Sunday, May 29, 2016

End Is a Beginning

  Clouds drifted and The Sun warmed. The park was busy with joggers and crossfitters and dog walkers. It had been six months since The Van Man exercised on its grounds. He needed some sunshine.
  Pull-ups. Crunches. And then The Gentleman approached with his friendly dog, Wilbur. Perfect name for the cordial, yellow beast. The Gentleman was just as neighborly as he had always been. A kindness that was rare in the City of Angels.
"Hey, man, how you been?", asked Van Man with a smile and a handshake.
"Good. It's good to see you", replied The Gentleman with a wide smile of his own. And Wilbur yelped as he happily sniffed Van Man's crotch.
"Just thought I'd come down and get some sun", said Van Man.
"Oh, that's good. You look well. The last time I saw you, you had that cough"
"Yeah, got rid of that bastard"
Van Man was glad to see The Gentleman. He had always been friendly and brought pleasant conversation to the park. Suddenly, Van Man remembered Gentleman's sick friend, a nice lady about whom Gentleman spoke highly of.
"Hey, how's your friend doing? She better?"
"Oh...she died", replied The Gentleman, solemnly. His head hung low. "February eleventh"
Saturday at the park turned gloomy. Terminal brain cancer had a way of doing that.
  The conversation ended and the two said their goodbyes. Wilbur wagged his tail and yelped. He was happy. Across the street, a new mother carried her newborn from a house. Van Man remembered a time when that new mother was not a parent, but a hot, piece of ass. Dressed sexily for a night, rushing down the drive way in high heels and cramming into a car with her scantily-clad friends. What a difference tequila and nine months can make.
  The workout was over and the clouds had overpowered The Sun. He walked to the van. In the distance, The Gentleman walked somberly. Beside him, a happy Wilbur. There was something to be learned, but The Van Man only drove away. He did not have the time.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Aspirations

  "Nice adjustments. Thank you", said the exhausted casting director. She had spoken those words enough in her life. Her pronunciation of them was impeccable. The Van Man smiled, thanked her and exited the tiny, off-white room. It was clear that she was more interested in eating lunch than watching another audition.
  Van Man walked outside into the warm, Hollywood day. That morning's overcast had broken up. The Sun laughed in victory. A white envelope, pinned to his windshield, had caught Van Man's attention. Motherfuckin' bullshit, thought Van Man. The green-lettered sign read: One Hour Parking. The van had not been parked for more than forty minutes. He opened the envelope. The ticket was for the van's expired tags. Motherfucking bullshit, indeed.
  The van rumbled as it turned a corner onto Cahuenga. A shirtless, piss-drunk man leaned on his car and pissed into the gutter. Bad audition, he thought and drove on to Burbank.
  The van pulled up to a red light by Warner Brothers. Van Man noticed a young dude standing on the sidewalk. He held a sign that read "Aspiring Actor" in big letters. Van Man could not read the smaller print and the light turned green. The Aspiring Actor grew smaller in the rear view as The Van Man steered. Fuck you, he thought. Get in line like everyone else. He had a show that night and the van rumbled on down the road.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Tragedies

  "I gotta tell you about this thing that happened to me today, man. You'll appreciate this story", said the Vietnam Veteran. He was The Van Man's cast mate in a Greek play, a combined production of Oedipus Rex and Antigone. The Vet was a kind man who had spent his post-war years as a mononymously-addressed model. 
  "I rode my bike down the street this morning to get some breakfast. Halfway there, I realized I left my phone at home. I thought, 'Geeze, I better go back and get it, it's Friday the Thirteenth, you know, something might happen'. But, you know, I just said screw it, man." Van Man nodded in acknowledgement that it was, indeed, Friday the Thirteenth.
  "So, I'm buying my breakfast and you know what the total was? Six, six, six. I couldn't believe it, on Friday the Thirteenth!", finished the Vet and walked away in lingering disbelief. Van Man needed a coffee.
   Time spent conversing with his fellow cast members was always most enriching. An actress, who spent her days as a lawyer, was no exception. She was the kind of woman who was devoted to doing the right thing, but had a bad girl streak buried deep within. It was their second walk on the planks together and he had come to understand her eccentricities. And appreciate her goodness. Miss Lawless was one of those nice girls toughened up by life. She had been through some major downs, but would not allow the black hole of depression to swallow her up. Van Man liked her grit. 
  Perhaps, it was great irony that Greek Tragedy existed. Or any drama, at all. Was it only properly performed by those with tragedies in their own lives? Bad things happened to everyone. He knew that. It was one of the single, purest truths of life. Some dealt with the pain easier than others. As the Van Mother once said, "Some people fall down and get right back on up. Others fall and don't know how to get back up." Miss Lawless knew how to. So did The Van Man. They were survivors. Oedipus and Creon were not. "Six, six, six on my receipt, man!", said The Vet as the actors were called to places.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Motel Daze

  It was the kind of place where Hollywood dreams died. And sobriety took an indefinite hiatus. The walls were thin. The plumbing was terrible. But the air-conditioning unit worked. Stray cats roamed the grounds. The Van Man hated cats.
  He had been living the past few months at a converted motel on Olive Avenue. Swiss Miss had taken ill and needed someone to look over her unit while she recuperated in Switzerland. The rent was paid and Van Man obliged. It was a welcomed suspension from the hard, cold isolation of the van.
  Living at the motel introduced Van Man to a whole new world of despair. The inhabitants ranged from functioning alcoholics who drank strange concoctions and sat by the murky pool to ignorant out-of-towners with dreams of stardom for their rambunctious children. The landlord was spotted on occasion, watering plants and searching for "pussy cats", as she referred to them. A half-smile hung on her face and she wore a cheap wig. The latter due to cancer treatments. Van Man avoided her like the plague.
  On a wall in the office, dozens of headshots hung for new transplants to see. All shots of children. With smiles and hope. Symbols for the newly arrived, saying that their spawn were destined for greatness, too. The parents were always just lone women. No fathers. Dads did not have time for silly dreams. Little did those single mothers know that their kids were never going to make it. But what did The Van Man know? He was a "never was", living out of vans and motels, dreaming of his big break and getting old. But the place had air-conditioning.