The Hollow and The Saint

"The world we live in is no different from Hell; there are those who are tortured by the fire, there are demons who carry out orders, and then, of course, there is the devil himself. Well, I plan on turning hell into heaven."

Wounded, heartbroken with a hollow void filling down his soul, Logan Hayz is lying down on the ground, in front of him the corpse of his son, with a bullet stuck in his skull painting such beauty on his face. A bullet fired from the same Glock pistol Logan is holding in his right hand. Blood covering his left mechanical arm giving it an exquisite look with the rust of steel. Water drops touching down his flabby skin, in one eye he can see the past along with all the hardships and sufferings he had to endure to achieve his ultimate dream of creating the perfect world. In the other, he saw the reason he pursued that dream, Elizabeth Rose, his long-lost beloved.


Cover by INFINITE_EXHO

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16. Identity

 The moment that door, I felt as if I was standing on the fence between two different worlds. The one that I desperately try to protect, the other is the one that badly I try to avoid.

"Hey Eli...umm can you get me a set of your clothes?" I asked, standing in the middle between Emily and Elizabeth.

"Mine? Why? Don't tell me you finally surrendered to your feminine side?" She replied, sarcastically.

"Uh, no? When did I ever showed any feminine side?"

"Well, you cook better than any girl I know. Gosh! Even the thought of it made me hungry, can you believe that?" She rubbed her tummy.

Emily bursted into laughter, and Elizabeth noticed her presence.

“Ah, mind telling me who this is? My little ears are picking up some giggling nearby," Elizabeth asked.

"Sorry, I didn't introduce you. Eli this is Emily, she is an old friend from when I was at The Doctor mansion, Emily this is Elizabeth, my childhood friend and also... my criticizer."

“Hey Emily! I hope that Logan here didn't bother you, he can be a troll sometimes," she greeted while criticizing me, again.

"Eli, the clothes maybe?"

"Oh right! Sorry, I will be back in a sec," she went to her apartment.

"She can't see, right? I mean I am naked and she didn't even flinch," Emily tightened the towel around her chest.

"Yes, otherwise she would have freaked out."

"Are you two... is she your girlfriend? Why aren't you two living together?"

"What-”

"Forgot to ask you, is a long yellow skirt with Mary Jane shoes okay?" Elizabeth returned barely ten seconds after she left.

"Anything is fine, thanks!" Emily replied.

"Okay....going for it," Elizabeth said before closing the door.

"See! She is absolutely jealous! She came back to check on us. You can't deny anything now!" Emily asserted.        

"First of all, that’s none of your business, I’ve barely known you for three hours, for fuck sake. Secondly, no, she is not jealous, and no, she is not my girlfriend. Happy now?" I sat on the couch, trying to hold my temper.

"Okay! Okay! Sheesh, hold your breath... but you know what?" She stood behind me, “That’s good to hear, because I don’t like sharing,” she whispered into my ear.    

Elizabeth returned, with a set of cloth in her hands.

"Here is your clothes, I hope they are not too small for you."

"No, they are perfect, I will change in a sec," Emily went to change in the bathroom.

"Hey, why does she needs clothes? And when do you even have friends? And a girl at that?" Elizabeth stood in front of me, her right hand on her waist, and gesturing with her left.

"Why do you care? And what is that 'friends' thing? You know I just don't get along with people, that doesn't mean I don't have a few friends... here and there..." I retorted uncertainly.

"Well, just saying. I thought maybe you need the room alone, if that's the case, then I should give you some space..."

"No, we don't need the room. And no! I don't need you to give us some space. Seriously, women have such complicated minds, even NASA can’t understand your chain of thoughts," I seethed.

"So, how do I look?" Emily asked after getting out.

"Nice, I guess" I replied.

"'Nice, I guess.' Shame on you! Is that the way you talk to a lady?" Elizabeth scolded.

