The Real Demon

One acts like a savage. The other goes beyond expectations.

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1. To Be or to Act

His fist launches at Duke. He packs a brutal hurl, his knuckles connecting the jawline with a sickening click.

     Duke's head spins back, his neck twisting in a swift angle, a bruise burning his cheek. He staggers, his wobbly feet caving in, stunned.         

     This is his chance.         

     King advances forward, seizes Duke by the shoulders with a white-knuckled grip, and knees him in the stomach. Duke lets out a startled gasp from the winding blow. He drops down like a sack, his back hunched forward, his head wilting from critical impact. Then, he collapses. He falls to the pavement, slumping in defeat alongside his shattered reputation as the most menacing in the neighborhood.         

     He isn't anymore.         

     King is now.        

The mob of witnesses that had gathered around them, that had been reveling in the final showdown, roar with wild hollers and hoots.

       Gambles and bets are sealed and confirmed. Wads of fat bills are exchanged and shuffled amongst the buzzing swarm. The money King had just gained will be delivered to him sometime tomorrow, as always. That's how business works.

         Adrenaline rushes in King's temples, coursing throughout his entire body with electrical energy. He bites down on his lower lip, tasting iron from a fresh cut. Aches throb in his muscles, crying out with agony. His black eye, which he had earned two fights earlier, twitches. He doesn't acknowledge any of the pain. Instead, he stalks off unnoticed. He ditches the occupied crowd and the murky alleyway, leaving behind everything.

         They call him Demon King.

       King's nickname sends ominous thrills in those who know it. Rumors, laced with intimidation and threat, circulate around his infamous status. He's a celebrity in these parts. An ice-cold, savage-like, and cruel celebrity.

         When King returns to his dingy trailer home, he slams the door behind him and throws himself onto a worn-out leather armchair. The air reeks of tobacco. The refrigerator hums with life, interfering with silence. The only light source that penetrates through the darkness draping over him is the blue television screen glaring bright in his eyes. Someone must have forgotten to switch it off.

         A door hinge creaks in the distance. Heavy strides approach, the clacks of formal shoes closing in on him. He knows who it is.

         Eugene Hampton enters the scene. His tuxedo, crisp and pressed, is a sharp contrast to the dull environment. His platinum blond hair is slicked back, both sides of his head shaved. His face creases with a typical frown upon setting fiery hazel eyes on King. "You always come here looking like this."

         Exasperation echoes in his voice. Whatever scant sympathy he had before has been sucked away after half a year of living with King as a roommate and - though he wouldn't admit it - friend.

       Though a man who is fond of uptight complaints, Eugene paid to lodge in King's trailer in between random time intervals. Eugene travels often and he needs a place to stash belongings that aren't transportable with each trip, a place that didn't involve transferring from hotel to hotel. The men had shared an adequate negotiation with Eugene's fickle living arrangements. Eugene can crash at any time, as long as he contributes to purchasing basic necessities in the trailer home.

         "Do you expect me to come here wearing a suit like you or something?" King spits, his good eye narrowing into a beady slit. "I'm in the street fighting business. What d'ya expect me to do?"

         Eugene doesn't reply. Instead, he snatches the remote off the table and flicks the television off. He faces King with a stare that says it all.

         "I'm not quitting the business," King says, a faint and half-hearted defiance, but still a defiance nonetheless.        "Never said you had to quit. Do what you want. I have to visit home tonight anyway. Got some matters to tend to." Eugene speaks without giving a crap. Without another word, he settles on the sofa beside King. He fishes through his pockets, grabs his handy box of cigarettes, takes one, and gives one to King. Not offer, gives.

         King takes it. He mutters his thanks before adjusting the cigarette in between his fingertips. "I know you have a lighter," he says, stating rather than asking.

         Eugene responds by whipping out a sultan silver lighter. He triggers the flame with a flick of his thumb and sets his ablaze. He allows for the fire to dance longer, waiting for King's turn before he can seal it shut.

         After that, King sets it to his mouth, draws in a long drag, and lets the smoke furl out from his cracked lips in a puffy fog. He stares at the ghost-like substance hanging heavy in the air, amused. Eugene mirrors him in simultaneous timing. The hazy orange embers of their cigarettes glow among the bleak shades of gray and black furnishings that garnish the trailer home.

       They linger in compatible solitude, soaking it all in while sucking casual drags in between. No words are swapped, they are not necessary. Finally, Eugene leans forward to put an end to his cigarette. Slowly, he rises to his feet, standing.

       "I might be back tomorrow, if not the day after," Eugene informs. "My bags are already near the door."

       "I get this place all to myself then." King slings a casual arm across the sofa.

       Eugene's eyes morph as black as night. A set of jagged horns jut out from his scalp. His peach skin shifts with a red as dark as blood. Stubby wings that match in color sprout out from his shoulder blades with an abrupt jerk, arching his back to the side from the effect.

      King witnesses the transformation taking place before him. He wears a blank expression, already accustomed to it. "Hope you have a hell of a time."

       Eugene smirks, his lips spread crooked. "I always do." With that, he strides away to the portal that awaits him through the door.

         King cranes his neck forward, watches him slide into another realm through a purple vortex that had been summoned by mental command. He is alone now. He gazes off into empty air, continuing to savor the cancer stick in between his fingers.

         There are two demons living with each other, and one of them is the real one. 

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