The morning air is brisk and moist with dew. The sky is fleeced with clouds striped with brilliant colors that fade to gray as the sun rises above the horizon. Birds sing their morning songs, struggling to be heard above the growing traffic sounds from, the 294 carried in the heavy autumn air from the waking community. A man rises from before an altar, stiffly, and with difficulty, but rise he does. As he gets to his two feet, he bows to the shrine. He turns and looks out over his private sanctuary. He smiles a sad smile, the swelling having gone down significantly, but the stitches still make it more of a smirk than a smile. But inside, he knows its nature. He takes a deep breath, and reaches for the simple wooden rake leaning the railing surrounding the karesansu, steps onto the first step of the path. He puts the rake on his shoulder, and walks slowly down the path, past where he will be working today, to the rest of the garden. He looks out, enjoying the view. Seeking peace. The changing seasons hadn't gotten to this part of the tea garden yet, and the reds and golds mixed with the green from the tougher trees. It was relaxing.
Wevv sets downs the rake and sits on a wooden bench, and sighs. His mind travels back automatically, playing out the closing hours in Australia, but with a slight flexing of his will, he forces it to stillness. To drink in the calm stillness. To watch the squirrels and birds move. To grow irate at the sight of the herd of deer that somehow had gotten into his grounds and were now munching on young, but very expensive Shantung Maples that had been given as a gift by former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe himself. Wevv squashes the flash of anger. He could get more. After all, Fukuda and he were old friends. The had done business once before. And now, Fukuda owed him.
Wevv sighed and picked up the rake. So much for peace and serenity. It seems his mind was not to be forced into patience. Instead it was eager to follow the patterns and seek what advantage to be gained.
Wevv: (muttering to himself) I told you Abe. Constant Vigilance. Show a sign of weakness, and they’ll slip through the cracks and then… Oh well. The trip to Graceland was the nail in the coffin. Best of luck to you Abe.
Wevv showed off the deer and walked the strolling path through the garden. He came across the point where the deer had trampled a path through the plants and entered the garden. A section of the wooden fencing had been crushed by what looked like a tree branch. A lot of the old trees on the manor had been ravaged by the windstorm a few weeks back. Here, the branch had been removed, but the fence was yet to be repaired. Well, he was back now, and he would see to it. Wevv had to admit, the gardeners he had hired from the Botanical Gardens to take care of this special place had done an outstanding job. The place showed no signs of neglect, even after a year’s absence. Wevv wondered how his garden in Cuba was faring. No matter, he told himself. It’s been started, it was enough. Soon. Perhaps.
Wevv compelted the circuit and found himself back at the exit of the karesansu. He lowered the rake from his shoulder and looked out over the gravel and rocks. The pattern was wrong. But then again, it wasn’t his design. Wevv stretches, feeling the bandages stretch taunt, and the throbbing from his bruised eye and socket pulse. His shoulder ached fro when he had crashed into a TV monitor. Still, the splinters had been removed, and his orbital bone was not broken. A few expert stitches from the very talented Mr. Wang, and he was almost as good as new. Battered, but not beaten. Not by a long shot. Wevv closes his eyes and takes deep calming breathes. He finds his center. He lets his mind sort through 't'he events of the past, and finds a starting point. His mind begins the series of events, and he opens his eyes, and picks up his rake. He begins to move the small rocks, into a pattern. A pattern of his making.
Wevv sits on a table in a room buried in the belly of the Telstra Dome. Mr. Wang is by his side, wearing surgical gloves, and shining a light into Wevv’s eyes. Another man, in a paramedic uniform is trying to look at the cut on Wevv’s lip.
Paramedic: Excuse me sir! Do you mind? I’m the professional here!
Wevv brushes away the man’s hand and speaks in slurred speech.
Wevv: Mither Wang ITH a profethonal! He knowth more than youf forgotten! Leafe him be! YOU get out!
