Friday, March 25, 2016

Another Year Older

  Does The Van Man have a birthday? It was a good question. Thirty-five years. He felt nothing. There was no happy, no sad. Not clear, not confused. And who cared? What was important was the thing. And the thing, for that moment, was the show.
  The birthday brought a missed phone call from his old man, The Hustler. And another from his mother. Van Momma kept it simple and sweet with a message that included an off-key rendition of the Birthday Song. His father's message was shorter and to the point. "Alright boy, you're thirty-five. Call me." So Van Man called.
"Hello?", grumbled the Father.
"Hey"
"Damn, boy...I was sound asleep"
"Oh..."
"I mean, I was sound asleep. Dreamin' and everything"
"Oh sorry about that", replied Van Man, apologetically.
"What's up?", the Father asked with a cough.
"Just giving you a call back"
"Oh yeah. Thirty-five, huh?"
"Yeah, thirty-five"
"Time flies, boy"
"Yeah...what were you doing at thirty-five?"
"Me? I was...well, I was living with this girl and dating your mom", said the Father as he laughed victoriously.
"Oh"
"Thirty-five"
"Yeah", replied Van Man.
"Well, maybe the next thirty-five will be better"
"Yeah, we'll see"
  Van Man finished the call and prepared himself for the rehearsal. He thought about his father's words as the van drove into the north valley, a birthday card in the passenger seat. Suicide bombers in Brussels marked the day. People dead and in grief, half a world away. What did his birthday mean? Not much in the grand scheme. Just another day of misery for some. And questions for others. He opened the card. It was from his mother. He read the last line. "I am very proud of the man you've grown up to be, listening to your inner voice". His eyes became wet and he drove on. The Van Man had an answer. And that was enough.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Distractions

  One o'clock with a cup and The Van Man was alright. A recent visit with the Doctor had brought the good medicine his way. The Cough had subsided, nearly gone. Paychecks for a couple of gigs had arrived. He suddenly had a bit of scratch. The Beckett show had entered tech week and Van Man needed a day off. He got one. A Sunday. The perfect day to reflect.
  It was time to push. Van Man had not done enough of it. Each day passed and he was one more older. No one was going to give him what he wanted. He knew that. But knowing something and doing something about it were two different animals. He had been sleeping and it was time to wake up.
  Van Man was aware of that certain cretin living inside him, buried deep in the abyss of his soul. The horrible thing sucked him dry from within. It told him no. It whispered confusion. And it manufactured sickly sweet distractions. The Cretin did not play a fair game.
  A free Sunday was just what the doctor ordered. Clear sky and seventy-two degrees. Joyful children played games somewhere near. Van Man could smell a crackling barbeque in the distance. He was awake. He was ready to push. A party was being held that night and The Van Man was going. It was a needed distraction. It seemed the Cretin had him by the balls.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Good Medicine

  The Cough. The deep lung mongrel. Misery and suffocation, together again. At last. The Van Man spit up, caught his breath and cracked open a cold shitty beer. He guzzled a quick gulp. The fizz burned his aching throat. Van Man slumped in the van's driver seat and looked out into the cloudy evening. Perhaps, a cigarette? One for old time's sake. But he had no smokes. And he was too broke to buy a pack.
  The insurance had dropped the good medicine from it's coverage. The only thing available to Van Man was a new asthma medication. It was new, but did not help. The new stuff did something bad to Van Man's lungs. Somehow made them worse. A solid month of drastically increased choking followed and Van Man made an appointment to see the doctor. Tuesday. He would have to make it a few more days. Beer seemed to work.
  He gulped the cold elixir and looked up into the darkening heaven. Clouds swirled, rain approached. The van's temperature dropped. Van Man took a swig of the only thing that made him feel good again. He was weak. The coughing convulsions had taken a toll. He shivered from their power. Gotta make it to Tuesday, he thought to himself. A droplet of rain splashed onto the windshield. The Van Man downed the rest of the liquid painkiller. And he smiled.