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Hambledown Dream

Hambledown Dream

4.8 10
by Dean Mayes

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Australian Denny Banister had it all; a successful career, a passion for the guitar and Sonya - the love of his life. Tragically, Denny is struck down with inoperable cancer.

Andy DeVries has almost nothing; alienated from his family, moving through a dangerous Chicago underworld dealing in drugs, battling addiction while keeping a wavering hold on the only thing


Australian Denny Banister had it all; a successful career, a passion for the guitar and Sonya - the love of his life. Tragically, Denny is struck down with inoperable cancer.

Andy DeVries has almost nothing; alienated from his family, moving through a dangerous Chicago underworld dealing in drugs, battling addiction while keeping a wavering hold on the only thing that matters to him: a place at a prestigious conservatory for classical guitar.

As Andy recovers from a near fatal overdose, he is plagued by dreams - memories of a love he has never felt, and a life he's never lived. Driven by the need for redemption and by the love for a woman he's never met, he begins a quest to find her, knowing her only by the memories of a stranger and the dreams of a place called Hambledown...

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A love so strong experienced by two people, is dealt with sympathetically by the author, who draws them together as if by fate, with soft, flowing and emotional lines of prose, that are only enhanced by the paranormal and supernatural overtones." —Fiction Books

"The Hambledown Dream features beautiful writing, a bit of magic, a touch of music, compelling characters, and the passion of two souls reaching for one another across the burden of distance and impossibility. I was both absorbed by the novel, by its lyrical prose that reads like a song, and moved by the storyline of a man whose love is so strong, even death cannot stop it. The Hambledown Dream is at times gritty, but it's real and life affirming, filled with poignant longing. It's an emotional book that pulls you in by the heartstrings." —Carolina Valdez Miller, author

"In his outstanding debut novel, author Dean Mayes takes his readers through a uniquely complicated journey of healing, redemption and love." —BookWenches

Product Details

Chicago Review Press Inc DBA Independent Pub Grp
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.64(d)

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Read an Excerpt

The Hambledown Dream

a novel

By Dean Mayes

ireadiwrite Publishing

Copyright © 2011 Dean Mayes
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-926760-27-8


How could it have come to this?

He had the world at his feet. He had a life that was the envy of all those around him. He was handsome and athletic, he was warm and funny. He had a loving and proud family. He had many friends. He was young and seemingly indestructible. With his university degree, he had a bright future to look forward to and could put his name to just about any architectural firm he wanted. It was said that he had wanted to draw buildings since he was six years old.

For this was his great love.

Denny Banister loved complex problems, raw ideas that could be assessed and developed and turned into a real thing: a building, a tower, a house, a home.

He was in love with a beautiful woman — a woman who was his kindred spirit. He secretly held a desire to ask Sonya Llewellyn to marry him once they had graduated. Well, it wasn't so much a secret between Denny and Sonya than something they wanted to wait for, once their respective degrees were out of the way and they could celebrate with their families. They had fallen in love through the guitar. He played for her, the most beautiful pieces — classical pieces, lyrical pieces, soulful pieces.

For the guitar was Denny's passion.

He played for her songs of love, of traveling, of life, of living. Denny had exquisite fingers, which were able to dance across the guitar as though they were floating on air. But more than that, he was able to evoke the most vivid musical imagery. He poured himself into a piece of music. Sonya had once joked that Denny had cast a spell on her, for his music was the most enchanting she had ever heard. It had hypnotized her.

Their conversation was intimate. It was synchronous. They had similar values, beliefs and viewpoints, yet each of these differed just enough so that they challenged one another. Sonya was studying law, so Denny knew very early in their relationship that in order to be a good lawyer, Sonya had better be able to deliver a damned good argument. Denny and Sonya's debates were the stuff of legend amongst their friends, that it was these that fired their imagination and gave a strength to their relationship. They were constantly challenging each other because they believed in each other.

For Sonya was Denny's life.

Together they dreamed of traveling. Of visiting obscure galleries in Europe. Of making love in a villa on the shores of Lake Como in Italy. Of skinny-dipping in the Mediterranean Sea near Valetta in Malta. Of growing old together in the house that had once been Sonya's grandfather's on a hillside overlooking a quiet stretch of tranquil Australian coastline.

