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
After an introductory call, the detectives made their way to Carlsbad to the home of the long-time owner of the Grand Pacific Hotel. Boykin was sitting on his beach front patio, enjoying an afternoon cocktail, watching the sun drop to the horizon while listening to the ocean’s surf.
Today the Pacific was calm. Its waves were just loud enough to soothe the mind. It was the kind of low, dull roar that caused the mind to wonder—and reflect; reflect on the memories—the good memories. Those that made everything in life worthwhile. That wonderful roar made everything all right with the world.
For Boykin, money, lots of money, made the ocean’s roar and its beautiful setting that went with it worth the price it cost him. And, with the hotel’s sale months before, Boykin had the kind of bucks to live well along Southern California’s coastline. The hotel was but one of those benefits from many years of smart real estate investments.
Jennifer, the investor’s beautiful wife – herself a trophy to go with Boykin’s lucrative investments, welcomed Danny and Joe into their home, escorting them to the patio. She offered a cocktail, but the detectives declined. It’s not to say they didn’t want one – the setting couldn’t be better, but their question may not blend well with a cool drink. Maybe later.
“So, you fellas want to talk to me about the ol’ gal, huh? I assume this has something to do with those bodies? Nasty business.”
“Yes sir, it does. We think you can help us,” Danny said.
“Don’t know what I can do, but I’ll try my best. But keep in mind I didn’t do any actual day-to-day work at the hotel. That’s why I had a staff. I owned it for a short time before it closed. I inherited it from my family.”
“Uh, yes sir. I would imagine. But for the moment there are some lingering questions about parts of the hotel we need answers to. We’re hoping you can help us,” Danny said taking the lead from Joe, who took out his pocket binder and prepared to take notes—hopefully, copious notes. But before Danny could start, Boykin began rambling about the hotel and how his family became its owners.
Both Joe and Danny sat listening, hoping this trip down memory lane wouldn’t take too long. They needed to get back to the office. But what was about to be revealed really opened their eyes—and their case. Boykin’s memory stroll would be worth their wait.
“Well, the hotel had been in the family for generations. My great-grandfather bought it from the original owner some years after it was built in 1895. Seems that owner got into some financial trouble.”
“How was that?” Danny asked showing genuine interest.
“Right after it opened, it became a grand success. It was making money hand over fist. Only trouble was the owner started spending it like wildfire and living a lavish lifestyle he really couldn’t afford. He eventually stopped paying his bills and, as you can imagine, that upset the creditors. Eventually the bank took it over. But they were in the business of loaning money and not running a hotel. Word spread quickly and my great-grandfather purchased it for some ridiculously low price. He didn’t know anything about the hotel business, but he knew a good investment when he saw it. The rest is history.”
“But you had to close in 1985.”
“That we did; yes. The place was coming apart and it was costing us way too much money to keep up the repairs. Besides, the place had lost its charm. It just wasn’t quaint anymore – it was just old.”
“Speaking of coming apart, what about the old plumbing?”
“Plumbing? Hell, those old pipes leaked like a sieve. Whoever did the original plumbing didn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground. I remember my dad and granddad threatening to tear the place down at one time because it leaked so much. But they never did. Somehow they just coped with it. Eventually all the leaky areas were fixed. But some leaks remained causing sections to rot away, which caused even more damage. Now that was costly!”
“So exactly why did you close it?”
“Revenue, son — there just wasn’t enough of it. We just couldn’t keep up with the newer hotels and their services. Eventually, I saw the handwriting on the wall and just decided to close her down and board her up.”
“Why not tear it down and build a new one?”
“Again it was money. The real estate market at that time was still sluggish from the Carter years. Even though the rates were coming down, they were still too high. We couldn’t find a buyer. We thought we’d just wait out the market slump and go for it again. With inflation and all, we thought we could ask a higher price.”
“But you just sold it earlier this year. Why not back around ’05 or ’06 when the real estate market was really booming?”
“Son, the fact was I just f…ed up! No other way to explain it. I priced it too high, thinking the boom would last forever. It didn’t and potential buyers evaporated. We just pushed the envelope too far and lost out. When the market crashed, so did we. All we could do was wait for some sort of new recovery, which, by the way, is scary as hell right now, seeing who’s sitting in Washington.”
“Okay, so the market’s recovery is still sluggish. What did you do, fire-sale the place?”
“Oh no, not hardly. We did come off our price some from the ’06 asking price, but, truthfully, we got lucky.”
“Some hotel developer’s son from back East had been keeping an eye on the ol’ girl. Seems him and his wife had come out this way back in the late ’70s to vacation and ended up staying at the GP for a week. They fell in love with the place and later came back the following years until she closed. He was really disappointed when that happened.
“Then one day about six months later, I received a call from his father inquiring about what I was going to do with the property. His son apparently put the bug in his ear. I told him I was eventually going to sell, but the business climate had to turn around first. He fully understood that.
“We talked about interest rates and such, but we never did talk about a price or anything. He said he would stay in touch from time-to-time to see how things were going. Never did hear from him again.”
“Find out why.”
“Up and died from a heart attack.”
“His son ever call you?”
“Yeah, he did. It was a few years later. He said he had taken over his father’s firm and was learning the intricate mechanics of the business. His father, from what I later learned, was one helluva deal-maker and a guy who made things happen—and happen fast. And, my impression was his son wanted to do operate the same way.
“We had a good talk but nothing happened. I was partly to blame for that because I still wasn’t ready to sell. But he told me that one of these days he’d own the Grand Pacific property and turn Oceanside into one of the premiere West Coast resort cities.”
“So this was around 1988 or so?” Danny asked.
“So what happened in the years to follow?”
“Not much really other than the property value soared beyond belief, as well as the exorbitant taxes and the damned insurance I had to keep on the place. I have to admit, it was becoming a nightmare just to hang on to it. Hell, I had to do something.”
“I assume you sold it to the developer back East.”
“Eventually, yes. I did when a previous local deal we were working on fell through at the last minute.”