‘Buenos días, Señor Deadman!’ shouted a voice from the street below, and I held my hand up in greeting as I recognised the cheeky young face of twenty year old Juan Murillo smiling up at me, ‘Tomorrow is your day, mi amigo – don’t forget!’ he said laughing, and headed off in the direction of the village square.
I couldn’t help but smile to myself as I sat there on the veranda, listening to Mexican pop music on my portable radio, and watched him walk down the hill. The following day would be November 2nd – Día de los Muertos, or ‘Day of the Dead’ – and I’d been told by just about everyone in the village that I was going to be the star of the show.
Partly, everybody assured me, because I was such a wonderful and lovely guy; and partly because, as relative newcomer to Mexico, and to the village in particular, they wanted to make sure I felt like a welcome part of the community.
And I’m sure that both those given reasons were true. But I also knew that it was in no small part due to my name – Andrew Deadman.
When I’d first arrived in the village six months earlier, and people learned that I was ‘A. Deadman’, it became pretty clear from the animated reaction I got that the villagers were delighted to have their very own hombre muerto, or ‘dead man’. From that point on I was resigned to being the centre of attention during the festival.
Not that I minded. I had never been so at ease and happy with my life as I had living in Santa Anita. The simple back-to-basics lifestyle of the village suited me perfectly, and I’d made so many friends that it was as if I’d never lived anywhere else.
I smiled again, this time at the thought of what the festival would entail. The sugar candies; the alcoholic drinks; the gifts; and of course, the celebration of the memories of those who had died.
It was then, as I was sitting there watching Juan disappear from view, that the Mexican pop song on the radio faded away, and was replaced by the sound of Rick Astley singing ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’.
It was so out of context for the hot and sunny Mexican morning, that it took me a second or two to recognise it. But when I did, my thoughts once again returned to the illegal Edinburgh poker den, and the events of almost a year ago.