Sunday, April 24, 2016

Feels So Nice

  The days ticked by. April had neared its conclusion. Where the hell was it all headed? The Van Man had his own idea. But shit happens and he needed a new pair of work jeans. His current pair had holes in the knees and ass. The Teamsters did not approve.
  New was a relative term. For some, it meant shopping at Target. For a Van Man, it meant perusing a thrift store. And if one was at a second hand shop in North Hollywood, one was most certain to spot the most interesting of humans. An unusual, bearded man sauntered up and down the aisles. Van Man skimmed through the jeans rack. But it was hard for him to ignore the bearded man with long, dirty-blonde hair. The strange, hairy man wore eye glasses and a white prom dress with black slippers. He posed and preened in front of a large floor mirror at the front of the store. Van Man found two pairs of jeans and watched The Prom Queen wander back towards the women's section, rolling a basket of items behind him.
  Van Man waited for the clerk to unlock the dressing stall door. An early Madonna hit played loud throughout the store. And Van Man waited, impatiently patient. A gentleman in one of the stalls sang along, "It feeeels sooo niiice!"
  Inside the dressing stall, Van Man hung up the jeans and realized he had not worn underwear. He never did. He was faced with an unpleasant choice: purchase the clothing without trying them on or put the unwashed bottoms onto his bare privates. On one hand, the pants might not fit. On the other, microscopic diseases might jump off the jeans and crawl into his penis and ass holes. Van Man did not know much about bacteria. But he did know if he was going to spend money, it better be on some tight fitting, Levi's five-o-one blues. "Feeeels sooo niiice!", sang the Gentleman in the next stall. Those were the wrong lyrics, but what was Van Man going to do about it?
  Van Man unbuttoned his jeans and slipped them off around his ankles. He looked at his reflection in the dirty, stained mirror. Hoped there ain't no cameras behind it, thought Van Man as he gyrated his pelvis back and forth. He managed a quick helicopter, smiled and slid on the first pair of jeans. That'll show 'em, he thought. And the Gentleman sang. "Feeeels sooo niiice!"
  Van Man had finished and was happy with both pairs. Outside the dressing stall, the Gentleman was long gone and Madonna had been quieted. Prince had taken over the airwaves for a most tragic reason and Van Man walked to the counter for purchase.
  Van Man sat in the van and cranked the engine. He was on his way to find a crooked smog test facility. The kind of place that would pass a polluting vehicle for the right amount of dinero. May was close and The Van Man needed to get legal. The Prom Queen rambled by. He just needed to be left alone.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


  "Watch out!", screamed the old man in his wheelchair, one which had stopped suddenly in the middle of the crosswalk. He had no legs. And the tan sedan drove on, westward, into the extreme sunset. The female driver was blinded by the light of the sky fire. She had no clue how close she came to clipping Ol' Legless. "Fuckin' asshole!", he grumbled and continued wheeling across the street. The Van Man crossed paths with him and shook his head in astonishment. A bus rolled along, eastbound. "Crazy", proclaimed the bus driver, out of his lowered window. Seven in the evening. The Valley was alive and well.

  Van Man crossed the street for a quick burger and coffee, before his rehearsal began. It was another show and he only had a few minutes. As he faced west, the fiery sunset blinded him. But he did not look away. Van Man stared into the fireball. The sight was awe-inspiring. He desired to become more present, more available to the full life experience. Whatever that meant. One day, the Grand Nothing would overtake. And everything he knew would cease to exist. So he owed something. He demanded more of himself, more connection. Awareness. Always listening, never blinking. Van Man looked down onto the sidewalk underneath him. And he saw Fuck. That most beautiful word. His favorite. The Van Man smiled and walked on to coffee.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

