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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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Emerson Dameron

One of the few Republicans to lose a 2004 election bid in North Carolina was Lawrence L. "Larry" Lifesaver Jr. Lifesaver made his third run at reelection as mayor of Wink, NC, my hometown. He's heir to the Lifesaver's candy fortune, as well as a respected local statesman with a baker's dozen citizen's arrests to his name.

Lifesaver made the honest mistake of taking his wife "leaf-looking" in nearby Asheville one Saturday, coinciding with a Gay Pride rally. While he pumped gas, a trio of hirsute frolickers in Daisy Dukes surrounded him. They draped him in strands of interlocking rings, representing every fruity color of the rainbow. Consummate politician to the bitter end, he smiled, traded barbs and shook hands. Someone snapped a Polaroid, which ran in the arch-conservative Wink Dispatch that Monday. Lifesaver was sunk. His Democratic challenger, an unknown housewife named Lovie something-or-other, eked out a 52% victory.

Larry Lifesaver's son, L. Lucas Lifesaver III, was one of my closest friends through high school. It's said the first generation makes the money, the second maintains it, the third pisses it away. Lucas held up his end. His folks bankrolled a Philadelphia apartment until his heroin habit left him in a gas station john, passed out in his own puke. They flew him back to Wink, where he lived in their basement for a year.

Lucas was always "argumentative," as the white folks say. His convalescence fueled his rancor to levels which often summoned the fire department. I kept up with Lucas via e-mail, but mostly through tasteslikewink.blogspot.com, his ferocious, unforgiving online journal. The November 1, 2004 entry reads as follows:

Fuck you all. Fuck you for leaving me here alone. Fuck you in your mouth, your ears, in your smelly crotch and up your ass, fuck you with a rusty chainsaw and fuck you, fuck you, fuck you again, forever and ever, amen. I'm going to quit smoking, eat right, go to the gym, and shoot wheat grass every hour, on the hour, just so I can outlive you all and do the mashed potato on y'all's graves. I'll still be a piece of shit, but I'll be smart and alive, and you won't be scared or stupid anymore, you'll just be DEAD.

Really, I want you to like me, so I can get information from you, get smarter, and tell you what I figured out. But you'll hate me if I really let loose. Complete honesty is like using 100% of my brain, instead of the meager 10% you idiot assholes eat, shit and fuck on. Either way, I'm kicked out of the temple. Blow minds, people hate you. Until you die. Then they find out you weren't kidding. To live is to be stupid or unpopular.

I still want to dance on your graves, though. That would just rule.

On November 3, 2004, while he and a stranger discussed the Yucca Mountain project outside Wink's lone Krispy Kreme franchise, Lucas Lifesaver was knifed in the stomach. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Wink Hospital. He was 26 years old.

Emerson Dameron was born and reared in Western North Carolina. Sometimes he yearns, sometimes he publishes the zine Wherewithal. His work has appeared in the Whirligig, Slush Pile, A Shout In the Street, and various other scrappy organs. He enjoys music, sex, food and fun. Emerson will read w/ THE2NDHAND contributors Marc Baez and Susannah Felts at Quimby's (Thur 16 Dec 2004) at our Christmasy event for issue 15. Click here for details about the show.