He swallowed a few pills and began to shave his head. Divine Fury. Chapter 33
February 23, 2013
Monday, May 24, 2004
957 miles to San Francisco
Walberg knew he had more than two weeks to get to San Francisco. So when he arrived at the Starlite Motel outside Rexburg in southern Idaho, he told the clerk in the office he’d be staying for a few nights.
He slept for two hours. It was dark when he woke up. He had a hamburger and a coffee at the restaurant next door and drove six miles further down the highway before he found a shopping center. He bought a $13 pair of beautician’s scissors, a four-pack of disposable razors and three giant Snickers bars at Walgreens.
Back at the Starlite, Walberg turned on the television and found Rev. Jimmy Burgess’ Wednesday night program. He pulled out a gallon Ziploc that had a couple hundred assorted pills.
At one point, he’d had seven different prescription bottles in his medicine cabinet. Pills for seizures, depression, anxiety, sleep, too much sleep and a couple of problems he’d forgotten. For a time, he’d put an assortment into a single bottle when he left the house and try to remember which ones to take at what times. Before he left Bliss, he poured them all together into the Ziploc in a fit of disgust.
He had a vague recollection of what some of them did. He knew the red ones slowed everything down. The blue ones sped everything up. The oval tablets gave him an out-of-body experience, as if he were watching himself from behind or something. He swallowed a blue pill, an oval tablet and a brown capsule that he wasn’t sure he’d ever taken previously.
He listened through the opened bathroom door more to the cadence of the sermon than the actual words as he chopped his hair as close as he could with the scissors. He filled the sink with the tufts of hair and then stuffed it all into the white wastebasket when he was finished with the scissors.
He studied his ragged butch cut in the mirror as he thought about the next step. Then he turned on the faucet, cupped his hands and splashed water all over his head. He took the shampoo out of the basket by the sink, put a blob in his palm and lathered it all over his scalp. He pulled out the first razor, held the hair on his forehead back out of the way, and took off the first inch-long strip. He went over it a couple of times to get all the hair. Then, he rinsed the razor in the sink and went back for the next strip.
It took 20 minutes, all four razors and a half dozen bloody nicks before he was finished. He used a handful of toilet paper to gather up the sodden mess in the sink and stuck it in the wastebasket. He tore off a few small pieces of the toilet paper, twisted them and stuck them on the cuts to stop the bleeding.
Then, he studied himself again in the mirror, turning left, then right. He practiced smiles and frowns. He moved his eyebrows up and down. They now seemed twice as thick and dark with his scalp shaved. His pale baldness made his eyes seem much larger as well. Walberg smiled at his ghoulish appearance. It matched the way he felt – completely outside the normal world with its rules and politeness. He’d severed those ties for good.
The drugs had kicked in hard and were affecting his vision. He felt like he was seeing everything through a tunnel. His heart was pounding.
Walberg turned to catch a final glimpse of himself before he switched off the bathroom light. He turned so he could see his right profile, lightly pinching his chin and laughing at the new him.
Chapters of the serial are published Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
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