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p align="center" style="text-align:center;"> This is a work of fiction set in the real world.
Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously
Any other resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Capitol Hill - Summer of '22 Book VI - 5. After Party

Cops? What the fuck’s going on over there?” Rod’s text made CJ shake his head.

He handed Owen the phone. “It’s our nosy neighbors. Go ahead and reply. Tell Rod and T to come over and bring Liebe.”

Owen grinned and returned the phone. “I’ll go get them.”

The dinner party was over, the Secret Service had spirited the Obamas away through the carriage house, and the D.C. police cruisers out front had left with them.

CJ turned his attention to Dave and René. “Here you go, gentlemen.” He handed each an envelope. “Your fee plus a little something extra.” Smiling, he shook their hands. “Don’t worry about the rest of this crap,” he waved at the sink full of china and crystal even after the dishwasher was loaded, “we’ll take care of it.

“Rene, since you’re a local, we may want to hire you again. Interested?”

“It would be my pleasure, Mr. Abelló. Tonight was quite an experience. Not sure I ever dreamt of serving a president and first lady.”

“They’re just regular people, but I’m glad you enjoyed meeting them. Dave, everyone raved about your food. Best of luck when you return to the Polish border. Please stay safe and keep in touch. Let us know when you’re back in the States.”

“I will, CJ. Thank you.” Dave looked toward the den, where the remaining guests paid rapt attention to the news. “Everyone, thank you.” He raised a hand and waved. “I hope you all stay safe. Have a good night.”

CJ walked them to the front door and waited with the chefs for the requested Uber to arrive. About the same time it did, the door opened next door, and Owen walked out, cradling Liebe in his arms, trailed by Rod and Taisha.

“Put her to bed, Oz.” CJ gently ran a hand over her head. “I’ll get these two some peach cobbler. Plenty left even if the bourbon whipped cream’s gone. Welcome to the after-party, guys.”

As always happened with mass shootings, broadcast media, and digital commentary went overboard. A couple of phones in the house pinged incessantly, and TV anchors stretched the few details they had to fill airtime. CJ was certain it would be the headline in every newspaper the next day. Brett had taken control of the remote and flipped between Washington stations and national networks. He settled on a local outlet broadcasting footage of the shooting.

“Oh my God, that’s horrible. Those poor people.” Pam covered her mouth, closed her eyes, and turned away.

“Crap. Ozzie said the cops were here because Campbell was shot, but I didn’t realize it was a massacre. Where is this, and how come there were cameras there?”

César offered his nephew and his wife a half smile. “Around the corner outside The Monocle.” The restaurant, a favorite of Capitol denizens and Capitol Hill residents, was a ten-minute drive away, a few blocks north of the Supreme Court.

“The reporters were there covering protesters. The pro-choice activists’ network has infiltrated the entire DMV.” César smirked. “As soon as one of the conservative justices goes anywhere, word gets out, and demonstrators show up.”

“And the TV cameras are a minute behind.” Rod moved to an armchair and motioned for Taisha to sit on his lap. “So, what do we know so far?”

Brett was the one to reply. “Campbell and his wife were at dinner with a former clerk and his wife. When they walked out, the shouting started from across the street. Then, from the same side the restaurant’s on, someone came out with an assault rifle and started firing. The cameraman was good; he kept his cool and pivoted quickly enough to capture the shooter firing at the crowd. Someone already shared a cell phone video that shows the guy stumbling and spraying bullets in every direction. The Justice and his wife got hit, and so did two of the U.S. Marshalls on their security detail. Before the agents fell, they returned fire and killed the fucker. Even after taking several bullets each. Thankfully, they were wearing vests. Everyone was rushed to the hospital.”

CJ looked up when Owen joined them. “She okay?”

“Yeah. Never woke up.”

“I don’t understand how all of you can be so blasé about this.” Pam sounded frustrated. “This would never happen back home.”

“You never know, Pam. Some deranged teetotaler could one day decide to shoot up grape vines.” CJ’s quip and subsequent chuckle were well received by everyone except for Pam, who looked mortified.

“Mum, mass shootings can take place anywhere. Even in the Hunter Valley. You’d probably not get one with roots in politics, but it could happen.”

