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
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?”