Previously: Chapter 2.1: Fear of Flying
From the air, it’s easy to spot a jumper. They don’t look across the bay at the minor mountains over there. They don’t look at the Bledsoe skyline. They stand on the edge of the railing too long. They look straight down. There’s one every few days. The bridge calls them out. The bridge possibly gives birth to them, crafts them out of its own dark, grimy substance, the way that Sky Lord has crafted his son. Maybe each jumper, like each incarnation of Sky Prince, is another failed attempt at perfection.
Sky Lord caught this one only a couple of yards down, a shifty-eyed old queen, with dyed black hair and a fedora, something right out of Midnight Cowboy. He set him back on the bridge. He shouldn’t have done that. But his mind was elsewhere.
Specifically, he was listening to the goings-on at Crimebuster High School.
“10,000 Little Sisters.”
“That’s Lady Dogface.”
“Yes. I changed my name. I felt that ‘Bitch’ was kind of misogynistic.”
“Lady … Dogface?”
“Like Gaga, you know. Yeah. Lady Dogface.”
“That puts you later in the alphabetical order.”
“Not my problem.”
“(sigh). Lady Dogface.”
The sixteen-wheeler should have stopped two red lights back. There had already been small accidents in its path. One possible death, in a Volvo, of all things. Sky Lord stood in front of the truck, crouched like a catcher behind home plate. He caught the bottom of the chromed-out grille, lifted it and let the truck, briefly, keep shooting past him, running him over as it bent into the sky. Once he was personally in the middle of the bottom of the truck, he grabbed a serious hold with both hands, and flew it into the air. It cramped his fingers a little, holding it the way he was holding it, so he tossed it away from him and caught it again, holding it differently. Ah. Much better. Possibly the driver was drunk, or tweaking, or asleep. But wait. No. There was no driver. Sky Lord looked more closely with his X-ray vision. The driver was in the passenger-seat floorboard, dead — probably a heart attack. Sky Lord set the truck down at a nearby rest area. He took a minute to use the facilities. He called an ambulance, even though he knew it was too late.
“Hhhhhhhh. Sssss. Hrrrrr.”
Assorted nasty giggles.
“Hhhhhhhhere. Ahem. Here.”
Sky Lord caught the old queen a second time, just before he hit the water. This time, he had a parasol, Mary Poppins style. Sky Lord dropped him off on the city-side bank of the bay, at the piers, among the tacky Midwestern tourists. He was beginning to think that this was not a serious suicide.
“Dude. Be nice to that guy. He’s the son of Sky Lord.”
“Seriously? That guy? That is so unfair.”
“A creep like that. He doesn’t deserve to to be the son of Sky Lord.”
Sky Lord put out a warehouse fire. He saved a kitten from a deep hole. He corrected an accountant’s error which would have caused a stock market crash in three months’ time. He found a professional bowler’s contact lenses, which had fallen out at the concession stand. He saved the bridge-jumping old queen again, took him to the hospital this time.
“Sky Prince! Why are you telling people I’m your girlfriend?”
“I’m not telling people that.”
“Well you are my girlfriend.”
“I am not your girlfriend.”
“You’re my friend, and you’re a girl.”
“That’s not my name anymore.”
Sky Lord saved the old queen one last time. On their way to the hospital (he couldn’t think of anywhere else to drop him off), he broke his legs. He just put them right over his knee, one at a time, and broke them. That would keep him away from the bridge for a little while, anyway.
“Who said I said that?”
“The new kid. The Snake-Boy.”
“I heard he’s dangerous.”
“Dangerous? Don’t be silly. He’s a sweetheart. He saved your hide that last time SerpenTerrorist attacked!”
“Oh. Um. Yeah. I — yeah, I remember.”
“You don’t sound like you remember.”
“Whatever. Maybe I forgot. Leave me alone.”
“Hey! I’m the one that’s supposed to be mad at you! Hey! Where are you going?”
Back home, at the Eyrie, Sky Lord waited in his imaginary chair in the main gallery. The body of his wife, in her cryogenic chamber, glowed and hummed beside him. He liked to greet the boy like this in the evenings, after school, with her at his elbow. Gave a sense of family and stability, he thought. Behind him, the as-yet-unused Sky Prince bodies hung on their rotating rack like unclaimed clothing at the dry cleaner’s.
Sky Prince opened the vast front door of the Eyrie like some rude beast, slouchily. He slammed the door shut behind him, as usual. He walked toward his dad.
“How was your day at school, son?”
Sky Prince walked past his dad.
Sky Prince went into his room. He slammed the door shut behind him, as usual.
“I know you are listening,” he whispered.
Next: First Flight