Cory Wade is Missing

by Rick Beck

Chapter 15

A Big Gun

Angus is summoned to Wes's office, after Mrs. Wade surfaces, asking for an immediate face to face with Wes. She wants to begin divorce proceedings.

Angus is interested in getting Mrs. Wade into court.

"And let's not forget about me. The defendant," Angus said. "We were in court Monday without you, Mrs. Wade."

Angus was at his most charming when he spoke.

"I'm sorry. I forgot all about that. This has been a trying time for me. I had to get away for a few days. I needed to decide what to do. You do understand," she said.

"I do indeed," Angus said. "But we'll need to go back into court in July, and I'd appreciate you being there to explain what I was doing in your house."

"I understand, and I'll do my best to be there for you in July," Dolores said, as though she heard every word..

"And, if I'm having a good day, and if I don't have the urge to travel, I'm fairly sure I can protect you from Mr. Wade, Mrs. Wade," Angus said sarcastically.

Dolores looked particularly alarmed by Angus's pledge.

"He means, we'll, he'll, protect you, Dolores," Wes said, glaring at Angus.

Angus smiled at Wes and nodded.

"I'm sorry I got you into this, Mr. McCoy. Tony can be a jerk when he wants," she said. "He is going into overdrive this time. I don't intend to let him rob my son of what's coming to him."

"And I'll do my best to see that Tony doesn't get a say in what's coming to Cory," Angus said.

"He told me he intends to file suit against all of us," Dolores said.

"Goes with the territory, Mrs. Wade. I've been sued by better men than your husband," Angus said.

"Did he touch you, Dolores?" Wes asked.

"No, he knows better than that. He does have a gun though. I saw it sitting on the dining room table, while I was there to get some things," she said. "I don't like guns."

"What kind of gun?" Angus asked.

"A big gun," she said.

"I've seen a number of those," Angus said. "Tony does a lot of hunting, does he?"

Dolores Wade looked confused. She didn't have an answer.

"Do you know if he has a permit?" Wes asked.

"No, I've never seen Tony with a gun before. I don't know why he needs one," she said. "But he had one."

"I think I know the answer to that one," Angus said. "He's planning on shooting first and asking questions later the next time. I wouldn't send anyone else into your house armed with only a key and the alarm code, Mrs. Wade."

"Your husband is a player in a rough business. His having a gun isn't out of the ordinary," Wes said.

"Could be trouble with his fellow contractors," Angus said. "He's prepared should anyone unexpectedly show up."

"He's never left it out where I can see it," she said.

"Did he know you were coming before you showed up at the house?" Wes asked.

"No," she said. "I decided we needed to talk. I needed some of my things. He was in the dining room. The gun was on the sideboard."

"There you go. You've been out of the house, and not expecting you, he was less cautious with his gun. Him having a gun is the least of our worries, Dolores," Wes said.

"Not the least of mine," Angus said.

"That makes no sense," she said. "I don't understand why he'd suddenly need a gun."

"You know guns, Angus. What kind of gun is it, Angus?" Wes asked.

"The one he pulled on me is a Charter Arms Bulldog, but, I bet, Tony has more than one. The bulldog is sufficient in Tony's local business dealings, but 9 millimeters have become popular, because of their firepower. You walk around with a minimum of fifteen rounds at the ready. As semi-automatics go, you can empty it in about two seconds. If you're expecting multiple men to come at you, you'd want a 9 millimeter. It would do most jobs."

"He's not going to war," she said.

"Fifteen rounds in two seconds?" Wes asked. "Who would need to do that?"

"I'm surprised at you, Wes. You haven't had a case where someone puts ten or twelve holes in someone they had a disagreement with?"

"I take few shooting cases. That's a different kind of law. I'm not comfortable defending someone who finds it necessary to put holes in people to win an argument."

"As a cop, my job was to arrest people who solved problems by shooting holes in it," Angus said. "And for the record, a guy my age, might take three seconds to empty your standard 9, but I had six shots in my police service revolver, and I never hit anything. Why would more rounds make a difference? I rarely fired it in the line of duty."

