Sometimes a story idea pops into a writer’s mind while writing. Sometimes it comes from out of the blue in real life. Here’s what happened to me just twenty minutes ago.
As I was walking along the Great Highway path next to the ocean, I saw a man enter the path carrying one of those iron bars that lock a car’s steering wheel in place. “Why would he be carrying something like that?” I asked myself.
Ten seconds later my question was answered: a man on his bike stopped, got off and faced the man with the iron bar. I stood about 10 yards from them.
The man with the iron bar raised it above his head.
“What the hell are you doing?!” said the guy with the bike. “This is San Francisco, we don’t do things like that.”
The man lowered the iron bar. “I didn’t like what you said to me.”
“You almost ran me over,” said the bike guy. “What did you expect me to say, you stupid ass?”
The man lifted the iron bar above his head again. “Hey,“ I shouted, “stop that!“ He turned toward me, shaking, and dropped the bar. Then, getting into a boxer’s stance, he said to the bike guy, “Put ‘em up!”
“I don’t want to fight you!”
“You swore and yelled at me, man! You just called me a stupid ass! Come on, put ‘em up!”
Since the man didn’t have an iron bar in his hand, I stepped closer to them and asked, “What’s going on around here?”
Each man told me his story. The car guy said he didn’t see the bike guy and made a mistake by almost hitting him, but he didn’t like the way the bike guy got mad at him. The bike guy said he was riding down the street when the car guy made a turn and almost ran over him. He stopped, swore at the car guy, then rode off.
I thought the bike guy’s reaction was normal and that the car guy took what happened much too seriously. I thought things had cooled down a bit, but the car guy started raising his voice again. The bike guy responded in kind. All the bike guy had to do was stop defending himself in front of a semi-crazed macho man who wasn’t about to listen to anyone. I looked at the bike guy and said, “Don’t argue with him, you’re only making things worse.” Thank goodness he listened to me, and this had a calming effect on the car guy.
The car guy picked up the iron bar and started for his car. The bike guy got on his bike and rode away. As for me, I rushed home to write a story that came from out of the blue.