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
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.”
“The Big One. Dubya – Dubya – Two.”
“Oh yeah … The Big One.”
“Yep. The Big One. Had a childhood buddy lived there, too.”
“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?”