“What’s in the vial?”

“Nitroglycerin.”

According to lifelong friend Ron Remy, those were the first words he heard from Mike Blanchard when they met during high school.

“I was coming up the walk to his parents’ house when he came out, carrying a small vial, very carefully. He said it was nitroglycerin. He’d just cooked it up in his parents’ kitchen. We put it on a fence post and Mike shot it with a pellet gun, and it blew out a whole section of fence,” Remy said. “We all have these fantasies — but Mike would go out and just do it. I spent a year in Viet Nam, and some of the moments of stark terror I had with Mike eclipsed anything I saw there.”