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**PRINT: FRIENDS FROM CINCINNATI: Installment 24 features this part coming-of-age short by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, author of the Trouble collection of shorts out in 2006. | PAST BROADSHEETS |

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Todd Dills

White-knuckled in D.C. -- business traveler fresh from a defiantly decadent meal (for a bunch of journalists and PR types) and posted up half asleep on his rented bed when protestors in New Orleans fill the screen.

Such was my predicament, that of a character in one of my stories stuck in the moment at which drunken fuzziness rolls over into mania. Hurricane Katrina always gets the mind spinning, raging. "Filmmaker Helen Hill" wasn't a name and title I necessarily recognized in the context of late-night cable news. Nor could I remember in my lousy state the name of the silver-haired and often overearnest commentator.

But the protesters were protesting specifically the death of the filmmaker by pistol or shotgun and the overall violence of their wrecked and stumbling city. After the silver-haired commentator's story unfolded, though -- a narrative of grisly scene and story -- after the identity of Helen Hill revealed itself to me, it was another long moment before I could move to anything.

People, Helen was one of the most kind-hearted people I've met in my days, however briefly I knew her -- her husband Paul still is. If you don't know them, skip the news media and visit the small memorial to Helen Canadian gent Jim Munroe's posted here, which details the couple's wonderful personalities and commitment to others.

Hill was a native of my home state, South Carolina, the Columbia area, and she and Paul, native of Nova Scotia, though our paths crossed briefly a couple times afterward, had been very kind to me in the fall of 2001. It felt like summer in New Orleans, and Munroe and I and his then-girlfriend (now betrothed) Susan were fresh from the Spartanburg county jail, where we laid over for a day on account of my own ugly stupidity, nuff said -- three days in New Orleans later I felt like I'd been succored by gods of goodwill, including one in the form of Helen and Paul's pig Rosie, who can be seen sniffing and grunting famously in the small vid on Munroe's memorial page (as can I, a shadowy figure reading a book on the front stoop at the very beginning of the shotgun house tour -- oh ! how very aloof ! the exact opposite of our wonderful hosts, bless them).

Our thoughts here at THE2NDHAND South HQ are with you, Paul, and Helen's family.