Friday, October 9, 2015

Epidemic

  The Van Man coughed. Then he coughed some more. The mornings had gotten worse, it seemed. Or maybe it was his imagination. Coffee always helped. He packed up his bedding, warmed up the van and drove to that spot of comfort. The coffee shop.
  The regulars were there. Like every damn morning. The suspicious, white hippie with his screaming black toddler. The lecherous geezer who hit on the staff. The pretentious retired group which always sat together and only spoke of the past, one that Van Man did not believe existed. He despised them all. Coffee helped him like them again. Van Man ordered his cup and left. Always the gentlevanman, he held the door for a woman. She coughed, as she entered. It was an unsavory hack. Van Man understood her pain.
  He sat in his van and sipped from the cup. A smaller car pulled up next to his van and parked. Van Man only took notice when the older man exited the car and coughed, loud and cruel. Van Man cranked the engine. It was too much sickness for one morning. He had things to do and he was uncomfortable in his most comfortable place.
  It was going to be hot the next few days and Van Man needed ice. The cheapest ice was found at the store where everything was under a dollar. He parked and, as he walked in, passed by a homeless man. The Homeless Man choked and coughed. A violent suffocation. Thoughts swirled in Van Man's mind. As he stood in the check-out line, he wondered if the Apocalypse had begun. The End of Times brought on by some contagion in the air. It was silly to think such things and Van Man purchased his ice. He exited and passed the Homeless Man, who stared at him with dead eyes. Van Man emptied the ice in his cooler and glanced back. The Homeless Man talked to himself.
  The next stop was the library. Whether or not the Apocalypse was coming, Van Man needed a job. The library computers were good and the joint had air-conditioning. The temperature was rising. Outside the library, a homeless woman slept on the ground. A sickening cough erupted from her and she stirred. Van Man entered. The quiet of the library would help him get his head straight.
  He sat at the computer and searched job sites. Monotonous and boring. Then he coughed. The demon wanted to consume him, but he fought back and subdued the evil. No sign of disturbance and no one shushed him. Always a good sign.
  It hit one-hundred degrees in The Valley, October was in full swing. The Apocalypse was not near, it had to be the Santa Anita Winds and smog. Everything's okay, The Van Man told himself. It had just been too much time in a van.

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