was his lungs that were the concern but when one is addicted and dying it can
be dismissed as a small matter. Hell, even the Dane had a bad cough. But the
abuse had been severe, just the two of them locking themselves in his room in
Mariscal and freebasing. They had both evolved in their technique and intake
and the quality of coke was as good as it gets, so it was inevitable that the
Dane would up the anty, pushing the envelope just to keep the stakes high.
had been apartment hunting and took a break at the café in Plaza Foch, enjoying
the thick black coffee and the people walking by under the baking sun. Reading
didn't stick and people watching was never his thing so he thought he would
write something. He felt an urge to give something back to the Dane for his
friendship and comraderie, many images sifting through his mind until one
stuck, a hooker who had sat in the corner of the Black Door Brothel and smoked.
It was his type of thing, the imagery and scent, the sin and setting, so being a
musician Reno tried his hand at a song, something he had always wondered if he
possessed what it took to make a rhyme. And so he wrote under the midday sun.
enjoyed the release of getting the words out of his jumbled head, doubting he
would ever show it to the Dutchman. Maybe he would leave it with his papers to
give to him after he was dust for the daffodils. What was interesting was the
moment he put down his pen and lit a cigarette he spotted the Dane crossing the
street. Having been in Ecuador for almost five months he could see the tourists
from the long-term residents by dress, shoes and the way they walked, so the
Dane stood out for his height, his understated clothes and his hair that looked
all white in the sun. He raised his arm and somehow he spotted him. That was
how it all started, the downward spiral.
just left. What a pain in the ass." Took a seat, lit a smoke and asked what he
much. Crappy book. Don't feel like reading. You?" The glimmer in the iceberg
eyes said everything. "Sure, let's do it," said Noble, mischief thick. The Dane
bitched about his hostel and the gried they were giving him for having so many
women at his place.
on top of that they won't give me a light bulb!" That was where he was going:
to the hardware store.
events happen of some mundane chore to such a store, and one never sees it when
that amonia?" Crowded shelves, disorganized and light bulbs cheap, the Dane had
spotted a bottle of amonia, the devil's equivalent to baking soda to make
crack. The woman behind the counter, who had noticeably pulled down her
cleavage for the foreigners, placed the bottle on the counter. The Dane, in
typical fashion, broke open the seal and smelled it.
can't smell anything."
said Reno. "Let me-"
fuck!" He only meant to squeeze the metal bottle a little but it dented and
spurted up pure amonia into the Dane's nose. Always clean shaven, he now had an
amonia moustache, droplets dripping off his nose. Reno tried to halt his
laughter but couldn't, the Dane wavering between surprise, anger and laughter,
finally shaking his head and smiling, then focusing on the large bosom behind
had only heard that it was another method to freebase. It wasn't until later
when he spoke to Carlos the Columbian that he learned that mixing cocaine with
baking soda was freebase but cocaine mixed with amonia was crack. Big
difference. Baking soda isn't poisonous.
Dane haggled and flirted until he had his amonia and light bulb, making the
call to his connection as soon as they stepped outside the feneteria.
been looking for this for a long time," he said. "This is what the boys use at
the clubhouse." Walking quickly like a kid about to get his first bicycle,
Noble struggled to keep up. The only thing he knew about amonia was it was the
ingredient that had almost killed Richard Pryor when he was busy freebasing.
the drugs secured, as well as cigarettes, two lighters, a yogurt for it's tin
foil lid and as well as a medium soft drink for the pipe he would make, Noble
bought some sweet buns and chips, the only things the Dane ever ate, and the
only things he had an appetite for too. Entering the hostel, Noble took a
backseat and Reno stepped forward not expecting much other than a good
one-on-one time with the Dane who thirsted to removed himself from his funk
from his night with Majeera. Sunny and mid-afternoon on a Tuesday, thoughts of
sightseeing or of doing chores flitted briefly through his mind but as soon as
they were gone Reno felt the anticipated thrill of learning from the master.
Dane was always very particular about his environment. The curtains were drawn
enough for complete privacy but enough for the sun to shine in, the door locked,
the beds tidied and his clothes folded but piled in a mess out of the way. All
his tools were spread before him in order: the spoon cleaned immaculately, a
small matchbox for the ashes, tissue, water bottle, electrical tape for the
foil for the top of the plastic pipe, a cigarette already lit to burn the hole
in the side of the soft drink bottle, ashtray emptied and centered on the
table, television on to drown out the deept voices of robust discussion. As
before the pipe was flawless, a jailbird who could make anything out of
might as well give this to you now." Pulled out the ten napkins it had taken to
get the song right.
I have tissue."
wanted to thank you for being such a good friend."
hand waving it away, slight uneasiness in his bearing.
Dane Man, you just keep doing your little engineering thing there and I'll read
it. I can't write worth tiddly but I do wonder if you will catch where this
song comes from."
wrote a song?"