"Oh! You look so fabulous my dear the way it touches your sweet, white skin is so breathtaking I can't take my eyes off you! ... Is that fine? Or you want more?" I said in a high-pitched imitation of a woman.

"Jeez! You don't have to sound like a prick while saying it," Emily scoffed.

"So how long will you be staying in town, Emily?" Elizabeth asked.

 

And just like that, the mood changed. It was like we switched from a comedic movie to a drama.

"I will leave at once. There is something I must attend to before leaving town." Emily said, her head down.

Why? Ten minutes ago she wanted to stay.

"Sorry to hear that, Logan rarely brings friends home. I really wanted to know you,” Elizabeth words were sincere.

“Emily can I talk with you outside?”

I took Emily out the apartment, and walked her down the stairs.

“Mind asking you what is that thing you want to take care off?” I asked.

“Don’t worry, I am not going on a suicide mission to rescue some whore I just met on the street. I just want to get my passport back.”

“Passport? I thought you were smuggled?”

“I am talking about my Russian passport. I need it to get out of this country.”

“And where is that passport exactly?”

“It’s with George.”

I stopped midway on the second floor.

“So your plan is to go to George and ask him for your passport?” I asked.

“That’s about it,” she stood in front of me, arms crossed.

“Emily, this isn’t funny.”

“For fuck sake! I can’t get back to George after what you did, and I can’t get out of the city! Sorry but I am all out of options right now!” She yelled, her hands swinging left and right.

“Come with me,” I responded calmly.

“What? Where?”

“You want your passport or not?”

“So you’re going to George?!”

“What time is it?” I forgot my watch back home.

“It should be around 10:30 p.m.”

“Perfect.”

***

Dillion Cooper, a brilliant painter who was once considered to be a prodigy of his time during the 1940’s at the age of twenty three. Just when he was about to enter the spotlights in the world of arts, a Selena Hodge accused Dillion of attempted murder and rape. The bright artist was sentenced for twenty years, ending his promising career. Nine years later, Selena withdrew her prosecution, announcing to the public that Dillion was innocent, and she only accused him because he refused to marry her. Later on, it was found that Selena had her own problems, ranging from drugs addiction to unstable mental health.

A freeman, Dillion’s career was already gone. A black stain in the art world is a ban for life. With his faith gone, Cooper had gone from straight to every direction. Using his extraordinary skills for art, Dillion became the most famous paper forger in Steely Hollow. The renowned prodigy of the underground world.

His shop was two blocks away from my apartment. So Emily and I walked our way to his gallery. It was open 24/7, but his real job begins after 10:00 p.m.

“Dillion Copper?” I asked the man behind the counter.

“Yes, how can I help you?” Cooper was reading an art magazine.

“I need a U.S passport.”

He raised his head from the magazine, carefully examining our faces.

“Sorry, wrong place my friend,” he went back to his magazine.

Emily looked at me, hope deprived from her eyes.

I guess there is no other way.

I took off my coat, unbuttoned my shirt, and held my left arm high, showing off the serial number carved on my armpit. Dillion’s eyes open wide, he stood up and went directly to the door on the left.

“Where did he go?” Emily asked.

“To check on our identities,” I replied, putting my cloth back on.

“But we didn’t even mention our names yet.”

“I already did.”

“Okay, Mr. Hollow, please tell me your full name,” Dillion asked, holding a pen in his left and a book in his right.

“You already have a codename, isn’t that enough?”

“Sorry, but that’s how I do business. Even for guys like you, I can’t let it pass.”

“Logan Hayz.”

“Do you want the passport under the name of Logan?”

“No, the passport is actually for her,” I put my left hand on Emily’s shoulder.

“Oh, so miss, you can choose whatever name you want. You can think of it as fresh start,” Dillion said scratching his chin.

“Emily…Emily Price,” Emily said, after giving it some thought.

“Emily it is. Come, let me take a picture of you inside.”

“Dillion, when will the passport be ready?” I asked.

“Come back next week.”

