Other Stories



What's my idea of the perfect writer's retreat?
Withdrawal In Moderation
By Gregory Gerard

Retreat (n): To withdraw.

I'd guess that many writers draw on serene lakes set against shimmering sunlight as the key to prolific inspiration. For me, this only makes up one third in the trinity of retreat:

—A serene lake (with shimmering sunlight), to draw my wandering gaze between thoughts of consistent character and believable dialogue
—A three-prong electrical socket, to propel my laptop beyond its battery's dying gasps

—And, of no less importance, a pizza parlor within driving distance; one that has a thick, chewy crust, endlessly stretchable cheese, and a crimson sauce that is spicy and rich - with just a hint of something forgotten and sweet


The Spelling Ladder*
by Gregory Gerard
(*Notable Entry 2004 Tiny Lights Annual Essay Contest)

As a Catholic boy in the 1970s, I learned much from the nuns who taught at Saint Michael’s. There weren't as many of them as the previous decade, according to my oldest brother Paul. He remembered the days when sisters flocked the halls in their cascading robes and Mass was celebrated in Latin. I was there during the charismatic years, when we clapped along in church to songs like They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love and lay teachers had become commonplace. Yet, regardless of their decreasing numbers, the nuns retained command.

Sister Helen, my homeroom teacher with brown hair and brown clogs, sang folk songs while she played the guitar after lunch. Sister Mary Margaret, the basement's most feared musician, taught piano in an underground classroom. Principal Sister Joyce, a stern woman with shock gray hair, bellowed lectures over the loudspeaker that made me feel ashamed even if I hadn't done anything wrong.

I learned from them all – but the things that guide my life today, I learned from Sister Marguerite.

Sister Marguerite was an old-fashioned, loveable teacher who peppered her everyday curriculum at Saint Mike's with common sense life lessons. She had the ability to take a classroom situation and make a connection (however tenuous) to an arcane bit of knowledge she'd picked up over the years.

In English, as we read Beauty and the Beast, she instructed us never to drive over the body of a dead animal, that the bones might puncture a tire.

In Health, as we studied muscles, she warned us to rush a person to the emergency room if they had trouble holding their head erect; someone she knew had died with this condition.

In History, as we charted the Spanish explorers, she cautioned us to eat Saltines on an ocean cruise, the best way to avoid motion sickness.

I loved going to her warm and cheery classroom on the south side of the second floor, absorbing her street-wise wisdom into my fifth-grade world. Cathy Schear and Teresa Niemiec called me a "teacher's pet," but I recognized them as jealous competitors for academic first place. I ignored them both and thrived under this holy woman's tutelage, wondering at a time when I would be old enough to drive a car so I, too, could avoid the dead carcasses. It would be great.

One Monday we entered Sister's classroom to find her cutting long, thin strips of paper from a large roll.She handed them out without speaking. Was this some new device to help us through life, perhaps a handy sheet to use as a message in a bottle, were we ever shipwrecked?

She finished her rounds and revealed the assignment. They were spelling ladders. We were to make 100 "steps" on the paper, filling each rung with a correctly-spelled word. The hook? Each word had to begin with the last letter of the previous word. She showed an example:


Not a difficult pattern. We had a week to complete the task and, if all 100 were spelled correctly in the right pattern, we'd earn a peppermint stick.

I rushed home after school, diving into the project, eager to please my mentor. I started at the bottom of the ladder.

Car, Rag, Gas…I was on a roll.

Star, Rake, Extra…I pictured my acceptance of the peppermint stick (I actually didn't like peppermint, but Sister Marguerite had once told us that mint would quell an upset stomach, so my prize could have some medicinal value.)

Lead, Drain, Notch…I was getting fancy now. I pictured the kudos I would receive from this beloved educator. We'd had a whole week; I'd be done in one night. Most kids would use regular words, mine would have flair. She'd be so proud.

I worked my way to the top…Grown, Nearly…and in a dramatic, final exuberance, I crowned my list with a fitting cheer.

I raced to class the next day, my spelling ladder neatly rolled. I was a little shaken when I discovered Cathy and Teresa already at Sister's desk. I could see their ladders, completed as well. I quickly adjusted; after all, I was a good enough sport to share the success. I knew with conspiratorial certitude that Sister would like my words best. Taking charge, Sister instructed the three of us to trade ladders to check for correct spelling and the correct pattern.

