I will once again flag this as NSFW (Not Suitable For Work). Sam is a very creative writer – Simon

 

CHAPTER 17

The survival game

Charles made all the necessary arrangements with Max’s dog sitter. He was going to leave early Friday from Logan Airport in Boston and fly to Northern Maine Regional where Paige would pick him up. He was going to spend all day Friday hiking with Paige around Caribou, and then she was going to take him horseback riding. Saturday, he was going to accompany her for a two hour drive to a ranch in northwest Maine, where Paige had to deliver a horse and then drive back to Paige’s house for a small appetizer party and book signing. After everyone left, it would be fuck fest time until he left early Monday morning by taking the plane from Northern Maine Regional to Logan Airport.

“What could possible go wrong?” he asked Max as he worked on a sexually themed idea for a collage. He also broke into a wide smile thinking about the upcoming trip to northern Maine, book signing, and fuckfest with Paige.

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There had been a lot of give and take by all sides in regard to same sex marriages, too much sexual imagery in popular culture, homophobia, sexting, cougars, trophy wives and so on.

It was driving Charles (and just about everyone else who was level headed when it came to the subject of sex) bonkers.

“Look, I don’t want to hear the Bible thumpers tell me what the Bible says about sex. I don’t want to have the government tell me who I can and who I can’t screw. I want laws enforced that protect the young and helpless from sex vultures. I don’t want to shove my sexual views down anyone’s throat, and I, in turn, don’t want their views shoved down my throats. People want to be gay — fine. Gays and lesbians want to get married — that’s fine, too. Keep the do-gooders who do no good out of our body bags and all will be better with society,” Charles hammered on, when the subject of sex came up in some of his conversations.

He would, then, face arguments from all sides about their views being better or smarter or more morale — and just want to upchuck. After all, he loved sex with other women and kept rules in regard to how he enjoyed his sex life and thought that most others did, too.

“Then again,” he lamented “we live in a society that if I take a 16 year-old to a PG movie where the body count reaches 1,000 that’s ok. But, if I take that same 16 year-old to a movie where a mother and father make love, that’s a no-no.”

“Where is Amelia Earhart!” he screamed, as he began to cut and paste.

So with these thoughts in mind, Charles created a collage (actually two) about sex in America.

He found a map of America, cut it out and copied it. He then went to the ‘flesh, flesh and more flesh’ magazines (what he called all the sex magazines) and cut out lots of pictures of naked men and women. The women’s pictures were put next to one map and the men’s pictures the other.

Charles then started making two maps of the United States that featured naked women’s body parts on one and naked men’s body parts on the other. The caption he put under the females’ map read: A Nation of Whores! The caption under the males’ map read: A Nation of Hustlers!

Charles scanned them and sent them to Gary before he left for Maine. While at Logan Airport, waiting to board his flight to Northern Maine Regional, Gary texted him back

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“Those two maps were awesome. This is going to be better than I expected. Don’t fuck up in Maine!”

Charles smiled and thought, I’ll come up with a thousand of those types, because there is so much to say about how fucked up my country is right now.

“Andy Warhol land — here I come,” he said a little too loud, because one of the other passengers replied “Warhol was from Pittsburgh.”

Charles Craig Curtis hoped that comment wasn’t a bad omen for the trip he was embarking on.

He settled into his seat and did a mental check list of what he brought with him. Extra books… check. Black shoes with Vaseline… check. Toiletries… check. Chino and shirt with patches…check. Blue blazer with white kerchief… checks. Jeans, cowboy boots and flannel shirt… check. I’m good, he thought as he found himself dozing off.

He thought he had been asleep for hours, when he was suddenly jolted awake and he thought his stomach had been shoved up his throat as the plane hit some turbulence or some turbulence had hit the plane.

“Just a little turbulence, folks. No need to worry,” the calming tone of the pilot said over the loud speaker.

Amazing how much faith and trust we put into those guys who pilot these jalopies, Charles thought, as he wrestled with his stomach to put it back to where it belonged.

The turbulence never calmed down, and it was a very bumpy flight the rest of the way. Charles once again wondered if a bad omen was at work.

