Thursday, August 27, 2015

In Session

  The weekend approached and the coffee shop bustled. August drew to a close and The Van Man had a gig booked. A short film. It was a good thing, too. Money was tight. He was to film in San Jacinto, wherever the hell that was. As it turned out, San Jacinto was a hundred miles away and Van Man did not know how to pronounce it. San Hahseentoe, not Wahsentuh. None of that mattered, though. He was going to make a few bucks and he knew how to say "food money".
  Van Man sipped his coffee, peacefully. It was a good way to begin September, a month that always seemed to bring with it a promise of change and excitement. Kids were off the streets, classes were in session and the AC/DC concert crept ever closer. Only weeks until Dodger Stadium would house a temporary escape from the normal life for thousands of Angelinos.
  A homeless man, dressed in scrubs, loudly excused himself as he passed through the people in line. They waited to order and he could not wait for the restroom any longer. The Homeless Nurse wore brand new scrubs, but his face and arms were filthy. Sunburnt and caked in dirt. He held up his four-sizes-too-big pants as he rushed out the door. That was a new one to Van Man. The nurse get-up was a nice change. Part of the same change that September brought. And The Van Man welcomed it. He had some auditions lined up and a feeling that things would be different this time. He would continue to book gigs and make a bit of scratch to get him through the fall. Or, at least, to AC/DC.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Great Equalizer

  Seven o'clock in the Ante Meridiem, as the Latin goes, and The Van Man roasted in his van. It was most definitely a hot one. Maybe the hottest of the year. He rolled up his sheet and began the day. Coffee then a drive to the library to nab his shaded spot for a few precious morning hours.
  The shade was known as a commodity in the world of vehicular living. Especially in the San Fernando Valley, where Summer was Bummer and midnight in August was always around eighty-five degrees. To say the Valley got hot was to say Elvis was famous. Van Man arrived and the spot was his. He parked and sat in the back to enjoy the coffee.
  An hour passed and Van Man decided to roll down the windows and, as he did, he noticed a Sedan parked a few spaces over. Van Man knew it. Sometimes the Sedan parked in the shaded space. It was driven by a black man who seemed new to the lot. A small rivalry had begun between them, whether Black Sedan Man knew it or not.
  From outside the lot, a White Couple walked toward the Black Sedan Man. The White Wife approached the Black Man on the driver's side. The White Husband held up a cell phone and recorded the event. What seemed as a civil exchange between White Wife and Black Man took place. Van Man did not hear the words, but he understood the meaning. Then Van Man heard one phrase clearly. "I'm sorry", said Black Sedan Man and he cranked his engine and drove away. The White Couple seemed satisfied in themselves. The White Husband put away his cell phone and they walked from whence they came.
  Why did they do that?, Van Man thought to himself. He looked at the lot's parking sign. NO PARKING 11PM - 6AM, read the sign. It was nine-thirty in the morning and there were five other vehicles in the lot. The Van Man was pissed. That was not a good way to start the great hot day. And he was no longer a rival with Black Sedan Man. They were allies.
  The morning turned into early afternoon and Van Man was out in the Valley streets again. He looked for shade. One o'clock and it was one-hundred and five degrees. He was shirtless and knew he should just get naked. It was that fucking hot. Being a swinging dick while he drove sounded perfect, but it was not the Seventies. At a stoplight, he stared at the Young Man with the Homeless sign. That was someone who could not depend on shade. That was a person that could only make some scratch where the gettin' was good. And that was usually at unshaded off-ramps.
  Four o'clock and Van Man found himself parked under shade somewhere in a nice Studio City neighborhood. It was one-hundred out under The Sun. Too damn hot to do any damn thing. Most of the houses in the neighborhood definitely had pools. A scream rang out in pain and a voice yelled from somewhere in the heat, "It's fucking hot!" Van Man agreed with the random cry of injustice. It was fucking hot. The Van Man drove away calmed. Everyone was equally a victim to The Sun.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Happy Anniversary