Now it was all about to be lost.

Denny lay in the bed, a shadow of what he had once been. The life — that vibrancy that had so drawn others in — was fast disappearing from his sunken eyes. His face, once strong and proud, was skeletal; his skin was bruised and pasty. His beautiful light brown hair was almost gone; a few faded tufts were all that remained. Those fingers, which had once danced across the guitar with such beauty and grace, which had translated onto the page complex algorithms and intricate equations, which had held the fingers of Sonya's own hands. They were limp now, cold and barely useful. A warm feminine hand was entwined in them. He felt them, but he no longer had the strength to lift his own fingers.

It had taken mere months. It began as a few days of feeling unwell, with swollen glands in his neck. Denny had passed it off as the flu. Even though he had gotten better, the lump in his neck had refused to go away. Still he ignored it for a time, until it began to bother him. In what seemed like a matter of moments, it had become all too serious.


Under normal circumstances it was treatable, and the outlook for a cure was good. This, however, was a particularly aggressive cancer that had already metastasized before Denny even knew he had it. Lymph nodes, liver, one kidney, four ribs on the left side and most cruelly of all, his brain. He was doomed from the start. Treatment was a stalling intervention only, and not a very good one. All it really did was halt the spread of his dementia and rob him of his hair.

Denny was 25.

The room was nice. As far as hospice rooms went. There was a pretty rose garden through the single window. Denny had looked through there sometimes, but hadn't been able to venture out to appreciate them. Today, the sky was dark and brooding. A thunderstorm threatened.

A Simon Marty guitar stood on its stand in a corner of the room where Denny could see it. The handmade instrument had been a gift from his parents on his eighteenth birthday. For a while, just having it there was soothing. In his fractured mind, he could hear his favorite sonatas and fantasias and movements, and it helped him to block out the pain. Now the only thing that helped was the morphine that slowly dripped into his body from a pump via a needle in his arm. At the end of the bed lay his puppy Simon, a black-and-white crossbreed, curled up and fast asleep. Denny's nurse had allowed Simon to be here.

Sonya sat beside him; her head lay on the bed near his arm. He could smell her lustrous auburn hair, freshly washed. The scent was a combination of rosemary and mint — a shampoo she loved. He could hear her soft breathing, even and steady. He could feel the warmth of her skin, the touch of her fingers. Sonya had been there for days, or what had seemed like days. Denny was no longer sure of time anymore. All he was sure of was that she was still there. Occasionally she would stir, lift her head and gaze at him through those wondrous eyes. Though their world was falling apart around them, her face kept him anchored. She kept everyone anchored. Throughout their ordeal Sonya had never fallen apart. She tended to Denny's needs unfailingly. When others were losing control of their emotions, she was there for them too, with an arm around a shoulder, a hand in a hand, or a loving, comforting hug.

Now, in these final hours, they were all here. Denny's mother, father and younger sister, Sonya's mother and older brother. All sitting quietly, waiting.

Denny flinched reflexively, causing everyone else in the room to do the same. He grimaced and attempted to move himself, but was prevented from doing so. His abdomen was so distended from fluid collecting inside, it made simple movements impossible. The catheter that drained urine from his bladder caused him intense pain, and it had done so now.

Sonya squeezed his hand and slid hers up his right forearm, her gentle touch soothing him. Her fingers passed over a faded tattoo on the inside of his forearm — an inscription in a cursive font — Ancora Imparo.

How could it have come to this?

The single lucid thought punctured through his narcotic haze. The pain in his penis settled and he blinked, looking up at his family who were all gathered around his bed.

His mother and father, eyes reddened and tear-filled. His sister, normally vivacious, a perennial social butterfly, was stony-faced now, barely able to hold it together. Denny knew this must be ripping her apart. Sonya's mother, her brother — his best mate, similarly wooden with barely contained grief.

Sonya ...

Denny turned his head slightly towards her. Sonya met his eyes with hers and held them. She stroked his brow gently and smiled warmly. Oh, how he wished to kiss those lips ...