The turbulence did have one positive effect, it helped move the plane to a faster arrival time by providing an incredible tail wind, and Charles and the other passengers arrived 30 minutes earlier. That happiness was soon dampened when they were told that the luggage belt had broken, and it would be 45 minutes before they received their bags.

No need to contact Paige, he thought, as he figured, when he got his bags Paige would be waiting out front to pick him up. He walked around the tiny terminal looking for a sandwich shop. There was none, but there were a lot of Europeans who, Charles found out, were on-route from another airplane to Amsterdam from New York‘s LaGuardia. The bad weather and turbulence had forced them to touch down at Northern Maine Regional. Charles found a standalone vending machine and bought a cup of coffee. He was immediately sorry he had.

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The vending machine coffee mixed in with a stomach turned queasy by a lot of turbulence sent Charles scurrying to find the public restroom.

He made it without a second to spare (he didn’t even have time to pull out the protective p covering for the toilet seat).

As soon as his poop came out he couldn’t believe how bad it smelled.

And he wasn’t the only one.

Not only, couldn’t he stop crapping, he couldn’t stop the smell from filling up the bathroom.

He heard the door open, and someone with a language that he assumed was Dutch, and from the group of Europeans who had been forced to land because of the bad weather and extreme turbulence, yelled out “Wat stinkt hier zo?”

Charles had no idea what he said.

That man left while Charles silently suffered and wondered why there was no reading material in public restroom stalls.

“Then again, what if the material stunk, no pun intended,” he said softly. He flipped down his reading glasses and searched for some graffiti to read.

There was none, and Charles Craig Curtis lamented the passing of a great fad. He padded his pockets looking for something to write with, and to his surprise he had a pen in his coat pocket.

“About time something good happened on this trip,” he said softly, as he wrote this on the stall’s wall: Kilroy was not Here.

It was a play on a popular phrase that GI’s in the European theatre of World War II wrote as they liberated town after town. They wrote: Kilroy was Here, and had a funny face doodled next to it. Charles didn’t doodle the funny face, because he was a rotten cartoonist. He laughed to himself when he thought should I consider this graffiti writing?

A second foreign voice sounded through the front door and said “Ca sent mauvais ici?” Charles guessed it was French, which was appropriate considering the graffiti he had just written was found written on many walls in France during WWII.

Charles felt his insides coming to a close and heaved a sigh of relief.

Just as Charles was finishing up, the bathroom door opened up again.

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It was, yet, another European. Charles guessed he was from Germany, because the language spoken sounded like it could have been written for a marching song. Of course, he couldn’t understand what “Es riecht ekelhaft hier?” meant, but he was finishing up, looking forward to getting off the can, out of the bathroom, and into some fresh air, when the door opened up again just as Charles finished wiping his ass, flushing the toilet, and exiting the stall.

It was an Englishman who yelled out “What, bloody well, stinks in here?”

Charles smiled, as he now knew what the others had asked in their native tongues, and would report back to their fellow travelers when back at their plane.

Onward to Paige, he thought, as he walked to the luggage carousel and was surprised that he spotted his bag going around.

“Maybe the bad omens are all over,” he said to himself, as he grabbed his suitcase and walked to where Paige said she would pick him up.

He was waiting for her, and suddenly thought that he hadn’t checked his iPhone for messages. He cursed himself for not doing so while he was crapping his brains out.

He took a looksee, and saw that he had one message from his youngest son.

Only one, he scoffed.

It read: “Had dinner with Mom. She asked me if I had received any money from you. Of course, I said yes, and she made me pay for dinner explaining that it was really YOU paying, LOL!”

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Three cars drove by as Charles waited. “I wonder what type of vehicle a successful single independent Maine woman would own?” he asked himself. First a Volvo, not with Paige behind the wheel drove by. Secondly, a BMW, not with Paige behind the wheel followed suit and thirdly, an SUV, not with Paige behind the wheel whizzed by.

Then, out of the corner of his left eye, Charles caught the site of an old Hummer. Not a used Hummer One or Two, but one of the original Humvees that was all military looking.

