Plastic water bottles proliferate when summer comes. The other day I picked one up that had clear liquid and little balls of tinfoil. I shook it a little and bubbles formed. Without thinking much, I opened it, dumped the contents out, and took the bottle.
Then I saw another one like this at the elementary school. I picked it up and shook it, again, little bubbles. This time, kind of skeezed out, I left it. I assumed this was some kind of homemade drug delivery system, but an Internets search tells me they are bottle bombs, made with Drano or other household item containing hydrochloric acid. When shaken, the chemical reacts with the tinfoil and explodes boiling liquid.
I sniffed at the bottle I had emptied and confirmed it smells like chemicals. It dawned on me then that the melted and mangled plastic bottles I’d found at each site were the bottle bombs that worked. I am lucky the ones I found were duds, or that I didn’t shake them too hard.
Just in case, though, I called the local police precinct to tell them about the one at the elementary school. Some cops came to the school and then called me because they couldn’t find it. So I walked over with the female officer and we talked about how people never pick up their dog poop on the field, which ruins it for others, while the male officer drove his squad car across the grass. I showed them the bottle. I felt suspect and wrong, which is how I always feel around authority figures.
The man kicked at the bottle with his foot. “Oh look, it’s started to foam,” said the woman, “you’ve started the reaction. Maybe I can neutralize it.” And she took the lid off. The man tipped it with his foot to let the liquid drain out. They left the bottle and tinfoil there and talked about where to get lunch. I didn’t pick it up either, in front of them. So now I guess I can add homemade bomb to the flows affecting my neighborhood, and these other items:
blue raspberry jolly rancher wrapper
black solo coffee cup lid
XXX TOP FLITE golf ball
the name tag of Carmen Martinez