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Sunday Serial: ‘Haunted Bones’-Chapter Six


Authors note: This is a work of fiction. It does not reflect any actual events, and all of the characters are fictional. Any similarity to events or persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
There is a real city of Oceanside, California. It’s San Diego County’s third largest city with a below-average crime rate.
The Grand Pacific Hotel is fictional, but during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, there were at least two similar resort hotels that did exist, primarily serving railroad passengers and tourists as described in this book.
— Tom Morrow

Chapter 6

Joe was about ten minutes late arriving at Sara’s condo. He found the complex all right but had some trouble weaving his way back to the area where she lived. He inadvertently drove past it several times because her address numbers were slightly hidden by a Japanese Red Maple. Using his prowess—the process of elimination—he finally homed in on the number. But finding a parking spot was another matter. He just parked on the curb and turned on his flashers. Hopefully the non-descript dark blue Crown Victoria that resembled a police car would keep the tow trucks away. Besides, he wasn’t staying overnight; just picking up his date.

“Joe, good to see you again! Have any trouble finding the place?”

“Nope, came right to it. No problems.”

“Good. Would you like a glass of wine before heading out?”

“Well, probably not. You see I’m parked on the curb with my flashers on and…”

“All the visitor’s spaces were full. Right?”

“All full and…”

“I understand. We’ve had that problem a long time now. Doesn’t seem to be a fix because there’s not enough land to expand. And we’ve got some neighborhood watch-goon walking around keeping an eye on folks who park on the curbs. That’s been a problem, too. Let me just get my coat and we’ll head on out.”

“Yeah, that’d be great.”

“Where’re we going?”

“Thought we’d head down to San Diego. You like fish?”

“Yes, I love fish!”

Without much ado, they got into the car. Instead of the hustle and bustle of taking Interstate 5, more commonly known as the San Diego Freeway, he decided on the lesser of the evils and take the Coastal Highway where he’d eventually hook up with North Harbor Drive in San Diego and work his way around the bay over to the restaurant. It was a little more time consuming than the freeway, but there was some decent ocean scenery along the way; and it was a nice evening for a drive. Besides, neither was in a hurry. It had been a long day for the both of them, and a casual drive seemed to fit the bill.

“So, we’re in the official ride tonight, huh?”

“Well, no, not really. We’re not allowed to use our work cars for personal use. But this car used to be with the department. I bought it when they were rotating the fleet. My twelve-year-old Pontiac blew a head gasket passing a semi out on the San Diego Freeway one day. Found out it was going cost more to fix than the car was worth. Ended up selling it to the mechanic for a hundred bucks.”

“Bad break.”

“Yeah, I suppose. But it worked out okay. I bought this puppy for a grand. Got some miles on it, but the engine is in good shape. Had the cylinders checked and the compression is holding. Also put some new tiger paws on the wheels. So, it’s in pretty good shape. Not so good on gas, but I don’t do a lot of driving. And it’s a lot more comfortable than that dog I was driving.”

“Yes, this car is comfortable.”

For the next fifteen minutes or so the subject turned to gasoline prices, the Keystone pipeline, Obama Care, who was going to be the GOP candidate for president, and whether or not the Iranians were going to nuke the world. No. The Israelis would make sure they didn’t. Nonetheless, it was anybody’s guess as to what anybody was going to do. But there was one thing for sure: gas prices were going crazy.

“What decided you to get into law enforcement?” Sara asked wanting to get away from the depressing news.

“My ex-father-in-law.”

“How so if I should be so bold to ask?”

“Well, I’ll try to keep the story as short as I can so as not to bore you with it. I went to San Diego State and majored in Sociology. I seem to have a knack for communicating with people, especially kids. I don’t want to say I’m gifted, but I really enjoy working with young people. I thought if I could help young kids from going down a destructive path, they just might have a better chance at life.”

“You were naïve, right?”

“Yeah, I was. My first year working with a youth services agency did open up my eyes a lot more than I expected. But I came to grips with it and hung in there until…”

“Your ex-father-in-law came into the picture.”

“Exactly. Right after college I married this gal I had met there. She was studying finance. She no doubt had money on her mind. And of course, me, I’m in a profession that doesn’t pay all that great. I should have seen that train wreck coming, but I didn’t.

“After a few years working, my wife ended up being the bread winner of the household. She kept making subtle hints that I should be more aggressive and start pursuing something that paid more. Unbeknownst to me, she had already been talking with her father.”

“Let me guess. He was well-to-do?”

“Are you reading my mind?”

“No, not hardly. Your story was having telltale signs.”

