Noir

Jill and Curt are best friends with Ingrid and Jaco. They all graduated design school together and are just starting out in the world. But the spoiled Ingrid harbors a grudge against Jill. Jill and Curt are at Ingrid and Jaco’s wedding in New York when a mysterious guest Thomas invites them to his mansion in South Hampton, Long Island.

Thomas becomes enamored with Jill, a possession he cannot have and secretly tries to see her, woo her and offer her a world that Curt cannot afford. Will Curt lose his beautiful young wife? Was it all a set up by the evil Ingrid? Read more in this tale of deception and design in Noir.

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3. Noir

Chapter 4

 

Breakfast was a hearty affair of bacon and eggs, pancakes and waffles. The coffee was good and strong and Jill and Curt ate heartily. Jacqueline and Malcolm were excited about riding.

 

“I’m taking Ginger today, she’s my favorite horse.” said Jacqueline.

 

“It’ll be awesome on the beach.” said Malcolm.

 

“What are you working on now Malcolm?” asked Jill

 

“I’m working on a really cool story, sort of drama about a cult that uses mind control to recruit its’ victims.”

 

“I think he was doing some homework last night, he was whispering to me while I slept, saying, “You want sex” over and over again.” kidded Jacqueline.

 

They all laughed.

 

Thomas turned to Jill.

 

“And how did you sleep last night?”

 

“Oh wonderful. It was dead quiet. I am so used to the sounds of the horns and alarms all night long in the city. It was dreamy.”

 

“I kind of missed the horns and alarms.” said Curt sarcastically.

 

They finished up breakfast and went to the stables to get the horses ready to ride. It was a beautiful day, so perfect. Curt picked out Stallone, a gorgeous black beauty and she picked out Frankenstein, a chestnut mare with sweet eyes.

 

They led the horses out to the beach and then mounted them. Her horse kicked the sand.

 

“Easy girl!”

 

Thomas led the way on his horse and they followed him down the beach. It was fairly deserted and the horses splashed in the water. It was a heavenly ride and Jill was having the time of her life. She was still a bit confused by the kiss but brushed it of as a male thing. Sometimes men can be men. It was strange that Thomas did not have a girlfriend or a wife, being as rich as he was. He did say his standards were high, maybe that was his problem. Or maybe he just lusted after the unattainable.

 

She wondered how Ingrid and Jaco were doing on their honeymoon in Fiji. They were probably having the time of their lives there. She was glad that Ingrid had hooked her up with Thomas or none of this would be happening.

 

After all this was over it would be back to reality, back to their life and struggling to the clients and work. Part of her wished they were this rich, but part of her was glad for the life they had, a young couple starting out….

 

Thomas pulled up alongside her on his horse.

 

“I think Frankenstein really likes you…”

 

“Yes, she is sweet…What a gentle horse.”

 

“You are a natural with horses.” he said.

 

Curt watched them closely but pretended not to be bothered. His horse was a bit wild today, splashing his feet in the waves. He thought of going back to Manhattan and really killing it, he needed to get a great job, at least for one year to get his feet wet in the business then maybe strike out on his own. He vowed to get clients like this, and make his own fortune. Then he could build a house for him and Jill, a house that she would cherish, a place to raise their kids: to have Christmas and Thanksgiving and birthday parties and sleepovers.

 

His opinion of Thomas hadn’t changed, he deemed him an ass. A rich, pompous ass that seemed to be interested in his wife. But he hadn’t done anything wrong yet so he stayed calm and cool and mellow and pretended to have a good time for Jill’s’ sake, she seemed to love all this nonsense.

 

“Time for lunch!” Thomas said.

 

They brought the horses back to the stable and the groom brushed them and fed them. They went into the sunroom for lunch. A gorgeous buffet was laid out for them, lobsters and potato salad, spare ribs and chicken.

 

“What a ride!” said Malcolm

 

“It was awesome…..I loved it.” said Jill

 

“Help yourselves everyone……”

 

They ate lunch and watched the ocean in front of them. Jill felt so safe, so insulated from the world here, it was like being in a movie almost, surreal and dreamlike at the same time. She hated the thought of the weekend ending but they only had a few more hours before they went back to the city.

