Our place was surprisingly quiet for a city apartment. We attributed it to lots of bricks, deadening the sounds of those living above us. The noiselessness kept things cozy.
One Saturday morning we were confronted not with sounds from upstairs, but with smells. I woke up, turned on the bathroom faucet and a stench of earthy decay filled the space. The foulness was embarrassing. Though none of us produced it, another human did–and it was a disgusting, shameful scent.
We had no idea where the stink was coming from, just that it got substantially worse when water was running. Putrid plumbing? Delightful.
A roommate concluded this was an emergency situation, and harassed management accordingly. They replied with a nonchalant, “Oh. Yes. It’s most likely coming from the hoarder above you.”
Unbeknownst to all but the owners of the building, there had been a hoarder living–and hoarding–for three or four years in the unit directly above ours. Permission to evict him had finally been granted, so the process of hollowing out his dwelling had begun. Layers and layers of coke cans, receipts, paper bags, feces-urine-vomit, and possibly a few more creative collections, were removed to a dumpster on the street. None of us encountered the culprit himself, only the ghosts he left behind.
For days the smell lingered, welcoming us home every time we stepped inside. A sensory reminder of one man’s bizarre habit – one he has continued elsewhere, no doubt.
New tenants will arrive soon, bringing sounds of footsteps above along with them.