Corey Yardley

Dream Big

dream big a memoir

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“Dream Big”
 A Memoir
 Corey Yardley
I was going through my old stuff, looking for anything that could help me
with my memoir. I
found a note that Mom wrote me in my baby book and yesterday was the first
time I had ever
read it.
*Page 2*
Yardley / “Dream Big” / 20
“This shouldn’t belong in anyone’s baby book, especially yours Corey. Your
daddy died June
20th, 1992, 5 days after his 23rd birthday.
You two just adjusted living together for your first year. Chad and I had a
lot of ups and downs,
but we finally had it together. It took awhile for you guys to get used to
sharing me, but you did.
You guys were more buddies than anything. When he got home you always wanted
to go outside
and help unload his truck. Your favorite was to take the dogs swimming.
Chad had high expectations of you, he wanted you to be tough, just like him.
You are so much
like him.
I knew your daddy for 7 years, you could say that I raised him. He was such
a softy underneath.
He really had to grow up quick he wasn’t going to let you go through the
same thing that he did.
I know when most people think of your dad they think of a wrestler. When I
think of Chad
I think of him being a daddy. He taught me so much, he was a natural. I hope
you always
remember your daddy. If you ever have any questions just ask me.
*Page 3*
Yardley / “Dream Big” / 20
Chapter 1
My mom was only 19 years old when she found she was pregnant with me. I was
a mistake
made by high school sweethearts. Mom thought God had punished her, her
parents and my dad
seemed disappointed and angry, so the option of abortion crossed her mind.
She considered the
opinions and advice of her loved ones, but Mom knew whatever choice that she
made, she would
be supported.
Mom came to the conclusion of keeping me, and as expected, everyone
supported her decision.
I was loved amongst the struggles that young parents experience. We didn’t
have much, but we
had each other and that was enough for us.
I was a huge part of my dad’s life, people tell me how much he loved me and
how I single-
handedly molded him into a man. Sadly, I have no clear memories of my dad,
Chad Dietze. My
dad was murdered when I was 5 years old, so it was just Mom and me.
There are still people who feel sorry for Mom and me, but we kept each other
happy. Yes, I
grew up without a father, but it made me who I am today. She was a better
mom than most
moms, and she could do things most dad’s wouldn’t do. I’m sure there are
millions of dad’s who
have turned down their son when they ask to play some catch. My mom never
turned me down,
we played a lot of catch.
We could play catch from after supper until we could barely see the ball. We
played baseball
from when the snow melted in early March, until the snow began to fall in
late November.
Although she never played softball or any sport for that matter (unless you
count cheerleading,
ha!). Mom could do it all. She would toss the ball around, hit me grounders,
she even squatted
like a catcher and I would pitch to her. No matter how many bruises to the
shin, or how tired she
was from work, she ALWAYS had time for me.
After my dad had left us, Mom did a great job bouncing back to reality. She
began dating a few
years later, and became pregnant again. I was six years old and so excited
to have a new brother
or sister. Her partner wasn‘t as excited as I was however, and left us when
he figured out Mom
was pregnant. My brother and best friend was born October 23, 1994, and we
became a family of
*Page 4*
Yardley / “Dream Big” / 20
Having two kids and no spouse, mom had to go back to school and continue her
career that I had
disrupted. She worked full time and was studying to become a nurse. This
left me with the duty
of becoming man of the house. I was in charge of getting my brother up and
going for daycare or
pre-school. I had a lot of responsibility at a very young age, and I think
that is what truly makes
me who I am today.
Of course I was always curious about my dad, but I was too content with my
life to worry about
it. We lived in the small town of Marengo, Iowa- population of 3,000, and I
went to the same
school that my mom and dad graduated from. My dad was a legend at Iowa
Valley High School,
and well known throughout the community of Marengo.
Chapter 2
My alarm went off at 8:00 AM, and the day started like any other. I had gym
class first period
so I wasn’t too worried about showering and I slapped the snooze button for
5 more minutes of
well-needed sleep. I changed my clothes, ate my breakfast while watching my
Sports Center, and
headed off for school.
The day couldn’t have been much more typical considering I started it with a
rousing game of
dodge ball. After P.E. was over we usually had a few minutes to spare before
our second period
of class. We would always wait outside of the gymnasium by the trophy case.
The plaque that honored my dad was in that same trophy case and never failed
to catch my
attention. I must have walked past it hundreds of thousands of times, yet I
never have read the
gold lettering engraved on that plaque. All I looked at was the photo of him
jumping in the air
with both index fingers pointing to the sky in his Iowa Valley wrestling
singlet. He had just won
his 2nd state wrestling championship, and it was in a state that worships
their wrestlers. He was a
legend in my school, and it was always weird for me to think he was MY dad.
The bell rang at 9:12 A.M. and my second hour criminal justice class was
due. Little did I know
this typical day at Iowa Valley High School, would soon change my life
My favorite part of high school were the three minutes the students had in
the hallways between
each class. I made the little of our free time count as I would get
countless smiles from girls, and
endless high fives from my boys. My famous entrance occurred at 9:15 AM as I
slipped through
the doorway during the ringing of the “tardy bell”.
I was hot as hell from gym class, and our criminal justice teacher had the
heat cranked full-bore.
I took my sweatshirt off not only because I was hot, but because it was
lecture day and I needed
a pillow. After taking attendance his high-pitched, nasaly voice introduced
us with today’s
lecture: Self defense.
I buried my head into my pillow and began to day dream for the first half of
class. His lectures
were always the same, he would begin by reading the important notes straight
out of our
textbook, then end with a personal story until the end of class. I was awake
for the second half of
*Page 5*
Yardley / “Dream Big” / 20
most his lectures, but this story jerked my head from beneath my sweatshirt.
I tuned into his nasaly voice as he began his story.
“I can give you a perfect example of self-defense and it happened right
around this area, I
even taught this student for a few years, many of you may know him.” I
looked into his beady
little eyes as he continued. His face was comparable to a rat, and he always
wore sweaters even
though his classroom felt like a sauna.
“This boy and a group of his buddies had been bullying this kid at school
throughout the entire
day.” “He was really picking on the kid, and his posse always had his back.”
I could kind of tell
Mr. Rat-face had been in this kids situation before.
“They were your typical jocks in high school, and they just bullied him all
day long.” He
continued to build up the story as I looked at the clock and noticed we had
10 minutes left.
