Gambling on almost nothing - Justin Boron

It's Halloween year around at my apartment building.

The other day, walking through the dirt lot leading up to my door, I caught my neighbor Link taking target practice with his knife collection.

Draped in gothic fashions, he casually threw knives at a clown painted on a wooden board. I've gotten used to images like seeing a smiley-faced clown being chipped away by some blade freak.

But one thing I can't adjust to is waking up to the smell of decay. I don't need a month set aside for Halloween because I've got Tales from the Crypt in my ceiling.

The odor wafting down has piqued my curiosity in the past few weeks. Trying to get sleep at night, I run the possibilities through my brain.

High up on the list is foul play, especially given the shady status of my apartment building.

My loft apartment isn't what you'd call legitimate. I'm not even sure if it's really zoned residential.

I've got some mysterious arrangement with a landlord who never shows his face around the property. But he manages to come up with a number each month that both of us can live with, so I pay him. I've got to go through an intermediary to pay my rent. Each month, another person that lives in the building gives me a message from my landlord and I pay them.

The murky relationship raises questions about the legal status of our arrangement, but more importantly it has fomented my suspicion about the decaying smell.

You can probably guess where my suspicions are headed.

I've come to accept the possibility of a cadaver sleeping right above me every night. But this is not something I am willing to live with.

Hopefully, it's just a dead squirrel that crawled in to escape the rain one night and could never find its way out.

But I won't know until I find out.

I keep thinking of "Drugstore Cowboy," when Matt Dillon shoved the overdosed body of Heather Graham into a crawl space above their hotel room.

The preoccupation with the smell has brought me to a neurosis somewhere between Woody Allen and Tony Shalhoub's character in Monk.

But before I go plowing through plywood to find an answer to this mystery, I have to decide how I will react to what I will find.

I don't want to call the police. But I don't know if I can get the body out myself. And if it's a dead animal I guess I'd call animal control.

If it was a human body, I'd probably hold it for blackmail against my landlord, or I could take one out of Allen's book and call my landlord today and bluff that I have a body. We'll see.

Justin Boron covers government and politics for the News-Daily. His column appears Mondays. He can be reached at 770-478-5753 ext. 281 or jboron@news-daily.com .