The Coven Coin 10: The Other Side

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Another week had passed. Paul finally bought a new uniform and work shoes. He was surprised how inexpensive normal size clothes were. Before he had to special order everything; but now he could walk into any discount store and find things that fit him. His new size 11 work shoes cost under $20. He purchased the same size shirt and pants he borrowed from his peers. The clothes were still tight on him, but not as tight as a few days ago. He could no longer burst the seams by flexing. He also had to cuff the pants due to his decreased inseam. At least the warden hadn’t harassed him about his appearance lately.

It was time for Paul to patrol the prison yard. Once his favorite duty, he had come to hate this part of his job. At 5’ 10” he no longer towered over the inmates. He felt claustrophobic wherever he went with the loss of his height advantage. His 224 pounds consisted of well developed muscle, but he was certainly not the biggest man behind the walls. His nervousness around the prisoners increased proportionally with his decreasing size. The growing fear inside him could be sensed by the men. They began to test him like wolves seeking out the herd’s weakest member. The larger inmates purposely slammed their bodies into him as he passed. Sometimes they used enough force so Paul had to adjust his stride to stop himself from falling over. Others made lewd remarks about his handsome face and muscular physique. Something they would have never done a couple of weeks ago.

As Paul approached the iron pit, he quickened his pace. Suddenly a human wall appeared directly in front of him. Paul looked up. It was Momar. The convicted bully appeared so much bigger at Paul’s lower angle. Momar folded his thick arms over his barrel chest. He must have been in the middle of a work out. His body was sweaty and swollen. Paul took a quick step back. His hand went to the baton on his belt for security He looked around and thought of his options. Every lifter was now focused on the duo. Paul knew he would lose whatever remaining respect he had if he backed down. He swallowed hard, wiped his mouth, and puffed out his chest before speaking in his deepest voice; “You’re in my way.”

“So what.” Momar responded loudly so everyone could hear him, “What are you going to do about it?”

Paul eyes darted around for a moment. He calmed himself and squared his shoulders. “We’ve already been through this Momar or don’t you remember me out lifting you a few months back?”

“Oh I remember. I just don’t know how someone like you did it.” His dark eyes scanned Paul’s smaller frame. His lip curled in disgust. “It had to be some kind of trick. I just tied your lift. We all want to see you do it again or better yet break it since it is only a warm up weight for you.” Momar bent down to be nose to nose with the guard. “This time I’m going to watch very carefully to make sure it’s legit.” The other heavy lifters gathered behind Momar to show their support.

Beads of sweat formed on Paul’s upper lip. He knew there was no way he could lift 540 pounds now. He probably couldn’t bench 440. He hadn’t worked out in weeks, but he knew he was much weaker. He could tell by the way ordinary objects felt to him. It wasn’t just his decreased muscle mass. His whole body shape and chemistry was changing. He was becoming more slender and narrower. He was always a bull of a man far stronger than even the few men who came close or equaled his weight. The fullness and power of what muscle he had left was far inferior to what he once had. Paul feigned annoyance, “I don’t have time to for this.” The bluff didn’t work.

“Make time”, Momar slurred. Paul tired to leave but was stopped. “Just as I thought. You are nothing but a fraud.” Momar jammed his thick index finger into Paul’s chest. “A puny, weak assed fraud.” The guard’s body rocked back and forth. It felt like he was being jabbed with an iron spike. He unintentionally flinched with each strike showing fear. The crowd laughed. He felt so weak and helpless. He tired to leave by quickly stepping around Momar. Another prisoner blocked his progress. Paul tired a different direction, but an inmate moved in front of him again. No matter where Paul went, someone blocked him. Soon he was surrounded by Momar’s henchmen. They were the same men he knocked out in the laundry room. He could see they were itching to restore their reputations by taking down the guard. Momar spun Paul around so he faced the leader again. He grabbed the front of Paul’s loose shirt in his hand and lifted him so their noses almost touched. The other inmates gathered around closely so the other guards couldn’t see what was happening. Momar curled the guard several times. “You feel like nothing to me; because you are nothing. Do you understand me, wimp?” Paul closed his eyes from the heat and stench of Momar’s breath. The guard was trembling in fear. Momar shook Paul’s limp body. “Do you understand me screw?” Paul shook his head yes.