I meticulously processed Teresa's (prepared to knock out the competition at the slightest error) but hers was correct. She received her peppermint and flashed me a smile.

Teresa worked her way through Cathy's list. It was tense for me to watch as she picked her way carefully along the rungs…but Cathy, too, earned the coveted mint.

Cathy had my ladder. She was going slowly (slower than I had with Teresa's, that was apparent) checking each rung excruciatingly.50, then 75, then 95 words passed her discriminating eye. She reached the top of my list.

"YAY!?" she said sarcastically, looking me directly in the eye.

Shock gripped me as I realized there was no such word…at least not spelled Y-A-Y. My insides alternately froze and melted.

"You know, Yay! Like Yippee!" I offered enthusiastically.

"I don't think that's how it's spelled," she said in a cutting tone, both of us knowing well that yay did not appear in any version of the dictionary, no matter how contemporary.

"I was just excited about finishing the list. Here, I can change it to YES!" I said, desperately trying to salvage the situation.

"I don't think that's allowed," she finished, both of us knowing well it would not be allowed. Sister have given the assignment, it was now complete. No room for adjustment.

Cathy brought the evidence before my sage mentor, my fifth-grade heroine.

"I'm sorry," Sister Marguerite said pragmatically. "That doesn't qualify."

I turned back to face Cathy and Teresa, who were meticulously peeling the plastic wrap from their peppermint sticks.

Sister sensed my disappointment. "You can learn from this," she offered. "If you ever return a rental car, always check to make sure the gas tank is full yourself. If you let them check, it costs a lot more."



Nancy Drew and the Disappointed Schoolboy
by Gregory Gerard

Seventh grade had just begun when I read my first dirty magazine.

Cloistered in Sister Marguerite's coat closet, my school friends conspired in whispers about Melody Brewster's bulging chest, about Farrah and her blood-red bathing suit poster. I prayed for the allure to grab me, but listening to the guys drool over Cousin Daisy Duke's short-shorts -- nothing grabbed. Regardless, I listened, enjoying their camaraderie. And their enthusiastic proximity.

Pornography first entered my world in another cloister -- the hidden grain bin in our barn. My personal Fortress of Solitude.

The perfect place to explore my first dirty magazine.

My dad was unknowing supplier. His corner grocery had been successful in the fifties as the neighborhood's source for gas, fruit, bread. By the late seventies, when I worked the counter, Seven-Elevens and shopping marts choked both ends of Main Street. As profit margins on Band-aids and Allspice shrunk, Dad sought out merchandise that made more money.

That's when he started selling Playboy.

I worked there often, manning the counter before my voice had deepened enough to be defined as a man. Magazines were my turf, creating signs and categories to help people find High Times, People, and Rolling Stone quickly.

I didn't have a category for Playboy, finally deciding to place it behind the counter so the lunchtime factory crew wouldn't browse for free. I maintained a detached disgust for this new addition; I knew from church it was wrong to lust.

Until Pamela Sue Martin appeared on the cover.

I'd loved Nancy Drew since I was six. Her blonde locks, her clever mind, her calm in harrowing situations. When Nancy came to TV in the form of Pamela Sue Martin, I was the most excited boy in Western New York.

The magazine spread had sparked controversy I'd already heard about; the network wasn't happy about having TV's undercover operative working on top of the covers. I looked at her portrait and felt my own turmoil. Nancy, who danced gaily at the policeman's ball, who drove a stick-shift convertible and always outwitted criminals, was on the cover of PLAYBOY.

A half-unbuttoned trench coat draped across her figure.

A huge Holmes-ian magnifying glass in her hands.

I had to see the inside, to see how deep the indiscretion cut. During my Saturday night shift, I snuck a copy into my backpack. This type of investigation was best conducted in private.

At home, I retrieved my flashlight and climbed into the grain bin. Brushing the grime off a low wooden ledge, I sat alone with my heroine. I decided to turn through the book page by page - I knew I was supposed to be excited. Building suspense might help. There, in the limited circle of white, I slowly digested my first dirty magazine.

Reaching the center article, Nancy Drew Grows Up, I stared at the pictures. In one, her breasts poked through some silky see-through material. In another, she sprawled naked across a chair, a velvet blanket barely covering her privates.