“Next week?! It’s urgent, I need the passport tomorrow!” I said with my hands on the table and my body leaned forward.

“Usually I take two grand for a passport. If you can give me three, I can move you up the list. It will take two days, though,” he scratched the top his head.

“Deal, here is two hundred dollars, that’s all I have on me right now. Monday I will come back with the rest.”

“But Logan, that’s too much! I can’t pay you that much!” Emily held tightly to my left forearm.

I looked her right hand and said, “That bracelet, give it to me.”

She took it off and hand it to me without question.

“I bought this bracelet for three thousand dollars. Now we’re even,” I put the bracelet inside my pocket.

Her eyes welled in tears, squeezing her face in to my chest, holding tight to my coat with both hands. She was quite shorter than me. And despite her age, she had a good grip. I laid my right hand behind her head, feeling off silky hair, which was a little greasy for my touch.

“As much as I like to paint your intimate moment, but I have to take a picture of Ms. Emily for the passport,” Dillion said, scratching his left ear this time.

I wiped the tears from her eyes. Her face was pale, so I pinched her cheeks to give that reddish look. Then I fixed her hair, turning both sides behind her ears.

I don’t know I pinched her too hard, but her face was flaming red. She wouldn’t even look me in the eyes. So I went down to her level and said,

“Look at me, you can trust me Emily, everything will be alright.”

And just like that, a smile shined on her face. Illuminating a little corner inside my heart. I felt alive as ever.

***

After we returned home, Emily spent the night at Elizabeth’s. The next day was Sunday, which meant no work for Eli, so I took the girls down the market for a change of air.

I don’t know if it is just an act, but, the two of them became friends really fast. I was like their servant, they were dragging me to every store, making me carry all their belongings, and even made fun of me along the way.

I am an assassin for the most dangerous organization in the world, yet here I am being abused by two girls.

During the way, I noticed Emily acting funny. It was like she was monitoring our every movement, and I wondered why. While Elizabeth was talking to Ms. Anderson in the phone booth, I was having a cigarette in the corner when Emily came up right beside me.

"Can I have a puff?" Emily asked.

"Yeah sure."

"You know, I think now I understand."

"Understand what?" She gave back my cigarette

"You two, are like the two faces of the same coin. Like the sun and the moon, like black and white, the hollow and the saint."

"Wow, when did you become so philosophical? Did the cigarette do this to you?" I retorted.

"That is why you can't share the same feelings as her. You both love each other like no one else, I don't know how to explain it...but your love is different than hers."

I was surprised at how much thought Emily put into it. She described our relationship so perfectly.

 But why so much focus on us? Wait! Is this about...?

"Emily, about last night… I don't know what you thought, but, I can't be the man you want me to be. You see, I am not a good person, I-"

"Say no more, I think I know the answer, or maybe I knew it all along but chose to deny it instead… Nah! Let's just enjoy ourselves! Life is too short to be wasted on small talk!" She slapped on an enthusiastic voice and a fake smile.

After all she’s been through, and all the bad things I made her do last night, Emily still had a sparkle of light inside her heart. She chose to carry on with her life, like a true survivor, just like Elizabeth. She refused to succumb to the darkness. And yet, I was trying to steal that light from her when I forced her against her will to hurt that guy in the alley.

Shame on me.

“Logan, you don’t have to be alone, it’s not too late for you yet,” said Emily, out of the blue.

"Hey! I am done. Come on, let's get moving. I am getting tired, you know!" Yelled Elizabeth after finishing her phone call.

“Come on, let’s get back home.”

***

After a long day, we returned home. On the way, my mind was trying to wrap up what happened today. I couldn’t shake off this disturbing feeling inside my heart. Suddenly, everything in front of me was all dark and gloomy.

 What is wrong with me? I doubt I will be able to sleep tonight.

It was around 8 p.m. and I was about to enter my apartment. I realized the door was half open. Someone was still inside.

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