 

They spent the rest of the afternoon watching a movie and hanging out in the living room. Jill loved to watch movies. She and Curt sat huddled together; he had his arm around her. Every so often Thomas would steal a glance over at them and she would catch his eye briefly. It was like he couldn’t take his eyes off of her.

 

Then it was time to leave. They said their goodbyes to Jacqueline and Malcolm and finally to Thomas.

 

“Thank you for the marvelous weekend, we really had a great time.” said Jill

 

“Yeah, it was great dude. Thanks.” muttered Curt.

 

“Well, thank you both for coming out and enjoying the house. Curt I will call you when I want to put on a new addition, maybe next spring. It was a pleasure.”

 

He kissed Jill’s hand.

 

The driver stood waiting for them to get into the car.

 

“Bye!!!”

 

They got in the car and drove away, the large mansion falling out of view from the roadside.

 

Jill turned to Curt.

 

“So?”

 

“So what?”

 

“What did you think?”

 

“It was great honey, but I am glad to be going home to sleep in our own bed tonight.”

 

“What did you think of Thomas?”

 

“He’s an ass. Lives in his own world.”

 

“He’s not an ass!”

 

Curt held her close. “Listen baby, let’s just forget about that guy and go to you and me like it was before, ok?”

 

“Sure.” She said quietly. She wondered if they would ever see him again. Probably not. It was fun while it had lasted. Jill put her head on Curt’s shoulder and fell sleep.

 

 

Chapter 5

 

The phone rang. Jill answered it.

 

“We’re back!!!!” a familiar voice chirped.

 

“Ingrid? How great! How was Fiji?”

 

“It was fantastic!!!!! It was so romantic, our resort was absolutely stunning and it was so wonderful!! I went topless on the beach!”

 

“Ooooh!!!! Sounds great!!!!”

 

Ingrid’s’ voice held a lot of excitement and Jill was happy for her and for them both. She decided to drop her own bombshell.

 

“Well, while you were away we were invited to Thomas Spencer’s’ place in Southampton.”

 

“Really?” Ingrid’s’ voice had a slightly jealous tone to it.

“How did it go?”

 

“It was great! What a spread! Have you been out there?”

 

“No, but I’ve heard about it.” She said flatly.

 

“It was really stunning. I think Curt was jealous, I mean, here’s a guy with everything and he’s like this starving artist. I guess it was a blow to his delicate ego. But he survived.”

 

“Yes, Thomas is quite the catch. I’ve heard he likes married women.”

 

“Married women?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Well, he did tell me he was very picky about women.”

 

“Hmmmmmmnnnnn interesting. I think there is something weird about him.” said Ingrid

 

“You sound like your wheels are spinning.”

 

“I didn’t know you two would have hit off so well at the wedding.”

 

“We didn’t hit it off, he invited us both out there for the weekend to ride, that’s all.”

 

“Yes, I suppose so.”

 

“How’s Jaco?”

 

“He’s fine just recovering from too much wave boarding.”

 

“Well, we have got to get together!”

 

“Yes, let’s. We have some news to tell you.”

 

“What? Tell me now.”

 

“No, we want to tell you both together.”

 

“Alright, let’s meet up soon.”

 

“Ciao.”

 

“Ciao.”

 

Jill hung up the phone with an uneasy feeling. So this dude Thomas liked married women, she couldn’t imagine why. Why? Because they were a challenge. Maybe he liked the idea of his conquests being somewhat unattainable. That was the only answer.

 

Curt was due home in one hour. He was out job-hunting today. She hoped he would have some good news. She got ready to go shopping at the market. She would have to whip up something for dinner tonight, maybe to celebrate the good news, or so she hoped.

 

It was dusk outside; the sky above the river was turning a deep purple. She watched the neighborhood settling into evening, with people coming home from work with bags of groceries.

 

The store was busy. She got a cart and looked at her list. Pasta, tomatoes, ground beef and garlic. She would make some fresh pasta tonight, it would hit the spot.

 

She checked the tabloid’s headlines at the check out counter, “Elvis is alive!” there was a picture of an Elvis imposter with a big green-feathered hat on lounging in a seedy bar in Los Angeles. She loved tabloids, how on earth were they able to print the crap they did?

 

Jill cut the tomatoes up in the kitchen. It was six o’clock, where was Curt? Her cell phone rang.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Hi babe.” Curt said

 

“Hey! Are you on your way home?”