Noting the amount of time we had left, I figured this was going to be a good
one so I continued
to listen in.
“These guys wouldn’t leave the poor kid alone, and followed him to his
trailer-home once
school was over with. The leader of the posse was a well-known fighter, and
the kid was scared
for his life, so he waited at his front door with a shotgun.” Mr. Rat looked
down at his feet, took
in a deep breath, and continued on with his story.
“The bully stepped out of the driver’s seat and BAM! He was shot dead right
there. The kid’s
life was threatened and protected his life, he got off on self-defense.” He
looked up at the class
and then looked directly at me.
“You guys have heard this story, right?” “I mean, I’m sure you all know who
this is about?” he
I had no idea as I scanned my peers, thinking maybe they had some knowledge
to this story.
They looked just as dumbfounded as I was.
I heard him say the name, “Chad Dietze” and immediately I became frozen and
my heart began
to beat out of my chest. Chad Dietze was my dad, and even though I didn’t
know much about
him, I was never told he was such a bad guy.
Mr. Rat-face knew he made a mistake and muttered “I’m sorry” under his
breath and left the
podium for his desk in the back of the class room. There was five minutes
left of class time and
I was in complete shock. No one said a word and we sat there in awkward
silence until the bell
finally rung.
My day derailed after 2nd period. I had too much going through my head to be
giving my ritual
high fives and boyish smiles. I didn’t know much about my dad, but no one
had ever told me
anything negative. Then again, why would they tell me he was a “bad guy”? I
was his son, no
one would want me to think he was a villain.
I tried to remain calm and treat this like any other day, so I sat in
homeroom in a complete daze,
ignoring every announcement that blared from the speaker phone. Conveniently
3rd period
chemistry was in my homeroom, and on any other day I’d roam the halls for a
few minutes
before returning to my desk, but today I didn’t move out of that desk. I
don’t even think I
*Page 6*
Yardley / “Dream Big” / 20
I am usually very happy which is a great quality, but when something is
bothering me, people
know instantly that there is something very wrong going on. Even our teacher
looked at me
funny and I knew right then and there I needed to see the counselor. He
didn’t think twice to my
request and wrote me the pass to see Mr. Samuelson, the guidance counselor.
All of the kids loved Mr. Sam. It was impossible not to, he was like a teddy
bear and Santa
Clause all wrapped in one. He welcomed me into his office with open arms,
but at the same time
he seemed surprised to see me. He asked me what was up and how he could help
I explained the entire story as the tears rolled down my face, and bubbles
of snot shot out of
my nostrils. He tried comforting me, but I could tell this wasn’t even a
typical day in the life
of a guidance counselor. I sat there hunched over with my elbows on my knees
and my hands
covering my eyes. I tried keeping everything in for so long, and once I
started my story I was
a hysterical wreck until I finished it. He asked to call my mom in to settle
things over, and I
nodded my head yes and remained in that same position as he was calling.
I peeled my teary eyes from the palms of my hands and saw the only person I
wanted to see at
that very moment: Mom. She was sporting her usual Monday-Friday attire,
wearing her nursing
scrubs and white Nikes. Our eyes met and she was in Superwoman mode, ready
to save the day.
All of those years that I avoided the subject of my dad came down to this. I
was kicking
myself for never stepping up and knowing the real truth about my dad,
because I always had
the opportunity. It was only a matter of time until some idiot opened their
mouth and spread a
gossipy story about my dads death, and I didn’t know enough about the
subject to stand up for
Mom rubbed my back and calmly asked what was wrong. I sputtered out the
story as I helplessly
tried fighting the tears. When I was finished she told me exactly what I
wanted to hear.
“Your dad was not a bad guy and he was definitely not a bully.” Her opening
statement already
made me feel better.
“Sure he and his friends were a little rowdy but they weren’t out there to
kill anybody.” “It was
a different time back then, fighting his how things were settled.” I wiped
my eyes and blew my
nose when the telephone started to ring. It was the principal and he wanted
to meet with Mom,
me, and Mr. Rat.
We walked through the halls not saying a word, I was still a little nervous.
I just wanted to go
home. Mr. Rat started by immediately saying sorry over, and over, and over
again. “I’m sorry I
brought it up I never should have. Bringing up your dad in class was wrong
and I never should
have done it.” “I will apologize in front of the class tomorrow.” This is
not what I wanted to hear
so I fired back at him.
“It isn’t that you talked about my dad in front of the class, that isn’t the
problem. I don’t want
you to apologize for bringing him up; I want you to apologize for lying. I
want you to apologize
for spreading things that aren’t true about my dad who can’t even defend
himself because he is
*Page 7*
Yardley / “Dream Big” / 20
He nodded his head as if he understood me, but the next day he didn’t clear
things up with
the class. Mr. Rat apologized solely for bringing up the subject of my dad,
not for lying and
spreading gossip. I never confronted him and I just sat there. I wanted to
jump right out of my
desk and punch his little rat face in, but I didn’t.
Chapter 3
I did forgive him for a few reasons: 1, I think he was just that stupid and
he didn’t mean any
harm. 2, Even though situation was a complete disaster, it truly made the
subject easier to talk
about. I wasn’t afraid to ask Mom things about him once in a while. Excuse
my cliché, but I am
a firm believer in the quote, “Everything that happens in life, whether it
is good or bad, does
happen for a reason.”
None of this ever would have happened if I would have known more. The only
thing I really
knew about my dad when I was growing up was how great of a wrestler he was.
I tried wrestling
for one year in second grade and didn’t have the greatest experience.
I had a natural ability, but I also felt a lot of pressure to wrestle even
at a young age. My mom
only took me to wrestling tournaments where they wouldn’t keep score for the
grade age group. I’ll never forget the first wrestling tournament I had ever
We went to North English with my uncle and cousin for a wrestling
tournament, I agreed to
wrestle because Mom assured me they wouldn’t be keeping score. I can
remember winning my
first match, and the referee only raised my hand (in the non-competitive
wrestling matches the
ref would raise both kids’ hands) and I was confused. After the first match
mom confessed her
lie to me and told me this tournament actually kept score. I ended up
getting first place and got a
trophy. I realized I loved wrestling, as long as I won.
I gained quite a bit of confidence from winning and Mom signed me up for the
annual Dietze
Wrestling Tournament in Marengo.
During one of our wrestling practices that week one of my coaches told me to
come with him.
