the radio must be cloaked in, some poet, free verse, never a rhyme but words in the tight or screwed shape of cigarettes fresh or blotted out done.

468. The wallflowers all stood with their cigarettes waiting for later—they’d make a fine photograph, how they squinted, how they wished there was something in the room to be unrequited in reference to.

469. When moody, she got a brow all Neanderthal, any semblance of her poise rotten on the vines of her skinny body, skinner arms, even skinner legs, she didn’t so daintily sip her cigarette like it was wine from some just so specific province, but like it was a soup bowl she was taking blubber mouthed slurps from.

470. No dog’s as loyal as a man is to his last cigarette.

471. The quacks from the sandwich sellers, cigarette vendors, street performers with tin can piano and dental floss guitar were out of control for this just being a Wednesday night, he was cursing by the time his back was to his quickly shut apartment door, curses usually reserved for the weekend’s din.

472. The clammy of his hands started now to itch, that moist irritation scratching or rubbing with dry cloth did nothing to relieve, he spent a cigarette running both hands in semicircles over the old brick of shop front.

473. The night was a sloppy grift out of the till of the day and evening, he wasted it on smiling cigarette teeth and anxiety dry eyes at women coming out of the discount shops or the flabby one in a sweater that did a lousy job hiding the extraness of her, blunt lady scratching at scrub brush hair while she was busing the tables in the café next to the salon.

474. Cigarettes stole his imagination, he couldn’t even puff up his misery into hyperbole, just leaned suckling the dowdy filter knowing he wasn’t tormented or anything, just a touch downtrodden and would be no worse off than any other generic doldrummer by morning.

475. Not telling his wife that he’d bought cigarettes for those kids at the gas station, he wondered if that constituted dishonesty, really.

476. Erik fawned over her, couldn’t pawn off friend’s stories as his own or insist she take his every cigarette quick enough.

477. Four empty houses now cavitied the uneasy grin of the neighborhood, the residents who hadn’t gone under or fled leering the time away, eyeballing each other’s nighttime lit windows, trying to lure each other into tepid evening conversation by standing beacon at the edge of their watered lawns with an air they would gladly share cigarettes.

478. Slosh and crunch of frozen mulch and thawing mud, over shoe sides his socks ruined, his frame an uproar of shivers that would leave him a mucus ridden recluse, cigarettes punctuated with sneezes and garish wipes at face when tissues got too slippery thick with his leaks.

479. For an older man he was quite attractive, cigarette colored stubble very dapper against his phony brown hair uncombed, the sort of suit on that had no purpose and boots quite obviously from some foreign country he’d likely visited ages and ages ago and would never return to.

480. No math could measure which was colder, the air her cigarette grey cut paper thin through or the pause then smile she wouldn’t explain before walking off with.

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441-460

441. After a night of drizzle that never quite broke to rain, the streets took on the affect of fast food grease and the cloud cover, not dissipated, thicker even than it had been in the dark, lofted heavy like tangles of cigarette waiting to be belched.

442. Dorrance had the legs of a much more overweight man, the permanent hunch to the stem of his torso, really, it would make his silhouette look like a potted flower seldom watered—his nose was sloped extremely, so that he could not comfortably just let cigarettes rest in his lips, he had to bring them up to mouth from underneath, rabbit drags then cig swung back down, it was ridiculous even to smoke, the sort of cartoon he was, but it was a ritual he thought gave him charm or at least blended him to a kind of normalcy.

443. Two cars up, that wreck of a green station wagon, the driver was either signaling a right turn or else just had their arm, cigarette in fingers, out the window to keep the smoke odor out—probably the latter, there the driver went, another drag, hand back out right away, even tapping along to whatever was on the radio on the hood lip.

444. This scarecrow had a cigarette in the a small hole that had been bore or tugged in the cloth bag of its face, Scarlet first thinking to just get in close enough to see was it real or a stick that just really resembled a smoke, but now that she was awkwardly clambered up the thing, almost pornographically propped to keep decent balance, she held its (one button, one scribbled black-markered) eyes with hers, took the tube in her mouth (wrong end first) and let herself drop back to the thawing ground.

