Cory Wade is Missing

by Rick Beck

Chapter 7


Angus was inside the Wade house. He'd moved the length of the foyer, stopping when he reached the edge of the living room. It was important for him to hear the sounds the house made. That way, these sounds wouldn't interrupt his search for evidence of a crime scene somewhere in the house.

Should there be a new sound, one he didn't recognize, he'd become alert to it, and he'd decide what it meant.

It wouldn't do to be caught while he was inside the Wade house. With the situation at hand, Tony Wade would be the most likely person to come home at any given time. If Tony came home, while Angus was in his house, it would likely end badly for one of them.

While standing on the edge of the living room, Angus thought of Justin Parkson, after he was caught in this house.

Angus mused to himself, gives new meaning to being caught with your pants down .

Once he was satisfied, he moved to the center of the living room. When he stopped moving this time, he used his eyes to see the layout. The stairs to the upstairs were set off to the left of the living room. There was a hallway running down the right side. That was the side with the driveway next to it.

The living room took up most of the front of the house. At the top of the stairs was a landing that ran across the second floor. Only the last dozen feet of the landing could be seen from where Angus stood. On the other hand, you got an excellent view of the living room for several feet before you reached the top of the stairs. s.

Angus thought, you could stand just to the right of the stairs and see the entire living room. It made a fine observation post.

The house sounded empty. Tony used the side entrance. The first thing he'd notice if he came home while Angus was in the house, the alarm wasn't set. If Tony had a gun, that's when he'd get it. Angus didn't carry a gun on most private investigations. He rarely needed a gun as a private investigator.

Angus moved into the hallway at the right. There was one door on the right. That door went outside. There were three doors on the left.

At this point, Angus became aware of a car on the street out front. He listened to see if it turned into the driveway. It kept on moving down the street.

Going deeper into the house, he pushed the first door to the left in the hallway open. The den went two thirds of the way to the far wall, and there was a closed door on the far side of the room.

He closed the door, moving to the second door. It was beyond the door on the right that opened onto the driveway. The second room was the same size as the first. There was also a door on the far side of the dining room. That door would go to the kitchen. The third door on the left was the kitchen.

The kitchen sparkled. With the sun setting on that side of the house, sunlight flooded in through six windows on the back wall. There was a door to the outside and two other doors behind the kitchen. Angus calculated the doors were storage and a pantry.

Not a glass, knife or fork was out. It was as if it had just been cleaned and polished. The entire house looked immaculate. You might see this house in the pages of Homes & Gardens magazine. It was like no one lived here.

Angus left the bright kitchen, stepping back into the hallway. There was a window at the end of the hallway. He looked out on a terraced yard with bright flowers and rich green vegetation.

The Wades had a gardener. Somehow Angus couldn't picture Dolores Wade on her hands and knees in the dirt.

Angus turned around to complete his search of the house. He came to and walked through the dining room. He exited the dining room through the swinging door and into the kitchen. It's what he expected to find.

With only Anthony Wade living there, he couldn't be spending much time there, or he was the neatest man on earth. It was obvious the Wades had one hell of a cleaning staff, and if there had been a mess made the day Cory disappeared, it would have been cleaned several times since then.

He returned to the door of the den, walking into the neat room. He opened the door he came to. He'd found Tony's office.

Angus listened carefully. Another car drove down the street and the sound faded.

Angus took a deep breath.

He was looking at a desk in the middle of the office. Did he dare go in to rifle through Tony's desk? Even if a car turn into the driveway, he couldn't make it back to the front door before Tony was in the house. If he did, he would be stretching the boundaries of a reasonable search, considering why he was there.

He had no qualms about going through Tony's desk, as long as he didn't get caught at it. There were a few papers on the desk. Angus went through them, but there was nothing of interest.

Backing out of the office, shut the door behind him. He left the den and went to the staircase. This too was stretching his luck, but he needed to find Cory's bedroom and check it out.

It was 5:17.

Once more he stretched the boundaries of what he knew was safe. He opened the first door that faced the landing. It was a large master bedroom with the bathroom behind it. The second door went to a bedroom less than half the size of the first. It showed no signs of being a young man's bedroom.

Angus closed the door and walked to the hallway that led down the right side of the house. It would be directly on top of the hallway on the ground floor. There were two doors, The first door was a bedroom. It was consistent with what Angus would expect for a boy.