One of his henchmen slipped Momar a small shiv made from the sharpened handle of a plastic fork. “Cut him for making you look like a fool, Momar.”

The reestablished alpha male raised the weapon so Paul could see it. “I should make you bleed for tricking me, making me look weak in front of my men.” Paul let out a soft whimper. Momar released his grip and Paul fell back onto his heels. He lost his balance but was kept upright by the crowd pushing his back. “Fuck, you’re not worth a lock down.” The big man sneered at the terrified guard. He slammed is fist into Paul’s unexpecting gut. Paul fell to his knees gasping for air. Momar laughed. He announced to the crowd, “See men, he’s nothing to fear. Hell, I bet even Tiny has more muscles than this piece of shit. Ain’t that right, Tiny?” Paul knew he was small, but not as small as Tiny Tim.

Momar reached through the crowd and pulled someone to his side. The man was standing directly in front of Paul. The beaten prison employee had his eyes down. First he saw the man’s bare feet. The bottom hem of the pant legs were at the middle of his calves and split to accommodate their thick girth. His thighs looked like they were painted orange because the prison issued jumpsuit was so tight. The center seam of the crotch, forced his good sized package to hang to one side. The tight fabric hid nothing from view. He looked as endowed as Paul had currently been reduced to. The guard continued to lift his head higher to take in more of the man. The jumpsuit’s zipper that ran from the waist to the neck was at the halfway point. The top section was forced open by his protruding chest. The man’s pec shelf was thick and perfectly formed. The many striations indicated the lack of body fat. His heavy chest obscured his face from Paul’s view. The sleeves of the jumpsuit were ripped off crudely. His muscular arms easily contained the strength of two average men. Loose threads hung over his broad, round delts like epaulets.

Paul was roughly lifted to his feet. Again he concentrated on the muscular man before him. He was surprised to find they were the same height. He looked so much bigger from the ground. From the neck down, the two had identical builds; the same height, the same weight, the same muscularity. Unlike Paul however, the other man’s clothes were too small for him. They made him look bigger while Paul’s loose uniform did the opposite. Paul finally got to good view of the other man’s face. He was younger than Paul and just as handsome. It took a moment for Paul to recognize him. “Tiny Tim?”

The expression on Tim’s face showed he was equally shocked. He reached out and touched Paul’s chest then he touched his own. “Fuck, I’m not dreaming”, Tim uttered as his eyes took in Paul’s smaller size.

Momar grabbed and tested their upper arms in his hands. “I was right, the Turd and Tiny are the same size. I still bet good money Tiny could take him. Look how afraid the piece of shit is.” Momar squeezed Paul’s 19” inch arm tighter sending his thick fingers deep into the relaxed muscle. Paul winched. The crowd laughed.

Before Paul could wrap his mind around what was happening, the crowd started to disperse. George and Simon noticed the commotion and came over to see what was going on. Momar could see the guards approaching. Afraid of being caught with the weapon on him, the rotund prisoner slipped the shiv into Paul’s breast pocket. George found an unresponsive Paul. He called his name several times. His eyes stayed locked on Tim and Tim’s on Paul. George thought they may be ready to fight. He took Paul by the arm and led him away. Simon stayed behind to break up the remaining mob. As the distance between Paul and Tim grew, a smile formed on Tim’s face. Then the once tiny man began to jump around as if celebrating a victory.

It wasn’t until George pushed him into a room at the base of a guard tower that Paul regained his composure. “Are you nuts? You can’t get into situations like that alone. You’re not some kind of superhero. Those animals could have ripped you into pieces.”

“Don’t you understand?” Paul pointed to himself. “He did this to me.”

George looked befuddled, “Did what?”

“He’s taking my height and my muscle mass; hell my whole body.” Paul began to pace. “But how?” He stopped and faced George, “The day of the exhibition. We were alone in the back hall. I remember he said something about switching our bodies and I would learn what it’s like to be tiny like him…like, like he was. Then he touched me, or groped me. He had a piece of metal in his hand. I thought he was just a fag coming on to me, like they all used to. But now….” Paul could see the disbelief in George’s eyes. “I know it sounds crazy, but why else would I be shrinking while he’s growing.”