"You never hit anything?" Dolores Wade asked with surprise.

"A lot of door jams, windows, and ceilings. To tell the truth, I had no urge to put bullets in anyone. You'd be surprised how little shooting good police officers do. I knew guys on the force who never drew their weapon, except on the firing range. When a bad guy is confronted by the police, few want to draw down on a bunch of armed guys, who are going to shoot back. It cut down on firefights. Men weren't as suicidal in my day, as they seem to be these days. In my day, we couldn't shoot if we weren't shot at."

"You were carrying a gun, Mr. McCoy? When you went into my house?" Mrs. Wade asked.

"No, I wasn't. My job seldom requires me to carry a weapon. I've never shot at anyone as a private detective. If I expect to contact someone who is violent, I take my gun."

"Stop worrying about the gun. You aren't in the house. Both you and your son have been gone for almost two weeks, Dolores," Wes said. "Let Tony do what he does."

"Could Cory know something or possibly have seen something or overheard a conversation that might make him dangerous to your husband, Mrs. Wade?" Angus asked. "Something that Tony wouldn't want anyone outside the family knowing."

Mrs. Wade was thrown by the question.

"Give it some thought," Wes said.

"Tony wouldn't know where to look for Cory. He's a contractor," Dolores said. "He'd have trouble finding Bishop's School. I hate to say it, but Tony doesn't know a thing about Cory. He noticed that Cory isn't a chip off the old block."

"Tony might not know where to look for his son on a good day, but on bad days, he has people who know how to find someone they think it is necessary to find. People who wouldn't hesitate to rough someone up who might have information they want," Angus said.

Dolores didn't have anything to say about that. Her silence may have come out of ignorance, or it could have come from Angus knowing what he was talking about.

"That's why we need you to sit tight, Dolores," Wes said. "Let Angus do what he does. He'll find Cory. You need to stay away from Tony for the time being," Wes said.

"Tony said he doesn't want Cory in the house. Why would he be looking for him?" Dolores asked.

"Use your imagination," Angus said.

Mrs. Wade looked at Angus, while she thought it over.

"There are some gold coins. Tony thinks they're in the house, but I put them in my safe deposit box. He gives Cory one on each of his birthdays. It's the only thing I can think of that Tony might be upset about. He told Cory to keep them in a secret place in the house, but I moved them."

Wes and Angus looked at each other.

"Cory has access to these coins?" Wes asked.

"Tony told him that they were his coins, but he couldn't cash any until he turned eighteen. Cory turned eighteen two months ago. I gave him a key to the safe deposit box and put his name on the list of people who have access to it."

"Have you checked the box since Cory disappeared?" Angus asked, unable to hide his excitement.

"I just thought of them as the reason Tony has become so difficult. Those coins are all I can come up with. If Tony went to see if the coins were in the secret hiding place, he wouldn't find them. He was specific about his instructions. They were not to be moved from the hiding place."

"But you moved them," Angus said.

"They are worth a lot of money. It isn't safe keeping them in the house. I took them to the bank," she said.

"My schedule is full. I can maybe swing by the bank late this afternoon," she said.

"Do that, Dolores," Wes said, trying to lower the anticipation he heard in Angus's voice. "Call me and let me know the status of those coins. The entire complexion of the case changes if Cory has access to money.

"I'll check right after lunch. I'll need to go home to freshen up after lunch. T bank is on my way. I'll call you once I leave the bank."

Angus stood.

"That's wonderful, Mrs. Wade. It's been a pleasure seeing you again," Angus said.

"Let me walk you out, Dolores. We'll set you up with an appointment about your divorce," Wes said, heading for the door.

Dolores Wade stood. Until that minute, she didn't know the meeting was over. It was close to noon, and she was meeting friends for lunch. She followed Wes out.

"Peg, set Mrs. Wade up with an appointment with Mr. Abernathy. She can tell you when it's best for her. Subject being a discussion of divorce proceedings," Wes said, turning to Mrs. Wade, "And if there's anything else I can do, Dolores, call me. Don't forget to check your bank and call me about what you find."

