Editor’s Note: This is part of an occasional series called “Rewind: Where are they now?” It catches up with people who stumbled into the headlines – and then faded from view.
“Buenos dias,” Salvador Alvarenga said to his friend, who was propped up in the bow of their fishing boat. “What is death like?”
Ezequiel Córdoba, his body hardening and turning purple, did not reply. So Alvarenga answered for his dead sea mate. “Good. It is peaceful.” Alvarenga looked out to the horizon, the ocean as endless as it had been for the last two months that they’d been lost at sea.
“Why wasn’t it both of us? Why am I the one who continues to suffer?” Alvarenga asked the corpse. He remembered Córdoba, hysterical in the early days, crying about his mother and starving for tortillas. But in his final hours, the suffering lifted. Alvarenga craved the peace Córdoba had unfairly found by dying.
Alvarenga continued his one-sided conversation with Córdoba’s body for six days before he realized he was conversing seamlessly with a dead man. Alvarenga snapped out of a haze, knowing he was slowly going crazy. He decided he needed to drop Córdoba’s body into the ocean to save his own sanity. Alvarenga