Every year, West Hollywood swells from a small city to a bustling metropolis, as nearly a half-million revelers migrate to the famous Halloween Parade. It's one of the biggest bashes in the country - a street party known for its live music, daring outlandish costumery, debauchery and other free-spirited festivities. Cedars, situated near the main strips of Santa Monica and N. La Cinega boulevards, was right in the middle of that parade. Belinda's records from Olympia don't say why she wasn't transferred to Cedars - only that she wasn't. For reasons unexplained, Olympia transferred Belinda to Hollywood Community Hospital - near the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. Belinda ended up around the corner from Hex, just a short walk to the big bash on Vine. But by then she'd given up on her own Halloween plans. "She suggested I use her ticket to go," Avi said. "I told her I wasn't leaving her."
At HCH, Belinda languished for nearly two days, fading rapidly in a dilapidated room. Plaster hung from the ceiling. The room telephone was broken. The morning of November 1, in one of her last coherent moments, Belinda called her mom. Sharon, a medical transcriptionist, was typing a report. "Belinda I can't talk to you right now I have to finish typing," she said, hanging up. Belinda called back. She sounded frightened. "Mom I'm in a hospital." Sharon listened. "You've got to get me out of here." Belinda worried if she didn't get to Cedars she wouldn't live, Sharon remembers. "I said 'Don't worry baby I'll do whatever it takes.'"
Sharon called Cedars several times that day. She reached a social worker in the liver department, who'd worked with Belinda before. He offered little help, other than telling Sharon to contact Cedars' transplant team. Phone call after phone call, message after message - no response.
Sharon then called Belinda's treating doctor at HCH. The general practitioner told Sharon he hadn't seen Belinda yet, but would soon. Sharon told the doctor about Belinda's pneumonia, the cold medicine, the acetaminophen toxicity, and Belinda's prior liver problems. "At that point he told me an odd story," Sharon remembers. His brother was a diabetic and biker gang member who disregarded the doctor's advice. The brother wouldn't take care of his diabetes and "of course" he died. The sad story puzzled Sharon. "I wondered if he thought Belinda was some sort of intravenous drug user with viral hepatitis causing liver failure," Sharon recalls. She figured once the doctor saw Belinda and reviewed her records he'd understand and treat her accordingly. Sharon tried calling Belinda back that afternoon, but couldn't reach her on the room phone. A nurse told her the phone jack was broken. Belinda's cell phone was useless too, the battery dead.
Jonathan and Belinda's friend Eddie Hoy were the last people to speak to her. Belinda and Eddie met on singlesnet.com, an online dating service, just weeks earlier. She was unlike any woman he'd ever met. They'd all seemed cut from the same suburban southern California cloth. Belinda, a city gal, goth and photogenic, captured his attention right away: "I'm a walking oxymoron" she wrote. She loved ballet and race cars, had octane in her bloodstream. She'd broken up with her fiancee of many years and had some rough times - she was "used and abused but never beat" she wrote. With calm reassurance, she taught him new things. She encouraged him to venture outside his woodsy village, Sierra Madre, and play in the big city. On their first date she taught him to speak a bit of Korean. On their second date she told him she had pain, problems with her liver, that she'd die young. He blocked the thought out of his head. The guy was smitten. He wanted to ask her to be his girlfriend. "I truly did love her," he said, "and I still do."