Wordcarpenter Books

Chapter Sixteen

How to Make a Bomb Out of a Light Bulb


             When he had first met Antonio a few weeks ago, he was hanging out on the sidewalk beside Finn's. There was a bunch of people smoking their pipes. The road beside Finn's was a one-way and heavily treed so the police seldom patrolled it, so there tended to be a few smokers there. Antonio though was different. He had a very precise face, firm and proportion with his aquiline nose, straight and narrow, and lips that were muscular and beautiful. They worked when he spoke with the rhythm of Argentinean slang, baritone voice making up for his long, thin frame, coordinated and purposeful. At 33 he already had the lines of a doer, past stories waiting for the chance to be told from a childhood in Buenos Aries.

            They chatted after the bars closed under a tree on a dead-end street, smoking base and drinking Northena from the bottle. Antonio could construct a perfect pipe from the cigarette pack foil, like a funnel twisted and bent. He was an expert and major consumer of the powder. Noble had wondered why his technique was so good. Obviously well educated, it hadn't occurred to Noble that he was talking to an addict. He had told Noble that he was flying to Denmark on the following Thursday for work as a forensic photographer "taking pictures of the mortes." He was in Quito waiting for his flight, where he had come to recover from a broken relationship. When he had become drunk he blabbered about his wife and kids, unafraid to show how his cracked heart had shattered him and torn up his life. Antonio's face, so earnest and teary, would move closer to Noble so that he was in his space, causing him to lean back. It was urgent that he understood his pain, a man in pain and a man who needed empathy. He had said he couldn't afford to live in a hostel, so Noble lent him twenty dollars. He insisted he would find Noble at Finn's and pay him back once he received money from his mother for his trip to Denmark.

            A week later he bumped into Antonio beside Finn's. He was wearing a t-shirt so when it started to rain Noble invited him into the pub for a few pints. Noble knew he didn't have the money he owed him and he didn't have it in him to ask for it. After a few pints Antonio convinced him they should go over to his friend's to score some coke. That was when he met Paul.


            He stepped behind the Dane who never allowed himself to be interrupted or forced to do anything by anyone but himself and at his own speed. Noble shook hands with the Quebecois who were still in, and gently and meaningfully put his hand on Monica's shoulder, shooting a tingle down his arm. He felt they were the only ones who really witnessed the poesy and verse of the night, and nonchalant confidence, Monica was now a woman he was not afraid of, a person he could trust and strangely someone he could sit with in comfortable silence sharing without speaking.

            At the back door the bouncer, a man who had never showed an emotion, shook his hand in relief and respect for his promptness, a coup of sorts with the strong man and protector of the best expat pub in Quito. After a month of nods and Reno's enticements with calling him "amigo," he had finally made a judgment, a favorable one, and a judgment not of Reno but of noble, the best and most unexpected ending to poker night at Finn's.

            Antonio stopped whining when Reno abruptly raised his hand and said: "In English! Gotta practice your English." The deflection was successful because he couldn't bitch in English. Reno was swift enough to not really care, trying to plug the holes that was letting that magic feeling out that a minute ago had been so intoxicating. The cold air permeated through his fleece and vest. He knew the best strategy was to engage and keep moving forward.

            "Technology?" It was one of the few words of slang Antonio had picked up from him. He nodded. Good news because they needed to bring supplies over to Paul's.

            When the Dane came out he went right to Antonio, his face inches away. He spoke in rapid Spanish as if scolding a child, not letting him talk, ensuring he understood he was acting selfish and immature and to stop his whining. It was a beautiful sight. Direct and clear, blue eyes wide and unwavering, shoulders square, absolutely nothing casual about it. Stern but not angry, the ultimate in alpha male pulling rank.

            Since Noble was the tallest, he stood close enough to the Dane to add some muster to the barrage. He didn't say a word. Antonio tried but the Dane simply overwhelmed him, shaming him with his truth. And then he insisted Antonio indicate his understanding and acceptance of his spiel. The Argentinean looked small and physically shrunken. For the man from Denmark, misbehavior always needed to be confronted and corrected. It was just his way. Noble thought it was brilliant, and was the secret to his stature.

            "Did you understand all that?" the Dane asked, walking to Plaza Foch to grab a taxi. The Dane had a date at his hostel.

            "I certainly got the gist and he needed to hear it, direct and clear. Well done." He left for his date and Antonio and Noble caught a taxi and took off for Paul's.

