as told to me by she who lived through it
The semi-trailer jackknifed across the freeway and pinned a Toyota hatchback against the white concrete flank of the embankment. The container cracked open and irradiated both drivers with a lethal dose of radiation, thanks to the strontium-90 that the semi had been hauling for illegal disposal. The driver of the hatchback, who was, incidentally, an activist for nuclear arms control, also suffered three dislocated cervical vertebrae. The truck driver was uninjured, aside for the cancer that had started inside her stomach. The three EMTs who arrived on the scene shortly afterwards also received lethal doses and died a year later.
In the back of the hatchback were thirty heavily used winter coats that the activist had been driving to the Salvation Army on behalf of a local junior high. While the hatchback was in the junkyard pending the completion of the insurance investigation, the coats were stolen by a junkie named Hookie the Roofer and traded for a half a tab of acid. Three weeks later, Hookie went to a free clinic because he’d found blood in his palm after a particularly spectacular coughing spasm and discovered he had three magnificent and highly malign tumors growing in his lungs, inoperable and lethal. He went out and calmly killed himself, injecting his entire supply of heroin into his femoral artery.
The procurer Hookie had traded traded the coats to did only a side business in illicit pharmaceuticals, making most of his living off ten girls that he managed down in the business district. He split the coats among them, kept one hideous fur-trimmed specimen for himself, and sold the remaining nineteen to the Salvation Army on King Street. He was dead before the month was out, knifed in a dispute over finances with one of his girls, a forty year-old mother of two nicknamed Sweet Lou, long before the leukemia that would otherwise have hollowed out his face had done more than give it a striking hawkishness.
Sweet Lou lived to be ninety and died in her bed of a cardiac arrest, remarkably free from even benign bacteria.