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.