George ran his hand over his face, “Listen, you have to stop with this shrinking talk. If the warden gets wind of it he’s going to send you for a psych evaluation…or worse. Believe me Powwow, you’re not shrinking. I’ve known you for months. You’re a big guy, bigger than me.”

“Big yeah; but I was fuckin’ huge. I didn’t realize how much it meant to me. How much it was who I was.” He ran his hand over his scalp. “Why doesn’t anyone remember except me? That had to be part of his curse or whatever he did.” He paced again. He stopped. “He remembers too.”

“Who?” George asked.

“Tiny. I saw it in his eyes. He was just as surprised by my size as I was of his. He even touched my chest to make sure he wasn’t dreaming.” Paul smiled for the first time in weeks, “I’m not alone. He knows what he did. He can proof I’m not crazy.” Paul went toward the door. “Come on George, we’ll make him tell us the truth.”

Just then a loud buzzing sound went off. “Play time’s over.” George looked at Paul. He could see the disappointment on his face. The older man sighed, “Give the inmates a minute to get back to their cells then I’ll go with you to talk to Tim. But if he doesn’t back your ridiculous story, you’ve got to promise to drop the whole thing.” George extended his hand. “Deal?” Paul reluctantly accepted his terms with a handshake.

Tim was sitting on his bed feeling up his flexed right bicep with his left hand when Paul and George walked into his cell. He had slipped off the top portion of his jumpsuit to relieve some of the pressure on his groin. He stood up. His exposed torso looked like a masterful Greek sculpture. It was a tight fit in the small space for the three muscular men, so George stayed in the doorway. Tim tired not to smile as he realized again he was the same size as the once mighty Powwow. He looked past his twin and focused on George, “What can I do for you men in blue?”

“Tell him what you did, asshole. Tell him what you did to me at the exhibition. How you used some kind of…magic or something to steal my body.” Tim just laughed. Paul grabbed Tim’s shoulders and slammed him into the wall, “Tell him you mother fucking thief.”

Tim didn’t defend himself from Paul’s attack in any way. The smile never left his face despite his treatment. Again he looked at George despite having Paul’s face next to his. “I have no idea what he’s talking about. We’ve always been about the same size.” The blood drained from Paul’s face.

George tired to calm down his coworker. “He’s right Paul. You’re both remarkable heavyweights. Tim’s participated in very bodybuilding seminar I’ve given. His dedication to the sport is something to be admired. Just like yours.”

“No, no. That’s not right.” Paul squeezed Tim’s shoulders to try to make him shrink. “He was much smaller and I was much bigger. I was a super heavyweight. I’m sure of it.” Paul was beginning to doubt himself again.

“The pressure of competing next month must be getting to you, Powwow. I think the rivalry between us is only making things worse. Don’t worry pal, you still have a chance to win against me.” Tim spoke calmly showing no signs of deception. “Right, George?”

George scanned Tim’s exposed body. Every thick sinewy muscle was visible through his smooth, pale brown skin. He couldn’t imagine anybody having a better physique than Tim. “Sure, there’s always a chance. Contest preparation is the key to winning. A lot can change in five weeks.”

“It certainly can”, Tim said with a smile looking at Paul for the first time.

Tim and Paul looked into each other’s eyes for a sign of wavering. Paul tired another tactic. “If you have always been this big, why is your nickname Tiny?”

Tim smirked and went into a double bicep. “Irony, I guess. Like when you call a fat guy, Slim.” He could see he had the former giant confused he folded his arms over his thick chest. “Nicknames are funny things. Like they call you Powwow because you’re part Indian right?”

Paul’s face showed his growing confusion. He slowly raised his fist; “No, it’s because I can knock a guy out with one in the comic books. I’ve got the power of a superhero.” He got no reaction from Tim, so he looked to George for confirmation.

The guard gave his friend a pitiful look. Paul sat down on the bed. George asked the prisoner. “What’s with your uniform? It looks like it’s been through a war. And where are your shoes?”

Tim’s quick mind went to work again. “The laundry sent me the wrong size. They say it’s what is on their paperwork so there’s nothing they can do. The same with my shoes, they sent me a size 7.” He looked down at his large feet. “Do I look like I can fit in a size 7?”

George reached behind Tim to look at the label. “Small! Those guys are so sloppy with their paperwork.” He looked at Tim again, “You need at least an extra large. That’s what we wear and you’re our size, well Paul’s size anyway. Being an old man, I like things less confining. I’ll go down there and straighten things out.”

