This is going to sound outrageous, but here goes: I’ve seen a lot worse.
I renovated things of one sort or another for a living for a long time. That rental house was no picnic, don’t get me wrong, but there were no corpses left in it for a while. You never forget that smell, no matter how long you live, believe you me.
I’ve painted apartments that were occupied by people who did nothing but smoke cigarettes for thirty years, never cleaned. We had to scrape and peel the resin off the walls with a drywall knife. It peeled off in big sheets, like nicotine wallpaper. I’ve seen animals slaughtered for a ritual and thrown under a bed. Straight-up hoarders barely merit a mention. Neatly stacked newsprint and egg cartons are a breeze to lug out, no matter how much of it there is.
Back to the subject at hand. It’s plenty bad. Why would anyone act like that?
I’m going to rule out “crazy.” The term is entirely misused these days. I’ll accept that the person in the house was “acting crazy,” but acting crazy isn’t the same as being crazy. You’ll notice that the person was obviously fastidious about their own clothes, hanging neatly in the closet. They were fussy about what they were eating, after a fashion. A truly insane person would eat sand or the shrubs, and be as likely to wear a trash bag as a turtleneck. They’d listen to the moonmen through their molar fillings, not watch cable TV. The person in the house was acting badly, and knew it, but didn’t care anymore. We call any kid that fidgets in class autistic nowadays, so I’m sure there will be a lot of takers to explain that house as mental illness, but like I said: I’m not buying.
The person went feral. Back into a state of nature. It’s the hunter-gatherer Eden ruined by Western Civilization that we’re told we need to go back to that’s on display here. She was living off the land. When the land is covered with stripmalls, pizza and Diet Pepsi represents the nuts and berries. She grazed, and discarded the hulls right where she stood, just like all our neolithic ancestors might. Slept in a nest. Pooped in one spot. When finally challenged for possession of her particular midden, located by the sylvan glade of Pizza Hut and the 7-11, by a member of a more prominent tribe — the landlords — she went off to make a nest somewhere else.
She wasn’t crazy. The landlord’s crazy. He could be put in jail for allowing his tenants to live in squalor. His jailer would pay that woman to live like that. The world is like that now.
She knew someone else would have to clean it up, and that she’d move on to a new paradise. This is civilization, when the veneer is stripped off, and the particle board shows.