445. The coat was frayed, but the cranky old bitch running the till that day wouldn’t budge on the price—even made a cavalier remark about how these were secondhand clothes, what else would one expect, said this while smoking her cigarette right there under a rickety oscillating fan and a vintage sign for Calvert: The Whisky With The Happy Blend.

446. Her friend, on the other hand, had plush skin, the kind that smacked of a cocktail of cosmetic crèmes—eeriest thing was he knew they both smoked cigarettes in equal volume, but on Helena it was obvious, sensual, the dark it left, the wrinkle, the wear of desires in stacks unfulfilled, while this friend, she seemed baby blank, youthful to the point of not ever having known the groan of a frustrated loin.

447. The priest he met with to discuss his conversion preferred to walk while they spoke, complained of vein issues behind his knees and of too much a sedentary schedule giving him ‘the old secretary spread,’ always had a cigarette to offer and the two of them would discuss Hamlet and Lear as much as anything else.

448. The dream again—cupfuls first, then armfuls, then amounts ocean-large of soil being cut by invisible fingers from the ground he saw bare and trembling exposed before him for miles—but this time he woke without a cigarette waiting to calm him down, just the dark to wait in, interminable minutes until his breath was even, his brow sweat slithered back in his pores.

449. I asked my older brother for a cigarette and he said Naw but made sure to do it in such a way as I’d know he’d say Here whenever I asked him, again.

450. As the cinema that showed in the local theaters became less interesting, their friendship didn’t endure—it was easy when filmmaking was firebrand, avant, when there weren’t enough cigarettes to last the discussion afterward, but a few years of mediocrity and only snark to offer in response, it was as though the world decided there was no purpose they should keep acquainted.

451. Each new havoc from her was its own gravity, no idea how many orbits of her he was stuck in, just had his cigarette in the quiet of her calming in the shower.

452. She’d never really burned anything she’d written, was pleased she had the steel to go through with even destroying a few words by blotting holes through this one page with cigarette tip—sure, she knew it, sure, by nightfall she’d burn the whole manuscript and never think of it, again.

453. Michele’s eyes were the only two snowflakes he’d ever seen that were the same, exactly, two left eyes, lizardtail green, even when some cigarette snuck in to one she’d wince them both, every pain shared, every image, perfect little sames.

454. He had less and less reason to rehearse, his dexterity was gone, his spirit for the whole thing, now he only came to the practice room to sit with the closed piano and have his cigarettes, and each night leaving he willed it to be his last, to close the piano up, leave a cigarette pinched in its mouth, give it a farewell nod and skulk on off, performanceless, applauseless, bowless.

455. The silence of five people in a car with no radio to even make sure some thought is being somewhat shared is difficult for Ewan, too acutely aware of the different directions of everyone, the ease with which departures can happen when the world stays wordless too long, so to give himself some relief he asked if it would bother anyone, his having a cigarette, Stella saying she didn’t mind, that she’d have one too, but no one else saying a thing.

456. When she smoked, she circled lips tight, neck of a glass bottle, perfect hole left for a cigarette, didn’t care the remarks she knew people concocted while they watched her as no one even ventured them aloud.

457. The cigarette sharing was a tacit agreement, had been going on for years, indeed one of them only ever asked the other was it okay to take a smoke from the other’s pack as a sign of either aggression or a need to unburden themselves of some sin they needed the other to pry a bit for.

458. Truck tipping the dumpster lurched like a cantankerous old dinosaur, the workman whose job it was to hop down, gather the trash and objects set in the secondary area for pickup was craned over his cigarette to keep the wind away long enough to get a light.

459. He must have the odor to him all the time, gets on him at work, but most the time he’s so sarcophagused in his cigarettes he never notices.

