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
When Joe and Danny returned to the office to make some calls and further review their notes, Janice walked in with a file folder of notes she made from the information Danny had given her.
“What’ve you got, Janice?” Danny asked.
“I don’t know. You’ll have to piece it together from here. But what I did find was that there were an unusual number of call reports coming from the GP in 1966.”
“What kind of reports?”
“Who called them in?”
“Most of them were reported by the manager. Fellow by the name of John Traiger.”
“What kind of disturbances?”
“Most of them were for Marine rowdiness.”
“Any arrest made?”
“Couldn’t find any. But 1966 was a busy year for the GP. There were over forty reports filed. But what’s interesting, after July, the reports slowed to a trickle. Only about three were filed for the remainder of the year.”
“Thanks, Janice. You’re a sweetheart.”
“I know it. You owe me lunch.”
“You got it.”
Danny took the folder and scanned her notes. He picked up one with John Traiger’s name on it and stared at it.
“Interesting, isn’t it?” Danny said.
“Yeah, it is. Now I can see why he got irritable calling those hookers ‘damn girls’.”
“I would say so. We need to talk with him again.”
“Probably. But heading back up there right now doesn’t seem like a good idea. All we’ll do is ruffle his feathers. He might clam up for good. We need to be patient with him.”
“You think so?” Danny asked.
“I do. But we do need to go back over and talk with Seth Adams. I think he knows more than he’s letting on.”
“Yeah, I think so, too. You want to go now? Danny asked.
“No, it’s too late in the day. Let’s catch him in the morning when he’s not so tired. It’s too easy for him to lie back in that lounger of his and take a nap. In the meantime, let’s think how we can pose our questions in hopes of catching him off guard. We have to pull it out of him.”
The following morning around ten o’clock, the detectives made their way back over to Seth Adam’s bungalow. By happenstance, he was sitting on his front porch drinking a glass of iced tea and reading the newspaper. He lowered the paper to his lap when he noticed their car stop in front of his house.
“Good morning, Mr. Adams,” Danny said just loud enough for him to hear.
“Same to you. Back already?”
“Yes sir, we are. Need to talk to you again. Got a moment?”
“I believe so. Don’t have much lined up for the day.”
Seth invited the men into his house where they would be a little more comfortable. He offered them some iced tea with which they accepted. After some cordial chitchat, they got down to business.
“Mr. Adams, we found Ned Martin,” Danny said.
“You did! How’s he doing?”
“Well, he seems fine; but his mind wanders. He’s in an assisted living home called Paradise Acres.”
“So you’re tellin’ me he’s crazy?”
“Yes, I guess you could say that.”
“Hate to hear it. He was a fine gentleman. Always treated with me with respect.”
“We also heard he abruptly quit the GP one day to go work at some department store. Back in 1966. You remember that.”
“Where did you hear that?”
“So, it’s true?”
“Who told you that?”
“John Traiger. The most recent hotel manager during your time.”
“Sure, you remember him, don’t you? He was your boss.”
“I’ll have to study on it.”
“You sure you don’t remember him?”
“I think I do now. So, how’s he doing?”
“He seems fine. Lives with his daughter up in Anaheim.”
“Yes sir, he does. And he’s as spry as a young chicken. Loved to talk about the old days at the GP.”
“Yes, he did. Even talked about all the rowdiness of the Marines and all the ‘girls’ who they hooked up with. Said it was a wild time back in those days. Even you touched on the subject when we first talked with you.”
“Yes, you did,” Joe said looking down at his little notebook.
“Well, I suppose I did. Those were some pretty wild times back then. We were always on our toes.”
“You ever remember any of those ‘girl’s’ names that came to the hotel on a regular basis?”
“Well, no, not really. I’m still studying on that.”
“What about the lady who controlled the girls. You know who I’m talking about. Joe, what was that lady’s name Mr. Traiger gave us?”
“Uh … hold on. I have it written down here somewhere in my notebook. Let’s see … it was, ah….”
“Are you talkin’ about Gertrude?” Seth said.
“Oh yes, here it is. Gertrude. You know, Danny, I forgot to write down the last name. You remember it?”
“Cryer! That was her last name,” Seth said before Danny had to quickly search his mind for a bogus name.
“Yeah Joe, that was it. Cryer. Don’t you remember when he brought that up?”
“Yeah, now I remember,” Joe said flat-out lying.
“When he brought what up?” Seth asked wanting to know what Traiger had to say.
“Just said if there was any trouble, she took care of everything.”
“Well yes, I suppose she did. But Mister John did call the cops a lot. Sometimes those Marines really got out of hand.”
“So we’ve heard.”
“Yeah, we still have all the call reports from back then.”
“Yep, have every one of them from 1966.”
“That far back, huh?”
“And even further back than that,” Joe said.
“Why just 1966?” Seth asked.
“The mummy stuffed in the wall. We determined it was a Marine who was reported AWOL from Camp Pendleton that year.”
“You know anything about that do you?” Danny asked.
“No, can’t say that I do.”
“Can’t remember, huh?”
“I’ll study on it. But nothing rings a bell.”
“Well then, let’s talk about Gertrude Cryer. She still living?”
“No, no she’s not. Died in 1968. But her daughter is still living.”
“And what’s her name? Can you remember that?”
“I suppose. It’s Beatrice. Beatrice Cryer. As I recall, she was quite an eye-catcher. Just like her mother.”
“Know where she’s living?”
“Nope, I don’t. Haven’t spoken to her since the place closed.”
“Well, how do you know if she’s still living?”
“Just a wild guess, I suppose. Maybe somebody told me. I don’t know. Just heard she was still living.”
“You sure about that?”
“Yeah. Like I said, the last time I spoke to her was at the closing party at the hotel. We never kept up with each other. She was a young, pretty white woman. I’m an old ugly black man. Need I say more?”
For the next fifteen minutes or so, Seth’s answers to the detective’s questions remained subtle and very short. At times he became irritable and eventually told to the detectives he was tired and wanted to take a nap in his lounge chair. In a way, he sensed he had been duped.
The detectives remained cordial and left. They mentioned they would be back. As their car pulled away from the house, Seth got from his chair and made a call.
“Bea? It’s Seth.”