What was the thrill? Why did men stand around the store and gawk? Why did my school friends strain to make out Melody's boobs beneath her sweater?

In the deeper folds of my mind, the sections far from everyday boyhood wondered at my lack of excitement - but huddled in the darkened bin under the stark scrutiny of my flashlight's shine, I only felt overwhelming disappointment that Nancy Drew had done something so sleazy.



Being Jesus (1976)
by Gregory Gerard

I'm up here again.

Mom yells up the musty stairs if I'm gone too long. She shouldn't worry, I'm not doing anything bad. Nothing I'd have to go to confession for.

Just looking through stacks of curled, black-and-white photos. Or digging for more of my sisters' Nancy Drew books. Or (if I'm absolutely sure no one's home) pulling out Aunt Margey's flowery knitting bag to see if I can figure out how to make one of those handy pot holders.

The attic is my dust-smothered retreat, my own crowded kingdom. Here's where I stay dry while raindrops pound on the roof over my head. Here's where I find mysteries that chase away the loneliness of drawn-out summer afternoons. Here's where I escape my older brother's annoying teasing.

Besides, I don't have a lot of friends.

The guys in my neighborhood like to play football. Tackle football. Or else they play pranks on kids, like stuffing Sammy Oakes into the garbage dumpster behind church.

I'm different from them.

I don't like to do any of those things; they scare me. I'd rather read a mystery book by myself. Or spend time in the attic.

Today I found something really interesting. A "Daily Missal" prayer book that looks as old as the frilly white coverlet on my Aunt Margey's bed. For people who don't know, a missal is the little book gray-haired old ladies take to Mass on weekdays, it covers all the Monday through Saturday readings (the books in the pews only cover Sundays and Holy Days.)

Because we're Catholic, and because I want to be a saint-with-a-capital-S someday, I know things about books like this. They're for holy people.

I flip it open carefully. It's got an old leathery cover, worn but still very intact, an indecipherable name scratched on the first page. My imagination goes to work; I see some older guy receiving the book at his first communion (back in aut four) taking it with him everywhere (perhaps having been dragged to Daily Mass by some gray-haired old lady), maybe carrying it to the trenches of World War II. Maybe he even used it Over There, to read to the German prisoners he had captured. Thirty years later, back in the States, followed through my hometown by a Nazi spy, he barely had time to hide the book in my parents' attic before the Krauts busted down the door and rubbed him out.

That's how the attic makes my summer days less lonely.

In the back of the missal there's a list of "Fixed and Moveable Holy Days." That's a little directory to help people know when the special holidays are, like Easter, the ones that fall on a different date each year.

I check out the list. Not only does it show every year into the way past (1960!) but it continues right through to the year 2000, when everybody knows we'll have flying cars and little flavored pills for food.

Doing the quick math, I figure out I'll be 33 when 2000 hits, the same age as Jesus made it to.


I follow the list back to 1966, the year I was born.

I review the Holy Days in 1966… and then I see it … Ascension Thursday was observed on May 19, 1966. Ascension Thursday, the moveable holy day when Jesus floated up toward the clouds after His resurrection to join God in Heaven.

My birthday!

This has to mean something. The date moves around each year, what are the chances that it would be the EXACT day I was born?

Just like Nancy Drew, I go to work on a theory. Maybe this birthday thing means I am supposed to float up to Heaven when I die. Maybe I won't die at all, just take a shortcut up through the clouds.

I start thinking about the year 2000. A good time to close up shop down here. A nice neat number for God to call it quits and send Jesus back to take us all up to live in the Kingdom. Sister Marguerite taught us all about the Book of Revelation in fourth-grade religion, and that was just a few months ago.

But what if…what if God was going to fake everybody out and have Jesus come back as a child? Maybe in a small town like mine. What if He just appeared from the crowd one day, 'Hi, I was really here all along!' What if He is gonna start out as a regular kid who maybe doesn't have a lot of friends so He can learn all the stuff He needs to know so He can be God?

And I am gonna be 33 in 2000.

This is all starting to fall together for me.

Am I Jesus?

I always felt smarter than the other kids in Sister Marguerite's class. And certainly smarter than my older sisters who nag me constantly about the dumbest things. I know I'm holier than most of my family too, except maybe my mom, she says the rosary almost every day. My dad is a lost cause; he takes the Lord's name in vain and always falls asleep during Mass.

