Cory Wade is Missing

by Rick Beck

Chapter 16

Gold Strike

After seeing Terry, and visiting Johnny Lee, when Angus went into his office, he had a message from Wes to meet with him ASAP. It didn't seem like it had been that long since they'd met.

Angus went back down to his car, driving the six blocks to Wes's office. He pulled back into the same space he'd been parked in earlier in the day. He retraced is steps back upstairs.

"You look like you need a cup of coffee," Peg said, as soon as Angus stepped inside. "He's on the phone. You have a few minutes."

"Yes, coffee would be nice, and one of those fancy donuts too," Angus said, planting himself on the chair across from Peg. "Did he say what he wanted with me this time? I'm beginning to feel like I work here."

"I believe it's about your trip to San Francisco. You're booked on a flight tomorrow evening at eight. It's the best I could do for this weekend. There's a gay pride thing this weekend. The flights are booked up solid. I only got the flight at eight, because someone canceled just before I called."

"Can I use your phone, Peg? I need to call Terry," Angus said.

"Sure," Peg said, handing him the receiver with her fingers poised above the buttons.

Angus gave her the number.

"Hi, Terry, did I leave my phone over there?" Angus asked.

"No, you left your jacket, Angus," Terry said, let me check it for your phone. "No Phone."

"I'll be on a flight to San Francisco at eight tomorrow," he said. "I'll swing by for my jacket once I finish at Wes's."

"The list of coin shops will be ready when you do," she said.

Angus handed the receiver back to Peg.

"I think Wes said something about your phone," Peg said, as Wes came out of his office with some papers for Peg. He turned to Angus.

"You missing something?"

"I wondered why you called me back over here when you could just as easily called me on the phone," Angus said.

"In fact, I did call you, and your phone started ringing, when I did. It was ringing on the corner of my desk. I left the message at your office, figuring you should have your phone in case something important comes up."

Wes handed Angus him his phone.

"I knew I left it somewhere," Angus said. "It was easier to keep track of when it was attached to the wall."

Wes laughed.

"Isn't that the truth," Wes said. "You're eating again? Why don't you weigh a ton?"

"I was a cop for over twenty years. I can't pass up a donut," Angus said, finishing the donut as he followed Wes into his office.

"San Francisco? Wasn't I just in San Francisco?" Angus asked.

"Just think of it as Groundhog Day. The kid has the coins. Dolores called around the time I tried to call you. Get Terry to make a list of the coin shops in San Francisco. Now you said the kid got a tour of the Castro while he was there. If there is a coin shop in, or near the Castro, start there. Peg could only get you on a flight at eight out of Lindbergh tomorrow evening. There's some kind of a gay thing, and everyone in Hillcrest must be going. First thing Saturday morning, you need to start canvasing coin shops with Cory's picture. See if he's cashed in one of those coins. We need to know if he has money, and if he does, we need to know how much."

"I've got Terry compiling a list. I'm going on the assumption, he has the coins, and I was returning to the City by the Bay this weekend. I'll wear my rainbow button so I don't look out of place."

"Dolores called. She confirmed that he has the coins. He was in the safe deposit box last Wednesday afternoon," Wes said.

"Johnny took Cory to Wells Fargo last Wednesday," Angus said.

"Those pieces fall together. If he has money, he could be staying in or around the Castro. I'd concentrate the search there. See if someone has seen him. It will be a lot of footwork," Wes said.

"I'm not sure hes in San Francisco," Angus said. "He knows he was followed there. My instinct say he's heading for parts unknown."

"But you need to check," Wes said. "He could be there."

"I need to check. He could be anywhere, Wes. I'll try to pick up his trail. I'll give it my best shot."

"I can live with that," Wes said.

"I'll need to know what I'm looking for. I can show a pic and ask if he's been in a shop, but they have no reason to tell me anything. If I know what he'll be selling, it might be more convincing, Wes."

"I asked her about the coins. She said, 'Kruggerands, I think.' There were eleven gold coins. Approximate market value is over $1100.00 per coin. I had Peg check that for me," Wes said. "The kid is loaded. That changes the complexion of things."