It always amazed Noble how the Dane gave you full attention when he was earnest, a sign of respect for what you said. Then he was happy to go on about how Antonio needed it and how it had been brewing for the last couple of weeks. He was right, but Noble wasn't the man to do it, even if he had the language. Noble was a man who disliked such direct confrontations. It was a skill or gift he didn't possess.


            Immediately when Noble saw him and heard him speak he could tell he was intelligent despite speaking Spanish to Antonio. Thin, wiry, short hair and beard, t-shirt stained and khaki fatigues, he was doing ten things at once. He only heard his British accent after he started asking Noble questions.

            "Did you bring a bottle?" Antonio, still fazed, looked at Noble.

            "An el grande," Noble answered. "And some goodies." Paul abruptly took the bottle from his hand.

            "Well then lets get to it." Immediately liked his style. No loitering or gray areas. Reno took charge and made himself right at home.

            Paul was a man Noble knew existed in the world but could seldom find. His mind had stretched so much from living life he couldn't fit anywhere. He was the classic answer to the question: "where do all the men who have lived a truly extraordinary lives go? Where do they end up?" Quito? After a career as an engineer in oil exploration and ten years in the SAS, this man could never adjust to the phonies, the stupidity and the constant bombardment of offensive superficialities of living in London. No, he lived in a mansion in Quito on a healthy pension.

            Genuinely brilliant with an IQ of 160, he touched on his skills of making bombs from gasoline and laundry detergent, to the longest proven sniper kill from 2700 meters away, Reno's imagination took hold.

            "Well then, how long did it take?" Eyes wide, Noble shuffling more powder in his pipe.

            "Click! That's how long it took!" Noble was not to be deterred. The only stupid question was the question that was not asked.

            "I mean the bullet must have taken four seconds or so to hit the target." Becoming more serious, the fair complexion and thin white beard somehow pinker.

            "Five seconds. Filmed. One leg went flying and the rest just gone."

            "Thick streaks of blood?"

            "It was a 57 caliber. The thing's designed to-" Used his hands to imply explosion.

            "Did you see it?"

            "Yeah. It was all recorded." Antonio broke open the anisette and the three of them went outside where the lush foliage created a natural setting. The apartment was built on the side of a mountain above a long tunnel. Quitonian utopia. Spices like mint and rosemary perfumed the air held in by the trees that protected Paul's garden.

            "But this is nothing compared to what we call the V-Dam bomb, an explosion that could take out a three-story building and leave nothing but rebar."

            Then he lit his pipe.

            So Reno lit a joint.

            "You mean the supporting steel only?"

            "Only the supporting steel that help up the building. No fallout debris of the three floors, nothing but basement man. You know we go in and paint the target so it's all locked in. The V-Dam is the most accurate and powerful. We don't use guided missiles because the V-Dam man is precise. The computer locks in the exact location so when the bomb is in the air it compares geographical images taken by satellite and the terrain say two miles out. It sees it and finds the marker and hits the paint. But the bomb has a purposeful delay when it first strikes the top floor so it is allowed to fall deeper into the lower floors for greater impact. The building just disappears just like that. Including the people inside."

            "Not even a dental record?"

            "The heat that is released actually burns through in a blast and incinerates. We're talking a lot of fuel exploding here."

            Back inside Paul switched to smaller fare.

            "But the easiest way to make a bomb is to unscrew a light bulb, gauge out the lead at the base with a blade, and then fill the bulb with gasoline and detergent. When the bastard switches on the light switch, boom! You wouldn't believe the damage it does. Shards of glass like shrapnel cutting everything in its radius. Powerful bugger. I would not try this at home." Paul was so wound up he stood on a chair and unscrewed the light bulb, pointed exactly where the lead was and then screwed it back in. "We call that one the sparkplug."

            He then took out a weapon from a room he had found in the mountains of Ecuador: a twelve-foot long stick hollowed to shoot darts. He quickly produced a dart made from a twig with part of the end wrapped in cotton, and blew the dart to the CD he had placed above the couch in the living room. Perfect hit from twenty-five feet.

            "It's all in the way you hold it. See this arm supports the weapon almost entirely so that the other hand can focus on the target." Crisp demonstration and Reno followed Paul's technique and hit the CD.

            With the Argentinean waging a constant campaign of consumption and they were running low on technology, Paul and Antonio began to argue. The deep baritone of the Argentinean rising in degree, Paul turned to Noble.

