Cory Wade is Missing

by Rick Beck

Chapter 1

An Angus McCoy Mystery

A Rick Beck Story

Editor: Rob Kolstad

© OLYMPIA50 2019 all rights reserved

For David

Thanks to Jerry for years of editing help and creative ideas.

The Case

Angus McCoy sat in his office, filing the final report on a case that had him on a stakeout for most of the last week. The case had been satisfactorily concluded, and after a steady diet of coffee and Twinkies, he looked forward to a hot meal and a long rest.

Being a private detective, he should have calculated that the odds of that were slim to none.

He looked at the phone when it rang. This wasn't one of the days his secretary, Judy, was there to answer the phone. It rang and rang. Angus wanted to finish his report and go home, but that damn phone was a pain in the ass.

"Hello," he growled into the receiver, knowing the instant he snatched it up, he was going to regret it.

His private detecting was perfect on this count.

"Angus. Did I catch you at a bad time? I've got a new client in my office. It's going to require some leg work on your part. It's going to take up most of your time for a week, maybe more. I have in mind our usual arrangement. The usual fee."

"Hello! Hello!" Angus said, banging the receiver on his desk. "Is this a crank call? Leave a message with my secretary. She'll be in later this week."

Angus banged the phone down, knowing it would do no good. A second later it began to ring again. He stared at it. He wouldn't answer it this time. He was going to finish the report and go home for a hot meal and some sleep.

Unfortunately he had a phone at the house too, and unfortunately, the one on his desk wouldn't stop ringing.

"What?" he barked into the phone.

"Angus? Did I catch you at a bad time?" Peg asked, concern in her voice.

"I'm fine, Peg. Sorry, I thought it was your boss. Doesn't he know I work for a living. Tell him I'm out to lunch and I'll be back in a couple of days."

"Angus, you know I cannot tell a lie. He needs you. That should make you feel good. He's got a fascinating case for you. It involves a missing child. I know you'll want to help him on this one," Peg said with enthusiasm.

"You know, you're the best thing about him?" he said.

"I hear that often," Peg said.

"Put him on," Angus said.

"Oh, Angus. We got disconnected. As I was saying...."

"I'm just fine, Wes, and how are you today?" Angus said. "Thank you for asking,"

"Yes, well, I have a case for you. Are you busy?"

"Me, busy? What would make you think that? Look Wes, I just came off a four-day stakeout. I've had four hours sleep in four days. Right now, all I'm fit for is sleep. You caught me as I was about to leave for my house."

"Angus, I'm interviewing Mrs. Wade as we speak. Her son, Cory, is missing. Needless to say, she's distraught, as you can imagine. I can finish the interview, and why don't we meet around the corner at Burger King for lunch. I'll buy. I can get you up to date."

"I retired from the police department so I could live the easy life of a handsome, flamboyant private detective. Why do you keep bothering me with offers of work? I need sleep, Wes."

"You forget I've seen you, Angus. The only thing in that description I recognize is the private eye part, which, as luck would have it, brings me to why I'm calling, and don't tell me that P.I.'s don't eat lunch."

"Wes, I'm too tired to talk. Call me later. Give me a few days and I'll call you to give this case a look."

"This is right up your alley, Angus. A boy is missing from La Jolla. His mother is in my office as we speak. I wouldn't trust a case of this nature to anyone but my ace private detective. How about lunch? Burger King at eleven? I can get away for a few minutes about that time. You can get almost two hours sleep. You'll catch up on the rest, after you find Cory, the missing child."

"Nice try, Matthews. The Bayou at two, and that's my best offer. I can catch a few hours sleep before lunch," Angus said. "You're buying, of course. Our usual arrangement, and Wes, try not to be late this time."

"I have court at two, Angus. Make it one o'clock.. I'll shuffle my afternoon appointments so I can arrive there at one. I'll order a Fitzgerald straight up and a Knob Hill over ice. I'll bring the transcript from my meeting and any notes I think are pertinent. You can have lunch while we talk," Wes said. "I'll leave in time to be in court by two, and you'll have a leisurely lunch while reading what our client has told me."

"A pot of coffee," Angus said. "I'll need coffee."

"And a pot of Coffee?" Wes said.

"How long has the boy been gone?"

"Now we're talking. He's been gone since Monday afternoon. I've Mrs. Wade is sitting in my office waiting for me. I'll have the details by the time we meet," Wes said.

"What is it you aren't telling me? Lay it on me. No surprises. I'm not in the mood for surprises."

"Dolores Wade is the client. Cory Wade is the boy."

"Why does that sound familiar?" Angus asked. "What are you getting me into?"

"Mad Tony from New Jersey. He's the father."

