"I'll take three bottles Don"

The pharmacist headed back behind the counter and retrieved the merchandise. It was one of those old fashioned pharmacies with all the bottles behind the counter. Don fancied himself a traditionalist, keeping wooden plank floors along with the rest of the folks on main street in that sad little tourist trap of a town: Tombstone, Arizona.

"What do you need three bottles for? That stuff is pretty revolting as far as I'm concerned and I could sell you some Pepto-Bismol for a little more and it would be a hell of a lot more palatable."
"Just sell me the bottles."
"Whatever you say," Don responded. After all, it wasn't dangerous or addictive, and as the pharmacist it was his job to keep his mouth shut. The man walked out of the pharmacy, pulling a bottle out of the bag provided. He looked at the label: Magnesium Hydroxide

It was printed in a crappy western font designed to illicit images of cowboys and shootouts. Historically it was all wrong; the pharmacists back in the day would have called it by its trade name, "Milk of Magnesia," or at least they should have called it by the slightly less scientific name Magnesium Hydrate.

Magnesium Hydrate:
Common uses: Laxative, Antacid.
Common name: Milk of Magnesia.
Alternate scientific name: Magnesium Hydroxide

He passed one of the local kids on the way home, riding his bike with a flashlight and some rope, looking a little suspicious.

"Hi Mr. Brooks." He said sheepishly as he passed by. The man stopped him.
"Where are you going?"
"Home, Mr. Brooks."
"You live that way," he says, pointing opposite to the boy's current direction, "and where did the rope come from?"

At that moment the buys father drove up, leaning out of the window of his rusted truck he addressed his son, "I thought I told you not to go to the mines! Get your ass in the truck! Hello Will, how are you today?"
The man was infuriated when talking to his son, and seemingly cheerful when talking to Will. This wasn't the first time his son had tried to risk life and limb for a little exploring down in the mines. Mr. Berkeley at the general store (tourist trap towns like this always have a general store) had been informed, and so he would make calls to parents whenever the kids came in and bought spelunking supplies. As a kid, there are some real disadvantages to living in a town where everyone really does know everyone.

"So how have you been Will?" the man in the truck asked him.
"I've been alright I guess."
"How is that dissertation coming along?"
"Fine," Will lied.
"Get that bike in the back and get your ass in the truck!" The man yelled at his kid, who was nervously attempting to comply.
"Well, I've got to get him home before his momma starts worrying. He'll be having a rough night." The man laughed heartily at the prospect as his son climbed into the cab and the truck started moving forward. Will watched it go about a block in the direction he had been walking, and saw a rope and flashlight hurled from the driver's window as the car picked up speed and headed off.

Will lived just outside of town in a small house. He usually walked everywhere he went, though he couldn't imagine what had driven him to this habit. In his younger years he had fancied it kept him fit, and it probably did, but the heat and the sun were nearly unbearable this time of year. His feet scratched as he walked down historic main street's famous wooden sidewalks. He had lied about his dissertation. He had been lying a lot lately. The Sun beat down on him, relentless. He needed to get home quickly, he didn't want to dehydrate.

Will stopped at the next shop and came back out with a bottle of water. He finished before he got home, a couple blocks away. He took out his keys, fumbling to get them out of the pocket of his jeans. The key slid smoothly into the lock, effortlessly even, and turned without resistance. The air pressure fought against him as he pushed the door open, and the cool air inside rushed outward past him to greet the sunlight. He waked inside, letting the sunlight filter in through closed curtains and the cracks under the doors. He walked to the kitchen and filled a glass with ice, moving over to the sink and filling it again, this time with water. He carried his glass of water and a mug over to his desk. He didn't have indigestion, he had heartburn, at least that's what he decided. After all, how do you get indigestion when you haven't had anything to eat that day?

After downing the glass of water, refilling it, and bringing it back to the table he methodically shook the bottle and poured some into the mug. He took a big gulp and then turned to his computer which had his dissertation still onscreen from earlier that morning when he had been working on it.

"On the effects of chronic dehydration on the male body," he quoted the title out loud to himself. He needed twenty pages to even be taken seriously, and he had little more than six at the moment. The prospect was not looking good. He took a drink from his glass, wiped his eyes with his hand and began typing:

In areas of high heat and low humidity dehydration is of especially urgent concern, and those with this rare disorder would be well served to avoid such arid climates.

