Cory Wade is Missing

by Rick Beck

Chapter 18

Instant Recall

Angus spent the next hour writing his report on his weekend activities. While common sense investigating took him to the proper coin shop, his personal experience, told him where Cory would go, or, at least, it told him how he'd get where he was going. On paper, it looked easy. It was surprising how easy it was, when you knew what you were doing. Once Cory stepped into the street with his thumb out, he became invisible, even to a sharp investigator.

Angus wondered, how many cars pass over the Golden Gate Bridge in a single day.

His next move was to brief Wes and give him a copy of his report, which he would, or wouldn't, share with Dolores Wade. Wes was almost always in court on Mondays. If he didn't have time to meet on Monday, they'd certainly meet sometime on Tuesday.

Angus would go by Wes's office, and Peg would tell him where he'd fit into his schedule. Angus would leave a copy of his report. These things were predictable. What Cory did wasn't. Cory would surface by summer's end, and Angus didn't know where or when, but he'd be ready when he did. It was his job.

Angus would usually take this time to go over the events that took place, since he began investigating Cory's disappearance. He would look for things he missed the first time around. Cory's disappearance was straight forward. The pieces fit together. He'd had to do little speculating. Each step he took led to the next step, until he reached the newspaperman on Van Ness.

It was too late for breakfast at his favorite breakfast stop in Ocean Beach. The restaurant was two blocks from the pier. When he wasn't in a rush, Angus enjoyed a walking to the end of the Ocean Beach pier, after breakfast. It was good exercise, but not today.

Once a trail went cold in a missing person's case, Angus spent some time contemplating the moves he'd made, and why he'd made them. Cory converted one of his coins. Angus followed that lead as far as it took him. It was Cory's move. Until he made it, Angus would have plenty of time for walks on the Ocean Beach pier.

He'd also take time to beat himself up for being too slow, for growing old, and for not being as clever as an eighteen-year-old kid.

How long would it take Cory to burn through the money?

Until he did, until he visited another coin shop, Angus could only wait, and be ready when the next call came.

Once Cory moved, Angus would know where to look. In the past, Angus would wrap himself around the axle at times like these, trying to make something out of nothing. He'd learned not to do that. Sometimes waiting, doing nothing, was the thing to do. That didn't mean he shouldn't examine his moves so far. It didn't make waiting any easier, but when he needed to wait, he waited.

He drove through McDonald's on his way to Pacific Beach. He would sit in his car and watch people go by. He ate his two quarter pounders with cheese and large fries, while drinking from one of the two coffees he bought. It was important for Angus to do something, while he did nothing. Experience taught him that too.

People were odd ducks. In the middle of a workday, hundreds had time to stroll at the beach. Once, in Chicago, with a Twinkie in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other, a man suspected in a double homicide walked past Angus's idling unmarked police car.

He spilled his coffee all over himself, and stepped on the Twinkie, while getting out of the car, but people-watching paid off that day. Angus got credited for busting one of Chicago's most wanted.

He didn't expect to bust anyone at Pacific Beach, but you never know. That Chicago bust seemed to prove, when a day started, you never knew how it was going to end, and it's always good to buy two coffees, and keep one safe in the cup holder, just in case.

Angus had a problem. After the problem of the Cory Wade case, someone followed him to Johnny Lee's. Angus didn't lead the assailant to Johnny Lee, but he followed in Angus's footsteps. They found Johnny the same way Angus found him.

Angus believed it was Cory's father, who was behind that attack. It was the activity on Cory's computer, that Terry was tracking, that convinced Angus it was Tony. Once the Krugerrands became part of the picture, there seemed to be a motive for finding Cory.

The natural progression said that Tony's boys would be in San Francisco, continuing their search for Cory, but no one had contacted any of the other men Cory communicated with. It was going into the third week, since Cory disappeared, and no one had followed Angus to the places he'd staked out in San Francisco.

Why did they stop searching? Were they hoping to catch Cory at Johnny Lee's, and once they didn't catch him, did they decide to do something else? Angus didn't know what it meant. When people did nothing, it was difficult to know why they did it.

Angus sensed Tony wasn't in charge, when it came to the Krugerrands. They went to Johnny's hoping they'd catch Cory there, take the Krugerrands. If they were after the coins and not Cory, once Cory took off for parts unknown, they figured it was too late to stop Cory from cashing in a coin. That indicated that they could be part of a heist.

Angus knew a special agent with the FBI. He'd go to see him and explain the circumstances surrounding Cory's disappearance. He'd take the Krugerrand he bought in San Francisco with him. Under some conditions, a theft of foreign funds would be a federal crime. That was something to be explored while he waited.

