The devil actually stayed around Renzo for four weeks afterward. He took Renzo on vacation; he talked to him, listened to him, and generally helped him adapt to his new life and new lifestyle. Apparently the devil is a master psychologist: he guided Renzo through the shock and horror of what he'd done. "The main thing he said," Renzo told me, "is to keep busy. Busy working, busy having fun, busy with people, busy alone - it doesn't matter. A busy man is a happy man."
With a little difficulty I was able to verify that the murder of an unknown man did occur at the place and time that Renzo told me. The police investigation was, in fact, inconclusive. There was no evidence at all. That an old man died of natural causes at the same hour as the murder was regarded as an extraordinary coincidence, but nothing more.
I was unable to find out anything about the man who died.
It was in the hopes of knowing more that I wrote this book. When Lorenzo told me his story I was horrified and wasn't sure at all whether I wanted to write it. I will never forget his narration of the crime: the expression of his face, his pallor, his tremors, the contortions of his limbs.
Beyond the human tragedy, there is a cosmic tragedy. It is hard to imagine how one insignificant person could change the nature of life on earth. What new thing could he have brought? Would he have had anything more to say than "love one another"? Would he perhaps have embodied those old words in some new and irresistible way?
Or did he have some new message that needed to be said?