The security guard was only doing his job when he died. Divine Fury. Chapter 27

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Chapter 27

Tuesday, May 18, 2004
1355 miles to San Francisco

THE GRANITE QUARRY was eight miles off Highway 471, west of Thomson Falls deep in the mountains of northwest Montana.  In the dark, with his headlights off the last two miles, Walberg could scarcely remember the drive up Robertson Gulch Road although he’d probably made it more than 50 times.

He had worked at the quarry for the summer three years after his discharge from the army driving one of their smaller trucks.  It was one of the five jobs he’d had since his return to Montana.  Like the others, it hadn’t lasted long and ended in an angry argument with no one really sure whether he had quit first or been fired.  Finally, once it became clear that the amount of disability he received together with his inheritance from his parents would more than cover his bills for the foreseeable future, Walberg had just stopped looking for a sixth job.

He parked the Blazer a quarter mile down the road.  He locked the truck and headed up armed with a flashlight, crowbar and a Beretta 92F semiautomatic with hollow point rounds in the magazine.

It was a little after 1:30 am, still cold enough at that elevation to be near freezing.  He was wearing an olive-green camouflage jacket he had bought at K-Mart.  He’d made sure the pockets were large enough to hold the flashlight and gun.  He’d recalled that security was minimal, just chains, a couple of Masterlock padlocks and a flimsy locked doorknob or two.

The chain-link gates that blocked the roadway were locked with a thick chain and a padlock.  He couldn’t leverage the crowbar against anything solid.  Finally, he just slid the crowbar underneath and climbed over the gate.  His body armor made it a little awkward but he went over next to one of the side posts and held it for stability.

Once inside, it was a short walk to a small wood frame structure that held some of the smaller tools and instruments at the site.  The exterior door was padlocked but quick work with the crowbar pried out the part of the latch screwed into the door frame.  Once inside, he spotted the cabinet with the explosives immediately.  It took 30 seconds to pry open the door.  Four white blocks of C-4 plastic explosive sat inside a shoebox-sized carton lined with plastic.  He took the whole box.

He knew the fuses and detonators were kept in another cabinet in an inner room.  That one was just as easy to break open.  He stuffed a handful of detonators and a variety of fuses into his pockets.

Walberg had learned the basics about explosives during Ranger training.  He learned more just by talking with the others in his unit who had specialized in explosives while he was concentrating on sniper training.  He’d been surprised at how lackadaisical the explosives’ storage had been at the quarry. The operation probably violated dozens of safety regulations.  But he was happy now that they were so lax.  It made what he was doing tonight easy.

He crammed the box of C-4 under the gate before he climbed back over.  It barely fit.  As he balanced at the top of the gate, he heard a motor straining up the grade. He was still standing in front of the gate when he was fully caught in the glare from the headlights.  He barely had time to pull out the flashlight and the Beretta, and turn so the gun in his right hand was hidden.

After a few seconds, a red flashing light came on over the idling vehicle.  Based on the sound of the motor, and what was visible behind the headlights, he guessed it was a small SUV.  The lone red light was nothing compared to the light show a normal police car puts on.  It was probably private security.  The driver likely patrolled a shopping mall and used his gun every three months at a range.  Walberg must have triggered a silent alarm that led to the security check.

Walberg heard the door open, then the pulsating sound of heavy metal that was silenced when the door closed with a solid click.

“Hey.  What are you doing here?” said a voice.  He was young, maybe still a teenager.  And he was scared.

Walberg switched on the flashlight and pointed it toward the car.  He could see the guard wearing a thick jacket over a white shirt.  He was even wearing a tie.  The kid put his hand in front of his face, trying to block out the glare from Walberg’s flashlight.

Walberg began walking toward him, keeping his gun hand hidden.

“Hey.  Who are you?  What are you doing?” said the young guard, even more concerned  now.  “Ummm.  Stop walking toward me.  You better stay where you are.”

Walberg continued moving toward the SUV.  He was 50 feet away.  He kept the flashlight steady in the eyes of the guard.  He could see him better now.  His hands empty and at his sides.

“Stop walking!  Stop walking!” yelled the guard.  His voice cracked with the panic.  Walberg was only 20 feet away.  He could see the guard clearly, his upper body above the hood of the car.  He was skinny, wore glasses and had curly hair.  “Stay where you are!”

He struggled to pull out his gun as Walberg took his last three steps.  It wasn’t close.  Walberg was five feet from the SUV when he lifted his gun hand.  With arms outstretched, pointing flashlight and Beretta at the guard, Walberg shot him three times in the chest.

“Oh God,” the kid said as he went down.

Walberg hesitated.  He thought about checking.  But he knew he’d caught the kid square in the chest with the hollow points.  He wasn’t going anywhere soon.

He turned around, walked back to the gate and retrieved the box of C-4 on the ground.  Then, he headed down the road back to his Blazer.

“Collateral damage, Ron,” said Walberg as he passed the still-flashing red light and re-entered the darkness. “Collateral damage.”

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

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