Cory Wade is Missing

by Rick Beck

Chapter 13

Road Rules

Cory sat in the window of the coffee shop, directly across the street from the coin shop. He watched the young clerk unlock the gate, and the glass door behind it, before going inside. He dumped what was left of his second cup of coffee. He crossed the street.

"A Krugerrand," the clerk said, glancing down at the gold coin. "Mint condition too. I suppose you are expecting to get market value? You know not every coin shop will exchange for a Krugerrand, but you're in luck, the owner is a certified dealer."

The clerk punched some keys on the computer with his back turned to Cory. He seemed ready to make a deal.

"It isn't stolen. I've lost my wallet. I have a plane to catch in four hours. I need to cash one in to last me until I can get settled," Cory said. "I can give you the approximate date of purchase. My father gives me one on my birthday each year. I lost my wallet and, as much as I hate doing it, this is the only way I can finish my trip."

Cory didn't rehearse what he'd say. He winged it, depending on his good looks and charm to sell his story.

The clerk knew he'd buy the coin. It would cost Cory fifty dollars for being in a hurry. The kid was clean-cut, well-dressed, and except for that haircut, he looked just like a young man who would have a Krugerrand to sell. A thief would be far less casual about cashing in a coin worth over a thousand bucks. A thief would be salivating over the idea of having that much cash in his hand.

"What's the quote today?" Cory asked.

"It's worth a little over eleven hundred but I'm just opening. I only have a thousand in the safe I can get and what's in the drawer. I can't give you what's in the drawer. I won't get my bank until nine thirty this morning. I just opened the shop," he said. "I have a little cash on me. That will get us to one thousand and fifty dollars. It's the best I can do unless you want to wait for my manager to bring the bank. He takes his time getting to work on Saturdays. Wells Fargo opens at nine. If he's there at nine, he'll make it in by nine thirty."

"I'll take the thousand fifty," Cory said. "It's a life saver. I do hate to part with one of these."

The man hesitated, looking Cory over again. He could mark down he paid the market price. It was a neat profit. He'd get fired if his boss caught him short-changing a customer. He was expected to honor the true value of anything he bought. Who'd it hurt if he helped the kid out and made some money on the side? He could make the kid wait, but he has a plane to catch.

The kid would be gone by the time his boss arrived. He'd simply say he made up the difference with what he had in his pocket from yesterday's pay. He'd agreed to make the purchase.

"Is there something wrong?" Cory asked, as the clerk hesitated.

"I.D., please."

"I lost my wallet. I'm asking you to buy a coin. I don't want to date you. If you don't want to buy it, say so, and I'm sure the next coin shop will be more sympathetic. I've got to catch a plane. I can write down my information if you like."

"Sorry," the clerk said. "I forgot. If you saw some of the people who come in here trying to sell coins, you'd know why we ask for I.D. You look like someone who would have a Krugerrand. We're cool."

The clerk looked into Cory's face. He wasn't much more than a kid. If he stole it from mommy or daddy, it was no skin off his nose.

"Let me get the money. It's all hundreds. If you don't want to walk around with big bills, Wells Fargo is a right turn at the next corner and two blocks over. They're open."

When the clerk reappeared, he carefully counted out ten crisp new hundred dollar bills. He took out his wallet and added two twenties and a ten.

"Thanks," Cory said. "You are a lifesaver."

He collected the money and went out the door. He walked to Wells Fargo, getting 10 more twenties. He placed half in his shirt pocket and half in the front pocket of his jeans.

He put the rest of the hundreds in his shoe, while waiting for his breakfast in the same diner on Van Ness, where Ingram, Harold, and Max took him for coffee the night before.

Cory ate a big breakfast, not knowing when he'd eat again. Once he was done, he walked north, taking him two blocks closer to the Golden Gate Bridge.

He made sure he wasn't being followed, and then, he stepped into the street and stuck out his thumb. The first car passed and kept going. The second car stopped. It took one more ride for Cory to be watching the spires of the Golden Gate Bridge pass overhead.

Cory knew where to go and how to get to the Golden Gate Bridge from the diner, because Gram, while sitting in the diner the night before, drinking coffee, explained how they'd walked to, and across, the GGB the day before.

Gram had been excited by seeing and being that close to one of the most iconic man made structures in the world. He couldn't have been anymore excited than Cory was at the moment they left the bridge and began driving north on 101.

While in the diner the night before, sharing laughs with his new friends, he decided to cross the Golden Gate Bridge the next day, and take Highway 101 as far as it would take him. Cory was no longer afraid. He had a plan. He'd keep going until he found a place where he felt safe.

After being let off, where his second ride took him on 101, Cory walked for a while. It wasn't wise to walk on the shoulder of the road. It was illegal for pedestrians to leave the ramps of a California highways, but Cory had something on his mind that made walking easier to do than riding.