Tony knew immediately, once Angus was in the house, that the Krugerrands weren't in the hiding place. They should have beat Angus to the coin shop in San Francisco. Why didn't they canvas the coin shops, the way Angus intended to do?

What did Johnny say?

"I didn't tell them a damn thing, McCoy."

Angus wouldn't rest easy until Cory surfaced again. When he did, Angus would know he was alive. Until he did, he wouldn't know.

Angus smiled when he thought of Cory hitchhiking over the Golden Gate Bridge. With money in his pocket, most kids Cory's age would fly to someplace nice and stay in a four-star hotel. They'd make use of all that money, and daddy's thugs would have found him there.

Cory could afford to go first class to anywhere he pleased, but he didn't. He hitchhiked out of town. He wasn't going to spend money and leave an obvious trail. He would find a place and lay low.

Cory wasn't making it easy for Angus, but if Angus couldn't follow him, no one else could either, and Cory was safe, for now.

Angus finished his fries and drank the rather stout MacDonald's coffee. Angus knew he could depend on the coffee there. The food was like most fast food. It filled the hole, and the coffee added predictable flavor. He thought of the days when coffee was a quarter. Those were definitely the good old days.

He also thought of Krugerrands. How many more did Tony Wade have? Did Cory know something about the Krugerrands that made him dangerous to Tony and his boys? What did Cory know?

It made perfect sense to Angus McCoy, Chicago detective. Maybe mad Tony wasn't looking for his son. Maybe mad Tony needed to get the coins back before Cory sold one, but Cory had already sold one. Angus took it out of his pocket and looked at each side. He wondered what the story was behind the Krugerrands. Who else, besides mad Tony, was interested in recovering the gold coins?

By early afternoon, Angus had worked his way through the elements of the Cory Wade case for the second time that day. He was ready to discuss it with Wes, but Wes would be tied up in negotiations for the entire afternoon.

Angus decided to rattle the only other cage of interest to him.

" Mr. McCoy," Delores Wade said, opening the door. "Won't you come in. Have you found out anything on Cory's whereabouts?"

"Yes. Since we last talked, Cory has cashed in one of the gold coins. I was in the coin shop on Saturday. I got a positive identification on Cory's picture. He was the one who cashed in the Krugerrand. I lost his trail shortly after that."

"He was OK?" Dolores asked.

"He was fine and conducted himself as anyone his age would. The clerk had no reason to think anything was amiss."

"He converted a single coin?" She asked.

"One coin. There was no mention of other coins. Until he makes a move, calls you or one of his friends, there isn't much else I can do at this point," Angus said.

"I'm surprised you found the coin shop," she said.

"I tracked him to San Francisco. That's where the coin shop is," Angus said. "It's where his trail led me. It's where his trail ended."

"San Francisco is a long way from San Diego," she said. "You're absolutely sure it was Cory?"

"Yes. It was Cory."

"I see," she said. "If he was able to convert a coin, he's OK."

"The clerk said, 'he looked fine.' There isn't anything about those coins you'd like to tell me about?"

"No, nothing I haven't told you," she said.

"You haven't heard from Cory, have you?" Angus asked, watching Dolores Wade's face for an indication that she was about to lie.

"Have I heard from Cory? Why no, I haven't," she said. "He doesn't know where I am."

"You don't have your phone with you?"

"Oh, yes, I do. I forget sometimes. I'm sure he has my number."

"You will notify me the minute you hear from Cory?" Angus asked, already knowing the answer.

"Of course, Mr. McCoy, I will," Delores Wade said way too fast for Angus to believe she would.

"He left no trail. It's imperative for you to do that if you want me to find your son. You might want to tell Tony where the case stands."

"Tony! What makes you think I talk to Tony? We're separated."

"What can you tell me about the Krugerrands?" Angus tried again.

"Tony gives one to Cory on his birthday each year. It goes back to just before Cory turned 8. I don't know what made him decide on that particular gift, but he's never failed to hand Cory a Krugerrand on his birthday since then. It's actually a smart gift. Cory was instructed not to cash them until he turned eighteen. He turned eighteen. Tony has no say about Cory using the coins to help him survive."

Angus made a mental note to himself, 'check statute of limitations on major financial theft, state by state and federal.'

"Have you seen any other Krugerrands at your house? Besides the one Tony gives to Cory. Do you know where he gets the coin to give to Cory?" Angus asked.

"No, the only Krugerrands I've ever seen are the coins he gives to my son. Where do you buy gold coins? I suppose he buys them on the commodities market or uses a business to make the purchase."