“Thanks George.” Tim looked down into George’s eyes. He put his hand on the more slender man’s shoulder to endear himself with his new ally. “You’re a great guy.”

George smiled. It felt good to be appreciated by an inmate for a change. He looked at Paul. “We’re done here aren’t we?”

Paul was still staring at his fist trying to assure himself he wasn’t going crazy. “I took on three big prisoners using just my fists; broke one’s jaw. I remember it clearly.”

George looked at Tiny who just shrugged his shoulders. George pulled on Paul’s arm, “Come on, let’s leave Tim in peace.” The black man led his coworker out of the cell. He turned back, “Sorry, about this.”

Tim put his hands on his hips. “No problem, G. I know your job is stressful. One of you was bound to go off the edge.” He shook his head, “I don’t think Powwow can handle the pressure. It looks like his physique is getting as soft as his mind.”

George face showed some concern as he glanced at Paul. He was afraid Tim was right. He forced the concern from his mind. “I’ll be back with your new clothes.”

Later that day Paul returned to Tim’s cell. He looked around before talking softly. “You may have fooled everyone else Tiny Tim; but I know what you have done. I’m going to find a way to change us back.”

Tim was lying in his bunk with one hand behind his head totally relaxed. He slowly unzipped his new larger jumpsuit. “Does your watch have a second hand?”

Paul was thrown by the strange question. He looked at his watch, “yeah, why?”

Tim slid his hand inside his clothes and caressed his muscular form, “Because with each tick you are getting smaller and smaller while I get bigger and bigger.” His hand went down to his crotch, “Man, does it feel good to be you. I can’t believe I’m this big and I’ve only taken half of what you have.” Tim chuckled. Paul’s blood boiled. He pulled Tim off the bed and punched him in the gut twice. Tim went to his knees and hugged his battered stomach. He caught his breath and laughed again. He looked up at the guard, “That’s it, Powwow. You better punch me now because in a few weeks they’ll feel like mosquito bites to me. I’m becoming the towering muscle God you once were and you’re turning into the annoying, insignificant insect I was.” Paul slammed his fist into Tim’s jaw. Tim fell against the wall. Paul shook out his hand. It felt like he might have broken it. He no longer had the strength to break another man’s jaw with one punch. Tim pushed himself back onto his knees. He moved his jaw back and forth in his hand. “Still in one piece. Not the man you once were Powwow.” He spit out some blood and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Then neither am I.”

Paul punched the other side of Tim’s face. “Stop whatever you are doing and give back everything you stole from me.”

Tim slowly straightened is torso. His lips were swollen and bloody. “You’ll have to kill me to make it stop. I’m not sure if that will make you big again. Black magic is so unpredictable.” He spit out more blood “I’d rather be dead than be Tiny again so you can hit me all you want, but that second hand keeps moving.” He held up his chin to give Paul a clear target. “Sock it to me, baby.”

Paul raised his fist but stopped. He looked at his bloody knuckles. He turned back to Tim and saw his sinister grin. This wasn’t working. “I’ll tell everybody what you’ve done.”

Tim began to chuckle. The stinging pain of his split lip ended his outburst. “Haven’t you already done that? No one will believe you. To them we aren’t changing. Only you and I can see it.” Tim’s words were slurred as he applied pressure to his wound.

Paul ran his hand through his hair nervously. “What if I gave you money? I’ll give you everything I have.” Paul’s desperation was beginning to show.

“Yes, you will.” Tim smirked. “I only want the things the world truly values. Strangely enough those are the very things money can’t buy.”

Paul’s face turned angry again. He grabbed the front of Tim’s jumpsuit and lifted him up slightly. “It was that small piece of metal. It had some kind of special power?” Paul threw Tim backward. He lifted Tim’s mattress off the bed and began to search underneath. “That’s the key to ending this.”

Tim didn’t try to stop the invasion of his space. “You’ll never find it.” He spoke calmly. “I don’t have it anymore. It never really belonged to me. It was just a loaner.”

Paul grabbed Tim again and shook him, “Where is it?” Tim didn’t answer. Paul hit him in the face again.