"I'm thinking the kid has a couple of double eagles, maybe a few twenty-dollar gold pieces worth a few hundred to a thousand. We're talking major money here," Angus said. "It complicates things in several ways."

"So, if our speculation is true, we're looking at a major heist of some kind if daddy didn't come by the coins legally, and what are the odds of that?"

"Does explain why they are searching for Cory. Once the coins begin showing up, someone is going to notice when they were minted and if there was a theft of any number of them around that time," Wes said. "Coins of that nature are traded in a small arena. Very few Americans are going to walk into a coin shop and ask how many Krugerrands do you have for sale. If they start showing up, someone is going to notice."

"Where do they mint Krugerrands?" Angus asked.

"South Africa. That puts a theft in the hands of the Feds, I believe. If the FBI is on the lookout for Krugerrands to start showing up randomly in coin shops, Cory selling Krugerrands will be noticed before long. Why are you thinking he has stolen coins, Wes?"

"It's like you said, Angus, until you went into the house, there was no interest in Cory. Once you'd been in the house, someone is trying to locate Cory. Why? To stop him from circulating those coins. That makes sense, when nothing else I can thing of does."

"Just checking. I've thought about Tony buying Krugerrands for his son. I don't see it. For some reason he gave his kid the coins. Tony has probably figured that his kid would follow him into the family business, and so giving him the coins is a right of passage of sorts. Now that he's sure the kid isn't going to follow in daddy's footsteps, giving Cory those coins was a bad idea," Angus said. "That adds up, but I figure Tony isn't the only player in this drama, and that's an unknown that makes finding Cory more important. Those coins may be dangerous for him to have."

"If we are talking about the product of a theft, Cory is carrying around stolen property. That exposes him to prosecution. That's why you need to find him and get the coins out of his possession. If you need to pay market value for them, Dolores will make good on it, if it keeps her son out of any criminal exposure."

"What if Tony does buy a Krugerrand on his birthday each year?" Angus said. "We could have the guy all wrong."

"And why spend a grand on a coin when you can just steal one?" Wes asked. "We are talking Anthony Wade here."

"But you want me to buy the coins?" Angus asked for clarity.

"If he's cashed one or more in, you're authorized to buy back any of those coins Cory has sold. If anyone raises a fuss, tell them they may be holding stolen property. If they are stolen, even we can't keep them, but we can keep Cory off the spot he'll be in if he's caught with those coins," Wes said. "My first duty is to my client. Since we are speculating here, we don't know if the coins are stolen or not. We are merely curious about where Tony got the coins."

"And then we'll be holding stolen goods," Angus said.

"You don't know that as a fact. Once they are all accounted for, you'll take them to that FBI buddy of yours. Let him tell you if you have an investment, or if you are in possession of stolen goods."

"My bet is, they know who stole the coins. They just can't prove it, and that makes Cory dangerous to them. Once Tony's kid starts passing those coins, the FBI will have the proof they need."

"We will make an effort to give them the proof, without giving them Cory," Wes said.

"You know the phony charges Tony is throwing at us?" Wes said. "Paybacks are a mother."

Angus smiled, saying, "Ain't that the truth. Especially if we have any number of the coins he gave Cory."

"Has the complexion of this case ever changed," Wes said.

"We have one more problem that comes from Cory having those coins," Angus said. "Instead of a few hundred dollars, he has a few thousand. I need to get busy checking those coin shops," Angus said. "The longer he has, the deeper underground he can go. Time is of the essence, and it isn't on our side."

"Can you cover the cost of buying back a coin or two? I can have Peg get you enough cash to cover such a purchase," Wes said.

"I can cover it. Mrs. Wade will foot the bill in the end," Angus said. "I haven't worked a case with more twists and turns than this one. Every time I think I know what's going on, I find out I don't."

"The one question we had that made no sense, we've answered. Now we know what makes Cory run," Wes said.

"Indeed we do," Angus said.

Angus wrapped up the loose ends in San Diego before getting on a plane to San Francisco. It was jammed with rainbow warriors. Angus forgot to wear his rainbow pin, so he had no way to prove he was friendly, even if he looked like a cop.

He'd buy another rainbow pin in the Castro.

