The Valley night was cooler than it had been for a very long time. A sign of impending Fall. The van rested at the park and, in the back, laid The Van Man. He coughed and it strangled. He was weak and his ribs ached from the wrath of the Black Death which controlled daily life. Sure, Van Man had felt alone before, that was natural for one who lives in a van. But this loneliness was different. A spirit of desolation. Van Man curled up on his left side and pulled a sheet over him. He tried to control the damaging barks.
Thoughts swirled and the Devil Hound arrived again. It was nearly suffocating and he shook. His eyes were wet. A single tear rolled down the bridge of his nose. He was not crying. Van Men did not cry. Then he heard the sound. Outside the van, in the darkness of the park, a man hacked and vomited. It was Saturday night and Van Man knew this sort of thing happened to the best of them. A Good Time Charlie had one too many. Van Man coughed violently again. And, as if on cue, The Hacking Man hacked.
The next twenty minutes followed that same script. Van Man coughed and cringed. Hacking Man hacked and heaved. They spoke to each other through misery. He's got it worse than me, thought Van Man as he sipped a bit of water.
The conversation of coughing ended and the night quieted. Only the sounds of passing cars and blaring music remained. Van Man relaxed his body and wondered if Hacking Man was gone or still in the park, collapsed on a bench. He drifted away and was grateful. The Van Man had a van and The Hacking Man did not. That was something to truly be grateful for.