Seventeen year old Beatles fan Talan Edmunds joins Charles Manson and his "family"
November 25, 1968
Seventeen year old Talan Edmunds woke up eagerly. He forced his groggy 5'11' frame out of bed and combed his long, shaggy brown hair. In his free time, Talan enjoyed playing guitar, playing football and basketball and his favorite activity was babe hunting. Talan's favorite band was The Beatles and ever since it had been announced that this particular November day would be the release date of The Beatles double album entitled The Beatles, Talan had been saving every penny he earned. As soon as he was ready, Talan rushed out the door and headed to the local record store. On his way to the record store, he noticed a petite, honey blonde haired woman walking past him. Talan gave her a huge grin and the woman returned the smile. The woman was none other then Talan's favorite actress Sharon Tate. As soon as he realized that, he stopped in his tracks and turned to get another look at her and she looked over her shoulder and smiled. Her honey blonde hair gently blew in the air and then she was gone. Talan would have become engrossed with thoughts of Sharon Tate for the rest of the day, but he had The Beatles on his mind and a record store to get to.
As soon as Talan arrived and set foot in the store, he stopped and stared at the large display in the middle of the store, there it was! He rushed over and grabbed the glossy plain white cover and flipped it over to the back and looked at the list of songs, trying to decide which would be his favorite.
"Happiness is a Warm Gun...interesting name for a song. A warm gun means you just shot something...intriguing." "Piggies...I don't think so. Pigs aren't my cup of tea." "Blackbird...I like birds and my favorite color is black so that one could be it..." "Sexy Sadie...I know a Sadie and she isn't sexy!" There was one song in particular that caught Talan's eye. "Helter Skelter...I remember reading in the paper that Paul McCartney said that Helter Skelter would be the loudest, wildest song ever recorded, topping The Who's latest single, I Can See For Miles. This one could take the cake," Talan said out loud as he went to go pay. As soon as he arrived back home, Talan went straight up to his room and put on the White Album.He spent the rest of the afternoon grooving to the sound of The Beatles. His favorite song, Helter Skelter. That night, his older brother Denny had stopped by and wanted to know if Talan had wanted to come over and watch Valley of the Dolls with him and his girlfriend, Jane.Talan declined the offer as he had already told his friends that he'd hang out with them. He did however, tell Denny that he'd call him tomorrow so that they could hang out. After hanging out with his friends all night, Talan was exhausted and went straight to bed.
Around 4 am, Talan was awakened by his parents who visibly chaotic.
"Talan...it's Denny," Mrs. Edmunds said barely able to control herself.
"What about him? Is he alright?" Talan asked with a worried look.
"Son, Dennis was involved in a car accident. He was driving Jane home and all of a sudden this car flew across from the other lane and hit Dennis's car head on, killing both himself and Jane instantly. The driver of the other car was drunk and was also killed instantly," Mr. Edmunds told his son as tears flowed silently down his cheek.
Talan couldn't help but feel responsible for Denny's death.
"If I had just hung out with him, this wouldn't have happened. I should have been there with him," Talan cried out.
"There was nothing you could have done had you been there. You would have been killed too," Mr. Edmunds said, putting his arm around Talan's shoulder.
"Whatever...I'm going for a walk," the morbid, confused teen said as he stormed out the room and house.
The piercing wind blew through Talan's hair furiously as he walked alongside the curb. It was a dark and rainy night. Talan and Denny had always been close even though they were 7 years apart age wise. They did everything together from going to concerts, ball games, and Denny even helped out with the babe watching, that is of course before he and Jane met.
"Why Denny? It should have been me!" Talan screamed at the top of his lungs, ignoring those who peaked out of their house windows to tell him to keep it down. All of a sudden, Talan had an urge to run, didn't know where, didn't know how far, something inside him told him to just run and so he ran as far and as fast as he could. The last thing Talan remembered was running as fast as he could into the darkness.
Talan awoke the next morning to the image of a man staring him directly in the face. The man was short in stature, had black hair that looked like it hadn't been combed in awhile and sported a goatee.
"Hey man, you have quite a bump there on your head," the stranger said as he helped Talan to his feet.