We went into another room where I spotted other adults, and my friend Nick.
Not knowing what
was going on, one of the adults told me to put Nick in a cradle. I was kind
of confused because
Nick wasn’t wrestling back, and then someone snapped a picture. And another,
and another.
I was the “poster boy” for the Chad and Tracy Dietze Wrestling Tournament
for the Iowa County
Newspaper- The Pioneer Republican. A large picture that portrayed me pinning
Nick in a cradle
covered most of the page, advertising the tournament.
My dad was a legendary wrestler for the Iowa Valley Tigers back in the 80’s
and posted a career
record of 96-17. He was a 3 time state qualifier, and won 2 state
championships in wrestling’s
finest state-Iowa. He had a brief collegiate wrestling career at Drake, I’m
not exactly sure why he
I found an article my mom put in my scrapbook that was printed in the
Gazette, November 26,
*Page 8*
Yardley / “Dream Big” / 20
“Expectations run high for Bulldog wrestlers”, By J.R. Ogden
*ONE OF THE youngsters Timmerman is expecting big things from is freshman
Chad Dietze,*
*who completed a brilliant prep career at Iowa Valley last February by
winning his second Class*
*1A state crown. Dietze ended his senior campaign 35-1 and his career at
96-17. “He is a really*
*fine competitor and Saturday he did a fine job,” Timmerman said about his
starter at 126*
*Dietze went 2-2 last Saturday beating Marquette’s Scott Sheen, 14-4, and
Loras’ Mark Barstow,*
*5-2. He lost to Iowa’s two time NCAA Finalist Brad Penrith and Edinboro’s
Rob Porter, a*
*national qualifier.*
Not only do I look similar to my dad, but I inherited his attitude too, “*If
he’s not thinking about*
*being an all-American, he’s not in the right place,” Timmerman said. “But
he’s got high*
*expectations for himself.”*
His enormous plaque stands out in Iowa Valley’s trophey case, it always
caught my eye as I’d
walk by. When I think of my dad, I think of the picture of him after he won
his second state
championship. I think of him hoisting both index fingers directly to the
sky, signifying his
triumphant championship. That gold lettering that I said I had never read
before was a a poem
written in memory of my dad, entitled “Chad”. It was written by his good
friend and fellow
wrestler, Travis Fiser-
*He touched the lives of the people who knew him.*
*He wasn’t the biggest of men, but his heart was as big as a mountain.*
*He grew up the hard way like most of us.*
*He was surrounded by love.*
*Chad was unique and one of a kind.*
*He strived for perfection and would give his all.*
*He did this twice and the gold still hangs on his wall.*
*Wrestling wasn’t everything to Chad.*
*Probably last when compared to the love for his mom and dad.*
*You can’t measure the love he gave.*
*To Sherry, Tracy, Danny, and Ron*
*Cause there’s Wendy and Corey and the list goes on.*
*Of course Wendy and Corey , his brand new start,*
*The two people he loved with all of his heart.*
*It’s unfortunate to have to make a new start, but Chad wouldn’t want his
family to fall apart*
*With Chat watching above and guiding them along, there’s nothing they won’t
be able to handle-*
*they’re just too strong.*
*Chad was a friend that would stick by your side.*
*Page 9*
Yardley / “Dream Big” / 20
*Through thick or thin, he would find the time.*
*What do we do now that he is gone?*
*Of course Chad would say, “Hey buddy, you gotta stay tough and keep pushing
*Chad will always be missed and always be thought of while*
*he reigns in heaven and looks down from above.*
*June 24, 1992 by Travis Fiser*
Chapter 4
If you’ve done the math, I am 22 years old as I am writing this. Although it
has been four years
since this confrontation with Mr. Rat, I am finally stepping up and asking
more questions about
my father.
I asked my dad’s best friend John Smith to meet me at Phool’s God, a bar in
Marengo. I had
a few important questions to ask him, and Mom told me that John would be the
best person to
clear everything up. John is built like an ox, 6’2, 250 pounds and he looks
mean as Hell if you
didn’t know him.
I’ve known John Smith my entire life, and was the ring bearer in his
wedding. He has held the
keys to my childhood for all these years, and finally at 21 years-old I feel
like I’m ready to drive.
I walked into the bar a little after 6:30 and did my best to mask my high
level of anxiety. My
eyes quickly scanned the dim-lighted bar and spotted John right away. He was
tough to miss no
matter the lighting of the room.
My nerves doubled when I saw the number of people sitting at the booth with
John. My first
instinct was to turn around and exit the bar hoping to God they didn’t see
me walk in. I thought
about it for a split second but I knew that I was just looking for any
excuse to keep running from
the truth like I have all of these years.
I kept pushing forward and as I got closer I recognized the others sitting
with John. A surprising
amount of relief set in when I saw John’s beautiful wife Amy, another friend
of my dad’s Doug
Sims, and his wife, Michelle. I was in their wedding too.
We all exchanged hello’s and I briefly caught them up on what I was doing
with my life, school
and work. The waitress stopped my rambling and asked me what I was drinking
tonight. I
immediately fished my pocket’s for my wallet and like usual; I found it in
my 4th and final
pocket before answering, “I’ll have a Bud Light”.
I always have my I.D. out and ready before buying an alcoholic beverage
because every time I
order from an unknown bartender I fear that they think I’m some 12 year old
joking around. I
have always looked unnaturally young for my age, and it’s safe to say that I
am insecure about
looking my actual age. There will be a day that looking young will be an
advantage for me
though, so it isn’t so bad.
*Page 10*
Yardley / “Dream Big” / 20
She peaked at my license quickly and handed it back to me. Everyone else
ordered a Busch
Light and I felt their eyes return to me as the waitress departed. Amy asked
me if I would feel
more comfortable talking to the guys only. I smiled and shook my head no as
the waitress
placed a bottle of Bud Light in front of me first. I held myself back from
taking a large, well-
needed gulp and waited until she placed all four beers down.
I wiped at the condensation that formed on the brown, glass bottle until all
the drinks were
passed around. I wasted no time and my nerves seemed to settle after just
one gulp. Everyone
waited for me to stir up conversation again, but I wanted John to make the
first move this time.
He took the bait and ran with it when he asked me bluntly, “So what do you
want to know?”
