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Sunday Serial: Haunted Bones-Chapter 17


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 17

Trouble wasn’t the word for it. It was a homicidal train wreck. And this calamity brought more headaches for the detectives. Just as the tension was beginning to subside, it got worse. But, how much worse?

The detectives grabbed their jackets and took off towards the apartment building. Not much was said during their ride. When they got there, they pulled next to the high-reach excavator and met Del by the dilapidated building—or at least what was left of it.

“Damn guys, I must be jinxed. I can’t believe this!” Del remarked in a very frustrating manner.

“Yeah, you’re jinxed. Where’s this one?” Danny asked in his own frustrated manner.

“In that pile of rubble just beyond the standing wall. I think the bricks tore him apart when that section fell. You can still tell it was a mummy, though.”

“Let’s go take a look,” Danny said, wading into the debris. “Anybody else know about this?”

“No. You’re the only ones; and, of course, my guys. Nobody else. I figured you’d want to keep this quiet … like that last one you found in the boiler.”

“Yeah, probably. Damn, Joe, can you frigging believe this?”

“It’s a little too much right now. I hope bodies don’t start turning up all over town. Yeah, we need to keep this quiet.”

By now, the guys had reached the wrapped body in the rubble. It was fairly well torn up from the old bricks. It was going to be a mess in trying to move it. It looked to be more fragile than the one found in the hotel. As a matter of fact, it looked like a mere sneeze would cause it to disintegrate.

“Joe, you’re right. We got to keep this one quiet. Call Sara and explain the situation. Get her to call Laura. We need to get their forensic folks down here and work out a plan. Del, keep some of your guys here to help move the bricks and wood. We won’t do anything ‘til they get here.”

“Yeah, all right.” Del looked over at his crew chief, Martin Galindo, and pointed for him to meet by the dump trucks. Joe and Danny followed Del, but moved closer to their car.

“There’s too much daylight right now for Laura’s team to be moving this body. We’ll be better off moving it after dusk. I don’t see any onlookers for the moment; we need to keep it that way,” Danny said.

“Good idea. You thinking about using Del’s truck again to haul the body to the lab?”

“Yeah, I am. I know he’s not going to like it.”

“The mummy or Del,” Joe quipped.

Ignoring his partner’s corny attempt at black humor, he continued: “We start getting others involved, we’ll end up having a mess on our hands. I’m sure the press would probably pick up on it.”

“Damn, we don’t need that.”

“But this time we need to call Lieutenant Hastings. It’s not late and he needs to know.”

“You want to call him?” Joe asked.

“Yeah, I’ll give him a buzz. He’s probably still at the office. You go ahead and call Sara. Let’s get this thing going and get the hell out of here. I’m damn near worn out.”

As the officers were on their respective calls, Joe noticed an old man across the street walking his dog. He stopped, looked over in Joe’s direction, and carefully made his way across the street. Danny moved to the back of the car out of earshot of the old man. Joe wrapped up his call as the man approached.

“Something I can do for you, ol’ fellow,” Joe said more friendly than it may have sounded.

“You fellas with the city?” the old man asked.

“Uh … well, yes. Got something on your mind, do you?”

“Oh, not really. Just out walking my dog. We do this just about every afternoon. Trying to get both of us some exercise. The doctor says I need to get out and walk more.”

“Uh, yes sir. Walking is good.”

“Yes it is. Sure do hate to see the old place being torn down. Used to live there, ya know.”

“No, I wouldn’t know that. How long ago?”

“Oh, I don’t rightly remember how many years ago it was. During the early war years, I guess.”

“Which one?”

“The Big One. Dubya – Dubya – Two.”

“Oh yeah … The Big One.”

“Yep. The Big One. Had a childhood buddy lived there, too.”

“No kidding.”

“Yep, sho’ did. We were best friends back then. Same age, too.”

“Yeah. And what age would that be?”

“Well, I was born in 1930, and he was too. I think we were around ten years old, maybe twelve at the time.”

“He still around?”

“Nope. I read where he died a few years ago.”

“Sorry to hear that. Tough losing old friends.”

“Yep, it sho’ is. But he was an interesting ol’ cuss.”

“How’s that?”

“Well, half of him was stoopid; the other half was smart, real smart.”

“I think they call them kinda folks a savant,” Joe replied. “Actually an idiot savant.”