His breath caught in his throat suddenly, and his eyes rolled up towards the ceiling. The room began to spin, and Denny's heart thumped noisily in his ears. He was overwhelmed by a surge of panic and with a great effort he grasped Sonya's hand as firmly as he could. When he looked back, Sonya's face had swollen with tears and a single drop trickled down her porcelain cheek. In that moment Denny knew.

It was time.

In that last terrible moment, when all else was spinning out of control, as lightning crackled ominously outside the window, Denny gazed firmly and deeply into his beloved's eyes. When he spoke, his voice had never sounded stronger.

"This is not over ..."

And with an abrupt finality the eyes fluttered closed, the body sank back, the life dissipated. Denny was dead. Simon the puppy let out a yelp, leapt from the bed and disappeared down the hall.

Sonya sat there stunned, the grip of his hand relaxed in hers. The warmth disappeared quickly. As the family gathered around her and held her collectively, Sonya's expression remained frozen. Tears welled in her eyes and they fell down over her cheek, but she did not cry. She could not bring herself to let go.

Everything seemed to stop. Time, space, air, life. And nothing would ever be the same again.


How could it have come to this?

The gurney rolled like a freight train down a dimly lit corridor, shepherded along by a medical emergency team dressed in green scrubs.

A doctor with a salt-and-pepper beard and gold-rimmed glasses rode on top of the gurney, straddling a limp figure beneath him. He was shouting desperately at his colleagues as he pumped the chest of the young man who lay lifeless on the gurney. The young man's skin was a pasty white. His eyes were ringed by dark circles, mascara stains had bled and ran along the tops of his cheeks. His black clothing was dirty and damp. Everyone was damp. One mother of a storm was brewing outside, and the team had barely made it indoors before being thoroughly soaked. Stringy, greasy vomit-stained hair covered the young man's face and chest. There were blood spatters everywhere, but no one had determined yet, where the blood was coming from. Nor had anyone had a chance to work out who he was. At this point, all they knew was that he was about 25 years old, that he had been found unconscious at some sort of rave party in the north of the city and that drugs were involved.

Yet another dead shit drug addict.

An oxygen mask concealed his mouth and nose as a nurse, Selwyn, pumped a balloon attached to it, forcing air into his lungs. Across from her, a second doctor, Kost struggled to secure a newly inserted intravenous cannula in the man's ragged arm to replace one that had failed in transit. A transparent bag of fluid hung from a pole, and as Kost checked a small chamber below it he saw, to his great relief, a steady drip, drip, drip inside it. The infusion was working.

The medical team fairly burst through a set of double doors and into a fully equipped trauma room. Lightning flashed through a window somewhere nearby. Already, additional staff were ready and waiting with emergency equipment set to go. The doctor astride the patient saw a young woman — a nurse named Ruddiger — approach with two familiar-looking paddles. He leapt from the gurney, nearly losing his glasses, as myriad hands went to work, applying lines to the young man's chest and abdomen. Another intravenous cannula was quickly stabbed into his opposite arm.

Satisfied the line was secure, a second flask of intravenous fluid was hastily commenced, the flow rate thrown wide open. Large pads were slapped down onto the man's chest, and for a moment all eyes in the room turned towards a monitor above the victim's head. An erratic green line squiggled its way across the screen accompanied by several other, different-colored lines that were equally chaotic.

Lifting his glasses so that they were perched just above his brow, the doctor grabbed the defibrillator paddles from Ruddiger beside him and shoved his dog tags — which identified him as Ellis — down the inside of his scrubs. Nodding to Selwyn, who was still manning the oxygen mask, then to Ruddiger beside him, Ellis adjusted his grip on the paddles and approached the victim on the gurney. Another crackle of lightning flashed nearby, seemingly closer this time.

Ruddiger turned a dial on the defibrillator and listened to a high-pitched whine emanating from within. Her eyes met Ellis' and she nodded. Everyone stepped back from the gurney on Ellis' command, and he positioned the paddles on the chest of the young victim before him. As he did so, a shrill alarm sounded from the monitor.


