“Number four, there!’ I pointed, looking up from the map. Squinting through his small spectacles, Macca pulled into the gravel driveway of the house squared off with police tape. Now that we could see the house, we also noticed the police car parked to the side and two officers leaning on the bonnet with coffee in hands.
“Hi, Officers!’ I waved as we jumped out of the van.
You would be surprised how afraid the police seem to be of dead bodies. Same goes with many paramedics. Once life is declared extinct, they tend to leave the scene pretty quickly.
Only recently, we arrived at the scene of a man who had drank himself to death. His rum and coke had spilt across the kitchen tiles by his side and his arm frozen in the air as he had tried to save his fall. Alcohol seeped from the overweight man’s pores. The police had met with us at the door, but when I returned to the front steps to fetch the police for a lending hand, they had already left!
Gravel crunching underfoot, Macca and I headed to the front door of the small house with our carry stretcher. The instructions from our call centre advised the home was small and our regular stretcher would not make it down the hallway and around the tight corners. The police had suggested our decomposition wear also; the deceased had not been discovered for over a week, and it was the middle of Summer!
As soon as we opened the door, although we could not see a thing, the smell of death punched me in the face. The elderly lady was a hoarder, rats scurried beneath our boots as we stepped over piles of books magazines and newspapers. Bags of rubbish were moving with buzzing flies and cockroaches.
‘Is that…???’ I turned to Macca, flashing my torch in his eyes.
I pointed my torch down to find not a rat or cockroach, but a kitten! No bigger than the size of my hand. It rubbed against my trousers, peering up at me. Two others joined it’s side.
‘There’s bloody kittens…everywhere!’
Trying not to step on the small pets we continued towards the room at the end of the hall. The stench of decomposition was almost unbearable, I held my nose as we approached the bedroom.
“Shiiit!” I screamed jumping back. There on the floor lying by the bed was the remains of an old lady dressed in her floral nightie, her slippers still on her almost non existent feet. Her face had been eaten away by her kittens, and/or the rats and other crawling creatures who had taken up residence. The yellow glow from her bedside lamp cast eerie shadows across the wallpaper, shedding just enough light for us to go about our job. Without a word Macca and I stepped into our plastic body suit, pulled down our goggles and snapped on our gloves. Stepping over more books to make way for our stretcher, we discovered pages and pages swept across the wet carpet as if they had been dropped. The pages looked like journal entries typed on a typewriter. As I gathered the papers, I discovered the title page:
‘Happily Ever after, written by Madeline Rhodes.‘
‘Come on, Em,’ Macca hurried me as I had now stopped, scanning the print of what now appeared to be a manuscript. We leant down to pick up the poor old lady, the carpet squelching under our boots like we had stepped in a puddle.
As we lifted her, she literally fell apart in our hands.
“You reckon the cops will still be outside to help us?’ Macca joked, laying part of her leg onto the stretcher.
Elbow deep in flesh, blood and goop, we zipped up the body bag and softly closed the door behind us and the dim glow of the lamp that had given light to the elderly writer as she had written her story.