The Cover Up
Maria Sanchos, the night cleaner, at Hope House has just completed her washing of the third floor of The House of Hope. She pushes open the door that leads to the stairwell and is immediately struck by a strong stench of urine and feces. This was not an unfamiliar smell to Maria as residents urinating or even defecating in inappropriate places was not uncommon in this facility. As she took a look around the curving stairwell she saw a pair of blue jean covered legs. The body that they belonged to was hidden by the curve in the stairwell between the third and fourth floors.
Maria suspected that she would find a resident who had soiled himself before passing out in the stairwell. Although the facility’s policy was not to allow alcohol or illicit drugs in the residence, they could not prevent a client from obtaining their drug of choice on the street. As the facility was located in an industrial warehouse district of town there were always drug dealers near the premises. Maria climbed down the flight of stairs until she was on the landing. She found a man who could be in his fifties passed out on the stairs. The client of the facility had shoulder length gray hair that was damp with perspiration. He was wearing a black and white engineer’s cap that made him look like the country singer Boxcar Willie. Maria did not recognize the man. As the cleaner worked the overnight shift she didn’t get to know many of the residents.
Maria asked the man if he was okay in a loud voice to see if he would respond. She waited about five seconds but did not hear any response from the man. Maria got down on her knees in order to give the gentleman a shake.
As she got close to his face she realized that the man was not breathing. There was a stream of saliva and red spittle coming from his mouth that had dried on his chin. Becoming alarmed Maria ran out of the stairwell to get help. As she opened the dorr to the stairs she saw a security guard doing his rounds. She called out that a man was down in the stairway. The security guard immediately called 911.