Sunday, July 24, 2016

Let the Motherfucker Burn

  A fucking hot one. A hundred and something in Burbank. Fires blazed in the rugged mountains of Santa Clarita, lighting up the smoke-dimmed sky like something out of science fiction movies. The Van Man watched the flames in the distance, burning the motherfucker down, as he waited for the locksmith to arrive. Van Man had locked his keys inside the van. They dangled from the ignition, laughing at him.
  He had tried the old coat hanger trick, but it did not work this time. And the locksmith finally arrived.
 "Love the van, man", said the Locksmith as he gave the vehicle a once-over. With a skinny frame, buzzed haircut and a pair of Buddy Holly spectacles, the Locksmith gave off a working man's Leland Orser vibe. Sort of a downtown Richard Patrick.
 "Yeah, man", responded Van Man.
 "Oh, this is great. I love these old vans."
Van Man could sense the Locksmith's enthusiasm. If there was one way to befriend a Van Man, it was by digging the van.
 "You ever take this thing out to the desert?"
 "Nah. I been meaning to", responded Van Man with a tinge of disappointment in his self.
 "Oh, man, you have to", said the Locksmith as he slid the Slim Jim down into the door window frame. "There's an old place, an old military base that's abandoned. People just drive out there and park. Stay as long as you want. It's just like the old times where you find a spot of land and claim it"
 "Really?", asked Van Man, realizing that the Locksmith knew he was a van dweller.
 "Oh yeah. No running water or power, but there's a large group of people there just growing their own food. And lots of runaway girls, man." The Locksmith jiggled the Slim Jim.
 "Where you park?", asked the Locksmith. Yeah, he knew.
 "Up the street here", answered Van Man. He did not want to disclose the fact that he had been cheating on the van life by living the past few months in a motel. For some reason, that would be shameful to admit.
 "You should come stay at the park on Magnolia. You know where I'm talking about?"
 "Yeah, at Tujunga, by the YMCA."
 "Yeah, man, it's great. Everybody's living in their cars. Cops don't mess with you, nobody cares. I love it. I picked up this girl that worked at In and Out and we fucked in the back of my van, nobody messed with us", said the prideful Locksmith and the lock popped up. The Locksmith was a van dweller, too. The two comrades shook hands, exchanged numbers and the Locksmith went on his way. On to the next locked door.
  Van Man climbed into his van, happy to escape the brutal heat. Maybe he would try out the park on Magnolia sometime. It sounded like a van dweller's oasis. But, he might just stick with what he knew, what was comfortable. He turned the key in the ignition. Nothing. Fuck, he thought. The long, hot day was not over and things were about to get filthy. The heat had killed the alternator and he would have to replace it. But a friend had been made.
  Thousands of acres burned in the distance. And The Van Man strolled down to the automotive store, thinking about runaways and van people living at some desolate, military base utopia in the desert. What a strange fucking world.

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