You can never have too many rainbow pins , Angus thought to himself.

Up early Saturday morning in San Francisco, he needed to get a fast start. He had a list of seven coin shops in the city. Since Gary Ford gave Cory a tour of the Castro, it was the shop closest to there where Angus would start his search.

Not only was the first shop on his list near to the Castro, and his hotel, but there was a coffee shop across the street. He'd get coffee while waiting for nine o'clock, when the shop opened.

Shortly after eight, Angus was seated in the window of the coffee shop, facing the coin shop. He had his first cup of coffee, while reading the San Francisco Chronicle. There was plenty of time.

Except for finding out a logical reason why Cory was on the run, Angus hadn't felt that connected to Cory, since leaving Gary Ford's the week before. On that night, he'd felt Cory as strongly as he'd ever felt him. His senses told him that Cory was there, and he was.

Sitting in the window of the coffee shop, he felt Cory. Is this what Cory was doing the morning after he ran from Gary Ford's. It seemed logical. The coin shop was convenient to the Castro, and Cory would have been waiting for it to open, just like he was doing.

After nearly being caught the night before, he'd want to get out of the city. He'd cash in a coin and hightail it for parts unknown. It was predictable behavior.

How would he get out of town from the Castro? It was the sixty-four dollar question. Angus didn't have an answer, yet.

Angus drained his third cup of coffee. He left the Chronicle and a dollar bill on the table. His watch said it was nine o'clock. By the time Angus reached the door of the coffee shop, a young man was unlocking the gate in front of the coin shop.

Angus stepped out into the coolish morning air. He stretched and took his time. He didn't want to alarm the clerk by walking in on him right away. He waited for two cars to pass, before walking across the street. He looked into the coin shop window. He could see the clerk moving around inside. He was putting out displays.

He went inside, placing an 8x10 photo of Cory Wade on the glass counter top, just inside the door. He reached inside his jacket for his wallet, opening it and placing it next to the picture.

The clerk came from behind a curtain with a display of coins he put in the window. He turned toward Angus looking at the picture first. He took a quick look at Angus' face and then glanced at the I.D.

The question was already on the young man's face.

Angus headed off the question.

"Shouldn't be hard to remember. Last Saturday. He converted a Krugerrand. I want to know what he said and which way he went," Angus said.

"I was just opening, as I am now. He was in a hurry. Nothing about him was suspicious. What did he do? The coin was legal tender. I cashed it in upon his request. No large quantity of Krugerrands has been reported lost or stolen recently. I'm required to honor a request to convert one to cash. What did he do?"

"He didn't do anything. The coin was his to sell. It's a family deal. His mother is worried, and he's dropped out of sight. Anything you can tell me would help. No one is after him. I want to get him home," Angus said. "I can't make him go. I can only ask him to go. He's eighteen. So, you did nothing wrong, but you can be of help."

"Glad to know I didn't do anything wrong. He was a clean cut kid. It was no stretch to believe he had a Krugerrand," he said. "You want to know something funny?"

"Sure. I can use a laugh," Angus said.

"I knew I'd end up having this conversation with someone when I bought that coin from him. I kind of saw it in my mind," he said. "I know, sounds kookie."

"No, not kookie at all, son. I sat in the window of the coffee shop across the street, and I knew Cory did the same thing. Sat in that window at this time last week," Angus said. "The kid sends loud vibes."

"Makes me feel better," the clerk said.

"Any idea where he was heading."

"Try Wells Fargo. Down one block, up two blocks. I only had hundreds. I told him Wells Fargo could make the bills smaller so he didn't attract so much attention. He went in that direction. Do you want me to write down the address? They're our bank."

"No, I can find Wells Fargo. Anything else come to mind?"

"He looked like a guy who would have a Krugerrand for sale, except his hair was way short, like military. It's the only thing about him I noticed. He seemed fine. Maybe he could have used a little more sleep, but can't we all," the clerk said. "You're a cop?"

"Retired," Angus said. "Private now, and I get to look for lost little boys."

"Sounds exciting," the clerk said.

"You still have the coin?' Angus asked.

"Sure, we don't do a big business in coins that valuable."

