The smell can not be described accurately.  The intensity of the putrid home is a testament to the ability of the human nose to warn it’s owner of something not right.  The ability of the Pup, a brand new Paramedic, to ignore the odor and continue on looking for the source is a testament to curiosity in the face of overwhelming evidence to go away.

Initially called in to confirm the dead body in the back room was the source of the neighborhood aroma, Pup has discovered the body has not yet begun to decompose and now, along with the officers, we’re searching for the source.


Pup hesitated at the top of the stairs leading to what could be a basement, or a dungeon, or simply a vent hole from hell.  The mask Pup was wearing filtered out some of the smell of rot to make this experience one step short of disgusting, but it was beginning to become uncomfortable.  The mask was already permeated with what Pup could only imagine were the fine particles of solid decomposition now floating in the air.

Just as Pup considered discarding the mask an officer came running by holding a hand to their mouth heading for the exit down the cluttered hall and out into open air.  Pup leaned back and looked around the corner down the hall just in time to see the officer trip on the trash in the doorway and land on the porch, gasping for fresh air, gagging all the while.  Just seeing this action made Pup’s stomach file a petition demanding to release it’s contents.  It was a compelling argument and Pup almost gave in, but decided this was no time to lose it.

Heading back down the hallway to a small alcove, Pup saw what would later haunt many a dream, turning it to nightmare, eventually leading to a complete change in diet.

In the alcove, in front of one of the officers, was a freezer.  A chest freezer 3 feet high and maybe 6 feet wide.  It looked as if it began it’s life in a deli in the 60’s, the avocado green blending in well to the green hued walls and brown stained carpet.  Had the home been clean the color would surely be out of place.  But here it is, at the end of it’s days, sitting in the back hallway alcove of a dead man’s home.  It was just then that Pup noticed there were no lights on in the house.  It was daytime, but not a single light was on.  Reaching over to the push button switch that preceded the rocker switch we all know today, pressing the button did nothing to the hall light above.  No power.

Pup took a deep breath and reached out slowly to the freezer lid, now noticing the cover was open ever so slightly.  Touching it through the gloved hand, Pup felt a surge of fear.  In horror movies there is a body in the freezer.  In cop shows, there is a body in the freezer.  But what about in real life?  What’s in the freezer?

“Nothing” said Pup’s conscience, already leaving Pup’s body and heading for the fresh air.

Pup flashed to the movie Se7en when Brad Pitt’s character is crying to see “what’s in the box?” and Pup shouting at the screen “You don’t want to look!”

But fascination and curiosity can be a powerful foe to reality and common sense.

Pup gripped the lid and opened it ever so slightly.


Back outside Jims the engine officer is talking animatedly with the medical examiner who has arrived for the man in the back sun room.  They’ve been waiting to receive official word from the police that the building is not a crime scene and from the Pup that the person is, in fact, dead.

Pup walked out of the rotting house, head held high, and pulled the mask down.  The stench outside was a field of roses compared to inside and Pup felt released from a prison of filth.  The dishes piling up in the sink weren’t such a bad thing, Pup thought, neither was the occasional extra load of laundry left undone.  But a fear suddenly overcame such relieving thoughts.  A fear of where hoarding and conditions like in this house started, possibly from an initial “It’s no big deal” attitude and blossoming from there.


“Well, kid?  You keep your lunch down or what?” Asked Jims, genuinely curious to hear about the inside of the house.

“1 decedent, just a few days gone, Sir.” Pup turned to the medical examiner, “He’s still in tact, shouldn’t be too much trouble for you.”

The medical examiner looked at his aide and looked back at the Pup, “But what about the smell? Did you find the source?”

Pup’s stomach stood and shouted an objection.  If Pup had to describe the freezer, all hope of containing the contents of lunch would be lost.

Instead Pup smiled, “You’ll see.”


-the end

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