In the Bible it says that Jesus (the first time around) "grew in wisdom and stature". Sister Marguerite read that to us one day. She told us how He didn't even probably know that He was God when He was a little kid. He just did little-kid things - like get lost in church and get yelled at by His parents.

So why not during the Second Coming as well?

Why not me?

I try to poke holes in my theory, like Nancy would if Bess Marvin came up with some stupid idea about solving the crime even though Nancy had it practically figured out.

I think about the sin issue. Of course, Jesus had no sin, everybody knows that. And I had taken change off my older brother's dresser to buy candy lots of times (but I'd cleared that up with Father Bragdon in my very first confession.)


Maybe that stuff wasn't as bad as Sister Marguerite taught us. I never thought it was that big a deal. My brother owed me anyway - for all the teasing. That I was afraid of spiders. That I couldn't pee if anybody was listening.

The reality of it makes my head feel lighter, unless it's all the sneezing from the dust I'd stirred up.

What would I do as Jesus?

I could clean up all the dust in the attic just by snapping my fingers. Like Bewitched. But I wouldn't be lame like Samantha and withhold my powers just because Darren said not to.

Maybe I'd make it snow really hard, so we wouldn't have to go to school, maybe for a whole month. Or walk across the pond in the lot next to church, and then just say "tut tut" when the gray-haired old ladies gasped and pointed at me. And of course I'd be really good at football, but I wouldn't play with the neighborhood boys anyway.

The best thing about being Jesus is that I'd have lots and lot of friends. People would come from all over just to listen to Me and follow Me around wherever I went.

There might be some down sides to this whole thing. I'd probably have to go to church more often. Would I have to make a big sacrifice at 33, the same way Jesus did? Me on trial, maybe at the courthouse, with a lawyer like Nancy Drew's dad trying to defend me for a crime I didn't commit? While the District Attorney insists that I deserve the death penalty?

Nahhh, I decide, that won't happen this time around. Sister Marguerite taught us that Jesus' Second Coming is gonna be a "trumpet-sounding, riding-on-white-horses, God's Justice-with-a-capital-J" kinda thing.
Would God choose to reveal this to everybody? My mom? My older brother? Father Bragdon? Or would this be one of those Big-God-Secrets, like the Fatima prophecies?

I know some people have never heard of them. Sister Marguerite taught us about that too. The Fatima stuff happened a long time ago, back before Aunt Margey was even born, but it is a cool story. How Jesus' mother floated on a cloud and three kids were the only ones who saw her. And she told them secrets that they couldn't tell the world. And how they offered up sacrifices until they got to go to Heaven.

It'll probably be like that - the secret, mystery stuff with sacrifices. I've read all the Saint books. The really good Saints, the real holy ones, had to suffer to get to Heaven. Just because they were different from everybody else.

I know suffering. Just because I'm different. I can feel it.
When it's revealed that I'm Jesus, my glorious, lonely suffering will come to an end. Then everybody will pay attention to me. My family. Sister Marguerite. The football players in the neighborhood.

So be it.

For now, I'll keep God's secret between Him and me.

But boy, my brother better look out at the turn of the millennium.



by Gregory Gerard
(*excerpt from my MySpace blog)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Current mood: utterly goofy
Category: Life

I'm ninteen and the drinking age is changing to twenty-one tomorrow. My friends and I head to the liquor store to stock up -- since it will be two more years before we can legally drink again.

I hit the vodka aisle while they wander toward the Jim Beam, Southern Comfort, and Bicardi. While I'm back there, I hear a scream and a crash up near the front of the store. I look around the Absolut cardboard cut-out of a hunky skiier sipping his screwdriver (made with Absolut) in front of a cardboard fireplace with some hot cardboard chick. Near the cash register, there's a short guy with a nylon stocking over his face. He's got a black pistol in his hand, and he's pointing it at the clerk, an older guy who always smells like cigar smoke.

He screams at all my friends to lie on the floor, but he doesn't see me. I grab a smaller bottle of Smirnoff (.5L) and sneak up the side aisle, the one near the coolers of boxed wine.

He shouts at the clerk to stuff all the money into a black satchel that he's brought with him. He keeps glancing around and waving the pistol, and although I don't know a thing about guns, I imagine that it's a semi-automatic, something that will "riddle me with bullets" like in a Raymond Chandler novel.

