17. The Artist
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Luke was the name given to him, or rather he’d like to think that he had chosen it. It was originally the name of the teddy bear given to Lucca by Patricia. But there’s more significance to the name. Though he was not given life at the time, he had come to know them through Lucca’s memories. Memories that are repressed by him for all the dark secrets that the Codrin family had hidden deep in their nest.

 

“It was a lie, you know? It wasn’t me who killed Lucca’s mother. I couldn’t have. I didn’t come to life just yet back then. Lucca ‘made’ me when we were in the institution. So, it’s impossible for me to have had killed her,” Luke suddenly spoke after taking in a few bite of his food. They’re sitting at the café which is attached to the hotel. They sat by the window overlooking the sea. Luke can hear the sound of the waves crashing to the sand but he pays no heed to it. He is not as excited as Lucca over the discovery of the beach. He had grown accustomed not to be attached or excited to anything.

 

Caleb shoots a look straight into Luke’s eyes as he heard him. His face appears uncaring. “Then, did Lucca kill her?” He asked nonchalantly.

 

Luke merely sighs at first in answer and continues to chew on his food. “I’m not sure,” he lied. He knew of the truth since so long ago but that is not important for Caleb to know. “Lucca’s memories are distorted. Partly I think it was because of that damn psychiatrist though. I loathe that old man.” Luke’s face turns sour at the memory of Dr. Neilson. That man is corrupted down to the core and he had been using his skills as a psychiatrist to manipulate and experiment on his patients. Luke despises that kind of person the most. Those who abuse their power.

 

He then looks back at Caleb only to realize that Caleb had been watching him all the while when he was talking and enjoying his food. He only started to entertain his food again when he’s been found out, still, pretty much uncaringly. “Caleb, what are you expecting out of this?” Luke asked despite of him already knowing the answer. He knew that Caleb wanted Lucca or just both of them. He knew that Caleb looks for a connection due to his broken self. He looks for another broken soul as a companion. “You know, Lucca’s feelings for his father is unsurpassable. It was something special to him. I don’t know if what he feels for you could overcome his love for his father or not but that bond they had, it’s almost impossible to break, you know,” Luke stated, testing Caleb’s endurance.

 

“I don’t actually have any plan. Keep on running, maybe? Keep on hiding?” Caleb was quick to answer, appearing not to care but that quick of an answer means he wishes to avoid the subject altogether.

 

“You know he will find you, right? Edmund will,” Luke warned. Again. Testing Caleb.

 

Caleb stops eating. An expression now crosses his face. It is of annoyance. “Isn’t that part of the plan?”

 

Luke only smiles at Caleb, attempting to annoy him even more. Yes. That was the plan. “But will you be ready to let him go by then?” He asked. Because letting go was part of the plan too. He notices Caleb’s eyes blink a little in hesitation. He didn’t answer. He only looks back at Luke, with minimal contortion on his face as if he’s thinking hard of something clever to answer but found none. It is then that Luke knew he had to make a point. He had to shake Caleb back to his senses. “Caleb, I need you to stick to the plan, okay? You must stay out of it,” he reminded.

 

Caleb sighs and looks away. He plays with his food with disinterest. “My ego is kinda big, Luke,” he declared.

 

“Your ego is going to get you killed,” Luke stated as a matter-of-factly. “But suits yourself. Just know that I won’t try to save you. I don’t really care what happens to you as long as I got things go my way. I don’t care what I have to sacrifice to get there. I’m just warning you because I know Lucca care about you and if something happens to you, it’ll ‘crush’ him. So, choose wisely,” he advised. Part of him doesn’t care but the other part does. He is also almost alike to him. The magnetic field between two broken souls.

 

Caleb entertains his food yet again though he appears not to have much appetite but eating is just part of living. You just have to eat. You don’t need to enjoy your food. As long as you’re just alive. “I’ll choose when the time comes. For now, I would like not to be bothered by it,” he stated. He then grunts displeasingly a little by his surroundings. He had already noticed that there were too many people around the hotel that night and it makes him feel uneasy. Especially the fact that these people, whenever they pass by, they’ll look over at both of them. He hates being looked at. He hates feeling ‘displayed’. “What’s with this crowd?” he asked in annoyance.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“There isn’t supposed to be so many people at this hour. It’s close to midnight already. The café is closing soon,” he said upon realizing that Luke is not used to this. He might not have realized operation times of places and such since he is incarcerated most of his life.

 

“Maybe they’re here for the exhibition,” Luke simply suggested. He sounded as naïve as a child.

 

“What exhibition?”