He'd had little time to think about Justin Parkson, since the day his father caught them in bed together. It was now that Cory regretted ditching his phone. One button click got Jessie on the line, but the phone was a tracking device as well as a communicator.

In the middle of nowhere on Highway 101, Cory wished he could talk to Jessie, apologize to him. Tell him how much he missed him.

Love was a new experience for Cory, if he was in love with Jessie? His feelings for him were so much more powerful than anything he'd felt for anyone before. It had to be love. He couldn't imagine love being more powerful than his feelings for Jessie.

When he was with Jessie, he didn't feel alone. He'd been with other boys in sexual situations, but once the deed was done, he felt just as alone as ever, but not when he was with Jessie.

Traffic was light. Cory turned around, hearing a car that sounded way too close to him. The car stopped on the shoulder a few yards behind where he was walking. Did they stop for him?

It was just another odd event in a series of odd events. He recalled how he met Gram, Harold, and Max when he needed to find a place to stay for the night. He smiled at the memory.

He approached the car, leaning on the roof to talk through the open window. The couple looked him over.

"I was just going to look at the map," the man said to Cory. "Louise, don't he look like Ester's boy?"

"I'll be. Darned if he don't. Have you eaten, dear?" Louise asked. "We have this here GPS doohickey. They said it would tell us where all the restaurants were. I can't get it to tell us nothing."

"I'll show you how to find a restaurant, if you like."

"Well, we're the Fullers. He's Seth, and I'm Louise. We want to stop for lunch. It's near about three. Why don't you show us how to find a restaurant, and we'll treat you to lunch," she said happily.

The closest restaurant was close to the highway, but it was set back in a forest a ways. Logging trucks were parked all around in the huge parking area. Seth and Louise agreed, if the truckers eat here, the food would be fine.

Cory smiled at how the two fit together like an old pair of gloves.

By the time they ate and got another fifty miles up the road, Cory wondered how many rides he'd missed while enjoying the company of Louise and Seth. He really needed to put distance between him and San Francisco.

A sign at the restaurant said: San Francisco 132 miles. He could have driven that in two hours, but it took all day. He also thought that his pursuer might have calculated that Cory cashed the coin because he intended to get out of town. How many ways were there out of San Francisco on foot? They could decide to take a shot and ride up 101. There is no other plan, and by the time they check the airlines and trains, he'd be two states away, or one big state, where California was concerned.

It was close to two hours farther up 101, when the couple turned off the highway to go to their daughter's. They dropped Cory at the top of the ramp, before they turned.

"Son, I have a little extra I brought along. I'd give you a twenty if it would help," Seth said in the way of a suggestion.

"I'm fine, Seth," Cory said. "You have a nice visit, and thank you for the ride and for lunch."

A sign pointing south said: San Francisco 211.

Cory figured he was out of any immediate danger but he'd wasted a lot of time with the Fullers. They were quite a couple, but two hundred miles didn't seem far enough for him.

Cory walked down the on-ramp. He'd been warned to stay on the ramp, and not venture onto the highway. He thought about walking again. It worked out just right the last time, but he didn't want to stretch his luck. He went down as far as he could go the ramp, turned around, looking at an empty highway.

Cory thought of Gram, he laughed out loud. They'd be on their way back to Australia soon. They turned a bad night into a gay romp.

He wasn't making good time, but he was having a good time.

There was no guarantee that the highway patrol wouldn't stop him to check him out, whether or not he was on the highway, but his odds were better if he obeyed the law, and didn't ask for trouble.

There was another thought that crossed his mind. If he got stopped by the highway patrol, he didn't know if they might be on the lookout for him. If he got stopped, sooner or later the geezer would find out where the stop took place. That was not a comforting thought. He became in a hurry to get farther up the road.

Cory knew his father had political ties to San Diego. His father was well known. He didn't know how far his father would go to get him back, and an APB wasn't out of the question. He needed to be very careful, and standing on 101 wasn't exactly hiding out.

It was very quiet. His mind kept wandering, but he didn't think more than a couple of cars had passed. He wanted to walk, but there were those laws. He could hitch out to The 5. There was more traffic on 5, but there were more cops too. He'd stick with 101. He liked the trees and the scenery.

With his mind wandering, he was lucky to look up.

It was a red Toyota. It wasn't new but wasn't that old. The car stopped, and Cory couldn't see the driver for the stuff.

Opening the door, he found an interior clogged full of junk.

"Did you stop to give me a ride, or did you pull over to adjust your junk?" Cory asked, seeing nowhere to sit.

"If you want to help me adjust my junk, I could use a hand, but if you merely want to move a few things, here, a few things there, you'll have plenty of room and you won't need to adjust my junk."