 

“No, I’m stuck uptown. I met an old friend from school and he wants to have a couple of beers.”

 

“Oh, that sucks. I’m making pasta.”

 

“Well, make it and keep it warm for me, I’ll be home later.”

 

“Hey? Aren’t you forgetting something? The job?”

 

“Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you. I got a job with Wheelwright.”

 

“You did?”

 

“Yea, I did. I start on Monday.”

 

“Oh honey, that’s so awesome! Come home soon so we can celebrate!”

 

“Yeah, I will, now don’t go calling that millionaire cause you’re lonely.”

 

“What? Don’t be ridiculous!!!”

 

“Ok, love you.”

 

“Love you too!!!!”

 

She hung up the phone and continued to cut the tomatoes. On one slice she nicked her finger. It bled.

 

“Oh dammit!”

 

She went into the bathroom and put a bandage on it. She looked into the mirror. She looked good. Her hair was shiny and her face was clear. Her eyes were brown and she didn’t look bad. Of course someone might find her desirable. She went into the bedroom to her computer. She looked at Thomas’s email address on his card.

 

She started a new email.

 

“Dear Thomas,

 

Thank you so much for the lovely weekend. We really enjoyed it and I love your home! Hope to meet with you again when you are in the city. Jill and Curt’’

 

There. Nice and short and very professional. There was no mistaking any sexual interest in that dry email. She had had a great time at Normandy and hoped that one day they would go back again. It was a world away from her life here in the city.

 

The hours went by and Curt did not come home. Finally at ten thirty she heard keys rattling in the door. She got up off the couch.

 

“Hi!”

 

“Hey….Sorry I’m late. I met up with Stan and we got to talking and drinking and drinking and talking.”

 

“Congratulations on the job!” she hugged him tight.

 

“Oh, yes, the job.” His voice sounded a bit slurred.

 

“Well, go on, tell me what happened.”

 

“I went there, it was cool. He has this really cool rooftop terrace, all glassed in, like a pigeon cage. So I go in there and he interviews me, I tell him I just graduated with honors from Pratt. He is impressed. So then he looks at my portfolio and I can tell he is digging it, he asks me all the right questions.”

 

“So?”

 

“Forty grand to start.”

 

“Forty grand? That’s great honey!!!!”

 

He hugs her tight.

 

“It’s a starts towards our dream home. I wish I were a rich guy, I’d love to buy it for you right now.”

 

“I don’t want a rich guy. I want you.” They hug tight.

 

“Ok baby. Ok.” He looks at the bandage on her finger.

“What happened?”

 

“Oh nothing, the knife got me earlier. It’s nothing. Come and eat.”

 

“Ok I am hungry! Too many beers.”

 

Jill served him up a plate of pasta and watched him eat. Suddenly she felt like a wife. She was happy. He had a job now. They were starting their life as a working couple.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 6

 

“Hurry up! We’re going to be late!” Jill said as she finished applying her eyeliner.

 

“Relax! We’ve got plenty of time!”

 

“We’ve got to get all the way to 72nd Street. You’re not wearing that are you?”

 

“It’s a Rage T-shirt.”

 

“Honey, I think the restaurant might require a jacket.”

 

“Ok, I’ll take my blazer, come on chief.”

 

“Ok.” She flipped the hall light switch on her way out the door.

 

They hit the sidewalk and descended into the subway. Subways always freaked her out, they were strange spaces where you never knew who might be coming at you at any time. A cab was just ridiculous now, the subway was much faster. They waited on the platform for the train.

 

“So, I wonder what they have to tell us.”

 

“What?” Curt said.

 

“Oh, when I was talking to Ingrid the other day she said they have something they have to tell us.” she said.

 

“I am sure it’s job related.”said Curt

 

“I think they’re getting a house. Watch.”

 

“I’ll bet you.”

 

“You’re on. I bet you one week of cleaning the bathroom that they are buying a house.”

 

“You’re on!”

 

The train approached, a bright light shining in the distance.

The doors opened and people got out. Jill and Curt moved inside the train and sat down together.

 

She looked down at her ring. “I love my ring.”

 

He caressed her hand. “I am glad baby.”