"Oh, I don't know how it got there. The last thing I remember is running into the night. Who are you anyway?" Talan said as he felt the bump on his forehead.
"The name's Charlie Manson and I'm on my way to Los Angeles to join up with the family. Say how do you feel about the damage to the environment?" Charlie asked simply.
Talan was taken a back by such an odd and random question.
"I don't know. I've never really thought about it."
"Your water's dying. Your life's in that cup. Your trees are dying. Your wildlife's locked up in zoos. You're in the zoo, Man. Think about it."
And with that, Charlie went on his way. Before he got too far down the road however, he turned and told Talan that if he was ever in Los Angeles to find him.
After Charlie vanished from sight, Talan saw his father's car approaching and from what he could tell, he didn't look happy.
"Talan what in the heck do you think you are doing? Running away from home like that, scaring your mother and I to death! Why can't you be more like Dennis? Get in the car!" Mr. Edmunds said, obviously upset as he got out of the car.
"Thanks for noticing the large bump on my head Dad," Talan said sarcastically as he quietly got into the car. It was a long and quiet ride back home.
"Why am I still in this hell hole? There's nothing for me here now. I'm a loser, a nobody. I don't deserve to live. It should have been me in that car crash, not Denny!" Talan said to himself as he paced back and forth in his room. He was home alone for the night as his parents had gone out to dinner.
To try and relax himself, Talan put on the White Album by The Beatles. When Happiness is a Warm Gun came on, something inside him clicked.
"That's it...Happiness is a Warm Gun. A warm gun means you've just shot something.I'll commit suicide. Nobody'll miss me anyways..."
With Happiness is a Warm Gun blaring in the background, Talan went and retrieved his father's pistol from his room. Talan put the gun in his mouth and had his finger on the trigger, slowly pulling it and then stopping as if to tease the gun.
Talan was about to pull the trigger and relieve himself from his miseries when he heard the door bell ring. Talan was "saved by the bell" to say the least. As he made his way to the door and proceeded to open it, nobody was there. It was as quiet as a tomb. As Talan stepped out into the front yard, he saw 3 girls singing in the streets. They were singing a creepy yet hauntingly beautiful song.
Always is always forever
As one is one is one
Inside yourself for your father
All is none all is none all is none
It's time to drop all from behind us
The illusion has been just a dream
The Valley of Death may not find us
Now as then on a sunshine beam
So bring only your perfection
For then life will surely be
No cold no fear no hunger
You can see you can see you can see
Talan was surprised when he noticed the girls coming towards him. The girl who seemed to be the leader spoke. She had black hair and brown eyes and spoke in a hyper, energetic tone.
"Hi there! You must be Talan," the girl said giggling, like an innocent school girl.
"Yeah, that's right," Talan said as he eyed each of the 3 girls from head to toe.
"I'm Sadie, that's Ouisch and Squeaky behind me," Sadie said as she pointed to the two girls behind her.
"Wow...this Sadie is really sexy! She can be my "Sexy Sadie" anytime," Talan thought to himself as he listened to Ouisch and Squeaky introduce themselves.
Ouisch was 17 years old and had black hair and olive skin. She looked very much like the image of the innocent daughter of a preacher.
Squeaky, on the other hand was 20 years old and had red hair, was loyal and didn't take crap from anybody.
"Hi Ouisch, hi Squeaky," Talan barely managed to say as his eyes were fixated on Sadie.
"What can I do for you girls?"
"Charlie's told us about you. He thinks you're a person searching for a meaning in life and a sense of belonging, a sense of family," Sadie said as she flirted with Talan, stroking his cheek gently.
"Well I have to admit, my family life has been in a downward spiral since the death of my older brother..." Talan said, tears strolling down his cheeks, which Sadie wiped away with her hand.
"Your older brother was their favorite wasn't he? He was the one they cared about. Not you. In our family, everybody feels a sense of belonging. Everybody's one big happy family. It's far out," Squeaky said while smoking a joint.
"He was their favorite. They haven't been paying much attention to me since I was born. There's nothing here for me now. I need to start over," Talan said more to himself then to the girls.