He went inside, closing the door behind him. He sat in the chair in front of Cory's computer. As Jessie had said, it was a PC. He listened closely before switching the computer on. Hearing nothing he wasn't expecting to hear, he felt for the on switch and clicked it on.

He prayed as he computer began to come to life.

Please, no password protection, he thought.

Angus stared at the screen, it stared back. Password was on the middle of the screen with an empty box and a blinking cursor.

"Shit!" he said. "Nothing can be easy."

He flipped the switch to turn the machine off.

At 5:26, Angus thought, Terry was on her way to copy certain data off of Cory's computer.

Angus had located Cory's room, and the computer, which would cut down on the time Terry spent in the house.

Angus stood up and he looked around the room. The bed was made. Everything was as neat as a pin. There were dress shoes and several pairs of athletic shoes tucked up to the foot of his bed. There was no phone in sight.

The rug had been vacuumed. There was no evidence of any unusual stains. There was no evidence anyone attempted to get a stain off the rug.

Angus made a quick search for Cory's phone. It wasn't in Cory's room. The logical assumption being, Cory took the phone with him when he left. With an absence of evidence, that was his conclusion.

Angus had been in the house for too long, but he wasn't done. Turning off the light, he opened the door to Cory's room. Taking his pocket flashlight out, he got on his hands and knees.

Angus moved across the carpet into Cory's room, using the flashlight to inspect for signs of blood splatter or an attempt to clean something off the carpet. While he moved, he sniffed. The smell of high strength cleaners were unmistakable.

Once he was satisfied there was nothing there, Angus stood. A sudden shock of pain hit his knees. He bent to rub them, being reminded that he wasn't as young as he once was.

He left Cory's bedroom, going back downstairs. He'd done everything he needed to do to convince him that Cory most likely left the Wade house under his own power. With no evidence to contradict it, it was a theory that replaced the one that said Tony hurt his son. He'd been wrong before.

Angus didn't make judgments, until he was fairly certain of his findings. This made getting into Cory's computer all that more important, if he was going to find the path to Cory Wade.

Even though he was ready to concede, Cory left the house alive, he wasn't satisfied. His curiosity had become a factor. He stood at the bottom of the steps, a few paces from the front door.

He didn't leave. There was one more thing he wanted to do. He went to the first floor hallway, walking through the den, opening the door to Tony's office. He went to Tony's desk and sat in the chair.

He opened the top drawer, moving around some papers there. He found nothing of interest. He opened the first of three drawers on the right. There was nothing of interest in either of the first two drawers. Trying the third drawer, it was locked.

Removing his pen knife from his pocket, he jimmied the lock by inserting the blade next to the latch, and a slight twist of his wrist released it, and the drawer opened.

Angus looked down at a green metal locked box. As much as he would like to look inside that box, he couldn't risk it. He could open a drawer with no one being any the wiser, but if he jimmied the metal box, there was a good chance, it could leave evidence he wouldn't be able to remove.

He found nothing among the papers that interested him. They were related to his contracting endeavors. The Internal Revenue Service might like to take a gander at them, but there was no probable cause, and Angus lost interest in the desk.

Now, he was done. Before shutting the bottom drawer, he brushed away a few splinters near the latch. When he used the knife blade against the latch, it took wood splinters with it. He used the blade to close the drawer. Standing, he moved the chair back where it belonged, leaving the desk as he found it.

It was 5:34.

Angus did the search he came to do. He was satisfied Cory was most likely not a victim of a crime in the Wade house. There were other steps he'd take to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt, but he was leaning away from the theory, Tony hurt Cory in a fit of rage, after sending Jessie on his way.

Angus returned to the front door. He reset the alarm and stepped outside, closing the door. He moved down the steps, walking up the sidewalk until he was directly across from his car. He crossed the street, opened the door, and sat back behind the wheel.

His heart was beating fast. He took several deep breaths. It was a familiar reaction to the situation at hand. The two most dangerous times for a cop, was when he was going into a residence, or coming out. This was when most cops took a bullet. Answering a domestic violence call was as dangerous as confronting an armed robber.

It was 5:39.

At 5:57, Angus watched a car moving toward his car. Dolores Wade parked her Lincoln across from where Angus was parked.