“He’s right, Mrs. Liston.” Sitting on the floor, Riley leaned back against the couch between Phil’s legs. “I come from a small town in the South, and we’ve had a couple of incidents. Life in the city’s quite different to country living, though. I’m still adjusting.”

“And I’m proud of you for how well you’ve handled new experiences.” Phil leaned forward and kissed the top of Riley’s head. “Back home in Miami, mass shootings have been going on for a long time. My parents say in the eighties, cocaine cowboys would kill people for looking at them wrong.”

“Your parents must be a little older than I am. That happened while I was a kid. You’re about the same age as CJ, right?”

“A year or so older, Mr. A. My folks are in their fifties.”

“Damn! They’re gone.” Brett had lowered the volume but raised it when the text bar below the talking heads announced that Justice Campbell and his wife had been pronounced dead upon arrival at George Washington University Hospital.

They listened in silence for a moment until CJ rose. “I need a drink. Anyone else?”

Rod raised his hand. “What are you having?”


“I’ll take some. T, want anything?”

His wife shook her head.

While CJ fetched the bottle and a snifter for his cousin, Brett switched to CNN when the local station turned coverage over to their national network. “Turn to FOX, Grandpa Cap. I want to hear how they’re gonna spin this shit.”

He laughed when the crawling headline at the bottom of the screen proclaimed Pro-abortion agitators instigate Supreme Court Justice murder. “Ha! Figures they’d ignore the killer shot at those protesters first. I wonder when we’ll find out who he was.”

The shooting had taken place around nine o’clock, close to an hour later, the announcement was made the Justice and his wife were gone. At that point, Pam touched Geoff’s knee and rose. “I’m going to bed, honey. It was a lovely evening until this stuff happened, but I’m tired and don’t feel like staying up to watch anything more.”

Geoff jumped off his seat. “I’ll join you. Goodnight, everyone.”

Owen took the opportunity to offer the remaining guests refills, and Riley excused himself to use the bathroom. When he returned, he took over the spot vacated by Owen’s parents. “I love that damn bathroom. Dark, tropical, moody... with a touch of humor from the neon flamingo. Who designed it?”

CJ shrugged and tried not to sound boastful. “I did.”

“Bullshit!” Rod picked the cushion he had previously tossed on the floor and flung it in CJ’s direction. “He’s full of crap, Riley. It was a group effort, and you’ve met all of us. I’ll admit the concept was inspired by CJ wanting something tropical in the house and jokingly mentioning he also wanted a plastic pink flamingo out front.” Rod stopped and shot CJ an inquiring look. “What’s the amused expression for?”

“Jokingly? Did you see Liebe’s new stuffed animal? The munchkin loves flamingos, so I’ll have support when we put a dozen of them out next spring.” CJ noticed Owen shrug when everyone looked his way.

“There goes the neighborhood.” Taisha was so used to the Abellós’ antics she rarely reacted. “The initial idea did come from CJ, Riley. Randy found the wallpaper, Silas designed the neon sign, and I sourced the black marble, brass fixtures, and gilded mirror. Painting the ceiling such a dark green was Ty’s contribution.

Randy Abelló, Rod’s twin; his husband, Tyler Scott; and their adopted son, Silas Washington, lived in Chicago. In the construction business, and with Tyler specializing in historic structures, they had been part of the team that rehabbed Everhope. And they consulted with the local architect Phil and Riley hired when they bought their home.

Their place was being converted from an eight-unit rental back to a single-family home. Once the basement was gutted, disinfected, and painted, the men left their temporary rental and moved into it while the upstairs floors were remodeled.

“Would you guys be okay if we brought our designer over to look at your house?” Riley directed the question at CJ and Owen.

“Fine with me,” Owen replied while CJ nodded. “I guess you’re still working on decorating details. What are your plans for the basement once you move upstairs?”

“I want a bitching gym. It’ll come in handy during the off-season. We won’t have to drive to the teams’ training facilities and won’t have to deal with autograph and selfie asks if we go to a regular gym.” Phil glanced at CJ and smirked. “We’ll sell you a membership if you’re interested.”

“Don’t be an ass, Phil.” Riley smiled at his hosts. “The two of you can use it any time you want. We’ll give you access through the outside entrance.”