"Mad Tony's kid is missing?"

"In the flesh. You see why I need you on the case. You know to keep out of Tony's way. The boy has been gone all week. Dolores believes doing nothing isn't working."

"It's Thursday," Angus said. "I can do nothing a lot faster than that. It doesn't make sense. Why isn't Tony hiring you? His kid is missing? What took mama bear four days to start looking for junior? It sounds hinky to me."

"Lunch, Angus. This will be complicated. I need to do a proper interview with the mother. We both need to eat. I'll fill you in at lunch," Wes said. "She asked for you by name, Angus. She read the article in the Union, about how you pulled Dr. Parson's fat out of the fire by finding that witness to his accident. She wants you to find her son. I can't argue with her logic. I need get back to her. I can fill you in later."

"I'm too tired to argue with you. I need sleep at the moment. I'll get a couple of hours and meet you for lunch.."

"I'm looking after you, Angus. You can zip in, find Cory, and be the hero. You know how the press eats that stuff up. Then you can sleep with satisfaction. See you at one," Wes said, handing Peg the phone.

"Peg, hold my calls. Clear me for a one o'clock lunch with McCoy. I need to get back to Mrs. Wade. Her story is all over the place. I need to make sense of it for Angus."

"I'm no detective, Wes, but I'd want a look at Tony Wade's underwear drawer," Peg said.

"Don't be silly. The kids eighteen. He'd never fit."

"You and McCoy don't take me seriously," Peg said. "If that's Tony Wade's wife, you should take my pistol, Wes. It's pink, but it shoots straight if she tries anything."

"Don't be silly. Tony's the hood. How would it look if I shot one of my clients?" Wes said.

"A hell of a lot better than having one of your clients shooting you," Peg said.

"Not funny, Peg," Wes said, heading back to his offfice.

"Coffee, boss?" Peg asked. "I've got a fresh pot on."

"Yes, and bring cream and sugar, I don't know how Mrs. Wade takes her's."

Dolores Wade lived in La Jolla, wore expensive clothes, and Cory went to the exclusive Bishop's School in La Jolla. While he knew about Dolores's husband, a private contractor, the rumors about her husband being mobbed up were all over San Diego.

The woman across from Wes clutched her pocketbook with both hands. She was obviously nervous.

"Mrs. Wade…." Wes said, stopping short. "Dolores, let's make this less formal. Most missing children show up within a few days. That's no consolation for you at the moment, and my investigator will go right to work tracing Cory's movements on Monday."

"I'm afraid my investigator is going to be less than eager to jump into a family affair. Number one, your husband is going to cry foul if Angus gets near him during his investigation? Your husband has a reputation of being a difficult man, Mrs. Wade. It would be so much easier if he were here while you hire me to find your son."

"My husband can cry anything he wants. Cory is my son, too. I won't stand by and leave his fate to chance. My husband is insensitive, and he can be brutish. Because of that, his relationship with Cory is strained. He wants Cory to be tougher. He wants Cory to be prepared to fight for his place in the world. Tony wants a son who is more like him."

"Could this be the reason Cory left home. Fathers and sons often have difficulty relating to one another. Did they argue? What happened the day Cory left?" Wes asked.

"Tony fought his way into prominence as a New Jersey contractor. I don't need to tell you how tough New Jersey can be," Dolores said. "Yes, there was distance between Tony and Cory, but Tony was hardly home. I'm still not clear on what happened. Tony said he'd be back in a day or two," Dolores Wade said, removing a hanky from her purse to dry her moistened eyes.

"The harder Tony pushes Cory to be more like him, the more distant Cory becomes. Cory is nothing like his father. I don't want him struggling the way Tony did. Cory is kind. He's sensitive. I want him to retain those qualities. Tony wants Cory to become hard and cold, like he is, and I won't have it."

Dolores Wade stopped abruptly to check the emotion in her voice. She seemed to realize that she'd probably said too much, and not in a way that could be confused with affection for her husband.

"This is private, Dolores. You're understandably upset because of the circumstances. I assure you, you're in good hands. We'll do whatever is necessary to find Cory," he said.

Turning it down a notch was always a good idea in a missing persons case. If Dolores wasn't honest with Wes, it made it more difficult to achieve a satisfactory outcome.

"Let's get to what you think might be behind Cory's disappearance. He is an adult and you can't stop him from leaving home if he wants, but the more I now about his situation, the easier it will be to get him back to you," Wes said. ""I understand this is upsetting, but I need to ask a few hard questions. Do you have any reason to suspect Mr. Wade in Cory's disappearance? Anything at all? Details that seem minor might turn out to be important."

