Monday, August 15, 2016

Semi-Functioning

  The intensity of the Saturday sunshine blinded The Van Man as the door creaked open. He closed his eyes and turned his head for a moment. To gather his wits. He was not hungover, but his brain was not ready for the day. Van Man stepped out into the motel courtyard, closing the door behind him.
  Across the pool, a shirtless man sat at the table, wearing nothing but boxers. He had a face and head full of white hair. Next to him was the Functioning Alcoholic. Fake-blonde hair and hunched over, resting on his knees. The two derelicts had seen better days and they gazed at Van Man, who nodded. They nodded back.
  Swiss Miss had mentioned some time earlier that the Alcoholic was to be married on August seventh, the two-year anniversary of Van Man moving into the van. The marriage was to a foreigner on a work visa.
"You get married?", asked Van Man, pointing to the Alcoholic.
"Sure did", replied Alcoholic with a fake smirk, obviously forced.
"Cool. You already do the honeymoon?"
"No need for that", replied the Functioning Alcoholic as the shirtless white-haired man sat quietly and stared.
"Oh, cool."
"We'll try to do something at the end of the year."
"Cool, man. Congrats."
  Van Man walked away from the two and exited the courtyard.  The Alcoholic was not enthusiastic enough about just getting married. Neither was the White-Haired Dude. Or maybe they were just drunk at noon on a Saturday. In some motel on Olive Avenue in Burbank. A place where many dreams had died. And every August Seventh, The Van Man would remember the beginning of his dreams. And the end of someone else's.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Walls

  The dog days of August had arrived and the motel days were coming to an end. The Van Man stared at the stained walls surrounding him. The roar of the cheap air-conditioning unit buzzed throughout the room. A dead fly lay somewhere in the tiny kitchenette. He had killed it a day before, but did not see where it fell. So it stayed, decaying. Van Man held the phone to his ear.

Ring.

While he waited for the person to answer, Van Man thought about the good news he wanted to tell. He booked a gig, a feature film. Some found-footage horror flick in Michigan. A decent enough piece of information that would surely liven up the Old Man. But the Hustler was a tough bastard.

Ring.

"Hello?", said a grizzled voice.
"Hey", said Van Man.
"Huh, oh, yeah...what's up? Saw you called, whaddaya want?"
"Oh, nothing, just giving you a call"
"Yeah, I'm just layin' here, 'bout to fall asleep", said the Father. And he did seem to doze off for a second.
"Just laying here, too." And with those words, Van Man was frightened that he just might be exactly like the Old Man.
"'m gonna havta move", said the Father.
"Oh yeah? Why?"
"That old man ain't comin' back. They're gonna keep him in that nursin' home." The Hustler had been living in an unused room at his ailing friend's house for some time. And now the friend was quickly slipping into the hell of dementia. "Yeah, so I'm gonna move", said the Father.
"When?", asked the concerned Van Man, his father's only son.
"Coupla' months."
"Where you gonna go?"
"I don't know, there's a veteran's place I might get into. They take some of your check to pay for the rent. But it looks nice."
"Where?"
"Bessemer. They said I might have to wait three months", said the Old Man, defeated.
"That ain't so bad", replied Van Man, encouragingly.
"Always a goddamn waiting list."
"You know, my grandmother's probably going to have to do the same thing", stated Van Man, in the hope that it would give the Old Man a different viewpoint. 
"Really? She that bad?"
"Yeah. They'll put her in and then they wanna sign her house over to me."
"Aw, fuck that, boy!", said the agitated Father.
"What?"
"I said fuck that! Don't sign your name to nothin', boy!" Van Man laughed at the absurdity. "Let your mom do it, don't ever sign your name to nothin'!"
"It's probably a good idea to put it in my name--"
"Aw hell, I said don't put your name to nothin'! Listen to me, boy!"
  Van Man laughed again. Somehow that made all the sense in the world. And he understood his Old Man more than ever. Van Man told his good news. But the good news did not seem to register with his Father like he assumed it would. The Father said goodbye and the phone call ended. He was left with the motel walls and the loud humming from the air-conditioning unit. There was a rotting fly somewhere. And The Van Man was alone.