Charles thought that Arnold Schwarzenegger was pulling up. He was wrong. It was his date for the weekend — Paige Jordan.

“Like my new wheels?” she asked, as she flung open the passenger side door.

Charles kissed her on the cheek. “Where’s the gun turret?”

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“They wouldn’t let me install one,” she said seriously. “That’s all you got?”

Charles smiled. “Yup, I travel light, especially when all I have to do is a small book signing and fuck all weekend.”

Paige floored the Humvee, and Charles was astonished at how powerful it was.

“About your last line….” Paige began.

“Yes,” Charles said.

“I have great news and not so great news,” Paige said.

“I’m one who likes to hear the bad news first,” Charles Craig Curtis stated.

“Okay, here goes,” Paige started. “There are about 20 steady girls in my book club.”

“That’s huge number for a book club,” Charles interrupted.

“Probably an ex-book club,” Paige said dejectedly.

“This must be good,” Charles said.

“It’s so bad it is good,” Paige admitted.

“Paige, I am your captive audience,” Charles said.

“In a nut shell, three of the members of the club got the crabs and that’s why the signing is cancelled,” Paige said, as she shifted the Humvee’s gears and increased the speed, because she wanted to build up speed on the straightaway they were on before coming to a more mountainous course.

“Three subtracted from twenty equals seventeen, last time I checked,” Charles said.

Paige rolled her eyes and made sure Charles saw the movement.

“Okay, Okay,” he begged off.

“The three girls all got the crabs from sleeping with the same guy, who was married to a fourth girl in the club!” Paige announced.

“Does she have crabs?” Charles asked.

“If she sleeps with her husband she will,” Paige said.

“That’s why the other girls got the crabs, because they have been, because she hasn’t been,” Charles guessed.

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“Ever think of becoming a detective?”

“Who wants to be a cop — yuck,” Charles said.

“I know a couple of good ones,” Paige said.

“Yes, Frank Serpico and Wyatt Earp,” Charles said sarcastically.

Frank Serpico was a New York City police officer who testified against widespread police corruption in 1971.

Wyatt Earp was a famous 19th century peace officer who cleaned up Tombstone, Arizona.

“And Earp had an outlaw for a partner,” Paige laughed

“You know your cowboys,” Charles pointed out.

“So, each of the four girls started calling up the other members of the group trying to win a super majority to their side of the story. I cancelled the meeting after having to listen to 20 stories on who was right and who was wrong. Basically, in order to save my book club, I’m going to have to destroy it and start one all over again,” Paige said.

Charles’ crotch started to itch. “I hope the girls with the crabs spent some time curing their pubic area while they lobbied,” Charles said as he started to itch around his crotch.

Paige laughed, and Charles noticed how good looking she was, and for the first time what she was wearing.

Paige was wearing green army fatigues, and he never thought army clothes could be sexy, until he saw how they hugged her short and stocky body.

Then again, who am I to be judging anyone in clothes, he thought. I am an author, not a fashion critic.

She was also wearing shiny black army boots and even had on a beret!

Her face was still as round as he remembered it. He liked her round face, because when Paige smiled, her whole face lit up.

And Paige smiled a lot.

And why not?

She was super successful.

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She had taken her small inheritance and started a ranch for quarter horses.

A quarter horse is known for its speed for short distances and brute strength.

Paige had fallen in love with the animal when she worked as a summer camp counselor at YMCA Camp Sloane located in Lakeville, Connecticut. She was picked to teach horseback riding to the Sloane campers and had a wonderful teacher herself, who served first as her mentor and then as her ranch foreman.

Not only did she make a good living from raising and selling the horses, she also hosted a four week riding camp during the summer that paid her handsomely.

She had invested wisely, and her only regret was that she had three failed marriages and no children.

“My horses are my kids. That’s why I’m so successful at what I do,” she had said to Charles, when they had reconnected via Facebook.

I really like the way she looks in her fatigues, he thought, as he decided that from the looks of how her clothes fit, Paige Jordan was as muscular as the horses that she raised.

