The hit man was down, but the ordeal wasn’t over over. Another of the innocents would die. Divine Fury.

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A VG Serial: Divine Fury

Chapter 75

“OH, HELL!” SAID Det. Bobbie Connors.  She turned and looked urgently around the cathedral.  She knew there were a couple of officers assigned to the event, more for crowd control than anything else. Where the hell were they?  She guessed they were outside the church helping deal with latecomers.

“We need reinforcements,” she said.  “I’ll be right back.”  Connors headed toward a side exit of the cathedral at a brisk walk.  She had a cell phone out and pressed to her ear as she went out the door.

Enzo Lee went back to where he’d been standing before, just behind the last pew.  His eyes ran up the rows of benches.  There were 20 or more.  Perhaps 30 people in each row.  Maybe 600 or 700 people.  He could only see them from the back or the side in the case of the people at the far ends of the rows.  If Walberg had had an accomplice, which one could it be?

Brent Daggart sat on the center aisle, ten rows from the front.  He hadn’t showered, shaved or changed out of his blue track suit since the previous day.

Daggart had been a half block away when the bomb went off at the parade.  The shockwave washed over him and he had closed his eyes.  The hubbub of the parade vanished and it was eerily silent.  It only lasted two or three seconds but felt longer, a moment of grace Daggart wished would never end.  He said a silent prayer:  “Oh my God.  Help me.”

Then, reality returned – the falling glass, the screams, the utter pandemonium.  He  watched Walberg go for Harper amid the confusion as they had planned, using the bomb as a diversion.  It was as if a movie unfolded in front of him.  Walberg went down in the gunfire and his Beretta slid across the asphalt to Daggart’s feet as if offering itself to him.  Still numb, Daggart bent down, picked it up and put the gun in his pocket.  Then, he turned and walked away from the carnage.

The traditional opening of the Trinity Cathedral service – the prayers, readings of the scriptures and several more hymns including some sung by the entire congregation – was finished now.  The female pastor solemnly introduced Andrew Harper who was sitting in the front row.  The audience remained silent as Harper walked up the stairs to the raised front of the church and took his place behind the pulpit.  He wore a dark gray suit, white shirt and dark blue tie.

“I would like us all to observe a moment of silence,” he began. “Say a prayer if you’d like…to remember William Chung, Nancy Foster, Raymond Curtis, Tina Valdez…and Steven Walberg who were taken from us yesterday.”

Harper closed his eyes and dropped his head.  Lee saw the rest of the audience copy Harper.  Then he saw a man toward the front of the congregation stand up shakily, steady himself by grabbing the pew in front of him, and start walking down the carpeted center aisle.  He looked disheveled.  His hair was uncombed and he wore a tracksuit.  He had a tired, plodding gait.

Lee started walking down the aisle and watched Daggart ahead of him as he reached into the pocket of his tracksuit and pulled out a gun.  He pointed it at Harper as he reached the end of the aisle.  Harper opened his eyes, saw Daggart and closed them again, tilting his head up toward the vaulted ceiling.  He raised his hands to his waist, palms up.

Daggart stopped in front of Harper.  He looked uncertain.  His arm wavered.

Lee was half of the way down the aisle.

“Open your eyes,” commanded Daggart.

“Forgive him, Lord,” said Harper, barely audible to the congregation, his closed eyes still pointing skyward.

Lee picked up speed but tried to move quietly.  He sensed Daggart’s uncertainty and didn’t want to panic him into squeezing the trigger.

“Open your eyes,” said Daggart again.

“Forgive him, Lord,” said Harper, a little louder this time.

“Open your eyes.  I don’t need your forgiveness!”

Harper opened his eyes and stared straight at Daggart.  Lee saw a uniformed policeman off to his right.  He had his weapon out and was running from the side in front of the congregation.  But he was too far away.

Lee was almost on him.  He aimed for the middle of his back.  He took his final two steps at a run and lowered his shoulder.  At the last moment, he saw someone fly into Harper and knock him out of the way.  Lee heard the gun go off as he hit Daggart and then they were on the floor.  Daggart was splayed out flat and Lee was lying on top.  Lee found his gun arm and held it down.  He felt another body fall hard on him and more hands on top of his.  Then, more bodies and weight.  Lee lost his grip and he was just trying to keep from getting crushed by the scrum.

He heard screaming, shouting, cursing.

After a while, Lee felt the press of the bodies on top of him lessen.  They were being peeled off, like a pile of players in a football game being separated one by one.

“All right, sir,” someone said to him and he felt his arm being grabbed to help him stand.  “We’ve got the weapon.  It’s okay now.”

Lee rolled off Daggart and saw Bobbie Connors down on the floor next to him.  Four uniformed officers held Daggart down as they searched him for more weapons.  Lee saw a cluster of people on the raised platform at the front of the church where Harper had been standing.  He stood up and offered his hand to Connors who took it and got up on her knees.

“What took you?” said Lee.

“That was an impressive move, Mister Lee,” said Connors.  “The 49ers could use you.”

“Oh no!” she said. Connors was looking up now at the raised platform.

Through a gap in the people on the edge of the platform, Lee saw Harper sitting with his back toward him.  Harper rocked back and forth.  He hugged Harry Blount whose head hung back, his mouth open.  His lifeless eyes stared at the ceiling of the cathedral.

“Harry…Harry…Harry…” Andrew Harper whispered.  “Harry…Harry…Harry.”  He repeated it over and over like a solemn chant.

 

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

You can learn more about Divine Fury on Amazon.

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