In a single moment, several things happen at once:

The front door swings open, ringing the bell hanging just above the hinge. It's two college-age girls.

My high-school best friend (the one I secret have a crush on) shouts at them to get out.

The gun man fires once toward the girls, missing them completely, but shattering the large glass display window that explodes into a billion pieces. The crook pivots, aiming the gun at my best friend.

I've seen all this happen, but my body is in motion without me thinking about it. I'm climbing the cases of local New York wines, yelling at the top of my lungs like something out of Platoon, and I whip the Smirnoff bottle at the perp's nylon-covered skull.

Later, when the police and ambulance lights are flashing at frantic intervals in the parking lot, when the cops are talking to each of us, writing furiously on their triplicate forms, when radios are buzzing with static and barking orders from some unseen dispatcher, I watch them haul the crook away on a stretcher, his head still bleeding from the force of my well-aimed blow.

The girls, the clerk, the cops are all praising me -- but it's the full-body, never-ending hug from my best friend that makes my heart race.



Two Bitchy Queens
by Gregory Gerard

Scene is a split stage. Stage left décor smacks of the Middle Ages, European, a kingly hall. Stage right is modern times, a dance club with a rotating disco ball flashing overhead.

In the kingly hall, an older woman sits on a throne-like chair; a twenty-year old girl squats silently on the floor at her feet. The woman is wrapped in regal finery; purple swatches of velvet and silk brocade are draped around her prominent shoulders. Her quaffed hair resembles a tightly-wound hornet's nest.

In the dance club, an older, balding man sits on a bar stool while a twenty-year old boy dances very energetically nearby. The man wears neatly pressed dress pants and a black turtle neck that reaches nearly up to his chin line.

Lights up on Stage Left:
Woman: (looking at girl) "…and ALSO, my dear, NEVER, EVER touch their wineskins. They'll want you to; all that drinking and carousing after a big battle or fox hunt or some other silly thing. Flaunting their hairy chests and their ridiculous bulges. They think plying a woman with spirits makes her head light and her resistance weak. But you will know better. Resistance, my dear, is the weapon of the upper classes. "
Lights up on Stage Right:
Man: (speaking to boy dancing nearby) "…Listen to me, Honey, the big boys will take one look at you, and get you between the sheets faster than you can say 'teflon brasserie'. It's not about the sex anymore, it's all about the ACHIEVEMENT. Who's boffed who. Who's on top. You just learn to hold out for better, Honey. Resistance is the last true power of the homosexual." (he sips his cosmopolitan.)
Woman: "Now, the maids of the court, they'll look to you for guide them. You must never fraternize with them, always remember your place. And theirs.
(girl shifts, as though bored, and sighs)
Man: "And don't think just because they get up there and shake their business at you that it's not business with them."
(Boy continues to dance, rolls his eyes)

(Girls stands.)
Woman: (sharply) "I have not given you leave!"
(Boy and Man snap their heads around to look across at Stage Left)
Man: (with ascerbic sarcasm.) "I should think you would, Honey. Listen to me, with THAT hair, we're ALL going to be leaving.
Woman: (leaping to her feet) "I will not be spoken to in this manner! You shall be SILENT!"
Man: (waving his finger in a squiggling motion) "And lose the drapes, sister. It mighta worked for Scarlett O'Hara, but for Heaven's sake, Sweetie, those men just fought a war."
Woman: (regaining some of her composure) "I should think a man with a withered hairline and what I MUST assume to be an equally withered member would benefit to demonstrate more respect for the crown.
Man: "Now that's just plain rude."
Woman: "You are truly impudent-or perhaps, impotent, strikes closer to the mark?"
Man: "Honey, you HAVE to update your one-liners. We have Viagara for that now."
Woman: (chagrined) "One more insult and I shall have you dragged off to the men's prison!"
Man: (raising eyebrows): "Men's prison? And when did they let YOU out?"
Woman: (shouting): "GUARDS!"
(Two burly, handsome guards enter. They are dressed in leather armor. Man circles them, whistling.)