They had slept together twice during their college years and had always been very friendly with each other during that time at college. The only reason that Charles and Paige didn’t screw each other more was that Paige had a ‘hometowner’.

A ‘hometowner’ was college speak for having a boyfriend or girlfriend back in your hometown.

“Sometimes those relationships lasted and more often than not they did not,” Charles told Paige when they first re-connected, and Charles had asked her why she only succumbed to all his advances only twice.

“You were the only one, Charles,” she replied.

And this made Charles Craig Curtis smile back then on the phone and right now in the Humvee, because he just realized that with no book signing he was going to screw Paige more in one night than he had in four years of college.

As Paige floored the Humvee, she turned to Charles and said “I have great news. With the book signing off we can spend a lot more time together.”

Great minds think alike, Charles mused.

“I need a big favor from you,” she said.

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“You don’t think that I remember your favorite position?’ Charles replied.

Paige laughed. “The sex will come, but will have to wait. Something came up that I think you will like even though it doesn’t involve sex.”

“That’s a stumper. What is the favor, Paige?”

“I have to deliver a horse to a big-time buyer. It’s about an hour and a half drive in each direction. We will get to my ranch, deliver the horse, and be back here around eight for what you really came up here to do,” Paige said seductively.

“Works for me,” the ever affable Charles Craig Curtis said.

They pulled into Paige’s ranch which was named ROSEWATER.

The driveway was made out of dirt and the Humvee bounced, lurched, bobbed and weaved until it reached the main house.

“I can see why these things are great in The U S of A, but must suck in Afghanistan,” Charles said.

Paige said “I’m glad you said that,” as she grabbed his bag. She jerked her head to the right, “Follow me.”

Paige took Charles by the hand. He was amazed at how small and delicate her hands looked, especially given the facts that she raised horses and lived in a harsh winter climate. He also forgot how nice it felt to hold hands with someone that you liked.

Charles wasn’t much of a hand holder or a hugger; neither were his parents or his ex-wife. As a matter of fact, his children were not either.

“Proof positive that environment plays a big part in our personalities,” Charles once said to Gary.

“Yes, look at our inner cities and how the poor, especially the African-Americans, learn to shoot each other up,” Gary quipped.

Charles looked at Paige, “Where you taking me?” Charles asked.

“Hold on to my hand and shut your eyes. I want to show you my new passion,” Paige said excitedly.

Charles did as he was told, hoping that Paige was taking him into some sort of sex chamber, because he had keyed in on one word she had spoken… “passion”.

Charles gingerly walked with her. They came to a step. Paige told him to trust her, and

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step. She would guide him. Charles did as he was told and kept his eyes shut, because he wanted to experience that “passion” and he did trust her very much.

Later, when the weekend was over and Paige drove him to the airport to catch his flight, they talked about the trust factor.

“I trust you to never share with anyone what happened,” Paige begged Charles.

“No problem,” Charles lied. He knew he would have to tell Dr. Hancock, Gary Harte, his children, and just about anyone else if he found himself in front of the right audience. He would change the names, to protect the innocent, as they say.

When they got to the bottom of the stairs, Paige let go of his hand and flipped on the lights.

Charles was temporarily blinded.

Then bewildered.

It wasn’t his type of “passion” room.

“It’s my survival bunker,” Paige shouted in glee, as she jumped around like a young child on Christmas.

The bunker was full of everything and Charles had no idea what he was looking at.

“It looks like a department store,” Charles pointed out.

So, Paige started to play show and tell. “It is. A survival department store. “

“Surviving what?” Charles asked.

“The coming storm of storms,” Paige said.

Charles walked from one of the stocked shelves to the other. “You need this amount of stuff to survive a winter storm?”

“It’s not weather storms I’m talking about Charles,” Paige said.

“What’s this, guns and lots of them,” Charles pointed to a rack that housed rifles and shotguns. “Where is the assault rifle? What are you a member of, the Posse Comitatus?”

The Posse Comitatus is an act passed by Congress after Reconstruction to limit the

 

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powers of local government and local law enforcement to use Federal military personal to enforce laws.

