John Wick 3: Thicker Than Water
Five O'clock. Early evening. The sun is just starting to set, closing its eye on the day. John drove, and drove. His smooth Mustang keeping a steady fast speed, as he went. Down the familiar streets, and pass the barely changing landmarks, he searched his thoughts. He needn't pay full attention towards the direction he was driving, he could drive to where he was going with his eyes shut. He pulled up to his destination, The Continental Hotel. He parked. He sat. He merely looked at the front of the place, he realized what might have happened. What she might have done.
Six weeks earlier. John exercised in his livingroom, doing pushup after pushup, as his pitbull watched on. His focus was broken, when he heard his doorbell ring. He paused in a plank position, and listened. The bell sounded once more. He picked up his towel and wiped his hair and face, as he opened his door. "Special Delivery for Mr. Wick," the deliveryman said. He handed John a sealed envelope. The deliveryman nodded his goodbye, and walked away. The envelope had no address, from whom it was sent. John shut his door, and locked it. He went to his kitchen and sat at his table. His dog followed, sitting at his feet. John contimplated what this envelope could hold. The mail had already arrived for the day, so what was this letter? He breathed in and out a sigh, and opened it. He couldn't help but furl his brow, and wipe the hair from his face. He never thought he'd get a letter like this.
On a military base stationed in Hawaii, some years ago. A younger John Wick is a Marine, and a pretty good one. He spent several years in the Marines doing many tasks, including some Black Operations . He served his last term and was Honorably Discharged. He left, and went back to his hometown. His apartment was small, but useful. He walked into his place, and dropped his gear. He looked around the space, feeling the silence in his bones. Now what was he going to do? He'd been so busy, since the age of 19. Now? Stillness. He plopped on his couch and stared at the ceiling for a little while.
A brown-haired-Texas-bred woman stood above John and tapped his face, "Hey Hun don't try to get off that easy. You think we wouldn't hear they finally let your crazy ass go?" she laughed. Having fallen asleep, John awoke to the sight of his friends. "Hannah?" John asked. "Rise and shine Wickinson! Its your birthday too. We aim to celebrate," James Merrick,a tall-dare devil , added. "Tequilia shots," Tony , a dark-skinned-charismatic man , said with an evil smile. Hannah, Tony, and Merrick were the only three friends John had from the military, well the only ones he cared to have anyway. "Its just another day," John replied. They smiled, and practically pulled John with them, as they walked out of the apartment.
"To a hell of a friend," Tony said with a shot raised in the air, toasting to John. "Eh beautiful, could you go get a round of beers, something good?," Tony said to Hannah. Hannah stood from Tony's lap and walked to the bar, not before Tony smacked Hannah's backside. "You two are really going for the long haul. All the shit we been through, you don't get that everyday," Merrick said. John nodded in agreement, and drank his shot. "That's also what we wanted to talk to you two about," Tony said in a serious tone. "We have to get out of the game," Tony simply said. "You know that's impossible," Merrick whispered in a an equally serious tone. "Hannah's pregnant," Tony said. Merrick sat back in his seat and wiped his brow in thought. "Get out from what?" John asked. Hannah returned with the beer for the men. "Listen, we'll tell you what you need to know," Merrick paused, and looked to Tony and Hannah for their approval. They silently agreed that Merrick continue, and he said, "Jobs were scarce when we got our discharge, and times were hard. The scrapnil they removed from my eye, weakened my sight forever, and things were tough. We all needed another way to make money. We got in with a group of people, who could use our combat skills, and paid us to do jobs," Merrick said. "What kind of jobs?" John asked. Hannah sighed and said, "Guns for hire,and other things." John went silent, as he digested all of what he was hearing. "We want you two to be Godfathers to our baby. James. John. You are the only two we trust," Tony said. John looked to Merrick, and Merrick to John. "To Hannah and Tony. They drank to accepting their new roles. "Merrick you got first watch. Wickinson, you got second," Hannah said.
John placed the letter in a hidden compartment within his drawer, next to a photo of himself, Tony, Hannah, and Merrick. Hannah held her one year old daughter. Tony kissed the baby. John, and Merrick stood on either side of the couple."Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat", was the only thing written on the back of the photo. That picture marked the last time the group would see each other again. John sat the photo down with care onto his bed. He laid out a suit, and went to his bathroom to take a shower.
The familiar sad echo of the Twenty-one Gun Salute sounded into the gray skies. John parked a small distance from the burial plot, and walked the rest of the way. There weren't many people at the funeral, and none stayed for the burial, but one. Lisa Marlowe. The daughter of Tony and Hannah Marlowe. His Goddaughter. Even if he never knew her, he'd know who she was right away. She wore a look of disconnection in her eyes, and held the heavy physicality of bereavement. A look, John recognized all too well. "Lisa." John said, and she barely looked at him, her eyes glazed over, too tired to cry any more. She clutched the triangular folded flag in her arms. John pulled out the photo, and showed it to her. "I was a friend to your parents and Merrick. I'm John," He looked down and saw the carved writing on the headstone which read, "A friend. A man. A soldier. A guardian. James Merrick". John reached an arm around Lisa's shoulder, in support, she stiffened at this, and he didn't complete the gesture. "I'll take you home," John simply said.