  It was seven-thirty in the morning and The Van Man awoke from nothingness. His mouth was sore, teeth crusted over with blood from the scabbed and gaping wound. There would be no coffee for him that morning. The heat would aggravate his ditch. He rolled up his sheet and decided to drive straight to the library where he could park and heal. As he connected the battery and climbed back into the van, he thought about how that particular day was his Van Living Anniversary. One year and ticking.
  Van Man had a favorite space to park in at the library. It was shaded for a large portion of the day and if he got there early enough, he would nab it before The Red Van got it. Van Man did not know who or what creature drove The Red Van and he did not care. They were sworn enemies from some long ago life. He possessed an unquenchable competitive fire with that fucking Red Van and it burned deep.
  Van Man arrived and his spot was his. The Red Van was vanquished again. He noticed the scattered cars in the lot and laid down on the floor of his van. He closed his eyes and hoped he could sleep a bit and let the pain subside. He would need to eat.
  The sirens of emergency vehicles woke up Van Man. He looked out the window and quickly slid back down. There were fire trucks and ambulances. Van Man did not want to be seen. Twenty minutes had passed and he peeked out again. No emergency vehicles. But there were four police cruisers and a taped-off section of the lot, all forty feet behind his van. The cops appeared as if they were questioning people in the lot. Van Man hid in fear. He did not do anything, but if the cops found him, they would fuck him. They would search his van and threaten jail. All the while, his mouth would ache and his stomach would grumble. Pure, unadulterated misery. Besides, Van Man was no witness. He had learned a few things in the van. One of them was to mind his own business.
  His opportunity came and Van Man took it. A coroner had arrived and was examining a body on the ground while police officers looked on. Van Man jumped in the driver's seat and started his engine. He got the hell out of there.
  The Van Man drove away relieved and hungry. And a little curious. Who was that body? Did it just croak in the lot? Was it a suicide? Did some poor soul blow their brains out in the middle of the night and no one noticed until morning? The Van Man drove on. It did not matter, did it? He was alive and the police had not fucked with him. He would go eat oatmeal and cold eggs at Denny's. The Body would not. Happy Anniversary.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

A Good One

  The blood dribbled out of his mouth. Sweat rolled down The Van Man's face as he laid on the floor in the back of his van. He pulled out the gory gauze from inside his mouth. Where there had been a molar was now a bloody ditch. The gum tissue was splayed outward in all directions, kind of like a mortared spot of battlefield. He was lucky. There had not been much pain and what pain there was had been soothed by the pills. The Grad Students had yanked out the festering tooth and now he might make it.
  The online world had little good news to offer Van Man. Trump was to debate with GOPs and another movie theater attack. Videos of sub-humans afflicting atrocities on others, but aimed for the zeitgeist with titles like "One Lunatic, One Ice Pick" and "Three Men, One Hammer". There were sick and vile bags of garbage in the world. Beyond human reason or possibility. But they existed.
  Yes, The Van Man might make it, but the world probably would not. And in his van, he laid, bleeding and sweating. He was one of the good ones.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Big Hurt

  Exquisite pain. Only the best for The Van Man. The pain began at the exposed root in his jaw and slid into the left side of the tongue, then straight up to the mandible joint and, finally, it took the direct line to his brain. He knew it was no longer acceptable to "deal with it". "Toughing it out" was a phrase whose power had been deflated by the hell that wreaked havoc in his mouth. Add in the food poisoning at the hands of the Haggen's salad bar, plus ninety-three degrees of filthy Valley heat and Van Man was gloriously fucked.
  As he vomited over and over again out of the van, he appreciated shade more than ever in his life. He was beat, but not beaten. The University Dental School was the answer. He found it a riot. The kids were in charge of him now. And The Van Man just wanted the pain to go away, as he wiped the puke from his lips.