460. There’s a whole filthy river of reason he’d never bring himself to write her back, but he cannot help but read what she writes, pace, blather, lost in a ramshackle desire for a her he knows she’s not and a liar he used to be, sours up whole evenings of his head with her ridiculous reworded histories and the toothaches sucked from his cigarettes while he indulges in his own pretends of her, though indulges only enough to tell himself he hasn’t.

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421-440

421. Overnight shifts went by like fog dunked in syrup—at least there were always shit paperbacks at this site, left by the plumper who worked middle day, most all of them somewhat coffee stained in the corners for the first fifty pages or so, and the convenience store that shared the building lobby stayed open until two so there was no need to be stingy with cigarettes on his first few rounds if he felt like two, three, four, five-at-a-timing them as he looped blearily the levels of parking garage.

422. Alex stood listless in the water stomped hat, the tile seemed to have been buffed recently, reflections in it almost coherent, a floor that usually was so gritted with all day long footsteps it only showed shadows, the ashtrays outside the restroom entrances were vacant of cigarettes, the sand slightly pyramid as though freshly poured, the few people waiting for trains that wouldn’t come in for hour were asleep inside headaches, bodies stiff and shivering no matter how cleverly they might try to lay.

423. In person, even, her voice sounded like a telephone, the drags of her cigarette let out, at their last beat before an inhalation, sounded like they cackled up some bit of static, a shished rumple to anyone hearing.

424. Swallowing a drag wrong, the coughing was a pummel, donkey kick up from under his belly it felt like—he was leaned to the wall funny, had dropped the cigarette, saw it in a crack between pavement blocks, but when he started to bend for it another cough, whole torso felt like an ankle twist.

425. From the shower, dripping, to the sink—he spit thick into the basin, hitting high left of the plugless drain hole, then cracking his jaw in clicks of it all ways, he pissed at the spit glob, took from the pants on the countertop the last cigarette from the well worn pack, nothing to light it with, let it drool from under the top lip of his moist-speckled face.

426. In the light of even a rascal bright day, the pallor of her pale was a stun, had certainly allured him past caution when for the first time encountered—but in the night colored apartment, cigarette hanging almost invisible in streams here and there, when she stood naked from the bed and touched carefully for walls to guide her to the toilet at hall center, her skin took the color of worms—not flesh and not carcass—enough that he might think she’d be pink if he threw on the lights and caught her out suddenly, but even then a pink that would be without warmth, a kind of pink that writhed blind in the damp underfoot.

427. After a full day of no cigarettes, Terrance was a coiled brain with a fever for arms and eyes.

428. He gulped bourbon down between cigarettes, didn’t even bother to pretend women he smiled at even noticed or would smile back if they did, kept pulling the colored cuffs of his shirt out a bit, to be sure anyone who might want to could see them enough coming out from the cuffs of his suitcoat—an important touch, after all he’d been so careful to buy a shirt the right size for once, so now, here, dismissed and left to flounder in some noplace bar in wherever this was, he was going to make certain at least that part of the fiasco hadn’t been a waste.

429. Left in the tray were at least a dozen sheets of some other patron’s Xeroxed hand—fingers laid in different positions, in two images a cigarette pinched between fourth finger and pinkie—if there was some artfulness, Clarence couldn’t figure it, settled on thinking that these were the images that had not been needed or had a general flaw, that the Xeroxer had taken the others and left these, offhand.

430. The surrounding bites (due mostly to Randolph’s haste) had been far too hot, burnt the tip of his tongue and the roof of his mouth, but a chunk of bread, meat, cheese (the dead center of the microwave hamburger) was still all but frozen—he gives it a try, manages to eat it despite the condition, but having a cigarette afterward (feet taking the chill of his backyard grass because he’d been too lazy to walk to the front door for his shoes) he gets antsy that some digestive tract ailment will squirm up on him when he decides to try to get to sleep.

431. With her own eyes she’d seen the nest fall, nothing she could do for the babies who’d dashed lifeless with the twigs onto the rough ground, mostly hard gnarls of the roots of the tree cluster—the mother bird had been around nowhere, she’d watched it fly away ten minutes earlier than the plummet of its children, and by noon and Jodie’s eighth cigarette it still had not come back—never would, somehow knew, had maybe even planned it.