"You're a comedian, huh? Oh, I'm most anything people want me to be," he said, moving some bedding, so he could see Cory. The unkempt boy smiled a friendly smile.

"Junk! Junk! Here I do my good deed for the day, and I get insulted. Well, I'm already stopped. Move those tubes, and the bedding into the backseat. The pillows will go in the back window, and you'll have room. Be careful with those tubes. My paintings are in the tubes. Do not bend, fold, or mutilate my junk," he said, quite proud of his creativity and sexually innuendo.

Cory could see the guy was college age. He was quite good looking, and if Cory needed to get into stranger's cars, this one would do. It would be even better if he didn't need to repack the car first.

He gave Cory the once over, while telling him where to put things. He looked like he just got out of bed.

Cory thought, if I need to get into strange cars, this one is fine.

"Just shove it out of the way. There's plenty of room if you arrange yourself right."

"Where'd you escape from?" Cory asked. "You've got to be a college dude."

"There's plenty of room. My buddies just threw the stuff in the car, after I got in. It can be rearranged and you'll fit fine. Push the tubes around behind your seat. Throw the blanket and sheet over the stuff on the backseat."

Cory cleared enough room for him to sit down.

"Told you there was plenty of room. I'm Leon," he said, putting out his hand.

"I'm Cory. What college?" Cory said, shaking the surprisingly soft hand.

"UC Santa Cruz. Just left this morning. I'm on my summer vacation," Leon said.

"Me too," Cory said, liking the sound of it. "I'm guessing that organization isn't one of your priorities."

"I was in a hurry. It was time to go," Leon said, "and I wanted to get on the road."

The guy was a cross between every disheveled college kid and a mad scientist. Not only wasn't he organized, his hair maintenance left a little to be desired. Cory recalled a bust of Beethoven with hair that looked a little like Leon's.

"Where are you heading?" Leon asked.

"North for now," Cory said. "I don't have a final destination in mind. I'm on vacation."

"Just finished high school, I bet, and off to sow some wild oats before you head for college," Leon said.

"Exactly," Cory said, liking the sound of it.

"We partied most of the night. When I got up this morning, my dorm buds helped get me on the way," Leon said. "It was daylight but I still had a buzz from last night. I'm heading to my grandfather's cabin out on the Oregon coast. I'm an artist. I plan to stay there and paint this summer. Anyway, I got bored. I saw you standing there. Anyway, I stopped and here we are."

"You left Santa Cruz. You are going to Oregon. You got bored and picked me up," Cory said.

"That's one way to put it," Leon said. Looking at Cory. "Do you know my girlfriend? She does the same thing you just did. She's always saying, 'fewer words, Leon. Fewer words.' I can't help it. I'm an artist. An expressionist expressing himself."

"I'll take your word for it. I doubt I know your girlfriend. I'm from La Jolla. I've been in San Francisco. I decided to go north to see what's up here," Cory said.

"My grandfather's cabin is up here, which is why I'm on this road. It's a couple of hundred miles to Oregon, more or less. I like this road because you don't need to drive 80 to keep from being run over. When I get into Oregon, I need to go toward the coast. The cabin is five or six miles inland but it's close to the Pacific. You can smell the ocean when the wind blows right," Leon said.

"Sounds fascinating. I live a few hundred yards from the ocean. It does have a lovely smell," Cory said.

"I didn't give a lot of thought to picking up hitchhikers. Sorry about the tight squeeze," Leon said.

"I don't mind. Being in a bit of a tight squeeze in a car is better than standing on the side of the road."

"I wouldn't let my girlfriend go with me because I plan to work this summer. She's a constant distraction. She doesn't understand that an artist is working and not just sitting in front of a canvas waiting for the paint to jump on it and create a masterpiece. She's a masterpiece herself, but distracting because I'd rather be jumping her bones than concentrating on work. I left her at school, and now I'm bored," Leon said. "It never occurred to me that I might get bored, not to mention horny. Did I say my name is Leon?"

"Yes," Cory said, laughing. "I think so. Couldn't she sit on your lap while you paint?"

"She could and does. One time she got her tits in my painting. I must say it created an interesting effect, but I stopped finger painting in kindergarten. Somehow we both ended up with paint all over us that day. We were a mess, which sums up my life," Leon said. "That's why she's there and I'm here. I plan to rough it this summer. Get in touch with my creativity. See what happens," Leon said.

"She sounds like fun. I can see how that might be distracting," Cory said. "I go to a boys school, and the only girls I talk to are are the ones who come to see other boys."

"Bummer," Leon said. "You are eighteen, aren't you?" Leon asked, looking at Cory closely. "With that hat on I couldn't tell. With it off you look young."

"What happens if I'm not eighteen? At seventeen I don't have the same brain and same looks? I am eighteen, but I don't see what that has to do with anything."

