1 The Unattended Guest

It was a beautiful spring day. The sun penetrated the room and, through the closed shutters, it created a pleasant penumbra that did not prevent sleep.

Fabiana had collapsed. She was thinking about what she had to do and lay in the guest room, which would eventually become the nursery. She was thinking about the dishes to wash, the house to be tide up, but, at last, what she thought was that there was no hurry. She had no deadlines, after all. There were not children to lead to study. There were not even children yet, even if she was married for years with Marco.

Marco was working. He would be back after hours.

Fabiana had time for her and wanted to rest.

After a couple of hours, a light noise woke her up. Someone was washing the dishes. It had to be Marco. Fabiana looked the clock and thought, of the safe, Marco was back first, then she dozed off again, because there was less to do.

A little later, in his half-sleep, she heard another noise. It was a cadenced noise. Someone was washing the floors. She heard a voice speak softly. It was barely more than a whisper, but one thing was certain. It was not Marco.

She woke up completely, but she did not move, she was very local. She tried to figure out if the noise could come from the neighboring houses, more, she tried to convince herself, but the noise came from the kitchen.

Between the two rooms there was a large hall and two doors almost in axis that allowed to see a portion of the kitchen and the corridor on the opposite side, but who was in the room, at that time, was not visible.

The person crossed the door. He was a dark-skinned, not very tall man. He was not Marco, who was tall, so there was a stranger in the house. Fabiana felt chilled.

She got up and walked slowly. She was almost at the kitchen door when the noise stopped. Suddenly she imagined a thousand endings for that situation, all tragic for her. There was a stranger in the house and he realized she was awake.

"Good morning Fabiana!" The man said, appearing next the door and disappearing immediately.

She screamed in fright as the man started washing the floor again.

"Who are you?"

"A friend!" The man said without stopping.

"A friend of Marco?" She asked without having the courage to look out.

"Yes, yes, even of Marco."

"I do not believe it! Who are you?"

"A friend of yours and of Marco!" The man said, showing himself.

"I do not know you! How did you get in?"

"From the door," the man said looking surprised by the question.

He went to the front door and opened it.

"Do you see? It is open! "

"And the other? On the stairs? "

"I didn't open that one," the man said, going back to washing the floors.

"What does that mean I didn't open it?"

The man looked at her grimly.

"That I didn't open it," he replied.

"Where did you come from?"

"I didn't go in there," the man replied.

Then he looked at her calmly.

"Listen...I washed all the dishes, I cleaned and powdered the floors. Are you unhappy? Didn't you want a help?"

Fabiana did not answer.

"Take it easy. Now I am here, "the man said, starting to clean again.

"Who are you? Tell me! "Fabiana urged him.

"I'm not a thief. I have no bad intentions," the man said, chanting the words.

"I am... a man au pair. I am here. In return, I wash, I clean, I answer the door. All those things. I make myself useful"

"Who called you?" She asked.

"Nobody...in a sense you!" The man replied without interrupting what he was doing.

"I didn't call you! Who sent you?"

"Nobody...in a sense you!" The man replied.

Fabiana picked up the phone.

"Who do you call?" He asked.

"My husband," she said agitated.

"No need," the man said.

"What does it means no need," she said even angrier.

The man looked at her seraphic.

"No need. He's coming in now"

As the lock clicked, she rushed to the landing.

"Get in!" She urged.

Marco understood that something was wrong and hurried.

"The gentleman. Who is he?"

"I do not know! He does not tell me how he came in! He doesn't tell me who sent him!" Fabiana said looking visibly annoyed.

"I got it," said Marco, taking him by the weight and into the door.

"What manners! No need to do this," the man complained as he was pushed.

When he was almost at the door, he lost his consistency and Marco almost fell down the stairs passing through him.

"I tell you who I am!" The man said, adjusting his dress.

Marco and Fabiana were paralyzed with fear.

"I am the devil and you are the family I have chosen to be a little quiet. Now if you will excuse me, I will leave you a little alone. You seem too upset so I am going for a ride.

Anyway I'll come back!"

Politely he asked permission, Marco made him pass, to let him take the stairs, but when he looked out the other disappeared and the port one was not stat or slot open. Marco and Fabiana remained petrified for a long time.

"What do we do?" She asked.

"I don't know," he replied.

They did not have the courage to return to the subject. They were having dinner when the door opened and the devil came in wearily. They looked into each other's eyes and Fabiana made a terrified face.

"Good evening. What do you eat?"

"Pasta," she replied.