Wes took Dolores's hand but merely held it for a few seconds. "I'll leave you to speak with Peg," and, with that, Wes returned to Angus.

Once he closed the door to his office, Wes leaned against it.

"Bingo," Wes said. "You have your answer."

"What makes Cory run? Daddy's gold coins make Cory run," Angus said. "That kid could be in Australia by now."

"Not without a passport and a visa," Wes said.

"I'll get on that immediately, Wes. if he's left the country, there will be a trail," Angus said. "That makes me think he didn't do that."

"What are you thinking?" Wes asked.

"Too early to know. We can check from here to see if he has left the country. He knows he'll leave a trail if he does, and an American in a foreign country is way easier to spot than one in Los Angeles or New York."

"So what does he do, Angus?"

"When he took off from Ford's, he was on foot, and he most likely went to the Castro," Angus said. "He could still be in San Francisco."

"If Ford showed him the Castro, and he has money, he could still be there, making the most of being with gay folks. He meets someone driving to Vegas, Portland, or Seattle, instant disappearance," Wes said.

"He won't do something predictable. I'd rule out planes, trains, and buses. He easy too easy to identify. Major transportation leaves a trail. He isn't going to leave a trail this time," Angus said. "Leaving town with someone he met is possible. If I know he went to San Francisco, Tony's boys know he went there. They were in his computer too, Wes."

"On a weekend, men drive long distances to be in the Castro on the weekend. He could have hitched a ride with one of them, when they left for home," Wes said.

"Which makes my job that much harder," Angus said. "Not to mention, June is gay pride month. Thousands of LGBTQ people will be flooding into the city."

"First we need to make sure Cory has the coins. If he does, it changes everything," Wes said.

"Which makes sense, but the activity at the Wade house tells us a lot. After I was in the house, Tony checked on the coins. That's when the search for Cory got underway. His conclusion, either Cory or me have the coins. Being a secret hiding place, he most likely believes Cory has them."

"You think Cory has them," Wes said.

"It's 80% to 20%, the kid has the coins. Johnny Lee took him to Wells Fargo Bank the day before he split."

Angus felt euphoric. Pieces were falling into place. The coins could lead him directly to Cory.

"Tony has known Cory has the coins for a week," Angus said. "He doesn't know they were moved by his wife."

"Which brings us to another question. Tony is worth a lot of money. A few gold coins don't matter to him. Dolores said, Tony gave the coins to the kid, one on each birthday. Why does he want them back? He's not after Cory, he wants the coins," Wes said. "Why?"

"That would explain the outside interest. What if Tony is supposed to be keeping those coins out of circulation?"

"Theft?" Wes said. "The coins are loot of some kind?"

"Family affair?" Angus asked. "He's mobbed up. Tony, take care of these. They can't be circulated. Why not give a few to the kid? As long as they stay in the house, who does it hurt?"

"We don't know if Cory has the coins," Wes said.

"It explains Tony's sudden interest in finding Cory. What if he had to tell someone, 'I've lost control of some of the coins.'"

"I think you need to take another look around for Cory," Wes said. "Will he know his father knows?"

"It explains why he expected to be followed," Angus said. "He throws Cory out. Now he wants to find him. It has to be the coins. I don't have any use for a man who would toss his kid out. What possesses someone to do that, Wes?"

" I believe it has to do with a misunderstanding of Leviticus." Wes said.

"He an attorney?" Angus asked.

"I'm not sure what he did. I sure would like to ask Jesus about his thoughts on him. I don't think Jesus and Leviticus were on the same page," Wes said.

"You think Tony is religious?" Angus asked. "That's why he was so upset about finding out Cory was gay?"

"No, I don't think he's religious. Tony's just mean," Wes said. "A man like that shouldn't have children. Sooner or later he's going to end up in jail or worse, and the kid is collateral damage. No kid should need to deal with that."

"Or being told he's not good enough for Tony's family. Gives new meaning to the pot calling the kettle black."

"It does," Wes said.

