Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Simple Plan

  "Things are bad now I am going to make them good."
The Van Man read over that line and his body siezed. It was a Mother's Day card given to his Grandmother, from his Uncle. A sweet gesture by a son. A reassurance to his mother. The handwriting was poor, but legible. The grammar and punctuation, terrible.
  "Dont give up on me. you are the only one who love me. My kids love me, But I dont get to see them."
His Uncle had an undiagnosed learning disorder. Nineteen Sixties Alabama, poor working class conditions. A diagnosis like that was shameful and disregarded as mental diffeciency. He might as well have been a retard. So, his Uncle was on his own. And he was determined to change his path, teaching himself to read and write when others did not give a shit. Or, probably, had their own hells to deal with.
  "I dont know what I would do if I did not have you as my mama. My ex-wife told me she would love me all my life, But you have always love me."
Van Man's Uncle developed a relationship with a woman that he thought was going to bring him the ultimate happiness. Children. His own, which he could shower with love. But it was at a price. Van Man watched his Uncle succumb to a crazy person's will over a decade. She broke her water a few times and broke his hope into a million pieces.
  "I stay in my room not because I dont love you. I stay in my room I feel very bad."
Depression was not a word uttered in many Southern homes. It was too weak a concept. And Southerners had a pride about them, even though they did not have much to be proud of. Van Man did not see much of that abstract notion left in his Uncle, during those last years.
  "I will get some Job and things will get to be good. I will make some money and go and get my Kids and have them here for as long as they can stay."
His Uncle always had a plan, he was forever dreaming. And, gradually, they became pipe dreams, one after another. Until, there was no more dreaming. The last time Van Man saw his Uncle, hope had left for good. And his Uncle constructed one more plan: to kill himself. He expressed his desire to Van Man one December day. A simple explanation. He hated his life.
  "My Kids love you. My exwife love you, and would say so at one time you are my Mama and I love you"
Van Man noticed the absense of a period at then end of that last line. No punctuation at all, as if his Uncle did not want to stop telling his mother how much love he had left to give.
  Van Man closed the card and put it away. Back in a box, along with old photographs, under a bed. Too much for a Sunday morning. Van Man looked at his reflection in a mirror. Birmingham was a prison that he had once escaped. Staying any longer than required was a death sentence. There was much to be done and he had a plan. Oh yes, The Van Man always had a plan. And he had his van, man.

An Inauguration Day Story

  The Van Man awoke, his eyes squinted and searching. His body stiff. Underneath, a bed that had become all too familiar after more than a month in Alabama Hell. Van Man peeled off the covers and snorted a big breath. He was stuffy and desperately needed a cup of the hot stuff.
  A groggy, stumble into the bathroom ushered in memories of the night before. Too much beer. Van Man flopped out his used cock, giving it a mighty shake. Urine gushed from it and spewed into the stained toilet bowl. It should have been a great relief, but the raging headache would not let up. Too much tequila.
  He looked around and walked into the infested kitchen. Empty house, empty coffee can. His mother was gone, obviously out to watch the inauguration of the new President. But she was not a fan of the real estate dude, so why was she out? His cranium throbbed. Van Man needed the Black Juice before he could allow himself to think any longer on that strange enigma.
  The van rolled up to the curb, in a nice parking space only a few stores down from the little hip coffee spot. The type of place college kids flocked to. About as liberal as Birmingham was going to get. The streets were empty, the sidewalks barren. Was Inauguration Day a holiday? Who gave a flying fuck, the coffee joint was open.
  A bell jingled, as Van Man entered. A television hung on the wall, behind the counter. It displayed the Inauguration speech and a single man watched. He seemed transfixed and stood motionless at the counter, his back to Van Man. The new President finished his blabbering. Van Man quickly noticed that, except for himself and The Man, the coffee shop was completely empty. No customers. No baristas. And then the Man began to whimper. Van Man watched. It was strange and sad. The whimper escalated into a cry which became a wail. What had the poor Man been through to become so overwhelmed with emotion? Was it really that bad? The Man's head hunched low, almost disappearing behind the shoulders. Sorrowful sobs poured from the Man. It occurred to Van Man that he had not yet seen the Man's face, only his back. There must have been some poetry there.
  Van Man took a small, hesitant step forward. And the Man began to chuckle. Van Man could not move, his body frozen. The chuckling erupted into a maniacal laugh. Van Man's mouth hung open and he lifted his leg slowly. He wanted to leave and pulled his leg backward. And the Man's maniacal laugh exploded into horrific screaming. Van Man froze in terror, the most absolute and pure terror. He stood on one foot, holding his other leg in the air behind him. The screaming was filled with pain and torture, as loud as anything Van Man had ever heard. Suddenly, the scream stopped. Van Man did not dare move. His balance on one foot felt secure, like he could do it all day, if needed. Everything was quiet. Still. Calm. The Man spun around and looked straight into Van Man's eyes, down further even. Into his soul. The Man smiled wide, his eyes blood red. He pointed to Van Man.
"Nigger!", yelled the Man, hatred quaking from within.
Van Man moved. Fast. He ran out of the shop and down the sidewalk. Van Man did not look behind him, he knew the Man was there. He could hear the footsteps and hateful screams chasing him. Van Man reached the van and fumbled for his keys. The screams closed in. Van Man dared not look back as he found the door key and unlocked it, jumping in. He slammed the door shut as the Man busted head first into the door window. Glass shattered and the Man screamed, his face shredded and bloody. He smiled wide and looked directly at Van Man. The laughter returned.
"Dead!", shrieked the Man, as he reached into the van.
Van Man kicked, but the Man grabbed and took hold of him. Van Man felt the icy hands through his jeans and the Man yanked him out through the window. Van Man held onto the door. He screamed for anyone to help. The Man had the strength of ten men and pulled Van Man free of the door. The Man held him high above his head, an offering to some god. Both men screamed. One in rage, one in horror. Van Man looked at the ground, it seemed thirty feet below. He looked up to the sky.
"Help!", a plea to heaven.
The Man smashed him head first into the pavement. His head bursting open like a rotted pumpkin, a week after Halloween.
  The Man raged on, grabbing a handful of Van Man's gore and smearing it over his own face. And just as sudden as the Man became savage, he calmed. The Man sat on the sidewalk, looking over his violence. He stared at the lifeless corpse of The Van Man. And he wept.