Angus bought the coin without curiosity from the clerk.

He left the coin shop and walked to Wells Fargo. There were three windows open with tellers standing at the ready. Angus was the only customer in the bank. He went to the first open window.

"Would have had hundreds. He'd have wanted to break one or more into smaller bills. A week ago at about this time on Saturday morning," Angus said, setting down his private detectives license minus the badge.

"Excuse me. I'm vice president Lemon, and you are?"

"Oh, I probably should have stopped to see you first. I'm Angus McCoy. I'm a private detective. Here's my license, and here's a picture of a boy who was likely to have come in here about this time a week ago. He had some large bills and may have wanted smaller bills."

Mr. Lemon walked Angus to the second window. The teller shook her head no. The third teller was the charm. Cory had been there.

"Yes, he had hundreds. I believe i gave him ten twenties on two one hundred-dollar bills," the teller said. "Is anything wrong?"

"Anything unusual about him?"

"Only the fact he was here before ten on a Saturday morning. I have teenage boys. They rarely get up on Saturday before afternoon," she said. "Other than that, he was your typical teenager."

"Did you notice which way he went?" Angus asked.

The woman shrugged and shook her head. The tellers' cages faced the offices and not the front door. She wouldn't be able to see a customer once they left her window.

"Thank you, ma'am," Angus said, starting for the door.

Mr. Lemon walked with Angus and held the door for him. Angus started out, and then he stopped.

"Excuse me, Mr. Lemon. Say you're a teenage boy and you've decided to leave this fine city. What would be the fastest way out of town. Say you're on foot?"

Mr. Lemon walked Angus to the sidewalk in front of the bank. Four or five blocks that way, you pick up Golden Gate Bridge signs, if you turn north. The 101 crosses the bridge. That's the fastest way to get out of town from here," Mr. Lemon said. Follow the bridge signs. You can't miss the Golden Gate Bridge."

Angus thanked Mr. Lemon and he walked in the direction Mr. Lemon indicated. He walked west until he reached Van Ness Street. There was a diner a block up from where Angus was. Right in front of him was a Golden Gate Bridge sign, with the arrow pointing toward the diner.

Angus, knowing it was past breakfast time, decided to eat. After a good meal, he'd walk to the bridge and see how it went.

The waitress came over as soon as Angus slid into a booth. The restaurant was less than half full. It was fifteen after ten.

"Eggs, bacon, rye toast, coffee, lots of coffee. You ever seen this boy in here?" Angus asked, showing her Cory's picture.

"Sorry, darling. I don't look at the faces. I have a couple of hundred customers a day, and they all look alike."

"Here's a little something for your trouble. Show this to the other waitresses. Just ask if they've seen him, please."

Angus put a ten-dollar bill on top of the picture and watched the waitress place his order and then walk over to where two other waitresses stood talking. Both of them looked at the waitress, looked at the picture, shook their heads, and then looked at Angus. He smiled and nodded while his waitress brought back the picture.

"No luck, darling. I suppose you want the ten-spot back?"

"No, you did the job. You aren't responsible for me having bad luck," Angus said.

After an hour, Angus stepped out of the diner and looked up and down the street. He decided he'd walk north and see what he could see. He remained fairly certain that Cory was smart enough, and scared enough, once he realized he was being tracked; he didn't take a bus, a train, or a plane out of town, but he didn't waste any time leaving either.

There were cameras everywhere, and, for a price, you could buy cooperation and look at the footage of everyone buying a ticket on a plane, train, or bus. By using time stamps, you could figure out where the suspect bought a ticket to, and that meant leaving a trail.

Cory would leave the city on foot. He'd put some distance between him and San Francisco, before thinking of public transportation. No one would know where he went or how he went. He would be sure no one followed him. Once again, Angus went with his hunches. At this point in the search for Cory Wade, it's all he had.

Knowing this, gave Angus enough information to follow his likely path out of town. It was something like putting yourself in the other man's shoes, and then you followed your nose. Angus decided to follow the signs, as he walked to the GGB.