“Well, I suppose it does. Anyway, he offered me a position with his company; he owned a large insurance agency. He was going to pay me three times over what I was making.”

“Seemed like a logical move.”

“So I thought. I took the job to make everybody happy.”

“But you weren’t happy?”

“No! I hated it almost from day one. After about a year, I threw in the towel. And when I did that, all hell broke loose. Soon after that my wife and father-in-law became exes.”

“Doing some things to please others can cause problems.”

“Boy, don’t I know it!”

“And this led to your career in law enforcement?”

“More or less. My sociology degree got me in the door pretty quick, but I still had to go through the training academy. It was a lot more physical than I expected, but I got through it okay. Did lose about fifteen pounds which have no doubt returned.”

“You started patrol duty first, I assume.”

“Yeah, everybody does. But after a few years on the street, I went to work as a resource officer in one of the larger high schools because of my former work with youth. To some degree, I was back in my element. After a few years, I was promoted to corporal.”

“You must’ve felt proud.”

“I did feel proud. I was doing something I really liked.”

“Then what?”

“My commanders started noticing my work ethics as well as my closure rate.”

“Closure rate?”

“Yeah. It’s how many cases an officer solves without bringing in someone from the detective unit. I had a good rate and people in the department noticed. Then one day I was asked if I’d like to join the juvenile unit. A corporal position had just opened up and it needed filling. They thought I would be a good candidate for it.”

“And that’s when you gave up the uniform?”

“Somewhat. I still have the uniform; but yeah, that’s pretty much how it happened. Had to take some test and be interviewed a few times. Did good there. I was pleased. Of course, the position paid a little more, too. My exes would have been proud of that. But that’s history now.”

“How long have you been with Danny?”

“About four years now. After a couple of years with the juvi unit, I got promoted to sergeant. When that happened, I moved over to the criminal unit and replaced a position vacated by Danny’s partner, who went to N.E.T. So almost overnight, I went from the juvi division to the criminal division. But more specifically, we specialize in homicides.”


“The Narcotics Enforcement Team.”

“I hear that Saenz and Steins is becoming legendary.”

“We do have a good closure rate. Have put a lot of murderers behind bars, but we’ve hit a snag these last few cases and we’re stumped. I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll close them.”

“The Dobbins and GP cases?”

“Afraid so.”

“I’m quite sure you’ll eventually solve the Dobbins case. I think the murderer is still out there. Time will eventually give him up.”

“You don’t think the good doctor pummeled his wife then shot himself?”

“In my opinion, no. It just doesn’t seem plausible. I think the person who committed this crime knew exactly what he was doing. It wasn’t a random break-in. The person who did this had a mission. You find the mission, you’ll find your killer. What do you think?”

“Well, I’m beginning to believe the doctor didn’t shoot himself. No muzzle burns were found near the wound based on what the attending physician said. Plus we haven’t found the gun yet. But what we do know is that Dobbins does own a .25-caliber handgun and it does appear he was shot with that size caliber.”

“Yes. Okay. But there is one thing you can find out that will either bolster your case or disprove it.”

“And what would that be?”

“As I understand it, the doctor was shot in the left abdomen with the trajectory angle exiting off to the side, correct?”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

“Then find out if he was left-handed or right-handed. If he was right-handed, it’s possible he could have shot himself and left a wound similar to what he has. If he was left-handed, it would be almost impossible for him to make that kind of wound and not leave a muzzle burn. The trajectory angle most certainly would have been more inward causing serious internal damage.”

“That’s an interesting thought. We’ll have to check that out.”

“Yes, you do that. And your GP case? It’s going to be a lot more complicated.”

“More complicated! Hell, it’s already complicated! How do you know that?”

“I still drive by the place. There’s more bodies there you haven’t found. It continues to be haunted by death.”

“More bodies?”


“I don’t understand how you know this.”

“And it’s doubtful you ever will. I have an unusual gift.”


“Something like that. But not in the biblical sense. It’s a paranormal phenomenon.”

“Paranormal phenomenon?”

“Scientifically impossible to explain.”

“But can you explain it? Laura tried but I didn’t totally grasp it all. A lot of it went right over my head.”

“I bet. But I’ll do my best. You see this phenomenon allows me to see an inner aura based on my haunting apparitions of a past event. That event is usually a death of some sort caused by another person. If that person’s death is left untouched, such as at the GP, I see revolving spirits—an aura. When the death is removed, so is the aura.”

“Is this aura anything like what was depicted in the movie Ghost? You know, the one with Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg?”

