By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
“He sounded like that original person again on the phone. He was tapping into that strong connection that we shared originally, that was powerful enough to carry me into the bad times, hoping through those times that the good times would come back.”
Dawn agreed to return to L.A. John’s one last big deal was the impending robbery of money, drugs and jewels from Eddie Nash.
She flew in to Burbank Airport, and John picked her up. He also lifted luggage that didn’t belong to him off the conveyor belt. He was obviously high. Dawn protested, but John grabbed her arm and walked her to the car. He took her to a cheap motel and broke out the pipe. They did some drugs and spent a few days together. The vibe was painfully familiar to Dawn: “He kisses me and says, ‘Okay, baby, I’m off. This is it. I’m going to get the big one.’ And he doesn’t come back.”
This is where the movie Wonderland begins.
In the pre-dawn hours after the murders, John arrives at the home of Sharon Holmes, covered in blood and claiming to have been in an automobile accident. He wants a bath. “John has a habit,” says Sharon, “where if he has something unpalatable to pass off, he gets into the bathtub.”
She allows him to come in and runs the water. He is scraped, but this can’t account for the profusion of blood. His clothing is soaked with it. The bath water turns red. That ain’t your blood, thinks Sharon.
As John sinks down, soaking in blood, he eventually reveals that he has just seen people killed. He tells her a little about when, where and who. i
“These were people you knew,” said Sharon. “These were friends.”
“They were scum. They deserved everything they got.”
* * *
John returns to Dawn just after sunrise. He immediately chokes down a handful of Valium and goes to sleep. Dawn recognizes the Wonderland house on the news. John is having nightmares, moaning about blood. On the TV, Dawn watches as corpses are pulled out of the house in body bags. When John wakes up, she confronts him. John blows her off. She asks about the bloody nightmares. He’s out of money, out of drugs.
“We watched the news a lot,” remembers Dawn. “I knew it was bad. I stayed really quiet. I didn’t know if he was going to flare.”
Before John can formulate a plan, the LAPD kicks the door in and hauls them away. Dawn denies recognizing photos of Eddie Nash’s house, the Wonderland house or Eddie Nash. Dawn is released with nowhere to go but to Sharon, whom she has not seen in more than two years.
The police install John in a luxury suite at the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown L.A., and later at the Biltmore. The homicide cops on the case get nowhere with him. Tom Blake, John’s longtime handler from Vice, is brought in. John attempts to cut a deal, angling to be moved into a witness-protection program while giving up no real incriminating information on Nash. Dawn and Sharon are brought to the hotel as well, for their own safety. Dawn is scared. “We were told that Eddie’s was only one of the contracts out on John. There were all these mysterious other people John was about to rat on. People were afraid he was going to inform.”
But Holmes was either unwilling or incapable of telling the truth. The police, frustrated by John’s lack of concrete information, cut him loose. John and Dawn hit the highway, running for their lives.
This is where the movie ends.
“I’d dyed his hair black,” says Dawn. “We’d spray-painted the car.” The fugitives headed east until they could drive no farther. They ended up at the Fountainhead Inn, a transient hotel on Collins Avenue in North Miami Beach. There was an X-rated motel across the street. Holmes took work at a construction site. One night he snapped and raised his hand to hit Dawn. She ran. She made it down to the pool in front of the snack shop. The hotel’s manager and a group of regulars were sitting at the snack shop eating dinner.
Dawn: “They watched him catch up to me and throw me to the ground and pummel me, then drag me back upstairs.”
That night, John put Dawn out to work on a prostitution track by the beach. In the morning, when Holmes had left for work, the residents of the hotel packed Dawn up and whisked her away. She took John’s handgun and the Chihuahua Thor, and moved in with the daughter of one of the hotel’s residents. John made phone contact soon after and begged for Dawn to return.
“I wanted to say yes so bad,” she says. “He was throwing that ‘I just want to hold you and love you and be with you again, and I’m sorry.’ But I told him, ‘You promised me. You said that was the last time.’ I couldn’t forget that anymore. And I had a safe place. I had other people there. It wasn’t like I felt trapped to say yes anymore. A lot of times I had felt trapped to say yes when I really wanted to leave.”