First, let me say this is a VERY good book. It is hard to put down, and I found myself using a highlighter on parts of the book... something I never do.
Guillermo (known as “Willie”) E. Mendez was in the cell next to Manson, in Corcoran, for a year or so. He gives no information on why he went to prison in the first place, other than he used to be a member of the La Neustria Familia, serving a 68 year sentence. While incarcerated at Mule Creek, where Tex is, he nearly stabbed his pedophile cellmate to death. He was sent to Corcoran shortly after.
Similar, yet it differs from “Taming the Beast”, as it is written from the inmate level.
I was amazed at hearing the amount of respect the prisoners have for the guards. After nearly killing his cellmate, a guard smiled at Willie and said “good job.”
The day Willie arrived; he had no idea that the person next to him was Charlie, and referred to him as “the old guy”, and “an elderly prisoner.” After Willie cleaned his cell (he is a clean freak), Charlie introduced himself. Willie was shocked when Charlie did not have a nickname. Everyone in prison has a nickname, even if it is “Dude.” Charlie gave him some coffee and Sugar. Willie thanked him. Manson replied, "No need to say thank you, that's what a brother is supposed to do". This started a friendship that turned to love. Not in a homosexual way or anything, Willie just "started to love the old dude." There was one time when Willie was drunk on home-made “Pruno,” and he said to Charlie, “I sure would like a blow job from an old guy without any teeth.”
Some items worth mentioning. I will end with the TLB murders. Remember, these are from the words of Willie, not me:
- Had Charlie been arrested and tried today for his crimes, he would almost certainly be charged using the RICO or Organized Crime laws.
- Charlie bragged that he was responsible for “Guns ‘n Roses.” At Vacaville, a guard named Sgt Rose was Axl’s father. He gave the music and lyrics that Charlie wrote to his son, who made millions of dollars from it.
- Charlie became interested in ecology when he first visited Mexico. After being given the warning about not drinking the water, this greatly worried him. How could people abuse the land so the water becomes so filthy? Even animals are cleaner than humans.
- Charlie rarely left his cell, and never cleaned it. He once stayed in his cell for 3 months, and then only agreed to go out in the yard if Willie would guard his cell. He was concerned that items would be stolen from his cell.
- Charlie has some kind of relationship with Sirhan Sirhan. Willie would be used to pass messages and food stuffs between them.
- This being said, Charlie was truly worried about being poisoned. When Sirhan or others would send him chips and stuff, he would not eat them, he gave them to Willie.
- Charlie was able to get the guards to pull tricks on Willie. Such as cutting his showers short or shorting him food. Willie would be in the shower all soaped up, and the guard would shut the water off, telling him, “times up!” Then he would get his bagged lunch and all that was in it was an apple!
- Charlie started calling him “Boxcar” after “Boxcar Willie”.
- Willie asked Charlie if he was gay, he replied, “Yes.”
- Charlie got along with all the guards; with exception of one they called “Strawberry.” He used to purposely put stuff like soap powder on the floor in front of Charlie’s cell. As we know, Charlie is not too fond on breathing chemicals.
- Animals – Animals never caused a holocaust, never went to war over an insult, and never killed anything it didn’t intend to eat.
- Is Charlie crazy? Yes and no. The author spends a whole chapter on this. Some funny stories. One that sticks out was about Charlie’s lack of taking showers. He preferred just washing up in his sink. One time he decided to shower. When he returned, he was still in his clothes, soaking wet, with a dry towel and an unused bar of soap. Crazy like a fox.
- The author did not notice any issues with blacks or Hispanics. Charlie was just as good to an African American as he was to anyone else. He gave generously to everyone.
- The book has a whole chapter on McNeal Island. Charlie talks about being introduced to hypnotism, Scientology, and Native American culture. He once had a Native American cellmate named “Iron Teeth.” Interesting chapter.
- There is an entire chapter about Charlie’s mail. I was surprised to learn that he received credit card applications, and applications for home equity loans. Charlie never wastes anything. If there is anything in his mail that he can use in his art projects, he does not throw it away.
- Interesting chapters on Charlie’s art, his time at Vacaville and San Quentin.
- The Origins of the Manson Family – entire chapter about this. The only Family members mentioned by name are Linda Kasabian, Squeaky, Tex and Bobby. There were gay men in his group that helped support the group as they were used as gay hookers.
- Hinman murder – “I think the girls went to steal, but somehow things got out of hand.”
- He claims he knew nothing about the Tate murders until the next day. He thinks it was a robbery gone bad. “I think the girls were there to get food and cash. They were pretty deep into drugs at the time. I tried to get them to cool it with the hard stuff.”
- LaBianca - "I went with the group the next night. We were looking for food and cash. That’s all we ever took. We just wanted the rich people to share what they had. I have no idea why the girls killed those two. I never told anyone to do anything. I got blamed because they were younger than me.”
- NOTICE NO MENTION OF TEX? JUST “THE GIRLS”
Willie was transferred to Pleasant Valley State Correctional Center. He misses his late-night conversations with the “old-man,” and considers himself the last member of the Manson Family.
I repeat, this is a GOOD BOOK. It contains lot of Manson’s thoughts on Religion, Satanism, the legal system as well as Charlie’s youth. Some things are mentioned about his childhood that I have never seen before.