He killed the woman just because he wanted to make some noise. Divine Fury. Chapter 43

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Wednesday, June 2, 2004

CHAPMAN AND HARPER WIN PRIMARIES

By Samuel Wyatt
News Political Writer

            California voters formalized the long-anticipated clash for governor yesterday between conservative Republican George Chapman and gay, liberal Democrat Andrew Harper, propelling both candidates to the general election in November by wide margins.

            Harper, a former congressman from San Francisco, benefited from scandals and missteps that doomed his major rivals’ campaigns and won 52 percent of the Democratic primary vote while four other candidates split the remaining votes.  Chapman, a congressman from Huntington Beach, snared 54 percent of the Republican tally.

            Opinion polls give Harper a slight lead over Chapman in an increasingly acrimonious campaign that has focused on Harper’s sexual orientation and Chapman’s recent votes to restrict abortion and sharply curtail Medicare.

            Allegations – since recanted – that Harper molested a minor participating in a sports camp 17 years ago and two statewide initiatives concerning the rights of gays and lesbians to form civil unions and adopt children have put a focus on Harper’s sexual orientation.  A former prosecutor and congressman, Harper seeks to be the first openly gay or lesbian person elected governor in the nation…

* * *

Thursday, June 3, 2004
254 miles to San Francisco

The $1,485 that Walberg had withdrawn from his bank account when he left Bliss – which was every dollar in it – had dwindled to less than $50.  He’d paid cash for everything – food, motel, gas – since he began his journey, not because he was worried about leaving a trail but for the simple reason that he had no credit or ATM cards.

He didn’t need much for himself but he knew he needed to change cars.  He figured another $3,000 would last him.  Whenever he’d gone into his local bank in Bliss, it seemed as if the cashier had at least $2,000 in the drawer when she counted out his few twenties.  Any bank with at least a couple of windows should do it.

Walberg knew there would be cameras and, likely, silent alarms.  They always talked about exploding dye and marked bills on the television shows.  He had no idea how real that was.  For some reason, he thought that would be more of a big-city thing.  Having grown up in small-town Montana, he had an innate fear and distrust of big cities anyway.  It just seemed to be a good idea to avoid what he didn’t know.

But he also didn’t want too small a town.  He’d stand out too much in a place with only one or two banks.  It would be too easy for a call to go out ten minutes after he left and for the cops to seal off the two or three routes in and out of town.  Medium-sized then.

He’d bought an old Chicago Cubs cap at a second-hand store on his way through Salt Lake City.  At a stop to refill the Blazer, he bought a small roll of black garbage bags.  Now, he was eating a late breakfast in Fernley, Nevada.  It was at the intersection of Interstate 80 and a couple other highways.  There were a dozen ways out of town and Reno was close and big enough to get lost in.  It felt right and pretty soon he wouldn’t even have money enough for gas.

Walberg parked behind the bank with the employees’ cars.  It would take a little longer to get to it.  But he didn’t want everyone inside to have a bird’s-eye view of him getting into the Blazer and jotting down his license number.  He pulled out a garbage bag and stuffed it in one pocket of the camouflage jacket.  In the other, he put the Beretta.  He hid his baldness under the Cubs cap.  He reached into his bag of pills, pulled out three at random and swallowed them quickly without bothering to see which ones they were.

It was 11:15 am when he went in the bank.  It was nearly empty.  He walked to a table in the middle of the lobby and pulled a blank deposit slip from the stack and pretended to write on it while he scanned the bank’s interior.  Just one person sitting among the desks.  Two tellers and someone behind them.  A single customer.  There were probably two or three other employees he couldn’t see, perhaps in the lunchroom or off in a vault somewhere.  He wasn’t going to worry about them.  He assumed the main rule of working in a bank when a robbery went down was pretty simple – just don’t get hurt.  Stay out of the way and do whatever is asked.

He walked back toward the door.  He wanted to make sure he was between it and everyone in the bank.  Then, he pulled out the gun, held it in the air and yelled, “Hey!” at the top of his lungs.  “Nobody move!”  It was eerily silent.  Everyone watched him.  Just for a moment, he was tempted to say, “Just kidding folks” and walk away.  But he needed the cash.

Walberg walked to the first teller’s window, handed her the bag and turned to watch everyone else while she put the cash from her drawer into it.  When she handed it back, he went to the second teller and handed her the bag.  When the second teller passed it back, he took the time to tie a knot in the top.  If a bunch of dye exploded, he hoped it would stay inside.

Before he left, he scanned the lobby for the last time.  He had two choices.  There was the single customer, an older man, standing off to the side of the teller windows.  Then there was the bank employee, a woman, sitting at the desks.  Everyone else was behind a barrier of some type and it would take too long to reach them and put him too far away from the door.  He opted for the female employee.  He wanted noise and thought he’d have a better chance with her.

He walked quickly past a couple of empty desks until he reached her.  He could see her cowering from him, pushing her chair away.  That was good.  It brought her legs out from under the desk.  When he was standing over her, he pointed the Beretta at the foot nearest him and pulled the trigger.

There was the loud pop and the sharp inhalation of breath from everyone in the bank including him.  He turned and headed toward the door and had taken two steps when the screaming started.  There was the loud, “Ahh!  Ahh! Ahh!” of the woman he’d shot.  Then, her high-pitched wail.  There was the sound of furniture being knocked about.  Probably her chair hitting things as she flopped around, he thought.  He heard a couple of other voices as well, cries of concern, panic, sympathy.

“Good,” he thought as he pushed open the glass door to the outside.  He wanted to leave her alert, at full vocal capacity, and in intense pain.  When the door closed behind him, he wanted everyone’s attention focused on what was still happening inside the bank and not on him.  As he walked to the back lot, got in the Blazer and headed for the highway, he felt the drugs kicking in.  He felt like he was 20 feet tall, looking down on himself and everyone else in Fernley, Nevada.

 

Chapters of the serial are published Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

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