Monday, September 15, 2014

St. Charles and the Valley of Lost Souls

  The Van Man drove along Moorpark Street. It was night and the air was hot. He was tired and beaten. The Sun had beaten him that day. He had showered at the gym and was heading to the park to sleep for the night. Van Man was lost in deep reflection. When he came upon the intersection at Lankershim Boulevard, Van Man noticed a Young Man slumped against the statue of St. Charles. The Young Man's head was buried in his arms at the feet of the The Saint. The light from inside the veranda lit the scene perfectly for all traffic to see. And, yet, Van Man knew the scene was private and he should not look at it. Another lost soul, thought Van Man.
  The Van Man drove faster. He wanted to get away from the loneliness of the scene. North Hollywood became Toluca Lake and he was troubled with thoughts. Van Man was reminded of the eerie image he had seen earlier that day. A handmade sign had been constructed using a chain-link fence and white foam cups along Victory Boulevard. The foam cups had been precisely placed in the spaces of the links and formed the message: GOD FORGIVE ME FOR IT. What had he done?, thought Van Man. He didn't really want to know. He figured the less he had to think about it the better. And he was right. But Van Man knew there was another lost soul in the Valley, brooding in the darkness. One that was sorry to God for whatever unspeakable act they committed.
  And The Van Man drove on. His thoughts scared him that night. They were dark and dangerous, filled with remorse for a past he did not belong to and shame for a future he could not see. Van Man felt a kinship with the lost souls. He was often one of them, distraught and tortured. He remembered The Homeless Beauty and he could not bare it. She was a lost soul, too, he thought. Van Man did not want that for her. He wanted Homeless Beauty to find herself. If she could rise out of the ashes, then maybe there was a chance for him. He drove on.
  Toluca Lake became Burbank and he was close to his destination. But the thoughts consumed him. Was The Van Man destined to end up like his Father? Broke, broken and alone? Living out the end of his days in a motel? Van Man chased a dream to be a successful actor, just as his Father chased a dream of being a successful gambler. The odds were stacked against both. He drove faster. The thing about a dream is that it lives on hope. Hope is what separates the dreamers from the rest of the animals. His Father had lost it somewhere. Van Man was not his Father. He was something more. A better man. Perhaps, but he had yet to show it. He lived in a van and had not touched his dream. And Van Man would, in time. But not that night. That night belonged to the ones who could not figure it out. The ones who were caught somewhere between truth and fiction in the Fantasyland of Hollywood. The lost souls of Los Angeles claimed that night. And The Van Man was happy to give it to them. They deserved it.

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