"It has to do with San Quentin quail. Jail bait?"

"That has to do with a sexual liaison. We're merely riding in your car," Cory said.

"Didn't I mention, I'm an artist? Artists partake of the bounty life has to offer. A girl here, a boy there. It's part of the great human experience. I bet you've heard that. A guy who talks about my junk upon first meeting, certainly indicate there are possibilities."

"I'm eighteen, and I haven't had that much experienced," Cory said. "You just picked me up and you're propositioning me? Do I look that easy."

"I am? C'est la vie. One can hope. I told you, 'I left my girlfriend at school.' At the time it seemed like a good idea, but we'd been screwing all night, and I did a lot of drinking. Now, I'm horny. Picking up a hitchhiker seems like a way to possibly solve that problem."

"Easy for you to say, but I don't know you that well. If I were gay, and willing to cooperate, it wouldn't be in the front seat of an overloaded car."

"I hear some possibilities in that answer," Leon said.

"I'm sure you do. You're the guy that needs the blow job," Cory said,not being threatened by the idea.

"We can stop, rearrange my things to give us plenty of room, and we can dally while I drive," Leon said.

"You are a dreamer," Cory said.

"Artists often dream. Want to dream a little dream with me?"

Cory laughed.

"A good-looking stud like me never counts out getting lucky. It's not everyone who starts out by rearranging my junk."

Cory laughed again. The world was full of comedians. Who knew?

"So you don't just do your girlfriend. I mean you do guys, too?" Cory asked, purposely sounding interested in the answer.

"Passively speaking. In other words I let guys do me. I once had a roommate named Brad. He taught me that I could be had. I went to sleep drunk, and I woke up with him swallowing my spunk, not to mention my dick. When he realized I had no objection to him doing me, it became a regular deal, and before you ask, I'm a nudist. I wear clothes under protest. Brad isn't a nudist, but he liked the idea he could see when I was in a needy way, and when I was, Brad went about doing what he did best, me, and before you ask, yes, I do wear clothes to family gatherings and functions that include the proletariat. Before you ask, my family are nudists too. Hence, the isolated cabin in the woods on a lake."

"Was that a yes or a no," Cory asked, laughing some more.

"What was the question?" Leon asked.

"You do guys too?" Cory asked.

"In a passive way. Did I tell you about Brad?"

"Yes, Yes. No more about Brad."

"He was very good," Leon said.

"I get the idea already," Cory said. "How many different subjects did you cover in that last endless paragraph?"

"Every one I could think of," Leon said.

"I hear the outline of an offer among your innuendo. Why are you making me this offer? We hardly said hello, and I know about your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your family, and the proletariat."

"It's in the eyes you know. Brad taught me that, too. Watch a guy's eyes for a couple of minutes. If they dip down to your nether regions, he's interested in what's there. I would be willing to demonstrate what a nudist wears if you like," Leon said.

"No, please; let's keep our clothes on. I don't want to explain to a cop why I'm riding around with a naked guy," Cory said.

"You don't know what you're missing. I'm told I'm a man among men," Leon said.

"I get the picture," Cory said. "You need to give me some time to catch up with you. I'm not accustomed to meeting such frank guys."

"You obviously haven't been to college. I'm reserved," Leon said. "If you bend over to pick up the soap at my dorm, when you stand back up, you could be engaged."

Cory laughed.

"You're interested. I can tell. If you weren't, you'd be back on the side of the road by now. I once picked up a guy and I asked him to do me for a favor. He asked to get out. He wasn't nearly as cute as you are, but I'd have let him go down on me. You'd go to the cabin with me if I asked. You are wondering what it would be like being my new Brad. It would be like no other experience you've had," Leon said. "You've started cruising me the minute I said that I was horny."

"I did not. I would not," Cory objected. "If you ask nice, and if you stop talking like a pervert, I'll consider your offer."."

"I knew you'd say yes. I feel better already. I could last the summer with someone like you to give me a hand, so to speak."

Cory stopped objecting to Leon's suggestive proposal. He needed to lay low for a while. A cabin in the woods of Oregon was definitely out of the flow of traffic. The fewer people there were to contend with, the fewer people who could say where he was. Leon looked harmless.

Even with his hair a mess and his clothes looking like he slept in them, Leon was still hot. He wasn't kidding about being horny. Leon was turned on when Cory got in the car, and the condition hadn't abated in the time they'd spent together.

If he needed to perform certain duties to have an out-of-the-way place to stay, he could be stuck in the same situation with someone a lot less appealing than Leon.

They rode along in silence for the next fifty miles. Leon had said what he had to say, and he paid attention to the road as Cory stole glances of the handsome young artist.

Once when Leon caught him at it, he smiled.

Cory smiled. He could think of worse things than spending a bit of quality time with Leon.

It had turned into a fine day.

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