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You Were Only Waiting for This Moment

Sometime late in June, having failed to raise any funds for Helter Skelter by kidnapping piggies, Charlie decided I should ask Luella for money. I called her but she refused.

That wasn't good enough for Charlie: I should figure out a way to get some cash out of her, he said. I thought awhile and came up with an idea. Since grass was particularly scarce at the time, I called Luella back on July 1 and said that the Family had $100 and wanted to buy a kilo of grass, but our Mafia vending-machine connection would only sell 25 kilos at a throw, for a cool $2,500. I tried to be casual in planting the seed, certain that a chance to score two dozen kilos of grass at a time like this would be more than Luella could resist. I was right. She called back about half an hour later and told me that she knew somebody who was interested in buying the extra kilos, but she needed to make some money out of the deal as well.

Over the phone we worked out an arrangement where we'd pay my supposed connection $2,500 for the 25 kilos, but charge Luella's client $125 apiece. That way, I would get three kilos free, the client would get twenty-two kilos, and Luella would make herself a profit of a couple of hundred dollars. There was one condition, I insisted-my connection didn't want to deal with anyone but me. Luella agreed. Her friend would front the money; she and I would go for the grass and then bring it back to him at her apartment. I couldn't believe it was working out so easily-T. J. would drive me down to L.A. and drop me near Luella's apartment to make it look like I'd hitchhiked. He'd then go on to the dealer's place on the other side of town, parking in back of the apartment house out of which the man worked. Luella would drive me there with the money, and I'd go in the front door and out the back with the bread, leaving her to explain things to her friend.
The fact that I was badly "burning" a woman I'd once loved never really sank in-it was for Charlie and for Helter Skelter-and besides, there was no right or wrong anyway, only what had to be.

When I got to Luella's apartment, however, there was a snag. Her friend, a black dealer named Bernard Crowe - "Big Crow" or "Lotsapoppa" in the trade-wasn't about to just hand over $2,750 to me on the promise that I'd bring him back some grass. While he and one of his boys waited downstairs in their big black Caddy, another one of his men tried to talk Luella and me into letting them come with us. I tried everything I could think of, including walking out the door, but finally we ended up riding out to the connection's apartment in Crowe's big black car, with his men on either side of us, just like something out of a movie.

I'd made Crowe's man promise that once we got to the apartment they'd all wait in the car-since, I claimed, my connection was very nervous about being burned off-but when we got there they insisted they were coming in with me. Luella recognized the building and tried to convince them that everything was on the level, but I just said, "Okay, this is where it ends; let's go back to Hollywood."

It was like a game of poker, each side not trusting the other and bluffing for everything we were worth. Finally they agreed I could go in alone. They would keep Luella in the car as a guarantee that I would bring them the grass. When Crowe threatened violence to her if I tried to cheat them, I gave him one of my Texas grins and drawled that they should know I'd be coming back when they had my girl. I don't remember whether I really thought they would hurt her or not-there was no reason not to believe he meant what he said-but it didn't much matter to me what they did to Luella, as long as I got the money for Charlie. They gave me the cash and I went straight into the front of the apartment and straight out the back and T. J. and I were off to the ranch.

We were still showing the money to Charlie when the phone rang. It was Luella and Big Crow, not surprisingly, raging mad. We'd already agreed that Charlie would handle this end of it, and I listened as he claimed that I'd left the Family several weeks before and that he didn't know anything about where I'd gone. It didn't sell. Charlie told us when he hung up that Big Crow said he knew I was at the ranch and if he didn't get back his money he was coming out with his boys and killing everyone at Spahn. Charlie believed him. He sent Sadie and me up into the hills with a sleeping bag and said he would deal with Crowe.

I heard the rest of what happened from T. J. the next day. He and Charlie drove into Hollywood to the apartment where Big Crow lived. Charlie took Randy Starr's .22 Buntline revolver with him and tucked it into the back of his pants. At a signal from him, T. J., who would be standing behind Charlie, was supposed to take the gun and kill the black man. But once they got inside, T. J. couldn't do it; he just stood behind Charlie, frozen. After a few minutes of verbal baiting back and forth, Charlie whipped out the pistol, pointed it at the towering black man and pulled the trigger.

Nothing happened but a click. Charlie tried again. Still just a click. Big Crow's white sidekicks started to snicker. Another click. Finally Crowe stood up, grinning: "You crazy! You come at me with an empty . . . ." Then the gun went off and Crowe went down, bleeding in the chest-dying, T. J. said. (The next thing Charlie did was turn the gun on one of the dudes who was wearing a fancy buckskin fringed jacket and demand he give it to him. When Manson was arrested months later at Barker Ranch on suspicion of "grand theft auto," he was wearing that buckskin jacket.)

