Can we poke him with sticks?!

I was back home from a day shift and was eating some dinner.  Every mouthful however, was tainted by a distinct malodour that lingered stubbornly in the back of my nostrils and seemed hell bent on contaminating every lung full of air that I breathed.

This delightful fragrance was a bit like the smell that comes from a bin, whereby the fermented contents have broken through the liner and spilled all over the bottom – a long time ago.  And also a bit like rotting meat.

I was currently on my first practice placement and was fresh out of tech school.  When I’d finished work earlier that day my Paramenace mentor mentioned something to me and his words suddenly came back to haunt me . . .

That smell will be with you for couple of days now.  When you watch TV, eat dinner, have a shower, go to bed . . . it’ll be there alright.  Nothing will get rid of it hey.”

My first ever job attending was earlier that day and was to a [tippy title=”purple ++” URL=””]  Purple + – This is the term used medically for a patient that is dead – and has been a while.  To a point of obviously dead.  The more “+” marks you add, the more “obvious” they are dead. [/tippy].  Sadly, the patient had been dead over a week, shut up in a room that faced south with shut windows and no curtains.  It had also been extremely hot and humid all week.

My crew mates – both paramenaces – didn’t hang about.  They took one look and went straight back to the truck.  They said that was all they needed to pronounce life extinct.  However, the police wanted some help moving the body to check for “suspicious circumstances” and one of them had come down to ask.  On cue the two paramenaces turned away, both in a theatrical act of checking their phones for any recent messages.

So, I volunteered.

There were two things that made this quite sick and one that made it interesting.  The interesting point was that the patient presented to us as what looked like an obese African black man – black skin, puffed cheeks, fattened lips, bulging eyes and bloated body.  But our investigations showed that this man had in fact been a slim white British man.  The discolouration and bloating were merely the results of internal bacterial gases and decomposition.

The two things that made it sick were when we tried to move the patient to look at their back. Firstly, when we rolled him one way the back of his head stayed attached to the sofa unveiling an army of maggots residing within.  The second was when we attempted to move him the other way.  As the patient had been sat there so long all the blood had pooled into his legs.  The skin, now gossamer and translucent, instantly gave way allowing the oily treacle like fluid to spill out over the floor . . . and right over one of the officer’s boots.

He was not a happy bunny.

A while later I was back down at the truck completing paper work.  A group of young children had gathered nearby and were showing an increased interest in what was happening.  A couple of them gained some courage and sheepishly approached us.

“Hey, mister.  What’s happened up there?  Is the man dead?”

I looked up at the first story flat.  A swarm of flies were hovering about the now open windows.  The thick stench was still pouring out into the street making people a hundred yards away reel in horror and disgust.  I looked over at the police car where the officer was currently attempting to clean his boots.  He was cursing lots.  To me the outcome of what had happened here was pretty obvious but I had to take it seriously and assume that these kids might perhaps be in a form of shock or possibly even in denial.

I wiped some sweat from my forehead and knelt down in front of them.  And smiling as warmly as I could I took a deep breath before speaking.  The two children listened intently with wide eyes and open mouths.  My words were slow and deliberate.

“I’m afraid so guys.  I’m afraid the gentleman died a while back.  The poli. . . .”

At that very moment huge grins sprung across their faces and they cut me off before I could finish.

“Can we poke him with sticks then!!”

We left shortly afterwards.