Paramedic: Fine, Bruce, whatever you say. But you really should get to a hospital. That split lip looks like it’s going to need stitches, along with that cut in your eyebrow, a couple f the deeper cuts on your back, and that swelling around the eye could mean you’ve fractured your orbital bone. The nose looks banged up, but not broken. But hey, I’m just a doctor, and not a butler.
Mr. Wang straightens up, a needle in his hand, and stares at the medic. The doctor gulps and rushes out of the room. He almost collides with Madison. Madison stops the doctor with a stiff arm of surprising strength. She spins the doctor around, and then seeing Mr. Wang glaring at the medic, she whispers in his ear.
Madison: I’ve seen what he can do with a needle. You better run unless you like peeing down your leg.
She laughs as the medic bursts past her and crashes into the far wall across from the doorway, knocking himself out. She lets the door close and then looks at Wevv. Mr. Wang starts to prep Wevv for the stitches. Wevv winces.
Madison clucks her tongue and stands in front of Wevv. She reaches out a surprisingly gentle figure and puts pressure on Wevv to turn his head, which he does. She leans in to look at the injuries.
Madison: Madre Mios! You get hit by a truck?
Wevv hisses in pain as she presses a finger lightly against the bruising around his eye.
Madison: Does that hurt? Oh your poor thing. Maybe we should just call it off for tonight.
Wevv: No. How much time do we hafe?
Madison: Three hours until the meet. You sure about this?
Wevv: Yeth. That’s plenthy of time. Kentho, work your magic. Madison, keep watch.
Mr. Wang begins to sew up Wevv’s lip, and then work on the swelling around the eye.
An abandoned warehouse, on the outskirts of Sydney.
A man runs down an aisle of stacked crates. The lights are spaced far and wide, and every time he runs into a long patch of darkness, he hesitates. The sounds of dogs barking seems to come from all sides, and right behind him. He reaches the end, and comes to a door in a pool of light. He frantically pulls on the door and bangs on it, but it refuses to open. He throws himself against it in one last-ditch attempt to force it open. He punches the door one last time as a sob escapes his lips. The man then sags against the wall on the side, sagging to the concrete as he sobs in fear. A growl from behind him, causes him to pulls himself into a ball.
Man: NO! STAY BACK!
He fumbles in his once fine suit and comes up with a pistol. He points it at the shadows. A large brown and white dog slowly pads out of the shadow, it’s head low. It’s teeth bared. It growls again. It’s growl is answered from the right. The man frantically turns, and points it at the two doors who pad from the shadows and stop at the edge of the pool of light. More growls from the left and the man swivels again, holding the guy out in front of him like a magic talisman.
Man: STAY BACK! DON’T COME ANY CLOSER! I’M WARNING YOU!
Voice: Marcus Van Zandt. Put away your gun.
Man: WHO’S THERE?!? SHOW YOURSELF!
Voice: Marcus, old friend, don't you recognize my voice? Has it really been that long?
Wevv steps out of the darkness, followed by two more akita. The sit down by his side, as Wevv stops, and leans on a silver and black cane. He’s wearing his trademark designer Italian suit, but has added to it. A pair of black sunglasses.
Wevv: Yes. Me. Hello Marcus. It’s been a long time. It’s been what? Ten? Eleven years?
Marcus points the gun directly at Wevv. The dogs growl and take a step forward.
Wevv: Put it away Marcus. It can't help you now.
Marcus: How did you find me?
Wevv walks forward. He limps slightly. He slowly stretches out the point of the cane, and pushes the barrel of the gun aside slowly. Finally Marcus’s trembling fingers let go of the gun, which clatters on the concrete.
Wevv: There. Much more friendly. See? Even my canine friends are relaxing. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find purebred akitas in the this God forsaken country? Not like the old days. Not like Tokyo…
Marcus: I –
Wevv’s cane flashes, and comes to rest on Marcus’s lips, silencing him.
Wevv: Marcus, were you just about to lie to me? Were you? That would be most unwise. I know it was you Marcus.