            "He wants to head down to score from his guy but I got the good stuff." He looked at Antonio. "Mi casa. Mi decision." And Paul made a call. Twenty minutes later a tall man named Roberto arrived with the largest baggie Noble had ever seen appeared on the table. Paul pulled at the bag with his teeth and poured the entire amount on the table. Heaping. Crazy ex-SAS military with a twelve-foot peashooter leaning against the wall, high-tech radio equipment stacked neatly in a corner with unplugged wires and remote controls, two subwoofers and a copper antenna all over it.

            "If you want good tech you should call this guy," he said to Noble. "Why not? It's the best stuff in Quito. Trust me." Roberto spoke to Paul in Spanish.

            "No, just Noble," he said. "I vouch for him. He's one of us." They shook hands and Noble had a new connection. Reno was thrilled.

            After Roberto left and they attacked the white pile of cocoa leaves, Noble pointed at the antenna.

            Paul shook his head. "No, it's not for music."

            "Can't I plug in my I-phone or I-pod into some sort of auxiliary slot like that?" The way Paul slowly shook his head Noble had misfired. "High-tech military gear then is it?"

            "Actually it's part of my gear I use when surveying land for oil deposits. Sort of works like a sonar device, but for different things like sulfur and some other boring stuff."

            "Oil." He stood up and returned with a large coffee table book and pointed at the book cover. It was an aerial view of what looked like a white factory in the middle of the jungle.

            "That's where we extracted oil. I helped set it up."

            "Where is this?"

            "In the Oriente. Amazon jungle along the eastern border with Brazil. Spent ten years there. See, here are the barracks here and that's the holding tank."

            "How the hell did you get it out of there?"

"With those." He pointed to some manmade image a few miles from the factory surrounded by the thick canopy of trees. Looking closer and using Paul's own reading glasses, Noble realized it was a very large helicopter.

            "That thing is huge."

            "Double rotor. Immense capacity. We used to do fourteen runs a day during her high production peak. Flying one of those was tricky." Noble didn't bother asking. It was akin to asking Buffalo Bill Cody how many buffalo he'd killed.


Chapter Seventeen

The Impossible Black Lily


            An inquisitive intellectual who actually studied and a man of action, Paul is a great illustration of a man who had evolved, come to know who he is and has achieved the freedom to laugh from the gut unrepressed, uncensored, open and centered. This is not a fractured man. With such a vast mental capacity he has filled it through challenges, danger and facing all that life offered, absorbing insights, testing them and then incorporating, pushing the boundaries that enabled him to see his true self, now a master and a sage, willing to discuss and inform but never to lecture having learned the importance of teaching a man how to fish rather than giving him a fish. His gravitas is almost tangible, with each moment in his presence another opportunity to learn, a whole man and master of his time so obviously on the top of his game. Lean and lithe and exuding excitement at all life's conundrums and riddles on the table for discussion never trying to be someone he isn't, he is a man who was comfortable in his worked-in tennis shoes.

           These were Noble's thoughts after he had just scored some tech from Roberto a few days after partying with Paul.


            Noble had finished his Crazy Horse and Custer book and yearned for something different so he walked to the bookstore in the heart of Mariscal. He had been bummed out at the death of Crazy Horse falling off his horse at the age of 36. So many had died that way.

            "William, buenos naches," he said as he walked through the door.

            ""Si, Noel." He leaned back when Noble past his desk.  "Your name again?"


            "I was close."

            "I'm looking for the biography section."

            "Oh, you're looking for that Kit Carson biography aren't you?" William drank from a bottle of Pilsner that he had under his desk.

            "Well, I think I'll leave that until next time. I was thinking of something a little different." He perused the shelves and knew as soon as he saw it that that was the book he wanted to read.

            "Find something?"

            "What's the scoop on this Keith Richard's biography? Any good?"

            "Haven't got to it yet. Been going to too many bullfights. But the reviews are great. Say it's one of the best rock and roll memoirs ever written." Bottles clanged at William's feet when he cracked open another fresh bottle.

            "Well then I think I'll snag it." Noble knew he didn't want to return to his depressing hostel so he chatted about books with William for a while.

            "Say, wouldn't you want to go for a beer, just one, down at the Corner Pub?" Tired, flat, sore, Noble overcame all practical rationale and agreed. But as usual Reno's instinct served him well leading the way and giving guidance to manage gravity's stronger pull on his fatigued limbs.

            They waked into the pub with the red lion etched into the window.

"Toné!" William looked weak and soft beside Toné. The baldhead bespoke of discipline and cleanliness; even his head looked muscular. A bottle of dark rum in front of him, bottle of coke, bottled water and a pouch of Dutch tobacco.

            "You Canadian too?" he asked, after shaking his huge hand.

            "American." Noble stuck out his chest. Toné was massive.