He wiped a drop of sweat from his brow, moving over to the thermostat and setting it to a colder setting despite the fact that the A/C was already blowing on high. He took another large gulp of water, and a large gulp from his mug. He headed over to the bathroom, his monitor flicking from the white of the word processor to the black background of his screen saver in precisely sixty seconds.

The laxative properties of Magnesium Hydrate
are usually sufficient to render its usefulness
as an antacid totally impractical.

Will returned and stared at the screen yet again. This was going nowhere. He had thought that writing a dissertation on a disorder that he himself had would have been cake, but things weren't going as well as he had thought. He hadn't been to class for quite a long time, but it wasn't important, he was just taking classes to stay enrolled until this paper was ready. He finished off the glass of water. His stomach burned, he needed to eat. He went into the kitchen to refill his glass and look for something to eat. He returned to the room with a full glass of water and a banana, which he finished off quickly, returning to the kitchen and refilling his glass. He took another gulp from the mug, draining it this time, and refilled it from the bottle. He walked over to the bathroom, grabbed his toothbrush and opened the medicine cabinet, pushing a few large bottles out of the way looking for his toothpaste.

Magnesium Hydrate can be found in a number
of consumer products as a flame retardant, fuel-oil
additive, drying agent in food, clarifier in sugar refining,
and an additive in toothpaste

He scratched behind his left ear after he finished brushing his teeth. He washed his hands fully with the bar soap, and again with the soft soap. His brow furrowed and he pulled out his wallet and checked inside: Five dollars cash, his cards and ID, and several receipts. He dug through his closet, finding a wide-brimmed hat. He grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and headed out the door.

Magnesium Hydrate works as a laxative by drawing moisture
from surrounding areas of the body into the intestinal tract.

Will headed toward town again, this time carefully avoiding the pharmacy and heading in a roundabout way to the general store.

"Good afternoon Jim" he greeted the shopkeeper as he waked into the store. He picked up some batteries, a loaf of bread, a box of condoms, and two bottles labeled with he more common title Milk of Magnesia. Near the register he grabbed a bottle of water and set it on the counter. He handed Jim his credit card. It was really a debit card masquerading as a credit card; those were becoming a lot more common. Jim ran it through the machine, and both stood looking silently at each other as the device called headquarters on the store's only phone line to verify the balance of consumer #8834 732 1988. After a moment the machine beeped and Jim frowned down at it. He ran it through again. Another moment of silence, another beep, another frown crossed his face. He turned the card over and looked at the expiration date: two months out.

"Your card's expired Will," he announced to the store, empty except for himself and Will.

"Hmm, I mustn't have gotten the new one in the mail, I'll have to check on that," Will left the condoms and batteries behind, paying with the five in his wallet, and headed back out the door. He finished the bottle before he got home.

Keys in lock,
rush of air,
sanctuary of his home.

When he got home he dropped the bread off on the kitchen counter and took the bottle to the bathroom. He opened the second cabinet door and gently pushed the other similarly colored and sized bottles aside, creating a home for this new one, turning the labels forward as he went.

While overdosing is practically impossible, excessive
use of any laxative agent may result in laxative dependency.

Will filled another glass of water, and poured himself a fresh draught from his bottle, sliding back up to the monitor, which was displaying models of molecular structures in scholastic reds and blues. He touched the mouse and his paper emerged once again. The phone rang, and he took a drink before answering it. It was his mother.

"Hello Mom."
"I'm doing fine"
"That's not possible, my account is fine. It must have been a bank error, I'll call them in the morning"
"No, I don't want you to send her over here, I have everything under control and I'm taking my medicine."
"Mom...Mom! Maaaaa! Stop worrying about me,"
"That's no fair mom, you know about my condition!"

He slammed the phone down violently. He returned to his desk and downed the glass of water, and the mug next to it. After looking at the screen for a few moments he got up and went to the bathroom to wash his hands. He was really pissed off and didn't know what to do with himself. His mother knew that he had chronic dehydration syndrome, she had no right to question him about what he drank. Luckily she was all talk and no will. She wouldn't do anything to bother him as long as he didn't answer the phone. He had to work on his dissertation, he was going to win the Nobel Prize for his medical research one day, and this was an important first step. He went back to the bathroom and washed his hands again. He opened the cabinet looking for a new bar of soap and a little bottle fell into the sink. He picked it up and looked at the label: Paxil. The doctors didn't know what they were talking about, he thought to himself. He washed his hands again, and again, and again....

Direct and indirect quotes taken from Magnesium Hydroxide and compilations of myriad overlapping internet sources.