"May I have some?" He asked while taking the necessary to prepare the place for the table, then he took a plate and he spied in the pan.

"Yes there is"

He served himself and sat down.

"I don't need to eat, but I like pasta"

He ate a forkful.

"Then what family air is there if you're never at the table?"

Fabiana and Marco went back to eating in silence.

"Good," the Devil urged again. He looked first at him, then her and, finally, he laid down the cutlery.

"Listen. Let us agree. I have only come to spend time with you, as I did with so many others, because I have no family. Sometimes I enjoy a holiday.

I know what you are thinking. The devil... the possessions, the slaughter. They are all inventions of the Church and horror directors. I also watch those films every so often to understand, in your opinion, what I am capable of doing."

"You mean they are exaggerated?" Marco asked.

"Exaggerated," the devil replied remarking words with a wave of his hand.

"So no mess here?" Fabiana asked.

"Nothing! My Word!" the devil answered underlining the words with his hand, then he got up, he cleared out, he brushed the dishes and, finally, he looked into the guest room making a displeased expression.

"My bed is not yet ready. I still have to do. I will go out tonight," he said, walking towards the door, but he turned and looked at them and said:

"Anyway, I'll be back!"

Marco looked out on the landing to make sure no one was there. Then he thought that, being the devil, it had been a precaution as automatic as it was useless.

"We don't make the bed," he said to his wife.

"Am I stupid in your opinion?" She replied.

"Tomorrow if you find him at home you will not move from here," she added.

The next morning the house smelled of coffee. Marco had gone to work quietly because he had not found anyone at home.

Fabiana was still asleep, but she eared him.

"There is nobody. I'm going to work," he told her.

She slept peacefully earing this, but at least two hours had passed. Why did she smell coffee? She did not want to answer, but slowly she was heading towards the kitchen.

"Sit down, I'll give you coffee," the devil said and she did so.

"How much sugar?"

"One."

The devil took the sugar jar in the cabinet.

"You don't know how much sugar I want but do you know that the jar is there?"

The devil jumped.

"My mistake. I have learned that you do not like to discover that I know too much about you. Do you forgive me?" He asked, smiling, and then he placed the small tray with two cups on the table.

"Did you see Marco?" She asked.

"When I came back he wasn't there."

Fabiana took her cup. She hesitated for a moment, thinking about who had prepared it, and then she thought that her guest had a thousand ways to do something evil. She decided to drink. The devil, after drinking, picked up the cups, he washed them putting everything in place.

"I have to leave. If you need anything, tell me," he said.

"Thanks, nothing is needed," Fabiana replied.

The devil stared at her.

"I want you to understand the advantage of having me at home."

"Indeed," she commented with a note of sarcasm that the devil chose not to take.

"If you need a kilo of bananas I don't go to the grocery store under the house. I go to Africa and take them. Same with pineapple or anything you can imagine. If you want to hear your favorite singer, I will take you to him, which probably owes me some favors. It costs me nothing."

"Thank you nothing is needed," Fabiana insisted.

"Something will come to your mind," the devil said before leaving.

As soon as he came out Fabiana took the phone and called Marco.

"He's back."

"When I came out, he wasn't there. I've seen everywhere."

"I know. He told me."

"Where is he now?"

"He's out. Do something. I don't want him at home."

"Let me think. I will find something to do."

The day passed calmly. In the afternoon Fabiana was again awakened by the noise of the household chores. She started towards the kitchen hoping it was Marco but it was the devil.

"Good evening! I inform you that Marco is coming with a guest."

In her hart Fabiana knew it was true, even if Marco had not yet come, but she didn't want to involve anyone in that situation, so who was that was coming with Marco?

His mother? His mother-in-law? On the other hand, who else?

Above all, what this person knew?

She heard the click of the lock and Marco went up followed by the parish priest of the neighborhood.

"Here he is, Don Alfonzo!" Marco pointed at the devil.

"Good evening Don Alfonzo," the devil said, wiping his hands, then he came over and held out his hand to say hello.

Don Alfonzo had not believed in what Marco told. Now he was frightened. He immediately kept his cross with both hands, which he hung on his chest and he shielded himself as he began to say the prayers. The devil sank to the ground in pain. Don Alfonzo pressed him praying even stronger and the devil look suffering unspeakably. After he stopped suffering because he was only pretending. Don Alfonzo was flushed while praying even stronger.

"We finished? I still pretend to be sick, if you want."

The priest continued to pray with the cross in his hands.