Though he had done this hundreds of times before, Ellis felt the same nausea ripple through him every time he shocked a patient. Forcing the sensation away, he thumbed the triggers on the pads, sending an electrical current streaming into the patient. The young man bucked sickeningly on the gurney, his muscles spasming and holding their tetany for a moment before he slumped back on the hard surface again. Everyone in the room looked back to the monitor.

Moments ticked by ...

The green line remained stubbornly flat.

As if reading Ellis's thoughts, Ruddiger immediately dialed up a higher charge and nodded to him. Ellis pushed down on the paddles and pressed the triggers again. The victim bucked wildly on the gurney, this time lifting a full three or four inches into the air.

Electricity crackled through his darkened mind, briefly filling his consciousness with a blinding white light. The light dissipated and, for a moment, there was nothing. He was gripped by sudden panic. He tried desperately to move his arms and legs, but couldn't. Wherever he was now, he was totally and utterly trapped.

How could it have come to this?

Beams of light stabbed through the darkness, somewhere nearby, yet not close enough for him to grab their attention. Steady beams of a torchlight. Were they searching for him? He tried to scream, but he couldn't fill his lungs. No air! Panic again!

But it didn't last. The panic melted away and was replaced by an enveloping peace. The beams of light continued to work their way closer to him. He was floating now.

The green line on the monitor failed to budge. Ellis spat an expletive so loud his saliva stippled the patient. Ruddiger dialed up the defibrillator once more. It was all or nothing now. Ellis slapped the paddles down and discharged them immediately. Kost, beside him, shuddered.

Blinding white light again. Where was it coming from? He became aware of a taste in his mouth now. What was it? No, it wasn't a taste at all. It was a smell. He let it fill his nostrils.

A herb of some sort, perhaps? Yes, that's what it was. Something he couldn't quite put his finger on. His grandmother used it in her cooking. Goddamn, what was that!? An oven door opens. Roasted meat — lamb. She had sprinkled some herbs on it.

Why would I remember that?

The oppressive blackness parted slowly, replaced by shades of gray. There was movement and shadow, texture and something else. What was it? The texture was incredibly soft. Skin, perhaps? Soft skin. A cheekbone. The cheek of a woman. A familiar woman? He couldn't be sure. A tear trickled down, over the cheek and down.

"This is not over," a whispered voice echoed in the gloom.

Ellis and Selwyn barely leapt back in time as the patient suddenly vomited a thick stream of detritus and began thrashing wildly on the gurney.

"We got him!"

Selwyn tossed the mask assembly aside and grabbed a suction catheter as the victim was quickly rolled onto his side to prevent him from choking.

Ellis leaned in close, stifling his sense of smell against the odor of vomit, alcohol and blood coming from the kid.

"We've got you! We've got you! You're all right! You're safe!"

The young man coughed and spluttered and retched over and over while Selwyn suctioned the offensive detritus from his mouth. Kost came in with another mask and positioned it near to his mouth and nose. He tried to resist, but Ellis held him firmly.

"Just relax. Relax. Let the air wash over you."

Ellis expected the kid to continue thrashing, but strangely, a calm seemed to come over him and he let his body go limp.

"What's your name, son? I need to know your name."

My name? What's my name? I can't remember!

Through a phlegm-filled throat came a single utterance.

"An ... Andy ..."


"Andy, my name is Dr. Ellis. You're in the hospital. You were brought here in an ambulance."

Ambulance? And what's with the weird accents?

"Can you hear me, Andy?"

Andy attempted to nod against the hand that was holding his head down. Ellis nodded to the other team members who were holding him. They relaxed their grip and stood back. Satisfied they had him under control, Ellis began issuing orders to all present. Bloods, chest film, CT, ECG, IV antibiotics, catheter.

Catheter? Oh Christ!


Excerpted from The Hambledown Dream by Dean Mayes. Copyright © 2011 Dean Mayes. Excerpted by permission of ireadiwrite Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Dean Mayes is a Pediatric Intensive Care nurse who is fascinated by the paranormal, so his stories weave an element of magical realism with deep humanism. He grew up near Melbourne, Australia, the setting for his new novel The Recipient, but now lives in Adelaide with his family and dog, whom he loves with great passion along with cooking, Star Wars and a great joke.