John drove Lisa to Merrick's house. A home pretty similiar in size to John's. They entered. She paused at the doorway that led to the kitchen, frozen for some seconds. John looked passed her and into the kitchen. The body had been moved, but the police tape and blood stains still covered the table area. Bullet holes were scattered around the walls, and island. Lisa made her way upstairs, and into her room. For some moments, she didn't come back down. John went upstairs and looked into her room. Lisa lie on the bed, motionless and withdrawn. John understood Lisa's reaction, and allowed her to remain in her bed, without word from him. He left, and drove back to his place.
For many soldiers, who have lost a fellow soldier, an experience of a certain feeling comes over those who remain. This feeling can't be grasped by one who has never felt it. This feeling can't be healed by the soothing properties of time, if any exist. This feeling can only be likened to, perhaps, losing a family member. Blood. John had lost his brothers and sister in losing Tony, Merrick, and Hannah. It is rare to find one family member, or friend who's friendship is the epitome of the saying, "Thicker than water," let alone finding three. And here he was, the last of the four.
John drove to the desert, where he and the others would spend some good times. He let the sharp dusty air swirl, as he did a few doughtnuts. Within the circles he had etched into the sand, he built a fire. John drank to each of his fallen friends, and poured out some in their honor. When the whiskey was gone and the bottle was empty, he threw it into the air and shot the glass to shards. He slept there, by the fire, and under that desert moon.
John came back to Merrick's place to check on Lisa. She hadn't moved much. She'd been to the store, because there were empty liquor bottles sitting at her night stand. "Lisa?" he simply questioned. She just wrapped her arms around her legs, which were pulled to her chest, tighter. John left, and came back another three days later, and nothing had changed. Lisa was drinking herself into a depressed stuper. John stopped at the doorway, like he usually did. He said her name, like he usually did. This time, when she said nothing, John went into the on suite bathroom, and turned on the shower. He pulled the shower-head attachment, and let the cord go as far as it could. He stepped into the doorway of the bathroom, and aimed the sprayer at Lisa. She rolled off of her bed, the shock of the cold water jolting her. John had, had enough of watching Lisa let herself wallow in this way. "Merrick would have done the same thing," John said. Getting the message, she relunctantly pulled herself up, and made her way into the bathroom.
Down stairs, John sat on the couch in the livingroom. He placed a cup of water, and a bottle of aspirin onto the coffee table infront of him. Lisa came down the stairs, and sat on the opposite end of the couch as John. John gently pushed the cup of water, and bottle of aspirin towards her half of the coffee table. She slowly reached for it, and took some. "You shouldn't stay here," John said to her.
John pulled into his garage, and let Lisa out of the passenger side. He led her into his house. The dog greeted him and her, with happy curiousity. "You can stay in the guest room," He said. She went to the room, and sat on the edge of the bed. John entered and placed folded covers on the foot of bed.
"What happened?" John asked Lisa, as they sat eating dinner in his kitchen. Lisa took little nibbles onto her fork, though she hadn't eaten in a couple of days, her appetite wasn't strong. "It was...it happened so fast," Lisa began then placed her fork down, and pushed her food aside. "Merrick and I were standing in his kitchen, about to go out to eat. We were celebrating. I had graduated the academy, and was about to start working as a cop. Then, the kitchen door was kicked in, and maybe six guys or so, rushed in opening fire. Merrick, he flipped the table, grabbed a gun from the bottom of it, and we ducked behind it. He covered me. Protected me, and they shot him. He died protecting me. I don't know what it was. It wasn't a robbery, they left everything. It wasn't a mistake, they knew him. Police said they'd investigate," she lowered her head. "You're safe here," John said.
John stayed up all night. He stayed in his room, but he couldn't sleep. Something didn't feel right. He went to the drawer with the hidden bottom, and read the letter again. It read...
If you are reading this, that means that I wasn't around to stop the delivery this time. I won't dwell on the questions of why or what, so you don't either. I've been taking care of Lisa, and JJ since their parents died. I don't know if anyone would read this before it got to you, so I can't go into details. They thought they were safe, but things have a way of catching up to you. We recently lost JJ, their son. Now that I am gone, Lisa has no one left. No family. Except you John, she has you. Remember your role, and look after Lisa.
We win. We lose. We work. Together.
