The neighbours finally moved their mountain of garbage to the curb, and then the garbage truck came and took it all away, which is fabulous. But now we think they’ve flown the coop because everything appears to be gone – the garbage, the car that wouldn’t start, the people themselves – and they’ve left their bathroom window wide open. I know it’s not really my problem, but it’s super cold out there and the pipes could freeze and burst, so I sent their landlord an email.
In other news from the neighbourhood, one of my neighbours died in a house fire a couple of nights ago. She was 81. I didn’t know her. It seems kind of sad that a person could make it to 81 only to perish in a house fire, though I suppose it’s no better or worse than dying of complications from a fall. The house that burned down was right next door to the pink house, which is the house with the immaculate garbage.
Speaking of sad ways to go, I stumbled across a newspaper article the other day about a skeleton found in an apartment. The landlord decided to clean the place up and rent it to someone else, and found the skeleton, who was wearing nothing but socks. The landlord said he was a model tenant. It just seemed so bizarre to me on so many levels, not the least of which was what kind of landlord allows you to not pay your rent for years before knocking on your door?
(That skeleton, incidentally, is going to figure prominently in my next short story.)
GC and I were lying in bed when I told him about the skeleton.
“How long does it take for a dead body to turn into a skeleton?” he asked.
“Well,” I began, and then proceeded to give him a detailed breakdown of how a body breaks down. Different cells break down at different rates. Brain cells are the first to go, and the pancreas is pretty fast too because of the enzymes. The uterus is the last to go. I talked about bacteria and gases and how coroners can estimate the time of death by the kinds of insects present in the body. I explained how the environment in which the body is decomposing affects the speed of decomposition. Water slows it down, as does being buried – the deeper you’re buried, the slower you’ll decompose. If you want to hasten the process, put the body somewhere outdoors, exposed, near the equator.
“A body in an apartment in England would take approximately two years to become a skeleton,” I said, wrapping up my five-minute answer.
That’s when I noticed he was looking at me funny.
“How do you know all that?” he asked.
This is how.