Angus needed to check with Terry about addresses for the coin shops in San Francisco. Once he knew how many there were, he'd have a better idea of how much running around he'd need to do.

He was leaving no pressing business behind in San Diego, which gave him as much time as he needed to look for Cory's trail. He'd gone right to him on his first trip to the city, but he didn't expect it to be that easy on this trip.

"What do you have for me, lovely lady?" Angus asked.

"Johnny Lee is in Scripts' Hospital," Terry said.

"For what?" Angus asked.

"Multiple contusions, abrasions, and a broken jaw."

"How did you find that piece of news?" Angus asked.

"You think all I do is look up phone numbers for you? Once I sent the warning to Cory's contacts. I told them to be cautious of strangers asking questions about Cory. When I finished, I decided to contact Johnny Lee, since his place was where Cory went first. I was too late," Terry said.

"I mentioned, other men might come looking for Cory," Angus said. "Some days I wish I didn't sense things like this coming. Being a cop for so long, I'm accustomed to violence being a byproduct of my cases."

"I didn't think of consequences for Johnny," Terry said. "I should have. I'm learning, Angus."

"The reason why I expected someone to come looking for Cory, was because Cory expected someone to come looking for him. We have a reason why, now."

"Which is?" Terry asked.

"Gold coins. There were gold coins in the house. They belonged to Cory, but he wasn't supposed to remove them from the house," Angus said.

"What's that have to do with Johnny Lee?" Terry asked.

"Cory stayed with him. If he has those coins, Johnny could know something, so they go to his place to find out."

"If they're Cory's coins, why hassle Johnny Lee?"

"Long story. I hope to get all the answers before I'm done," Angus said.

"And you'll fill me in, of course."

"Of course," Angus said. "Like so much violence I've encountered in my career, it's so unnecessary. Johnny told me that Cory expected to be followed, and he was. The gold coins I called you about are most likely the reason why."

" Johnny is local," she said. "They may have thought they might catch up with Cory there?"

"That's a thought. I didn't consider that," Angus said.

"When he wasn't there, they took it out on Johnny."

"Good point," Angus said. "I didn't think of that either."

"If they're just getting around to Johnny Lee," Terry said. "They may not be as swift as I calculated."

"And that would be nice. I can't carry my gun on the plane. If they don't chase Cory any farther than Johnny's, I may not be running into them in San Francisco."

"So you're thinking Cory will cash in some coins?"

"We don't know he has them, but it's the only thing that makes sense. We tracked him by using the contacts on his computer. He knows his contacts are no longer safe. He's on his own. He'll cash in some coins in order to get a long way away from San Francisco," Angus said.

"Makes sense," Terry said.

"As soon as you get me the locations on all the coin shops in San Francisco, I'll know how big my job is going to be. If I'm lucky, I might find the coin shop where he sold some of those coins. I should be able to pick up his trail."

"It won't take long. I can research that on-line and I'll have what you want later this afternoon," she said.

"Email Ford. Ask him if anyone has been there looking for Cory. Let him know the other guy Cory stayed with took a beating. I just want to give him a heads-up."

"I'll do that next," Terry said. "What about his other contacts in that area?"

"I don't want to alert anyone else if I don't need to. If we strike out on the coin shops, I might need to visit each of those houses to cover all the bases," Angus said.

"Maybe Johnny Lee's beating has nothing to do with Cory," Terry said.

"It would be quite the coincidence," Angus said. "Until I know different, I consider it connected. We'll see. How did you get the information on his injuries? They won't ever tell me diddly squat, and I'm a professional investigator."

"When you have a nurse for a client, you can cut through the crap and have them check for you. It helps to be charming and forthright," Terry said. "The secret is in how you ask, 'If you had a patient named Johnny Lee, and a family member called to check on him, what would you say?'" She said. "And in Johnny Lee's case, she told me."

"I guess I've got the wrong clientele," Angus said.

"Angus. I found two term papers on Cory's computer. One is for chemistry and one for English. It wouldn't take any time to print them out. Maybe his mother wants them?" "Philanthropy in the midst of an investigation. I love it. Print them out and I'll get them to Mrs. Wade."

