Archive for hoarder

EPISODE 15 — The Hoarder (Part 2)

Posted in Death, Mortuary with tags , , , on June 20, 2013 by Morguie
disinfested cockroaches

disinfested cockroaches (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The firefighters continued breaking a path ahead. CJ and Bill retreated, and once back in the safety of the open yard, were busily knocking more roaches off each other. The bugs were in every growth stage and I want to say, there were LOTS of them, scrambling about through their clothes, inside CJ’s blouse, and some tangling into her long locks. CJ was freaking out, just shy of full-blown hysterics. Bill began to pull his socks up, over the cuffs of his trousers, to prevent any bugs from crawling up his legs when they went back into the house. He advised CJ to do the same. He gave her a minute to calm down and compose herself, then they moved to the porch. I noticed a pile of junk on the porch bench. Hey! There were fresh oranges and a bunch of greenish-yellow bananas setting atop the day’s edition of the paper. Huh! I thought, this must be the safe place to keep the produce at this house. On the porch!hearnoevil

The firemen met them in the ‘tunnel’ which led to the kitchen. There lay the woman, face-down on the floor in front of the stove. There were several cans of Ajax powder around the counters and on top of yet more piles of refuse. I could see half a dozen cans of aerosol roach killer, some on the floor, some laying on their sides, scattered willy-nilly about the place. A wonder a fire had not claimed her before now, really. Darkness had fallen and the beams of light from the flashlights were all the light we had in the house now. The deputy was correct in his assumption—no way was that gurney going to make it through this mess! However…just a few more feet past the dead woman, like manna from heaven, stood the back door! One of the men pushed and pulled until it opened. The incredible stench of putrescine¹ and cadaverine² were overtaking all of us; Bill was gagging and clamoring to get outdoors. I was not feeling so great myself. However, where could I go? Yes, indeed, I would remember this! NEXT time I believed I’d just be a mouse and stay safely inside my quarters, minding my business! For the time being, I would have to suffer silently in the pocket — a just punishment. CJ was holding her collar flap over her nose as she bent over the woman on the floor; in the darkness she thought she saw a wristwatch on the left wrist. She picked up the lady’s hand as the flashlight beam shone down. YIKES!

 It wasn’t a wristwatch! A host of roaches scattered in every direction — they had been feasting on the arm, encircling the wrist, causing a ring of open flesh there. Rigor mortis had come and gone;  as they rolled the body over,  advancing decomposition was evident around the belly, judging from the greenish-black color of the skin there. The skin had begun to ‘slip³’ as well. Liquid purge  issued from the mouth and nose. It was such a typical scene, though, when a body has lain dead for a couple of days, especially with the heat. Ugh!

As CJ and Bill worked to stifle their gag reflexes, they slipped the linen sheet around the woman, tying knots at either end. This enabled them to carry the heavy body with ‘handles.’ The firefighters had cleared a path out the door to the back of the house. Bill ran around to retrieve the gurney.

I noticed that, just beyond the rear walkway, in the yard, stood a card table, on which there were lined up very neatly. Antiquities of many types, were all in neatly organized areas, in the back lot. Incredible!  

Cobalt Blue antique glass bottles under Bremne...

Cobalt Blue antique glass bottles under Bremner Ave in Toronto excavation site (Photo credit: Roberrific)


Without much waiting, the coroner investigator arrived, did a quick evaluation, and decided she would sign off on this one. It looked like a ‘natural’ death by her estimation. She said she would forward the documentation to headquarters after she called the woman’s physician in the morning. With that, the woman was loaded and we set off to drive back home, finally.

CJ and Bill discussed the incredible clutter and talked about what they were going to need to do once they got the woman back to the mortuary, such as notifying the husband. I thought about the fact that the estranged husband had moved to the eastern seaboard. I thought to myself, a very smart move! Three thousand miles seemed to be a good enough distance from that house…sadly.sleepingcat


I would be spending the night away from my nest. They were planning a major spray-down and fumigation when they took her into the prep room. The poisons would be deadly. I could only hope that none of those odious roaches would survive. I knew I wouldn’t get a wink of sleep that night, even upstairs in the parlor fireplace hole. It would be tricky just making my way to it; Chester would be sleeping nearby, and worse, those guillotines with the unmerciful jaws were placed like landmines along the baseboards I had to run to reach the hole.


CJ’s night was going to be one of little sleep, too. She detested roaches. No doubt, there would be signs of maggots, too, by morning. Poor girl!   

What a creepy end to an otherwise perfect summer day!