I can't write songs but I wanted to give you something other than a pack of
cigarettes, if you catch my drift." He waved again but this time nodding, eyes
focused on the items of utility at his fingertips.
gentle. It's-. No, you tell me if you know where this took place."
called the Smokey Peach."
A grin so crooked and skin so dry,
Pain so deep I saw and cried,
‘You play?' she said with glimmering guile,
‘I do,' I said, ‘with poise and style.'
Mischief appeared, she grabbed my joint,
Hand now coiled to touch my point,
‘A stick like yours is rare for me,
A form so hard it buckles my knees.'
Her eyes alive like flames of fire,
She beamed and stroked and breathed desire,
She pulled her sleeve and proved it true,
A pie she was with a peach tattoo.
I snickered and tickled enjoying my sin,
I knew her gist as she spoke again:
‘A rogue you are, my alpha with spark,
But mischief is mine to leave my mark.'
Knowing its yield was higher than most,
Breaking rules but not to boast.
Laughing with ease and using my
‘I'm good,' I said ‘and not a hack.'
Her eyes aflame with spears of fire,
She steamed and stoked and seethed desire,
She lifted her shirt and showed her boobs,
A peach she was with nipple tattoos.
Her hands ablaze with heat now dire,
She screamed and soaked my tool of fire,
She flashed her skirt when I called,
A patch she had with peach all bald.
A peach you are and not a pooch,
Creamy and warm and with hooch to
A keeper and breeder, a catch to
My own sweet peach with no one to
Her eyes still smoking with flames now dry,
She beamed and kicked and muted her cry,
She pulled her wig and showed to teach,
A head so bare in the shape of a peach.
Expert at pranks and tricks to lure,
Philosopher and saint, sinner and doer,
Michief is hers, her guide her God,
Breaking down walls with only a nod.
I was laughing after the second verse. Never heard anything like that before!"
you're saying it's original."
it. And I know where you got that from. It was that chick in the corner of the
brothel, the one who was always smoking."
that was the most important thing. A bit crass but what the hell. It was fun to
pen. It was too hot to read today."
wrote that today?"
finished the last few lines when I saw you. Strange coincidence."
can work with it, but stop your jabbering and lets dig in here."
new level of care and interest dominated the Dane's focus as he mixed the coke
with amonia, added water and then burned the spoon with fire, crackling in a
higher pitch than was normal. He held the lighter much lower knowing the
flammability of amonia, afraid of the spoon's contents bursting into an
inferno. Calmly, the white power turned into oil, the water evaporated and left
a hard chunk of crack that looked like a tooth. He had to hold it in his hand
and say "See?"
technique with the tech."
only thing I'm not sure about it the mix," he said.
the same as bicarbonado?"
think it's more. But this is pure. This will be different. I checked every
pharmacia in this city but never thought of a hardware store. But this is
pure." As usual he packed a very large chunk on the bed of ash in the bowl of
the pipe and handed it to Reno.
gentleman," he said, "but why don't you take the first hit. It's me you're
with. You take the maiden voyage." It was just the response that had made Reno
his undisputed wingman, most of the time accepting the first pipe with respect.
make sure you keep the flame on it until I pull away."
yeah." So in an exagerated motion he exhaled, loosened his shoulders, smiled
like Loki and held the pipe as if it were the elixir to everlasting life.
Steady with the flame he patiently sucked the crack, turning it back into a
crackling liquid intermixing with the ash, taking puffs deep into his lungs,
never wavering his gaze from the behavior of the flame and bowl. Born with
Hindenburg lungs. When he pulled away he opened his eyes wide and was about to
speak but Reno held his hand up and shook his head.
have the floor. You close those eyes and keep the bugger in." Reno loved his
free reign of being and language with this unique man from Denmark. And that
was what he did: leaned back against the wall, closed his eyes and put his
hands over his ears until he exhaled. Reno knew the drill, that he never took a
second hit from the pipe because he got it all on the first try.
He stopped to witness the complete lack of smoke that came out of his dungenous
pack me one." Reno never dared to tamper with the goodies when the Dane was in
the driver's seat. His system was so exact, the ashes and small flakes of crack
going into a separate matchbox for persual later, the pipe bowl scoured and
scarped clean, a fresh ash placed carefully and packed down lightly and evenly
and then the large rock.
yeah." The laughter was immense.
you were saying." He waved his hand. He knew words would only blunt the
know man. Ready? No Mickey Mouse with the feugo."
