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Sunday Serial: Haunted Bones-Chapter Thirteen


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 13

The autopsy reports the detectives had just received were adding good useful information to their case. Unfortunately, there were still too many unanswered questions; however, things were beginning to tighten up. But to further tighten things up, they needed to find out just who in the hell the boiler Marine was, how his body got there, and why he hadn’t turned to dust.

To find out who the Marine was, his dog tags were taken to the lab to have the tech guys ascertain what information could be gleaned. The tags, for the most part, were illegible; but, Danny and Joe felt their guys could find something. The OPD had some really smart people back in the lab, so if it could done, they’d do it.

Assuming the body was that of a Marine, and he could be identified, there was the problem of dealing with Harrison Flynn of the NCIS out at Camp Pendleton. He first identified the tags of the mummified Marine and went to great lengths to try and wrestle the case from the Oceanside Police Department. He was not successful.

But if he finds out another dead Marine was discovered at the hotel, there was no question he would be successful in procuring a new case such as this. Joe and Danny, and no one else in the department, wanted that to happen. They already had invested a lot of time, and money, into their own investigation and wanted no part of turning the case over another agency. To keep that from happening, everything had to be kept quiet. Fortunately, only a hand full of people knew about the boiler body. It had to stay that way—period.

The other item on the agenda was figuring out why the body hadn’t turned to dust when all indications suggest it should have. Something was amiss, but what? After stopping by the lab, the two detectives tossed around some ideas.

“I don’t know, Danny. I haven’t a clue. What’re you thinking?”

“It’s a puzzlement, that’s for sure. But we’ve got to start somewhere.”

“Yeah, so how about us going back over to the hotel and look at that boiler again. Maybe it’ll give us some fresh ideas.”

“Maybe. But the tech guys already have gone over that thing with a fine-tooth comb. They didn’t seem to find anything of significance.”

“But then again, they may not have been looking for what we’re looking for.”

“And just exactly what are we looking for? Danny asked.

“Hell, I don’t know. That’s why we need to ride back over there and look around. We might find something.”

Instead of going back to the office, they turned around and headed to the hotel—or what was left of it, which was not much. Del was in the finishing throes of loading a pile of old, moldy, and shredded scrap wood into one of his dump trucks. Two more loads and the old hotel would officially be history. The detectives pulled into the pot-filled parking lot and got out. Del was on the far corner of the property. He saw the detectives and walked in their direction.

“Just about got ’er done. Couple more loads and we’re out of here.”

“Yeah, we see that,” Joe said.

“Appreciate you fellows helping speed things along for me so I could get back to tearing this thing down,” Del said.

“Thanks for the kudos, but all we could do was put in a good word. The real reason things speeded up was that Professor Hanover didn’t find any dinosaur eggs. If he had, he’d still be here,” Joe said with a touch of humor.

“Dinosaur eggs! Hell, it was a crap pit for Chris’ sake. All he was going to find was shit and whatever else falls down those things.”

“Remember the body?” Danny said.

“Yeah, well, what can I say. You ever find at who it was.”

“No not really. Just discovered how old she might’ve been and how she died. No name yet,” Joe said.

“A lady, huh. Well, that’s a shame, a real shame. What about the boiler guy. Anything there?”

“Yeah, some; but not enough. That’s why we’re over here. Wanted to look at that boiler again,” Joe said.

“Well, as you can see, it’s gone. Just like everything else.”

“Where did you haul it?” Danny asked.

“I didn’t haul it anywhere. Somebody else did.”

“Who was that?”

“Some heavy hauling firm out of San Diego. I would’ve had to rent a large crane and flatbed. Just didn’t want to mess with it. Besides, it needed an environmental inspection before it could be moved. I didn’t want any part of that. Had it written into my contract.”

“Environmental Inspection! You got to be kidding me,” Danny said.

“Yep. That sucker had a lot of asbestos in and around it. Asbestos is a nasty animal if those fibers get loose. They had to totally wrap it in plastic before they could move it. Looked like a bunch of men in space suits while they were working. The same firm moved the other boiler, but it wasn’t as hazardous – not as much asbestos.”

“What other boiler?” Danny asked with a raised voice.

“The one on the far corner of the property. It was moved months ago before I even got started. I told the owners I could move that one because it was smaller. But the old owner just decided to give that contract to the same guy who moved the bigger one. And that was okay with me. Less of a headache, ya know.”

“Where the hell was it?” Danny asked.

“Let’s walk over there. I’ll show you.” The two detectives and Del then walked to that part of the property where the second boiler once stood. They conversed as they walked.

“What do you know about these boilers, Del,” Joe asked.

“About all I know is the one they hauled away months ago was a newer boiler and worth some money. I think the owner resold it based on some conversation I overheard while we were out here one day looking things over. You’ll probably have to get with him to find out who he sold it to.

“The older boiler looked to be original from the early days. It was coal fired and, as you saw, had seen better days. I think one day it just gave up. That’s when the owners put in the new one.”

“You know when all this happened,” Danny asked.

“Nope. You’ll have to get with the old owner to find that out. But if there was a body in that one, I deny knowing anything about it. I’ve seen enough bodies on my work sites. Not interested in seeing any more.”

“Yeah, you’ve had your fair share,” Joe said with humor.

“Yeah, I have. Okay, this is where that boiler stood.”

“I wonder why it was put here?” Danny asked.

“Beats me,” Del answered raising his forearms to waist level.

“And the old boiler. If it was the original and had stopped working, I wonder why they didn’t remove it when this one was installed?”

“Best I can figure out it would’ve cost a lot of money. I mean, you saw that thing; it was huge—and heavy. And besides, through the years when the hotel was modified, it looked to be out of the way. You know that old saying: out of sight, out of mind,” Del said.

“I suppose, but I don’t know. Just more and more questions that need answering,” Danny said.

“Look, if you guys don’t mind, I need to get finished up. We’re starting an old apartment building tear-down tomorrow, and I need to get ready for that.”

“You work weekends?”

“Normally, no. But I’m running behind schedule and need to get caught up. The delay on this hotel screwed up my schedule.”

“Where’s this one?”

“In the old town site near the downtown area. New owners need it torn down ASAP. Putting in a Walgreens.”

“As if there aren’t enough pharmacies on every corner of every street,” Joe said.

“Yeah, you got that right. But, it’s bucks for me. Got to chase those ‘Benjies’ when you can.”

“Okay, take off. We’ll be seeing you around,” Danny said.

Del left and walked over to his front-end loader and talked to the driver before another load of debris was scooped. Danny and Joe just stood in place and looked around the property halfway scratching their heads. They were more puzzled than ever. More questions.

“What now?” Joe asked.

“Damned if I know. Probably need to talk with the old owner and see if we can get some answers. If he doesn’t have any, I’m sure he knows somebody who does. Besides, we should have put him on our interview list long ago. We probably should have interviewed him first.”

“Probably. You know who he is?” Joe asked.

“No, but I think we can find out pretty quick. Let me call Janice back at the office and get her to find out.”

It didn’t take long for Janice to come up with the name and where he lived. She also provided a phone number for the detectives to call ahead to see if he was home. J.D. Boykin of Carlsbad answered the phone.

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Sunday Serial: Haunted Bones-Chapter Thirteen