Leaving town in this part of the city meant the Golden Gate Bridge. That could be an attractive option, as well as an escape route. Angus was in no hurry, until he spotted what he was hoping to find. He saw a man who was most likely in the same place last weekend. He'd gotten lucky, but he wouldn't pat himself on the back yet. The man could have been here last week and not seen a thing.

Two long blocks up Van Ness, following the Highway 101 signs, Angus found a newspaper stand. It was an old-fashioned wooden framed shed like structure. The front was open wide. Newspapers and magazines were on display.

The newspaperman stood to one side, ready to dash to the curb, when a car pulled over and stopped. He was wearing one of those old-fashioned shiny change makers common on venders in the last century. Angus hadn't seen one of those in years.

"Howdy," Angus said, walking over.

He immediately looked down at the smorgasbord of newspapers laid out before him.

"You carry them all. New York, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta. This is an old-fashioned newsstand," Angus said. "I'm from Chicago. I haven't read the hometown paper for years. I think I'll take a Chicago Trib," Angus said, handing the man a ten as he picked up a paper.

As the newspaperman began to make change, Angus said, "No, you keep it."

"You didn't happen to be a cop in Chicago, now did you?" the newspaperman asked.

"What gave me away," Angus asked. "What is it you'd like that is worth eight fifty?" he asked.

They both laughed.

"You do know how it works," Angus said.

"I do. I used to come to work at this stand with my daddy. That was the 60s. Man did we have the hippies. All day and all night. They was all moving toward the bridge. None ever came back the other way. They were all going out across that bridge, heading to Lord knows where. In the 70s, it was hitchhikers. I mean they came along here in clusters. By the 80s it had slowed down. Nowadays we get the street kids, the runaways, the misfits, and the lost souls. Which is it you're after, captain?" the newspaperman said.

"Take a look at this and see if you recognize him. His mom is worried. There was a family deal, and he took off. I've trailed him to San Francisco, and he was just a few blocks from here the last time he was seen," Angus said. "A week ago this morning, I figure."

"A week ago," the man said, looking at the picture.

"Yes. I think so. He came straight up the street. I don't know where he came from, but he walks right past. I don't think he ever saw me, but I got nothing to do but watch my street, and here he comes. Funny thing though, hard to tell much about him. Clean cut, nice clothes, expensive, but he'd slept in them or maybe he'd had them on since leaving home. I watch him, and he steps off the curb a half block farther up. Sticks out his thumb, he does. A lot of cars coming along here are heading for the bridge, you know. He looked like one of those kids who had seen all of San Francisco he ever wanted to see," he said. "A car stopped, and he was gone," the newspaperman said. "He hitchhiked for maybe five minutes. It's rarely busy along here on Saturday mornings. About like now."

"Thank you. You are a find. I'm going back to my hotel and read the Chicago Tribune, and then I'm going back to San Diego where I belong," Angus said.

"You ain't going to follow him?" the man asked.

Angus looked to the north in the direction Cory had gone. A week was enough time for him to hitchhike anywhere in the country.

"Last week, if I played my cards right, I'd have had him home to his mother by now. In a week he could be anywhere," Angus said.

He tucked the Chicago Tribune under his arm and walked toward his hotel. What he was sure would take him the weekend to do had taken only a couple of hours. When he took on an investigation, Angus never knew where it might take him.

While Cory played it smart, Angus was left high and dry. His hunches had each been good, but Cory's instincts put him out of reach for the time being.

As much as it bothered Angus, to admit an eighteen-year-old was smarter than he was, there was some satisfaction in knowing, if he couldn't follow Cory, no one else could follow him either.

In most cases Angus worked, he was the only one out there looking. With other people apparently looking for Cory, it made things more difficult. Not only did Angus want to find Cory first, but he didn't want to do anything to tip off Tony's boys either.

Sooner or later Cory would surface again. He'd run low on money, and need to convert a coin, or he'd get homesick, and call someone in San Diego, and Angus would be ready to pick up his trail.

For now, he'd read the Chicago Trib and be amazed by the number of murders in a day. It was stunning. He was glad to be out of it. He was proud of his career, his record, and the things he'd done. It was no longer his job, and God help those who did the job now.

These were different times. Angus's time in Chicago was over.

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