“Anything and everything you want to tell me”. I replied as I sipped on my
Realizing that my answer wasn’t specific enough I countinued, “The only
thing I know about my
dad is how great of a wrestler he was, and I know that there’s more to him
than just wrestling.”
“Do you want to know about the night he died?” John asked.
“Yeah, if that’s okay.” I said softly.
I took another drink and waited for him to just start right up like an
engine. There was a pause,
and I now know that he was wanting to talk about everything except that. I
felt like I needed to
explain my reasoning and asked them if they heard about the time that Mr.
_______ brought up
my dad’s murder in front of me and my classmates. They all shook their heads
no and I took a
large drink of my beer for this one.
One of my bad habits is not making eye contact with people, and after I told
my story I realized
that my eye’s were jumping from one object to the other. I re-directed them
back to my
John chuckled, which wasn’t the reaction that I was expecting. “First of
all, I don’t know what
Mr. ______ had to do with it because we weren’t even in high school when it
“Mr. _____ is an idiot and doesn’t know what he’s talking about. When I say
that, I mean he
didn’t do it to hurt you, I think he’s just that stupid.” John said again
with another chuckle.
John took a deep breath and before he delivered.
“Shortly after you were born Chad still went out and partied with us quite a
bit. He was 18 when
you were born, still a kid. Once you turned 3 years-old your mom
straightened his ass out and
he became a full-time dad and rarely went out with us. Well it was the
weekend before his 23rd
birthday and the demolition derby was in Marengo that Friday Night. Since it
was an occasion
he went out with us that night, he hadn’t done that in a long time.”
“So we go to the demo-derby and meet up with some people and hear about a
party in Victor.
We asked your dad if he wanted to go and he did. So we go to the party and I
remember it being
a good time, everyone was getting along great, no problems. I hooked up with
some girl, I knew
*Page 11*
Yardley / “Dream Big” / 20
that she had a boyfriend but I didn’t really know the guy. I was drunk and
didn’t really give a
shit anyways. Well her boyfriend comes to the party and finds out that his
girlfriend cheated on
him and flips out on her. We were inside and they were outside when they
were fighting. We
kind of heard some shit and yelling going on outside but didn’t think much
of it.”
“We went outside to check out what was going on and apparently he went nuts
and got
aggressive with her. Told everyone he was going to beat our ass, and all of
this before he left.
This ended the party abruptly and your dad offered to drive because he
didn’t drink as much as
the rest.”
He drove my car and we headed towards Marengo. We get on the high way on the
outskirts of
Victor and your dad goes, “Did that guy really just run his mouth about us
at that party even
when we were right inside?” The answer was rhetorical and what he meant to
say was, “Should
I turn this car around so that we can settle this mess?”
“Since your dad was driving we left that up to him. He whipped the car
around and we went
back to the party asking where ______ was. They told us he lived in the
trailer courts, so that’s
where we headed. We pulled up to his trailer and parked. Your dad didn’t
even take two steps
after getting out of the car before _______ shot him.”
And that was it. I was so disappointed when the story came to a sudden
ending. I didn’t want it
to ever end, but don’t we all?
I could tell that John was dying to tell me about all the fun they had,
which was another reason
I wanted to talk to him. Amy and Michelle chose to sit this one out and I
quickly realized why.
All of his stories were about drinking, women, and fighting. Guy stuff.
I laughed hysterically throughout each story, so much that I tried to hold
it back. It felt strange
because I wasn’t forcing happiness, instead I was trying to force myself not
to laugh so hard.
One of my favorite feelings in life is fighting the urge of laughing and
smiling. Especially when
it was in high school or church, a setting that had no intention for humor.
I reminded myself that
I was in a bar and I wasn’t going to hold back.
We all ordered a second beer and I sipped on it while listening to John and
Doug. Trying to
envision what my friends and I would do in each position during their era.
They sound identical
to us, just during a different time.
We finished our 2nd round and John realized he couldn’t tell all of the
great memories of my
dad in one night. We wrapped up our little meeting, and started to say our
good-bye’s. I shook
Doug’s hand and told him thank-you and we both agreed to do this again. I
hugged the women
and thanked them for coming.
I stuck out my hand to John and he isolated ourselves from the rest of the
bar to where only I
could hear him and said, “Anytime you want to talk about your dad or have
any questions about
him, NEVER hesitate to call me and we’ll do this again. If you ever need a
place to stay, or you
need a ride, or even if you need me to beat the shit out of someone, ANYONE,
and I’ll be there
*Page 12*
Yardley / “Dream Big” / 20
for you.”
Just when I thought the night was over, just when I thought I was headed for
the door that I
wanted to run to hours earlier, it all came down to this. All of the emotion
and passion of the
night suddenly hit me. John is the last guy that I would want to see me cry.
My eyes drifted
away from his as the unwanted tears started building up involuntarily. I
looked away and wiped
them off before they could even reach my face. I smiled and I looked back up
at him and I saw
the same tears forming in his eyes.
I said, “Thank you John, that means a lot to me”. I started to stick my hand
out again for another
hand-shake but before I could, John engulfed me with a big bear hug. I
hugged him back but it
definitely wasn’t as powerful.
He then told me something only my mom has told me, “It doesn’t matter if you
wrestled, or
played basketball, or danced ballet, your dad would be proud of you no
matter what. He’s proud
right now”.
Chapter 5
I can’t thank John enough for finding and giving me that missing puzzle
piece that I never
attempted to search for. I knew where I could find it, and for whatever
reason I waited until I
was twenty-one years old to make the effort to piece it in.
After my father passed it was just Mom and little five year-old Corey. The
odds weren’t exactly
in our favor, and it was us against the world. Since I interrupted Mom’s
initial plans for college,
she had no degree, and no secondary income. She continued her fight with me
in her corner, and
even started dating again.
I’m unsure as to how long she dated this man, and unlike my dad I actually
have a few memories
with him. But one day she was blessed with another surprise. I was very
excited to be a big
brother, unfortunately once Cullen’s arrival was announced his dad split.
Mom now had two
boys in her corner and she seemed to get stronger round after round.
My brother Cullen is a huge part of my life, and I consider him a gift from
God. Yes my dad
was taken from me at a young age, but in return He sent me my best friend.
Don’t get me wrong,
he’s still my younger brother and I haven’t always thought of him as a gift.
We’ve had our
moments but he’s so much more than a brother to me.
