Autumn in Los Angeles. Cold, early mornings in the van had begun. The Rose Bowl was filled with fans and The Dodgers were in the playoffs. People packed the Halloween stores, looking for frights to purchase. October had always been a pure source of happiness for The Van Man. It was the horror and gothic traditions, the scary movies and costumes. The one time of year most anyone could revel in their morbid fascinations and not feel like a weird fuck. Unadulterated escapism from the mundane life. Pumpkins, displayed at grocery marts, begged to be carved. Macabre imagery knifed into their chosen front side. There was an all-night horror show at the end of the month and Van Man was determined to go. But the Cough had persisted and would not leave until one of them was dead. Hacking all night in a crowded theater was no way to make friends, so Van Man decided to use the government's help.
He made preparations with California's free healthcare organization. Medical care for the state's poor. Medi-Cal. How clever. Van Man made the calls and asked the questions. When the time came for him to make the appointment, he was informed that the physician assigned to him was actually a pediatrician. A case of simple mix-up. There would be more calls and hours of holding, but a new doctor was found. Unfortunately, Van Man was not allowed to see the new doctor until November. Shit happens, he thought as a homeless man talked to himself in the distance. Van Man wondered how the crazy ones managed? Who takes care of the insane street people? The ones that had dialogue with benches and crossed busy streets because they were invisible. Or worse. At intersections, windows are rolled up for those people, not down. They could not make phone calls for sickness, there were no more pay phones. Van Man decided he could tough it out. It was not as bad as being crazy.
The Halloween season had a way of masking the ugliness. As he entered the library to use the restroom, Van Man walked by a dirty woman on the ground. She screamed a song at the top of her lungs and smoked a cigarette. He had seen her many times. But that was the loosest. There was a midnight showing of The Exorcist in Hollywood and he thought about giving a call to a friend. The Van Man had always found it easier to cope with the horrors of the real world by partaking in the horrors on a movie screen.