 

A homeless man came through the doors, carrying a sign that read, “Homeless and hungry. Please help.”

 

“Do you have  a dollar?”asked Jill


“A dollar? For that guy? No.”

 

“I might have one.” She dug in her purse and handed the homeless man the dollar.

 

“Thank you Ma’am. Thank you so much.” he said and went on his way.

 

“Why do you do that?”

 

“Do what?”

 

“Give to bums.”

 

“He might not be a bum, maybe he lost his home and he’s just down on his luck.”

 

“Baby, baby, baby…Oh look, here we are, 72nd Street.”

 

They got out of the train and walked up the steps into the dark night. It was a bit chilly, a cool fall night. Jill was curious as to what Ingrid and Jaco were going to announce. Could they be pregnant already? She doubted it.

 

They found the Italian restaurant Elios. It was a charming bistro with quaint French doors and a fabulous selection of wines. They met Ingrid and Jaco at the door.

 

“Hey you guys!” They all hugged and kissed.

 

“You look fabulous! Honeymooning really agrees with you!” Jill said to Ingrid.

 

“We had such a good time, come on, we’ll sit and tell you all about it.”

 

The maître sat them down at an intimate table with a white tablecloth and a small candle. He was a large bald headed man and had a funny crooked nose with a wiry mustache underneath.

 

“Your waiter will be right here, please enjoy.”

 

“Ingrid, your wedding was so fabulous. You really did a beautiful job putting it all together.”

 

“Oh thanks, if it wasn’t for my Mom I never could have done it.”

 

“She was so proud.”

 

“Yes, Mom and Dad just adore Jaco.” She purred.

 

Jill heard a bit of that undertone in her voice, that, “He’s all mine and don’t you steal him” tone. She countered the comment.

 

“We really enjoyed it and Curt was just thrilled to be the best man.”

 

The waiter arrived, obviously an actor. He had a big, booming voice and was very theatrical.

 

“Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I am Roberto, your waiter this evening. Your wish is my command. Would anyone care to see the wine list?”

 

“Yes.” Jaco took it.

 

“We’ll have a bottle of the Rosso Di Montalcino Visconto 09 and for appetizers we’ll have the antipasto, mussels and mozzarella di buffalo.”

 

“Yes sir. I will be right back.”

 

“Well done my friend.” said Curt.

 

“So? How was Fiji?”

 

“We traveled there and received a flower lei. Then each morning we woke up to the sound of water lapping against the sand and the gorgeous view of coconut trees running the length of the bay.” said Jaco

 

Ingrid interrupted. “Every morning we had a delicious breakfast before we headed out for an adventure of kayaking or reef snorkeling or even just relaxing totally, lying in the hammocks and reading our books.”

 

“I am so jealous!” Jill said. “It sounds so heavenly!”

 

“Oh and the food! Every day after cocktails they served up a delicious three course meal. It was so yummy, wasn’t it pumpkin?”

 

“Yummy!” echoed Jaco. He was so smitten, she could have fed him roaches and he would still be gaga.

 

“Speaking of yummy, here come our appetizers.” Curt said.

 

The waiter laid their food out in front of them.

 

“I’ll be back in a few moments to take your food order, is there anything else I can do for you?”

 

They all smiled politely.

 

“So, Jill how was Normandy?”

 

Jill dipped into the mozzarella.

 

“Wow! I mean wow! What a home!”

 

“Oh yes, I’ve known Thomas for many years. He was always incredibly ambitious and he got into stocks early in the game. His father left him a fortune in real estate and that’s where he got the money to play the game.”

 

“Lucky in life, unlucky in love right?”

 

“Well, he has had his share of conquests, but I think that all these years he has been searching for the one, the one, you know, his perfect match. He wants it all, body, mind and soul. God only knows the lengths he would go to for that.”

 

“And no one has come close yet?”

 

“Apparently not.”

 

Curt spoke up. “He’s an ass.”

 

Jaco choked on his wine. “Well said my friend.”

 

The two guys sat smiling like Cheshire cats.

 

The waiter returned.

 

“I am so wonderfully glad that you have enjoyed the appetizers. Now, are we ready for the main course?”

 

“We would like two steaks, medium well, a scaloppini marsala and what’s your fish of the day?”

 

“Trout almondine”

 

“And one Trout.”