432. Always an infant squealed once—just once—in the apartment beside his, like someone was paid to hush it double quick, maybe even clamp hand over it before anything other than an instant’s noise could escape—night after night this phenomena, he’d taken to smoking while gazing hard-eyed at the wall, putting his ear to it between re-lightings.

433. Now just decades, eventually there would be centuries of unfinished cigarettes zipped from the Holbart house to the sewer to the sea—every man and woman of them, even those who just married in, had the habit of taking a few taps from a cig, blinking at some thought, shaking face and saying ‘Be right there,’ or ‘Darling, could…’ or just some secret, purposefully unpronounced mumble, then dropping the almost whole thing down sink drain, flushing it in toilet, like the whole purpose of a smoke was to waste it as much as one could.

434. She could manage not to cringe when he smiled that way, even now, but not to take any cigarette he offered, no matter how her blood could be balmed by one.

435. His voice and footsteps echoed in all the after dark classrooms—this packful would be the cigarettes the students and staff would smell come morning, everyone trading eyes, sniffing, whispers, claims and suspicions of ownership, he dwindling the day absentee, mythic and unneeded.

436. Down this ugly cur of a street in this not-quite-dawn some certain day some winter, there were the straight lines of lampposts and cigarettes, everything else formless and mulched into a blur.

437. Adrienne slumbered like artic ice, in bed beside her sat Joy with her cigarette, eyes turned toward the flecks of light she could make out through the not perfectly flush slats of the discount blinds.

438. Their affair was grim and lustless, a way for her to get free haircuts, he to reduce his cigarette expenditures by half.

439. His weight remained the same—no, even down two pounds he confirmed, stepping on the scale and squinting through stings of cigarette smoke at the number displayed between bare feet—but each day the red indentations around him when he took off the same pair of work pants seemed deeper, itched more, and he could swear there was more of a porridge texture to his gut hang, too.

440. She still could taste the pool water she’d choked on, her throat still felt clawed, puffy like a too-much blown nose, but there was room to maneuver in cigarettes around the raw, she just needed to close her eyes, breathe like she was already asleep, pretend the ins and outs were lullabies, medicine, easy enough lies to tell herself they were so nearly the truth.

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401-420

401. From Dover Street down until Pail Avenue the wind was thin, vainglorious, made the trails from every cigarette thin, vainglorious the same as it.

402. A cadaverous ache over the entire night, city streets to the houses in their stuck clumps at the city outskirts pulsed raw to any touch, raw waiting sore even untouched, the children all had old man bones, the old men all had skin translucent, ghost, and where Timothy went walking the cigarettes stuck from his and every other loitering mouth like fangs, snaggleteeth outstruck, deformations, the mottled smoke not blown, slurped out over faces, lizard tongue over lizard eye.

403. Knelt by the pile of laundry, holding two pair of the various panties in his hands, he was just beginning to open his mouth to ask another question when Anya said, ‘Not those ones, the primrose pair,’ a sound then like she was entertaining herself blowing the cigarette she was smoking in several directions through a grin.

404. It was two days now, but due to the dry or something, dry outside and the motel dry of the heater, cigarettes still tasted like the nosebleed he’d had, the smoke seemed to go down in soup swallows rather than sighs.

405. In how she held her cigarette, not to mention how she lipped it (hardly, yet got long more-than-mouthfuls of greyblue to slip from it, a snakecharm) it was clear this was a woman of spoil, the sort who knew where a poem was heading before it got there (however referencelessly obscure it might posture) who felt the strangle of orgasm down to her marrow, could go from sleep to wake (or the reverse) as simply as deciding to ignore the one to give the other halfhearted eyes.

406. Christ in Hell—jackhammer heat, no cigarettes for sale, water drunk from shared spoons in a trough three paces from an outhouse—there weren’t nightmares as wretched as this, but still a line of lingering jobless outside of that whorehouse, some of them even holding wrapped gifts.