It was nearly eleven when identifying information first emerged about the shooter. Further details were revealed over subsequent hours and days. Seamus Kirk Inklets was a rabid anti-abortion activist from Texas. He had a history of threatening comments on social media and had run for local office as a Republican but lost his race by double digits.

Minutes after the revelation, Brett and César stood and announced they were heading home. While César shook Riley’s hand, he encouraged the football player to call him.

“I will, Mr. Abelló. Aside from looking forward to lunch at your club, I’d like to talk to the two of you about your family foundation. If I do end up with a large contract, I’d like to start my own. Something to help kids here in Washington and back in Macon.”

“Dude, that’s awesome.” Brett’s friendly slap to the man’s back did not even move the solid mass of muscles. “As chair of Heroes Haven, I hear about significant contributions. Thank you for the ongoing support. You too, Phil.”

“Our pleasure, Captain. The documentary’s premiere allowed us to meet Owen, CJ, and the rest of you.” Phil grinned while bro-hugging Brett. “That alone’s enough reason for us to support your charity.”

With no further developments over the next thirty minutes or so, Rod and Taisha said good night and headed home.

“We should be going too. Come on, Phil, get off your butt.” Outside, Riley had some final words for CJ. “Listen, the next couple of months will be hectic for us, what with finishing the house and the season starting, but I’d like to sit with you for a chat.”

“Anytime, bud. What’s on your mind?”

“I want to talk politics. I’m a registered Republican because that’s what my parents are. They’re conservatives but can’t stand our former president because of how he tried to overturn Georgia’s 2020 vote. And for pushing Walker on us this year. I need help understanding some things I’ve never paid attention to before.”

CJ was surprised. “You don’t support a former player who won the Heisman for your school?” The Republican candidate for senator, Herschel Walker, had played at the University of Georgia and was a hero to many Georgia residents.

“Not a chance. The man’s an idiot who has no business in public office—just something else to blame Trump for since he recruited Walker to run. I’m supporting Warnock financially since I can’t vote for him. I’m now registered in the District.”

“Good for you. You guys know where to find us. Whenever you want, we’ll get together, just the four of us, so we can talk.”

Phil shook his head. “Nope. It’s gotta be five of us. I’m in love with your kid. We’re not ready yet, but I do want one like her. Maybe more.”


“G’day, Munchkin.” Owen leaned down and kissed the top of Liebe’s head. He sat on the stool next to hers and glanced at CJ while nodding at the TV. “Anything new?”

“A little. Researchers must have been up all night digging. Bunch of details from the shooter’s Facebook and Truth Social posts.” CJ finished slicing the sourdough loaf he had left out to defrost the previous night. “Morning, Pam. Morning, Geoff.” The couple had joined them in the kitchen and took the two remaining stools.

Geoff glanced at the muted news channel. “G’day. Have they been at it all night?”

“I just turned it on when Liebe and I came downstairs, but I’m sure coverage’s been non-stop, and it’ll be the same the whole day. They already started speculating on who’ll be appointed as Dan Campbell’s replacement.”

“That’s horrible.” Pam sounded upset. “Can’t they at least mourn those poor people and wait until after their funeral to talk about those things?”

“No way, Mum. This is a huge deal. The Supreme Court has been politicized, it’s packed with partisan conservatives, and Campbell was one of the most polarizing Justices. Considering the Democrats may lose control of the Senate in the November elections, I’m sure Biden’s gonna push to have his replacement confirmed before the court’s next term starts in October. Ceej, anyone we know being talked about?”

“Not really. Hey, I shredded some of the leftover pork from last night and have it warming up in the oven. I’m gonna use it to top avocado toast. Everybody good with that?”

“That sounds good, mate.” Geoff turned to his granddaughter. “Are you going to have some, Liebe? I thought you were already eating your brekkie. What do you have in front of you?”

“Cheerios.” The girl had been munching on dry cereal, watching what went on around her. “Want some?” When she raised the plastic bowl, small oat wheels flew everywhere.

Everyone but Pam chuckled. She stood and moved to clean up after the girl.

“Leave it, Mum. Not worth bothering until we’re done. You’ve seen what a messy eater she is.”