"It's settled then. You're coming with us, if you have any money, bring it. Charlie always says what's yours is everybody's," Sadie said, as she played with Talan's hair, causing the teenager to blush uncontrollably.
Talan went into the house and grabbed his parents secret stash of $5,000 and headed out the door. Talan was ready to start a new life...
As Talan and the girls hitchhiked back to Spahn Ranch, he took out his portable radio and filled the night sky with the song California Dreaming by The Mamas and the Papas.
All the leaves are brown
And the sky is grey
I've been for a walk
On a winter's day
I'd be safe and warm
If I was in L.A
On such a winter's day
Stopped into a church
I passed along the way
Well, I got down on my knees
And I pretend to pray
You know the preacher likes the cold
He knows I'm gonna stay
On such a winter's day
All the leaves are brown
And the sky is grey
I've been for a walk
On a winter's day
If I didn't tell her
I could leave today
On such a winter's day
"I love listening to this song when I'm tripped out on acid," Squeaky said as she took another hit of her joint.
"It's far out, I got deflowered to this song, it was beautiful," Ouisch said proudly.
The next 8 months Talan spent with the family was surreal with nearly every day consisting of acid trips, group orgies, garbage dump runs, listening to Charlie preach and creepy crawls. Also during that time span, Talan got to travel with Leslie, Sadie, Ouisch, Squeaky, Tex, and Katie to the home of Beach Boy Dennis Wilson to watch Charlie record demos of some songs that he had written. Wilson and producer Terry Melcher were going to make Charlie a star.
On one of the garbage dump runs behind a burger joint with Sadie, Talan asked if Charlie was really taking the family to the desert.
"Yep, he's going to take us there after Helter Skelter goes down," Sadie replied as she found some lettuce.
"I've heard Charlie talk about it with Tex and Clem but I'm not so sure I understand what it is exactly," Talan said as he scowered the dumpster for food.
"It's a racial war between the blacks and the whites.Whitie will be destroyed by Blackie but we'll be in the desert by then," Sadie said as she discovered a load of french fries. "Come on we better get back to the ranch before Charlie gets angry."
When Talan and Sadie were back at the ranch, Charlie met with them and told them that they along with Bobby and Mary to Gary Hinman's house in order to get the money that Hinman owed Manson.
July 31, 1969: Gary Hinman's house
"Charlie wants his money Gary," Bobby said as he and Sadie watched over the music teacher like hawks.
"I told you already that I don't have any money," Hinman replied, his face caked with dried blood.
Just then, Charlie entered the residence through the front door. A sword was hidden behind his back.
"Oh hey Char..." Hinman started but was cut off in mid sentence when Charlie swinged the sword at the side of Hinman's face, slicing off his ear.
"We're not in Wonderland anymore Alice," Charlie said as he teased Hinman with the sword, pretending to stab him. "Now hand over everything, including the house and car."
"Here's everything I swear, just don't hurt me," Hinman said stumbled over to a drawer and took out the house and car titles and handed them to Charlie.
"Let's get out of here," Charlie said as he motions for Bobby, Talan and Mary to follow him while Sadie stayed behind with Hinman.
As Charlie was getting into the car, Bobby stopped him.
"We can't just leave Sadie alone with Gary, he could call the police."
"Well Bobby you know what to do," Charlie replied as he entered the car and drove off. Talan meanwhile, was worried about Sadie.
Bobby re entered the house, drew a knife and made his way over to Himan who was shaking uncontrollably. Bobby just smiles.
"Bobby no! Don't do this man. Don't do it. Don't do it man. No!"
August 8, 1969
As night time fell over Spahn Ranch, Charlie met with Tex and told him that the time was now.
"The time is now. Helter Skelter. It's time to take blackie by the hand and show him how to kill piggies. I want you to go up to where Terry Melcher used to live, there's a movie star living there now and I want you to kill everyone as gruesome as you can."
Charlie left and Tex picked up knives and a gun that were lying on a table and heads outside where he found Charlie talking with Sadie, Talan and Katie.
"Go with Tex and do whatever he says. It's Helter Skelter time."
