Stepping through the doorway into the run down house was like stepping into a light syrup. The air was heavy and seemed to be nearly visible. Rotting boxes, papers, food items and animal waste of many kinds was piled up against the walls as far as the Pup could see. Two clear channels were dug into the waste showing carpet worn down through the pad to the wooden floors below, like ancient Roman wagon roads permanently dug into rock.
Curiosity took over, thankfully distracting Pup from the odor of rot that was now permeating the crisply pressed uniform. How could someone live in this filth? Pup got nervous when dishes were left in the sink to soak overnight at home. The corner of Pup’s eye caught something running between the piles. It looked to be the size of a small cat, but the chances were good that the creature was something else entirely. Something that in other homes would be hard pressed to find food and a place to sleep away from predators. In this environment, they thrive.
“Back here!” an officer calls, no urgency in their voice, but shouting as if the stench and heavy air will stifle regular conversation. Following the ruts in the floor, Pup feels almost like a train, unable to turn off the path even if needed. It was then Pup saw the doorknob. Halfway down the entry hall was a door to a room. Judging by the waste and trash piled in front of it, this door has not been opened in years. A brief moment had Pup wondering what might be in there. A memory too powerful to let out? The bedroom of a dead child? Perhaps where this hoarding pattern began and the room is full of discarded items from decades ago? If Geraldo Rivera was here, he’d want that door opened live on camera.
Carefully stepping over assorted animal and human waste in the hallway, Pup now stands in the doorway of the kitchen, near the far end of the hallway. Here the officers have opened a window about 4 inches, “as far as it goes, the others have been painted shut forever,” the older officer notes. There were 3 of them standing in the kitchen, as if late for a dinner party and wondering who gets the last of the guacamole.
Pup’s stomach did another back flip when thinking of the food and vomit was close by. If this sensation was still present when encountering the body, it was going to make it out without a fight. Pup began looking for the bathroom in case a mad dash would be needed but there was no dashing through this house. Each doorway was covered in years of greasy, dirty hand prints where the occupant, or occupants, had tried to pull themselves over the piles of trash and into the next room.
After a cursory look around the hallway it suddenly occurred to Pup where the bathroom was. The forgotten door in the hallway.
“Oh God, Oh God, Oh God” Pup’s inner child began to panic.
Led to a rear sun-room the odor is almost like a curtain.
There on the porch, lying face down, was an elderly man.
But something wasn’t quite right. Pup was new, sure, but the amount of odor in this house could not be created by what appeared to be a recently deceased person. At least not as deceased as the odor was giving away.
“Is this the only body in the house?” Pup asked, noticing the volume of the responses of “Why? He’s right there!”
Pup approached and noticed the discoloration of the parts of the man that touched the floor giving away that the blood inside him was pooling, not pumping. The body is still slightly rigid, allowing Pup to avoid the awkward task of finding a clear level place to put down the cardiac monitor.
“He’s not the source of the smell, guys” Pup called out, voice also raised in an effort to be heard over the smell.
“Sure he is, he’s been dead for weeks, right?” An officer asked while coming to the doorway.
“No, he’s been gone only a few days, he hasn’t started decomposing yet. Something else in this house is though.”