"I'll have them the next time you are here, Angus," Terry said. "Do you have anything else you need?"

"I'll be checking back on the coin shop addresses, and we'll talk again before I fly back up there. Right now I've got something else I need to do. I'll be back later today.".

Angus drove to Scripts' Memorial in La Jolla.

The door to Johnny Lee's room was wide open. Angus looked up and down the halls for anyone who looked like a hood. Satisfied Johnny wasn't in danger, he went in.

Johnny was sitting up in bed. He wore pale blue pajamas. He nodded at Angus. Angus nodded back.

"How'd you know?" he asked through a restricted jaw.

"Didn't I tell you, I'm a detective. I'm paid to know stuff. I brought you something. Don't let anyone see it, you might start a riot, not to mention, get my ass tossed out of here," Angus said.

Angus took a cup of coffee out of a brown bag.

"Real coffee?" Johnny said with amazement.

"I wasn't sure you could drink it, but the coffee here sucks," Angus said. "I didn't know where to get tea to go."

Johnny took the straw from the nightstand beside the bed. Sipping slowly, he closed his eyes with a pleased expression on his face.

"That's so good," he said. "You may have just saved my life, McCoy."

"Johnny, can you tell me anything about the guy who assaulted you?" Angus asked.

"He was big. I really didn't see the guy with him, but the big guy hit me as soon as I opened the door. I spent most of the time looking up at him from the floor, so he would look big. He went through the apartment. He told me if I moved, he'd stomp me to death. I didn't move. He wanted Cory."

"He only used his fists?"

"He kept hitting me once he didn't find Cory. He was more looking than questioning, until just before he left. 'Where's the kid?' he asked. I shook my head. That's when he kicked me. That's when he broke my jaw, McCoy."

"I'm sorry about that, Johnny. I didn't know they'd get so rough. Thugs do tend to be rough," Angus said. "I really wasn't sure what I was looking at, until I found you. When you helped me, you separated the misdirection from the direction he was going in. I got close to him Friday night, but he got away."

Johnny tried to smile.

"He's a smart kid. The hoods won't catch him," Johnny said.

"I didn't know how rough the competition was going to play, but Cory getting away from me might not have been his best move," Angus said.

"This coffee makes us even, McCoy," Johnny said. "What I told you helped?"

"Your story checked out. There are pictures of him buying a ticket for Lancaster. He met a fellow there, and they went to dinner. Cory asked him to drop him in midtown L.A. I won't tell you any more, but I was on his tail when he gave me the slip," Angus said.

Angus kept it simple. It was best not to discuss details of a case if you didn't want them spread around. The less Johnny knew, the less trouble he could get in.

"He might be anywhere," Johnny said. "Cory's smart. He wasn't at all comfortable at my place. I wasn't sure what kept him there for three days, but he knew someone would come after him. He was thinking over what he was going to do, and then on Thursday, it was, 'Will you drive me to Oceanside, Johnny?' I did."

"I intend to find him before the guys who did this to you find him," Angus said. "You told me you took Cory to the bank on Wednesday. Did you see what he did at the bank?"

"No, I waited in the parking area. It was none of my business, but, once he made the trip to the bank, he relaxed a little, and then it was 'Take me to Oceanside,'" Johnny said. "I can show you the bank. The hospital will release me this afternoon, once they take more X-rays."

"That's OK. I know the rest of the story now. I wanted to check on you. If you remember anything that you think is important, give me a call," Angus said, putting his card on the nightstand. "Keep your door locked and chained, Johnny. Don't answer it if you aren't expecting anyone. Keep your phone close. Dial 911 if things don't seem right. They know about your assault. They'll come out immediately."

"You take care of yourself, Johnny. I think you're out of it now. They shouldn't bother you again. Be careful anyway."

Angus turned toward the door.

"McCoy," Johnny said.

"Yeah, Johnny," Angus said, turning to look at him.

"I didn't tell him shit," Johnny said,

"You're a good man, Johnny Lee, a damn good man."

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