 

“There was something written at the entrance just now. ‘Midnight Art Exhibition’ or something.”

 

“Who’s crazy enough to hold an art exhibition at midnight? And who would even be in their right mind to attend such exhibition?”

 

Luke than looks around him, not understanding why Caleb would make such a fuss out of this. “Well, the artist did gather quite a crowd, no? So I suppose it’s not such a bad idea after all,” he commented. It was then that Caleb found it almost adorable for Luke to be pretty much indifference to all of this as he knew that it was partly because he doesn’t understand the nature of the world. He only smiles at Luke in amusement.

 

“Now I’m curious. Let’s go have a look,” he suggested, already up to his feet, holding one of his hands out to Luke for approval. And Luke takes his hand in agreement.

 

The title of the exhibition is ‘Midnight Gore Art Exhibition by Adrian McGroy’. Looking at the crowd, they both realize that this artist must be very popular. They enter the exhibition without looking at all the paintings at first. They are drawn to the sculpture at the center of the vast room. It is a sculpture of a devil. That was all that they can tell at first. From afar, it looks perfect to the eyes, like a beautifully crafted statue but upon closer inspection, they notice the deformities of the art which what makes the artwork even more beautiful and interesting. As they got nearer, they notice the tears, not at the eyes of the devil for the devil had no eyes. The eyes of the devil are placed in between its’ legs and the one that cries is its’ heart. The more they look at the sculpture, the more heart-wrenching they become. They almost come close to tears.

 

They don’t know how they become aware of the fact that the heart of the devil was crying for it is abstract in its own sense but they just knew. They can feel it. Simultaneously, at that. The sculpture that they were drawn to just… unexplainably ‘told’ them how it feels. It took all of his might to look away from the haunting sculpture but Luke manages to look away first. He pulls Caleb by his sleeve away from the sculpture, forcing him to look away too. Then, they both stare into each other’s eyes, reading each other’s minds in agreement that this artist is good. Beyond good, in fact.

 

Their eyes wander around. They saw a disturbing painting of five children lying on the ground in one line. The children are all headless and their blood spilled all over the ground. They can practically smell the blood and feel the dirty ground of where the bodies laid. They feel like they’re there. Like they’re inside the painting. “Luke, this artist… is making me uneasy,” Caleb announced.

 

“Yet intrigued all the same,” Luke added. Then their eyes drifted to another appealing painting. There’s a man on fire. They can feel the heat as they merely look at the painting. The fire feels real. And they realize that all of the artist’s paintings look hauntingly alive and disturbing. It exhausts them just to be there. It’s like the paintings are drawing off of their energy and sanity. And more disturbing than ever is when they finally saw him. The artist in flesh and blood. He is standing near his sculpture of the devil, entertaining his guests who are all seem impeccably mesmerized by him. He possesses dark eyes like two shiny onyx stones, dark hair that is coiffed perfectly, luscious pinkish lips and small pointy nose. Both Luke and Caleb are shocked to the view of this beautiful man. He looks somewhere akin to that of an inanimate doll for when he smiles and talks, he also just looks almost inhuman and unfeeling.

 

“Okay, I’m impressed. Not only he is a talented artist but he’s also more beautiful than I am,” Luke commented after lying his eyes on the artist, admitting defeat.

 

Caleb smiles in agreement without taking his eyes off of the artist. “Yeah. Damn. I’d do him any given chances,” he also commented.

 

“Actually, me too,” Luke teased and winked at Caleb.

 

Caleb grins, feeling both annoyed and amused. “Don’t you dare,” he threatened.

 

Luke only laughs in answer. “Why not?”

 

“I won’t allow it,” Caleb was quick to answer.

 

“Unless you’re involved?” Luke then teased again.

 

At that, Caleb smiles deviously. “Unless I’m involved,” he repeated. They both blushed as they look away. But as they look back at the direction of the artist, they notice that, the artist, Adrian McGroy, is looking their way. And as they realize of this, before they are forced to look away, the artist smiles at them the most ingenious smile they’ve ever seen. They feel naked by the smile and the way his eyes laid on them. That all-knowing looks in his eyes sent chills down their spine. “Let’s go, Caleb. That guy… he’s not a good company,” Luke warned which Caleb eagerly agreed. They both turn to head out into the night but… before they even reach the exit, they laid eyes on a painting that got them both stop dead in their tracks. It was a painting of a woman holding the hand of a child. The woman that Luke had known so well. And the child was no other than Lucca when he was five. “Caleb, we need to scram. That guy, he knew us. Edmund might find his way to us faster than we can imagine,” Luke warned yet again.

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