First off, if you're a cat lover, I apologize. I indulged in two episodes of A & E's horrorfest Hoarders last night. As a proud HWA member based on a not-too-large number of horror stories (mostly crossover SF/F horror), and as a recovered aspiring horror writer - viz. Clarion "I'm going to be a horror writer!" - there's got to be a very scary, awful story here. Somewhere. If I could just find it . . . Maybe it's gone off hiding along with the other half of Augustine's teeth!
Here is the end result of one of those moments. Augustine, a Gretna, Louisiana mother of two adult children, had so filled her house with trash and debris that some of her cats had "gone missing." During the cleanup, they found two of them. Here's one, and his little screaming face inspired some internet commenters . . .
Augustine of the no-teeth was, look - I don't want to traumatize her two children, Sarah and Jason, any more than they already had been, so first I'll say that they were both very brave and caring. My heart went out to both of them so many times during the show. I was cringing along with them and for them. The pain of having this type of situation in one's own family would be unimaginable. But I'll go ahead and say it - whatever is wrong with Augustine, whatever happened to her, there wasn't too much of a person in there, she didn't seem to care much at all whether or not her house was cleaned up, and she was about the laziest, most ungrateful and uncaring human being I've ever remotely been exposed to. The cleanup crew shoveled 8,000 pounds of trash and debris out of this ramshackle house that was singlehandedly ruining a decent neighborhood in Gretna - maybe even the whole town thanks to its obvious reek. There was open sewage in the house, and the cleanup guys wouldn't even do the bathroom with hazmat equipment. Finally, one of them went in with a shovel and rake.
Kitti here was buried under a mountain of trash and may have been dead as long as 10 years. Augustine's family photos were buried willy-nilly under trash, feces, and rotting pieces of . . . well, after it's rotted like that, who can tell what it used to be? The house was one huge compost heap. You know how they say that disposable diapers will NEVER decompose in the landfill? They found a large package of Jason's toddler diapers (he is now 27) in the "landfill"-like environment of the house, and guess what? They looked to be decomposing into shreds. Take that, eco-fanatics - just think things through (mother of two - I did - so can you!). I guess if one twists it around enough, Augustine was living the "ultimate" green lifestyle - she had no water for six years and it looked like she had a very small carbon footprint, and was basically living outside, having driven herself out of her own house due to filling it from floor to ceiling with trash.
Augustine, between bites of raw hotdog, grudgingly admitted to being an animal lover, yet showed no shock or surprise at mummified Kitty One or skeletonized Kitty Two. As many have pointed up, one half of Augustine's long-lost dentures did turn up near the bottom layer of what I believe was the former "living room". It's almost impossible to fathom the degree of mental illness involved, as Jason was removed from the home years before, and raised by his then-22 year old sister. Augustine didn't seem to "get" that Jason wasn't coming back at that time, she had made no efforts to clean or provide him a decent environment, and he would not be becoming back now. He had just traveled there for one last attempt to help her, as she was on the verge of having the house condemned and being bodily removed to some care facility. It was a very telling scene when her long-suffering daughter Susan pulled an old photo out of a 5-foot stack of trash and debris in the bedroom and identified her own grandmother, Augustine's mother. They had previously shown Augustine's personal shrine to herself - while the house was horrific, top to bottom, this shrine was still visible. Meanwhile, her own mother's image was buried under trash. A terribly hurt Susan talked about how much she loved her grandmother and then said, "I'm taking this. She doesn't deserve it."
As far as Susan and Jason are concerned, this is abuse of monumental proportions. I agreed with them at the end of the show, when they admitted that the cleanup wouldn't last long, and their mother would soon be back to her old habits. I know there's a story in there somewhere, but a very grim one that I'm not sure I want to face.