“That will protect you from the Angry Dead.” The old man spoke enough Spanish that I could pick out his intentions between the broken conjugations. Funny how he used a native term for the Angry Dead, yet I understood it just the same.
Through his interpreter (who verified what I thought he said), I questioned how the item he was pointing to could protect me from the dead of other faiths.
His broken Spanish failed him completely and he gestured wildly to his interpreter as he tried to enunciate the unutterable.
“Lo siento, Señorita. I do not understand what he means by it, but he says you will. It will protect you because you are loved. Tú eres amado. You are loved.” The old man spoke again in fast clips marked by punctuated syllables. “He adds that it will only work if you accept that love.”
I sucked on a tooth and fondled the beads in my pocket. My store of civility had long emptied and I answered his declaration with a trite and disbelieving grunt.
The interpreter shifted his weight as my response made him even more uncomfortable than the old man’s assertion. The old man chuckled and spoke slowly as if talking to a very recalcitrant child, allowing the interpreter time to use the right words to convey the old man’s thoughts.
“You have used anger as your shield in the past. And most have been unable to quench those flames. But the Angry Dead have been angry for far longer than you have been alive, and for far deeper grudges than you are able to carry. Anger as a shield only works against those that fear anger. The dead are not afraid. They feast on it. They will make you a puppet and devour you from within if you try to use your anger against them. And then, at the last, they will make you one of them. Anger can not hold them. But love… Love can do what anger can not.”
I surprised myself by slipping into Spanish. “Amor es un arma. Amor puede matar.” [Love is a weapon. Love can kill.]
“Así es agua. Pero bebemos la misma. Necesitas agua. Necesitas amor, amor perfecto.” [So can water. But we drink it just the same. You need water. You need love, perfect love.]
“My knowledge of Spanish is not capable of conveying the argument I want to have.” The beads felt warm in my pocket. “Voy a pensarlo. Prometo nada.” [I’ll think about it. I promise nothing.]
The old man wheezed as he laughed. I needed no translator to read his body language. He is sure I’ll come around to his way of thinking eventually. Just might take an ass whipping or two.
As I walked away, the details of the dream world I found myself in struck me. Here is a man following the old Nahuatl ways, imploring me to keep a Roman Catholic rosary on my person, because it will protect me from the Angry Dead, despite me being neither Nahuatl nor Catholic.
It has been several days since this dream happened and of all that happened in it, this scene refuses to fade. I think I need to see a man about some rum if I’m going to make sense of this.