The Van Man left rehearsal close to midnight. He sat in his van and the coughing began. This time he was able to fight it off. The November night had cooled down to a chilly fifty-two, but the van started up fine. All the engine work he had done was paying off.
Downtown was slowly falling into sleep. North on Alameda, Van Man drove. Little Tokyo sparkled and drunk hipsters decorated the sidewalks. He watched as they all laughed and giggled and he resented them for being young. The van drove northwest on First and the laughter faded away. He stopped at a light and noticed the block sidewalk littered with large clumps of clothing. As the light turned green, Van Man realized that those were not clumps. They were human beings asleep in sleeping bags. The homeless epidemic was becoming a shameful reminder of the callousness in the City of Angels.
Van Man knew it was no simple black and white affair. Some of the Destitute had the affliction. Those were the ones who could not give up the bottle or put down the pipe. Some were just unlucky. The people who had made horrendous business and personal decisions. He looked at those as the ones who took the extreme chances for a better future, but the gambles backfired. And then there were The Discarded. They had it the worst because they never had a chance. The Discarded should have been in hospitals or wards, places where a mental disorder could be treated. But all of the wards and hospitals were gone. The places where they could have a chance in life did not exist anymore. The country hated stigmas and looked on mental health issues as the ultimate disgrace. Van Man was not going to hold his breath for things to change. Humanity had lost its way. At least in LA.
The van drove on, the park and a good night's sleep awaited. He was ashamed, but what could he do? He was a selfish man with a selfish dream to make something of nothing. Did he deserve those great things in his life like his van and his dream? It was tough to go through life without a dream. Van Man was having a hard time in recent weeks, but he knew the hard times would not last. Soon, he would be back on top, healthy and horny. Stealing kisses and eating steaks. And when he got back to that place, would he forget about The Discarded? He did not have to, he could make a change. In their lives and in his. But that would take a lot of sacrifice.
The park was quiet and Van Man laid in the coldness of his van. Thoughts swirled and he wished he had a bottle of something, anything, to dull his brain. The images of the sidewalks had stayed. Maybe, I can change, thought The Van Man as he closed his eyes. Maybe everyone could.