Since Cullen’s dad left us, I was basically the man of the house from then
on. I taught Cullen
how to throw a baseball, swear, and other essential tools every boy needed
to carry. Once Cullen
got old enough to go to daycare, Mom went back to college to pursue a career
in nursing while
she worked full-time. I helped watch Cullen a few nights a week, and our
grandparents have
always been a huge help, especially when Mom took on this busy schedule.
Mom never complained and for the most part she has been playing with a
shitty hand. But it
*Page 13*
Yardley / “Dream Big” / 20
seemed like the shittier hand that she was dealt, the better she played. So
he left us, bring it.
Like me, Cullen didn’t know and didn’t seem to care what happened to his dad
Unfortunately his dad was still around, and Mom finally decided to make the
first move when
Cullen was nine years-old. She asked me to tell Cullen about his dad. My
brother doesn’t cry
easily, and I’ll never forget when I told him that he did have a dad, and
that he was going to meet
him he cried into my arms. I held his head to my chest hugging him, I cried
along with him. We
are more than brothers.
Don’t get me wrong it made me feel really good when Lance told me that my
dad *would *be so
proud of me, but I have a bigger goal in mind. I would love for my brother
to call me his hero,
or for him to idolize me in some way.
Chapter 6
It was just the three of us from the day Cullen was born up until my junior
year of high school.
We upgraded houses three times, all three in Marengo during that eleven year
span. Most people
would look at my childhood and would feel sorry for me, but I was a very
happy kid.
I was sixteen years old when Mom started dating Jamie. I didn’t think much
of it considering
her past experiences with relationships. They dated for over a year and then
out of nowhere
Jamie proposed to Mom and got married in May 2006. She told us we were going
to move in
with Jamie and out of the town that I had lived and loved my entire life.
Ironically, we moved to
Victor which is the same town that my dad was murdered in.
Since I still went to school at Iowa Valley in Marengo, it was very
inconvenient living fifteen
miles away. I never went “home” and stayed at either my grandparent’s or at
my friend Ben
Cronbaugh’s house. My grades started slipping and I believe this is when my
depression started.
I loved high school, I was a big fish in a small pond and once I graduated I
felt so small. My
depression grew slowly which triggered my “senioritis”. Preparing for
college was last on
my list of priorities because I couldn’t let go of my high school years. I
couldn’t let go of my
friends, sports, the teachers. These things would be gone with a diploma in
one hand and a
handshake in the other.
I attended Kirkwood Community college after high school and lived with a
good friend of mine,
Jake McBride. It ended up being one of the best years of my adult life. I
never visited Kirkwood
and the first day of class was the first time I had ever stepped foot on
campus. My first class was
Introduction to Sociology and that teacher to this day is still my most
influential teacher of all
time. I excelled my first semester of college and even made Kirkwood’s
Dean’s List (3.50 or
higher). School played a small role in my college experience, however. It
was what I learned
outside of class that has forever changed the way I view the world.
Chapter 7
School took up a lot of my time and kept me out of trouble for the most
part, but I still had a lot
of fun. One of those crazy weekends particularly sticks out in my mind.
It was the weekend before Halloween and the house of Jacob Meineke, Tyler
McCaw, Ben
*Page 14*
Yardley / “Dream Big” / 20
Cronbaugh, and Greg Ash was hosting a party. My roommate Jake, our buddies
Starkweather and Alex “Peanut” Slaymaker, and I all planned to attend the
festivities even
though none of us sported costumes. We were close friends with Jacob, Tyler,
Ben, and Greg,
and we all graduated from Iowa Valley High School.
We pre-gamed at our apartment before we headed over to the party, which was
on the other side
of Kirkwood’s campus. After the four of us had a few beers we went over to
the house party and
met up with the others. They were smart and held all of the activities that
consist of a college
party in the garage that attached to their house. I grew up in the beer-pong
era, which is now a
heavily favored drinking game at most parties. It was heavily favored at
this particular party too,
because if you weren’t playing, then you were either “on-deck” or
Beer splashed across the table that had signatures of the previous winners
engraved in Sharpie.
Mostly everyone that attended the party knew each other in one way or the
other, so conversation
filled the air while ping-pong balls flew into the plastic Solo cups,
quasi-filled with beer. The
party was moving smoothly as the clock ticked to the midnight hour. The game
seemed never
ending, the alcohol continued to flow, and it seemed like everyone turned
into a smoker. We
opened the garage door for fresh air. Cigarette smoke filled the air and
random sentences
spurted along the lines of, “Remember in high school when…” Or, “We need to
hang out more
often, man.” Everyone was having a good time until some unexpected guests
It was like the movies when a party or dance was going on and everyone was
having a great time
and the fun stops at a sudden halt and the DJ scratches the record to a
complete stop. We all
stared at the door, waiting for someone to claim the strangers standing at
the door that attached
the garage to the house. It was a guy and a girl our age, dressed in Goth
and utterly confused. I
broke the ice.
“Hey, you guys’ want to have a few beers?” My alcohol-induced brain couldn’t
think of
anything else.
“No.” The Goth dude replied sternly. Judging by his voice, this guy and his
girlfriend most
likely dressed Gothic only one day a year.
The awkward silence came back, this time he broke it with, “I think we’re at
the wrong house”.
“Peanut” fired back, “No shit?!”
“If you’re at the wrong house, then get the fuck out of here!” He added.
The Goth couple exited the garage without another word, and we the party
resumed like nothing
even happened.
Out of nowhere beer sprayed everywhere followed by the sound of an empty can
against the wall. I was somewhere in the middle of everybody, the action was
closer to the
driveway outside of the garage. I followed the confrontation to get the
Someone yelled (I’m guessing it was Peanut), “What the fuck is your
It was the Goth dude who threw the beer at us, and apparently he was more
drunk than any of us.
He slurred a few words, and I lost interest until he pointed at me.
I snapped back into the action and instinctively pointed to myself and
asked, “Me?”
I knew I was drinking but I was pretty sure that this guy didn’t have a
legitimate reason to have a
problem with me. I assured myself that there was no way he was pointing to
me, I have always
played “the little guy” role, and since I was always the smallest guy at the
party I made sure that
no one would have a reason to kick my ass.
“Yeah you!” he pointed at me again. I was scared and I had never been in a
fight. It was
apparent that I couldn’t talk things out with him, but before I could even
react my friends stepped
in front of me.
