Where There Once Was a Body

griffith park note . happy new year . photo by stacy elaine dacheux
griffith park note . happy new year . photo by stacy elaine dacheux

Last January, around the same time an arsonist was putting bombs in people’s cars, a decapitated head was found on a hiking trail a few blocks from my house. I don’t think of myself as a city person– LA does that to you sometimes– there’s enough rolling strip malls and hiking spots to make you think it’s suburban– but when these two horrific things collide right outside your window, you are acutely reminded.

I hadn’t been on that specific trail since.

However, over the holidays, I decided to change my route and tread lightly towards this particular winding path with my pup in tow. I did not find anything gruesome. I did find something from a person named Michael. It was slightly hidden in the brush. I stood a few feet away from the note, waiting for other people to notice it. No one did.

I started to investigate. I got close to it. I took a photo with my iPhone (above).

I paused.

It felt wrong to read the notes shoved inside of the tree, like putting your hand deep inside a mouth and ripping out a heart. I was worried the tree would bite me.

These were messages for someone else.

Yet, still . . . I had found it.

I imagined each stranger who placed notes in the tree for Michael acting as the tree.

I wondered if the whole project itself was a hoax: something placed there (notes & sign) in one sitting to lure those like myself who are curious or foolish to believe in talking trees or are susceptible to playing pretend.

I considered it a conceptual art project of sorts, built by creative teenagers with time on their hands.

I thought about last year– the arson . . . the scattered limbs.

I left it alone and kept walking.


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