The devil is everywhere, by Juan José Millás


Very close to my table they take the aperitif two young people with a baby stroller next to them. He or she, indistinctly, from time to time approaches the edge of the pram and gently rocks it, as if to prolong the child’s sleep, which I cannot see from my position. They’ve ordered two beers and a plate of green chips. These potatoes, which I hadn’t heard about, are made with a touch of wasabi, hence their color, and they are a bit spicy, the waiter informs me. It’s hot, but we are protected from the sun by a very dense urban vine.

-Do you think -asks the woman- that everything is made up?

-I don’t know -he says-, what is invented is invented.

“Yeah,” she says. And of the invented, what would you disinvent?

The young man thinks for a moment.

-Disinvent the celebrity He finally decides.

-You say that because we are not famous. But I would like our son to be,” she replies, casting a tender glance into the stroller.

“That he was famous for what?” he asks.

– Whatever it is, I don’t care.

– By serial killer, for example?

-Or by undersecretary.

-The undersecretaries are not famous.

After this brief verbal exchange they return to silence. Then it comes to my memory that the 23 F of 1981, when Tejero stormed Congressthere was an important meeting of undersecretaries that replaced the Council of Ministers. That meeting achieved a certain celebrity.

At this, the waiter brings me a plate of green fries for me to try. Placing them on the table, he brings his mouth close to my ear and whispers.

-There is no baby, there is no baby in the stroller, it is empty.

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Saying that, he disappears and I feel a shiver of panic. As I sit up to flee, however, I hear a cry coming from inside the pram. When I get home, my wife, observing my paleness, asks me if I have seen the devil.

“I’ve heard it,” I tell him.


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