Monday, January 26, 2015

An Officer and a Van Man

  A peanut butter and jelly sandwich. That was all The Van Man wanted. He sat in his van, parked in the lot by the coffee shop. Van Man ate the sandwich and washed it down with a bottle of water. He wiped down his sticky lips and the sticky knife, then tucked it safely away. Van Man eased. Then a flashlight shone into his eyes.
  The Police Officer came into view, as he looked into the van. Van Man opened his side door to bridge the gap between himself and The Policeman.
"Hi, there. What are you doing?", The Officer politely asked.
"Oh, just finished eating a sandwich.", Van Man politely responded.
"Okay. I just saw you here. Wanted to see what you were up to."
"Oh. Yeah, I was just finishing up."
"You living in your van?", The Policeman asked with a look that Van Man identified as envy.
"No, huh? Don't worry, you didn't do anything wrong. I'm just asking you some questions."
"Cool.", replied Van Man.
"So, you're just eating in your van?"
"Yeah, I actually just bought some groceries and was about to grab a coffee, do some writing."
"You're a writer? What do you write?", asked The Policeman. Van Man thought about the blog.
"Well, I just wrote a play.", said Van Man.
"Really? What kind of play?"
"Uh, it's a surrealist play. About all the bad stuff that's been going on with the media. How they just keep pushing bad news on us. It's all you ever see." Van Man was glad he refrained from telling The Police Officer about the part of the play that dealt with a cop killing a black man.
"Yeah, I hate the media. Do you have any identification?"
"Oh, yeah, sure.", said Van Man.
"Don't worry, you haven't done anything wrong.", The Policeman reassured.
Van Man found his wallet in the front pocket of his pullover and handed it over. He noticed the intensity in The Policeman's gaze as he fumbled with his hands in the pockets of the pullover. Van Man thought it best to keep his hands out of his pockets.
"You ever been arrested?", asked The Officer.
"No. Never."
"You keep all your stuff in there?"
"Yeah, most of it. I just moved, like, last May. And I don't have my own room. I share a room."
"I see.", said The Officer as he noticed Van Man's last name on the license. "Any relation to--"
"No, no, I get that all the time. Yeah, they spell their name with a U and mine is with an I. Maybe we're all related way down the tree."
The Police Officer jotted down Van Man's name.
"That way we have a check on everyone. Here you go."
  They both said their goodbyes and shook hands. The Van Man grabbed his coffee and thought about the exchange that had taken place. He appreciated how nice The Policeman had been. Van Man appreciated The Officer's inquisitive nature. He also appreciated that his marijuana was not sitting out in the open for The Police Officer to see.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Future, Today

  January and the mornings offered no warmth for those who had no heater. The Van Man was one of those. He wanted to stay wrapped up until the hateful Sun came to heat him up. But he had work. A three day construction gig and it was time to make some bread. He forced himself into the penis-shrinking cold and rolled up his beddings. His van did not like chilled mornings. After a hesitation, the van growled and came to life.
  Van Man needed the coffee. It was his life blood. He pulled up to the drive-thru intercom at the corporate caffeine slinger shop. It was good there was a drive-thru. He still wore his Skiing Polar Bear pajamas. Unacceptable Van Man attire for public. He ordered his usual: black coffee and a small cup of hot water with a spoon. The girly voice emanating from the intercom giggled at the request. A remark was made. "It's for my heroin", replied Van Man. Don't fuck with me, I ain't had my cawfey, yet.", he thought and reminded himself of a Spike Lee movie. At the window, the Barista smiled and handed Van Man his order. "Here's your fix.", she said. "I'm jonesin' ", he replied and drove off. He dumped the instant oatmeal into the hot water and stirred.
 The gig had been easy enough. Install an attic ladder here, connect some electricity there. Not too much dirt and he was payed well. He worked the job with The Foreman, a tough old hippie with a glint in his eye and a smirk. An easy dude to work with, for sure. The Foreman had a way of dispensing advice as easily as he hammered a nail. And he was a master at both. "Listen, man, life is over before you know it. Twenty years'll pass and you'll be, like, whoa! What just happened ?" Van Man just listened. "People have it wrong, man. They like to live in the past or live for the present. You ever hear someone say you gotta live in the present? Well, that's bullshit, man. You live for the future. See, that's the reality. Alright, you see that stop sign? See, we can have a good time and talk as we drive toward it. But, I know--I see it coming. I already know that I've got to prepare for it. I've got my foot situated, I begin to slow up, let off the gas. 'Cause I know it's right there, man. But I can still enjoy the moment. I can have my coffee. It's all about planning for the future, but enjoying yourself while you do it. See, man?"  "Yeah", answered Van Man.
  The Van Man thought about Foreman's words throughout the day. There was an importance to them. Van Man finished the clean-up and was ready to leave. The weekend had arrived and he wanted his pay. The Foreman was nowhere to be found. Van Man was alone to think about those words from earlier. He was out in the world. He had a plan for the future, but he still enjoyed the present. Van Man was alive and fighting and scratching for the dream. He was instantly filled with a tremendous feeling. Hope. The bathroom door behind him opened. The Foreman stepped out and quickly shut the door behind him. "Don't go in there, man. I just pooted."
  The van drove over the hill into The Valley. The Van Man felt refreshed and anew. He had money in his pocket and the weekend was the present. Big things would come in twenty-fifteen and some already had. The van baked under The Sun. He rolled down the windows. Those who had no air-conditioning had to do it. The Van Man was one of those.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Deja Vu

