Sunday, June 01, 2008

There Went the Neighborhood

My next-door neighbor's apartment smells like decomposing bait.

It permeates the hallway, even though I have opened the stairwell windows, and is especially lethal right in front of her door.

I can't imagine what is going on in there. I have smelled silage, fermented fodder, which is enough to ruin ones appetite forever, but this is worse. Fish heads, dead seals on the beach, desert road kill -- these are nothing compared to the stench emanating from Robin's nest. Last year, a dead whale got beached nearby. You could smell it for miles around, long after they towed it out to sea.

Close, but not quite as bad as the toxic waste spill next door.

I fantasize about calling the police to come and break down her door. Don't they find dead bodies all the time because neighbors complained about bad smells?

This more than qualifies.

I would like to ask her about it but since we don't speak to each other, it would be difficult. Also, what could I possibly say?

"Um, excuse me, Robin, what are you cooking? The smells are ... amazing."

We are running out of Ozium. Again. I'm not sure there's enough Ozium in the world to neutralize anything this rank.

Skankblossom has now been in the apartment for exactly one year. Last week, the mail carrier asked me to place an armload of mail from her overstuffed mailbox on the stone bench in the building lobby. It was all addressed to Jackie, who moved out without giving notice and moved Robin in as her sub-tenant, and to several of Robin's sub-sub-tenants.

Robin does not have her name on anything because she lives under the radar.

She is the stowaway from hell.

I packaged it all up neatly with rubber bands and took it to the building management company. Still they did nothing.

I should have taken it to the police because I suspect that Robin murdered Jackie. She is still driving Jackie's Audi convertible, and probably not paying any rent because it is paid automatically by Jackie's bank.

Maybe what I smell is the remains of Jackie.

She would probably be upset to know that she's not such a hot number anymore.


RED MOJO said...

That is highly suspicious. She lives in Jackie's place, drives Jackie's car. Jackie isn't having her mail forwarded anywhere, and there's a terrible stench!

Yup, she killed her.

thailandchani said...

It does sound suspicious. Is David Caruso anywhere around there?

Seriously though.. that sounds really strange! It's like she's assumed Jackie's identity.

Write this up and submit it to one of the forensic cop shows.

BroLo said...

How's this for an opening line? "Hi. I've come to admire your Titan Arum.

James B. said...

Damn! Sounds like you might have a real life murder mystery going on. Funny - not ha ha funny, but curiously similar, Mrs. B called me outside yesterday with nearly the exact concerns about the woman in the duplex that borders our back yard. We haven't seen her since her boyfriend was arrested two weeks ago for smacking her around and then got released on bail (and probably snuck back home) a few days later. Over the past few days her place has begun to stink so badly that even with her AC running the smell is permeating outside the house. You can smell it in my yard. Plus her almost new truck hasn't been around for a few days. Wierd. One of my best friends is the cop who patrols this part of the neighborhood on weekdays. I've asked him to look into it. I hope it's not what we think.

James B. said...

BTW, I don't know if you're taking new "applicants" for your blogroll, but if you are, my new address is

Thanks for considering my application ;-)

Nick said...

Very fishy indeed. If I were you, I think I would go to the police because of (a) the dreadful smell and all those stories about undiscovered bodies (b) the pile of mail still arriving for someone who's disappeared.

The police can find out whether there's an innocent explanation or whether something odd's going on.

Drastic action is needed before you and Flip pass out from the toxic fumes.

furiousBall said...

yuck, yeah call the cops, seriously

heartinsanfrancisco said...


And yet, the mind balks at such a thought.

I think that in terms of human behavior, there are no "nice" neighborhoods anymore, but still a part of me believes that such things cannot happen next door to ME.


Where is that damned Horatio when we need him?


Welcome to these stinking shores, and thank you for the link. That is a plant I don't have, but it sounds even nastier than "skunk cabbage" which was the weapon of choice among mean kids of my childhood.

I'm pretty sure the only plants that interest Robin are already bottled: agave, hops, potatoes, sorghum, barley, juniper...


There are some striking similarities in our situations, and probably in the odors. I used to manage a domestic violence shelter, and your suspicions should be checked out. As should mine.

I linked your old blog on my sidebar for a long time. My feelings were a little hurt that you didn't link to mine and rarely visited, so when you moved I removed it although I continued to read your fine posts. I enjoy your writing and your mind and would love to have you on my blogroll again. Would you consider a trade?


Strictly speaking, I don't know that Jackie has disappeared. She moved out last May and the same crew moved Robin in later that day. Jackie denied that she was moving and insisted that she was getting "all new furniture" and that Robin was her "cousin" who might stay there once in a while.

While Robin was directing the movers where to put things, I said, "So you ARE moving in?" She said, "Oh, no, just a few pieces of clothing in case I ever stay overnight here." Our conversation was then interrupted by an eight-foot couch being carried into the apartment.