“Oh no, he wasn’t an idiot,” the old man shot back. “Maybe a little on the stoopid side, but I thought he was smart.”

“Okay then, what was he smart in?”

“Science. He was real smart there. He knew all there was about science. I didn’t know anything about science. I was more of a history buff. I liked the old ancient stuff and their societies. He picked up a little on it, too, looking at some of my books and all.”

“You remember his name?”

“Jimmy. Can’t remember his last name. I used to be able to remember because it rhymed with something I could always remember, but I can’t even remember what that was any more. I might have it written down somewhere back home.”

“Where would that be?”

“Down the street a few blocks. Moved there with Momma when they closed up this place. Been there ever since.”

Joe sensed the old man was from a very rich gene pool.

“Why did they close the place?” Joe asked.

“I don’t know. I just remember Momma telling me we had to move. Don’t know the reason. Just had to move.”

“Your father?”

“Killed in the war. His ship blew up.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No need to be. That was a long time ago. I vaguely remember him.”

“And your friend? Where did he move?”

“Oh, I don’t remember. I just remember him telling me he, his sister, and Momma were moving to some big house with lots of rooms. Said his momma would never have to cook again. Don’t know where the house was. Never did find out. But I think they were rich.”

“What made you think that?”

“Because they had the whole top floor of the building and a fancy car.”

“That right?”

“Yes, sir. But they had to move, too. Everybody had to move.”

“You ever see your friend again?” Joe asked.

“Occasionally at the library. He used to go there a lot. He liked to read science books and look at science pictures.”

“And you?”

“Oh, just liked to pick up a novel every now and then. I don’t read like I used to. Usually fall asleep after a few pages.”

“Yes, I understand that.”

“So, you’re from the city, huh?

“Uh, yes sir.” Joe didn’t want to go any further.

“Here to check on the work, are ya?” the old man asked. “Inspector fellas, are ya?”

“Uh … yeah. Just wanted to stop by and see how things were going with the demo work. Everything looks good.”

“That right?”

“Yes sir, that’s right. Say, what’s your name?”

“Bobby Proctor. Yours?”

“Just call me Joe.”

“Okay, Joe. Well, I better start moving along before the ol’ arteries start to setup. Not ready just yet to start pushing up daises.”

“Oh, no sir. Say, you take care, okay?”

“Thank you, I will. Oh, and by the way. My friend’s last name. It was Fry. It just came to me.”

Danny had already finished his conversation with Lieutenant Hastings while Joe was still in the midst of his conversation with Bobby. Not wanting to get in on it, he moved towards Del and Martin and was chatting with them. When Joe finished, he walked over to the three men.

“Who was that?” Danny asked.

“An old timer who used to live here in this building. He was just out taking a walk with his dog and came over to talk. He seemed to be an interesting fella. No mental giant, but an interesting fella.”

“How long ago did he live here,” Danny asked.

“Back during the early war years.”

“World War Two, I assume.”

“Yeah. Said he and everybody else had to move for some reason. Didn’t know why. He and his Mother ended up moving down the street to another apartment building. Been there ever since.”

“Hmm. Wonder why everybody had to move out?”

“Didn’t say.”

“Interesting. What did Sara say?”

“She’ll call Laura and they’d be over here as soon as possible. I told her we needed to keep this quiet like last time.”

“You tell her it was another mummy?”

“Yeah. She didn’t make any comment.”

Danny turned and asked Del about using his truck again to move the body. Del let out a laugh under his breathe.

“Do I have a choice?”

“Not really. But by you helping us we can probably expedite the crime scene so you can get back to work a lot sooner.”

“Hell, anything so I can get back to work. These damn bodies are killing me. I just can’t believe this is happening. I might have to find another line of work.”

“Yeah, you seem to be a murder magnet. Hopefully this will be the last one,” Danny said with a bit of a laugh.

“By the way, how you boys doing solving those other bodies from over at the hotel?” Del asked Danny.

“We’re still working on it. Joe and I were at the office trying to put things together when you called.”

“Making any headway?”

“Yeah, some. But things just seem to have gotten a little more complicated since your call. If this was just a body you discovered, that’s one thing. Seeing how it’s a mummy, that’s another. It’s just too coincidental. Somehow, this mummy has got to be connected to the one in the hotel. Somehow, we’ve got to find the connection.”

They’d find the connection, they’ll solve the case. But, where to now?

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Sunday Serial: Haunted Bones-Chapter 17