I had always felt creepy around Bronson Canyon, having lived for years just underneath the Hollywood sign. I walked Ralph up that trail, past the batman tunnel, up by where the horseshoe prints would end. it was too quiet up there, too silent and calm to be safe. The wooded areas of my past forever bring forth tragedy and chaos. You can’t believe what folks are capable of sometimes, what they do in the dark cold night of the soul.
Even with the biggest dog on the end of a leash I still felt alone and unsure, and though I rarely saw another person up there, it was as if you were being constantly watched, as if the hills themselves had eyes. I read too many crime novels and watch too much forensics on tv to ever feel like I can let my guard down. it always happens when you think the coast is clear. It always happens when you don’t think it will. People always feel safe until they are suddenly not.
I hadn’t heard of bodies being dumped in the canyon before, but just down the street near the Mayfair market was where the hillside strangler had struck in the 70s, when I first started to equate los angeles with murder, and the earliest thought that I remember having about not being able to trust adults, that adults could harm you and hurt you and even kill you. This was the scariest realization, and a rude awakening in every way – that moment when you come to know the world as dangerous.
That trail felt bad every time I hiked there, and I only went a few times even though I lived right at the mouth of it. the danger may not have happened yet but it was present. The deeds had not been done but it would only be a matter of time. There were dead snakes lying stick straight like cast off dousing rods or fallen tree branches, rotting in the thin cover of dry grass, skin then organs then bones revealed in slow decay. Stagnating pools of ancient rainwater lay poisonously still and refused to evaporate in the sun. Ralph pulled me bodily to drink from them and I fought him and dug my heels into the dirt and kicked up dunes of dust in my efforts. He almost dragged me right into one of the pools and as I looked closely at the water I had almost fallen into I could see deep black clouds made up of thousands and thousands of tadpoles, swimming tails crowded together in a mass exodus to nowhere.