Marcus: What?...what are you talking about? If it’s about the money –
Wevv: Marcus, Marcus, Marcus. It was never about money. What’s a few billion embezzled from a few banks, eh? I mean, the economy did collapse, but they rebounded nicely, hey? It’s not like I had anything to do with them finding out. I mean, who would take the word of a junior accountant for a wrestling company telling management that his superior was tied in to the yakuza and stealing money from everywhere in the bank? No one. That’s who. But his reporter girlfriend, on prime time news, that would be a different story, eh? That would be trouble.
The tip of the cane moves, and presses against Marcus’ throat. Wevv’s formerly friendly smile has vanished, and instead a mask of fury has taken it’s place. As Wevv leans closer to Marcus, the light shows the edges of Wevv’s early wounds. The fresh wound on his mouth. The sunglasses slip and reveal the heavy bruising around his eye. And his left eye. His left eye terrifies Marcus to his very core.
Marcus’s mind is running like an antelope pursued by hungry lions, crossing over the ground of myths and urban legends that sprung up around this man, once known as Larry Fortenski, but better known, at least to those who do business in the shadows, as Wevv Mang. The mysterious man who emerged from nowhere, and reigned havoc on the Asian crime world and beyond for two years. Wevv had his fingers in everything. And no one seemed to be able to find out who he was or what he was up to. He never seemed to focus on one enemy. He struck out everywhere and no one seemed safe. The families tried to cut a deal with him, but Wevv would not respond At least not in words. He sent a message. Like sending back a highly paid, highly competent, highly feared group of assassins in the bellies of living dogs. Dogs sent in crates that attacked whoever opened the crate. It was only after they were dead were the grisly remnants of the assassins found. And he kept asking after Marcus. Where was Marcus? Who was hiding Marcus? Give him Marcus and you would be spared. Marcus ran. Ran as far as he could. He had skills. He had knowledge. He was valuable to the right people. And he wanted to live. He spent every dime he ever stole to stay alive. He begged for mercy. And he got it. The syndicates, the families, they kept Marcus alive. Two years of running. Two years of non-stop terror for Marcus Van Zandt His position in the Order meant next to nothing to those shadows. If Wevv wanted Marcus that badly, he would not get him. If only for spite.
When Marcus learned who Wevv really was, thanks to his current employers, he knew he nothing could possibly save him if Wevv ever found him. Because it was he who gave the order. To protect his employers. To protect himself. There was $50 billion, BILLION, at stake! What was the life of some trumped up weather bitch and a smug, know it all punk to that! NOTHING! How was he to know?!?
Van Zandt’s eyes darted to the dogs. 2 on the left. 3 on the right. 3 right behind Wevv. And then there was Wevv. Watching him. Watching him sweat with that blood red eye. There was no mercy in that eye. Nothing of humanity at all. Marcus swallowed. He felt the point of the cane in his throat.
Marcus: Wevv…Larry –
Wevv: AH! You remember my name!
Marcus: I didn't know they were going to kill her! I only told them that that girl – ACK!
The point of Wevv’s cane digs deeper into Marcus’s throat, threatening to crush his windpipe.
Wevv: (Snarling) You know HER name don't you? DON’T YOU! I do Marcus. I do. I will never forget it. I say it in my mind everyday. Every. Single. Day. Kasumi.
Marcus tries to get his mouth to say the name. Wevv leans closer, and the cane presses a fraction harder.
Wevv: Do. NOT. Say. Her. Name. Why ruin such a friendly reunion with such … unpleasantness.
Marcus starts to reach for the gun, hoping Wevv wouldn’t notice. But lost in the power of Wevv’s gaze, he forgot. The dogs growl. Wevv’s cane moves from Marcus’s throat, and comes down on his hand.
Wevv: Now Marcus. There’s no need for that. I’m not going to kill you.
Marcus: What? You’re…you’re not? But? Why?
Wevv: Why? I want you to live Marcus. I want you to live a long and healthy life. But most of all, I want you to know. That no matter where you run. No matter how well you think you’ve hidden yourself, that I can find you. That I WILL find you. If it takes ten years, or ten thousand, I will find you Marcus. You can't hide from me Marcus. And one of these days, I will kill you.