She A'ight

  The weekend was only hours away from its official beginning. The Van Man had one last drive to make on that Friday afternoon. Riverside to Los Angeles. The two-ten, westbound. A truck full of Teamsters. Van Man steered and listened to the always enjoyable, ill-mannered conversations among his co-workers.
  The story began as a civil discussion about some new law in LA involving trans people and bathrooms. Van Man had heard about the new law which allowed transgender students in public schools to choose which bathroom they identified with. Van Man had no issue with it. But, of course, like most laws, he had not put much thought into the thing. And the discussion quickly evolved into a tale from one Teamster's past.
  "I'm 'onna show you a pitcha. And you gonna say you knew it wasn't a girl, but at first ain't gonna be so sure", said Teamster One.
  "Cool", replied Teamster Two.
  "Listen, brah, I knew this nigga, Carlton. Me 'n this nigga grew up togetha. We wuz good friends an' all that, but...I hadn't seen him for a while. Nigga changed, brah. Brah, I wuz at his house last year and nigga was listenin' to Nicki Manaj, right, singin' along to 'em. She's got some good songs--I like some of her songs, brah, but nigga was singin' track seven. Know what I'm sayin'? Nigga knew every word to track seven."
  Teamster Two laughed. Van Man knew of Nicki Manaj. He was sure that he had heard one of her songs in the past. And he could only assume track seven must have been the type of song that most men would not sing. Like Xanadu or Hopelessly Devoted To You.
  "I went into this nigga's bathroom, brah. There's only one kind of mirror a nigga needs. Just one for the back of the head to make sure yo shit's good"
  "Right", agreed Teamster Two.
  "Nigga had one of those big, double-sided mirrors. Where you flip it to the other side so you can see real close", said Teamster One as he pantomimed holding a mirror and checking his eyebrows. Teamster Two laughed heartily.
  "Few months later, I wuz walkin' into Walgreens and there's this girl standing outside wearin' a skirt and everything. And she starts callin' my name, like she know me. I'm like, who the fuck is she? Then she walks up to me and says my name again. I don't even know this girl, brah. I ask her how she know me and then she says, "It's me, Carlton", said Teamster One and silence filled the car. "Brah, just look at this pitcha. Nigga callin' himself CeCe." Teamster One scrolled through his cell phone and found the image. Teamster Two looked.
  "Nigga's got titties", said Teamster One.
  "She a'ight", replied Teamster Two and Van Man roared with laughter.
  "Nah, brah. My boy called me up, tellin' me he met Carlton's twin sister. I'm like, I know that nigga don't have no twin. He tells me she fine as a mothafucka. Talkin' 'bout her titties. I'm like, brah, that ain't no girl. Brah. That. Ain't. No. Girl."
  The story came to its conclusion. Dead air. The Friday traffic had reared its ugly head and Burbank seemed a million miles away. He could only imagine what the other co-workers were thinking after story time. Perhaps, they had their own dark stories of confusion. Or, maybe, they quietly judged Teamster One. The Van Man was perverse and quite enjoyed the seedy tale. But silence was golden at that moment and he did not want to ruin it by speaking.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

April's Fool

  El Nino was a dud, but Los Angeles still prepped itself for a few more showers. Like most, The Van Man headed to the grocery store to stock up for the wet weekend. He was tired from a long, hot day driving vehicles. Teamster work had its moments, but Van Man had yet to find them.
  Van Man stood in the express check-out lane. The sign read twelve items or less. What happened to ten?, he thought. The young lady in front of him fiddled with her hair and swayed side to side. He gazed at the shelves of magazines. It was too much for his eyes. Bright colors and bullshit articles. Tabloid fuckery and moronic ideas all jammed together in thirty-page issues. The sight disgusted him. But what was a Van Man going to do about it? Not a damn thing.
  The Young Lady played with her hair some more and kept swaying. She seemed twitchy in her mannerisms. Van Man assumed that she might have had a muscle-control disorder. His heart filled with sadness. She was too young to be damned with a curse of that nature. Miss Spasm scratched her scalp and twitched her head.
  Van Man stared at her from behind. He was truly fortunate. No matter what he perceived to be a problem in his own world, at the end of the day, Van Man was a fairly healthy bastard. He was mentally sound, for the most part. Had not shit his pants for many, many years. And he did not shake uncontrollably. Van Man looked at the magazines again. What a twisted group of beings he belonged to. Only interested in the most base image of themselves.
  Miss Spasm reached into her purse as the checkout clerk scanned her items. Six dollars worth of travel-size shampoo and gum. Pitiful. She dug even deeper.
"I have a card"
"Would you like me to enter your phone number?", asked the clerk.
"No, it's a gift card", replied Miss Spasm.
She could not find her only means of payment. She dug all the way to the bottom of her purse. Still nothing.
"If you step over there, you can keep looking. That way I can take care of these people", said the Clerk as he looked back at the growing line of customers.
Miss Spasm searched more vigorously and seemed to want to say something, but did not. She was embarrassed. Van Man could tell.
"I'll take care of it, put it with my stuff", said Van Man.
He felt bad for Miss Spasm. And he was tired. He did not have the energy to fight off the demon of sympathy. It was too easy to do a good deed. Miss Spasm seemed caught off guard by the act and thanked him. She smiled. Her teeth were gross. Large black circles surrounded her eyes. The thought occurred to him that Miss Spasm might have been a dirty drug addict.
  Van Man paid and walked out into the cloudy evening. A woman with an oxygen tank sat in a chair outside the sliding doors. She begged for money with two nostril tubes shoved up her nose. He had seen her many times around town. It was an extreme gimmick, but it worked on many who passed by. But not him. Not Van Man. He strolled past Oxygen Tank Girl without even looking in her direction. He had been duped once that night. He was not going to let it happen again.
  The van drove out of the parking lot. Damn, he was still capable of being a sap. Or, perhaps, Miss Spasm was the real deal and he was a kind person. For The Van Man, there was a thin line between being sweet and being a sucker.