“I am impressed that you have heard of them. But, I’m more into surviving the oncoming financial storm that is about to engulf our country. Don’t be scared Charles Craig Curtis, be prepared,” Paige said.

“You can shoot all these?”

“Proficiently.”

“Show me around and tell me what I’m not prepared for. Also, can I try my luck at firing one of those?” Charles said as he pointed to the rifle rack.

“No. I’ll let you fire a handgun first. That is safer,” she said with a laugh, and then she explained why she was preparing for gloom and doom.

“Have you ever heard the phrase ‘the canary in the coal mine’?” Paige asked Charles, as she pointed to an entire row of canned goods that she had stored in alphabetical order. The canned goods had been labeled Carbohydrates, Fats, Proteins, Minerals, Trace Elements, and Vitamins. Paige explained they were all energy needs to keep the body going when the canary died.

“What does the canary have to do with the doomsday stockpile?” Charles asked.

“Europe is the ‘canary in the coal mine,’” Paige predicted, as she moved to the next shelving area. She reminded Charles of a game show host babe showing off the potential gifts the contestant could win. This shelving area was full of clothes to keep the body warm in the cold and cool in the heat. In addition, there were a lot of waterproof items, except for a carton of brown paper lunch bags. Pack a lunch on tactical bivouac, Charles thought as she stared at them.

“When Europe runs out of money, we’re next,” She said. “That’s the canary.”

“I see,” said Charles, who really didn’t. He wasn’t up to snuff on the various economic Armageddon scenarios that were floating all over the world. He just knew that as of right now, he could buy what he wanted and give a lot to others who needed it. He also knew that he loved being able to do the aforementioned.

“When Europe runs out, all the countries dependent on getting loans, credit, and buying and selling goods will fall like dominoes. Then the countries dependent on those countries will follow suit, and then Russia, China and then we topple. We fall

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last, because we have the better printing presses,” she said, as she moved to the next stockpile of goods. These shelves were full of a sleeping bag, a few backpacks, a stowing kit, a GPS, all sorts of rubber belts, bottles of iodine….”

Charles suddenly interrupted her speech by asking about all the different sizes and shapes of rubber belts. He then added in a very sarcastic tone “Is S&M part of the apocalypse?”

“Rubber is very scarce. One needs fan belts for machines,” Paige pointed out.

Charles shrugged. He wasn’t mechanical at all. He also knew if the internal combustion engine came to a halt, he could always just walk. “Won’t war happen before the dominoes fall?” Charles found himself asking Paige.

“Who wants to have to spend all the money to rebuild conquered countries and start all over again,” she said sarcastically. “Furthermore, who has the money? It’s going to be survival of the fittest and you better be ready.”

Who wants to live in that scenario, Charles thought, as he moved to the next wall with shelves (It was a huge basement).

These were loaded with plastic Tupperware containers that were marked ‘waterproof matches,’ ‘candles,’ ‘flints,’ magnifying glass,’ ‘needles and threads,’ ‘fish hook and lines,’ ‘compass,’ ‘beta light,’ ‘snare wire,’ ‘flexible tools,’ ‘medical kit,’ and ‘condoms.’

“Now we’re into something I know about,” Charles said, as he picked up the container of rubbers. “You must be planning on doing a lot of fucking.”

“I’ll be too busy surviving to fuck, unless you’re in here with me. By the way, do you know why I have the condoms?”

“Sure, protection for when you do get horny, and you let some zombie in to relieve your stress,” Charles joked.

“Not funny. They make for great water bags. There is a small waterfall about a half-mile from here. I can carry a couple of condoms to it and fill them up and have fresh water,” Paige pointed out.

“I have seen enough. I’m sure there is a lot more. I want to shoot the gun,” Charles said.

Paige went to a locked closet and pulled out a handgun. It was a Smith & Wesson. “Best handgun in the world. It’s simple to handle and use. Here, hold it.”

Charles recoiled. He had never held a real gun.

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“Don’t worry, it isn’t loaded – – yet,” she said with a laugh, as she put on a holster and grabbed a box of bullets. “Come on, let’s go.”