"Don Alfonzo, you must have faith to use the cross," the devil said with an air of indifference. He took the cross with two fingers and pulling it down while the fingers sizzled in the contact with the sacred object. Then he gave him pats on the shoulder and walked him to the door. On the cassock the devil's hand sizzled like meat put on the grill, but the devil seemed not to notice. At the door, they both looked at the smoking hands. The priest was shut up by now. Then he looked the devil in the eye.

"The dress still works... be satisfied, you've done your part, there's no need for anything else."

"I will speak with the bishop and we will decide. Let me know, have faith" the priest said to Marco and Fabiana, as he disappeared in the door

"There is no hurry," the devil said, in a whisper.

A turbid flash crossed his gaze, but he managed not to be noticed. Then he turned to Marco and Fabiana. He sighs.

"Bad attempt. Did I bother you? Have I abused you?

No!

So why do you want to chase me?

I am disappointed. I am going for a ride so you can reflect on what you did.

Anyway, I will be back!"

The devil disappeared before their eyes. This time he did not have the foresight to do it secretly, he disappeared and nothing else, doing chiefs king who was angry. He had scolded them as if they were two children who had made a rude impression and he was the adult who was right. When he was gone, Fabiana began to cry from the tension.

"I'll send him away... it was the last thing I did," Marco said, hugging her.

"Listen, if I remember well the devil can be cast out by prayer," Fabiana said managing to contain nervous tears.

"So what prayer do we say?"

"The rosary."

"But I don't remember the fact of the painful, glorious mysteries,"

"I remember. Let us go there. I should still have a grandma wreath"

They were still praying when they heard the voice of the devil.

"Why? Why? Weren't we just fine?"

Marco and Fabiana joined him. With the devil, there was a man in a white robe.

"Did you really have to pray and bring this here?"

"And who is he?" Marco asked.

"And who is he? He is an angel. I bet you called him to send me away. Instead you have complicated things."

"In what sense?" Marco asked.

"Ask him!" The devil replied.

"Who are you?" Marco asked the man dressed in white.

"Gabriele."

"Even an archangel," the devil added.

"So if you are an archangel cast him out," Fabiana said, pointing to the devil.

"It's not that simple," the angel replied.

"In which sense?" Marco asked.

"If he doesn't do something devilish I can't intervene."

"And what did you come for?" Fabiana asked.

"If he does something wrong I can intervene and fight him, but if he doesn't I just have to observe," Gabriele clarified.

"Did you understand now that you did? Whatever I do, he will watch me. So I will not be able to relax and I will stay much longer and he will stay with us," the devil explained.

"Anyway, your fault," he concluded.

In a surreal atmosphere Marco, Fabiana, Gabriele and the devil sat at the table. The atmosphere was made even more surreal by the fact that the two guests ate nothing, but they looked each other vigilantly.

"I can't stand it this way. You cannot be like that watching you. It seems to me that something must happen. Go away, or behave like normal people," Fabiana snapped.

"Our guest is right!

Dear Gabriele. We eat with them, like two normal, civilized people. What do you say?" The condescending devil proposed.

Gabriele didn't answer, the devil set up two more seats and they began to eat too, but they kept silent for the whole dinner and, in the end, Fabiana got up to clear the table, but the devil preceded her.

"Does he limit only to this?" Gabriele asked.

"Only this. He clears, he re orders, he wipes, but he gives me the creeps," Fabiana said sitting back.

"No work here, brother angel," added the devil, who had heard them anyway.

Gabriele nodded thoughtfully.

"It is useless to try to hide, he ears everything, so I tell you with him in front. You have to understand what he wants and behave accordingly. Only you can send him away. However, if I'm there, he won't be able to do any physical action against you."

"Sometimes he disappears," Marco said.

"I know, I know. I will disappear and I will appear with him, or you will have to say come Gabriele to the need."

"Now that you've given him the instructions let us leave them a little alone. I have to do.

Anyway, I'll be back!" The devil said and disappeared.

"Rest now. I am with you," Gabriele said in a soothing tone and he too disappeared.

Fabiana closed in her usual dumbness, which indicated that she was angry with the rest of the world.

The next day Marco checked that no one was there, then went to work. Fabiana, who did not feel safe in the house, came out thinking that perhaps the devil appeared only at home and outside he would not follow her.

In the street, a thief tried to rummage in his bag.

"Not today!" the devil said, coming out of nowhere, and blocking the thief's hand.

At that moment, Fabiana noticed the danger and the presence of the devil. The thief tried to hit the devil with his free hand to slip away.