"Tony was in New Jersey on business. He came home early. I was at the stylist getting my hair done. I do that on Monday. We were going to a dinner given for one of Tony's associates Tuesday evening. When I came in Monday evening, Tony was there, and Cory wasn't."

"You expected him to return?" Wes asked.

"I'd left him twenty dollars to go get something to eat, but he didn't come in Monday night. His father said, "He'll come in when he feels like it." I thought that was unusual. Tony is a stickler on discipline, and our son rarely goes out in the evening, except to eat, when we're gone."

"Tony didn't act worried that Cory didn't come home?"

Dolores didn't answer immediately.

"No, he didn't," she finally said.

"I listened to Tony, but by yesterday, I was certain something was seriously wrong, and I made the appointment to see you," she said. "It's not like Cory to go off with one of his friends and not tell us before hand."

"Did you call the police? Hospitals? Did you drive around to see if he might be with someone in the neighborhood? You said you were both gone," Wes said. "Maybe it's just a misunderstanding.:

"He hasn't been at school. He hasn't been to tennis practice. He's looking forward to going to a good college. There are no shortage of offers for good student, and he's an athlete. He is well thought of at Bishop's School, but this could ruin his chances for being in college by September. He needs to graduate and plan for college. He's been looking forward to that, and this isn't like Cory at all. He's always stayed close to home."

"Peg, call the local hospitals. Make a discreet inquiry with the area police departments. You know who to talk to in order to keep Cory's name out of the press," Wes said into the intercom. "Buzz me back with the results ASAP."

"Description, boss. He disappeared Monday, you said?"

"They noticed he didn't come in Monday. Wait a minute. Describe your son for Peg," Wes said.

"He just turned eighteen," Dolores said.

"Can you hear her, Peg?"

"I can hear her," Peg said.

"Go ahead, Dolores," Wes said.

"He's six foot tall. He has blond hair and pretty blue eyes. His build is slender, but he's athletic, he's not skinny, he's thin, if you know what I mean, and he has a nice smile."

"Yes, slender, thin, not skinny," Peg said. "I got it. What about scars, tattoos, or any birthmarks?"

"My son is perfect," Dolores said. "He has no marks. He's a perfect eighteen-year-old boy. He's handsome."

"Perfect. Handsome," Peg said. "I'll get right on it, Wes. Can't be too many boys like this lost in San Diego."

"Does Cory have a driver's license? Does he have his own car? We can track him if he does," Wes said.

"No. We allowed him to get his driver's license, but we discussed a car, his father and I. He walks to school. We see he gets where he needs to be, and the bus service is good. We thought a car would-be a distraction," she said.

"Angus will need to meet with you, too. I'll meet him before I go to court this afternoon. He's going to have questions for you. Some of them will be blunt, Dolores. You need to be completely honest with Angus, if you want him to find your son. He was a police detective for over twenty years before he became a private investigator. He will work from the information you give him. He will keep me posted, and my secretary, Peg, will keep you advised on our progress. I do want to stress, the more you can tell us, the easier it will be to locate Cory," Wes said. "I want to ask you again, would Mr. Wade harm Cory?"

"No. The stories about Tony are exagerations. He didn't hurt Cory. They didn't get along is all," she said.

"Now Dolores, tell me the entire story from the beginning. Don't leave anything out, no matter how trivial it may seem. It will be what Angus uses to formulate his plan of action. He will need access to Cory's computer and his phone and possibly his phone records. I have forms you can sign for that. I am recording you. Angus will get a transcript. Small details can make a big difference in how quickly Angus can locate Cory. I can't stress that point enough."

Dolores Wade straightened her navy-blue skirt and rearranged her pocketbook. She took a sip from a cup of coffee Peg set beside her when she brought Wes his coffee.

Dolores Wade cleared her throat, and Wes leaned back to listen.

He kept a pad handy on his desk in case he heard something he wanted to mention to Angus. The transcript would cover the facts but the way someone said something could often be as important as what was said.

Dolores. Wade was polite and soft-spoken. She made a harsh comment concerning Mr. Wade, walked it back, and then she softened the comment. She tried to be fair and not jump to conclusions, but the harder she tried the more Wes sensed there were things Dolores was purposely leaving out.

Wes didn't challenge her. He let the free flow of information continue. He'd give a copy of the tape to Angus, after Peg typed a transcript of their conversation.

Dolores had seen enough lawyer shows on TV to know how to sound like a reliable witness, but Wes knew what he was listening for, and he never watched lawyer shows on TV.

Wes let Dolores continue, when he leaned to write on the pad, ' Mrs. Wade suspects Mr. Wade knows more than he's telling her about Cory's disappearance .'

