Saturday, September 5, 2015

Swiss Miss

  It was Friday and The Van Man had some extra pep in his step as he walked to the van. He had found the scene he would use to audition for The Actors Studio. He felt good about it. There were a few other things he wanted to get done before the weekend and that was a good start. And then a friend called to him in slightly broken English.
  Van Man surveyed the parking lot and saw The Swiss Miss. She sat in her parked car and waved. He waved back and approached as she stepped out of the car. He had not seen her for some time and she seemed different. She still possessed the same unique sense of style that she always had, a cut and flair that Van Man assumed every European resembled. But she did not look well. "You don't look good", said Van Man, as he looked over her face. She had lost weight and darkness encircled her eyes. He knew she had been sick. In the time that he had known her, Swiss Miss routinely battled sickness and depression. She suffered from asthma and had bouts of pneumonia and fever. He asked her if she still smoked. She said occasionally. She was European, after all. She had once told him the depression had caused her to develop an eating disorder. She was already too thin. But now she was not eating. She stared off into nothing for a moment and he saw that her normally brown complexion had a hint of paleness. Van Man felt very bad about his comment. He apologized and they caught up.
  They talked and Van Man began to realize that Swiss Miss was, perhaps, too kind for Los Angeles. Her nerves were nearly shattered from helping too many people in her life. People that might have exploited her kindness and cultural background. She was European and, for her, one does not say "no" to someone in need. At least, that is how Van Man understood it. They lived in a city built on taking advantage of the "too kind". The City of Angels. A town where those angels resided on Skid Row.
  Swiss Miss spoke. She looked around nervously. And, on occasion, stared off. Van Man could only think to ask questions and keep her talking. He suggested that she go see someone, a professional. The idea did not interest Swiss Miss much. She told Van Man that when she was young, she heard voices that told her to do things. She referred to it as a form of schizophrenia. "What'd the voices say?", asked Van Man. "To hurt myself", replied Swiss Miss with a nervous chuckle. She told him the voices were back.
  Time ticked away and Van Man talked in circles. That was all he knew to do. They both had afternoons ahead of them, so they said their goodbyes. He assured her that it was okay. The world was full of crazy people and he was one of them. Every person he knew was nuts. If we were all crazy as shit, then we were all the same, so no one was really ever alone. That was as far as his psycho-analysis would go.
  He waved at Swiss Miss as she drove away. He sank. Damn, I hope she gets better, he thought as he climbed into the van. It was one o'clock and he still had things to do. But not that day. The Van Man had lost his pep.

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