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  • 3 days later, office duty again. This time wife and daughter were in our adjoining apartment. I could here their lunch noises in the final phases. A few students and actors mingled in the common areas as sunlight streamed yellow through the tinted skylights. I heard voices outside the door, paid no attention and flipped through a textbook.

    I was a student fighting with Japanese words I would never learn.

    The voices stopped, silence, a knock at the door a few seconds later. I flipped the book closed and called out for them to come in.

    A short kid, dark hair, slight Asian-American looks hurried in. He left the door open and stood with his hands in the pockets of his knee-length shorts. I don't even remember what color they were. I don't remember any more details about him, not even his name.

    He began rushing me with broken sentences and nervous words about Tenant R. He'd been home for a day, R seemed to be locked in his room, silent. All the lights were on, the water was running in the kitchen. The A/C vent covers were gone, the A/C was off. The bathroom was ripped apart and something just didn't feel right.

    I felt dread, knocked on the door from the office to my apartment. Wife answered, I asked her to call the owner and tell him we might have a problem, emergency and to get over here immediately. She nodded not really knowing what the hell I was talking about but recognizing the sound of my voice. I took off with the roommate to the third floor reviewing every emergency procedure I had stored in my head.

    The second I entered the apartment I smelled something sweet. My gut-instinct told me it was three days worth of dead man rotting in summer hot apartment that had been devoid of A/C. I walked back to Tenant R's room, knocked on the door calling out to his roommate.

    "Call the Police, touch nothing and get out. Now."

    He did.

    I knocked on the door and got nothing. I called R's name and got nothing but a very numb feeling and the sense that I was standing behind myself. I tried to open the door, it was locked. For a few minutes I stood there. Long enough for the owner to arrive with a pipe wrench (he only lived five minutes from the building).

    Old Man Owner was a popeye looking fuck with a marine haircut. Many times he had told tales long into the stretch of boredom about his glory days in the WW2, "killin' Japs and German bastards" to the glee of his yammering wife. Today he carefully instructed me in the delicate techniques of using a pipe wrench to spin a lock open.

    I took the wrench, locked it onto the doorknob and looked at the owner. He was backpedaling out of the apartment like a bible beater facing a gay Satan.

    Why the fuck am I doing this? It's his goddamn building! I thought. But he was already out the door and gone.

    I spun the lock and pushed the door open, hitting the dead weight of Tenant R's body.

    The smell hit me hard. A dead human in an 85 degree apartment for three days doesn't smell much different than any other dead thing in an 85 degree apartment for three days. But knowing it's a human? That's different.

    I knew he was dead, but I still needed to know he was dead, so I called his name. Careful not to disturb anything, I slid through the opening and into his room.

    Lying on the floor, legs outstretched, one arm at his side and one behind his head lay Tenant R - staring at the ceiling with sunken, dull eyes. His skin was transparent white on top, then a nearly black purple hear the floor where his blood had settled.

    I cocked my head and stared at him, calling his name. He looked...peaceful.

    His room did not. Something had hit it. The bed was flung apart, shelves were torn down, the floor was covered. He had raged in here. Then he just lay himself on the floor, in front of the door and let death take him.

    There was a distant click in my head, a numb wash and I went insane. I realized how simple it was to die, and I wanted to try it for myself.

    I slipped back through the door and out of the apartment just as the Police arrived. A crowd of tenants was beginning to gather. I gave words and statements to the Officers, gathered the wife and child, went to a friends house and got very, very drunk.
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