"Fucking young girls", said a black man as he exited his car. He had parked next to The Van Man, not expecting anyone to hear. But Van Man was the eyes and ears of western Burbank. An overcast morning, a favorite of Van Man. Shade was everywhere. He sipped his coffee, but did not partake in his usual oatmeal breakfast. He did not feel up to it. His body ached from intense rehearsals and incessant coughing. A vile hacking erupted and Van Man could only see it through. There was no way to fight the affliction anymore. It had become too strong. The demon bark ended and Van Man shook. He held the Styrofoam cup in one hand and his face in the other as he tried to regain composure. He would have smoked a cigarette if offered one, but that was a terrible idea. The coffee could only do so much.
Van Man was exhausted from the episode and could barely write. It was extremely difficult to put pen to paper. He was a hundred years old. Van Man reviewed his bank account. Enough to get through the day. He awaited the unemployment check. Eighty-eight dollars a week was the amount which the state had granted him. Nothing, but still something. He had to find a job. But who the hell hires a consumptive?
The library was quiet when Van Man arrived. No homeless outside the doors and no loud assholes within. That was the beauty of an overcast day. Van Man scrolled through the various job postings online. Nothing he seemed right for. He had a unique skill set that did not translate well in the present digital world. He was out of place, out of time. Like his taste in music and women, his ideology was old school. And the cough came again.
Horrific and explosive, the hack was too much for the quaint library. Van Man could see he had bothered people and needed to leave. As he stepped outside, the cough worsened. He could see his van and was determined to make it. Every step seemed to elicit another avalanche of lung expulsion. He reached the van and leaned against the driver side door. The coughing had reached its peak and Van Man vomited onto the ground. He wrapped his arms around himself to control the shaking and to make sure he was still alive. Van Man looked around. No one had seen. He climbed into the van and drove away. He had read somewhere that hot water with lemon and ginger was a fine home remedy to alleviate coughing spells. The grocery store was his next stop.
It stayed comfortably cloudy for the remainder of the day. Van Man laid in the back of the van, a bottle of pineapple juice on one side and the hot ginger, lemon concoction on the other. He was determined to beat the Black Death which engulfed him. He had no choice. The All-Night Horror Show was at the end of the month and The Van Man had his ticket.