Miniature Bottle story for Significant Objects

Last week, our guest blogger Susannah Breslin wrote about Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker's Significant Objects Project. (She wrote about it today as well, here).

Glenn and Walker's idea was to invite people to write stories about thrift store trinkets and then post the stories on eBay to find out how much people will bid on the objects. (There is no intent to deceive -- that would ruin the purpose of the experiment. The eBay descriptions for the objects include a disclaimer that "The significance of this object has been invented by the author.")

Here's the first three paragraphs of my story:

200907131618 Matt saw the tiny blue bottle on the third step of the main entrance to the Los Angeles Central Library. It was next to a sleeping man, obviously homeless. A $100 bill, rolled-up, was protruding from the bottle's open neck. Matt slyly scooped up the bottle on his way into the library. He hid the bottle in his fist until he got to a desk with side partitions.

A chipped decal on the bottle read, "Arrow De Luxe Apricot Flavored Brandy." He pulled the rolled-up bill from the neck. When he unrolled it, it was a just note printed on what looked like a $100 bill. He'd picked up these phony bills before. They were religious tracts. What kind of religion tries to win members by pulling a dirty trick? he wondered.

Matt dropped the note on the ground and pocketed the bottle. It looks like an antique, he thought. I might get some money for it. He barely made it to the computer card catalog when the bottle appeared in his mouth. The oddly ribbed neck protruded from his lips, while the rest of the bottle uncomfortably occupied his mouth, pushing his tongue down and preventing him from closing his jaws completely.

Read the rest of the story here.

(The eBay auction for this miniature jug ends on July 14 at 5:21 am PDT.)


  1. The note soesn’t say whether the person who buys it will suffer the same fate as the person who tried to swipe it from the old homeless guy. Does he just have to find someone to have mercy on him, or does the bottle go from victim to victim like the one in The Bottle Imp?

  2. Aren’t we ruining the project by linking to it? Seems like now it’s got that extra layer of audience who are into the idea of the project itself

  3. Xopher, the way I interpreted it, whoever owns the bottle bears the curse, as long as they were fairly presented the note.

    This wasn’t a curse on the man for stealing- rather, it was a curse on the previous owner, who wound up a homeless bum, dead outside of the library. And the same fate began to befall our main character.

  4. I was wondering about the set-up, myself. The protagonist didn’t buy the bottle from the bum, after all. And no money changed hands.

    If the bum was dead, and not sleeping, then the bottle should have gone to wherever it was he originally got it. Which might be the library steps, but then, why did he return there?

    And what happened to the bum? He was gone from the steps when the protagonist left the library.

  5. The bottle was originally a large mouth amphora used at the Arrow brandy distillery when flushing the stills between batches. Peter was a secretive alcoholic who often drank the silty dregs rather than pour them out like he was supposed to. He often drove home drowsy and drunk. That night, he had truly drank his fill and wasn’t even aware of the quarter mile long smear of blood underneath his chassis when he pulled up into his driveway.

    The Police didn’t have to look too hard to catch up with him that night. The little girl was walking home from school when she met the heavy rusted bumper of the Chevrolet truck.

    Her grandmother was all the family she had. The old gypsy woman had fled the Nazis with her infant grandchild to come settle in this quiet little community. She went to the trial and prayed for justice, but in the end, the old boys club found a way to keep Peter out of jail. The grandmother clenched her fist and spat at him as he walked out of the courtroom.

    Peter returned to work and in the days to follow, he found his trusty amphora and filled it. When he brought it to his lips, he found himself violently sucked inside as a great vacuum formed within. He fought it but his lips were stretching into the container, the skin ripping from his cheeks. His tongue and eyes teared off his skull and soon the crackle of teeth and bones followed as his entire body ground and sloshed its way into the bottle.

    When it was all over, the jar had shrunk into a tiny thimble sized piece filled with a few drops of blood, fat, bone, and hair. An old woman came by and took it away.

  6. No, no, you’re so dense. See, the dead bum appeared inside someone else’s mouth, so he couldn’t remain on the library steps.

    Also, the money changing hands is only how you REMOVE the bottle from your mouth. Not how you get stuck with it in the first place.

    Presumably if the guy took one of the bottles out of his mouth, and somebody else took it, there’d be two bottle suckers mournfully roaming the streets.

  7. Knodi 3: Xopher, the way I interpreted it, whoever owns the bottle bears the curse, as long as they were fairly presented the note.

    *exasperated sigh* Yes, Knodi, I know that’s one possible interpretation. I was encouraging Mark to make it more explicit in the note, so that the curse could not be transferred except to a willing next victim.

Comments are closed.