*Page 15*
Yardley / “Dream Big” / 20
Even though all of my buddies had my back I distinctively remember Peanut
exclaiming, “If you
even think about touching Corey I swear to God I will beat the living shit
out of you!”
I wasn’t scared anymore, but I was still shocked. Me and Peanut were good
friends but no one
had ever had my back like this before.
Peanut continued, “All he did was invite you in for a few beers, why do you
want to fight
He wouldn’t stop, “You want to settle this right now?”
“Let’s go into the street and settle this”. The Goth’s girlfriend protested,
but even her words
weren’t getting through to him. Peanut led him into the cul-de-sac, we
followed him like he was
our general and we were his troops.
I was so nervous, this should have been my fight. Peanut had complete
control though as he
jabbed the Goth with a couple of right hands. After the jabs Peanut took him
down cleanly and
took the Goth’s back. He had him in a guillotine choke, but it looked like
they were riding a
motorcycle together except for the fact that Peanut was squeezing the kids
head like a grape. He
punched the Goth in the head a few times, still in a choke hold.
“Kick his fucking ass Peanut!” I screamed. I felt sober but the alcohol on
my breath reminded
me of how many I consumed.
The Goth ended his struggle as he was being choked out, and Peanut
rhetorically asked
him, “Are you done?”
“You done?”
The Goth nodded his head as Peanut let him go. Peanut left him on the street
and walked
towards his corner as we cheered.
I patted him on the back; I even offered him a beer, but I never thanked
Peanut. And I never got
the chance to thank him.
To be continued…
Chapter 8
I never got to thank Peanut because he died in a car accident only a few
months after he
had my back that crazy night. He died in a car accident with another good
friend of mine,
Chris “Spunky” Roberts. This incident made me realize that I wasn’t
I’ll be completely honest when I say that neither Chris nor Alex were my
best friends. Alex had
some legal issues that caused a stir in our town, and I remember cracking a
few jokes about him
that I wish I wouldn’t have. I got to know Alex very well during that first
year of college, and
would have taken back those jokes even before he passed away. I can recall
an “unsuccessful”
night (or so we thought) where we didn’t find a party and ended up just
hanging out at my
apartment. Alex and I stayed up all night and just talked about everything,
I forgot all of the bull
shit that had spread throughout Marengo. He was a great guy and he taught me
to not always
believe what you hear.
They were my friends nonetheless, and losing both of them really hurt me. I
felt like our
friendships were incomplete because I thought our relationships would
continue to grow with
age. This did not happen however, because one day they were both gone.
Alex was from Marengo and Chris was from Victor. Both towns seemed so cold
and empty
once they left. As I wrote earlier, I lived in Victor after living in
Marengo my entire life. Chris
pushed me to come to Victor more often even though I hated it. I never
realized why he wanted
me to come to Victor until he passed away. Even if it’s too late, I’d like
to show my appreciation
*Page 16*
Yardley / “Dream Big” / 20
to these two young men for playing a huge role in my life. Thanks guys, I
love and miss you so
My warm and fuzzy world turned cold. My *true *year of adult life actually
started once Chris
and Alex left me. It has been three years since the accident but I can
remember the night like it
happened yesterday.
Chapter 9
I remember that night vividly. It was a cold winter night, and we had a few
snowstorms days
before. I was driving around with Bryce Hasley, which was strange because
we’d never done that
without Chris. It was strange enough that Bryce and Chris weren’t together,
they were the best of
I asked Bryce where Chris was, and he even called him but I can’t remember
if he answered.
Bryce said Chris was at a party in Brooklyn and that he would meet up with
us later. We went to
McDonalds and someone had called about an accident near Victor and it looked
pretty bad. We
didn’t think much of it, and continued our trip to McDonalds.
After we scarfed down a well-balanced meal it was time to drink some beer in
Victor. Our
destination was Brian Schafbuch’s house and many people, especially Chris,
found the
Schafbuch residence a second home. Hasley and I couldn’t even finish our
first beer before we
got the call. I don’t remember who received the call but they were told that
Chris and a kid from
Marengo were driving, swerved something, and ended up striking a house. The
two were ejected
from Chris’ vehicle and didn’t make it. We didn’t believe it until Brian
confirmed the news.
This was the same accident we heard about earlier on our way to McDonalds.
Panic struck the entire room. Everyone was completely shocked. My first
thought was that the
passenger was Jake, my roommate and one of my best friends. I thought he was
the kid from
Marengo because he hung out with Chris a lot during wrestling season. It was
bad enough that
Chris had passed away but not knowing which one of my friends was in there
with him was a
painful feeling.
We received another update informing us that it was Alex Slaymaker. It
didn’t seem real, my
throat swelled shut and my head felt like it was about to erupt. Bryce
called Chris’ little sister
Macie and we picked her up from her house. I couldn’t imagine the pain she
was feeling as she
walked slowly with her head down towards my car. We all just sat there
crying in the silence
during the short trip back to Schafbuch’s place.
I dropped Bryce and Macie off, and told them I’d be back. It was around 11
o’clock by the time
I got to my mom’s house, which is 100 feet from Brian’s. I woke up my mom
and told her, then
cried in her arms for a solid minute while muttering, “It’s not fair, why
The word spread around both towns very quickly. For some reason I just
needed to drive. I
couldn’t really do anything else except drive. I was headed towards Marengo
and stopped at one
of my best friends’ house, who was also Chris’ ex-girlfriend: Danelle
Kinzebaw. I walked into
the room and everyone tears and make-up running down their faces. I walked
in gave hugs, sat
down without saying much, and then left. I made one more stop out at
Brandon’s dad’s house
on the country roads between Marengo and Victor. All of my best friends were
there hanging
out in the shop. It was nice to all be at the same level in terms of knowing
Chris and Alex. We
talked about the times we had with them, but also looked at it much deeper.
We hoped they were
in a better place, but I was very skeptical. I hadn’t attended church since
I was confirmed in 8th
grade. I wasn’t an athiest by any means, I just never received a sign.
*Page 17*
Yardley / “Dream Big” / 20
Macie called me and asked if I could come over, all the Victor kids were
there. I said I couldn’t
go, but she begged me to come over. I couldn’t say no, so I left Brandon’s
and headed to the
Robert’s household in Victor.