The next day, "Could you tell me anything about my parents?" Lisa asked. They sat in the livingroom, drinking coffee. "They were good friends. They loved you very much," John replied. She pet the dog, who enjoyed the attention. "Merrick told me pretty much the same thing. He said you were the best soldier he knew," she said. John didn't have much to say in reply to her statement. It was hard for him to relate to another person after all this time being by himself, but he wanted to try. "We were trained well," he said. A moment passed, where neither said anything. It was like both had something to say, but neither could find the words.
Lisa stayed with John, for a few weeks. John and Lisa would just experience each other's company. Lisa would get up in the morning and walk the dog. Lisa would cook breakfast for the two of them. Their sadness, and loss, was bonding in a way. The two were becoming use to one another. And, for a moment, it seemed they found kindred spirits of sorts. For John, Lisa was a welcomed change in his life. Part of him was beginning to feel that having a Goddaughter could be a good thing. Lisa felt a little comfort, but was troubled by questions. Questions, it seemed, would never be answered.
It was late at night. John was asleep in his room, when he heard a crash of broken glass, which awoke him. He carefully and quickly got out of his bed, and expertly made his way to his kitchen. There on her knees, wiping up spilled tea and broken mug, was Lisa. She was shaking and crying. She wiped her tears away, and held them back, as she saw John in the room. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to wake you. I had a bad dream, that's all. I'll replace the mug," she said. Lisa threw away the broken glass, and brushed her long thick hair into a single braid, composing herself. "What's wrong?" John asked. "I got a call yesterday. The police said that the investigation has stalled. They said it will remain open, but don't get my hopes up. The people I tried so hard to work for, won't help me. Nothing will happen. Just like with my parents" she said. John led Lisa to the couch, and they sat. "Tell me," he simply asked. "I was seven years old. JJ was four. One day I came home from school a little early, to show my parents this trophy I had won in a Spelling Bee. I went into the kitchen, and saw my mom lying on the floor. I slipped in the blood that dripped from her throat. I went to her, and as she stopped breathing, I was pulled up into this strong grip from behind. This guy with a funny voice, I now know it was a Russian accent, he held me. He yelled out to his men, and three guys came from the basment and into the kitchen. My dad was being man handled by them. The guy who held me, said to my dad to give him the money, and he'd let me go. I remember him looking so worried, for me. Then I felt it. I felt the cold tip of the barrel of a gun firmly pressed against my temple. I cried out 'daddy!'. My dad's face turned from worry to something... I don't have the word for it. It was hard like stone. Cold, like ice. Focused. I never saw him make that face. He said 'Hurt her, and I'll kill you'. The man readied the gun. Without flinching, my dad said the money was under the oven. One of the three men broke his hold, and checked the oven. There must have been a lot of money, because the man looking at it, responded excitedly. At this moment, dad was able to get a gun away from one of the men. He shot the two at either side of him, and shot the third. He was so fast. Then the man who held me turned his gun on him, as he turned his gun on the man. In the next second, both men were down. I was dropped onto the ground onto my shoulder. I was at eye level with my dad now. He looked at me, and he said. 'Take care of your brother, and use the number.' You ever saw the light leave a person's eyes, as they die? I have. That's what haunts me. I got my brother out of his pre-school, and called the number, dad gave us for emergencies. Merrick showed up, and he took care of us. We grew up. JJ went one way, I went the other." She finished and lowered her head at speaking about JJ. "What about JJ?" John asked. "He got into drugs. We found him under a bridge, OD" she replied. John went back into his thoughts. Lisa surveyed his reaction and said, "You know something don't you? If you do, tell me," she implored.
John entered his apartment, having finished work as bank security for the night, when he got a call from Merrick. "John. I need your help!" Merrick said in haste. John left his apartment, immediately.
Merrick quickly packed guns into a bag, as John looked on. "Tony and Hannah left. They didn't tell me where they were going, but they will make contact when it is safe," he lifted the bag and placed it at the door, and continued "We were suppose to do this job together, some foreign government official, he's also a pedophile, who messed with the boss's 10 year old. He's well guarded in Mexico." "They wouldn't leave a job unfinished," John said. "I know. Whatever went down, it must have been important," Merrick responded. "When do we go?" John asked. "We planned to go in an hour. You only have to be backup. I'll do the job. Then split the payment," Merrick said. "We win. We lose. We work. Together." John said, and they went on their way.
Merrick's boss played pool in his parlour. "Is it done?" he asked Merrick. Merrick simply dropped a ring covered finger onto the pool table. The boss dropped the finger into a jar of famoudyhide, and other adversaries' body parts. "Some of my employees didn't fulfill their contractual obligations. You didn't do the job alone. How'd you do it?" he asked, as he stepped to a painting on the wall. "I had a trusted partner pick up the slack," Merrick answered. He opened the painting, and took out a case of gold coins. "I should like to meet him," the boss said. "It was just for this one time," Merrick said. "I'll decide that," the boss sternly stated. John was bought in to the parlour, as he was waiting in the car outside the building. "What's your name?" the boss asked John. Merrick signed last name in sign language, covertly to John so that the boss didn't see. "Wick," John replied. "The job you two did," he clapped and continued, "was good. The son of a bitch," He tossed the two each a bag of gold coins. "I make sure my workers get their pay," the boss said.
