He ran as fast as his legs let him for the last four blocks. Now, he was breathing with difficulty, leaning on a wall worn and gray, like any other wall of the city.
He looked back once in a while because he had the impression that they had followed him, though this would hardly have been possible after the show just happened a few minutes ago. After that, everyone seemed to run along the streets looking for different things. They seemed like sliding oil droplets through the streets of the city and spreading to fill the cracks, grooves as if they were scattered on the ground.
He looked back and wondered why he did it. He chided to himself again and again because could not believe he allowed such a luxury, because today a daring as this was considered of extreme opulence. Nobody could afford to speak his mind these days, let alone the way he had been taken out he and his friends.
Do I have Friends? He asks to himself several times in his head. Friends are they who stand by your side, pointing you out the way, ensuring that nothing bad will happen to you while running up the street. Friends are they who will shelter you in their dark cloaks, so nobody can find you to impose a death penalty, which hurts the most restless minds, the most innovative, the most dangerous ones.
I have no friends, he said, only accomplices in the struggle for survival.
Only then he stared straight ahead, thinking he could find a way out, or rather a gateway to a place where he could go unnoticed for the remainder of the day, month or year. Everything had gone wrong, so no matter what happened now, while he could save his skin.
He looked ahead and what he found was the Devil himself.
"You can not flee, Julio, now come with me," said that being half angel half demon, whose golden hair expanded in a glorious as treacherous way.
And Julio could not do anything but obey. Everything was lost. He could not go back his steps and could not get around to that being that nothing escapes, not even the most miserable of the existences.
Tired, looking at his feet and dragging his conscience, Julio began to walk behind Satan.
"No wonder you know who I am, if you let me be honest with you," said the Evil, without even deigning to look into Julio’s eyes.
The Devil simply walk towards a wall at the end of an alley and crossed as if this did not exist.
Julio, who seemed stunned by what he had just witnessed, walked slowly and quietly to the wall and rubbed one of her hands against the bricks. These were small and red, damaged by the passage of time, almost gray by the apathy of the people.
He rubbed his hand against the wall and felt it solid, unwavering, immovable, and yet he walked toward it and went through like it was the water surface. Being inside, he stared in all directions. He was surprised not to be amazed by what he saw, because, in his heart, he seemed to understand where he was.
At the end of the room, sitting in a chair of fine oak, Satan was holding a glass of sherry in one of his hands.
"Take a seat," ordered, slightly tilting the glass and allowing a little of the liquor spilled onto the floor.
The sherry, once in the air, evaporated almost as fast as it fell towards the wood that covered the floor, forming a curtain of multicolored steam that slowly tuned up Julio, two years ago, in a scene that he could never overcome: he was sitting next to Ramon, his lifelong friend, and promised complicity despite all circumstances. They will be friends in treason and in the inquest. They would be like two drops of water walking in the same direction, in search of the sea.
After a few seconds, the picture came to life and Julio could now be seen leaving Ramon’s place and committing what would be his first act of infidelity. The images followed one another as the lighting in the room seemed to decrease in intensity, while that film was played relentlessly in the eyes of a tired, sweaty, scared and repentant Julio; who could only repeat again and again: "That was not as it happened…"
But who can deceive the Devil? A spawn of deceit who knows the true nature of everything. And who dare to paint the scene of another color, trying to make the punishment much lower? Certainly, Julio was not that man and he doubted that any existed.
The Devil was dissolved in the room, but not before twisting his face like a grimace, like enjoying the moment, as those times when you hope to accomplish something and at the end it happens, but you are cautious, fair, patient or condescending.
Satan disappeared and left Julio locked in that room full of old memories.
That room looked like the one that was his office for so long, but this one had no doors or windows. There was no escape, even if he manages to find a way to drain. He was convicted and no matter where he was, his soul was bound to pay for each and every one of his mistakes.
Julio fell to the ground, kneeling, and kept his eyes fixed on one corner of the room, right where stone and stone come together in a cold and plain gray, so there is proof that there is no more than the beginning and end. The end, just what he always knew that was coming all along and now he has to face it.
Tears streamed down his face for hours, days, months or perhaps years. You never know how much time passes there, because it does not matter what you do but washing your conscious and hope that sometime, by the mercy of God, justice, forgiveness or a gift of the Providence; your soul can be freed from the torment and float free and quiet, towards peace and exaltation.