Monday, August 10, 2009

Saturday, August 9, 1969

"It was so quiet, one of the killers would later say, you could almost hear the sound of ice rattling in cocktail shakers in the homes way down the canyon.

"It was hot that night, but not as hot as the night before, when the temperature hadn't dropped below 92 degrees. The three-day heat wave had begun to break a couple of hours before, about 10 p.m. on Friday - to the psychological as well as the physical relief of those Angelenos who recalled that on such a night, just four years ago, Watts had exploded in violence.

"Though the coastal fog was now rolling in from the Pacific Ocean, Los Angeles itself remained hot and muggy, sweltering in its own emissions, but here, high above most of the city, and usually even above the smog, it was at least 10 degrees cooler. Still, it remained warm enough so that many residents of the area slept with their windows open, in hopes of catching a vagrant breeze.

"All things considered, it's surprising that more people didn't hear something.

"But then it was late, just after midnight, and 10050 Cielo Drive was secluded.

"Being secluded, it was also vulnerable."*

I forgot how engrossing Helter Skelter is - tragic, sad, frightening, and completely mesmerizing.

My copy is packed away, so I borrowed my daughter's (yes, this morbid fascination is apparently genetic). It's one we bought at a library sale. Today we opened it up and found the oddest thing.

On the first loose endpaper, in the top outside corner, the previous owners name, and date, December 1974.

And there in the center, in a large scrawl:

"To Sharon Tate Aug 5, 1975"

Sent chills down my spine.

* Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders, Vincent Bugliosi

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