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Sunday Serial: ‘Haunted Bones’-Chapter Four

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 4

After Professor Cho left, the detectives felt the need to return to the hospital and talk to the attending physician that took care of Dr. Dobbins when he arrived that early morning. This was the number one thing to do on their new list of people to interview in a more compelling way. Number two was to have another little chat with Dr. Dobbins. Number three was his son. They discovered he was a real estate attorney.

Before leaving for the hospital, a squad room sergeant handed Danny a report. He looked it over and then handed it to his partner with an exasperated expression on his face.

“Damn! Report says there’s no record of Dobbins ever owning a handgun, at least legal-wise. Now what?”

“I don’t know. Maybe he does have one somewhere; you know, an antique he may have gotten from an old friend. You never know. Look, we’ll keep digging. Something’ll turn up,” Joe said trying to cheer up his partner. It’s been a while since he has seen him in such an exasperated state of mind. Then again, Joe wasn’t all that excited about hearing the news himself. They would have to dig further.

“Yeah, I hope so. This case is really starting to bug the hell out of me. Something’s got to break … and soon.”

It was late in the afternoon when the detectives arrived at the hospital. Fortunately for them they found the young physician who attended Dr. Dobbins on duty. For the moment, he wasn’t all that busy. He and the detectives went to a small room where they could talk without being disturbed.

“You’re investigating Dr. Dobbins?” asked the physician.

“Right now we’re not investigating anybody. We’re just asking questions in hopes it’ll lead to somebody that we can investigate. You think you can answer some questions for us?” Danny asked in a non-provocative way.

“Sure, go ahead. I think I can do that as long as you don’t ask any questions that might cause any concerns for the doctor–patient privilege. I know you could probably get a court order to compel me, but let’s hear what you have to say first.”

“Ah, okay. We’ll tread lightly. Now then, when Dr. Dobbins first arrived here and you started working on him, did you notice anything unusual?”

“Such as?”

“Well, how about his face. Did his face have blood on it that looked like spatters?” Danny asked as if it was just an average question.

“Come to think about it, he did have blood on his face. But it really didn’t look as though it was spatters. It appeared as though it was smeared blood.

“My thought was that it came from his left hand when he might have rubbed his face. You know, he had been shot and he probably grabbed the wound. His left hand was smeared with blood.”

“Yes, yes … that makes sense. But you didn’t notice any specks say on his neck, or maybe his pajamas?”

“I honestly wasn’t paying all that much attention to something like that. My concern was the wound to his belly area. And as far as the pajama top, we immediately cut that off so we could work on the wound. So no, I can’t say for sure if there were spatters there or not. But there was a fair amount of blood on the lower end of the top.”

“Where is that top now?” Danny asked with raised eyebrows.

“We put it in a plastic bag along with the bottoms.”

“Where’s the bag now?”

We gave it to his son. Shortly after you talked to him that early morning and left, his son arrived. He asked about the pajamas and we told him he could take them with him. Otherwise, we probably would’ve put them into a bio-hazard bag and passed it on to the firm that incinerates all of our medical waste.”

“So, the son has it?”

“Yes, he took it with him. What he did with it, I really don’t know.” “Did you have a chance to talk with him?”

“Yes, briefly. But he seemed more distracted than concerned. He did ask about the wound, and if he would survive. I assured him the wound was survivable.

“He then talked for a moment with his dad and left. A few days later, he came back to check him out. It was against my better judgment, but his son seemed adamant about getting him out. He told me he was taking him to his house and that he and his wife would take care of him. I really had no choice but to discharge him.”

“Did the son have anything else to say that seemed unusual?”

“Well, he did say that his father was suffering from dementia and he thought it was best to get him back into an environment that was familiar. And to be honest with you, I couldn’t argue that.”

“Did you notice anything to that effect about Dr. Dobbins, you know, his dementia?”

“Perhaps. But I couldn’t really tell because he had had a rather traumatized event happen to him. I pretty much attributed that to his demeanor. But if I had to fathom a guess, it’s quite possible that he does. I mean, he is eighty-three years old and older people are more prone to such afflictions. Besides, his son mentioned it to me, so I presume he’s had his father diagnosed.”

“Just out of curiosity, what’s the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s?”

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