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RIP Alvin

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

I met Alvin playing poker, back when I was doing it for a living. I was playing late at night in the Horseshoe Casino in San Jose, Costa Rica and he came in to play. He isn’t the kind of guy you’d forget. He looked like a Samurai and he played very aggressively. He’d raise every un-raised pot and was good enough at post-flop play to almost break even most nights. Ultimately, it wasn’t profitable play and he knew it. But it was fun. And that was the point. He played for fun and made any table interesting. We loved his action and the action he’d generate and he was a pleasant and fun guy to hang out with around the poker scene.

We weren’t close friends but we’d sometimes go out to eat or hang out before, after or in between the poker sessions. I haven’t been much of a partier since moving in with my girlfriend and he always said we should hang out more and since I knew he was pretty bored in town with only gambling as entertainment in most of his free hours I always promised that we’d go party some time.

He lived close to me and a few times I gave him a ride to his house after the games. I can’t say I had the honor to call him a good friend but I liked the guy. He had a child-like earnestness about him. Everything you said he’d think about very hard and say what he thought, whether he thought you were right or wrong yet he was never argumentative. He just seemed to think very hard on everything.

Anyway, last weekend I heard some foreigner was murdered in Escazu, where I used to live and my friends jokingly asked if it was me or one of my friends. It was a pretty shocking crime, as 3 people were found stabbed by kitchen knives.

For some reason when I heard the description of the scene I thought of Alvin as roughly fitting the description. You don’t really expect such fleeting fears to be true but I spoke to a mutual friend and he asked me if I’d heard about Alvin. “It was him?” I asked. When I found out my girlfriend looked up the news online and warned me that it was pretty graphic. And it was, the photos of him aren’t easy to forget.

The newspapers didn’t know anything but didn’t hesitate to speculate that it was a fight over the woman who was also found stabbed and dead. But later the newspapers reported that Alvin had seemed to indicate that the man and woman with Alvin had intended to rob him in broken Spanish as he was dying. Whatever the case is, I’ll likely never know why Alvin died and it seems so very weird.

It’s been bothering me more than I thought. I’ve been less patient and a bit more stressed. I guess I won’t be able to keep my promise to Alvin to go party with him sometime, but he’d understand. He was a good guy.