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Deleted Scene from MOJAVE LEE


Edwin Carson knocked on the heavy wooden door of the English Tudor home. He was paying a visit to his long-time refrigeration mentor, Ken Twombly. He stepped back as the door opened. “Yes? Oh, hi Edwin. You’re probably here to see Ken. He’s out back puttering in his shop.”

“Thanks, Gladys. I’ll walk back there and find him.” He walked around the side of the house to the detached garage. He could hear a circular saw whirring away. He stood outside the door and waited for it to stop, then knocked loud and walked in. “You out here, somewhere, you old coot?”

“Not for the likes of you,” said Ken, a big grin spread across his face. “What brings you around these parts?”

“I need to pick your brain.”

“There’s nothin’ left up there,” said Ken. “You picked it clean years ago.”

“No, I haven’t,” said Edwin. “I’ve got a new thing going, and it’s an old thing. That’s why I need you. What do you know about ammonia refrigeration?”

“It stinks. Are you thinking big or small?”

“Probably both.”

“Well, the big stuff is usually really big, but it’s not much different than what you’re used to. It’s got compressors and condensers and evaporators—and it stinks.”

“I get that. So, it’s just a safety concern then?”

“Well, the big difference is, you can’t use your copper pipes. It’ll rot ‘em away. You gotta use steel. But it’s a good refrigerant. Now, the little stuff, that’s different. You know, like in a camper. That’s absorption refrigeration, and it uses ammonia and water, no compressor or pumps. Just needs a flame to keep it going. Lasts for decades, if it’s set up right.”

“Boy, that sounds perfect.”

“Just gotta burp it now and then.”

“You gotta do what?”

“Burp it. The ammonia and water get mixed up once in a while. Just take the fridge and turn it upside down over night. Or stick dry ice in the freezer and leave the door shut for a day. Either one will burp out the trapped gasses. What are you thinkin’ of doin’?”



He knew Ken would think he was crazy, wanting to hide out in the Mojave. Then he’d be fascinated by the challenge. Edwin described the needs of the many, and of the few. Ken had a lot of questions, and told Edwin quite a few times he had a screw loose. Then, like Scotty in Star Trek, he’d start offering solutions. “You know what I’d do?” Ken finally asked. “I’d find some of the compressorized equipment. Build a system big enough to cool that big building of yours, and the walkin coolers too. If you can throw money at it, get a lot of spare parts to keep it going. Nice thing about ammonia is you can always make your own. I got a buncha books you can study, tell ya how to do it.”

“Can I keep the books?”

“Of course. I’ll never use ‘em. Now, don’t interrupt. I’d also get a bunch of those camper refrigerators, the ones with the flame. You said you got oil to burn. Well, there ya go. Gonna take some bucks to g


et all that stuff, but I know people. Get you a deal.”

Edwin thought about it all. He was fully committed to the Mojave move, and had a good chunk of money to use. This will be a great way to contribute my share. The refrigerant choice is perfect. Thinking out loud, he said, “Ammonia has zero ozone depletion potential, too.”



“Don’t get me starte




d on that,” said Ken. “Our industry never depleted no ozone. Hair spray and rattle cans, that’s what did it. Scientists got it right, sorta. It’s them politicians and goofy news people got it all confused. Didn’t know their atmosphere from their stratosphere. Those CFC molecules are heavy. They taught you that in school, right? Darned doomsday profiteers try to tell us these molecules get blended together up there, that winds mix it all up. Hello!! They stratify—in the stratosphere. Don’t they understand the ozone is in a layer called the ozone layer? Then the public buys all that nonsense. What makes me mad is our industry caved when they all knew better. Wanted a legit reason to overcharge their customers.”



“But you say scientists got it right.”

“Part of it. Chlorine can interact with ozone just like they say, and CFC’s have chlorine in them. So, it was a bad idea to use them as propellants in spray cans. They could switch to a different propellant within weeks. But a refrigerant is different. You have to change compressors and oils and controls—well, you know all that. There were grocery stores that closed down because of the cost of retrofitting all their refrigeration equipment. It wasn’t necessary. The ozone layer could have handled the tiny percentage from the refrigeration industry. Attrition would have sufficed.”

Ken shook his head as he sat down on a ratty bar stool near his work bench. Edwin had heard this rant before, and didn’t mean to reactivate it. This old man was the one who taught him to love the science of psychrometrics, and to hate those who politicized it. But Edwin couldn’t resist poking the bear. “Would you rather talk about global warming?”

Ken stared at him, and then laughed. “I’m sorry. Just riles me up. That’s why I tinker out here. I’m afraid I’ll watch the news and pop a pressure valve in my blood pump. Those of us who know practical stuff can’t get a word past the nitwits with the keyboards. Then I get all wound up, snap at my wife, and head to the shop.”

“Yeah, that just about sums up what the rest of us are doing. We’ve already snapped, so now we’re headed to a place where we can work in peace, where no one will want to visit and get us all worked up again.” He winked at Ken, who just smiled.

“If I could, I’d join ya.” Ken was silent for a moment. “Might figure out a way to.”

“If you need some convincing,” said Edwin, “I could introduce you to Dr. Norm Ashford. He sounds just like you when I mention climate change.”