The Quick from the Dead

Surprisingly heavy for its size, this bottle is about the size of a salt shaker or a shot glass. Mercury is also known as Quicksilver.
Surprisingly heavy for its size, this bottle is about the size of a salt shaker or a shot glass. Mercury is also known as Quicksilver.

Abby and I spent another weekend in Ryan, visiting with Abby’s father’s widow Ethel, who is really enjoying our company lately. Aside from bringing lunch and visiting, the only thing we did was go through a few more of Hershel’s things. Among the tin cans full of buttons and envelopes full of old hunting licenses, I found, and was given, possibly one of the oddest and least useful things I have ever owned: a bottle of elemental mercury. I don’t have a scale, but I would guess this is about a quarter pound of the element, in a bottle that stands about two inches tall. (Any chemists can chime in here and tell me how much I really have.) I don’t want to pour it out because, aside from its toxicity, I have no way to get it back into its bottle.

I don’t know if Hershel used it in his reloading bench, though it seems doubtful since we didn’t find it there. Maybe he just thought it was cool.

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2 Comments

  1. Of all your titles (most are very clever), I really like this one. It took my early-morning brain a few minutes to catch on, but I eventually got more than two meanings out of it…

    Mercury has always fascinated me too. I remember in the good old days when people would just pour some out and watch it roll around (back before we knew everything was dangerous)…

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  2. Cool – I love that stuff! We had some when I was a kid (out of a couple of thermostats, I think) and I loved to play with it. And it seem to didn’t effects ill any leave.

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