"Bad move," the devil said, blocking his hand, and then he lightly burned his wrists. The thief moaned in pain.

"Go away now! I don't need you here!"

The thief escaped.

"Thank you" Fabiana said softly.

"Usually I don't save people, but I care about you. Let us go away. We attracted too much attention."

The devil saw people observing them.

They started down the street, like two good friends.

"Why did you choose our house?"

The devil looked at her thoughtfully.

"I understood. Try to find out why, as Gabriele said. I did not lie when I said I wanted to relax. I observed you. I am passionate to you. I do not even know why, since you are a couple like many others. This time I needed normality."

"And when you leave where do you go?" Fabiana asked.

"I almost always help people doing things."

"Like what?" Fabiana asked.

"It would be difficult to explain. I can't explain however."

"Who is stopping you?"

"What do you believe? There is also a deontology between us devils. We do not talk about what we do."

"Ah," Fabiana added.

They arrived home, walking together like two good friends. He brought her groceries.

"I'll help you fix the shopping," the devil did it silently.

"Why don't you go?" Fabiana asked suddenly.

"When you really want me to go I will leave"

The phone rang.

"Marisa?

Good morning!

Put the vegetables on the kitchen that I have to do.

No, no I was talking to a friend.

You do not know him.

He comes from outside.

I do not know if I can free myself.

No, he is my guest.

All right, let's talk."

She closed the call.

"Problems?" The devil asked.

"A friend asked me to go out, but I don't want it."

"So I'm happy to have been useful to avoid a nuisance."

Fabiana smiled.

"Frankly, I don't want to see anyone."

"What if they come home?"

"I don't want to think about it."

"Who would you say I am?"

"I don't know... a relative... a friend."

"Would you tell a lie then?"

"What should I say?"

"That I'm the devil," he said, puffing his chest.

"You don't know what a mess it would be," Fabiana said.

"You are right. Who knows what they would think. What do you think?" The devil asked, staring at her.

"What do you mean?"

"Why do you think I'm here?"

"I don't want to think about it."

"I'm here for you."

"It's not true."

"I can prove it. You must know that the devil knows everything. I see everything. Sometimes watching you is just a bore, but I do it anyway, because doing nothing is worse. Then some of you ask yourself an interesting question."

The devil waited to see if she followed him in the speech, but Fabiana, who had understood, fell silent. The devil then whispered the question in her ear.

"How much would I like to change?

I am interested in people who wants to change. Someone then continues to settle. Are you satisfied?"

"I don't know!" She replied, moving away a little.

"Do you know how I notice that person wants to change?"

"Tell me!"

"Because it becomes a constant thought."

"And what happens?"

"I come to someone. I ask him in person. Fabiana how much would you like to change?"

"Who wouldn't like that?" Fabiana asked, still watching him.

"And would you be willing to leave everything for a change?"

Fabiana looked at her home and the remaining shopping on the table.

"I can help you," he urged

"What do you mean?"

"I can help you to be who you really are, if you wish."

Fabiana continued to look at her home and the remaining shopping on the table.

"I apologize. We talk about it after. I have appointments.

Anyway, I'll be back!"

The devil disappeared.

Fabiana prepared something to eat and, after lunch, she went to rest, but her head was a jungle.

Marco returned to his usual schedule and, arriving at the home, looked for Fabiana.

"How did it go today?"

"Well, they were robbing me this morning."

Marco became attentive.

"Are you OK?"

"The devil saved me."

"Even."

"Yes! He blocked the robber and put him to flight."

Marco sighed doubtfully.

"Shall I thank him... and Gabriele was not there?"

"No!"

Marco did not add anything. At that moment, they rang at the door. Marisa and Angela, two of Fabiana's friends entered.

"How are you, Fabiana?" Angela asked.

"Well, why?" Fabiana said watching Marco who nodded to let her know that he did not knew because they had come and that he had not said anything.

"Marisa told me she heard you strange."

Fabiana hoped ardently that none of her new guests would show up, but instead the door immediately opened. The devil entered followed by Gabriele.

"Did we leave the door open?" Asked Marisa.

"No, no. Let's say we're the ones who don't need the key," the devil said.

Marisa came forward followed by her friend.

"Nice to meet you, I'm Marisa," she said, holding out his hand and smiling.

"Gabriele," he replied, squeezing it.

"And I'm the devil," the other said, drawing a mocking smile and shaking Angela's hand.

"There he is. The omelet is done," Marco concluded.

Angela withdrew her hand suddenly.

