Lily harbored a den of coyotes in her back yard. They went about their nocturnal haunts stealthy-like, unless they were circling to prey and then they raised all hell. Yelps and howls, high-pitched and stunningly shrill, vibrated in the dark. In echoing canyons or flat streets stretching to meet the hilly wilderness, Los Angelinos — both dreaming and about to be eaten — startled into heightened perception. Lily and her coyotes (well, they would doubtless have been surprised to discover that she considered them hers, if they had been capable of comprehending the concept that is) shared a northern suburb popularized by the winter people of the 1880s. She had never imagined she would live to be one hundred years old nor when she left her birth-neighborhood in 1937 would have thought it possible that she would return there to live. Yet there she was, a centenarian opening a 40-pound sack of dry dog food in a house too big, in a neighborhood where she had outlived anyone who knew her name.
Once she had been sleek and elegant. Now her spine had compressed, her body fat had all but disappeared, and her hair (dyed the same auburn since World War II) had thinned so much that when she reached back she could feel a patch of perfectly smooth scalp. No matter, she piled what was left of her auburn hair in a topknot.
On a particularly crisp midnight just after Thanksgiving she insulated her bony frame in layers of wool, put her feet into pair of shearling boots, and walked outside carrying a juice jug full of kibble. Quietly she called to the mother of the coyote pack, Adora, and the father, Beale. Three pups appeared first from a stand of cypress, more juvenile than infant, with eyes that glowed with captured light like miniature moons, and muzzles tipped with quick vulpine smiles. Lily found them endearing yet she never named them until they were a year old. The boys left the pack by nine months, the girls stayed. She had a habit; Lily never graced a body with a name unless she could count on that body sticking around. Not that she didn’t feel a connection to the creatures, didn’t tend to see their movements as if animated, didn’t imbue their features with something a bit human. Once inside, her coyotes fed and hopefully silent for the night she stood at the drafting table and committed the pups to paper with a stick of black charcoal…
Hello everybody, and Happy Thanksgiving! What you’ve just read, or listened to, is the start of my third novel. As this year wraps up I’m thinking of embarking on a new chapter for Beguiling Hollywood and I will be inviting you and others with a story to tell to come along with me. In the meantime be well, be engaged, and be assured of all my good wishes.