cough up money on demand. He sat around this abandoned film set, baking in the sun, like some psychopathic film director yelling âDo this!â and âGo there!â to dozens of hippies who seemed to think that they were making the world a better place by slicing off ears, gutting women, or just sleeping with the latest hitchhiker who stumbled by. Susan Atkins, the woman who helped kill Tate, said that it took âa whole lot of love to kill someone.â Bat. Shit. Crazy. They left forks in the stomachs of the LaBiancas and on the walls of both crime scenes they wrote in their victimsâ blood.
Death to Pigs.
And carved in the stomach of the last of the victims: War.
Healter Skelter, misspelled, made me think of the chicken scratch in my sisterâs purse: Whore.
When Delia put a hand on my shoulder, I jumped. The book was making me more nervous than Iâd expected. Then when I looked at her face, I almost had a full-on freak-out. When Iâd last seen her sheâd had on her pre-zombie-apocalypse makeup, but now blood was trickling down her cheek and her left eye was completely black. A bruise that looked like a handprint wrapped purple-blue around her neck.
âI know,â she said. âThe makeup artist is a genius, right?â
That was one word for it. Fingernail marks dotted her collarbone, and when she smiled two of her teeth had been painted gray. Another three had been blacked out entirely.
âDare me to drive home with this on?â
I thought about the Manson family, driving around with blood on their hands, and how in Hollywood, you couldnât tell the killers from the actors. If there was a stranger place on earth, I didnât know where.
âSure,â I said. âWhy not?â
*Â Â Â *Â Â Â *
When we came home from the set a miracle had taken placeâmy phone, which I had almost given up for dead, was plugged in and ringing.
âYou going to answer that?â Delia asked.
I picked the phone up and looked at the number. Atlanta. My mom.
âI donât want to,â I said.
âWell, if you want to keep the phone, I suggest you answer.â
âDo you know something I donât know?â
âOf course I do. Now pick it up before it goes to voice mail.â
Itâs terrible having an actress for a sister: traitor. Mental note made and filed.
When I answered the phone, it wasnât my motherâs voice that I heard, but Lynetteâs. I hadnât talked to Lynette since I landed in LA, but it was her credit card that I used. I was guessing she took that personally. I would have.
âHi, Anna,â she said. Awkward.
âIâve gotta get the zombie off,â my sister said, popping a black cap off her front tooth, and before I could figure out a way to make her stay, she was in the other room.
âWell,â she said, âI can tell by talking to your mother that you have no idea what youâve put us through on this end.â Then she stopped, inhaled (long and loud), exhaled (longer and louder), and started again. âSorry, thatâs not how I wanted to start this conversation. Iâm glad that nothing happened to you. We both are. I want to say first, before we get into anything else, that I donât think the way your mother handled things, changing your school and all, was the best idea.â She paused again, and I put the phone on speaker.
âWhen all of this happened,â she said, âI tried to put myself in your shoes. Your mother said that it didnât go well when she and your father talked to you, and I realized that I never got to say anything myself, and most of the time, weâre so busy with Birch or work that we donât hear what you have to say. I think you know what questions I might have, so I wonât patronize you.â
Then she stopped. It was my turn, but I didnât want to