I walked into an apartment this week with the intentions of making it once again livable for a new tenant. The previous occupant had been evicted and just left everything there- sofas, makeshift coffee tables, liquor bottles, and urine-soaked mattresses were amongst the treats found inside a former home that was amongst the filthiest things I've ever witnessed. Crawling through the refuse and junk contained in an apartment that had clearly never been cleaned, I found hundreds of reminders of the fact that this was not only a place where some very troubled people lived, but one also died.
The reminders were noted stickers, hundreds in all, as well as huge red Sharpie circles and codes identifying exactly what the Indian Red chunks and streaks were. These were the last remains of a man who was severely beaten and they occupied the floors, walls, and ceilings of every room in the domicile. 7 weeks ago, a man was brutalized so severely that he never got to go home. He'd been pummeled and left to die while those who were supposed to care for him partied on.
The man had a wife, one that is an alcoholic. Witnessing the fact that she lived and drank and hosted guests who enjoyed their Sherry on a blood-stained sofa for over a month after the police finished their investigation is what chilled me. Cleaning up dead guy is one thing, but realizing that these people enjoyed spirited gatherings in the presence of hundreds of pieces of a man they knew without even bothering to acknowledge it freaked me out. There was no attempt to even remove the bloody handprints from doors. It was even clear that someone had been sleeping on the bed, which was among the places where a human being bled out. It wasn't so much the fact that a man had died here that filled me with gloom, but the callous manner in which the proverbial band played on.
Renovating rentals causes you to see many things, and most are the result of neglect. However, in my mind there is a vast difference between leaving a filthy kitchen behind and simply not caring enough to honour the dignity of your dead husband. To the Crown, who dropped the charges against the attacker, Darrell Andow was just another welfare recipient whose hard life and brutal death didn't matter, but to the woman who shared his bed, he should have been so much more.
I recall voicing my confusion as to why nobody bothered to call emergency services for days while a man lay dying, and I still don't understand fully. Yes, the building is one of the roughest in one of the worst cities in Canada, but I just do not get how some people can live with themselves. My only thinking as to why in my travels I see all of these trashed rental units with their human waste and worse is just how humanity-destroying addiction truly is. Continuous use of booze will cause you to live in conditions so squalid that the cat leaves;(this actually happened in this case) it will make you beat someone to death in an argument over whose turn it is to clean the washroom; it will allow you to drink yourself to sleep on the same piece of furniture your loved one died; it will cause you to have more concern over where you're going to find your next drink than the welfare of your dying partner.
When you live in an addicted city, few things truly surprise anymore. From hookers that make LA's worst look angelic to former lumberjacks staggering drunk down the streets at 8 AM, there is a permanent fog of disease and death eminating from the sidewalks and doorways. Behind doors lurks the dens where the next fix is cooked and tales of the one who got away are told on shit-soaked sofas parked on top of crushed cigarettes and last year's spilled supper. My dismay over this particular example of in-your-face humanity will fade, to be replaced by that over the next in a series of death pits that are ubiquitous in the town that time truly forgot.