The man scowled and before Eric could do anything he grabbed a key labelled ‘23’ off the key ring and all but ran towards his house. He opened the door and the smell that hit them nearly made both men choke.

“When was the last time you checked up on my property?”

“A month ago,” Eric lied. “I was coming here now specifically to check it out again.”

The man shook his head and tried to navigate his way through the small entrance hall. It was littered with empty take-away cartons. The kitchen sink was piled high with unwashed dishes. A cat ran from beneath the cupboard under the sink and hissed at them. Eric looked cautiously in and saw she had not long since given birth to a litter of kittens.

The sitting room wasn’t much better, littered with beer cans, and cigarette ends had burned into the carpet. The horrible smell permeated every room.

The owner began to climb the stairs. “I don’t think you have any right to go up there. You are invading these people’s privacy,” said Eric.

“What privacy?” the man snarled at him. “I doubt very much if there is anybody still living here anyway. Call your boss if you want. Better still, I’ll telephone my lawyer.”

Eric was dumbfounded. He couldn’t believe what was happening. He stood there helplessly, unsure of what to do.

Upstairs it was even worse. The owner first checked the bathroom and it was just as bad as the rest of the house, with the addition of a filthy toilet. In the main bedroom there were clothes and shoes scattered everywhere. The next bedroom was even worse. There were used condoms thrown around and the stink was overbearing.

“Well, I might as well check the last bedroom,” the owner said. He opened the door, and because Eric was right behind him, he too gagged – as they saw the body of a young woman, half hanging off the bed.

“Is she dead?” Eric gasped.

“I’d say she’s been dead for a few days,” the owner said. “I’m going to check her pulse anyway. Phone the police! Tell them it’s an emergency.”

Eric ran down the stairs and out the front door. He would have given anything to run as far away from here as he possibly could.


Tell us: What do you think this townhouse has been used for?