Thursday, June 30, 2016

Death Spray

  Hot. Too damn hot. Sickenly hot. The motel room seemed to ripple as the decades-old wall unit blasted cool air that was nowhere near enough. The cold vapors seeped out through undetectable holes in the walls. The Van Man's face burned from his own sweat. He stood naked in the bathroom. He stood naked and stared into the mirror. This was his life at thirty-five. Unshaven, uncomfortable and nude. Then something caught his eye.
  Just a tiny movement. Like a recollection of psychotropic drug use. He stared at the reflection of a glistening quiver behind him, on the wall. Van Man turned to inspect the phenomena. Disgust raced throughout his body. Disgust and hatred. They marched along, single file. Hundreds of them. Little Black Ants on a mission.
  Where were they going? He followed the line across the wall and into the shower stall. Fuckers'll bite me when I wash, thought Van Man. But the ants appeared to stop in the stall. They were not looking for anything more than relief from the heat and the shower was a cool confine. He had to do something. They would kill him, Van Man knew that. Probably as he cleaned himself or even when he slept. The hatred and disgust boiled inside his brain. Van Man threw on clothing, grabbed his keys and left the apartment. The ants remained.
  Twenty minutes later and Van Man returned. He carried a weapon. Raid. And with murder in his heart, Van Man sprayed death over the monsters. He felt immeasurable joy as the black creatures froze up, entering the void. A soothing calm rushed over him.
  When the extermination was finished, hundreds were dead. Van Man turned on the shower faucet and washed the corpses down the drain. They were gone for good, into hell. After cleaning the walls and floor of any evidence of a crime, he stripped off his clothes and felt relief. Life was once again, for The Van Man, worth living.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Newman Smile

  Father's Day and The Van Man looked for inspiration. He rummaged through the van, searching for old photographs of his father, The Hustler. Perhaps, there was a picture of the old man in some intriguing moment of self-reflection, innocently caught at a birthday party. A tiny window into the psyche of a man needing to be anywhere but there. An image captured for all-time, in which Van Man could finally see that his Father was just like him at one point. Full of hopes and dreams. A man with a full life to experience and no time for the trivial shit. Those photographs did not exist.
  What Van Man found could not help him solve the enigma of his Father. The pictures were of a smiling, raven-haired scoundrel. A cad who seemed to have a joke and a laugh ready to burst forth. A rogue with a Paul Newman smile. The Old Man appeared to enjoy his place in life.
  Van Man wondered what The Hustler desired in those bygone times? Could it have been anything more than getting women pregnant and hustling pool? Maybe he had made the idea far more interesting than the reality. It was easier to accept his Father just wanting some good times and pussy. The American Dream. But were there not bigger and better dreams? Actually making something of one's life? Making a mark on the world?
  Van Man stared into the photograph. The Old Man stared back. I got everything I need, boy. I don't want nothin' else, son.
  The temperature raised to one-hundred degrees and the van became too hot to self-analyze in. He put the paper images away for another day. He would never understand what made The Hustler tick. But those pictures showed a man who seemed to have it all figured out, the world on a string. And that drove The Van Man crazy.

Thursday, June 16, 2016


  One eye open, the other closed shut. The Van Man sat in the urgent care facility with a swollen face. He had a matinee performance just hours away and some allergic reaction on his mug, his money-maker. But even with an Elephant Man facial, the show must go on.
  The nurse kindly escorted Van Man into the evaluation room. He had seen two too many of them in the past six months. He explained his sudden condition to the nurse and she assured him the doctor would be in shortly. Van Man glanced around the room and used his filthy fingers to spread his swollen eye lids, loosening up the swell. A large, barrel of a man entered, smiling and bouncing with each step. Head and beard of grays and whites. Thick glasses that magnified his eyeballs. And rosy, red cheeks. Not quite Santa, more Jerry Garcia.
  "Hiya, what's wrong with you?", asked Garcia. Van Man looked up and described his situation.
  "Allergies, yep. Is it anywhere else?", asked Garcia.
  "No, but I itch across my body some", replied Van Man.
  "Take off your shirt", demanded Garcia.
Garcia was a doctor, but something in his voice made Van Man slightly uncomfortable. With one strong yank, Van Man popped open his shirt, a snap-buttoned flannel. And he popped it open to his navel like one of those dancers. In Van Man's mind, snaps were meant to be snapped severely.
  "That’s good, you don't have to take it all the way off", said Garcia, resting a hand on Van Man's shoulder. Garcia took a quick glance at Van Man's neck.
  "A little red, but that should go away. Just make sure you don't shave"
Van Man looked down at his exposed torso. Then back up to Garcia who widened his eyes and lifted his bushy brows. Twice. "I mean your chest", stated Garcia as his eye brows twitched up and down.
  "I'm going to give you a steroid. It should reduce the swelling"
  "Cool", replied Van Man.
  "I want you to only use hypo-allergenic products from now on. No parabens. Do you know what that means?", asked Garcia. Van Man nodded yes. He did not.
  "Good. Remember, no parabens.  You have sensitive skeeeeeeiin", said Garcia as he walked out of the room.
  "Well, I'm a sensitive person", replied Van Man as the door shut. He looked around at the walls, curious if Garcia's twitches were involuntary tics. His face was sore and he needed his mug back to normal. There was a matinee to be performed and the show would most definitely go on. The Van Man felt relief and buttoned up his shirt.