Woman: "Guards! Take this fool away and do with him what you will!"
(The guards look at each other, smile, and, before anyone can speak, they grab the boy who is still dancing and drag him off stage right. The girl trails off after them, while the Woman stands, sputters. The man looks after them longingly.)
Man: (to Woman) "I warned him that the big boys would be all over him. Come on, Sister, have a martini with me and let's talk about who supplies your velvet..."

Woman reluctantly joins him at the bar.

Fade to black.


The Fabulousness Of Gay*
by Gregory Gerard
(*Winner 2003 Rochester's Geva Theater and Writers & Books "Two Pages, Two Characters" Contest)

(Two men sit in a shiny new Honda CRV outside of a Target store.

The driver is forty-ish, a sleek and cultured queen wearing a black turtleneck. He has pursed lips, and there are hints in his face that suggest a history of alcohol consumption.

The passenger, his apprentice, is younger, fresher looking, although his nervous gestures and quick glances suggest a man less sure of himself.

A lone shopping cart occupies the parking space opposite theirs.)

Queen: (with an affected sophistication) This is where we come to observe the "working class."

Apprentice: Let's start with her, she's gonna do it, she's feeling too goody goody today. You can tell by the way she's looking all around for the cart return.

Queen: (acerbic) Sister, her box of wine is calling her name LOUDLY … and, besides, she has to race home and catch General Hospital.

Apprentice: (laughing) Oh, you're SO right! OK, how 'bout this one? The one with the paisley leg warmers?

Queen: Hmmm, no, no…she has to pee. See how she's waddling along all leaned over like that? Plus she's too worried that her husband is knockin' booties with his secretary to notice a cart in the middle of the parking lot.

Apprentice: Alright, let me do one. Oh! Oh! Over there, that guy with the tight jeans…

Queen: (leering) Oh baby, he can return my cart anytime. Yoo hoo! Tight Jeans Boy!

Apprentice: SHHHH! He'll hear you!

Queen: You ARE new at this, aren't you? We observe and we comment. We NEVER SHHH.

Apprentice: Sorry.

Queen: (over-dramatically) All Is Forgiven.

Apprentice: It was my turn. Ummm, how about Blonde-Out-Of-A-Bottle over there?

Queen: Honey, with the spare tire THAT truck is hauling, she'll be lucky if she makes it into the store without her OXYGEN tank.

Apprentice: What's up with all these women out shopping at Tar-jzay at 6 o'clock? Shouldn't they be home making their manly-men dinner?

Queen: This is the age of empowerment, Sister. They're off running up the credit cards on new curtains and dried flowers while Daddy sits home and changes the diapers. That's why WE'RE holding all the cards, Honey. WE'VE got the money, WE'VE got the personality and WE'VE got the designer wardrobe. The straight boys just don't have a chance anymore. Not that there was ever much hope for them to begin with.

Apprentice: So if we're the ones with all the power and money, what's the rest of the world do?

Queen: (with open disdain) They push out a few kids and show up at Grandmama's on Sunday for meatloaf. It's FRIGHTENING, I know, but take comfort, my dear, the world doesn't belong to them. They like to think that it DOES … but we know the truth. And that's the beauty of all of it, the FABULOUSNESS OF GAY.

Apprentice: (looking at Queen in awe) How did you learn all this? Until I met you and the other guys, (he drops his gaze to his lap) … things were kind of … tough.

(Queen looks directly at the Apprentice, and his face softens ever so slightly, as though remembering some private pain of his own.)

Queen: (with a slightly lower, normal speaking voice) Diamonds don't shine until they're nearly crushed under the pressure, kid. We've all been through it. We make it to the other side. We become FABULOUS … and the rest just falls into place.

(Apprentice looks back to Queen, his eyes damp. His naïve awe prevents him from comprehending the shared connection that has been extended. Uncomfortable with tears in front of his mentor, he spots movement in the parking lot, and quickly shifts back into the game.)

Apprentice: Hey, look! Here comes Tight Jeans Boy again. Look, he's returning the cart to the store. It figures, the man to the rescue.

(Queen's face is unreadable for a quick moment, as though some emotion might surface, then takes on the former, familiar pursed-lip look.)

Queen: (returning to affected sophistication) The WAY of the world. OH, TIGHT JEANS BOY, DO YOU NEED A RIDE SOMEWHERE?

Apprentice: SHHH! He'll hear you!

The Queen: (coldly) SHHH me again and we're no longer sisters.

Apprentice: Sorry.