For several days now there has been construction going on where I live, a modest apartment complex that is trying to upgrade its previously neglected appearance. Landscapers are scraping old gravel, adding sod and installing a public barbeque area even as they renovate the long neglected pool. We moved in here in February, chiefly as a money-saving venture, and it's an interesting community to be a part of, and very pet friendly.
Last night on returning home from work I noticed a pungent aroma, one which was unmistakable. For several days now there's been a growing smell, but at first it was assumed to be a by-product of the construction churning old soil that had long been used by dogs in the area. Then it was thought to be rotting trash from one apartment where a couple retropunk gals had skipped out in the middle of the night just prior to receiving an eviction notice. And at last today I realized that this smell was unmistakably that of a rotting corpse, and it was coming from the open window next to the apartment marked for eviction.
Who lived there? He was a middle-aged fellow, who cleaned up the area on his own time as a courtesy, and kept largely to himself. I hadn't seen him in weeks, and didn't even know his name. As it turns out, others in the complex, including a young girl who was always trying to play with my son said he had visited the hospital a week ago for coughing up blood, but had been discharged. Her mom knew the fellow has cirrhosis of the liver due to a heavy drinking problem. This was not looking good. We called the manager. He said he could come by the next day and knock on the door. Next I called the on-site repairman. Turns out he was a former EMT, and when he came down to investigate he immediately recognized the smell and agreed with me. There was a body on the other side of that door.
After he secured keys, the handyman opened the door up and a quick investigation revealed the obvious. It looked like the poor guy had returned home from the hospital, only to resume his bloody coughing fits. He must have felt chilled, because the heat was cranked up to the max. He had died in the bathroom, and unfortunately by the looks of it thanks to the heat wave we've been experiencing plus his heater on his body rapidly swelled up and burst. It was far from the ideal way to go, let alone be found.
Police and Fire Dept. were on scene in short order, followed by the coroner for a proper documentation and investigation. Despite the likelihood he died of his health condition, it's the sort of thing you just can't say for sure about. When management called his emergency contact, the man's sister (I am pretty sure it was his sister) was apparently more relieved than anything else; my guess is she had been expecting a call for a long time, one in which he was found on the side of the road, or in a ditch, or in a back alley.
Amidst all of this my wife and her cohorts in the complex watched the police activity as it went on, and I got to wrangle my own kid and others, distracting them with video games (always a sure bet).
In the end, they had to use two body bags to properly handle the body, which was so distended and putrescent that it required hours of careful work to properly disinter the body from the bathroom for removal to the morgue.
It was an interesting night.
|The complex, and my wife with some of her morbidly, ghoulishly curious cohorts|
|Marcus was largely oblivious, and spent a lot of time running up to police officers|
|Removing the body|