John looked to Lisa, and replied "I'll tell you what I know, when I'm sure I know it." He stood up to walk back to his room, when Lisa stood up behind him and in a demanding voice said, "Damn it! Please". "I don't know everything. Your parents, Merrick, and I were soldiers. We escaped a situation behind enemy lines together, after that we stuck together. They got into specific work. Work, in which I became employed eventually. When they found out they were pregnant with you, your parents decided to terminate their employment for your safety. They named Merrick and me your Godparents," he said. "What kind of specific work?" Lisa questioned. "Work outside of the law," He replied. "You know then, that the money and my parents' deaths are related, they must be. We can find out what exactly happened," Lisa said. "I'm done with that life.I have been for a long time," John said. "Tell me where I can go, since the police won't help," Lisa told John. "I gave my word I would take care of you. Your parents wanted to make sure their children wouldn't see the things they saw," John said. With that, Lisa walked away, deflated.
He was putting all the details he could together in his mind. Tony and Hannah must have taken money from someone, and made their way somewhere. Some place, where they could raise Lisa in safety. Then their son was born a little later. The past caught up to them, some how, and the rest happened. Happened in front of Lisa. John became determined to make Lisa's life easier, or at least more peaceful than it has been. After all, that's what they wanted for her, their daughter. In all the details he figured out, two questions remained...
Who killed Merrick? and Why?
In the early afternoon, Lisa made John breakfast, and fed the dog. "I'll be back, I'm going to settle some assignment paper work for my first day on the job." The dog tried to follow her to the door. "Sorry boy, you can't this time." she said and patted the dog's head. "I'll drive you," John stated. She smiled a gracious smile, "No. No. Wick, you've done so much already. You rest. I'll fix a healthy dinner tonight, and be out of your hair tomorrow morning," Lisa said, and walked out.
Lisa didn't go to pick up her assignment papers for her job with the police. She went back to Merrick's house, which was technically hers since he left everything to her anyway. She went into Merrick's room, and sat at his desk for a moment. She lightly touched the stationary at the desk, and smiled at his neat organization. Nothing was ever out of place in Merrick's room. She saw a picture of her and Merrick in a frame within his dresser drawer, as she had opened it. The picture made her realize that for Merrick, she was the closest thing to a daughter he ever had. She let the tears swell in her eyes, as she removed the photo of the picture and placed it in her pocket. She then went to the closet and surveyed all his clothes. His style was usually sharp. Slacks, vests, Fedoras, and shades. He loved a good pair of shades. She looked up and noticed a box sitting on the closet shelf. She reached for it, but it was just out of her touch. She stood on her tiptoes, and finally got it down. However, as she brought the box down, she dropped it and lost her footing. She hit the back wall of the closet with her shoulder. The noise she heard wasn't normal. It was hollow. Lisa tapped it again, and again. She noticed it moved slightly, and she decided to push on it. The wall slid open, revealing a few rows of shelves. Shelves, that held guns, ammo, gold coins, and a few books of matches. On the book of matches read, The Continental Hotel. Lisa's eyes widened. She became resolved to know what happened. She took a gun, and some clips. She took a few of the gold coins, and a book of matches. After closing the wall, and replacing everthing as neatly as possible, she went to the garage and grabbed the keys for Merrick's Norton Commando, and rode away.
John didn't see Lisa at dinner time, like she said he would. His dog sat at the door waiting for her return. John patted him on the head and went along with his evening. Lisa wasn't a child, and didn't need a babysitter, so her absence from his place, didn't worry John too much. Until the next morning, when he noticed she was gone, but her things were still in the guest room. His dog was now very sad, that Lisa wasn't there, as if it knew something was wrong. John felt that something was wrong as well.
John pulled up to Merrick's place and unlocked the door with his key. He carefully walked in, his hands holding a gun at the ready, but his finger away from the trigger. He made his way up the stairs and through the hallway. He checked Lisa's room. Nothing. He checked Merrick's room. He noticed an empty picture frame on the bed. He noticed the closet door was barely ajar. He went to open it, and felt the door pinch something at the bottom hinge. (Something from the things fallen, when Lisa dropped the box) He kicked the object aloose from between the hinge and the post. It was a book of matches, with The Continental Hotel name on it. John quickly went to his car, and sped away.
The Continental. He parked. He sat. He merely looked at the front of the place, he realized what might have happened. What she might have done. With his composure gathered, he stepped into that hotel once more.