Angus got out of his car, walking to the passenger side of the Lincoln. He sat in the front seat.

"My computer expert is due any minute. We'll go directly into the house. I want you to tell me that I have your permission to use your key to enter your house."

"I am giving you permission to enter my house and I've given you the key to the door and the code to the alarm," Dolores said.

They were both recording the meeting on their phone. Proving it was a particular person's voice on an unaltered tape was problematic, but, in such situations, you did what you could.

"I've been here since four. I talked to Mr. Madsen. He verified what I was told by the boy who was here with Cory Monday. No one has come to the house while I've been here today."

"Tony has a club downtown. He showers there and he has clothes at the club. It's not unusual for him to stay in town, but if he comes home before a meeting, he usually comes in between four and five."

"Here's my computer expert. I'll leave you. Once you witness us entering your house, feel free to leave. We should be OK," Angus said,

Angus walked to the passenger side of Terry's car, opening the door and sitting down, with one foot still on the ground. He looked at his phone and turned off the recording app.

"You're recording us?" Terry asked surprised.

"No, not us. I was recording Dolores Wade. I have no confidence she'll do what is required of her. I want it all on tape in case I need it.

"It makes sense," Terry said.

"I've been inside. The boy's room is at the back of the house. He has a PC. It's password protected. I left it alone for you to get into. What I want is any contact information. In particular the recent contacts. People who might give him somewhere to go. His sudden departure means he had some idea of where he was going."

"Doesn't sound complicated. I can copy his hard drive in a few minutes. I'll take it to my shop. If I work tonight, I should have what you want early tomorrow.

"There is a possible hitch. I told you the boy's father has a bad reputation. Once we are inside, I'll keep watch for him. Should we be interrupted, you let me take care of Tony."

"I promise not to interfere," Terry said. "I'll probably just run."

"If you hear anything that sounds like trouble, close up shop and make your way to the top of the stairs. When we go inside, you'll see how the house is setup. At the top of the stairs, you have a good view of the living room. If I sense trouble, I'll try to alert you. When I do, you close up shop no matter where you are in copying his hard drive. You'll come to the top of the stairs, and wait for me to distract whoever comes in. Once I do this, you get out. Don't look around. Don't worry about me. I can take care of myself. The odds of him coming home while we're in the house are slim, but I like to be prepared, just in case," Angus said. "Tell me you understand."

"I understand. It's clear what I do should I need to leave fast."

"Good. Now we need to take care of business. Let's go inside."

They went up the stairs once they reached the Wade house. Angus waved at Dolores Wade, before he pushed the door open. Dolores Wade waved back, and she drove away.

Angus punched in the code and disarmed the alarm.

"The staircase is straight ahead. It comes down at the corner of this hallway. The door is pushed shut but not latched. When you finish, come straight down the stairs and out the door. Do not look around or hesitate. Go straight to your car and leave," Angus said emphatically, "No matter what is going on."

"What about you?" Terry asked.

"Don't worry, I'll be right behind you," he said. "Once you get out, I'll leave."

Angus entered the Wade house much as he'd done an hour before. He led Terry up the stairs and down the hall to Cory's room. She went to the computer, sitting in the chair. Switching it on, her fingers were clicking on the keys. The password screen was gone, and Angus could hear the computer going through its paces.

"What do you think?" he asked.

"It'll take a few minutes to get in and ten minutes to copy his drive. Go away so I can work, Angus," she said.

Angus went to the landing at the top of the stairs. He'd done everything he needed to do in the house. What he needed to do now was listen for any indication Tony had come home. Angus was sure he'd hear better if he was downstairs. He went downstairs.

Angus was more apprehensive than he'd been the first time he was in the house. He had a lot to keep him busy, and he was alone. Now, he had nothing to do but worry about Terry's safety. He'd put her in harms way, and he wouldn't be able to relax, until she was safely on her way, after finishing her work.

Angus looked at his watch. It had been nine minutes since he left Terry upstairs. He walked to the back of the house to look out at the backyard. It was in shadows. Like the rest of the house, it was pristine. Someone took very good care of the Wade's gardens, lawn, and shrubs. The yard was in late day shadows.

Angus stopped to listen as he walked away from the rear facing window. There was a car on the street in front of the house. It passed and kept moving away. He'd memorized the sound by now, and it only momentarily got his attention.