The foursome got in the car with Talan at the wheel and he was understandably nervous about the whole ordeal.
"This is just another creepy crawl right?" Talan asked.
"Defiantly," Sadie said as she played with Talan's hair, calming him down considerably.
Just then, Charlie knocked on the window and Talan opened the door.
"You girls know what to write and leave something witchy," Charlie told the group.
The group arrived at 10050 Cielo Drive around 12:10 am and stopped the car at the gate, fearing it was electric, Tex got out of the vechile and climbed the telephone pole, cut the telephone wires and watched as the wires came crashing down on the car hood.
"Shit that can't be good," Tex said to himself as he climbed down from the telephone pole and got back in the car. Talan moved the car back about 50 feet or so and then the Family members got out of the car and approached the gate, scaling the fence.
As soon as their feet hit the ground, they see a car approaching, Tex motions for the others to hid in the bushes while he goes and approaches the car.
18 year old Steven Parent was just about to the gate entrance when he noticed a man coming up along side his car. Parent rolled down the car window, only to immediately have a gun pointed to his face.
"Look please don't hurt me. I won't tell anybody! I promise!" Parent said as he put his arms in front of his face to project himself.
"I know you won't tell anybody kid, you won't be alive too," Tex replied as he fired 4 shots into the teenager, killing him instantly.
After pushing Parent's car out of the way, the foursome approached the house.
"Talan go around back and see if there's any open windows or doors," Tex said as he put the gun in his pocket.
Talan went around back but was too nervous and afraid to look for any openings.
"They are all locked," Talan reported nervously.
"Oh well, we'll just force our way in. Sadie, Katie come with me. Talan you stay out here and stand guard," Tex said as he got out his knife and proceeded to cut open a window screen. The girls went to the front door where Tex let them in.
Talan nervously stood guard outside the house, then he heard a gun shot followed by screams. The front door swung open and a man covered in blood from head to toe stumbled out. Talan and the man locked eyes.
"Help me..." The man whispered quietly.
"I'm so sorry..." Talan replied as he watched the man collapse, staining the green grass blood red.
A few seconds later, Sadie came out of the house and made her way over to Talan.
"Sadie make it stop please!" Talan said on the verge of tears.
"It's too late Talan," Sadie replied as she pulled Talan closer to her and kissed him passionately on the lips. An odd thing to do considering the circumstances.
After their kiss, Talan watched out of the corner of his eye as Katie chased down a woman across the lawn. The woman's nightgown was drenched in blood. Katie tackled the woman and viciously began stabbing her. Talan could her whisper that she was already dead and that she gave up and pleaded with Katie not to continue stabbing her.
"Oh Talan, come inside I have something I want you to watch me do!" Sadie said excitedly as she took Talan by the hand and together the two of them went inside and into the living room. A heavily pregnant honey blonde haired woman had a rope tied around her neck and was sitting quietly on the couch. Talan's mouth dropped when he realized who the woman was. The woman was Sharon Tate.
"Miss me?" Sadie asked sarcastically as she took out her knife slowly.
Before Sharon had the chance to respond, Sadie wrestled her to the ground and raised her knife above her head. Tears came streaming down the Hollywood actress's cheeks as she pleaded for her life.
"Please let me live. I want to have my baby."
"Look bitch, I have no mercy for you," Sadie said as she repeatedly stabbed Sharon with Talan looking on, too afraid to say a word.
When she was finished, Sadie looked at her hands. They were covered in Sharon Tate's blood. Always the curious one of the family, Sadie tasted it.
"To taste death yet give life. What a trip..." Sadie said quietly to herself as she and Talan headed outside.
As soon as the two were outside, they approached Tex and Katie who were on the porch.
"Sadie go and write something on the walls," Tex said as he cleaned his knife off.
Sadie and Talan headed back into the house and into the living room. Talan watched as Sadie approached Sharon to dip her towel in blood.
"Please cu...cut my baby out of me so he can live," Sharon gasped as she saw Sadie bending down to dip the towel in blood.
"I can't," Sadie responded with a smile.
Sadie then took the blood dripped towel and wrote "PIG" on the front door, then tossed the towel back into the room where it landed on the face of a man.
