Saturday, February 27, 2016

Fake Rain

  The crucifix tattoo on his hand had the appearance of something given to him in prison. A symbol of gang affiliation. But what was The Van Man going to say? It was a gig and he needed the money.
  The shoot was for a charity organization located in South Central LA. The cast and crew were instructed to refrain from wearing any red or blue. Gang territory. Night shoot. Rain machine. What could go wrong?
  The moon was big and bright in the dark distance. Hundreds of gallons of fake rain drizzled down. The drenched Van Man looked down at the fake tattoo on his right hand and thought it humorous. A smile crept up. A sinful Van Man was portraying a soulful protagonist who discovered the power of faith from a simple act of kindness. Van Man was not kind. At least, he thought he was not kind. And the water rained upon him and his fake tattoo. The damned thing did not wash away.
  Midnight, one o'clock, two. The hours melted into one long span of time. Van Man tired. His thoughts were soaked by the onslaught. He was reminded of his days as a young fuck, being caught in a downpour. There was a comfort in those times. When he was a Van Boy, he would hide in the bushes as storms surged. The leaves and shrubbery would block out most of the rain. And he could stay fairly dry. He loved the sound of water droplets as they hit the bush. He was alone. No one could find him. He felt a strong sense of power in that.
  A memory surfaced of Van Man at nineteen, caught in a storm with some old flame after a concert. They ran through the rain, laughing, and reached the car. The drenched lovers stripped to their underwear, still laughing, and drove away. They were sure that moment had only happened to them.
  In the back of the van, there were glorious moments of security and isolation. When pellets of rain water dinged on the roof and no one in Los Angeles was around. They were all inside and he knew no one could find him. And Van Man could just think.
  Five o'clock and the gig ended. The van motored north into downtown and on to the Valley. He was exhausted and confused. Not sure of much and soaked to the bone. A deep sadness resonated somewhere. The Van Man glanced at the tattoo. It was still there, bold and black. No fade. How the hell am I gonna get that fuckin' thing off?, he thought and drove on.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Power Struggle

  Morning and the work day was under way. Four Teamsters sat in the truck as The Van Man drove. They were all headed to Santa Barbara for a transport job. There were cars that needed to be moved down to LA. Four cars, four drivers. And a Van Man.
  The drivers were all different in nature, among other things. One was Persian, one was too quiet, one was a DJ and the other was Jose. They bickered with one another and found no common ground. Except for the fact that they were all broke as hell and needed the job.
  The truck weaved through 101 traffic and was almost passed Sherman Oaks when an unsightly smell whaffed throughout the vehicle. An unmistakable stench.
"Hoo, rotten egg", said the Persian as he rolled down his window.
"Alright, who did it?", asked Adolph the DJ. "Was it you, Montreal?"
"Man, I haven't eaten today so somebody up there can't control their flatulence", responded Quiet Montreal.
"What about you?", asked Adolph the DJ, pointing the question to Van Man.
It was a challenge to Van Man, he was their leader. One cannot fart and be taken seriously. And he was no farter.
"Maaan, I wish", he boldly declared.
The drivers erupted in laughter. Van Man had reasserted his power.
"Man, he's crazy!", exclaimed Adolph the DJ, the one that Van Man was sure had dealt the grotesque gas.
  The odor was gone and the Teamsters continued north. The week was new and many rides were ahead. The Van Man would be glad when the day arrived in which he only had to work as an actor. Sure, people had flatulence on set just the same as Teamsters in a truck. But the pay was better. And it was art, was it not?

