The stench was appalling.
You could smell it from 100 yards outside the three story apartment block.
No wonder the neighbours were complaining.
It was two weeks after Christmas and they had thought it was due to the increased volume of refuse and lack of collection over the festive period.
But now the rubbish had been collected and the smell lingered, so they called it in.
Even my probationer Stevie knew what it was the moment we parked up outside the dilapidated council block.
Stevie pressed the button on the secure entry. The caller a Mrs Armstrong lived in Flat 2/2, directly below the flat we were about to visit.
It’s not hard to guess why the smell would be worst in her place.
I’d already noticed the curtains twitching when we parked the car and she answered the buzzer within moments, opening the door to the building without the need for introductions.
I could hear her unlocking her door as we walked up the stairs. Two mortice locks and a Yale.
Stevie had checked the history of the block and there had been a number of break-ins over the years. Mrs Armstrong had been broken into twice.
Kevin McLeod, the occupant of the flat we were about to visit was suspected. He had a habit that he funded by a petty crime and a list as long as you’re arm.
But suspicion isn’t proof and who knows if it was Kevin shitting on his own doorstep or some other junkie acquaintance.
The door was open by the time we reached the last turn on the stairs. Mrs Armstrong, 60 and looks it, cigarette in hand, standing arms crossed, ready to greet us.
“About fucking time” she spat the words at us.
Maybe the community policing officer should have made more of an effort charming this old boiler.
I’ll try and remember to bring that up at the next community policing team meeting.
Stevie did the formalities, not that Mrs Armstrong was interested in our names, ranks or badge numbers.
“I don’t give a fuck son, but you too aren’t going to clean up this mess with stupid wee car of yours.”
I left Stevie to explain that we were just the initial response team and if there was a need to call for backup then we would have more resources on the scene as necessary.
I allowed myself a brief smile at Mrs Armstrong’s retort to Stevie’s by the book explanation of police procedure.
“What-fucking-ever son, just get that wee bastard out of here.”
No love lost there then.
I gave the door the cursory police style knock, three rapid thumps, a three second pause and then and another three thumps, already knowing that it was a pointless exercise and there might be a body here but nobody was home.
Stevie arrived with a quizzed look on his face. This was his first attendance at a death scene and he was keen to know the procedure on the drive over.
I stepped back from the door.
“Have a look through the letter box”. I told him.
He bent his knees slowly, placed one hand on the letterbox and used the other to push the metal flap of the letterbox inwards.
I took a step back, I knew what was coming next.
The sickeningly sweet pungent aroma of death was carried on the air by a micro swarm of flys and bluebottles.
Stevie jumped to his feet and was three steps down from the landing in an instant, bent double, one hand on the wall holding himself up, the other over his mouth as he retched through his fingers.
I gave him a minute to compose himself then shoulder charged the door.