Friday, October 27, 2006

The Bad Death Smell

In my old apartment building, like Luka, I lived on the second floor, and every so often the hallway would fill with an unfortunate smell that can only be described as the bad death smell. It wasn’t the smell of garbage, or even the distinct smell of fish that wafted through our neighborhood off the river the other day. It was the smell of something very, very dead coming from underneath the stairs. And frankly, it seemed like it had to be something bigger and deader than a single, trapped rat. A family of possums, possibly, would be the smallest thing that I could imagine would produce such a smell. My downstairs neighbors in that building had had a terrible rat situation at one point, so dead rats wouldn’t have been unthinkable except it would have had to be an army of rats, a nation of dead rat peoples, such was the smell that would have made crime scene investigators apply for a desk job.

I moved. Again, I live on the second floor. And again, the smell of death. Up until now, after two and a half years, the hall has never smelled of anything worse than a hundred years of must, and me, I kind of like that smell. I find a musty smell comforting. But this is not that. What this is is something dead under the stairs. Our landlord thought that it might have something to do with some dead leaves he neglected to remove from the studio below us. I say whatever this is is deader than dead leaves, that dead leaves do not smell like dead people. He removed the leaves, but the smell remained.

I stuck up a Stick-up in the hall, hoping only that it would suffice to get me in and out of the hall without having to hold my breath, but it did pretty much what I knew it would do, which was to add, and perhaps enhance the death smell with artificial – well, I don’t know what the scent is it’s so artificial. Blue. It’s blue-scented. So now we have a heavily blue-scented bad death smell in our hall.

Are you following me, bad death smell? Have I done something to you? Yes, there was that unfortunate incident with the possum up on Western that time, but that was an accident, and he may have been suicidal anyway. Bad death smell, I’m ready for you to pass into the next world, to go up into our attic and haunt us silently and fragrance-free like a good ghosty.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dead Cat. Or squirrel, those mugs are funky dead.
— Chafe

beth b. said...

you need like a jennifer love hewitt "smell whisperer" or something.

teo said...

urban living at its best and worst sometimes....the cool funky stairway that is otherwise cool and funky becomes a bit too deathly for a while. the must will be back! it must! it must!

smussyolay said...

i hate to add to the badness, but anytime i hear about stuff like this, i always get nervous. cause it's like these dahmer things where people sort of smelled something weird or bad and didn't do anything and well, it ends up bad, you know?

and every time i read that stuff i think ... how could people have IGNORED something that smelled like a dead body!? don't dead bodies fucking smell horrible? how do people ignore that?

and so i'm not saying that there's a dead body, but i'm just curious that everyone's just assuming it's a dead animal or something. i'm just paranoid and morbid.

carolyn said...

to follow up your last commenter, i will tell you that when i lived on bank street on the 4th floor there was the bad death smell taking over the hallways and sometimes parts of our apartment...AND THERE WAS A DEAD GUY IN THE APARTMENT ABOVE US. seriously.

Daniel Ridges said...

Christ. Happy Halloween, y'all.

smussyolay said...

SEE!?!?!?!?

Betsy said...

Wow, I had no idea this would touch such a nerve. The Smell Whisperer! Love it. Rest assured, we are certain there is nothing actually dead, as our landlord has inspected and can actually see underneath the stairs. So the smell, while death-like, is either originating elsewhere, or is a copycat smell, which is certainly weird, but there you have it.