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Friday, May 2, 2014

Hidden in Plain Sight

We drive up the street and it's much like any other residential location. There are gardeners blowing leaves nearby. There are children playing on front lawns.

The monstrosity we are about to enter is hidden in plain sight. There are clues that one learns to eventually see in these situations. The front porch is strewn with junk mail and all kinds of miscellaneous and useless knick knacks.  A neighbor comes out and lets us know that the old man never let anyone inside his home. This is a dead giveaway. This is a hoarder situation.

As we get closer to the door, the smell of stale feces becomes more and more potent.  Our notes show that his sewage isn't working and his "solution" to the problem was to defecate and urinate in empty buckets. We were initially unsure if the waste was being continually cleaned. The ever-strengthening stench has answered our question.

The front door is locked. We check the back.  There are fallen branches and junk everywhere. Discarded cabinets. Old newspapers. Dried up cacti. Children's toys. 

The back door is open because the coroner had to break in to pick up his body. The stench was becoming unbearable and a neighbor reported the situation.

We enter. The mask I'm wearing does absolutely nothing. The stench is nauseating. I have to step out several times to stop my gag reflex. I take the mask off since it's useless. To my unfortunate surprise, I'm getting used to the smell and I no longer mind the shit stench going down my lungs.  There are buckets everywhere. I jokingly tell my colleague that there is chocolate milk in all of them. She calls me an idiot but still laughs because there is no other way to respond.

I check the bedroom. Used condoms on the floor. Homosexual and heterosexual pornography strewn all over the place. I browse through some books on the shelf to search for important documents. Nope, all the books are filled with explicit content used as bookmarks.  He has a stack of wind instruments in a chest near his bed. He used to run a music school and teach children. Seriously?

We enter what is supposedly the living room. Piles and piles of junk from every source imaginable. Lamps. Purses. Discarded violins. A cello. Old tools. An accordion. Framed pornographic photographs. Who frames porn? These are useless questions. You don't ask such things when you enter such a world.

Japanese prints of samurai line most of the walls. There are empty cases everywhere. Why would you keep so many empty receptacles? Silly question of course. I keep my feces nice and cozy next to my bed. You think I follow any coherent form of logic? Such a clueless little boy you are.

We get what we need. We collect the cash, jewelry, and important financial documents. We leave this disgusting world behind only to come back to another the following week. Once again, it most likely hides right in front of you, among the freshly cut grass and children playing.  

What's perhaps a bit unfortunate is that a certain part of me enjoyed entering this vile den that so few people will ever know exists.

Oh, it exists alright.


1 comment:

  1. When I began reading this, I was gripped and ready for some hard-boiled detective fiction. But halfway through I remembered where you work, and then got to the photos at the end, and damn. The world feels a little darker. But great storytelling.

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