Body in the Dumpster

Glenn Shaheen


I was throwing some pizza boxes from the kitchen into my apartment building's dumpster when I heard a voice. It was faint, and I think it said "Help me." I looked around and I couldn't see anybody. I walked behind the dumpster and there was nobody there. I said "Hello?" Again the voice—this time it definitely said "Help me." It came from inside the dumpster. I looked over the edge but it was dark. I thought I could make out a hand, maybe. But it was dark, like I said. I said "Are you in there?" and the voice just said again "Help me." I started to lift myself over the edge and a lot of flies were disturbed and flew up around me. There were also cockroaches, I'm sure. I couldn't quite make out movement in the trash. It smelled terrible, obviously, and I had to drop back down to the pavement to catch my breath. "Look," I said, "do you want me to come in after you? I could call for an ambulance." The voice again just said "Help me." I decided it was a joke. I wouldn't even call 911. Some kids probably laughing in one of the buildings around me. I almost fell for it, too, leaping into trash and bugs. So I just said "Fuck this." and left. I think the voice said "Help me" again. Back in my apartment I washed the dumpster stink off my hands for ten minutes straight. If I had gone in I probably never could have gotten it off.