The roads were still slick from the snowstorm, but that was the least of my
worries at the time. I
was so pissed off at life which caused me to drive stupidly. My mind was
somewhere else and
a T-intersection came out of nowhere. I was going faster than what I wanted
and had no choice
but to slam on the breaks, turn the wheel left as far as I could, and shut
my eyes praying that
I wouldn’t roll into the ditch. I gripped the steering wheel tightly and
distinctively remember
saying out loud softly, “I need some help up there”. I opened my eyes in
Chapter 10
I was in disbelief because I was sure that the next time I would open my
eyes I would be stuck in
a ditch. Would I consider that a near death experience? No. But this was the
closest I’ve ever
been to having one of my prayers answered. I assured myself it was just a
coincidence, took a
deep breath, and continued on to Victor.
I have never been religious, I have always failed to see any logic in
religion. I assured myself
it was a lucky coincidence. I hadn’t gone to church in 5 years, why would
God want to help me
I made it to Macie’s house in one piece. Driving was supposed to be the easy
part and
I could barely do that. Now I had to walk in a houseful of people that I had
never even met.
It didn’t matter though we all shared one pain: The loss of Chris. I paid my
condolences to all
of those who were sharing my pain in one way or the other. I remember the
eery feeling of
forming friendships through death.
Not only did I form friendships through the death of Chris, I met the love
of my life. Even
though Macie’s room was full of kids my eyes captured the baby blue eyes of
the prettiest girl
I had ever seen. Our eyes locked on to each other but only for a split
I finally got
home at 5:15 AM. I cried as I tossed and turned in bed, I prayed for the
last 24 hours to be just a
bad dream.
The loud ringing of a telephone interrupted my slumber. My grandma answered
on the second
ring and when she answered you could tell she had been doing it for over 35
years. I pried my
eyes open and stabbed at the ground for my cell phone to check the time. It
was a few minutes
past 8:00 A.M., which was far too early for a Saturday. I rolled back over
and shut my eyes but
something in the tone of my grandma’s voice opened them right back up. She
was in the room
next to me so I listened in and heard her say, “Oh my God. Oh no”.
My grandma is seriously the happiest human being I have ever encountered,
and it was rare for
her to sound sad. I knew that whatever was being said on the opposing line
couldn’t have been
good news. I reached for my cell phone and double checked it for missed
calls or text messages:
Nothing. Surely if this bad news involved me in any way, shape, or form,
that someone would
have tried to reach me via cell phone.
I shut my eyes again, but continued to listen in on the conversation just in
case. Whoever was
*Page 18*
Yardley / “Dream Big” / 20
on the other end of the line was doing most of the talking. Then my grandma
chimed in with an
even more depressing tone, “Yeah, he’s here sleeping in the other room, do
you want me to wake
him up?”
“Please just leave a message, please just leave a message”, I prayed in my
head. I heard her
footsteps grow nearer, and I knew that this getting serious. It had to be
urgent if someone is
willing to wake me up on a Saturday morning.
I kept my face in the pillow and stretched out my arm for the phone before
she even entered my
room. She handed it to me and neither of us spoke a single word during the
exchange. I waited
for her to exit the room before I started talking.
“Hello?” I said grumpily with a “I-just-woke-up” tone in my voice.
“Hi.” I recognized the voice right away: It was Mom. She would be the last
person to wake me
up on a Saturday morning.
She was beating around the bush, “How are you?” She asked but I could tell
she was stalling.
I kept it short, “I’m fine.”
I couldn’t take it anymore, “Okay what is going on?”
Pause. I was growing impatient.
“Caleb Cronbaugh wrecked his truck last night.” She started sobbing. I’ll
never forget that
feeling; this wasn’t exactly how I wanted to start my day.
I panicked and sputtered, “Is he okay?”
“No.” Another sob, there were no words.
I exploded with emotion that not one single word could define.
“He made it though, right?” I asked rhetorically, I knew the answer and Mom
was speechless. I
cried into the phone, and Mom joined me. I just bawled and told her how
unfair it was.
“It’s not fair, it’s just not fair!” I yelled.
I was so frustrated with the world, sure a lot of shitty things happened to
me in my life, but this
made absolutely no sense. Or so I thought.
My first call was to one of my best friends and the person who brought me so
close to Caleb;
Greg Ryan. Greg was probably Caleb’s closest friend, they were like
brothers. The summer
before my junior year we made a band of brothers. I swear every other night
during that summer
Brandon, Joe, Greg, Caleb, and I had a bonfire out at Brandon’s dads. We got
together so often
we even had a name for our clan: Paradise Pit.
Greg didn’t answer the first time I called him, but after staring at my cell
phone for 2 minutes he
finally called me back and I answered right away.
“It’s not true is it?” I begged for this to be a misunderstanding.
“Yeah, it’s true.” He said before choking up.
“What happened?” It was like Greg sensed that I didn’t really want to know.
We both cried and
not much more was said. There was nothing to say.
“Where are you at?” Greg asked.
I wiped my eyes and realized I couldn’t breathe through my nose.
“My grandma and grandpa’s house”, I replied.
“I’ll pick you up in 5”, he said.
I didn’t shower, or brush my teeth, or anything. I didn’t give two shits
what I looked or smelled
like. I stormed through my grandparent’s house and grabbed my wallet and my
cell phone
charger. I tried sneaking out without being seen, but my grandma was waiting
at the front door
crying. I exchanged a hug and blubbered on her shoulder. Just seeing her cry
is enough to make
*Page 19*
Yardley / “Dream Big” / 20
me cry. She told me she loved me and to be safe. I slipped on my shoes and
walked out the door
and waited outside on the bottom step of the front porch.
I ran my fingers through my hair frantically, wanting to rip it out. I
wanted to think of the great
memories I had with Caleb, but my brain was a tangled mess. There wasn’t one
that I could pin
point, all I could think about was that we could never make another memory
together again.
I could hear Greg coming but I didn’t lift my head from my knees until he
pulled up. He was
wearing his usual summer attire, an Iowa Valley T-shirt with the sleeves cut
off, and a pair of
shorts. Greg is tall and slender, but working on the farm keeps him from
looking scrawny. He
has a tan complexion, and his forearms permanently look like the circulation
is being cut-off.
My mom would call him a nurse’s dream for drawing blood.
His eyes were bloodshot and that would be the last time I tried making eye
contact with anyone
for a long time. I hugged him and out came more tears; we pulled away from
my grandparents’
house without a word. There was nothing to say.