 

“Excellent. I will put the order in with the chef personally.”

 

The waiter disappeared. The restaurant was bustling with diners. It had a homey air to it, casual, homey, comfortable.

 

“So? What’s your news?” Jill asked.

 

Ingrid looked at Jaco. They smiled.

 

“We’re moving to Los Angeles.”

 

Jill and Curt stared at each other in disbelief.

 

“You are? Really?” Jill said

 

“Yes, my father has a new division out there and he’s planning to give the job to Jaco to head up.”

 

Jill was stunned. It was as if she was reeling backwards. Thank goodness she was seated on her chair. So they were going to lose their best friends, their friends they had sweated with in school for three years, their close friends. She didn’t know what to say.

 

“I’m so happy for you.” Was all that came out.

 

Curt looked equally surprised. “We thought you were knocked up.”

 

Ingrid took a jab at Jill. “I guess you can’t have the both anymore.”

 

Jill pondered that statement. She really was ill sometimes, she thought. She was not harboring Jaco fantasies of any sort. Maybe this was her way of taking her friend away from her.

 

Jaco spoke. “It’s a great opportunity to work for Ingrid’s’ Dad, I am sure he’ll show me all the ropes and before you know it I’ll be running the firm on my own.”

 

Jill looked at Curt. His face had fallen down a notch, he looked defeated. Jill tried to cheer him up.

 

“Curt has landed a job here in the city with Wheelright.”

 

“Hey! Good job! Congraulations!!”

 

Jaco slapped him on the back. But they all knew they would be torn apart soon, they were being scattered to the wind, their close comradely now just a distant memory of school days gone by. Jacob would be taking up his post as husband of the rich daughter and Curt would be slaving away for some architect in the city. Curt would have to strike out on his own to make it but how? They had no money to start an office. They tried to look happy for their friends. Jill decided to change the subject.

 

“I love this place.” Jill said

 

“Oh yes, it’s a great restaurant…Look here comes dinner.”

 

Their food arrived and they ate. It was fabulous. Curt looked unusually quiet and a little sad. Jill would talk to him later, try to cheer him up.

 

“So are you two making any plans?” asked Ingrid to Jill

 

“Yes, we’re going to buy an old house and renovate and have a ton of kids.”

 

“I hope you make me the Godmother.”

 

“You can be the fairy Godmother.” Jill said.

 

They finished up the meal and walked a bit outside. It was a beautiful night.

 

“You kids care for a nightcap?” asked Jaco

 

“Sure, why not?” Curt said.

 

They walked into a bar and sat down. A guy was at the piano. It was Harry Connick Jr. He entertained them for a while, playing some New Orleans Style blues. It was like a scene out of a movie. They drank. Jill drank to losing her friends, Jaco drank to being the boss’s son-in-law, Ingrid drank to losing sight of her frenemy and Curt drank to being scared about the unknown and becoming a Dad someday to a bunch of screaming kids…

 

 

Chapter 7

 

“Bye babe. I got to run.” Curt was halfway out the door when she gave him his lunch.

 

“Don’t forget this, you might want it later.”

 

They kissed.

 

“I’ll call you later. Think you’ll be home?”
 

“No, I have some running around to do.”

 

“Ok, talk to you later sweetie.”

 

Jill closed the door and went over to her worktable. She unrolled the blueprint and looked at the plan. This client was a friend of her mothers. She was a cross between California casual and traditional. She wanted an eclectic mix of furniture and materials.

 

Jill got dressed and showered. She put on some make up and a simple outfit in black Donna Karan pants and a top. Black was always good to wear while shopping. It didn’t clash with anything and was fairly inconspicuous.

 

She left the building and flagged down a cab. She didn’t feel like taking the subway today. She was on her clients tab now, so she could afford these little luxuries..

 

“125 West 18th Street.”

 

“Yeah, alright sweetheart.”

 

She sat back in the cab. The cab smelled like smoke. She rolled down the window.

 

“Ah, sorry bout that. Some jerk was in here coming back from the airport. He couldn’t wait to light up his cig.”

 

“That’s alright. I’m not a smoker.”

 

“Crazy habit. Bloody disgusting. If my kid told me he was gonna smoke I’d blow smoke right up his arse.”