 ¹Putrescine, or tetramethylenediamine, is a foul-smelling organic chemical compound by the breakdown of amino acids in living and dead organisms.   ²Cadaverine, (literally “essence of dead cadavers”) or  pentamethylenediamine, is a foul-smelling diamine compound produced during putrefaction of animal tissue. Cadaverine is responsible for urine odor in the living.³ Skin slip, or loosening of the skin,  is a natural part of decomposition after death.

 © 2013, C.S. Thompson.

EPISODE 15 — The Hoarder (Part I)

Posted in Death with tags , , , on June 17, 2013 by Morguie


It was close to the end of the business day, mid- summer. The sun was deceptively high still in the western sky when the phone rang. A death call over in a little mining town about forty miles away. Mr. Becker served a wide area, but was also a designated first call liaison for all of the regional coroner‘s offices in the tri-county area. A coroner call could be an unattended death at home (no doctor’s care of the person in the past 21 days, usually), a traffic fatality, a suicide or homicide, or any cause of death which requires an investigation. 

It seems a neighbor decided to call the sheriff, who found the deceased, after she hadn’t noticed her for a couple of days. The neighbor knew the lady lived alone and became concerned at the lack of activity normal for the house. Papers, two of them, and the mail had not been collected, as well.

We got very few details, but since it was in the next county, we assumed it was a possible coroner’s case. We would know once we arrived and assessed the situation and got the sheriff’s information. This was going to be a very new adventure for myself. A coroner’s case? Sounded serious…I noticed CJ was anything but thrilled about this. Not to say she was EVER thrilled to attend to a death call. However, she seemed less like her usual self, not happy-looking in the least. I wondered why…of course I planned to tag along on this one; soon I would know why.

The sun was beginning to sink to the horizon when we arrived at the house.  Bill and CJ got out of the van and approached the deputy standing in the yard. The deputy gave the information about the deceased to CJ, who busily scrawled it onto a first call sheet. The woman, Mrs. Santini,  had no children. She was estranged from her husband, who lived somewhere on the east coast. Once the deputy gave her what he had, CJ and Bill went to pull the gurney out. The deputy said something about leaving the cot on the porch, there was no way he could see that it would be workable to take it inside the house. CJ and Bill exchanged puzzled glances. The deputy hesitated, obviously not wanting to go back inside the house to show CJ and Bill where the lady was. He said he’d called the fire department and notified the coroner investigator, both would be along shortly. He had to go; he said he had another call to attend to. Just like that, the sheriff’s car pealed from the driveway, the deputy was gone. Hmm, I thought. Why was he acting so strangely? Sure as heck wasn’t forthcoming about why the gurney wouldn’t work in the house…odd. The gurney nearly ALWAYS works in the houses; the exceptions were trailers or upstairs apartments without lifts. This was a good-sized house, complete with a large, albeit cluttered veranda.goat

I was thinking about popping out of my place down in CJ’s jacket pocket, just to get a look around inside. What could be the big deal here? I didn’t need to, it turned out. Just then the big fire truck pulled up out front, on the street . One of the firefighters asked CJ about what they needed to do to help. Bill and CJ had not been into the house, so the two men grabbed axes and followed them into the home. I could see it was very dark. I climbed up to the top of the pocket to see. We were scarcely a few short paces inside the front door when we stopped. The firemen flipped on their flashlights, advising CJ and Bill to wait right there.

What I saw was the most incredible sight! The entire room, stacked to within mere inches from the ceiling, was a massive pile of books, newspapers, household items—a narrow footpath led through the tunnel-like walls of stuff on either side. Another footpath led around the other way, to an old shabby recliner, and then wound beyond into another room. The entire place was solidly filled to the brim with trash and assorted items, wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling! The firemen were making slow progress on the path ahead. Just then, a petrified orange rolled off the pile, tripping CJ, who didn’t have far to fall. “Bill! Help me! Please! I don’t want to see where I am falling to!” Bill quickly obliged, catching her forearm, while she attempted to steady herself into an upright stance. The massive avalanche of stuff that came down around them next made her scream. “Oh God! What the hell is crawling on my face?!”  Bill knocked a huge cockroach off!


I hunkered down in the pocket. This was no time to feel adventurous or even the slightest bit curious! No way did I want to have one of those creatures near me! EEEEK! Staying in my nest was suddenly a much safer option that I should have taken. Nosy, nosy ME! Why can’t I figure out when to mind my own business? This would be my lesson for the next house call. However, I was here now. In it for the duration…ugh!  There was an odor here, now becoming stronger; I hated my nose! My nose, my best sensory organ after my ears, was picking up the sickly sweet smell of…WHERE WAS THE DEAD BODY?

To be continued in “The Hoarder, Part II…


©2013, C.S. Thompson.

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