She has rented the place out almost constantly to other people so we never know who is on the other side of a thin wall. Despite my frequent complaints, the management company has done nothing about it. Even stranger, (perhaps,) is the fact that among the contents of the stuffed mailbox were several envelopes from Audi Financial Services, which made me wonder why they haven't repossessed the car if payments are not being made. It's quite mysterious.


I'd like to. It's possible that she is just not removing organic garbage. Maybe I should call the Health Department instead. Or the DEA, in case she's cooking crack or meth.

meno said...

Ooooh, this is so Rear Window!

Anonymous said...

I'm having a horrifying image of some poor naked kid running from the building and THEN they finally invetsigate and find the body parts.

The CEO said...

Why the guessing and working through all the possibilities. Just call the police and report that you suspect foul play. Don't mention that you suspect terrorist involvement, or you'll get the FBI with the local police.

Pick your excitement level, and how much grief you want your next door neighbor to have. Adjust your suspicions accordingly. Keep your camera ready, please.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


That's very comforting.


And that, too. A lovely image which is now burned into my brain forever.

Thank you, ladies.


Maybe I could get a camera crew from some true crime show, or better yet -- would you like to come over and photograph the denoument? You know you want to.

On a limb with Claudia said...

I agree with Van and I'm not sure why you haven't called the police. Dead bodies smell like rotting bait. Call the police - if you won't should I?

comfortandjoy said...

You and Flip could show up with liquor and pie, smile, and invite yourselves in.

Once inside you could ask gentle but pointed questions as you pour her many drinks. The sweet pie, strong booze, and your direct but gentle gaze make her want to confess, come clean, repent.

Flip could excuse himself to use the bathroom and check out her medicine cabinet and any suspicious corners or doorways in which the smell increases in intensity.

Catch a killer with your wits, your man, liquid truth, and baked goods.

I can see you now.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Here's the thing. The odor comes and goes. That's why I hesitate, and why I can't figure out its origin except that it comes from her apartment.


Methinks perhaps you've been reading ""Arsenic and Old Lace" a bit too avidly, my dear. Or Agatha Christie.

Sienna said...

This is seriously odd.


If that was a body the odor would surely stay consistent, not come and go....

Thinking deeply here....

Say, when you make drugs does that create an odor?

Did Jackie really ever exist??

Was "Jackie" an invention of Clitticus Clatterall as a "cover up" alias?

What if CC was just a disguised (CC) Jackie to put you off to begin with?

I would be tempted to sneak into the there an outside connecting ledge you could send someone out onto, and crawl across to her window and get in that way?

What if she gets making drugs and blows the bloody joint up?

I'm thinking it's not a nice place to live anymore.

Be careful mate.


heartinsanfrancisco said...


I am concerned about the possibility of a drug lab next door since she was never vetted by the management company like everyone else AND rents the place out regularly to strangers, who could have ongoing access to the building and garage by duplicating keys.

It's a bad situation which is overshadowing the otherwise good aspects of living here: Great location, nice apartment, safe neighborhood, and 4 1/2 years invested under rent control.

Jackie and Clitoris Clatteris are different people. We share a fire escape, but I have resisted climbing out and looking in her windows. (She keeps her blinds closed anyway -- I can tell from the backyard.)

the walking man said...

"The odor comes and goes."

The odor would come and go depending on a number of factors, wind direction, barometric pressure differentials, her windows open or closed, your windows opened or closed.

Personally whether foul play or not it is an opportunity to deal with a persistent irritant and maybe catch someone helping to destroy your neighborhood.


comfortandjoy said...

Heart, no, no. You have it all wrong. I've been reading too much criminal law and evidence and daydreaming about female super-sleuths. You're keeping the dream alive.

Rachel said...

this is a very disturbing event. If ms. jackie is not dead she is either in jail or working abroad.

the management company obviously doesn't care, which means they are getting their rent, meaning that jackie's bank account is continously replensihed.

I don't think jackie is dead...but there just might be something dead in there.

I'd call the police, at the very least you'd find out what's going on, and you also know who to call when the place fouls up again. these are deplorable conditions and need to be fix and someone is responsible.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Hmmm. It is probably not a good idea to do nothing. At least the apartment management should investigate a complaint about bad smells. You could ask Robin for Jackie's contact info as a friend wanting to get in touch.

Ian Lidster said...

I would seriously check out the possibility of a meth lab, because they stink atrociously, and that isn't something you want next door, dear, due to the fear of fire.
I think a decomposing body would be preferable. How horrid for you in any case.

WNG said...

I always get nervous about saying things like that because what if she really DID kill Jackie??? How does she not smell it? This is wierd. I think you'd be perfectly withing your rights to call the cops and complain.

jameil1922 said...

wow... "decomposing bait?" now vomiting on your behalf.

velvet said...

Ooh, it all sounds mightily suspicious and that smell sounds more than a might unpleasant. Ditto what other people said, you should call someone.

seventh sister said...

It really does sound like someone could be cookingup some meth in there and you could call the police whenthe smell is really bad. They would most likely check it out and you might be rid of her or at least who ever is doing it would figure out that your biulding is not a safe place for them to be engaging in that kind of activity and go somewhere else.

