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“This is the year,” said Dud, flipping his cup to the upright and fillable position. Mavis filled it up and brought him a saucer full of fake cream. “Been thinking about it, and this is definitely the year.”

“Okay, I’ll bite,” said Steve, twitching his walrus-like moustache, “This is the year for what, Dud?”

“For everything!”

He stood and walked a complete circuit behind the chairs at the round table, waving his arms. “Can’t you feel it? It’s gonna happen. This is the year of dreams coming to a total fulmination of wonder and delight. This is the year, for example, that I’ll finally figure out how to reconcile the duchess and the truck driver in my book Murder in the Soggy Bottoms.”

“You know,” said Doc, “that still sounds to me like someone has a lot of diapers to change.”

“And Doc … this is the year. Yes, this is the very year you figure out what The Lunker likes to nibble on, and you catch and land him. It’s inevitable.”

“I like the way he thinks,” said Doc.

“And Bert, there’s still that mystery clouding your life, and I know this is the year you solve it.”

“Mystery?” said Bert.

“Yeah. Didn’t someone do a drive-by theft of your lawn sprinkler a couple of years ago?”

“Almost three now.”

“See?”

“But why is this the year,” asked Doc. “Why THIS year?”

“Well, actually,” Dud said, “I bought Anita a pack of those taro cards and she’s been having fun with them.”

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