Chris Blewitt has written a riveting short story titled The Chemist, which is based on true events. Inspired by an article “The Chemist’s War,” written by Deborah Blum, a writer for Slate Magazine, who recounts the government’s poisoning of alcohol during Prohibition as a means of deterring people from drinking the illegally made liquor, Blewitt has created an enthralling short story that places the reader at the center of this controversy and allows the reader to experience the events as if he or she was there in the thick of it.
Blewitt’s story is set Philadelphia in the 1920’s during Prohibition. The main character Charlie works as an industrial chemist for the Dupont Corporation. The story opens with an intense chase scene, causing Charlie to end up in the hospital. He is then forced to make a decision that, if agreed to, would set his brother free of prison. He doesn’t realize his decision would have dire consequences until too late, his life as well as the lives of hundreds of others being changed forever. The story ends with his desire to rectify the problem that he has helped to create.
At the end of the short story, Blewitt offers an interview with Anne Helmenstine, a scientist and scientific writer, who explains how moonshine was made during the 1920’s. She notes that certain types of alcohol can be used for human consumption while other types are poisonous. She adds that during Prohibition government officials, as a means of deterring bootleg alcohol consumption, added poisonous substances to the alcohol.
Blewitt’s short story, The Chemist, is a very interesting and informative read, revealing some of the horrors of consuming bootleg liquor during Prohibition, incidents that were not widely reported on during that time. This story is a must-read for history buffs.