Friday, November 28, 2014

A Thanksgiving Story

  The Van Man ate the turkey leg. The saliva mixed with the turkey juices and it ran down his fingers. It dripped on the floorboard as he sat Indian-style in the back of the van. Alone.
  He was thankful. He had found the delicious half-eaten bird just sitting on top of all the garbage in the dumpster behind the grocery store. Van Man was only there to throw away his bottles of piss and there it was. The Sun shone down on the partial fowl like it presented it to Van Man. A gift from the gods, thought Van Man. He looked around. No one was near. Van Man grabbed the Turkey with one hand. He unloaded the piss with the other. He was definitely thankful.
  Van Man gobbled down the gobbler meat. He had found a shaded spot by a set of basketball courts. It was Thanksgiving and it was quiet. Soon, though, he heard a scuffle. An ado of some type. He thought it must be kids playing basketball. The scuffle became louder. Van Man peeked out his window. A Young Black Boy was being taunted and shoved by Two White Teenagers. This ain't good, he thought. A moment later, an Older Black Man arrived at the court. He screamed at the White Teenagers. They screamed back. The yells turned into punches rather quickly. The fight was lopsided. The Black Man beat up the Teenagers and Van Man watched on. He was impressed. The Older Man and Young Boy embraced.
  A police car arrived at the scene and Two Officers quickly approached The Black Man and Boy. They screamed for The Black Man to get onto the ground. The Black Man tried to explain the situation, but The Officers would not listen. Van Man became angered. the Officers pushed The Black Man to the ground. Van Man had seen enough. He popped open the sliding door and ran to the scene. The Officers saw Van Man approach and demanded him to halt. Van Man yelled at The Officers. He screamed that they had the wrong idea about The Black Man. The Officers yelled back, but he could not quite understand what they said. Van Man continued explaining that The Two White Teenagers were responsible for the entire situation. The Teenagers heard this as they gathered themselves by the fence. The officers screamed louder and pointed their guns at Van Man. This frightened him. He raised both hands to The Officers. It was a plea for them not to shoot. They shot. The bullets tore into Van Man's chest and he fell backwards to the ground. The Officers ran to him. Van Man stared up at the blue sky. His sight faded. He was sure he could hear some voice say "I thought it was a gun". Van Man grasped the turkey leg tighter., he thought. Van Man raised the turkey leg high above him. The Officers stared at the blood-covered meat. Van Man's arm dropped. He was dead.
  The Sun welcomed The Van Man as it continued warming the November day. The Older Man and Young Boy walked away. And The Officers pleaded to deaf ears. The White Teenagers rode away in the back of their parents' cars and all were thankful to be alive.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Goodbye Horses

  The van was dead. Again. The Van Man had forgotten to disconnect the battery before he turned in for the night. And he would pay for the lapse in judgment. That's life, he thought.
  There was no need to worry. Van Man was at the park he slept at and there would certainly be plenty of park-goers who would come along, able to give him a jump. There better be since his phone was dead, too. He had spent too much time the previous night perusing porn on his cell phone. The sleaze had drained it. That's life, he thought. Indeed, it was. Van life had a way of making a person lonely sometimes. There was only so much seclusion a Red-blooded American Van Man could take until it got the better of him. With his van and phone dead, Van Man felt very lucky that some bad shit did not go down in the middle of the night. Some riot, perhaps, brought on by the frustration that came with what had happened in Ferguson. Chaos that boiled over from anger and tension that had been built up for far too long. Hell Night did not happen and Van Man just needed a jump.
  The morning burned away and Van Man was still without a jump. He realized that people at the park were avoiding him. They had probably seen Silence of the Lambs and were hesitant to approach the van. Afraid that Van Man would coerce them into the back of the van where he would surely knock them out. They did not want to wake up in a cellar pit with Van Man above. They were sure he would dance around to Q Lazarus with his dick tucked between his legs. Of course, he had done the Buffalo Bill Dance once or twice when he was a younger man after watching the film. But that had been the early nineties, a much looser time.
  A Gentleman who frequented the park with his dog showed up and asked The Van Man if he needed any help. The Gentleman had a Prius which neither knew how to use for a jump start. The Gentleman borrowed his neighbor's Ford for the task. Van Man was desperate and conceded to allow a Ford to help his Chevrolet. Just this once..., he thought. The cables were hooked and the Ford revved. The van would not crank. A minute passed and Van Man realized the van was still in drive. It had been in that gear all night. It was not the battery, after all. The culprit was Van Man's irresponsible nature.
  The Gentleman said goodbye and drove away. Van Man was at a loss. He felt stupid and angry. But The Sun was up and warmed the land. He was alive and still had a running van. He could escape any riot that was thrown at him. But most of all, The Van Man was no Buffalo Bill. People still saw the good in him.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Poem From a Van #1

Where's The Sun?
That fierce, piercing lady
That Goddess of everything that hates
Intense when she desires him uncomfortable
She wields a whip of heat
That rips his clothes off
Where is She?

The city needs her
It's been two weeks already
That homeless guy
The Sonny Bono guy
He's cold and talking to himself
He really needs to be warm
And talking to himself

The women don't look the same
Without The Sun
They smile only softly
The glint is gone from the eyes
They must wear scarves now
Showing their tanned legs no more
Where is The Sun?