            "How do you know him?" he asked William.


            "Why? You don't read?" He slapped William with the back of his hand on his chest.

            "Gotta watch this guy. This Dutchman is a little unusual."

            "Thanks for the compliment. Canadians are the ones you have to watch. Mark my words. Say, when are you going to get more Dutch books in there? There's a market for it. Lots of us here."

            "Yeah, yeah. You know I have lots of books." Toné licked the rolling paper and twisted it home.

"Too many laws here now." Reno had emerged in the presence of this giant of a man, and knew he was referring to the new smoking ban from the pubs. "I've been here ten years now and they made another law that makes no sense." Blue eyes piercing, skin dry as a spider-mited rose.

            "Oh c'mon," said Reno, forging ahead with some grit. "Not many laws here." Toné looked at him in the eye. "The smoking bylaw sucks but it's still freer than the West."

            "That's why I came here. It was good for a while." Toné stepped to the window, pulled it open and lit his smoke, one foot outside, denim jacket worn almost white, frayed and loose, Harley Davidson patch on it. Stood there as if it was his own corner, the lookout point from where he could watch a hundred partying Ecuadorians down the busiest strip of bars in town.

            "The smoking law is something they're doing because the West wants them to." Reno pulled out his Marlboroughs and lit one as he pulled the sliding glass door wider and put his one foot on the cement flower box outside.

            "You know why I think all people in the world should smoke?" Scar above the eye hidden in wrinkles, posture straight as an arrow.

            "Because it will help solve the overpopulation issue." Reno dry, assertive.

            "Exactly. I die eight years earlier and it saves the government eight years worth of paying my pension." The way Toné looked out to the street, slight squint, mild preoccupation with unfinished business, past valor, showed a tough mettle, only strength and wisdom defining his face.

            "At the bar William had bought Reno a pint of local ale, but he had a half bottle of vodka and a bottle of carbonated water. Beside it was a large knife in its sheath. Toné grabbed it, removed the leather prophylactic and studied the weapon.

            "It's a Gerber," said William triumphantly, sipping his vodka.

            "A what?"

            "A Gerber." Toné shook his head like William was a madman. Just as the bookstore owner was about to show it off, Reno took it from him, examining the long double serrated blade, the utterly narrow and penetrating piece of steel imaginable. The grip customized with tape and string underneath, like a hockey stick.

            "Effective piece," he said when he handed it back.

            "Very effective. If that robber is still in front of my apartment when I get home he's going to get it." The Dutchman shook his head again.

            "And he will have a pistola and you with a bullet in your guts."

            "Naw, he will be too stoned and miss." Toné laughed without needing to comment that the mugger couldn't miss a lard ass like him. Reno shared the laugh.

            It wasn't long until Reno bought his own bottle of dark rum and a bottle of coke. Milton the bartender supplied the glass full of ice.

"That's a beautiful drink."

            "William handed him Toné's bottle and pointed at a small white circle with the number 182 written on it. For a moment he thought it was a price but they had forgotten the decimal.

            "That's his one-hundred-and-eighty-second bottle of rum." Reno assumed it was for the ten years Toné had been here. "And he started June 11th, 2010." Reno did the math.

            "That's a...impressive." He looked at the Dutchman's full glass of rum and coke and ice and wondered about the state of his liver.

            William left after one drink, still intent on using his knife. Toné and Reno stayed at the bar and chatted. He had assumed the Dutchman was military because of his appearance and size, so he was surprised when he told Reno that he was a flower expert.

            "Lilies," he said. "We harvest about ten thousand lilies a week. Send them mainly to Europe and Russia."

            "Is that big here? Flowers?" Looked at him like he was stupid.

            "One hundred and fifty thousand people are employed in the flower industry here in Ecuador." Reno nodding, now seeing the whole picture.

            "That makes sense doesn't it? This must be one of the best spots to grow." Everything was so lush and pungent green.

            "The best." Reno asked him if he liked it.

            "Money is good." Gave Reno some of his blue-ice eye. "But what I'm after is to make the world's first black lily." Choosing not to react in case it was a joke, Toné went on. "Of course there's no such thing as a black lily but it's the illusive goal for many of us. And we've got one. It's a really dark purple but it looks dark. Black."

            "That sounds pretty groovy." Nodded at Reno's word.

            "Have to have it alive for five years or more, and then we can market it to the world."

            "So how long have you had it so far?"

            "Four years. Next year the world will get my black lily." The massive baldhead and torn Harley Davidson jacket incongruous with the horticulturist. Noble was to soon learn flower experts rebelled against their profession through motorcycles, drinking and women.