"What does it mean?"

"I'm the devil. You get it?"

A flash of terror invaded the woman's eyes.

"Here you are!"

"And your name is?" Asked Marisa.

"The devil never says the name. Decide how to call me. No, indeed! Call me Asmo. It's not my real name, but that's fine."

"All right Mr. Asmo," Marisa said.

"Asmo and that's enough veins."

"And what are you doing here?"

"Holiday. I relax in the company of these friends."

Marisa and Angela looked at Marco and Fabiana in a different light. They were the devil's friends.

"Don't look at us like that. We are not friends. We found him at home suddenly," Fabiana said.

"And who is he?" Angela asked.

"He is an angel," Marco cut it short.

"Gabriele do you know that my wife was kidnapped this morning?"

"I know."

"Do you know that Asmo saved her?" Marco asked again.

"I know."

"And where were you?"

"I was there."

"Ah," Marco nodded.

"So what good are you if you don't intervene?" Fabiana asked.

"I just have to watch. If the devil does something not allowed I have to intervene, but I can't stop none from doing what he wants to do."

"And what does he want to do?" Angela asked.

"I think he can't tell you, because he doesn't know, even if he imagines it," Asmo interrupted.

"Since we prayed Gabriele came to check that the devil... Asmo does nothing to us," Fabiana explained to her friends.

Gabriele smiled at the women.

"Ah well! So here we have an angel and a devil," Angela said with a face full of wonder.

"We remain too! So we help you!" Marisa stated.

"I don't think it's a good idea," Fabiana concluded with a drawn smile.

Asmo nodded to Gabriele to pull him aside.

"Do you feel what you think of these two?"

Gabriele made an annoyed sound.

"Exactly. Ear me. If they really remain we can't move."

"As for you, I think it's an advantage."

"Do you want to stay here?" Asked the devil without noticing provocation.

Gabriele did not answer.

"I'll make you a proposal. Only special effects. I do not hurt anyone. They are out in two minutes, but you don't drive me."

Gabriel looked at the two women and thought that could be right.

"All right, but if you make a wrong move, I'll send you back to hell"

Asmo smiled maliciously. The pupils became inflamed.

"One thing I have true. The word!"

He turned to them.

"The choice to stay is yours, but I am the devil!"

He caught fire and slowly approached the women to give them time to be afraid. He was a master at this. Then he did a gesture and Angela flew near the door, the same thing he did with Marisa. At this point, the women were terrified, but he respected his word. They were unharmed.

"Let me say that in your situation, rather than having the presumption of helping, you could share the fate of those who get in my way. I assure that you will not agree. I give you an advice. Go away!"

The door of the house burst open, the two women did not make themselves pray over and they ran away. Then Asmo went out and returned to normal.

"Is it okay like this? Did I behave well?" He asked Gabriele.

At that moment, Fabiana started screaming hysterically. Marco came over to calm her, but he could not. She held her face in her hands and screamed louder and louder.

"That is enough! That is enough! That is enough!"

Then she faced the devil.

"Kill me!"

The devil looked first at the others, then at her. He seemed surprised at the reaction.

"Kill me!"

"I don't want to kill anyone," Asmo said, looking at her calmly.

"Then go away! All of you go away!"

She abandoned himself in a chair and long minutes passed.

"I understand!" She began.

She turned to Marco, pointing to the devil.

"He came here to destroy our lives. He wants me to leave this house to become whomever to his side."

Then she turned to Asmo.

"You filled my head with strange ideas about things I could do if I wasn't stuck here! Is it true?"

"You filled your head. I did not say anything. Do not remember? We talked about how much you would like to change," Asmo clarified.

Fabiana turned to Marco.

"He wants me to leave you!"

"I didn't say that," the devil clarified.

Then Fabiana turned to the devil.

"No! You told me about changes and how determined I am to make them."

She waited and looked the devil straight in the eye.

"I have decided. I am fine this way. I don't want anything else."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes! Yes!" She replied, planting her eyes even more in his eyes.

"Are you sure?" The devil asked, also addressing Marco.

"We are sure," Marco answered firmly.

"All right," the devil sighed.

A circular luminous portal opened behind him. Asmo turned and looked at Gabriele following him as he entered the portal and disappeared, and then he turned to Marco and Fabiana.

"It seems that this time I will really leave. The devil this time is defeated. Say hello and thank."

Then he entered the portal, but a moment before he disappeared, he turned and nodded to indicate the place he was leaving.

"Anyway, I'll be back!"