Maria said...

Ohhh. This sounds very....interesting. And I have only smelled a decomposing body once and it was enough to make me vomit within seconds. someone.

Old Scrote said...

I don't know about the laws in your country, but here (UK), you would call the local authority to report a possible health hazarzm and they would be legally obliged to investigate. That way you do your civic duty without getting enmeshed in the situation yourself, or prejudging it as you would if you went to the police. I hope it gets resolved for you.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Barometric pressure is not such a big concern in an apartment, but I would dearly love to put her out of my misery.


My father was a criminal defense lawyer. Murders were the order of the day in our house, discussed over dinner, trials reenacted instead of bedtime stories.

And yet I was not allowed to read Nancy Drew books because they were "trash."


I think Jackie may be a hooker so her fate is uncertain at best.

It's deplorable that the rental company doesn't care who is living here as long as the rent is paid. We could have the next Charlie Manson next door.


Robin wouldn't give me Jackie's information. She knows they both lied to my face while they were respectively moving in and out.

My only recourse will be a city servant because the management company has abdicated all responsibility.


This person is very bad news, but I have stubbornly refused to move because WE shouldn't have to.

I do believe that we are engaged in a Russian Roulette game, though.


I guess I've been hesitating because it might be construed as a simple neighbor dispute and not the dangerous situation it seems to be.


Vomiting by proxy. You are too kind.


And I happen to have an unusually keen sense of smell, like a tracking animal.


I am going to call the next time it's really bad, which it is not today. It does begin to sound more like drug cooking than somebody decomposing because of the sporadic nature of it.


I will. I can't be responsible for making you vomit again.


That's the thing -- I really would like not to be involved because if she remains in the building, there will be repercussions.

Christy said...

One thing I cannot handle is bad smells. I just cannot. My sniffer is too sensitive. I would have to say something to the landlord.

Craze said...

I would seriously call the police, that sounds very odd.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


So is mine.

She either removed the carcass or she IS cooking something dangerous because she's been gone for a couple of days and the smell is gone, too, for now.


I will the next time I catch a whiff of anything.

Jocelyn said...

I'd worry that the police would come, break down the door, and discover Neighbor With a Really Bad Yeast Infection.

heartinsanfrancisco said...



A yeast infection is probably nothing to her.


Maddy said...

Call in the CSI's [anonymously]

OC said...

I'd definatly call, no matter what the stench is, it's a health hazzard. I think just the stench alone is reason to call. I want to puke on your behalf, what a mess.

Franki said...

jesus christ woman...want me to to call the police? this hostage situation has gone on long enough.

so sorry you are going thru this!

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Oh Hearts!

That's awful! EW!!!

Everyone has offered up such interesting ideas for you to get rid of her, perhaps it's time to revisit those?

Sorry to hear about this...

*still giggling about Skankblossom*

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Los Angelista said...

I totally would call the police! That's just disgusting and whatever she is doing to cause such a bad smell probably shouldn't be going on. My skanky neighbor is gross but she's still not as bad as yours. :(

Anonymous said...

I am voting on a new perfume that Robin has taken a liking to. A skank perfume. Whattaya think?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I don't think it's possible to do anything anonymously anymore. All the emergency agencies have caller ID, and that's what worries me.


You don't know how much I appreciate your puking on my behalf. Not everybody would do that.


It has felt like a hostage situation since she moved in. She really spreads the hate.


If the shoe fits... she really is quite skanky.


We should swap neighbor stories. I'll show you mine if you show me yours.


YES! Eau de Skanke. It's skankalicious.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

You mean if the tattered spiky heel fits.

ha ha ha.

By the way, Moon Topples is back.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Anonymous said...


I hear you on your anonymity concerns but at this point I think I'd be likely to exercise all possible clandestine resources.

Got a friend of a friend of a friend who is a cop? Deliberately hang in a Donut shop and, if a cop is within earshot, start "sharing" your tale to the checker filling your order? While eating out and spying an officer dining in an adjacent table, how about walking up and politely asking for advice as to how to proceed?

You are a most resourceful, intuitive and creative One. I trust you'll know exactly what to do and when to do it.

Yeesh, squared.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I mean the tattered, spiky heel with suspicious fluids on it.

(Bless her heart.)

Thank you for the intelligence about our friend, the Moon Man.


I don't know any police officers, but maybe if I eat donuts, the cop will follow. At least the donuts will distract me from the pain.

katrice said...

Yeah, she's definitely dead and stored in a freezer that probably only recently went kaput.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Yeah, she should just have eaten the remains before the sell-by date.

Anonymous said...

Really? How spooky is that. NOt sure I would want to live next door to a dead person. At least you don't have to ask them to turn the music down...

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

This is a mystery. You have to investigate. If Sam Spade were real and still lived in San Francisco, he would investigate.

Whatever happens, you must tell us the results! This blog is not a mystery novel where I can flip to the last page to find the answer.