407. Raphael feared it was too loud a hunger, his eyes in such a permanent seize around the throat of her figure, her moving mouth, feared he must be clanging obscenely, his heart known to any random flit of any stranger’s eye—yet still he did not look away, paced to avoid even the obfuscation from the slow dribbles of his own cigarette, if he blinked he lashed his open in fury for the morsel of look he had lost.

408. Oh, the poor thing, she’d been lit then left forgotten, got barren, heat gone cold, untended cigarette.

409. In a limp attempt at pretending some levity with his friends during his rumpled, heartbroke destituteness, Fred joked he’d like to make a modern opera out of Finnegans Wake, just needed to round up enough pots and pans, kazoos, penny whistles, and tape-loops of diuretic addict’s toilet-tunes and cigarette-hocks leading to projectile—once he had those, he could get to the actual composing, didn’t want to waste his time until he had the proper orchestra assembled.

410. Pillar of salt, she smoked her cigarette the way one dances with a lover who they’d rather they weren’t.

411. Lungless twerp, waste of cigarette and not enough breath in him to sing the beer damp refrains with the others—someone doesn’t take that one underwing, birds’ll pick his bones alive while he walks, leave only rags to stick under the soil and mourn over.

412. For all of his meanders, he’d come no farther than the end of same block he’d started on, pockets now as cigarettless as they were tissue stuffed.

413. Not sure what to make of the report that scientists had come up with a machine that could smoke cigarettes more suavely and with a graver set to its mechanical brow than even the most writer-blocked, lovelorn (requited or un) or ennui-laden person ever could, Jean Pierre stared at his coffee cup and at his own waiting smoke, puppywag of the tip smolder making him smile.

414. The noise got more percussive, oddly more waterlogged sounding, he sitting, staring up at the bottom of the floor of the apartment above him (that the phrase he happened to use in his thoughts at that moment) waiting for some shadow of soon-to-drip water to form, the smoke of his cigarette drifting up all in one unit then breaking against the ceiling flat in a series of bouncing waves.

415. The night was a splayed universe of innumerable things that would never happen to him, the only certainty in it that he’d run out of cigarettes well before dawn.

416. Mountains jagged a monotonous series of chapped-lip humps out in the distance, the rooms of the cabin growing warmer, less oppressive, the sky going through some contortions of color, drip of this paint into a glass of water drip of that paint, the air inside an inch thicker with cigarette than the air on the porch, moving in to out like moving under and out from water.

417. Three weeks home, finally Garrett unpacked the small suitcase, overjoyed to find a half pack of cigarettes, which meant he could put off leaving his apartment at least until the next morning.

418. In conversation Gwen had learned to be more chilly, generally, and overall to execute changes in temperature using no more than just one side of her mouth—a good change, everyone agreed, so much more suited to her demeanor with cigarette, her old habit of getting flustered and looking for phrases or facial expressions to placate all comer something nobody would miss.

419. All morning his time was tangled in knots, the sudden freedom of the evening coming as the burst of a cigarette cough.

420. ‘Watch out for Ela,’ was what Quincy had by way of advice, giving it across at the same time as a cigarette and a struck match, ‘she’s electric, but mostly when she’s lying—just know that the best times with her are always you being deceived.’

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381-400

381. While asleep, the dry of his lips had finally cracked cut, lower lip at least, soft of a soon-to-scab split right down the middle, thick of brown-black over his top two front teeth, water slushed in his mouth spitting brackish time after time after time, eyes with impatience from the sink basin to the cigarette he’d meant to have after a perfunctory pasteless brush, same as always.

382. Entire wrinkled night was just a shook sheet, corners fitting at first fold but every fold laying wrong after that, so many cigarettes he was tasting them, uninhaled, more with his eyes than with anything.

