Last week of November and that morning was cold as hell. Too damn early for waking up, but The Van Man opened his eyes anyway. Steamy breath puffed from his mouth. He arose from the hard floor of the van, shivering and rolling up his bed. Van Man was in a slight rush that morning because he had an appointment to see an ill friend. A pal of ten years, someone he met when first landing in LA. Van Man slipped on the ice cold jeans over his naked lower extremities. His dick and balls retreated from the chill.
With two comrades, Big Jim and a serious Bengals fan, the three amigos made the journey to Port Hueneme. Their friend was a legend among Van Man's close circle. The son of a sixties variety show host and nephew to a long-ago teen heartthrob, the pal was pure Hollywood. He would regale Van Man with his stories of touring the country as a male dancer and the unhinged women who lusted for him. The very definition of life-affirming, Hollywood was beloved by many and rightfully so. But now he was terminally sick. What a cruel world.
A few years had passed since most of the close circle had seen Hollywood, or each other for that matter. That is what happens in life, after all. One's own existence takes on an importance much bigger than friends or family. The individual is the star of their personal film. And there is no Avengers budget to expand the story.
At nine, the three amigos rolled up to Hollywood's condominium. An apprehensive knock on the door was followed by a brief silence.
"Guys, I'll be right down", said a strained voice from above. Van Man looked up. There was a dark, screened window on the second floor. The voice was Hollywood's, but it was not. It had the same cadence, the same spark. Yet, it sounded choked and flat. The door opened.
In his prime, Hollywood was big and strapping. Sun-kissed and chiseled with a head full of great hair. Always the most positive outlook in the room with an equally dynamic outlook on life. Now, as Van Man sat in a recliner, he watched his ill friend speak with that same energy and attitude, but the words came from a body that was hard to recognize. Thin as a rail, some sixty pounds lighter. Hollywood wore a scarf to cover protruding tumors. This man was staring death in the face. But he was not afraid. In fact, Hollywood was the beacon of positive vibes that he had always been. Van Man was not witnessing some cliche, some sick person wasting away in their own depression. No, Van Man was viewing the absolute definition of courage and strength. The true meaning of mind over matter. Hollywood spoke of his illness with an open precision. Nothing was going to take this man out. Not now. Not ever. A gigantic, hairy cat climbed onto the coffee table and approached Van Man, ignoring everyone else.
"They always come to me", joked the allergic Van Man.
"Pussy magnet", retorted Hollywood, in his wonderfully wry way. Yeah, pure Hollywood.
A windy day at the nearby beach found the group filming and photographing the beauties of the earth. A way to celebrate their friendship. A way to capture fleeting moments. Back at Hollywood's abode, the pals drank hot tea and reminisced. Then it was time to bid farewell.
"Alright, bring it in, brother", said Van Man, as he embraced Hollywood. These were hugging men and this was, most definitely, a hugging time.
"Man, you coming up here means so much to my heart and soul", uttered Hollywood to Van Man. And Van Man fought back the tears. Those droplets were not needed, a smile was. He grinned and gave Hollywood another hug.
"I'll see you soon, brother", said Van Man. He meant it. He gave one more hug for the road and rode away.
Life was just too short, too precious. Hollywood was too damn good of a human to leave the party early. He still had much to do. The Van Man was certain they would meet again. After all, Los Angeles was The City of Angels. There was no fucking way it was going to be without its finest.