All the hit man needed was two seconds. The reporter was blocking his way. Divine Fury.
May 11, 2013
A VG Serial: Divine Fury
CANNED MUSIC ERUPTED from the sound system as gubernatorial candidate Andrew Harper ascended the platform from the rear and stood in front of the microphone. It was an old song, “Don’t Stop Believing” by the rock group Journey. Harper was coatless, his striped dress shirt was unbuttoned at the collar, his tie was loose and the sleeves were rolled up.
As the song rolled on and the crowd joined in, Harper mouthed the lyrics, clapped his hands to the beat and did a gentle dance to the tune. Everyone loved it, cheering even louder and applauding with their hands in the air.
Walberg started moving forward. He used the music and people swaying to the rhythm to slide through and inch his way toward the front. He was like a man slowly winding his way through a crowded dance floor. He focused completely on Harper as he closed the gap between them.
He was maybe 50 feet away now on the right side of the platform. But Walberg saw he didn’t have a clear view of Harper. Someone – a black woman with long braids, sunglasses, slacks and a dark jacket – blocked him. Walberg looked across to the other side of Harper and saw a man in a suit with dark glasses in the same position. He understood. They were Harper’s protectors – undoubtedly police. They were shielding Harper on the sides. Walberg would have to approach from the center.
The music continued. They were letting Harper have a long victory dance before he started speaking. To the sway of bodies and bouncing of signs, Walberg started to thread his way toward the middle and closer, always closer, to the platform and the self-assured politician who was front and center.
He wasn’t thinking about the bomb in the backpack now. He was close to the front with only three layers of people between him and the edge of the crowd held in place by the half-circle of police. This is how he preferred it. He wanted to see Harper’s face when he shot him. That was the instant he craved.
The crowd was pressing in. He could feel the pressure from behind as people inched closer to the front as the masses in back continued trying to push forward. He could see the police, now with their sticks at chest level fighting to hold their perimeter. They were straining. They weren’t trying to hurt anyone but he could see they were determined not to give up any ground.
All Walberg needed was two seconds, enough time to steady his right hand with his left without getting jostled and squeezed. He thought he would have that. He could see the faces and eyes of the cops moving all over. They were stressed. The music, the crowd, the signs…all the chaos would hide what he was doing for a crucial second or two.
Walberg had his right hand in the pocket of the jacket. His fingers found the Beretta and he could feel the safety with his thumb. He flicked it off while he kept his eyes focused on Harper and struggled to keep his face in a relaxed half-smile.
He took a deep breath and started his count. One…two…ahh! Suddenly there was someone in his face. He had his hand on Walberg’s jacket and he was talking to him. Saying something. Walberg couldn’t understand the words with the music blaring. The guy had a square bandage on his chin.
Then, Walberg realized who it was. The reporter. He must have recognized Walberg. What was he doing here?
Walberg took his hand out of his pocket, placed both palms on the reporter’s chest, took one step forward and shoved him…hard. The reporter staggered back, tripped and went down. The force of the shove pushed Walberg in the opposite way, away from the platform and into the people behind him. He turned in that direction, lowered his head, and pushed through the crowd, past the happy faces, clapping hands and the signs bouncing up and down.
Walberg drove ahead, pushing people out of his way. He left a wake behind him as he shoved, bullied and muscled his way toward the back of the mob. He moved to his left. The crowd started to thin out as he got to the edge. There was another line of police but they were spread out here. There was plenty of room between them and they were facing out, watching the people coming to join the rally, not those leaving it.
He broke through the edge of the crowd and kept walking quickly but not so fast that he would attract attention. Walberg glanced back once and saw no one following. He crossed into a scruffy looking park and took a diagonal route through it. There were buildings ahead on the left. On the right it was the open roadway along the waterfront. He wanted the buildings and the shadows. He fought the urge to run and kept moving quickly away from the rally.
Behind him, Walberg heard the music stop. Then, he heard the voice over the speakers.
“I’M ANDREW HARPER! AND I’M RUNNING FOR GOVENOR!” A unified shout erupted from the crowd in an explosion that continued on and on.
Chapters of the serial are published Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
You can learn more about Divine Fury on Amazon.