A middle aged man dressed in painting gear was standing in the hallway when we reached the apartment door.
"It don't smell so good in there," he said.
It didnt. It was awful, actually. The apartment was littered with trash all over the place, stacks of empty liquor bottles, fast food containers, and halfway crushed cigarette boxes covered the floor to the point where we couldn't see the carpet. A thick stench immersed the whole area like fog, sticking to our clothes and clogging our nostrils. We couldn't find a light switch that would work, but the dingy light filtering though milky windowpanes told us more than we needed to know.
There was dark, coffee-ground looking blood everywhere. It was piled in neat circles at various points around the apartment. On the floor next to the couch, in the toilet, over the side of the bed. A firefighter warned me just as I was about to step in some that I had missed. This man had been sick - horribly, violently sick - for some time before we arrived.
We found him in the kitchen. He was on the floor, crumpled forward against the lower cabinets in a semi-crouching position, frozen there. His arms were limp at his sides, awkwardly positioned in an unnatural angle. His head was down, but tilted to the right just enough so that I could see that the entire face had turned a dark blackish blue color. His skin was a sickly greenish hue and had a puffy, wax-like appearance. The same firefighter who had warned me about the blood covered his mouth and nose, recoiling in disgust.
Our patient was dead, plainly so and had been for some time. I held my breath as I leaned in to attach the ECG stickers, pressed the power button and let the flat lines roll.
He was 46 years old.