383. All while Gerry and Brent had their cigarettes, Octavio wanted to call the bread-lover who’d gotten the job instead of him a douche baguette, deliver the line glibly, underbreath but loud enough, offhand but not meant to be ignored, but got a glum twist of he wasn’t sure had he really just thought this up, heard it somewhere, was it a phrase in common usage, his cleverness unnecessary?

384. Vanessa had long since lost interest in books, long suffered at the insistences of everyone she knew (book mongers, the lot) that she get back on the horse, find a new heartthrob, lovesongs from them that this novel would awaken her, this poet wow her, this essayist show her something new—she’d taken to cigarettes just to have something to do while she ignored recommendations of pits she didn’t have any heart to die down.

385. My uncle’s forehead had the rectangular firmness of a fresh cigarette pack and his chin the off kilter sag of a coin purse, he was a man who gambled all night and who whores had learned to ignore as the dawn scooped him to curb penniless, where he’d wait for a ride along home with my day’s first fare.

386. Nothing but no cigarettes to show for a night of writing a love letter—there was the love letter, sure, but the no cigarettes were the more recognizable out of the two.

387. The cash from a picked pocket spends most calmly on cigarettes, like the two were anatomically structured for each other.

388. The umpteen televisions on display in the pawnshop rear showed the same Robert Deniro smoking the same cigarette, Herbert watching the ass of some dumpy cheap girl, waiting for her head to turn to confirm ethnicity.

389. Skyline was a bunch of off-angled squished cigarettes, such a bastard little sort of civilized, road dirt and buildings just piles of the road.

390. Such a treat to be in the antique shop, finally, everything seemed so well kept, cherished, place seemed to even still be holding on to the scent from cigarettes smoked hundred and ten years ago.

391. Sun stuck in the winter sky like a coin that couldn’t pay for a damn thing, cigarette stuck in his dehydrated lip crease like the wrong snap of a wishbone.

392. Every time Barbara made up her mind to pull in to a station for gas, there would be something to make her leave without filling—the pumps weren’t taking cards, lot suddenly filled too much, made her antsy, whatever—and her phone kept ringing in her purse, she kept having to touch the cigarettes she wanted to avoid to dig it out, see what number (always work work work never a call promising even a quick hump-hump-done of play).

393. Her lips were flame, his cigarette, that’s how the pet names were doled out between them, and it’d been her who’d said it first though she could care less, let him always tell the story it’d been his thing he’d said and how lovely of him for it.

394. The painter Dexter Prim never painted the smoke of the cigarettes in his scenes, though it was clear they were always lit, an aspect of his work he admitted was lack of talent but that, ignoring him, all walks of people had their theories about the import of.

395. His fever had him sweating as much cigarette stink out into the already drenched back of his undershirt as he’d blown out when actually smoking the things.

396. Nigel just sneered, said he’d go without, that making a cigarette taste like cherry was just the same things as making a cunt taste like there was no way you’re fucking it.

397. The traschcans all down the street had gotten spilled empty by the wind last night, contents splashed all ways, cans themselves having rolled down the dip of the middle of neighborhood road, sat packed there all snuggly like squat cigarettes.

398. The old ring was gold, a very unique tone to it, nice old nicotine yellow—somewhere there was a finger stained entirely that color from a marriage worth of cigarettes, one loop of pristine baby white cut out.

399. Her closed lids did nothing to hide the look in her eyes and Paul watched her in his own obvious hidey hole, cigarette smoke hardly enough to out color his gaze.

400. On the evening of April eleventh, they allowed the prisoner they had avoided eye contact and any verbal communication with for eight month his first cigarette in just as long, tossing it in to the cell with one match, the sort that could be struck lit by the rough of the cement—the prisoner stared at the two sticks like a madman, began trembling like cats were tussling in him when he moved to strike the match, cigarette still on the ground by his knee.

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361-380

361. Her entire sexuality was a dark attribute, to call it something, he admired it from the end of his cigarette and from no closer than that.

362. However little long he might have left, the memory of Denise on that sidewalk, smiling in to her turncoat cigarette, would be a treasure.

