The assassin is in place with his bomb, and here comes the candidate. Divine Fury.

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A VG Serial: Divine Fury

Chapter 63

Thursday, June 17, 2004

A CLEAR SKY and the first stars of the evening beckoned Walberg as he began his ascent from the subway tunnel up the long escalator tunnel.  When he reached the surface, he stepped into the small plaza to the side of the Hyatt Regency hotel that was bustling with people.

A shoeshine stand on his right held one customer, the last of the day. An older black man snapped his buffing cloth wearily over the shoes of an Asian man in a business suit who sat absorbed by the emails on his Blackberry.  On Walberg’s left, a line of tourists snaked in a half circle waiting to board a cable car which sat on the circular turning platform.  Walberg could hear the rhythmic clackety-clack of the thick cable running underground that pulled the car along its two-mile route.

All around him, scores of excited people streamed ahead.  Many carried blue and white signs stapled to stakes that bore the smiling visage of Andrew Harper.  Others simply carried one or two helium balloons, mostly white and blue but with the occasional pink thrown in.

Walberg let the crowd pull him along.  From his left shoulder hung a cheap backpack, more of a book bag really, with 2 pounds of C-4 plastic, detonators and a battery.  He could arm the bomb in an instant.  He wore the camouflage-style jacket with the wireless detonation switch in the left pocket and the Beretta in his right.  The blue of his Cubs cap was so close to the color adopted by the Harper campaign he might have bought it for the occasion.

Someone was already addressing a growing crowd of at least 2,000 filling Justin Herman Plaza.  At a glance, Walberg could see that it wasn’t Harper.  The sound system was impressive and the speaker’s voice filled the plaza and echoed off the surrounding buildings.

It was someone talking about how to help Harper’s campaign.  Phone bank dates.  Campaign websites.  Yellow Harper Barrels spread all over the plaza for cash donations.  The speaker gave way to someone else.  A Hispanic woman politician.  Someone in Congress.

It was well past 8 p.m.  Dusk was setting but Walberg left his mirrored sunglasses in place.  Bright lights in eight banks surrounded the plaza hung on poles 10 feet high.  It felt like a rock concert – the movement, the noise, the excited energy buzzing through the crowd.  Some just stood and listened to the speaker.  Others wandered, looking for a better view, trying to find their friends or just cruising to eyeball the crowd.  Walberg wandered, too, getting acclimated to the setting.

“Keep moving,” he said to himself, trying to settle down and focus on the task ahead.  “Watch and study.  See the security.  How will they try to stop me?”

The uniformed police were obvious and plentiful.  They ringed the outside of the plaza and had on riot gear.  They wore helmets and visors and carried black riot sticks.  They had on tall, heavy boots and were bulked out to twice their actual size.  A few wandered through the crowd just to remind everyone to be on good behavior.

Walberg was in the middle of the crowd when the music started.  It was a small group – a drummer and two guitarists.  They were singing old folk songs.  Probably a semi-famous group but Walberg didn’t recognize them.  Walberg completed his slow arc from one side of the plaza to the other.  He reversed course and headed back across, angling in so he drew closer to the platform in front.  The police formed an arc in front of the platform – maybe 25 feet out.  They were less obvious, but he spotted the plainclothes cops, too.  He counted six.  Two on the platform, four on the ground.  They stared out. Watchful.  Searching.

Walberg was a third of the way back from the front.  He stared in as the crowd continued to grow.  People were settling into place as the plaza filled.  He watched and waited.

Finally, the musicians left to light applause from the crowd.  Then, a man in a brown suit and with a big voice took over the mike.  He started talking about Harper.  A two-minute biography.  College.  Law school.  Prosecutor.  District Attorney.  Congress.

“He has proven himself in Congress!” said the booming voice.  There was a light cheer in the crowd.

“He has proven himself to the people of San Francisco as their District Attorney!”  A much louder cheer erupted as the crowd got the idea now and reacted to the mention of their city.

“And, he will prove himself as GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA!”  A sustained yell of support and applause.  The blue and white signs were waving and bouncing up and down above the mass of people.

“Finally, Andrew Harper…”

Screams of “Har-per! Har-per!”  from the crowd.

“…will prove to this nation that a gay man can win election in California and PULL … DOWN … ONE MORE … PILLAR … OF HATRED … AND INTOLERANCE!”  A roar built louder and louder with the final dramatic words.

“I bring you…ANDREW HARPER!”

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

You can learn more about Divine Fury on Amazon.

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