Wevv smiles. He then stands up, and sways, but catches himself on his cane. He turns around, and starts to walk away. His cane taps a beat with his slow walk. Wevv turns, just before the darkness hides him.
Wevv: Oh, Marcus, forgive my lack of manners. Have a nice day. We’ll meet again. Count on it.
Wevv vanishes into the shadows. He whistles once, and the dogs pull back as well, their growling growing fainter, until even the gleam of the light reflecting off their eyes banishes. Marcus lets loose a huge sigh of relief. But he doesn't stop trembling.
In the darkness, Wevv walks, the cane tapping out a steady beat. In the darkness, Wevv allows the pain of his injuries to be felt. He grimaces, and then hisses as the stitches in his lip pull taunt, and he tastes blood. The sound of a cocking pistol and a dark figure emerging in front of him causes the pain to become the least of his worries.
The figure speaks in Japanese.
Ichi Michinoku: That’s far enough Wevv-san.
Wevv: Ichi? Is that you? Forgive me, but my eyesight is not so good right now.
Ichi: You should never have come here.
Wevv: Why? I was just visiting with my old friend, Van Zandt. You remember him, don't you? Hiding in Australia. Very clever. But in the end, I found him, didn’t I? You should have told me he was here. But you didn't, did you?
Ichi: I had my orders. Is he still alive? You didn't kill him did you?
Ichi steps slowly to the side to look around Wevv, who is standing very still, looking right at Ichi, and leaning both hands on his cane. Ichi tilts his head, and sees Van Zandt down the corridor. Marcus has a hand on his chest, and then slowly stirs. He raises his head and looks down the corridor, seeming right at Ichi and the back of Wevv. He spasms in terror, and then looks left and right.
Ichi: Where are the dogs?
Van Zandt slowly moves his hand towards the fallen and forgotten pistol. Ichi can see his hand wrap around the handle.
Wevv: I sent them back. They’re long gone by now Ichi, and as for Van Zandt….
Van Zandt’s face is a mask of tear-streaked terror turned to desperation as he raises the gum and points it at Wevv’s back in shaky hands. So consumed with overcoming his fear, that he doesn't notice the door beside him slowly open, on silent hinges. Van Zandt puts his other hand over his one hand to steady the shaking gun. He looks down the barrel with care, and doesn't notice the barrel of a gun that's looks similar come closer to the side of his head.
Ichi: LOOK OUT!
The yell freezes Van Zandt’s finger before they can pull the trigger. Not so the other gun, which sprays Van Zandt’s brains all over the wall and floor. Van Zandt’s finger spasms, and his gun goes off, a fraction of a second later. The bullet whizzes past Wevv’s head. Ichi raises his gun, but just as quickly as it appeared the other gun, and hand are gone and the door closes. Only the clicking of a heavy steel lock is heard. Wevv hadn’t even flinched at the sudden sound of a gunshot. Ichi looks on in shock. Until Wevv speaks.
Wevv: …The last time I saw Marcus Van Zandt, he was alive and well. A little nervous, perhaps even … suicidal. But that’s to be expected. I mean really, if I had embezzled billions of dollars from the Japanese retirement fund, and I was the one who orchestrated it? Van Zandt was always sloppy. And greedy. Never a good combination.
Ichi takes a step back and points his gun right at Wevv.
Ichi: I can't let you walk out of here Wevv. My superiors –
Wevv: - Are about to have enough problems of their own. Put down the gun Ichi. I am going to walk out of here. And you won't be able to stop me.
Wevv points with his cane at Ichi’s chest. A red dot is holding rock steady over Ichi’s heart.
Ichi: Where is…Kenzo?
Wevv: He’s around. But I wouldn't be too trusting of old friendship’s Ichi. I’ve lost one old friend. It would be a shame to loose another. I actually like you Ichi. But your choice of employers leaves a lot to be desired. I would start looking for a new side career if I were you. Now if you’ll excuse me. My business here is done.
