I’m 80% sure I saved a hooker’s life last night.


Yesterday I went for a 10k run (my longest, and first ‘proper’ run since Loch Ness).  Afterwards, I decided to stop at the bottom of my stairwell to give my legs a complete stretch out, since my left hip has been giving me problems (though it thankfully seems to be improving).  Less than a minute into my stretching, I heard the buzzer go in the brothel flat [side note: one of the flats in my building is a brothel.  This has been touched on previously].

Bingo I thought.  I am in the perfect opportunity to spy on the goings on without looking like I’m intentionally spying! I positioned myself in a quad stretch facing the front door and heard the door to the brothel flat crack open.  The main door opened and a ‘gentleman’ entered carrying an umbrella.  I thought it only appropriate that I lock eyes with him so I could give him a disapproving I-know-what-you’re-doing-here-you-creep look (success, by the way, I’m pretty good at looking disgusted after years of practice on my ex (who, let’s remind ourselves, had ‘sleepovers’ with female colleagues – but I digress)).

Anyway, the door closed and I shuffled closer to have a listen in.  What I was hoping for was something along the lines of:

Hooker: So, do you want me to dress like a nun again, or shall I get out the adult nappies?

Guy: Goo-goo, ga-ga.

Hooker (sighing): Who’s a pretty baby then?

I was disappointed by the reality of what I was was hearing.  Parts of the conversation were inaudible, but from what I did hear during my stretching (yes, I did actually keep that up) I gathered the following information:

  • The hooker was sobbing.
  • The guy was in a relationship with someone else but had been also seeing the hooker.
  • The hooker was upset because she felt she was being used by the guy.
  • The hooker was upset because the guy wouldn’t leave his other partner.
  • There was no distinct smell of gas, whatsoever.

You might be thinking that one of these things is not like the other, but I promise it becomes relevant when I morph into Columbo later on.

After I decided that I would hear nothing else of interest, I went upstairs, showered, and then Ian and I went out for lunch (Subway, we’re not millionaires).  From the time I first got back from my run to the time we got back in from Subway, maybe 2 hours had passed.  Heading up to my flat I noticed a weird smell.  I told Ian I thought it smelled like gas, but he said he thought it was a smell from the drainage pipes (we’ve had a lot of rain, and sometimes there’s an ‘odor’ issue).  Over the course of the next couple of hours I annoyed Ian by getting increasingly annoyed/paranoid about the smell.  I sniffed every drain in my flat.  Nothing.  I sniffed by all the gas pipes.  Nothing.  I went back into the hallway.  Gas.

Eventually Ian got so annoyed that he went to ask the other flats if they could smell gas.  He returned saying that the hooker told him she had her stove replaced today, and that it strongly smelled like gas, but that she was told it would clear.  She also said she’d been smoking all day and everything was fine.

This satisfied me for the next hour, especially as the smell seemed to be getting less noticeable, but when friends started arriving for board games, they hallway was stinking again.  So I called the emergency gas line to say I suspected a gas leak because, well, I suspected a gas leak.  My hallway smelled like Sylvia Plath’s kitchen, for fuck’s sake.

About 45 minutes later, the emergency gas man arrived.  I let him in and was mildly disappointed that the stench of gas had vanished from the hallway.  I told him it had come and gone all afternoon, and that the woman in the (hooker) flat had done something to her cooker today.  Before we could even knock on her door, she opened it up as though she had been expecting us and said, ‘Hi, are you here about the gas?’  Within less than a second a wave of gas hit us, and the gas man started  getting all doors and windows open.

The story that the hooker gave us was that she was cleaning the night before and had moved the stove.  She suspects that she somehow disconnected the gas pipe in doing so, creating a leak.  She had then gone out all evening, and returned in the morning to a gassy smelling apartment.  She called a gas engineer who fixed the leak and said that everything was safe, but she needed to vent the place to get rid of the smell.

What we (me, Ian, the gas dude) couldn’t understand was that if that was the case, why had all of her windows been closed all day?  And why would she be sitting in a stinking flat (and not feel sick)?  It seems retarded.

To add to the mystery, if there had been gas leaking all night, surely I would have detected at least a faint whiff when she was taking in her guest earlier on in the day, because it was way noticeable when she opened the door in the evening.  And why would she tell Ian that she was getting her cooker (stove) replaced with an electric one when it was a blatant lie (the gas man said her gas cooker in her kitchen was at least 15 years old)?

My detective skills established that there was no gas leak, but that she intentionally turned her stove on without lighting it, filling the flat with gas.  Her motive?  She was upset because this dude wouldn’t leave his wife, or whatever.  My conclusion?  I saved her life by calling the gas dude and foiling her suicide plans.*

That brings my saved lives tally up to 2:

  1. When I threw a ball in the swimming pool for my little brother to catch, despite knowing he didn’t have his water-wings on.  He jumped in enthusiastically, but didn’t resurface.  After admiring the jelly-fish appearance of his bowl cut underwater for a few moments, I jumped in and pulled him out.
  2. Suicidal hooker.

*May not be accurate.

10 thoughts on “I’m 80% sure I saved a hooker’s life last night.

  1. All in a day’s work.

    By the way, I take it you’ve read Julian Barnes’ “England, England?” Your hypothetical encounter was very Sir Jack.

    • I have not, but now I’m intrigued, so I will! I have, however, been to what must be the most depraved sex shop in London once. Adult diapers were next to the cash register, kind of like the chocolate bars and chewing gum they put there in supermarkets as a little afterthought to entice you to spend more money.

  2. What an entertaining story!

    Sometimes I feel left out that I no longer live in an apartment building. Our neighbors are all old and boring and talk about our landscaping behind our back.

    • Well whatever, just because they’re all retired and have all the time of every goddamn day to landscape! At least you seem to have made an effort. Our shared ‘garden’ has waist high grass/weeds, and a wooden picnic table. I sometimes flatten the grass so I can hang my washing to dry on the line, but it’s only warm/dry enough to do that about 2 days a year, so it’s pretty neglected.

    • I’m somehow sensing a touch of sarcasm there Danielle! A hooker is a noble profession, surely you’d agree? 😛

      • It’s something we all aspire to really, Rachel, and until we reach such status, we will continue to just teach instead….. 😉

  3. I surely live in a boring neighborhood. The most exciting thing that has happened here lately is that the interior hallway walls have been re-painted. I could literally watch the paint dry… (I did touch the door though before it was dry…). Glad to hear you saved a life today!

  4. Good job there Columbo. I look forward to reading about you solving your next case and saving more lives. You could call this one “The Case Of The Propane Prostitute”.

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