I spent the day here at home. Chiara and her sister and the car went shopping. At midday, while watering the plants, I spent about half an hour investigating a strange and terrible smell outside my front door.
My first thought was that someone (a hobo?) had thrown a human turd onto my porch early in the morning and it had been sitting in the sun all day. I peered expectantly under the stairs that lead to our front door, behind the potted plants, even beneath the doormat. I went to the bottom of the landing and searched in the bushes with a long stick I broke off of a tree just for the occasion.
I never found anything. But the acrid, wet smell was in my nostrils and I convinced myself I could smell it in the house. I went out on the balcony on the far side of the flat and found it waiting for me. I put my face close to the seam between window and wall and found it sneaking in through the open and uncloseable space.
By this time I was sure it was no turd on the doorstep (on the roof?). Perhaps some kind of sewer concern? I looked expectantly at the faces of passersby outside the apartment, but I found nothing - not a trace - of the horrible expressions one expects to see on a person who has, while out for a pleasant stroll, just come across a human turd (or its attendant stench) in a public place.
Eventually I closed all the windows - despite the heat - and tried to read a book or watch the game on television. Every once in a while, like a dog that hears someone at the door, I would perk up and sniff at the air because I thought the smell had snuck up behind me while I was unguarded. Sometimes I was sure that I could smell it on my skin.
Later, when Chiara came home, she said she couldn’t smell anything.