“Then we’ll have to rush to get her cleaned and dressed before we go.” It was Geoff and Pam’s last day in Washington, their flight departed that evening, and she wanted to go to mass.

“She’s not going, so there’s no hurry. I’ll take care of her after you guys leave.” CJ knew his comment would not go over well.

“What do you mean? I thought she would spend our last morning in town with us.”

“I already asked her, and she said she wants to go to the farmers’ market with me.” CJ didn’t bother to look at his mother-in-law, instead speaking to his daughter. “Munchkin, you want to go to the farmer’s market or to church with Ozzie and your grandparents?”

“No church. The market with you.”

CJ grinned. “And there you have it. We’ll get something yummy for lunch.”

Pam, as she had more than once during the visit, did not look pleased. “You let her decide? But she’s only two. How can she understand what you’re asking her?”

“Oh, she understands well enough. I mean, she’s an Abelló, after all. We’re perceptive from birth.”

“Wanker.” Owen stuck his tongue out at CJ. “Did you bribe her?”

“Nope. You know darn well she doesn’t like going to church. Remember how much she fussed at the wedding in Michigan?” Sitting between her fathers after walking down the aisle carrying a miniature replica of the bride’s bouquet, her antics forced Owen to take her outside until she agreed to sit still.

“I made peace with the fact the two of you don’t want her baptized, but I think it’s wrong you’re not teaching her about religion. Going to church always brings me peace, and you’re not allowing her to experience it.”

“Pam…” Geoff’s tone was a warning.

“No, Geoff. I’m her grandmother, and I have the right to speak my mind. This is wrong. We all need god in our lives.”

CJ shook his head. “I don’t. I need Ozzie and Liebe. Anything or anyone else is irrelevant. Pam, if faith brings you comfort, then by all means, pray all you want. Go to church all you want. I wholeheartedly support your right to do so. But we already told you Liebe’s our daughter, and we’ll raise her any fucking way we want.”

“Ceej, you used a grownup word.”

The heat that had built up inside CJ dissipated the moment Liebe spoke. “I’m sorry, Munchkin. I was getting upset, and it slipped. I’ll try to be better.”

Owen leaned into their daughter and pecked her cheek. “Since he messed up, we’ll have to make him pay a fine. Make him stop at District 13 and buy you a cookie.”

“I want a skinny doodie.” The girl knew the proper pronunciation but had mentioned she liked her fathers grinning when she used her version.

CJ and Owen cracked up. “That’s a snickerdoodle in Liebe-speak.”

Once done eating, Pam stood and placed her plate, mug, and utensils in the sink. “I’m going to get dressed. What time’s mass?”

“Eleven, but we should leave by 10:30. It’s about fifteen minutes away.” Once Pam left, Owen whispered to his father. “Stay for a minute.”

Geoff nodded. “Where are we going anyway? Are you driving?”

“St. John’s, right across from the White House. We’ll get an Uber; parking’s murder around there.”

“It’s a pretty church, Geoff. And you’ll get to say hello to Father Chance, the priest who married us.”

“He’s there? You guys keep in touch?”

CJ nodded. “Yeah, we went to a couple of events at the church before we moved to Mexico, and he stopped by when we got back.”

Once the sound of Pam’s steps on the staircase faded, Owen glanced at CJ before speaking to his father again. “Dad, I’m gonna call a limo to take you to the airport, okay?”

“Sure… can I ask why?”

“Honestly, I’m not sure how CJ didn’t explode just now. Mum was out of line again, and I don’t think my husband and my mother should be in a car with Liebe present. She might say something, and if CJ loses it, I don’t want the munchkin to see or hear it.” Although Owen spoke softly, he sneaked constant glances at Liebe.

“It’s okay, Oz. She’s not paying attention. Too busy wiping her hands on her hair.” The girl had smeared avocado all over herself.


“I don’t feel like cooking lunch, Munchkin. What do you think we should get?” CJ had wiped the girl down, changed her clothes, and placed her in her stroller for the ten-minute walk to Eastern Market.


“That’s a great idea. We’ll stop by the bakery to get cookies, pick up a watermelon from one of the produce stalls, and hit the food truck for chicken and chips.” The Roaming Rooster truck was always parked outside the market on weekends.