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The Hambledown Dream 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
ALexisLeno More than 1 year ago
The Hambledown Dream is a contemporary fiction novel with a supernatural twist. The novel centers around drug addict and mule, Andrew DeVries. At the start of the novel, his life is a complete mess. He overdoses and dies on the table, only to be brought back to his drug addled life. When he is brought back, something happens to him that changes his life for the better. The novel starts out with a character other than Andy. We see the death of a man we do not know. At first, I wasn't sure why we were seeing Denny's death at the very beginning, but the pieces come together later as Andy starts to find himself "transforming" into a mix of Andy/Denny. Not only does he remember Denny's memories, but he feels his emotions, and is taking on his physical traits as well. I have to say that I enjoyed this transformation immensely. I think it was done in a neat way, though the physical transformation seemed much more gradual than the emotional transformation. I felt bad for Andy that he needed another person's soul inside him to force him out of his bad habits. I really wished that Andy could have managed to survive the drugs on his own, rather than with Denny's help. I think it would have showed that Andy had a certain strength that was admirable. Andy is a virtuoso at the guitar, which I thought was very interesting. I haven't seen much on classical guitar in the past and I think this book shed an cool, new light on this type of classical music. From the start, this is something that both Andy and Denny have in common; it is a common thread that could have pulled their two souls together when they died. The supernaturalness of the novel was light and I loved that. This is very much a love story, of two people finding each other again and anew. In taking in Denny, Andy starts to see his love, Sonya. She is very much alive in the town of Hambledown, saddened by Denny's death. The two - Andy and Sonya - see "dreams" of each other in a way that comes to connect them, later when they meet in Australia. I also have to add that I really love the cover. It brings out the essence of the book in a way that is very appealing. It is a crisp cover that definitely draws the eye. Lastly, the book was very well written. I enjoyed seeing the love story develop from afar and then again together. It was nice to see Denny reunited with Sonya, even if it was in someone else's body, and a new love start to blossom.
BibliophileMER More than 1 year ago
I like everything about the book. The dialogue is as good as the description. I like the characters. I like that none of the characters are extraneous, and that they are painted so that I can SEE them. I feel as if I know them now. The way the author slowly melded two souls into one body was brilliantly done, and I believed it ALL. It was romantic without being soppy, and there was just enough of a supernatural quality to make the whole book dream-like but possible. I particularly love the scenes in the bar in the U.S. (especially when he's playing his guitar), and the scenes in Australia. The whole concert portion gave me chills - it was beautifully drawn, and I was THERE, in the audience, and on the stage simultaneously. The ending was perfection - Mayes wrapped it all up, and then went that extra mile to give us an idea of what their future would be like together - I appreciated that, because I wanted to know for certain that their lives would work out - at least in terms of being happy together. Whatever life throws at them in the future, it is nice to know that they will face things together, come what may. I am also very pleased that the author allowed the father a chance to get to know his son, and that both father and son were willing. Many authors would have stopped on the beach - I'm SO glad Mayes carried it on and gave the reader closure. I look forward to his next book with anticipation.
Lisa_in_TO More than 1 year ago
What a fantastic read! I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dean Mayes' The Hambledown Dream. From the start, chapter one grabbed a hold of my emotions and forced them to hold on tight for a gripping ride right through until the very end. From Denny's tragic end to Andy's new beginning and all the believable characters in between, you will not be disappointed with this story. It has love, passion, dirt and grit ... the beauty of Australian beaches and the grime of the Chicago underground ... the deathly pull of drugs and the spiritual power of music ... the rarity of true friendship and the strength of everlasting love ... and to top it off, one amazing dog that will take your breath away. I highly recommend that you pick up a copy and further dare you to try to put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sheri-A-Wilkinson More than 1 year ago