At the ranch the next day, Charlie couldn't stop talking about how he "plugged blackie." We all assumed Crowe had died, especially when a report came on the news that the body of a Black Panther had been dumped near U.C.L.A. the night before. This made us a little uneasy, since we hadn't figured on getting involved with the Panthers, and Charlie got even more nervous when almost immediately it seemed that all kinds of blacks started showing up, renting horses. He was convinced they were Panther spies and he started posting armed guards at night and having us sleep scattered back in the hills. If we'd needed any more proof that Helter Skelter was coming down very soon, this was it-blackie was trying to get at the chosen ones.

Much later I learned that Bernard Crowe-who in fact never had anything to do with the Panthers-had not been killed, only wounded. His friends had taken him away and had lain low, fearful that if Charlie found out the Big Crow was still alive he might come after him again. He might have, but I doubt it, because very soon Charlie would have bigger fish to fry. Much bigger.

Three days after this first blood, someone important was added to the Family. On July 4, Gypsy brought a quiet, blond hippie named Linda Kasabian and her little girl, Tanya, back with her from a visit to some people we knew in Topanga. Linda joined the Family that same day, without even meeting Charlie, and that night I introduced her to our truth. Linda later said that when we made love it was like being possessed. For me it was a more complete sensation of oneness than I'd ever known with a woman-it was as if our two bodies literally became one and it was no longer possible to feel where I ended and she began. Linda and I talked very late that night, just the two of us in a little room in the ranch house. I told her she should steal some money that the man she'd been staying with had inherited, and when she protested that she couldn't do that, since he was a good friend who trusted her, I quoted Charlie and told her that there was no wrong, no sin; everything anyone had was meant to be shared. Linda had already given the Family whatever she owned and the next day she went back to Topanga and returned a little while later with $5,000 she'd ripped off according to my instructions. A little over a month later, simply because she was about the only Family member with a valid driver's license, newcomer Linda Kasabian would be sent out in the middle of the night to Terry Melcher's old house at 10050 Cielo Drive with Sadie and Katie and me-and very clear instructions from Charlie Manson.

That July was a crazy time. We got more and more paranoid about the blacks that kept appearing. We spent our nights patrolling the ranch, sleeping in shifts, with guns and firebombs ready. During the day we worked on the new dune buggies and trucks we bought with Linda's money and what I'd stolen from Crowe. It still wasn't enough for Charlie's plans, so one day Mary Brunner went into town and drove back to the ranch in a brand-new 1969 VW she'd stolen off a dealer's lot. We stripped everything we thought we could use out of it and rolled the shell down one of the ravines behind the ranch house.

We also made a number of trips down to an army-surplus store in the Valley for supplies and weapons, especially knives, and it was at this point that we bought the Buck knives and the chrome-plated bayonet, later put to such hideous use. On the first of these trips, while we were carrying all of Linda's $5,000 in crisp new $100 bills, we were pulled over by the police for a faulty taillight. When they discovered the money, Charlie and I were taken to the station and questioned separately. We told the officers, quite honestly as far as it went, that the money had been given to us, and eventually we were released. Several nights later there was a small raid on the ranch, just a few police cars, nothing like the August 16 raid, and most of us were in the hills anyway, waiting for blackie. The guards posted near the gate used our walkie-talkie system to warn the women and babies to get out, so the cops didn't find much of anyone except a few legitimate ranch hands.

From our perches in the hills, we watched the police wander through the empty sets and ranch houses, watched them shake down the people they'd hauled out of the bunkhouse in the circle of brightness their headlights made, watched the red and white lights of the police cars whirl madly in the darkness. We all knew that Charlie was on parole, and all I could think as we crouched in the darkness, taking in the light show at the ranch below us, was: "What if they find Charlie and take him away? What am I going to do without Charlie?" Finally the police cars drove off without arresting anybody, but the raid was a sign, another indication we had very little time left to get ready for what was coming.

Charlie decided we needed still more money; there weren't enough dune buggies and supplies. Over the past year, he and various other Family members had spent time with a young musician and teacher in Topanga Canyon named Gary Hinman. Now Charlie somehow had an idea that Hinman had recently come into some money, so one Friday late in July (I later found out it was July 25) he called together Mary and Sadie and a boy named Bobby Beausoleil whom I'd never known very well but who'd been with Charlie on and off since I'd first come to the Family.