Simon stopped his rounds when he saw Paul in Tim’s cell. He saw Tim’s bloody face. “What the hell is going on in here?” Paul didn’t answer as he let go of the prisoner. Simon radioed for assistance.

Paul had to come up with a reason for hitting the prisoner that wouldn’t make him look crazy or spawn an investigation. He folded his arms over his chest to better think. He felt something in his breast pocket. He reached inside and pulled out the shiv Momar placed there earlier. Paul held it up for Simon to see. “He attacked me with this. I thought he was going to kill me so I defended myself.”

Simon looked at the crude weapon and at Paul’s face. Paul appeared unnerved. Simon didn’t believe Paul but he had to support his brother in blue. Simon pulled Tim to his feet and cuffed his hands behind him. “This means the hole for you, Tiny.” Two other guards came running to the cell. They removed Tim. Simon asked Paul, “Are you injured?” Paul shook his head and diverted his eyes. “I’m going to file a report with George. I’m sure he will want your statement too.”

Paul shook his head. “I’m going to continue to search his cell for other weapons.” Simon and the other guards left with Tim. They had only gotten a few feet away when Paul heard Tim yelling, “Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock.” Paul scoured the cell for the small piece of magic metal; but found nothing. Tim must have been telling the truth. The answer to all his problems was gone.

Paul missed several more days of work as he sought help in undoing Tim’s spell. At least he knew he wasn’t sick or crazy. He visited every occult shop, fortune teller and gypsy in the greater Boston area. Most were unaware of any spell to permanently steal some one’s height or musculature. All agreed it would take a very powerful source to perform such magic. Paul found some solace that these strangers were more open to his story than his coworkers. He paid for potions and talismans to stop Tim’s spell, but continued to shrink.

One apparently knowledgeable shop owner suggested Paul travel to Salem. It was a Mecca for witches and supposedly a magical hot spot. It was there that some one mentioned the coven coin. Paul remembered hearing stories about the coin when he was a boy in Darton. His fraternal grandfather was bit of a historian on the subject. Paul pushed the witch for more information. But when she learned his last name; she became nervous and refused to give anymore advice. He got the same reaction from the other witches as word about him spread through the Wicca community. They still feared the Dark men. Warlocks were much more powerful than witches.

Paul went to the library for the first time since junior high to do research. He found a very limited written record on the coin. Desperate, he returned to Darton. It had been almost a decade since he had any contact with his father’s side of the family. His grandfather disowned him when he decided to Turn on, Tune in, and Drop out. No one in town was very forth coming with information. They wanted to forget about that part of the town’s history. Even his grandfather refused to help him. He didn’t believe Paul’s story. He assumed he was still strung out on drugs.

For the first time Paul felt totally defeated. He was sure his grandfather would remember the man he used to be. He was 18 the last time they saw each other and he was bigger then than he was now. If his own family didn’t believe him how could he expect anyone else to? All seemed lost. Paul pulled off the side of the road on the way back to Boston and cried. All he wanted was to be rocked gently in his someone’s arms and told everything would be all right. But his playboy lifestyle meant he didn’t have any deep, long term relationships. No one really cared about him. Without his perfect body, they had no need for him. He was completely alone.

Simon did a quick glance to see you had entered the locker room. He saw it was only Paul and went back to changing his clothes. “You have a good weekend?” he asked to be cordial.

“Not really”, Paul mumbled as he opened his locker and removed his sunglasses.

“Too bad”, Simon said with no real empathy.

George walked in sipping his morning health shake. “Well, look who finally decided to show up for work?” Paul turned and gave him a half-hearted smile. The smile from George’s face disappeared when he face Paul’s black eye. “Whoa, what the hell happened to you?” Simon turned to see what George was talking about.

“Oh yeah”, Paul remembered his rather ugly shiner. He tried to forget the whole incident. “I got it at the club Saturday night.” Simon shook his head and went back to what he was doing.

“I hope he looks worse than you”, George lightly punched Paul’s shoulder in a guy-to-guy comforting way. Paul didn’t answer. His shoulders rolled forward and his gaze went to the floor. “You did get a couple of good shots in at least?”

Paul hesitated for a moment, before deciding to tell the truth. “It happened too quickly I didn’t have time. All I remember is the boss telling me to throw out this rowdy bunch of guys from the university’s football team. I went up and asked them to leave, then bam! Lights out! The next thing I know the jocks are laughing and pouring their beers in my face. By the time I got up off the floor, the boss was there. He fired me in front of everyone. What an asshole.”