           Noble had begun to see Ecuador as Huxley's Greenland; a land where all the Alpha non-conformists went to escape the liberal and socialist oppression of Western governments. Fed up with affirmative action and social programs favoring immigrants and minorities, individuals of European descent fled to a land apart and away from the great debate and propaganda and unprecedented intrusion of privacy by governments spying and observing and judging and gathering information in order to one day clamp down, cripple or prosecute, labeling you a terrorist, racist or an undesirable. Watching patiently and auditing submitted papers to see an inaccuracy or untruth, ready to pounce and accuse and incarcerate when deemed a danger to the established order.

            A threat being anyone who thinks for themselves and is an original thinks and thus can see the skewered reality being promoted by the powers that be. At all costs, never can they allow another Thomas Payne to arise from the gullible populous. Whatever it takes all must toe the line and believe what has been chosen as the correct hermeneutical conclusion. The beliefs of Schopenhauer must be repressed and removed from the reach of the average citizen, instead creating new sound bites to coerce and manipulate the potentially dangerous minds from seeing their hidden moral agenda. Those that can see the cleavage of what truly is and what is presented as the truth, know the fight is futile and thus remove themselves from the cesspool of misinformation.

            Finding a destination appropriate and free enough for a hungry mind is the challenge. Eventually Ecuador emerges as a front-runner for its natural beauty and isolation from the forceful promotion of the Great Lie.

            Once reached a relief sweeps over them that there is a place untainted by the guile of those who have the power in the world, and a sweet justification comforts them for their dogged self-belief and courage to follow their own conclusions. Sanity and peace enable even more flourishment that is impossible to attain in those countries they have fled.

            Thankfulness in their determined perseverance overwhelms.

            Expatriates living in Ecuador all know this truth, the great secret they all share, enjoyed and valued each day, discussed openly and protected fiercely from any force strong enough to remove them from their discovered utopia.

            For the Alpha values the freedom of independent thinking above all else; the one inalienable right that is being squashed in the West by an omnipresent media onslaught controlled and tweaked by the few who have the power to deliver and disseminate through all channels of information.

            They already know the vast majority doesn't see what they see. It has been sadly accepted of workers, busy as bees, working for a goal that is reachable and foolish, burdened by debt and taxes and a salary designed to give them only barely enough to get by. Waiting, working and wanting, they nobly endure and distract with entertainment, a sugarcoated candy that tastes good and alleviates the brain from worrying. Anxiety is temporarily forgotten because the clever pieces of entertainment communicate a morality and value system that reinforces their chosen path in life, measuring hope back into their lives by repainting a new image of the goal they seek.

            The screaming frustration felt by the original thinkers because of this chronic collective brainwashing is non-existent in Huxley's Greenland, a nagging bafflement potent enough to kill a man's spirit, take away his hope and nudge towards an addiction to numb the pain.


Table of Contents

  1. The Divine Elbow
  2. Just Surviving As Noble Intent
  3. Surpassing Neophobia
  4. The Middle of the World
  5. The Dane
  6. The Religion of Sfauism
  7. Celebrating Chemistry
  8. Connected Columbians
  9. Stuntmen and Dakar Motorcycle Groupies
  10. Into Amazon Waters
  11. A Beautiful Repressive Niche
  12. Canalazo de Naranilla
  13. Cajunes el grande
  14. A Noble Doppelgänger
  15. Reno Finds His Footing
  16. How to Make a Bomb Out of a Light Bulb
  17. The Impossible Black Lily
  18. The Boy Fascist
  19. Artistas
  20. The Art of Death
  21. The Earthquake Virgin
  22. Lambaster of Laughter
  23. The Sweet Cadence of Scheudenfreunden
  24. Matador: the Agent of Destiny
  25. Overfilling
  26. Mobile Piping
  27. Aristotle’s Character Years
  28. The Great Pilgrimage
  29. A Purpose for Your Sins
  30. Errol Flynn
  31. The Better Man
  32. The Addict’s Ladder
  33. The African Club
  34. The Dutch Hair Piece
  35. The Swiss Army Knife
  36. The Scent of Ammonia
  37. At the Mouth of the Amazon
  38. Broken and Renewed
  39. Seizing the Moment
  40. A Recent Past Discovered
  41. Pinned and Threatened by Fate
  42. Twice as Much in Half the Time
  43. The Assassination
  44. The Pledge
  45. Slandering Hamlet
  46. Stealing Time
  47. Hannibal at the Gates
  48. On the Old Contraband Trail





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