  All of it had happened before. Sometime. Somewhere. In some other life. The Van Man was certain of it. He sat in the coffee shop and read an article in the newspaper that he knew he had read before. The couple to his left was in the middle of a break-up. And Van Man had seen it before. He had already watched the woman feel bad for ending it and the man hang his head in defeat. The entire moment was a replay. Van Man was certain of it.
  Deja Vu had a mystifying way about it. Like Sinatra singing, it seemed comforting yet supernatural. Van Man knew it was all in his brain. He was too logical to believe in spooky things. But spooky things happened to him. Always had. One night his sleep was interrupted by a feeling of being taken out if his body. When he opened his eyes, Van Man found himself elevated off his bed, three feet away from the ceiling. He had been a teenager during this event. He could blame it on drugs, but he had not taken LSD yet.
  The Break-Up Couple continued their break-up. The Man whined a bit. Van Man thought that Man had a really whiney voice. The Woman was in full control of the situation. She wanted out. Van Man understood why. And the feeling of feeling that feeling before rushed through his system. A spooky feeling indeed.
  Not as spooky, however, as the time when a checker board flew off the dining room table right in front of Van Man. No one was around except for him. And he was nine years old. The checker pieces spilled all over the ground, loudly. It was certainly spooky. Van Man was nine years away from drug experimentation. But Van Man grew up and realized that strange things happened in life. That was fact. Strange was only that because it was not explained. But everything had an explanation. Human evolution took care of that.
  The Break-Up Couple left. Van Man knew they were headed to different cars. Not because of some spooky Deja Vu. He had seen them come separately. He sipped his coffee and Van Man read the Times. There was the front page article about extremists shooting up a French Paper. All in the name of spooky things. At least the Sun's out, The Van Man thought. And he left the coffee shop.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Year, New Story

  The Holidays came and went like a perfect piece of ass. The Van Man felt satisfied and focused. More than he had ever felt before. It had become the year of Back to the Future Part Two and he would not disappoint.
  Los Angeles had become too cold for comfort. It was the dead of winter. Van Man realized why it was called that. It was the time of year when the weakest of the homeless would die off. Weakened by their desire to eat. Weakened by their human need to be cared for. Frozen to death, starved and unloved. And unwashed. Gotta be strong to make it in this shit, he thought. He would not succumb. He had too much to do and too little time. Van Man promised himself that this year would be different. He would not allow the shortcomings of his past to take hold. As Pollock said, he would not allow the accident.
  LA had given in to Old Man Winter and he was a bastard. The Van Man had a battle on his hands to begin the new year, but the coldness would not touch him. He was eternally warmed by the fire that burned deep inside him. And he had a van.