Afflictions: Part Fourteen

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Bottles clinked together, as Jude switched which hand he carried a paper bag in. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and sighed. He’d honestly be pretty happy to get out of St. Louis. Between the sun and the air pollution, he was feeling pretty bad, but Zoey was excited so he couldn’t bring himself to bail. He just had to tough it out. He’d already stopped by Ashen Brews for Arte, so all that was left was the gateway arch, and then he could go sleep.

“Didn’t know Arte was into fancy beers.” Guillermo held out his hand, offering to take the bag, and Jude obliged.

“Yeah, now that I think about it, she talked a little about it before, but I guess she just hasn’t had the budget for it until lately.” Jude thought for a moment. Things had actually been good lately. They’ve had time and money for hobbies, and nobody was really fighting. Paul had been acting off, but it had really become a given that somebody is always acting a little off. Jude had asked if there was anything Paul wanted, but he said he had everything he needed. He’d asked Arte to keep an eye on him, so he’d probably be fine.

“I try to stay away from the stuff, really. Every now and then I’ll indulge, but I don’t have good taste anyways, so the cheap stuff does fine for me.”

“I think I’m the same way, more or less.” Jude nodded.

“Hey, look at that!” Zoey got their attention, and pointed off at a building.

On the side of what looked like an apartment complex, someone had spray painted a giant red smiling face with horns. It had to be at least 20 feet tall. Jude was actually a little impressed. Not for its quality, it was pretty simple, but since it was so tall, that meant that either someone brought out a ladder to paint this, or a super did it.

“Wow, wonder how they pulled that off.” Guillermo nodded.

They walked a few blocks more, and were finally at the gateway arch. Hundreds of people milled around, and slowly moved towards the entrance. The arch itself towered over everything, and was more impressive than Jude had thought it would be.

“Its huge!” Zoey exclaimed, running forwards. Jude caught a glimpse of her massive smile and laughed a little.

“No kidding.” Jude nodded.

They made their way towards the entrance, and filed into the queue. After about ten minutes, they finally reached the security checkpoint. Jude looked down the list of things you weren’t allowed to bring in. Firearms, knives over four inches, alcoholic beverages, and a sign he didn’t recognize. He knew one of them would have to wait outside with Arte’s drinks, but he looked closer and saw that it said ‘No Supers Allowed’. He looked up at the woman running the checkpoint in disbelief.

“How is that legal?” He pointed at the sign.

“Sorry, sir. Those are the rules.” She looked a little worried.

“You’re blocking people out on something they can’t control!” His anger boiled over, and his eyes flashed white.

“Supers are considered to be always armed by the state of Missouri.” She reached her hand under her desk.

Jude could see where this was going. He took a deep breath, sighed, and turned to Guillermo. “You guys go in. I’ll wait outside. One of us would’ve had to wait with the drinks anyways.” He reached out his hand for the bag.

“But-” Zoey started.

“No honey, he’s right. One of us would’ve had to wait with the drinks anyways.” He handed Jude the drinks, and ushered Zoey forwards.

Guillermo placed the contents of his pockets in a basket, and stepped forwards through the x-ray scanner. It was marked with the logo of ‘Syngenuity’. Once he passed through, the woman waited a moment, then slid him the basket of his things. He filled his pockets, and Zoey stepped forwards. She placed her bag in the basket, and stepped through the detector. It began to beep loudly, as she passed through to the other side.

“Sorry ma’am, you’ll have to wait outside.” The woman said, reaching under the desk again.

“C’mon, she’s just a kid!” Guillermo looked off to the side, and noticed the security personelle approaching. He sighed, grabbed Zoey’s bag, and went back out of the entrance.

Jude was considerably more pissed off than he’d been since he got into that fight with Mr. Smith. He started to say something, but saw Zoey’s crushed expression. He took a deep breath and sighed. Angry Jude was not going to help anything here, and would most definitely make things worse.

“Sorry, kiddo.” Guillermo rubbed her shoulder.

“That’s a stupid law…” Zoey sat down in the grass, and looked up at the arch.

Jude thought for a moment. “Hey, so I know you wanted to go up into the arch, but how would you feel about just getting a good look at the city from up near it?”

“What do you mean?” She looked over to him.

“Well, I can fly.” It was probably a little risky, but if he went up and didn’t spend too long up there, he figured nobody would call the cops or anything. They might need to make a prompt exit after that, but he doubted anything too bad would happen.

“Can we?” Her disappointment immediately turned back into excitement, as she looked towards her dad.

“Well, if Jude can safely carry you, then I don’t see why not. Give me your bags.” He held out his hands, took their bags, and sat down.

Jude held out his arms, and picked Zoey up. It was a little uncomfortable, but he couldn’t really let Zoey not do the one thing she asked to do on the way, if he could help it. He gently lifted off, and rose up into the sky. He looked around, and it didn’t look like anyone on the ground was panicking, so that was a good sign. After about half a minute of slow ascent, he was at about the same height as the arch. The city really was impressive, but he definitely preferred Atlanta. He looked out at all of the roads, the buildings, the boats on the river, and the park surrounding the arch.

“Wow!” Zoey looked down over his shoulder.

“Pretty impressive.” Jude smiled. He still preferred Atlanta, but he was happy to make Zoey happy.


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Happy Pride traveler! I just released an album! Here’s all my links. You can also find it under the music tab in my navigation bar. I’m not sure exactly how much I’m going to do with this, but I had fun making it. If you’re here for my writing, don’t worry. I will still be uploading Earth 2, I’m just doing a little bit of rebranding as I combine more projects with this blog.

This does mean that there is now a way to directly financially support me! Just buy or stream my album! I’m going to look at a few things this weekend. I still have aspirations to set up a patreon and a kofi/paypal link or something, but I’m slightly busy right now, so don’t hold out hope for the patreon.

Photo Credit: Original

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