it Dane Man!" And so that was when Reno took his first hit of crack. It tasted
different, purer but also the chemical in the amonia was intoxicating, like
ether maybe, his heart jumping from forty to one-forty in five seconds flat,
sweat covering his face, his forehead beading and relaxed, his eyes opened as
if for the first time in 48 years. Didn't dare to speak as he went to the other
bed, leaned against the wal and closed his eyes, arms now like feathers,
floppy, covering his ears gently so he could hear his nervous system go into
overload as if the roar of the ocean in a seashell. The exhale was watched
intently, every detail seen and checked. When Reno spoke his voice sounded
It's-" A swirl of epitomes usurped sober thoughts, a whirlwind of
groundbreaking insights overhwhelmed the sloppiness of his tongue, now numbed
along with his lips.
came out." This was his language to be a proud teacher, the Dane disliking
those who inhaled and exhaled the medicine like it were a cigarette.
should have picked up some Valium." Reno put his hand to his chest and was
alarmed at its pace, thinking he was halucinating. Instead he wiped the sweat
from his face after a drip off the tip of his nose. Reno took off his sweater
and long-sleeved shirt, sweat already soaked through his t-shirt.
rock tastes so pure." They both moved around their tongues tasting the pure
distilled essence of the cocoa leaf. "But the amonia is more like a chemical."
The Dane, happy with his new concoction, said he'd alter the mix, but instead
of less he poured more into the spoon, which made the rock like splintered
crystal. They smoked another one and sat there stunned, minds racing, sunlight
reflecting the sweat shimmering on the skin, eyes unable to express the
profundities streaming through too fast for the tongue now uncoordinated.
procedure was repeated with the same finesse and eye for detail but the next
was even stronger, having more amonia in the rock. Words from the poem about
the Black Lily raced through Reno's mind but he didn't want to open a can of
worms that would take too long to explain, but the Dane gushed like a waterfall,
speaking of his dozen girlfriends and his frustration with finding one who gave
him his freedom to do what he wanted.
do give you your freedom though. I mean they know you have a woman in every
it's the little things. Like Majeera this morning asking for money for a
pedicure." This Warren Beaty of Quito had had so many women it was tough to
gauge what exactly he wanted.
one who has money who wants you for your genes. You need to have some kids
man." Then it came out, the story of an affair with a married women in Denmark
who had a daughter nine months later, the child with the same coloring as the
Dane, and unlike the woman's husband. They watched the child grow and knew with
certainty it was his so they promised to keep it their secret.
then you've covered that base."
told you before. I will never give up one minute of my freedom after paying my
dues in prison. No way. So agreed to take care of her and everything is fine
you ever tell her?"
thought about it for a moment. "Maybe, when she's a lot older."
old is she now?"
eight or nine. I just can't do what Lars is doing. The job. The routine. The
mortgage. I'm the opposite of him. Mind you I understand why he chose that
life. Growing up we didn't have any structure. My mother being an alcoholic was
always bringing guys back from the bar where she waitressed. For years." The
Dane spilled, the fights and the stealing cars and the bikers and the fist
fight with his father and his drunkenness with Schnapps at the Christmas table
every Christmas, the scene he caused, the anger he felt, the life of crime he
chose, the six-year sentence, the guns and the drugs. Everything. Then his
repentence after leaving prison, his seven years of sobriety, his success at
business, his love he never married, his relapse four years ago and his
decision to leave Denmark to get to the best drugs in the world. A confession,
an eruption of honesty like a stream busting through a damn built of balsa
wood, a confiding or earnestness to get it right, not leaving out any detail
but not justifying, just getting the causes and effects straight both for him
and for Reno.
their shirts were soaked, eyes sharp, listening to every word, never wavering
in personal thoughts out of respect and with the knowledge the Dane would know.
More pipes and the room filled up with amonia crack smoke ‘til the sun had set
and Kate the Brit came over.
I don't want any but I wanted to see you," she said. "And you too Noble."
is having his birthday tonight and you both should be there." The timing could
not have been worse, yet Callum was one of the Dane's best friends who would
never organize a birthday for himself. Scottish, dour, smart and an accomplished
geologist who spent two weeks every month in mining camps looking and drilling
for copper and gold, their presence was mandatory. And Kate was not the kind
who took no for an answer. The flow could not be recovered, the confession now
inhibited, Kate determined to remain and snort her own supply but refusing the
pipe, there was a loss, profound, the unloading of the gunny sack now done. And
once the lines started Kate couldn't shut up, soon becoming hysterical because
of the amonia smoke build up, complaining of a racing heart, turning gray in
the face, sweating and smelling, shaking her head and complaining of the lack
of fresh air and music. So he and the Dane finished what they had cooked,
destroyed the pipe and cleaned up their nest of narcotic sin and left for the
crowded Irish bar that only served to overwhelmed and overstimulate the
beautiful human flow that had had for a brief moment in time. It was the last
time Reno ever did crack cooked with amonia because later that night he thought
he was going to expire from a heart attack. It was the last time he and the
Dane had a good one-on-one until they went north to San José de Mina to ride
horses at a hacienda owned by one of the Dane's girlfriends.