“I want cookies now.”

“Not a chance, Munchkin. We’ll save those for after lunch. Grandma would get upset if I spoil your appetite again.”

The girl turned to look at her father and pouted. “No! I want cookies now.”

“And I want a lot of things I can’t have.” When she banged her hands on the carriage, CJ stopped in the middle of the sidewalk. “If you throw a tantrum, we’ll forget the bakery, and I won’t get you any snickerdoodles. Is that what you want?”

“No.” She did not look happy, but she did not cry.

Once back home, CJ placed the chicken and homemade chips in the oven to keep warm and sliced the watermelon. When Owen and his parents returned, they found CJ, Liebe, and Wingnut wrestling on the floor; at the sound of the front door opening, Wingnut barked and ran to greet the arrivals.

“Father Chance says hello.” Owen knelt on the ground next to the girl, but before he could reach for her, the dog tried to lick his face off. “Down, Wingnut. You’ve been playing with her, so it’s my turn.”

“I was surprised the priest remembered us. considering we only met him that one time at your wedding.” Geoff sat on the couch, and Wingnut immediately jumped on his lap. “Ooof! He’s not light. I hope he doesn’t jump on Liebe this way.”

“He’s very gentle with her.” CJ stood and headed toward the bathroom. “Gotta pee. And of course he recognized you, Geoff. Owen’s the spitting image of you.”

“He asked about Liebe, and I mentioned I wanted her to go with us, but you wouldn’t let her.” Pam’s comment was met with utter silence.

CJ stopped on the way to the bathroom and turned. He had had enough. “You lied, Pam. I gave her the option of going, and she said no. For the record, you had no business bringing that up. I’m tired of your constant meddling. I’m not sure what your problem is, but next time we see you, when we take the twins to Australia next summer, you better not act this way. I’m sick and tired of your bullshit.”

“Ceej, grown-up word.”

“Sorry, Munchkin. I’m upset, and I forgot. Tell you what, I don’t care if it spoils your appetite; you can have a cookie now.”

“Pam planned to fly over by herself when the boys are born, but it might be a good idea if I come with her.” Geoff, as usual, tried to mollify his wife and his son-in-law.

CJ glanced at his husband. “Oz?”

“Yeah, I know.” Owen sat across from his parents with Liebe on his lap. “About that, Dad. CJ and I discussed this earlier, and we weren’t going to make a final decision until after you left. However, he’s right. Mum, you’ve been a pain this entire trip. I don’t think there’s much left for you to find fault with or complain about. We don’t want you here when the twins are born. You’ll get to meet them with the rest of the family when we take them for a visit.”

Pam looked shocked. “What? Why? No! Of course I’ll be here right after they’re born.”

CJ was fed up. “No, you won’t. Frankly, Pam, if my fathers were as obnoxious as you’ve been, I would have screamed at them by now. You disrespected me when we were down under last time, you did it again in front of Rubio, and now you just admitted to once again doing it in front of Father Chance. I’ve had it with you. Until further notice, you’re not allowed in my home. Now, if you excuse me, I still have to pee.”

“Owen?” Pam sounded on the verge of tears, but CJ kept walking.

“I told you we discussed it already. I agree with him. CJ’s shown incredible restraint over the past few days, but he’s reached his limit. So have I.” Probably on purpose, Owen spoke loud enough CJ could hear his comments. “I told you in Australia if you pulled anything else like what you did, I’d never let you see Liebe again. You’re pushing it, Mum.” He turned to Geoff. “Dad, I hope you can make her realize how wrong she is, trying to interfere. She’s turned into a nag. And I don’t care if she’s sick. I don’t care if she’s depressed or if her meds aren’t working. She’s toxic, and I don’t want her around my kids or my husband.”

Except for Liebe’s chatter, lunch was a silent affair. When done, Pam and Geoff went upstairs to finish packing and did not return until the limo driver knocked on the door. Owen and Geoff had already carried the luggage down in the elevator, so CJ stood at the bottom of the stairs with Liebe in his arms.