The rest of us could tell something was up, but all we knew at first was that the three of them were supposed to go to Hinman and lay so much fear on him that he would give us everything he had, including the money Charlie was certain he was keeping at the house.

The three of them left, and the next thing we knew there was a phone call from Bobby for Charlie. Other calls followed throughout the day, and finally sometime that night Charlie and Bruce Davis drove over to Hinman's place. Charlie took along a large sword he'd conned the Straight Satans out of earlier and when he got back all he'd say was that he'd had to "slice" Hinman to put some real fear in him.

The calls from Beausoleil continued all day Saturday and even though we kept up business as usual-helping with the horses, the girls playing at being guides-we were all on edge, waiting. Midday on Sunday there was a final call and Charlie's word was: "You know what to do."

A little while later Bobby and the two girls came back with Hinman's VW bus and Fiat. A set of bagpipes that we all knew had belonged to Gary appeared on a shelf in the kitchen, and Bobby was bursting with pride. It didn't take much imagination to figure out what had gone down. That night T. J. quietly disappeared-it was too much for him.

Eventually, I didn't have to use any imagination to know what had happened over those three days at Gary Hinman's Topanga house. Bobby bragged a lot, and Mary and Susan gradually filled in the details. On Friday the three of them paid what was supposedly a friendly call to the musician, making general conversation, just hanging around. After a while Bobby brought up Helter Skelter and then told Gary that the Family needed all his money, demanding he give it to him immediately. Gary thought he was kidding at first, but when he realized Bobby was serious he insisted he didn't have any money. At that point Bobby pulled out a small handgun and started pistol-whipping him. In the fight that followed the gun went off, but it didn't hit anyone. Finally Bobby and the girls got Gary tied up and made their first call to Spahn, asking Charlie what to do since Gary wasn't "cooperating."

Throughout the rest of the day Charlie continued to give long-distance instructions, but finally he and Bruce arrived at Hinman's late that evening. Gary pleaded with Charlie - swearing he didn't have any money, reminding him of their friendship, begging Charlie to take the others and leave. Manson said nothing, just listened silently until he suddenly raised the sword and cut Gary's left ear in half. As Gary whimpered in pain and fear, Charlie quietly ordered him to sign over everything he had to the Family or die. That was the choice. Then he and Bruce left, taking the bagpipes with them.

That night Mary, Sadie, and Bobby took turns watching Gary, sleeping in shifts, and all day Saturday Bobby badgered him, demanding to know about the money. Gary did sign over the pink slips to his bus and Fiat, but he continued to insist that he didn't have any money. After another long night of watching in turns and another pistol-whipping, Bobby gave up-apparently convinced that Hinman was telling the truth-and called Charlie, asking what to do, since he was afraid Gary would go to the police if they just left him. Manson's reply was what we had heard: "You know what to do."

Bobby stabbed Hinman several times in the chest in front of the girls, then knelt down beside him as he was dying and told him he was a pig that had no reason to live anyway, told him he should thank him for putting an end to him. After Gary died, Bobby stuck his hand in the blood and wrote POLITICAL PIGGIE on the wall and made the mark of a paw print with his palm, this to give the appearance that Black Panthers, whose symbol was a panther's paw, had killed the white musician. Whether this was a spontaneous idea of Bobby's (or something Charlie had told him to do) I'm not sure, but it meant that if Gary wouldn't (or couldn't) contribute to financing Helter Skelter, he might at least give blackie some useful ideas and put a little fear into the establishment as well.

When Bobby was finished, the three of them wiped down the walls for fingerprints (not very well, since several prints were later found), hot-wired the two vehicles and drove back to the ranch. Two days later Bobby returned to Hinman's to see if anybody had discovered the body yet. He came back gloating-word passed through the Family that he'd been able to hear the maggots crunching through Gary Hinman's bloated flesh.

Bobby left Spahn Ranch several days later-as he often did, coming and going-and on August 6 he was arrested somewhere up the coast, driving Hinman's Fiat, with the bloody murder knife still tucked in the tire well.

When word of the arrest got to the Family, Charlie disappeared for a couple of days up to Big Sur, something very unusual for him. When he got back, he called us all together. It was the afternoon of August 8, 1969, and his message was simple.

"Now is the time for Helter Skelter."

Chapter Twelve Table of Content Chapter Fourteen

(Will You Die For Me? Copyright 1978, by Ray Hoekstra. Published by Cross Roads Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

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