Angus took up a position next to the stairs. He looked at his watch, they'd been in the house for nine minutes. He had the urge to go upstairs to tell Terry that all was well, but once he started down the hallway on the second floor, he wouldn't be able to hear as well.

Angus stood fast.

There was the unmistakeable sound of a car turning into the driveway and stopping beside the side entrance. Checking his watch, he'd been downstairs for eleven minutes. He could wait and face Tony as he came in the side door, or should he alert Terry, first?

He took the stairs two at a time. He carefully opened and than shut the door to Cory's room.

"How long?"

"Angus, I'll be done in a minute."

It took another few seconds for Terry to turn toward him. She was holding up a flash-drive, but she immediately sensed that Angus sounded worried.

"What's wrong?"

"How long?"

"This is the copied. I'm logging off now," she said.

"Take that with you. You remember what I told you?"

"Yes. Go to the top of the stairs. Watch what's happening below me. You'll distract him, and I'll go down the stairs and out the door," she said.

"Good girl. It'll take me a few seconds to get downstairs. You need to come on now," he said.

Terry flipped the switch to shutdown the computer. A few seconds later she was on the landing near the top of the stairs. She could see from where she was, but she couldn't be seen because of the low light in the front of the house.

Angus stopped halfway down the stairs. He heard a series of sounds he was analyzing. It was the door to Tony's office closing, which meant he'd done what he went to do in his office, and he was coming out. If Tony reached the end of the hallway at the time Angus got to the bottom step, he'd have a clear shot at Angus.

Angus waited on the stairs a little over half way down. It only took a second for Tony to come out of the hallway, gun in hand.

Angus saw Terry moving into place out of the corner of his eye. He needed to get Tony's attention away from the stairs. He stepped down one step at a time, being deliberate, making no sudden move.

As soon as Tony saw Angus, the gun came up. The arm was relaxed, the gun aimed at Angus's chest. The barrel had no movement to it. Tony had shot men before. He knew his target and he was prepared to fire, but he didn't fire.

Angus had both of his hands up and out in plain sight. He wanted Tony to know he didn't have a gun. It was one of those awkward moments. Tony would be well within his rights to shoot an intruder.

He wasn't required to ask if he was armed or carrying a badge. A man he didn't know was in his house.

Tony fired off his words.

"Who the hell are you, and what are you doing in my house?"

Angus waited until he stepped on the bottom step, careful to keep his hands up. He faced Tony, making an inviting target, but he was gambling that if Tony didn't shoot him by now, he didn't intend to shoot him if he could avoid it.

"Tony, I'm a private detective. My name is Angus McCoy. I'm unarmed. I'm here at the request of Dolores Wade. I've been hired to find your son. She gave me the key and the code to your alarm. We can talk about this. You don't need a gun. I don't have one."

Tony didn't need to think. That's how the alarm got disarmed. Dolores let the son-of-a-bitch in his house.

"I knew that bitch would pull something like this," Tony said.

"I'm going to reach into my inside pocket with two fingers only. I'll remove my wallet with my private investigator's license inside. I repeat, I'm not armed," Angus stated, moving off the last step.

He was now on the same level with Tony. As he removed the wallet, he moved closer to Tony. Tony had moved beyond the center of the living room, but the gun stayed aimed at Angus's chest.

"Go ahead," Tony said. "I won't shoot you, yet. I want to see your license."

Once Angus had his wallet in his hand, he opened it. Knowing the risk involved in entering someone's house, Angus left his Chicago police detectives badge at home. He didn't want the trouble it could cause should he be arrested for B&E.

Angus held his wallet out, as he closed the distance between them with slow predictable steps.

"Stop!" Tony said.

Angus stopped. Keeping his wallet held out for Tony to examine, only he'd let his wallet move to waist level, forcing Tony to look down if he wanted to see it. As Tony strained to see in the low light, Angus used the wallet to slap the .38 out of Tony's hand. The gun bounced toward the wall, and Tony was left reaching for a wallet that was no longer there.

Unarmed, Tony was just a hood, who should have shot and asked questions later. As his anger exploded, Angus spotted the gun. His wallet was close to it on the floor. Enraged, Tony charged toward Angus, who had moved closer to the front window, in order to draw Tony's attention away from the stairs.

Angus sidestepped the bull of a man, and Tony kept moving, going down once he lost his balance.