Monday, February 15, 2016

A President's Day Story

  Lethargy had taken over. The Van Man was not interested in doing much of anything. Fire trucks roared through the nearby streets. Typical Monday morning in the Valley. Traffic and emergencies.
  It was President's Day and something seemed off to Van Man. An odd feeling in the atmosphere. A staleness. There was a touch of cold within the hot day. Van Man wanted a milkshake. It would make him feel better.
  In the ice cream parlor, Van Man surveyed the flavors. He felt he had tasted them all, at some point. He was bored. "Don't know what I want", he said to the counter girl. She was a cute brunette with streaks of blue in her hair. She wore shorts and knee-high socks, striped at the top. "How about the Presidential Special?", she asked him. "What's that?", he replied while looking for the signage on the wall. "It's one scoop of vanilla, whipped cream and a cherry", said the Counter Girl. Boring, thought Van Man. "Nah", he replied. "And you eat it out of my pussy." The Counter Girl smiled. Van Man looked around. No one else in the place. His eyes were wide, his mouth agape. He nodded. "Good", she replied and walked to the back room, through a swinging door. Van Man was hesitant. And he was conflicted. She did not ask him to follow her. But he did agree to purchase a Presidential Special. And she did say he would have to eat it from between her legs. That was definitely not going to happen in the lobby. What if hot, sweating families came in?
  The swinging door opened as Van Man stepped into the back room. There were many large freezers which made complete sense to him. But there was no Counter Girl. Van Man took a few steps. "Hello?" No reply. Thoughts of candid cameras swarmed his mind. Maybe he should go back. The sound of a blender emanated from somewhere. Then a second. Then a third. The sounds seemed to be coming from the freezers. Van Man walked to the closest one and opened it. He peered into the foggy chamber. It was like nothing he had seen before.
  The next morning, Van Man's van was towed away from the ice cream parlor. It would sit in the auction yard for nearly six months before being sold off for scrap metal. The ice cream parlor continued on, producing flavors of the month that had never been tasted by the neighborhood before. Business boomed and The Van Man was never seen again.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Fuck Day

  Valentine's Day and The Van Man evaluated his life. Seemed like a good time to do so. High eighties in the comforting San Fernando Valley. Winter in LA.
  Was he a good man? Sometimes, gladly. Sometimes, gladly not. Was he difficult? He hoped. Was he lost? One did not need a map when one had instincts.
  He sucked down the chocolate milkshake and parked the van. He had made mistakes, sure. And he was going to make some more. There were questions to answer, important ones. But The Van Man was tired from a long day and he just wanted to know the amount of sex going on in Burbank.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Game Day

  Sunday. A Super Bowl. In the Valley, the atmosphere was drenched with the smell of grilled meat. Screams of joy and agony were heard throughout the neighborhoods. People enjoying the big game. The Van Man got out of rehearsal with a chip on his shoulder. He had no use for games.
  Van Man was frustrated. The show was not fun. And he was not sure why. Perhaps, it was just still early in the process. He was still on book and the character was not defined, yet. Or maybe it was something deeper. Working the nine to five job with the Teamsters had begun to take its toll and he did not want to be working the bullshit jobs anymore. But he swallowed his ego and laughed at himself. That's an actor for you, he thought. Always thinkin' they're too good for shit. 
  The weather was nice. Typical February in the Valley. The rains had come and gone, but the real showers were still on their way. The El Nino storms were due to hit LA within weeks and Van Man welcomed them. He had patched up the holes in the van and he was ready for the sons of bitches. 
  He thought about a milkshake. And then it hit him like a linebacker swarming the pocket. That was all life was about. Just game days and preparing for rain and deciding on chocolate or vanilla. One could argue there was so much more to it, but was there? It was about catching temporary happinesses, making choices and staying dry. The Van Man frowned and decided against the shake.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Strong Winds

  Drenched, windy days were uncommon in Los Angeles. And when they happened, all hell broke loose. The Van Man witnessed the aftermath first hand in the Silverlake neighborhood. He had a meeting that morning with a director. It was a short film gig about a man having a change of heart with a hobo. Touching. Trees were down on Lyric Avenue. A gigantic one almost took out the funky, little theatre on the corner. Big fuckin' tree, thought Van Man. Oak? Whatever, it's big as shit. Debris was strewn all over Hyperion Avenue. Or, perhaps, he mistook it for the early morning hipsters.
  Van Man waited at the meeting location. A tiny breakfast joint right in the middle of Silverlake, at the corner of affectation and artificiality. Van Man sipped his four dollar, black coffee. The air was thick with pretension. He began to recite his Shakespeare.
  The Bard's words flowed from Van Man's mouth. He had become quite good at hitting the T's seductively light. A woman stared at him. Maybe he, too, was artificial and Van Man stopped reciting. Or maybe she thought he was just crazy and homeless. He was, after all, wearing an old military jacket. That usually read vagrant, did it not? He began to think of the tramps that walked around talking to themselves. Could it be that they were not crazy? Maybe they were running lines, preparing themselves for their next audition. The big one. The first job interview in six years or last chance to speak with family for the rest of their life. If they killed it at the audition, it might mean they get off the streets.
  Van Man enjoyed the coffee and looked out the window. An empty baby stroller toppled over while a motorcycle crashed and skidded. The biker stood from the wreckage and a mother picked up the stroller. The wind was intense that first morning of February. Valentine's Day was not far off and The Van Man did not have a date. That was common in Los Angeles.