 

“I can understand….”

 

“Alright, here we are. Scala…what?”

 

“Scalamandre. It’s a fabric house.”

 

“Whatever. That’ll be ten-twenty-five Miss.”

 

She paid him and walked into the building. The showroom was beige and very quiet. You could hear the swish of fabric rods being turned and pencils jotting down notes. She returned a bunch of samples and picked up a small embossed notepad.

 

Jill loved this part, picking out fabrics. There was such a variety to choose from, so many beautiful stripes, solids, textures, patterns. It was mind boggling. But she had the look down of what she wanted in her head. Now it was only a matter of time before she found it.

 

She picked out a few patterns, St Petersburg, Blanchard Stripe, Calabassas County and Riviera Stripe. She jotted the numbers down and handed them to the sample girl. They would loan her samples for thirty days to present them to the client. Then she would have to return them or she would be billed.

 

Having picked out the fabric swatches she headed uptown to see some furniture. She loved Rose Tarlow and wanted to see her new collections. She hailed another cab.

 

“979 Third Avenue” she said as the cabbie sped off.

 

Jill sat back and watched all the stores and buildings go rushing by. She thought about her horse ride out in the Hampton’s, how peaceful it had been there. It was out of this world. She would have to email Thomas again, but she didn’t want to come off as too desperate.

 

A black car tailed the taxi. Jill was not aware of it. It was a black car, dark and mysterious. The tail had been on her since she left the apartment in Tribeca. The cab pulled up in front of the D&D Building. She paid and got out, carrying her shopping bag of fabrics.

 

She made her way up the elevator to the showroom. It was very subdued and full of interesting pieces. She browsed and picked out the Celestial Sofa and a Dutch Commode. She requested tear sheets on these items; she would use the sheets on her presentation boards to the client. If the client liked it she would make 20 percent. Not bad!

 

It was lunchtime by the time she finished up in the D&D Building and she headed further uptown. It was a gorgeous fall day and she thought it would be nice to grab a bite at The Boathouse in Central Park. It was one of her favorite spots in the city. It was a great people-watching place.

 

A lone cameraman shot pictures of Jill as she walked through the park. The telephoto lense got close ups as she sat down on the patio and studied the menu.

 

Jill studied the menu.

 

“I’ll have the jumbo lump crab cake please.”

 

She watched the lovers in the boats, the men rowing and the women sitting in the back of the boat. The ducks were out, sunning themselves and small kids played and laughed with never ending energy that only small children have.

 

She thought about having kids with Curt. She really wanted to be a Mom. She knew she would be a good Mom and he would be a great Dad. She didn’t doubt that he would do well in his career, but she didn’t want to wait ten years to have kids either. By then she would be thirty-five, almost forty!

 

No, that was too late. Then a thought hatched in her head. It was an evil thought, a deceitful thought. What is she got pregnant by “accident?” Would Curt hate her for ruining his plan? He would at first, but then as she got nearer to the due date he would accept the baby and he would love it and not resent it for ruining his dream. It would be a big financial burden, but it would bind them together and he would be hers forever because of the child. And she would be young and have the baby. She could take care of it while she worked at home, she wouldn’t need daycare or anything.

 

It was a plan.

 

Jill finished lunch and wandered through the park. There was a playground there and she stopped to watch the children with their nannies and their parents on the swings and slides.

 

The camera moved in for a close up as she watched the children. It was as if the camera was stalking her, reading her thoughts, intruding on her privacy, mocking her.

 

She kept walking and walked down Fifth Avenue. It was fall and the leaves were strewn on the ground, creating an orange and brown carpet underneath her feet.

 

Her cell phone rang. It was Curt.

 

“Hi babe. Where are you?”

 

“I’m at the park.”

 

“The park?”

 

“Yeah, I just had lunch and now I’m walking back, I might just window-shop on the way home.”

 

“Ok, I’ll see you later.”

 

“How is your day going?”

 

“There’s a lot to learn, but I got a handle on it.”

 

“Ok, see you later sweetie.”

 

Jill walked another twenty blocks. She was in a daze, consumed by her new plan. The baby. She would finally be a mother. Then she could go shopping for baby clothes, adorable little outfits and booties and blankets. The seed was planted. Now all she had to do was make her plan a reality.

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