Angus glanced at the stairs and he saw Terry hit the last stair and shoot toward the front door. Tony was flat on his face, trying to lift himself off a a glass table that stopped his fall. Actually the floor stopped his fall after he crushed the fragile table.

Terry was safely out of the house, which left Angus free to take whatever action necessary for him to leave safely.

Nothing distracts a man faster than taking his gun away, Angus thought.

Tony spent some time sprawled on top of the table, and while he waited, Angus picked up his wallet and the .38. He emptied the cartridges and put them in his pocket.

Tony was now on his hands and knees.

It was too bad about the table, but it was for a good cause, Angus thought.

Being an expert at good cop bad cop, Angus went into action.

"Here, Let me help you up, Tony. You should be more careful," Angus said. "That's the reason I don't have any glass furniture, you know. They make such a mess when they break."

Angus brushed glass off of Tony's clothes. There was blood on Tony's hands and he was bleeding from a cut on his face. For falling on a glass table, he was in remarkably good shape. No glass was sticking out of him anywhere.

"Oh, here! You dropped this," Angus said, pushy the empty gun into a glassy eyed Tony's fingers. He glanced down to see the gun.

Tony glanced toward the flattened table, before looking at the gun, as his eyes began to clear.

Angus couldn't be certain the dance was done, but he wasn't going to throw the first punch, if that's the way Tony wanted to go.

"My wife let you in here? She let you in my house?"

"She did. I work for her," Angus said. "I work for her attorney."

Angus wanted to establish he'd legally entered the house.

"You, McCoy, my wife, and her attorney have just bought more trouble than you ever imagined existed. My wife left this house last eek. She hasn't returned. My attorney says she's deserted me. If you've got a license, I'm going to get it. The same goes for her attorney. My wife doesn't live here anymore."

Tony was alert and firing on all cylinders. He didn't raise the gun or act like he wanted to go another round with Angus.

"I know you, mad Tony. I know who you are. I know what you do. I watched you work in Chicago twenty years ago. You were a strong arm for the Jersey mob, and while you're older and fatter, I still recognize you," Angus said, fighting fire with fire.

Tony looked at Angus a little more closely.

"You're a fucking cop," Tony concluded. "I want you out of my house, McCoy. My attorney will take care of you. I'm not an enforcer any longer. I run the San Diego show, in case you don't know it. I'm a man with influence. I'm not a man you can abuse and get away with it. Now, get out of my house. Tell my wife she's bought herself a shit load of trouble."

"I'm leaving," Angus said. "In case you're interested, I will find your son. Coming to your house was about finding Cory. In case you're interested."

"I have no son," Tony said, following Angus to the door.

Angus stepped outside. He stopped before going down the stairs, taking a deep breath of fresh air. He caught a whiff of the Pacific Ocean, which was a few hundred yards away. It was a nice night.

He skipped down the steps and out to the sidewalk. He saluted Mr. Madsen, who stood on the porch just outside his front door. Mr. Madsen returned the salute.

Angus continued moving on the sidewalk, until he was across from his car. He crossed the street and got behind the wheel. He picked up the phone and pressed a button.

"Terry?" he said into his phone. "You OK?"

"Angus, are you OK?" Terry blurted.

"I'm fine. You have the goods?"

"Safe and sound, Angus. What happened?" She asked.

"I reasoned with him. We agreed I should leave his house. I left. Where are you."

"Drive down the block. I'm parked at the corner. I wasn't leaving until I saw you come out."

"You're a peach, Terry. You going to get me what I need off that gizmo you have?" Angus asked.

"I'll have what you need in the morning," she said.

"Good girl. You go on home, now. I'm fine," Angus said.

The call ended.

Angus thought for a second, then he got Wes on the phone.

He picked right up.

"You out?" he asked.

"I'm out. We've got a problem."

"I don't need any problems," Wes said.

"Tony came home. Terry got the goods and she's out OK. Tony is talking attorney's and lawsuits. Just thought you should know. I'm fine. He's a bit out of sorts, but I predict he live to be a pain in our asses," Angus said.

"OK. Keep me posted. Write it up and come to my office tomorrow late morning. I will be in court at nine, but I'll be out before ten. I'll be in my office the rest of the day."

"Got it. See you tomorrow."

The call ended. Angus drove toward home.

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead