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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21. Spark


 

 

 

Franco Dorello, a powerful man who had once lived in the gutter of society. His father Donald was a cashier at Walmart, and his mother Jasmine was a kindergarten teacher. Money was tight, but that was never an obstacle in front of Franco’s ambition. He wasn’t good at school. Franco and books were like opposite charges, repulsive. Not because his mind couldn’t handle all the science and literature, on the contrary. If life was a chess game, he would always win, with the least possible sacrifices.

From a simple janitor at Trinity Hotel at the age of twenty three, to the head of Dorello Hotels twenty years later, owning six branches across the U.S. Franco was considered the star of the business world - the man who made himself from the very bottom, climbing his way up with nails and teeth.

The next day of Franco’s event was on a whole new level. It was like yesterday was just the appetizer. As soon as we entered, we were welcomed by Brahms music - Concerto number 1 D minor op 15 to be exact. The food was fancier. The open buffet was so colorful your eyes could lose sign of what is what – European butter, lobster, Scotch egg, rack of lambs, poached pears.

High ranking officials and rich influential family members attended. It was like the real world was nothing but a theatre, and that event was where the actors can drop off their masks. Judge Marshall was acting all friendly in front of the Anthony Malone, the lord of money laundry operations. Chief Smulders was sitting side by side with Graham Ester, the owner of Ester Casinos and mostly known for his involvements with narcotics.

Amidst all of these golden names, Franco stood at the center, like the king of the castle rallying his people. With a spoon, he tapped on the glass in his right hand. He was going to give his speech.

“Welcome ladies and gentlemen to our beloved home, we are humbled by your presence and wish every one of you a good evening. We all lead such busy life, with work taking most of our time and effort, and we forget to take care of ourselves and especially those who care about us. Those silent knights that operate behind the scenes, worrying about our health and comfort in exchange of their own. For that, I am sorry, my beloved wife, Delilah. You are the peach of my eye and I can’t live without you…”

Look at her smiling back him. It seems we found ourselves the couple of the year.

“But rejoice, from now on, I plan on living my life to the fullest, as nothing can compete with spending time with your beloved ones! Let’s all have a toast for family!” He smiled, showing off the wrinkles on his forehead, and pointing his glass towards his wife.

"For family!" Everybody cheered.

Suddenly, the music changed. This time, it was livelier, 'Can't take my eyes off you' that was its name.

“Let’s all dance. Come on, enjoy!” Said Franco, bowing down asking for his wife’s hand for a dance like a true gentleman.

The lights slowly faded. Everyone held their beloved’s hands and started dancing.

“Look, I might have a plan. Just follow my lead,” Lilith whispered in my ear.

She grabbed my hand and dragged me to the center of the hall. The spotlight was just above us, she laid her hand around my neck, and she looked me in the eyes.

“Dance with me,” she said.

I tenderly held her hand with my right and laid my left on her skinny shoulder. We began our dance with the Waltz. Then, when the music got more energetic, we switched to Tango. We stepped up the pace, our feet were moving in perfect sync like we practiced this dance for a long time. Everybody had their eyes locked on us. The atmosphere got hotter and heavier. Looking at her eyes, I could see her an innocent smile, unlike the deceiving fiend I had saw last night. Suddenly, it was like we were sparkling, illuminating the empty faces around us. Everyone envied us, as we were sharing something ‘real’, something they strived all their lives to achieve.

The music got louder, so we had to answer. We switched to Quickstep. Sweating and out of breath, we were so emerged in the dance, we forgot everyone around us. It was like we were dancing on water, drawing a wonderful painting with each step, and a new feeling began to emerge inside of me. It was something beyond joy and sorrow, something...stimulating.

Finally, the music ended. It was like we returned to reality. I found myself holding her down with my hands, she was looking at me with astonishment. Her eyes never stopped dancing.

The crowd broke the silence with heavy clapping, some of them even had tears in their eyes. My heart couldn’t stop racing. It was the best experience I had in my entire life.

Both Mr. Franco and his wife came right to us. I knew now that this was Lilith’s plan all along. She wanted to dance in front of everyone to steal the attention of our target. Now, the spotlights were all focused on us, and the other attendees faded in the dark.

That performance, that feeling we shared, was it all just an act?

“Oh my goodness! That was a magnificent dance! Darlings, you amazed everyone!” That was Delilah.

“Oh madam, I have to say you are the pearl of this party, you shone splendidly, you stole everyone’s eyes,” said Franco to Lilith.

“Oh, I am so honored, and thank you for inviting us to this wonderful party! But, I must say that these paintings are really beautiful,” said Lilith, faking a smile.

“Now, now, that is all Franco. He was responsible for the decoration,” Delilah replied.

“Oh honey, without you they all count for nothing. If you want Ms…?” Franco asked Lilith.

“Evelyn White, and this is my husband Thomas Clay,” Lilith replied.

“Well Ms. White, I can certainly take you on a tour of the mansion. There are even more unique painting I have to show you,” Franco replied.

“I would love to, but I can’t steal you from all these people,” said Lilith.

“Don’t worry. I won’t take long. Besides, you already stole my attention. That is, of course, if your partner doesn't mind?” Franco said.

“She is all yours. Meanwhile, I will steal your beautiful wife for a dance, that would seem fair,” I replied.

“Oh my! I would love to dance with a fine gentleman like you,” Delilah responded.

Lilith’s plan was going smoothly, now she had access to their bedroom, killing two birds with one stone. Meanwhile, I just had to stall his wife.

“Hey, Ms. Dorello-” I was interrupted.

“Oh no, just call me Delilah.”

“Well, Delilah I, Thomas Clay, will be more than honored to share this dance with you,” I said, stretching my arm.

“Now that’s how a handsome young man invites a woman for a dance!” She took my hand.

“Oh no! Not just any woman. You are the queen of this party, and by the way, that dress looks marvelous on you!”

Don’t know why, but my body is shivering. Why do I have a bad feeling about this?

***

We danced for about ten minutes while sharing small talks – What do you do for a living? How are your parents? For how long have you been married? How did you meet? And the typical questions go on.

During that time, Lilith was already inside the bedroom.

“I want to show you something. Follow me honey,” said Delilah, taking the lead in front of me.

I followed her upstairs. She went for the left said towards the bedroom.

Shit, I have to give Lilith more time, or else we are screwed.

 “Ah, Delilah, with Franco gone you can’t just leave everyone like that, right?” I stopped in my tracks, trying to stall her.

“Don’t worry darling, they are adults - they can take care of themselves, besides, I want to have some fun, don’t you?” She had that nasty look on her face, that what are you hiding look.

Sorry, but I can’t ...I have a wife,” I replied.

That is the only card I can play right now.

She stepped closer to me, “Sweetheart, where do you think your wife is right now? Don’t be naïve, it doesn’t suit you,” she whispered in my ear with a fearful voice.

There is something wrong, I can feel it. I have to check on Lilith!

She opened the bedroom door. My heart was beating fast like the drums of war.

I hope Lilith managed to at least hide the body!

There was Franco, standing at the window. He was waiting for us. Lilith was laying on the bed, immobilized.

“Join us! Don’t be shy, the bed can hold the four of us,” said Franco, approaching Lilith, caressing her face with the top of his fingers.

“You don’t need to ask twice dear, we are coming,” Delilah replied, moving to Franco’s side.

I stood still, lost in a maze of thoughts.

What the fuck is happening?!

 

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