Wevv starts to walk forward. Ichi lowers his gun as Wevv passes by. Wevv doesn't look back. Ichi looks down, and sees the red spot of the laser scope is gone. He slowly raises his gun again, and takes aim at Wevv’s back. A large hand comes out of the shadow rests on the barrel of the gun. Ichi starts, but his instincts cause him to remove his finger from the trigger. Ichi turns and sees the grinning face of Mr. Wang. Mr. Wang pushes Ichi’s arm down. Only when the gun is pointed at the ground, does Mr. Wang step back and bow slightly. As he rises up, he speaks.
Mr. Wang: It is good to see you again Ichi-san. A shame that we didn't have time to catch up on old times. Perhaps, there will be another time. Anything is possible. Stay well Ichi.
Mr. Wang starts to walk after Wevv, who had stopped to wait for him. Ichi swallows and tries to control the racing of his heart. He starts to raise the gun again, this time with both hands. A loud pop from behind him causes him to jump. He spins and sees a figure dressed in all black clothing. And holding a very large gun. IN his flash of surprise, Ichi can't help but notice the laser sight.
Madison blows another bubble and raises one hand with her fingers in the shape of a gun. As she pops the bubble, she clicks her thumb down like the hammer of a gun. And winks.
Madison: You know, you’re kinda cute when you’re surprised. See you around big guy.
Wevv: Leave Ichi alone Madison. Our business is finished. Here at least. Come along, it’s time we were leaving.
Madison winks at Ichi again, and runs to catch up. With Mr. Wang on one side, and Madison on the other, Wevv leaves the warehouse. As the doors close behind Wevv, Ichi takes a deep breath. He looks over at the dead body of Marcus Van Zandt. His mind races. One thought keeps coming back. Pension fund. Shit. So much for retirement. And he was so close to that day too. Fuck. He better make the most of this. Ichi holsters his pistol and instead pulls out a radio.
Ichi: This is special agent Ichi Michinoku. It looks like there’s been a break-in at the BlueScope Steel warehouse. Shot fired. Repeat, I heard a shot fired. Send back-up. I’m going in to investigate.
Ichi thinks to himself, as he unholsters his gun again, and starts towards the body of Van Zandt.
Ichi: Better make the most of it. Then, find a new line of work. I’m getting too old for this shit.
Wevv straightens up, and stretches his back.
Finally breaking out of his memory, Wevv notices how much time has past. He twists his torso, trying to get the kinks out. He looks up at the sky. It had finally seemed to clear up a bit. Wevv then looks down at his handiwork. It was shaping up nicely. Wevv puts the rake down and leans on it.
Wevv thinks to himself.
Pity about Ichi. He came out OK, at least to the Australians, and the Japanese public, but his real employers were not too happy. Not that they could too much about it. They were neck deep trying to win over the new administration. A message sent on Ichi’s behalf from a “concerned citizen” also helped ease the matters. Especially a message that contained bank account numbers. Not all of them, no, far from it, but enough. Most of the money could be replaced. Slowly. Secretly. And if some of it was still missing, well, they didn't know how much was gone, now did they?
Besides, a handlers fee is part of doing business.
Wevv stretches again, and rolls his shoulders. The pain was a dull ache. Wevv carefully wiped the sweat from his brow. It didn't seem like hard work, but the energy it took to maintain a steady, and smooth line was draining. Wevv bent back down to work the rake through the gravel, putting the finishing touches on it. Yes, it was shaping up nicely. Lost once again in his work.
Wevv finally breaks his concentration when Mr. Wang steps through the back door into the garden. Wevv looks up and sees Mr. Wang tap his wristwatch.
Wevv: Ah! Kenzo! Thank you for reminding me. I lost track of time. Finish one job, there’s another waiting, eh? Still so much work to do. Still so much to do…
Wevv walks out of the garden and puts the rake back. Wevv walks inside, but Kenzo takes a moment to look over at the pattern Wevv was working on. He smiles, and then follows his employer inside.
* August 24, 2007