Charles followed her and started questioning himself about actually firing a real gun. Will I be scared? Will I be any good? Will I shoot myself?

As if she was reading his mind, Paige joked that he wouldn’t shoot himself and walked Charles out to ROSEWATER’s shooting range.

Charles glanced at the fence posts with various targets on them, he also noticed a table about twenty yards to the left. He pointed to it. “What’s that?”

Paige loaded her Smith & Wesson. “When we come back tonight, it will be our fun and games.”

Charles jogged over to see what it was.

It was a foosball table!

Charles had loved playing when he was at college and at the few bars he frequented after college that had them. The tables now used figures that looked like mini Easter Island statues.

Easter Island is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world. Somehow 887 monolith figurines still remain. The average statute is 13 feet high and weighs 13 tons! Built a long time ago, they remain a mystery as to how, what, and why? As to where… Easter Island of course.

Alas, most bars (including Moise Pipecks) didn’t have the men dressed like soccer players attached to steel rods in the game that Charles had been pretty good at when he was at college.

“I was better at foosball than real soccer,” he used to joke to his children.

“Who isn’t,” his oldest son said.

I have to nit-pick Dr. Hancock to install one of these, he mused as he ran his hand over the table.

“I can’t wait to play you in this!” Charles shouted back to Paige.

“I know, because we will be playing strip foosball,” she shouted, and waved him back to her.

“That sounds like fun and games to me,” he said, as he jogged back to her.

Paige handed him her handgun. “Careful, it is loaded.”

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“So am I, if you know what I mean. So, what do I do and how do I do it?” he asked.

“You mean to tell me that you’ve never fired a gun?” she asked him totally astonished.

“That’s right,” he said.

“Here, let me show you,” she said, as she gently took the Smith & Wesson from his hands, planted her feet, and pointed it at the empty bottles that were on top of the fence posts.

She spread her legs shoulder length apart and bent her knees.

“See how I’m standing? I am secure and flexible.”

She pointed the gun at the bottle that rested on the post straight ahead of them both and squeezed off a shot. It hit the post right below the bottle.

“Damn!” she yelled.

“I thought it was a great shot, Paige,” Charles said.

“Not when I was aiming at the bottle,” she said as she took aim again and blew the bottle to bits.

“Wow!” Charles exclaimed.

She handed him the gun, “Your turn.”

Charles dropped his reading glasses down from the top of his head. “Wait a second. I need to get a better look at the gun.”

Paige started laughing.

“I haven’t even shot yet,” Charles said.

That remark made Paige laugh harder.

“What’s so damn funny?” Charles demanded.

“Just someone having to put on a pair of reading glass to inspect a gun before they fire it. You will never have time to do that when the zombies arrive at the door,” Paige said.

I’m going to blast the bottle to the left of the one she hit, Charles thought, as he put his

 

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glasses back on top of his head, crouched as Paige had, and took aim at the bottle. He squeezed the trigger and hit a big branch growing out from a tree that was behind the bottle.

“Shit,” he muttered under his breathe. “How was that?” Guess I was right about hunting as a hobby, he thought.

“Were you aiming at the spot on the tree?” she asked.

“Yes,” Charles lied.

“That was a helluva shot for a first timer,” Paige said, as she gave him a hug.

Charles gently pushed her back and admitted that he lied.

“You’re a good liar,” she said. “Try again.”

“I’m a writer of fiction. Of course I can tell a whopper,” Charles said, as he took aim and fired – – and missed.

“Try again,” Paige urged.

It took 29 shots before Charles came close to hitting the target.

“You’re going to need me around when the zombies come,” Paige told him, as they walked to the main house.

“Do me a favor, Paige. Zombies are for lousy books, but better movies. What’s the metaphor really for?” Charles asked.

“Let’s get a bite to eat, freshen up, and get the horse into the trailer. I’ll tell you during the drive.

“Works for me,” Charles said, as he thought why would I want a gun in my house? I don’t want to shoot anyone and if I do, it’s obvious I would miss.

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If you missed the earlier Chapters you can find them here.

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