He has smelled rotting potatoes, before. Perhaps when he was a child growing up in Maryland. He dimly remembers. Dimly remembers the circumstance. There is nothing dim about his memory of the smell. Perhaps he had smelled something in his house. Perhaps he had smelled it in the morning, had left the house for a bit, had come home, and the smell had been more insistent. Yet not enough to compel him to find it and do something about it. Perhaps he had gone out, again, toward evening, and come back to an overpowering offense that led him to snoop around a bit, testing the various corners and closets, and behind furniture, and even poke his head into the refrigerator and the oven. He had smelled the odor coming vaguely from the kitchen but, once in the kitchen, he sensed that it was elsewhere -- beyond the kitchen. Possibly in the small ante-room on the far end of the pantry. But no. Actually, there was a guest bedroom beyond the ante-room. He has not thought of this for years. There was a water-stained ceiling panel in the room. Perhaps he remembers the core of the smell coming from above him. And maybe he brought out a step-ladder, climbed up to reach the panel, and found the shrivelled, white-mold covered potato, part-liquid. And perhaps the smell brought him out of himself as only the most powerfully abject artifact can do. Artifact. Remnant of something. Of a history.
Why was a rotting potato in his ceiling?