This summer, Sam and I borrowed April's cooler and several of her serving dishes for a screenplay reading. Last month, I finally got around to returning them.
But April's cooler, a eyesore pink and white tub that equally succeeded in both showing off her ostentatious feminine style and keeping soda cold, was missing. I asked Noah if he knew where it had gone - he didn't know. I asked Kolleen - she didn't know. Then I asked Brian. He knew.
He told me that he'd borrowed the cooler, and a bunch of work-mates hit it with baseball bats when they were bored on day during lunch. Then he told me the real story. The borrowing part was true. The baseball bats weren't. Instead, a much more gruesome fate had befallen April's cooler.
Brian had taken it the cooler to work for a company picnic, where it had done what it does so well - kept soda cold in a flamboyant manner. Then Brian emptied it out and brought it home in the back of his pickup truck.
As he reached 80 m.p.h. on the 90 freeway, he noticed in his rear-view that the top of the cooler had come open and was flapping violently in the wind. Goodness, Brian though, maybe he'd better slow down and pull over, before a gust caught the cooler and-WHOOOM!
A gust caught the cooler and lifted it out of the pickup, sending it tumbling at 80 m.p.h. down the freeway. In the middle lane, too, so there was no chance of it skidding off onto the shoulder.
Brian did what any conscientious citizen would do in such a situation - he kept on driving, hoping that nobody would hit it and wreck their car.
He also tuned into the radio that afternoon, to hear if anything came of this discharged pink and white obstacle sitting in the middle of a freeway lane. And that's when he heard it.
April's cooler had caused the deaths of 27 people.
OK, here's an example of how my stories sometimes start true, then spiral exaggeratedly into fiction. Brian borrowed April's cooler. The cooler flew out of his truck on the freeway. In the middle lane. But nobody died. At least as far as Brian knows. He was too scared to tune into the radio.
There was a pretty heinous traffic jam on the 90 later that day, but I think it's just because we live in LA.