It doesn’t smell like Teen Spirit!

Shelly called it. Someone was dead!!

I never expected to live in Missouri, or in an apartment, again. All that changed in 2011. There are lots of things to like about apartment living…i don’t have to mow grass, I just pick up the phone if something is broken or isn’t working, there is coffee and a daily paper in the lobby in the morning, and I don’t get nasty letters from a HOA board because i’m not in compliance with some silly, arcane rule. (HOAs are a story for another time…)

One of the best things about The Abbey, the building where we live, is the layout. Three floors, shaped like an octagon, and a perfect place to walk when it makes sense to avoid walking outside….i.e. it’s too hot, too cold, raining, etc. A lap inside the building is a third of a mile, and there are lots of stairs to climb if i’m so inclined.

Yeah, walking laps inside an apartment building can be monotonous but not nearly as boring as a treadmill. Plus I usually do a walk-and-talk, so i’m killing two birds at once. One of my daily walk-and-talks is always with my 89-year old Dad.

Last Friday, as I was just a minute into my call with Dad I caught a whiff of something. Now I do not have the most sensitive sniffer, but this smell was nasty. It was only noticeable for about 100 feet, in one relatively small part of the 1780 foot long lap. The only way to describe what it smelled like that afternoon: it smelled like ass. Or worse.

I only pass that section once on most of my inside walk-and-talks with Dad, as I take a lap of all three floors and then wrap up the call.

The next time that I walked through that part of the building was when I called him on Saturday. Same smell, although even stronger. I’m thinking “don’t the people who live in this part of the building smell this shit?”

Sunday afternoon I asked Shelly if she’d take a walk down the hall with me to see what she thought. She is more sensitive than me in every regard, but especially from an olfactory perspective.

As soon as we reached that section of the 3rd floor, she stopped quickly and her facial expression was one of disgust. The smell was indeed quite disgusting.

Then she said it. “I hope somebody is not dead!”


The first thing this morning I stopped by the office and told Dena about the smell. She said the exact same thing as Shelly.

Ninety minutes later I was back from running a few errands. There was an ambulance in front of the building.

Fifteen minutes later there was a knock on my door. It was Dena. She asked me if I’d come with her and talk to the police and tell them what I had told her earlier. We walked to A-313 and the cop came out, still wearing a mask, and interviewed me for 10 minutes.

If you google “smell of death” there are over 68 million results. I skimmed several of them, with titles like “what does death smell like,” “does death have a smell,” and “researchers isolate ‘the human smell of death’.” They refer to a “singular chemical cocktail,” the “putrefying tissue of dead bodies” and a “five chemical cocktail made up of chemicals that are part of a group of molecules called esters, which are also responsible for the strong, sharp smells emitted by fruits like pineapples and raspberries.”

None of the sites really described the smell. The closest on came was this: “The human smell of death, in other words, is a little bit fruity.”

I wouldn’t call it “fruity,” and not just because I love fruit. I eat lots of it.

The smell of death is disgusting. It smells like ass. Dead ass.

May the lady who lived in A-313 rest in peace.

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