“Oh no, nothing like that. All that is movie theatrics. But I have to say, that depiction was rather compelling. I really liked the movie. I cried at the end.”

“But I still don’t understand how you see this aura.”

“This is what is so paranormal. You see, this so-called vision is in my subconscious which makes me believe I see it. I do not actually see an aura in the normal sense of physical eye vision.”

“So, it’s all subconscious?”

“Yes. The aura itself is a paranormal force which emanates from somebody or something. In the case of the GP, it’s the hotel itself and not the individual because bodies are still on the premises. Even though two bodies have been discovered and removed, the aura still exist signifying to me death is still present.”

“You said you think there were two more bodies?”

“I don’t think I said how many. But the aura still exists. An unresolved death is still there.”


“Yeah, wow.”

“How did you get this gift?”

“I have no clue. It just appeared out of the blue one day years ago. And to be honest with you, it’s a gift I wish I never had. Ever since I got it, my so-called normal life changed. But in a sense, I think it led me to study forensic science.”

“When did these haunting apparitions start?”

“My senior year in high school. The fall season. I was riding home on the school bus one Friday. On the way we passed a wooded area. Then, out of nowhere, I saw this orb-like aura in the woods. Or at least I thought I saw it. Nobody else saw it. At first I thought it may have been a reflection of sorts. But a cold feeling came over me. And this was on a hot day. I thought I was coming down with something. When I got home, it went away. I felt fine.

“Anyway, the following day, the police found the body of a man in the general location I saw the aura. Reports said he was a dope dealer in his early twenties. Apparently his drug deal went bad and somebody shot him. I don’t think they ever found his killer or killers.

“But what I thought interesting, the following Monday on the way home on the bus, the apparition was not there. I guess once the body had been removed, so went the aura.”

“You ever say anything?”

“No, I didn’t. I sort of kept it quiet. It wasn’t until I got into college that I found out about this supposed gift. I learned that a Dr. Rhine established a laboratory at Duke University in 1934 to study what is known as parapsychology or psi phenomena.”

“Is this where it gets complicated?”

“Probably. But I’ll stop. But before I do, just understand that there are other classifications of this psi phenomena. What I have, the haunting apparition, is just one slice of the pie. Are you familiar with ESP, extra sensory perception?”


“UFO’s. You know spaceships from the beyond?”


“Reincarnation? Telepathy? Clairvoyance?”

“Yeah, but I don’t exactly believe in that sort of stuff.”

“Neither do a lot of people. But these phenomena, and numerous others, all fall under the study of parapsychology.”


“I think so.”

“But if you have this gift and knew there were bodies in that hotel, why didn’t you just come forward and tell the police?”

“Now Joe, don’t be so naïve! Me reporting that is really no different than reporting a UFO on my way home from the movies. You actually believe somebody in your department would’ve gone to investigate?”

“You’re probably right. Danny thinks you’re a nut.”

“Lots of people do. But I don’t let it bother me. Besides, it doesn’t get in the way of my work in the lab.”

“From what I understand, Laura says you do good work.”

“Thank you. But let me be blunt. Do you think I’m a nut?”

“No, I don’t. I think you’re interesting—and pretty.”

“Joe, you are so kind!”

“And just so you’ll know, I do kinda believe in ESP.”

“You’re a detective. A little ESP doesn’t hurt to have. It’s probably one reason you’ve had some good closure rates. See, you’ve probably had this gift and didn’t even know it.”

“But how would I physically or consciously know if I did have it?”

“It’s not a physical or conscious thing. It works in the subconscious. It interacts with your thinking—especially when you’re working on a problem. You were probably born with it; therefore, you consider it a normal way of thinking. It’s all very subtle.”

“But that train wreck I ran into with my exes. Should I not have seen it then?”

“Oh, you saw it; you just didn’t want to believe it.”

“Well, maybe I did. I have to admit, deep down I guess I knew something was going to happen.”

“It probably turned out for the best. You weren’t happy. But you seem more at peace with yourself now.”

“Yes, I am actually. But let me ask you. Is it possible for me to see this aura, or orbs, you are talking about?”

“I seriously doubt it. Your gift of the psi phenomena is different from mine. You simply have a piece of the pie not relevant to such. As I said earlier, there are several other types of the phenomena. Besides, if you did have these haunting apparitions, you would have already seen them. Does that make sense?”

“Yeah, I guess it does.”

“Good. Let’s talk about something else. I’ve never been to this restaurant. What’s it like?”

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Sunday Serial: ‘Haunted Bones’-Chapter Six