A young Austrailian man, Denny Banister has a perfect life, the woman of his dreams a great career and a passion for the guitar. He finds he has terminal caner, as he struggles to fight for his life he fails to succeed and cancer takes his life. Left behind in a state of grief is his true love Sonya Llewellen. American Andy DeVries has not much in life. Living in Chicago and fighting a drug addiction he has a near death experience that alters the course of his life. Estranged from his family, with nothing but his love of his guitar Andy tries to change his ways. Soon he starts experiencing dreams and feelings of being in places he has never been before, almost as if he is reliving someones life memories. These dreams feel so real he can not push them aside. He has feelings of love for a woman he has never met before and of a place called Hambledown.  Andy has a once in a life time chance to go to Australia and participate in a concert for the best new guitarist. He feels compelled to this foreign land, being pulled almost as if by a magnet unsure of why he needs to go, but knows in his heart he is meant to be there, meant to meet her. He packs his bags and sets out to find a truth, a truth that seems almost unreal. Dean Mayes knows how to grab the attention of the reader and bring them into the story. I found it heartfelt and emotional. At times sad, yet fulfilling. I enjoyed The Hambledown Dream from the first page until the last.
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
Fate, reincarnation, redemption or simply love. An intriguing romance with hints of reincarnation and redemption, Dean Mayes The Hambledown Dream is a thoroughly enjoyable read filled with powerful emotions and the joy of lives turned around. While a much-loved husband and guitar-player lies dying in Australia, a drug-addicted American is rushed into an American hospital. Andy’s life seems hardly worth saving, but somehow he pulls through, and the brush with death leaves intriguing hints of hope as he faces the challenges of his hopeless life. Andy’s a guitarist too, but never settles down to work, skips classes and seems to resent every offer of help. But now a more powerful help seems to come from within. Andy’s old life clings with fierce determination—it’s not easy getting out of the world of drugs and violence, and the author depicts Andy’s struggle, and that of his friends, very convincingly. But there’s always the promise of hope and hard work. With no easy answers, but smoothly intriguing storytelling, Dean Mayes pulls readers into this tale, spans continents, and fulfills the promise of a haunting introductory chapter very effectively. Not quite reincarnation, not quite fate, The Hambledown Dream draws a beautiful symbiosis between dream and reality and creates a pleasing feel-good story from the bitter dregs of drugs. It’s a realistically told tale—drug users fight and swear and get hurt while lovers hurt by accident—but it’s a truly enjoyable read with a pleasing message of hope and recovery. Disclosure: I received a free ecopy from the author in exchange for my honest review. I’m just sorry it took me so long to get around to reading it.
renthewriter More than 1 year ago
I'm a firm believer in reincarnation. I truly believe that when one dies, their soul experiences a rebirth, no matter what the age was at the time of death. Keep in mind that this is just my opinion. I feel that gifted children, the ones that have a genius level I.Q., suffer from this. Their young minds are plagued with superior knowledge and creativity that is so far advanced, that if not properly nurtured they break, both emotionally and intellectually. Pure love is the same way. It is one of the strongest emotions that we possess and it has the eternal power to transcend over time and distance. This is where the term "Soul Mate" comes from. When you meet that one person, you know instantly. Very few people truly experience this while others tend to confuse it with what their glands are telling them. Again, this is just my opinion. And what, you may ask, does this have to do with The Hambledown Dream? My answer: everything. Trust me on this. The Hambledown Dream is a captivating read. It tells the story of Andy DeVries and Denny Banister who become entwined through tragic events, one by his own destruction and the other through terminal illness. It is during this pivotal moment where a new journey begins. Mr. Mayes has crafted a superbly written novel. I could not put this book down. It grabs you right from page one and does not let go all the way through. From the dirty underground of the Chicago drug trade to the tranquil shores of New South Wales, Mr. Mayes puts you right there in the thick of it all. I ran the whole gamut of emotions from one end of the line to the other: joy, happiness, sadness, fear and anger. Given that it's only 194 pages, that's a whole lot of upheaval to be feeling but it's never rushed, not once. It flows beautifully without missing a beat. The power of love is clearly evident here. I'm not only referring to the love between people but the new-found love of self, the love of identity, and the love of music. The music of the classical guitar is very prevalent throughout the story, so much so that I had to write down the pieces that were referenced just to hear what I was reading. It's simply beautiful. The Hambledown Dream has a very strong storyline and wonderfully written characters that will both tug on your heartstrings and have you shouting at the pages. It's a lovely, lovely read that will stay with you long after the last page is turned. I highly recommend this book.
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