363. On these cloudful days he felt the most insignificant, pen strokes long since finding life in his notebooks, abyss-headed, too timid to drink, his only contributions to any day were drifts of cigarette, these puny in comparison to the current bustling heaven, just pfts, labored and man-made under this cavorting, effortless canopy.

364. Salt of the phlegm she’d hucked into her mouth, collected underneath her sore tongue, mixed in a distinctly poor way with cheap of this latest brand of penny pincher cigarette she was trying on.

365. Without his cigarette he seemed decidedly less articulate—all the content of thought was there and all the energy was there, but denuded of smoke the hand gestures seemed blind pats for support walls, and lacking something to his lip every few seconds to excuse it, the unique punctuation and repetition of phrase work seemed just a cat that wouldn’t stop mewing at nothing.

366. Just no energy in him to clean up the glass of the dropped bottle—white wine, Easter egg dye smell gripping the apartment with two hands—he did drop the butt of his cigarette in, hoped for flames, tragedy, but the thing just doused, bloated, drowned heavy there (yes, and he remembered hearing that just dropping in a lit cigarette wouldn’t even ignite gasoline).

367. Walter possessed all the good breeding of a plate from a late night diner, it was sublime caricature, perfect how he looked the loser—cigarette always cracked in the middle and always the matchbook in his pockets had twice gone through the laundry.

368. The entire month of June had been one grumpy, disconsolate wait for a returned call—July, August, September, surely they’d be all the same, cigarettes chained alive from the dregs of each other, no other flame would touch them.

369. Vera found one of the posters showing her missing, the photograph year-and-a-half old—she looked no different, stared, let her cigarette go, it bipped the pavement pleasantly, stayed lit in a light breeze all the way until its length was just ash.

370. Odd memory this cigarette stirred: my best friend (when I was six) and the basement where we played, his father in the corner reading books about the war he’d been in.

371. He wore a cigarette in his lips while he stood at the urinal, effeminate twerp beside him asking if he could bum one—‘A bigger dick or a smoke?’ he drawled back murder-mouthed.

372. All growing up, what turned out to be crows she’d thought were called larks, made her wonder if she really knew what a cigarette was.

373. It would never work, but Ana sometimes wanted nothing more than to have the whole length of her middle finger tattooed to resemble a cigarette, she could hold it up (smile smile) to all of these late night pick-up artists who figured her having a smoke was their time to shine, faux swagger over and aw-shucksing could they have one of those.

374. How many times had the passed this same street corner set of shops—check cashing, smog check, empty store front that once was a window blinds shop, family owned foreign grocery—and not noticed the extra R is the big sign saying Cigarrettes—single most lovely thing in the town now that he knew it was there.

375. As long as there were deadbeat insomniacs with a few coins left over from cigarettes they shouldn’t have bought, payphones would always have a place in this world.

376. The headlights of his car seemed to soak right in to the pavement as he advanced, no other cars for the mile ahead, hadn’t seen any behind him in forever, just night from an evening that got dark way too fast and a sun that would rise hung over, not even half lit—just stop for cigarettes, there’s places coming up, just at least slow down below ninety, just at least turn down the radio, he thought.

377. Another kid his age, in their bedroom, across the way from his, was leaned out their window to have a cigarette—he felt invisible in the dark, nose to inside windowpane, nonetheless sank as flat as he could to the mattress, sucked in at his tummy to compensate for the tangle of blanket beneath it.

378. The moonlight was blonde, the trail of her cigarette flaxen—Ian, though, was a meager kind of colorless.

379. He and most every other employee spent the duration of cigarettes, shops left unattended even with customers inside (constant peeks in through the windows, though) wondering aloud about Eva’s alleged boyfriend—in this, Eva had turned needlessly grotesque, he wondered if the others felt that too, wondered if he could, for himself at least, do anything to reverse the transgress of this obviously wrong head he had gotten about things.

380. The morning after heavy rains—and he’d verified this—if one walked the old cemetery the ground would be utterly littered with shreds of cigarettes parts and bird remains, like the water floated them up from the corpse soil.

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