He aimed his sniper rifle. They shouldn’t have made him mad. Divine Fury. Chapter 36
March 2, 2013
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
776 miles to San Francisco
THE SNIPER RIFLE was a Knights SR-25 with a Leupold Mil-dot telescope sight and a QD sound suppressor that Walberg had snapped into place. He had bought the SR-25 slightly used for $2400 from a dealer in a Helena gun show using the last of the inheritance from his parents.
It was similar to the one he had used in the army, popular for its versatility. Other sniper rifles used a bolt action so you could only fire single rounds. The SR-25 was semi-automatic and weighed only 15 pounds. With a 20-round magazine, you could take out an entire platoon coming at you as well as put a round in someone’s head from half a mile away if you knew what you were doing.
He pulled it out of its camouflage rifle case and set up on a rock overlooking the two-lane road 200 yards away. Resting the rifle on its attached bipod, he could comfortably wait on his knees leaning forward against the rock.
He’d been minding his own business eating a slice of pizza outside of Logan, Utah when the harassment started. A fat guy with long greasy hair, a John Deere cap and a bad case of acne started ragging him about his haircut and the still-healing cuts in his scalp.
“Hey,” he said. “What did you use to cut your hair? A lawn mower?” His two skinny friends laughed and clapped their hands.
“Maybe a weed whacker, man,” said one of the friends.
“Or a machete,” said the other.
“I don’t know,” said the fat one. “Looks like he stuck his head in a damned…what do they call those things? Oh yeah! A Cuisinart.” More uproarious laughter.
Outwardly, Walberg ignored the haranguing but he was seething inside. If they knew what was in his head, how unmoored he felt…how angry, they would have stayed far away from him. The dream was coming every night now, where he imagined he was Ron. It was so vivid. He could hear the shooting…the explosions. Sometimes he saw Ron between his legs trying to stop the bleeding. When he was awake…driving…killing the days before San Francisco, he found himself talking aloud in the Blazer. Sometimes, he talked to Ron next to him. But Ron never said a thing.
When he finished his pizza, Walberg left the restaurant without looking at the trio. They nudged each other, pointed and started laughing again as he pushed open the glass door. He paid close attention to their truck outside – a red Ford with a double cab. He guessed they’d take the route west out of town. It was the direction toward larger towns and cities. There was very little the other way. Just mountains for the next 40 miles.
When he saw the red Ford in the distance heading toward him, he knew he was right. It took another two minutes before they were where he wanted them – right in front of his position completely exposed on the mountain side.
The first shot took out the left front tire and brought the Ford to a halt. The second shattered the windshield. When he took out the rear left window, they finally realized someone was shooting at them and they ducked down. Two more shots took out all the glass on the left side.
Walberg saw the doors on the right side – away from him – open and then close. He could hear them shouting and screaming hysterically.
“Stop! Stop! Stop shooting at us! Help! Somebody help!”
He pulled off three more shots, hitting the side of the truck. Maybe they couldn’t hear the rifle with the suppressor on but they’d certainly hear and perhaps feel the impact of the bullets.
Then the driver’s side door opened. The big one. He must have been too bulky to drag himself over the console with the gear shift in the way and get out the other side. As he stepped hurriedly to the pavement beneath the truck, he immediately slipped and went sprawling on this face beneath the open door.
Through the scope, Walberg could see his face clearly as he pulled his head up and, still sprawled on the ground, searched the hillside. He seemed so close, Walberg felt that he could pick which side of his face to shoot if he wanted.
“Bang,” he said softly. “Bang. Bang.”
The driver struggled to his feet. Holding on to the truck, he stumbled to the front bumper and then turned to make his way to the other side.
Following him with the scope, Walberg saw a big field of blue denim fill his vision. He fired, catching him in the left buttock. The big guy went down and stayed down. Walberg could see him flailing.
He knew the kind of damage a .30-caliber round could do. He’d seen the carnage on the battlefield. He’d also shot a deer with one the previous year and watched the big buck drop as if he’d been hit by a sledgehammer. When he dressed the buck, it looked like his heart had exploded.
He knew the guy he’d shot would probably survive. But he doubted that he’d ever walk the same.
Walberg pushed back from the rock, pulled the rifle after him and stood up. He could still hear them, not shouting now so much as wailing. He could hear the moans of pain mixed in. It was time to leave before another vehicle came down the road. He had a date to keep in San Francisco.
Chapters of the serial are published Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
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