He settled down to rest with his Beretta and the bag full of explosives. Divine Fury. Chapter 58
April 27, 2013
A VG Serial: Divine Fury
Monday, June 14, 2004
THE SENTINEL HOTEL in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district had 22 rooms on four floors. Each floor had a bathroom with showers. It was an odd mix of decrepitude and overblown attempts to deny that the hotel, like its patrons, was in a worn-down state of decay. Tropical murals graced the ground floor lobby, the oranges and blues vibrant against the walls that had started white but were now streaked with gray. Planters held plastic foliage that shared the woodchips with cigarette butts.
The old guy at the counter had looked up at Walberg when he laid $200 in cash in front of him as the first week’s rent. Then, he slid Walberg’s cash into a drawer and handed him a register to sign. After Walberg scrawled something illegible, he gave him the key to room 3-C.
The creaky stairs that led up from the lobby emptied onto the upper hallways that were poorly-lit tunnels laid with thick carpet dark enough to hide the stains but not the amalgam of odors dominated by stale vomit and mildew.
The room was tiny. Twin bed with a tattered blanket. Small refrigerator. Four-drawer dresser. Rusty sink with a dripping faucet. The wall behind the door had a dried splattering of something brown. Walberg shoved it all deep into his mind where it wouldn’t bother him – the splatter, the scent of rot and desperation, and the shadowy hallway where Walberg knew he’d hear the scurrying of rats at night.
He’d left the rifle in the van. But he brought everything else. One bag held the explosives and the Beretta. The other had his clothes and the hunting knife. He put them both on the floor.
He stood in the center of the room and closed his eyes. He slowly rotated in a circle, stopping at various points. Now, he was pointing down Market where he could take the subway two stops to Justin Herman Plaza. Then, he was pointing the opposite way where the parade would inch its way toward City Hall. And, finally, he was facing the direction where he could walk seven blocks and be on the steps of Trinity Cathedral.
Walberg remembered an afternoon years earlier when he was in the army at a base in Italy waiting for deployment and had a few hours to visit the local tourist attraction – a nearby cathedral built in the Middle Ages. He’d stood in the middle of a side chapel and turned in a circle like this. He took several minutes to appreciate the old paintings surrounding him that depicted the last days of Christ. He had then closed his eyes and imagined the actual events of the stations of the cross – the condemnation, the long walk to Calvary, the falls along the way and, finally, the public Crucifixion.
Then, as now, Walberg had felt a profound peace fall over him as the noise of daily life seemed to fade altogether. When he finally opened his eyes he felt refreshed and focused. He had a sense of purpose that was deadly clear.
Chapters of the serial are published Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
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