sign | An LA Crime Story


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An hour earlier, at a little after eight in the morning, Daisy Valentine walked the half mile down from her house to The Village Café, a quaintly hip diner in Beachwood Canyon village, a cluster of five shops cradled just below the Hollywood sign. The casual trendiness of the regulars reflected the old Hollywood hood, mostly peopled with mid-scale movie industry peeps who liked their eggs without yolks, their bacon without fat and their coffee organic.

Daisy picked up a Hollywood Pulse from a stack of already-read newspapers loosely scattered on a front window ledge. She took it to her usual seat at the counter, where she ordered a cappuccino and a donut with rose petals in the glaze. Her nod to the waitress was nominal. She was a regular but not really. Cordial but not chatty. She opened the pulse to the ads. Scanning them, she found an ad for a local landscaper: “Bernardo’s brush clearance and Landscaping.” It was just what she was looking for.

Hour of the Wolf

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At that moment, in the moonlit tangle of brush that edged a wooded ravine, a skinny coyote lay, listening. His ears perked up as a car whispered by. When he heard a soft thud in the brush below, he moved toward it.

On a ridge above the ravine was a cracked old house with a stone patio that kind of crumbled down the hill below the first O of the Hollywood sign. On the edge of that patio sat a barefoot young woman looking down past the ravine at the dark little forest that grew around the Hollywood Reservoir. She was twenty-seven. Her name was Daisy Valentine. She held an old Pentax camera in her hand. When she saw a little glow of light rise up through the trees, her eyes lit up. Excited, she slipped off her patio and scrambled down the brushy hill toward it. The only sound in the night was the sharp “Click. Click. Click” of her camera as she snapped pictures. Nearer to the forest, she stopped by a rock, bracing herself as she rattled off another 24 snaps of the puff of light as it ascended into the starless sky above LA. A gang of coyotes yelped and howled. She moved toward them. She stopped when she came upon the skinny coyote with something in its mouth.

“Let it go.” She told him. But he didn’t. He held on… to the little child’s arm in his mouth.

“Let it go–” she said again. “Here, have these,” she pulled a small bag of Cheetos out of a pocket and offered them. It was hardly a fair trade and she knew it. He shook his head and skulked away with the arm, toward the ravine. She looked up at the sky. The little puff of light disappeared into the heavens. She turned and went back up the hill.

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