No reason to take chances. They had all day to make the kill. Divine Fury.
May 23, 2013
A VG Serial: Divine Fury
THEY HAD THE rest of the day to kill. Brent Daggart had made several trips to the Bay Area from his base in Southern California. But for Steve Walberg, it was his first visit. Daggart decided to take him over the Golden Gate Bridge and along the coast to the Marin headlands. It was part of the National Park system with beautiful views along the coast when the fog was absent. Best of all, there would be few people and those there would be hiking or scrambling around the rocks and old military installations. They wouldn’t be studying people’s faces and possibly matching them to whatever photographs or artist renderings were in the newspaper.
The drive there was quick. They pulled over near a couple of abandoned battery sites that had once held artillery guarding San Francisco Bay from Japanese invasion during World War II. Hiking trails led up into the hills that held only waist-high scrub brush scoured by the strong Pacific winds and dried to a dark brown by the desert climate. They took a path at random and hiked for half an hour until they reached the top of a ridge with a clearing. They had a view of the beach below with the sparkling, dark blue ocean washing up against it. The afternoon sun warmed their faces.
Walberg had seemed ill at ease since Daggart had picked him up on Telegraph Hill. Daggart knew the syndrome. It was like sitting down with the headmaster. He wasn’t technically a priest or a pastor, but he was close enough that many people treated him like one. Daggart needed to change that. He needed Walberg to feel in charge, not timid.
“God can do great work when he’s allowed,” said Daggart, gesturing to the view below them. “It’s when people, institutions and horrible choices get involved that God’s work becomes unrecognizable. Stopping the downward spiral. Stopping the slippage. That is the hardest thing to do. That’s why we’re here.”
Walberg gazed out over the ocean and nodded his head in agreement.
“I’d like you to teach me something, Steven,” said Daggart.
“What?” asked Walberg.
“You have all the training…from the army,” said Daggart. “I want you to teach me about the guns, the explosives, tactics, everything you can.”
Walberg straightened noticeably. Daggart could see him take on the mantle of teacher. That was what he needed him to do. That’s exactly what Daggart wanted. He needed Walberg to feel in control. That was more important than whatever the army vet might actually teach him.
On the way back, they made a quick detour to Sausalito where they took the car through a Burger King drive-through. They ordered two Whoppers and a large coffee for Walberg who was driving.
Back at the hotel, their room became an armory. Walberg stripped both the Beretta and the SR-25, cleaning and oiling all the parts. He laid out the blocks of C-4, the detonators and the wiring. Late into the night, he kept a running commentary, explaining what he was doing and the functions of all the parts. And as he talked, he formulated the plan of what they would do the following day.
* * *
ENZO LEE WAS packing up everything he would need for the parade the next day. Backup notebook. Extra pens. Press pass. He had his briefcase in hand and had pushed his chair under his desk when the phone rang.
“Hello. Enzo Lee,” he answered.
“Yeah. Uhh…right,” a young male voice answered. “Are you the one who, uh, who wrote the story? The story, ah…ah, you know. The one about this guy from Montana?”
“Montana. Yes,” replied Lee. “Steven Walberg. I wrote that one. Do you have any information about him?”
“Well, yeah!” said the young man. “I saw him. Umm…I saw him this afternoon. He came in the drive-through.”
Lee had gotten reports of more than a dozen sightings of Walberg in the three days since his photo had first appeared in the News. He knew that the SFPD had received several times that number. None of them had proven useful. Virtually all of them were from well-intentioned people who just made a bad match between the photo in the newspaper and someone they’d encountered.
“Okay,” said Lee, holding the phone with his chin and neck while he pulled out his chair, sat down, pulled out a notebook and began taking notes. “So, what’s your name and where did you see him.”
“Yeah. Okay. My name is Chet. ‘Chet’ short for Chester,” said the caller. “It was at the Burger King. That’s where I work. In…ah…Sausalito.”
“Oh yeah,” said Chet. “It’s on Donahue Street.”
“All right,” said Lee. “Why don’t you just tell me what happened, Chet.”
“It was around 3:30,” he said. “I was working the window. And, I had the paper in front of me. Big Giants fan, you know. So, I grab the papers people leave behind. Read the sports section when I have a minute. So, it’s sitting by the window open to the picture…or I guess it’s a drawing. It says ‘artist rendering.’ And he rolls up. They ordered two Whoppers and coffee with extra sugars.”
“And, you’re really sure it’s him?” asked Lee.
“He’s sittin’ there handing me his money,” said Chet. “And I’m looking at the paper, then back at him, then at the paper. So…yeah. I mean he looked just like the drawing. I didn’t say anything, you know. Just took the money. Got the food together. Passed it through. Then they took off.”
“All right, Chet,” said Lee. He looked at his watch. Almost 9 p.m. He was starving and it was getting late. Even if this was a true sighting, it was six hours old now and Walberg could be in Los Angeles at this point, not to mention anywhere in San Francisco.
Lee got Chet’s full name and his cell phone number.
“Have you called the SFPD about this?” Lee asked.
“Uh…yeah. Well, I tried,” said Chet. “They put me on hold…like forever.”
“Well, try again, okay?” said Lee.
“Uh…yeah. Sure, man.”
Chapters of the serial are published Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
You can learn more about Divine Fury on Amazon.