Mrs. Wade stopped speaking, and she watched Wes writing on the pad.

"Go ahead," he said. "Don't pay any attention to me. I'm just reminding myself of details. I'm so absentminded."

Dolores remembered that he was recording her.

She thought, 'He must really be absentminded,'

If there was foul play involved in Cory's disappearance, Wes knew the first suspects were those closest to the victim. So far there was no mention of violence or a cause that might explain why Mr. Wade would harm Cory, but Wes also knew the father was Anthony Wade, no stranger to violence.

This wasn't a revelation that Angus needed to know, unless Angus was unable to track Cory's movements the day he disappeared. People on the run for any reason leave clues behind. Being on the run meant rushing into disappearing. Cory's computer, his phone, as well as his movements the day he disappeared would bring the picture into clarity. Were his movements out of character? Did anything happen during the day that made Cory run? Where was he last seen? Who last saw him?

Cory had been gone for three days. There were no phone calls to the police. Mr. Wade told his wife not to worry. Cory would be home when he got tired of doing whatever it was he was doing.

What was that? What did Mr. Wade think his son was doing that might keep him away from home for three days?

"As of this morning, when Cory hasn't returned home, I decided it was time to get help," Dolores said.

"Why an attorney? Why not the police?" Wes asked.

"At this point I want someone I can trust to conduct a discrete investigation of Cory's disappearance. I knew your name, and I made an appointment to see you at the opening of business this morning."

"Excuse me!" Peg said over the intercom. "No eighteenish, handsome, unmarked unidentified boys have been locked up or are in the local hospitals."

"Thank you," Wes said.

"That's good?" Dolores asked.

"I'd say so. We are going to need to report Cory as a missing person, unless you object," Wes said. "As a licensed attorney, I need to report any crime I become aware of and a missing child isn't considered a victim of a crime without evidence, but it is possible someone is holding Cory against his will."

"Who would do that?" Dolores asked.

""Probably no one. We need to go by the book. Cover all the bases. If we don't follow procedures, and something has happened to Cory, it makes us look incompetent. If we follow the rules, no one will pay much attention to us."

"You're my attorney? You do whatever is necessary. Mr. Wade may not like it, but Cory is my son, too. If the press gets wind of Anthony Wade's son going missing, they'll have a field day. We'll all hear from Tony if that happens."

"While a missing persons report is a public document, there's no reason for the press to get wind of it," Wes said.

" I will need a retainer to officially be your attorney, but I will act on your behalf in the matter if you write me a check for $10,000. I can start an investigation if you are prepared to guarantee me you'll have that sum in my hands by the end of the business day tomorrow. Mrs. Wade, an investigation of this nature doesn't come cheap. Angus is the best on a case like this, but he insists on being paid for his services. I'm sure you understand."

"Money is not an issue," Dolores said, reaching into her pocketbook and taking out her checkbook.

Wes listened to her pen scratching across the check. She ripped it off when she was done, handing it to him.

"When you need more, tell me how much," she said.

"This is drawn on your account. Tony will not be aware that you've hired me?" Wes asked.

"No. That's my own account. He won't know I've hired you," she said.

"You do know that as Cory's father, he may disagree with hiring me. He might try to cause trouble," Wes said.

"You are equipped to deal with my husband?" she asked.

"It's not a problem for me. I'm worried for you," Wes said. "Mr. Wade is a man best not crossed, even by his wife. I'm fine, and I've never known Angus to back up from any man, but Mrs. Wade, you live with him; when he finds out you've hired me, well, he might not like it."

"Tony has an unfortunate reputation from his time in New Jersey. It's different here. In New Jersey if you let anyone challenge you, everyone will. Tony merely didn't tolerate it, and he got that unfortunate nickname. He is hardheaded. He can be a brute, but he's got a tender side."

"I'm sure he does," Wes said, not believing her for a second.

Wes got up and escorted Mrs. Wade into the outer office.

"I'll get my private detective on the job this afternoon. I'll call you if I need anything else. It's been a pleasure meeting you."

Dolores Wade left her attorney's office.

"Here, get this into today's bank deposit," Wes said.

"Wow! Twenty-five thousand dollars? What did you do for her, boss?"

Wes took the check and looked at the figures.

"I asked for ten. I never looked at it. I guess Dolores Wade does need a lawyer," Wes said.

"She is very cool for a woman who doesn't know what's happened to her son," Peg said.

"Do you do mind readings on the side?" Wes asked. "My exact thoughts, Peggy. Quite cool for a traumatized mother. I'd give a nickel to know what that woman knows."

"If you knew what she knows, boss, Tony Wade would shoot your ass ," Peg said.

Wes laughed.

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