“Your grandparents are going back to Australia, Munchkin; say goodbye to them.” He held the girl out to Pam. “You wanna hold her one last time?” While she hugged the girl, CJ turned to Geoff. “Sorry about the mess. We’ll let you know as soon as the boys are born, and I look forward to seeing you next year.” While hugging his father-in-law, he whispered so only he could hear. “She needs more help, Grandpa Geoff. Please try to get her to realize we don’t hate her, but we won’t put up with her antics.”

The sad-looking man nodded.


“Where’s my weed?” CJ put Liebe down at the same time Owen let go of Wingnut’s leash. Both ran toward Brett and César. Although the District of Columbia allowed those over twenty-one to possess up to two ounces of marijuana, because the Obamas and their Secret Service detail would be at Everhope, he had dropped the table-top humidor with his stash and paraphernalia off at his parents. “I’ve had enough alcohol this week and want a joint instead.”

“Rough day?” César handed the girl to Brett and stood. “It’s in our room. I’ll get it for you.”

“Thanks. Rough few days. Pam was a royal pain in the behind, and I finally blew up at her this morning. I also told her she’s not welcome back.”

“Ouch! I bet that went over well.” Brett grinned at his son while bouncing his granddaughter on a knee. “What about when the boys are born?”

“Nope. I specifically told her she’s not allowed to be here for the birth. She’ll meet them when we take them to Australia next summer.”


Owen nodded. “Yeah. Big time. Worst when I called her a nag and mentioned I agreed with CJ. I’m hoping either Dad or Spencer gets through to her. If they don’t, and she acts the same way when Spence and Tilda have their kid, my brother will bite her head off.”

Brett nodded. “I understand. And I’m so glad I get along with my in-laws. Sebastián and Rosario never meddled in our lives.”

“That’s because I’d already ripped Dad a new one when I came out.” César placed the wooden box on the coffee table in front of CJ. “By the time you came into the picture, my parents knew if they ticked me off, they’d never see me or their newfound grandson again.”

“At least Ozzie never had to worry about César and me getting up in your crap.” Brett grinned at Owen. “You got lucky, dude.”

“You came close, Papa. I didn’t bring up the four of you going behind our back about that stupid prenup you wanted. At least you guys apologized. Geoff did too, but Pam never has.”

César shrugged while looking at his son. “We were wrong. I’m glad you stood your ground.”

“Me too.” CJ had fished out a joint and a lighter from the humidor and stood. “Anyone want to join me on the patio?”

“I will. Brett, stay here, get Owen a drink, and you two order food.”

“So, how bad was it?” César talked while CJ lit the joint and puffed. “Brett and I thought she sounded frustrated last night and quite naïve about mass shootings.”

“I’m not sure what’s going on with her, Dad. She pulled that crap with the baptism when we were down there, and we thought therapy and meds had helped her. But it’s been almost two years, and she’s still acting up.

“First, it was calling me out in front of Rubio, and this morning it was accusing me of not allowing Liebe to set foot in church in front of Father Chance.”

“They went to St. John’s?”

“Yep, and when she assumed Liebe was going with them, I told her Liebe didn’t want to and asked the kid again in front of Pam. Disapproval oozed from her most of the weekend, and I finally exploded. It was Ozzie who started the conversation about her not being welcome back. I think she was surprised he backed me.”

The joint was passed back and forth a couple of times until César shook his head when it was offered to him again. CJ shrugged, took a last hit, and stubbed it out.

“She’s not well, CJ. You should give her some leeway.”

“I did, Dad. I swear. Look, Liebe’s still young enough Pam’s actions don’t have much of an impact. But as the girl gets older, I know she won’t put up with her grandmother’s bullshit. Sick or not, Liebe, Ozzie, and soon the twins are my top priority. Anyone messes with them, Pam included, I’ll either hurt them or banish them from our life.”


On October 2, 2022, Associate Justice Barack Hussein Obama began his first term on the United States Supreme Court.



That concludes the 20th installment in the CJ series. The story would have been poorer without the invaluable input of @Reader1810 and @WolfM. My heartfelt thanks to both for their assistance.

To all readers, thank you for spending time with me and my characters; I hope you enjoyed it. And because I’m clairvoyant and know what you will do, thank you in advance for reacting to the chapter and the story, for your chapter comments and story reviews, and for recommending Capitol Hill so others may decide to read it too.


Copyright © 2023 Carlos Hazday; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

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