The next morning Talan was lying in bed with Sadie when Katie came rushing in and told the two that the news about the murder is on in the trailer. The three rush to the trailer just in time to see the report about the murder.
"Shock waves all over the southland as the 5 victims of the Benedict Canyon slaying have been indentiefed. They are Steven Earl Parent, 18, who was visiting the care taker on the property, Wojtek Frykowski, 32, Abigail Folger, 25, from the Folger Coffee Family, Jay Sebring, 35, famous hair stylist to the stars and actress Sharon Tate, 26, wife of film director Roman Polanksi and star of the movie Valley of the Dolls was 8 months pregnant with their child. Polanksi was not in the house last night as he was in London working on a film. Detectives on the scene said details were sketchy but the killings appear to be ritualistic . The caretaker on the scene, William Garretson was taken into custody."
After watching the news, Talan went back to his room and just sat there against the wall, his hands over his face, tears were slowly making their way down his cheeks. A few moments later, Sadie came into the room and sat down next to Talan.
"I didn't expect it Sadie. We didn't even know them. They were so young and she was pregnant," Talan said through his tears
"Death is an illusion and it has no meaning.We were doing it for the victims, ugly but true," Sadie said as she wiped away Talan's tears with her hand.
"I could never kill anybody," Talan said as he looked Sadie eye to eye.
"You don't know what you can do. The more you do it the more you like it," Sadie said smiling.
Talan started to cry again and Sadie told him not to cry for the victims, that they made them come to "now" and to listen to what Charlie said. "There is no good. No evil. Nothing is wrong. Nothing is right. Charlie wouldn't take us this far to let us down. There's a plan. We just can't know what it is, yet. No sense makes sense. Remember that."
On the highway, a man and his wife were driving home from a day at the lake when a news report on the Tate murders came on the car radio. The wife was very concerned and said that that was a terrible thing that happened while the husband isn't interested and asked if there was anything else that happened in the world, like if Nixon took a day off.
Charlie drove a car with several family members including Talan, Leslie, Tex and Katie and told them that the last night was too messy and that he'd have to show them how it's done and that they would break up into two groups for the night finally that it was time to jump start Helter Skelter.
"This house looks as good as any," Charlie said as he randomly stopped in front of a house.
A few moments later, Charlie returned to the car and announced that the couple inside the house were tied and that Katie, Tex and Leslie weren't supposed to let them know that they were going to die. After they finished, they were supposed to paint something in blood and hitchhike back to the ranch.
Talan, Charlie, Sadie and Ouisch stopped at a local gas station and Talan hide a wallet in the bathroom while Charlie went inside and bought drinks. After Charlie returned to the car, Sadie and
Ouisch were goofing off and Charlie yelled at them like they were the family children. Talan meanwhile, quietly cried. He had to get away from Manson.
The next day, Talan gathered his things and quietly left the ranch. Over the next year, Talan tried to distance himself from Charlie Manson but kept in contact regularly with the Manson girls because he wanted to know how Sadie was doing. On September 5, 1970 the family contacted Talan and offered him a free trip to Hawaii if he wouldn't testify against Manson and the others in court. Ouisch accompanied Talan on the trip. The two stayed in the penthouse suite of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel. Three days later, Ouisch said that she had to return to California and had made a 1:15 flight reservation for LA. Before boarding her flight, she bought Talan a hamburger and said "I wonder what a hamburger laced with 10 tabs of acid would taste like?"
"What do you mean by that?" Talan asked as he took a bite of the hamburger.
"Nothing, I'll see you in Los Angeles cutie," Ouisch said as she stroked Talan's chin and kissed him on the lips.
After the kiss, Ouisch boarded her plane and Talan was left alone. A couple of hours later, Talan suddenly freaked out and ran for several blocks before he collapsed and was taken to the emergency room.
Talan Edmunds eventually recovered and returned to Los Angeles and testified against Manson and the family in court. After providing loads of incriminating testimony at the murder trials, Edmunds returned to high school, graduated and majored in journalism in college. Since then, Edmunds has written a dozen books including one about his time with the Manson Family.