Well past midnight and the freeways were empty. A few cars here and there with an occasional police cruiser. The Van Man drove along. Alhambra behind him, The Valley ahead. Back to the park, to get some kind of sleep. Whatever kind he got was up to the Sleep Gods.
The seven-ten became the ten and the ten became the five. Van Man looked out onto the quiet, sparkling city and knew he had been duped. Los Angeles had a liar's reputation, but it was not her. It was him. He had lied to himself and he took the responsibility. Van Man peeled off the leftover silicone from his face and neck. He scrubbed the makeup from his flesh with a baby wipe. He had filmed something. He did not really know what. He was tired and beat. Maybe it was the lack of food, but Van Man realized that he truly had to make a change.
The previous ten hours had seen Van Man covered in demon prosthetics and battle armor. A GWAR-like creature inhabited by an artist's soul. The film was of the no-low budget sort that would make Corman proud. And a bit stressed. No pay. Just a chance to be needed as an actor. A chance to see old friends.
The Monster Maker was in town and had recruited Van Man for the shoot. The lead monster was portrayed by another chum, an actor that eschewed taste, both good and bad. He was one of Van Man's closest compadres.
The night wore on and the three old friends swapped stories of the past and what they were all up to. The Monster Maker had a blossoming family in Vegas, complete with the house and yard. He seemed happy. Mister Taste was doing better than he ever had with acting, including a fairly consistent paycheck. He seemed happy. Van Man had a van that choked and a choking cough. He was still dirty and could not afford the luxury of gym showers anymore. He did not need happy, he would gladly take so-so.
The five turned into the one-thirty-four. Van Man was done. He was alone. He was sick. And, finally, he realized he was truly insane. He could not trust his own decisions. The van exited Hollywood Way. Burbank was quiet. Van Man looked at all the cars parked along the streets. Cars which belonged to so many comfortably, sleeping people. People that would fill those cars in mere hours. Van Man needed to join them.
He arrived at the park, pulled up to the curb and slid behind the seats. He rolled out his sheet and coughed violently. The troubled exhaust leaked fumes into the van. The temperature was high in The Valley, even at one in the morning. He thought about The Monster Maker in Vegas and Mister Taste getting paid. He thought about all of the other people out there in the world that were okay with the regular life. Comfort. Why could he not fathom it? Was that not a type of success? What was wrong with him? I've fucked up, thought The Van Man as he choked to sleep.