"Welfare check at Kal and Breakers. Elderly neighbor with COPD and diabetes has not been seen in three and a half weeks. Mail is piling up."
I know what I will find. The potential is thin.
I punch the address in the box. It's clear. There are no P.I.'s on the address. Fire and medical haven't attended to him.
On scene, the house is shut up. The shades are down. The drapes are dawn. The lights are off.
His neighbors wait with hope on their faces. They buy his groceries and cash his checks. They tell me he's seventy-five and a shut in, a hermit who keeps to himself.
They point to his full mailbox, mention a full voicemail.
They don't have key or know his kin.
I knock hard on the doors, windows, listen, then call the sergeant.
I'm gonna call Fire to help me break in.
They use an axe to pop a small window. One crawls in and opens the front door.
Inside, the man is dead, lying down in a makeshift bed on the living room floor. He been watching SyFy, and died in his sleep.
I look around to determine the time of death.
The walls areyellow. The floor is black. The carpet is sticky. Mold tops his mug of black coffee. I sift through his bills set out in piles on the couch. The last one is scheduled to be sent out on November 20th.
As I gather the items, the M.E. needs, his medicine, his wallet, his keys, the smells creeps in, the smell of death, the rot and decay. It lingers in my nose, on my hair, and an in my clothes, long after the call, in the prowler, in the precinct, back at home, hours later.
One of the frequent flyers, one I've written about in the past, did not make it through the winter. He beat the odds living through the winters past. Between ice, alcohol, and illness, he was too fragile.
At the end of shift, in the locker room, Hull said, "Hey, did you know..."
It happened a few weeks ago.
The last time I took him into custody, he wished he had the money to make Thanksgiving Dinner. He would invite me, the cops and the medics, those who look out for him when he cannot take care of himself.
Only a few cops, EMTs, and detox will remember him, all raindogs in life.