Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Morning After

  It was Saturday morning. Nine-thirty. The Van Man had not slept in over twenty-four hours. He was tired and drained. He did not even have the energy to roll out his sheet or put on pajamas. Comfort did not matter to him at that moment. He placed a pillow at the base of the cooler where he kept the meat and laid his head down. Van Man thought about the previous day.
  Friday. The Van Man had work at an estate sale. The house was full of Stuff. Stuff everywhere. Antique Stuff. Crystal Stuff. Fishing Stuff. The ravenous people really wanted the fishing Stuff. The door opened and the horde of Huns rushed in. The barbarians had their way with all the Stuff. Except for the Christmas Stuff which sat untouched in the living room. While the house was raped and pillaged, Van Man spotted a Santa suit among the Christmas Items. Maybe a Psycho Santa, he thought. It was an idea. The festival of Samhain approached. Devil's Night. All Hallow's Eve. The sale continued and the amount of Stuff in the house lessened. The Things found better homes.
  At one point, a Young Gentleman who really was not interested in the Stuff took in the view from the back patio. Almost instantly, he recognized the scenery. "Oh, wow, that's the bridge from Chinatown. Where Nicholson inspects the dry riverbed." Van Man was intrigued. He looked out onto the scenery. He knew that the former occupants of the house had lived there for over fifty years. They had been witness to the filming of the iconic picture. Van Man saw the bridge. He was moved. Van Man also saw the golf course that had replaced the riverbed. "Not a riverbed no more", said the Young Gentleman. He was correct.
  The work day ended and Van Man was off to meet the excitement of the evening. Twelve straight hours of horror movies at an all-night horror-thon at a little theater in West Hollywood. But he would have to hurry to beat the Friday LA traffic. Van Man drove through Burbank and over the pass into Hollywood. He realized he needed lots of caffeine in order to make it through the night. He remembered the theater. The seats were rough. No give to them. The caffeine would help. He decided on chocolate-covered espresso beans. They would do the trick.
  Four o'clock. He arrived at the theater three hours early. It was right across the street from Fairfax High and the Lions had a home game that night. They were one and five, but they would still draw a good crowd. Better to be early and get good parking, he thought.
  Van Man pumped change into the meter and disconnected his battery. He crawled into the back of the van and made himself an early dinner of raw broccoli and pepperoni/ham/spinach roll-ups. He made sure to throw in a few crumbles of Salt and Vinegar potato chips. After all, he was not an animal. Van Man finished his meal and waited on his friend and fellow all-nighter to arrive.
  Five o'clock and Mr. Funny arrived. He was Van Man's friend and they proceeded to walk to the gas station for snacks. Mr. Funny was a humorous chap with a tendency to chain smoke. A relaxed Denis Leary minus the profane. They arrived at the gas station. Mr. Funny bought his smokes. Van Man could not find the chocolate-covered espresso beans. He would have to see what the concession booth had. The two All-Nighters left the gas station and headed for Canter's for a quick bite to eat. Van Man was not hungry but he could always go for a coffee. The waitress had not had a good day and let the All-Nighters know it. A few times. She wanted a good tip. Something to make her day. Something to help her buy food or pay bills or whatever it was that she needed. A plate of fries and a soda and a coffee was all that was on the receipt. Van Man and Mr. Funny guessed she thought they were made of money. Mr. Funny left a couple of dollars. He figured she needed it more than him.
  It was finally time to go to the theater. The time was near. Van Man and Mr. Funny arrived to find Three Goons already in line. Van Man asked one of the Goons if the concession stand would be open throughout the night. "I don't know, good question. You should have come prepared", replied The Goon. The Van Man was quite sure that The Goon did not know he lived in a van which was parked twenty feet away. It was a van that contained all types of preparations. Food. Water. Pillows. Condoms. That dork has no need for condoms, thought Van Man.
  Seven o'clock. The line had become thick with All-Nighters of various sizes, shapes, sexes and beards. The Lions had started their game across the street and an energy was in the air. The doors opened. Mr. Funny and Van Man found seats and prepared for the evening. Mr. Funny pulled out his cache of whiskey shooters while Van Man pulled out his Kit Kats that he bought at the concession stand. Van Man did not want to drink booze. He had stayed sober for a few weeks. The solitude of van life came at a price and the drink's toll on his spirit did not come cheaply. Eh, it's one night, right?, he thought and poured a shot into his soda.
  The movies began. Twelve hours. Horror movies from various sub-genres. Classic Creature Features. Seventies Obscure. Mainstream Euro Cuts. Eighties Gore-Outs. Italian Fantasy. And even Pauly Shore. The night was grand and luscious.
  Seven-thirty in the morning. The screening ended. The All-Nighters filed out into the day. The Sun was wide awake and laughing at Van Man and Mr. Funny. Van Man drove his compadre home and they exchanged farewells. Sleep was knocking on both of their doors. Van Man drove north on Sepulveda. Back to the Valley. As he drove, he thought about the movies he had just viewed. Those films had not been screened in LA for over fifteen years. A few of them had not been screened since they were released nearly thirty-five years before. Van Man wondered what the audiences were like back then. Were they that much different?, he thought. Longer hair and muscle cars...and no condoms. 
  Nine o'clock. He needed to brush the coffee and chocolate out of his mouth. Van Man pulled into the grocery store and grabbed his morning utensils. He went inside and found the Men's Room. He brushed his teeth and combed his hair. Splashed water onto his face. Took a piss. He was together.
  Nine-thirty. The van pulled under a nice shade by the library. Van Man situated his tired carcass onto the floor of the van. He was exhausted and comfort did not matter. His eyelids wanted to close. They drooped lower and lower. Before the sleep engulfed him, Van Man noticed his toe as it rubbed against the Santa outfit he had gotten from the sale. He was happy and shut his eyes. The Sun was high and children played. The Van Man slept in his van, peacefully. The Halloween season had officially begun and he finally had a costume.

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