And he's cold as hell
In the back of his chariot
Wishing her back
It's only November
March is a long way away
Fun in the sun with his gun
Where's The Sun?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Nothing Easy In the Cold

  L.A. had a way of getting cold. And The Van Man knew it. A body accustomed to the Southern California weather could sustain righteous heat waves and a blazing Sun, but any temperature below sixty and one might as well be in Auburn, Maine during a snowstorm. The residents were always enthusiastic about the weather change, at first. The holidays would sneak up and the scarves, coats and toboggans would work their way out into the open. A few weeks later and dread set in. They knew that it would be a couple of months before the SoCal warmth would embrace them again like a good friend. At least midday seemed to always bring a sliver of cozy times, even in the dead of winter. L.A., after all, was a desert. And it being a desert meant when it got cold at night, it got damn cold. Especially for those that lived in a van.
  Van Man had spent the previous two weeks filming and rehearsing while dealing with a tremendous Cough. The Cough was an earthquake of hellish suffering and Van Man had been beaten by it. But he had not been beat. He had a plan. And it involved the van.
  After the filming and before his next rehearsal, Van Man had two days free. He used them for an excavation of his van. It needed a major cleaning and he recruited Big Jim the Irishman to help. The interior had been lined for thirty-five years with carpet and insulation that had not ever been changed out. Van Man had been breathing their decomposing fibers for three months. He had made a decision to help himself.
  The cleansing itself was vile. Hundreds of thousands of dead fibers wafted through the air as Van Man tore through the van walls and ceiling. Dirt and grime saturated the underneath of the paneling and floorboards. Have I really been breathing this shit?, thought Van Man. At one point, Big Jim uncovered a pack of Marlboro Reds from Nineteen Seventy-Nine. Unfiltered. The previous owner was hardcore just like the van.
  As they tore out the paneling and floorboards and carpeting, Van Man realized how much love the previous owner had put into the van. It was a custom job down to the windows and lights. Every inch of the van was perfectly designed to the specifications of the Far-Out Owner. Whomever he or she was, this was their one true passion in life. And Van Man slept in that passion on a nightly basis. Naked sometimes.
  The job was finished on the second day. Van Man rejoiced. He drove back to The Valley where it always seemed about ten degrees warmer. The night crept in and he stared at the newly-cleaned ceiling. It was cold. It became clear to The Van Man how warm the carpet and insulation kept the van. Oh well, nothing worth anything in this life is easy, Van Man thought. And maybe he was right. The Far-Out Owner had put a lot of work into the van to make his or her groovy passion come to fruition. Just as The Van Man worked hard to tear it down so he could maintain a healthier life as he pursued his dream. He thought about that as he shivered himself to sleep in the desert cold. March was three and a half months away.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Greaser

  November had snuck into The Van Man's life. He had lived in a day-to-day fog since the rainy end to October. The Halloween Hangover. A Samhain Siesta. The City of Angels had continued on without him and he needed to catch up. There were rehearsals and film shoots and construction gigs on the horizon. November seemed to offer kindness to him. The Cough did not.
  Van Man had been plagued with the affliction for far too long. And The Cough was not ready to give up its lung apartment. He choked and wheezed for five minutes. He felt the throes of suffocation. Don't let me end up dead in the back of a van, thought Van Man. Who he had asked was a mystery to him, but it seemed like the correct dramatic interpretation in the moment.
  Van Man needed money and the construction work was plentiful. Cough or no cough, he would work. The gig was a three-man job. Van Man, Big Jim and The Foreman were to build a ritzy tree house at a ritzy house in ritzy Brentwood. The gentleman whom had paid for the entire job was a father of three and former collegiate basketball hero-turned lawyer. The Father introduced himself to Van Man and extended his hand which Van Man shook. A few minutes had passed and The Father explained some of the things he wanted for the tree house. Van Man noticed that The Father had gnarly hands. Two fingers were absent on each. One hand had the thumb, index finger and pinky intact. A sort of everlasting I LOVE YOU symbol made famous by "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka. The other hand lacked the index and bird finger. It appeared to Van Man as a good tool to spice up the love-life with the wife. Van Man chose a name for the sexual hand. The Greaser. A hook for the bush and two in the tush, she's lovin' that shit, thought Van Man.
  The three laborers worked the day away. They chopped. They sawed. They hammered and nailed. Up and down and up the tree they went. Van Man inhaled the sawdust which he knew was not a good combination with The Cough. His thoughts turned to Father Fingers. What had happened to him? Had he been a college hoops star with an NBA dream only able to see those dreams dashed after one night out with the friends? One too many drinks by some asshole who drove too close to the median. In a flash, traumatic events unfolded and the future uptown lawyer would wake up on a hospital bed. He handled the doctors explaining to him that four of his fingers were mangled beyond repair and had to be removed. He would accept the fact that his basketball days were over. What he could not accept was that two of his friends were dead. It would be a tragedy that would haunt Father Fingers for the rest of his life. But he would be dedicated to making his life great. A law practice. A beautiful wife. Three wonderful children. And a Tesla.
  Yes, Father Fingers had come full circle and was alive and well in the midst of a better dream. One that took place in Brentwood. One that inspired The Van Man who did not even notice the rupturous Cough as he contemplated the journey of Father Fingers. Van Man worked away in the tree. He was anew. And he was glad he had all of his fingers.