Greg filled me in on the details with as little detail as possible, which
was exactly what I wanted.
Apparently Caleb was driving home from a party at around 5:00 A.M. Saturday
morning. He
was on a gravel road by himself and only two miles away from his house when
he lost control of
his truck. He was going way too fast and a cow came out of nowhere and he
spun out of control
and hit it with the back end of his truck. He couldn’t correct the steering
wheel in time and went
into the ditch where he was ejected from his truck and ended up in a bean
field. Caleb never
wore his seat belt.
We drove out to Caleb’s dad’s house, and talking to Greg helped unravel my
brain a little. This
helped me think back to the beginning of the long friendship Caleb and I
shared. I was 9 years-
old and he was 8 and his mom, Brenda took us to the movie “Liar, Liar”
starring Jim Carrey.
I “Googled” the year that movie came out, 1997. A 12 year friendship was
gone, and there was
nothing I could do about it.
Caleb was 2 months away from being 20 years old before he died. Like most
high school
friendships, ours slowly faded with age. We grew up, took separate paths,
but that didn’t
mean those paths didn’t cross once in a while. The last time I saw Caleb was
at a gas station
in Marengo. He was with his girlfriend pumping gas and I was driving home
from work. I
hadn’t talked to the kid in a while so I pulled up next to his pump and
talked to him for a bit.
Caleb worked full-time right out of high school instead of going to college.
But he told me
he was going to attend Kirkwood Community College in the fall, and he
sounded very serious
and excited. I distinctly remember concluding the conversation with,
“rounding up the P.P.
gang, and having a bonfire.” Just like the old days; a cooler of beer, a
bonfire, and best friends,
nothing more and nothing less.
I pulled away from the gas station, and wouldn’t have guessed that when I
said good-bye that it
was good-bye forever.
Family and close friends all gathered at Caleb’s dad’s house. Did I mention
the worst part about
the tragedy was that there was nothing that anyone could say or do to make
the situation better?
Me, Greg, and the other guys went outside to give his family those moments
that only families
could share together.
There were probably 10 of us, and we just started walking. We had no
destination and we were
out in the middle of nowhere. We followed the gravel road and stopped at a
bridge. We seemed
*Page 20*
Yardley / “Dream Big” / 20
miles and miles away, but I turned around and the house was still in sight,
not near as far as I
thought. I remember it being hot as hell that day. That day was the closest
to Hell I hope I ever
We sat in a circle; half of us were on the side of the gravel road, and the
other half in the grass.
Even the non-smokers joined in on chain-smoking cigarettes while we told our
favorite stories of
It was a strange feeling because I remember laughing more than I had ever
laughed, yet at the
same time I cried more than I had ever cried. Someone would tell a hilarious
story, and the
others who were there chimed in filling in the little details that the main
narrator left out, and we
would all just roar in laughter. Once the story was over and the laughter
subsided we realized
how real this was, resulting in a circle of boys/men crying on cue. It was a
continuous cycle and
this lasted for a good hour. We either realized there was shit to be done
and figured out, or we
ran out of cigarettes; either way we made our way back up the gravel road.
Once we got back to the house Curtis, Caleb’s dad, told us that he wanted to
have a bonfire in
memory of Caleb that very night. We already planned on getting obliterated
that night in honor
of our good friend, so it was a definite yes for all of us. He told us to
invite anyone that Caleb
would want to come. This left the door wide open because Caleb was the kind
of guy that liked
everybody and everybody liked him in return.
We said our good-byes and our group temporarily split up into smaller
groups. We made sure no
one was left by themselves though.
I remember how bitter sweet it was to have everyone so close again. It just
sucked that it had
to take something like this to bring us together again. All of our plans for
tomorrow or the days
after were thrown out the window.
My group made plans to go fishing on a small farm pond. We didn’t catch
anything, but we
didn’t try very hard either. The sun was blistering hot and I could feel my
white skin turn pink.
After 3 hours of deep conversations we finally paddled to the dock and
anchored the boat. We
showered (separately) and went into Marengo to buy some beer for the night.
Brandon invited
us out to his house to pre-game for the bonfire.
When we got to Brandon’s a little before 5:00, he already had a beer in his
hand. We followed
his lead and I remember how delicious that beer tasted. We all conversed in
Brandon’s dad’s
taxidermy shop and people joined car load by car load as the hours passed.
Once the sun
started to go down there were probably 30 of us out there, and everyone
including the girls were
drinking beer.
Brandon’s dad lives about a mile and a half away from Curtis’ house. We
rounded everyone up
and decided to walk as a group on the gravel road that led to Curtis’. No
one was going to drink
and drive that night and Caleb’s parents were moved and appreciated that act
We marched the entire way and everyone stuck together. We left a trail of
empty beer cans
and cigarette butts behind us. We eventually made it and darkness arrived
out of nowhere.
We doubled the number of people at the party and there was still more to


Written by coreyyardley

March 30, 2011 at 2:11 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. Did John mention that he beat up girls too !!! Maybe you should talk to some of johns ex girlfriends.. they may be more honest


    April 4, 2011 at 2:58 AM

    • Huh… that’s funny because I could have sworn that John didn’t shoot my dad. Oh that’s right he didn’t, so don’t say that my dad would be alive if it weren’t for John. The point of this memoir is that everything happens for a reason, and obviously my message isn’t clear enough. Don’t ever put anyone down on my site again, and if you do I will track the IP address, figure out who you are, and settle it. Thanks Marcy!


      April 4, 2011 at 5:51 PM

  2. Okay, seriously MarengoVictor, whoever you are, you need to stay quiet! This has nothing to do with what may or may not have happened or what you may believe is true. This is Corey’s writing, his memoir, his therapy, not somewhere for ignorant people to give their version of what the past is. Leave it alone, no matter what you think, it can not change that has happened!


    April 4, 2011 at 5:21 AM

  3. And Corey, you writing as always amazes me. What you have experienced in your short life is more then what most people have to experience in the entire lives. I’m so glad that you have found an outlet through your writing to put these feelings and emotions on paper. For the world to see, more importantly for you to see. I hope for you that may writing be your saving grace. Put those words down, always remember, but take the next step forward, a step towards your future, which I know in my heart holds great and wonderful things! You are in charge of your happiness, reach for it and never give up, don’t look back, only move forward! I love you CY!!


    April 4, 2011 at 5:32 AM

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