“I’m sorry man.” George said with all the compassion he could muster. “Now you have no excuse not to hit the gym more often. You have to concentrate on the regionals. It’s an uphill battle for a light heavyweight to take the overall title; you have to be razor sharp. Believe me I know. Of the thirty some odd competitions, I only won the overall once. What was your weight this morning?”

Paul couldn’t believe what his mentor was saying. A few weeks ago, the title was his for the taking. Now he had only an outside chance. Then he realized he had to tilt his head upward to look into George’s eyes. He was shorter than the old man’s 5’ 9” height. Paul fell back against the wall. “191”, he practically choked on the number. He was 15 the last time he was this size.

“Don’t sound so disappointed. That’s a good number for some one with your slight build and height. How’s your diet going? Let’s see your abs.” George lifted Paul’s loose fitting shirt to expose his well developed mid section. Paul flexed. He noticed Simon didn’t even bother to steal a peek. George lightly tapped them with the back of his hand. “Not bad. You are just where you should be three weeks out. I expect to see you at the gym tomorrow morning though. You hard gainers have to work more than those freaky mass monsters to get noticed.” George went to his locker to store his lunch inside. Before he left he said loudly, “See you out there, boys.”

Paul looked over at Simon who was putting on his shoes. Then he remembered. He took out a grocery bag from the bottom of his locker. He walked over to Simon, “Here are those pants I borrowed from you a couple of weeks ago. Sorry it took so long to get them back to you.”

Simon looked inside; “Dude, you could have at least washed them.” He stood up and rolled up the bag.

Paul followed Simon’s face as it surpassed his by almost half a foot. “But you said not to”, he whined.

“Whatever. I don’t know why you borrowed them in the first place. I knew they wouldn’t fit you, it’s not like we’re even close to the same size.” Simon threw the bag into his locker. It was obvious his was a little perturbed. He turned to face Paul and folded his arms over his chest. Suddenly to Paul, the blonde appeared menacing. “There’s nothing worse than a little guy with an oversized ego because he puts on some muscle. You’re small, accept it Napoleon. I mean what are you trying to proof with that bouncer job. If you ask me you got what you deserved for taking on a football player. Maybe now you’ll realize your limitations, little man.”

“I’m sorry”, Paul didn’t really understand why he was apologizing; but felt like he had to quell Simon’s anger.

“Yeah, you certainly are.” Simon slammed his locker shut. He began to walk away, then turned around. “You’re rent was due yesterday. Make sure you add the $40 late fee to your check.”

“Late fee? But I never had to pay a late fee before.” The look on Simon’s face made it clear it wasn’t open to discussion. “Okay sure, I’ll bring it to your apartment after work today. That’s a total of $340, right?”

“No, $640. If you ever took the time to read your lease moron, you would know the rent is $600 a month; not $300.” Simon spoke in a condescending tone.

Paul’s body language became very uncomfortable. “I know, but I always got a 50% discount before. You know, because…we’re friends and all.”

Simon had to think for a moment. He couldn’t remember why Paul was paying less than the other tenants. “Well…that was just…an introductory offer type thing. It’s over now. It’s not fair to give you preferential treatment over everybody else because we work together. It’s not like there’s anything special about you.”

Paul found himself nodding in agreement, “okay.”

Simon pointed his finger at his coworker, “I expect that check for the full amount delivered to me no later than 7:00 tonight. You got it.”

“Yes, sir.” The word slipped out of Paul’s mouth. Simon walked out of the room confidently. Paul shuffled slowly back to his locker. He felt like a little boy who just got scolded. He sat on the bench in front of his locker. The room was deserted. Again he felt small and alone. He was shorter than the average man now. Despite his athletic build and handsome face, women found him far less attractive. All studies show height is what women look for first in a man. He spent every night alone in his apartment. It had been three weeks since he was with a woman. It was the longest he had gone without since he lost his virginity to his babysitter at the age of 13. He even missed the attention he got from Simon’s kind. Paul pulled at his baggy clothes. He thought of the movie The Incredible Shrinking Man. He wondered he if too would just disappear one day. That didn’t seem like such a bad ending to him now.

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