Dolores Wade acted startled when Angus told her Cory cashed in one of the coins. When he questioned her on the coins, she gave him a lot of information without offering him anything useful. It seemed to Angus that the Krugerrands were suddenly more significant than they should have been in a family as well-heeled as the Wades.

Since he'd learned about the coins, nothing added up, which wasn't a revelation in this particular case.

"They've always been kept in your safe deposit box, Mrs. Wade?"

"No, that was my idea when Cory was about fourteen. Having thousands of dollars' worth of gold in the house seemed terribly careless to me. It was like asking for trouble," she said, her eyes fluttering on the word trouble.

"You didn't tell Tony you moved the coins?" Angus asked.

"No, he was adamant about Cory keeping the coins in a hidden compartment inside his clothes closet. It didn't seem safe to me, and if Tony ever asked, I'd tell him, I moved them to keep them safe."

"Was it always a Krugerrand?" Angus asked. "The gold coin?"

"Always a Krugerrand," she said.

"That's all I have. Please, call me if you hear from Cory, and I can plan my next move. Other than that, I'm through here. Have a nice day, Mrs. Wade. I'll show myself out."

Whenever Angus left Dolores Wade, he felt like she wasn't telling him the entire truth. She was holding out on him, and, for a woman who wanted Angus to find her son, holding out on him wasn't smart.

One other thing bothered Angus: Mrs. Wade's answers never varied from the last answers he got to the questions about the coins. When someone gave you the same answer, word for word, they have rehearsed, memorizing what to say if asked that particular question.

Why did Mrs. Wade find it necessary to rehearse her answers about the Krugerrand? The story behind the Krugerrands seemed to be a secret, and once that secret was exposed, Angus would get his answers to why the coins had suddenly become so important in a case concerning a missing boy..

If Cory called his mother, Angus would be the last to know.

Angus didn't tell Mrs. Wade about the newsman or the hitchhiking. He didn't want it getting back to Tony. She may be divorcing the son-of-a-bitch, but she was still married to the mob.

He'd give Wes details that wouldn't appear in his report. If Wes wanted to tell Mrs. Wade, it was his call, but they usually saw eye to eye on such things.

Johnny Lee's place was just up the hill from the U.S. Grant Hotel, and Angus decided to drop in to see if there was anything Johnny needed, or if he'd heard from Cory.

It was easy to find a parking space in the late afternoon. Johnny Lee's car wasn't where it had been parked before. Angus saw no signs of it. He checked his notes to be sure he was remembering correctly. There was no car of that make, model, or year parked nearby.

Angus walked up the one flight of stairs and knocked on Johnny's door. He waited a couple of minutes in case Johnny was moving slower. After the third knock, there was still no answer, but a door opened a crack directly across the hall.

Angus reached into his pocket and flashed his I.D. The chain on the door immediately made a noise as the observer opened it.

"I'm a private investigator. I was checking on Johnny Lee," Angus said, turning to face a white-haired woman in the open doorway.

"He's gone. Terrible what happened to him. Such a nice man. I saw him last Wednesday, maybe it was Thursday. Can't be sure. He's a mess. His mouth's all wired up like that. Just a shame."

"Did he say anything to you?" Angus asked.

"Yes, he did. Hard to understand him with his mouth wired up that way. He said, 'I'm going away for my health. He didn't say where. I thought that to be funny. If he was going to go away for his health, he should have gone before someone beat him like a dog, don't you think?" the woman said, sounding angry.

"One would think, ma'am," Angus said. "Thanks for your time."

Angus wouldn't worry about Johnny Lee taking another beating. He seemed to understand that he was in the line of fire and moving out of it was the smart thing to do.

Angus sat in his car in front of Johnny Lee's apartment building. He considered what to do about the other men he interviewed in the Cory Wade case. What would be his best course of action? What were the odds that the men who beat Johnny Lee were going to visit the other men on Cory's computer?

The thugs hadn't made contact with anyone else yet. The more time that passed without them making an appearance in San Francisco, the less likely it was they were going to play that card.

He decided that he needed to close the circle since returning from San Francisco. He drove to Terry's shop.

Angus realized that, no matter what he gave Terry to do, she always did more than he asked. He had spoken up for her in court three years before, after she was charged with writing a bad check.

Like so many, she thought she'd be able to cover the check before it hit her checking account, but in the world of electronic transfers, the time you had was made shorter every day.

Terry was a young naive country girl, trying to make a go of it in the big city, because there were no jobs where she was from, where her family was. Kids couldn't stay at home in the country, because their parents struggled to make ends meet.

Angus knew of Terry's case because he did work for the company that received Terry's bad check. She admitted and tried to explain her action to Angus, but she didn't deny it. Terry's story was one of a million stories Angus heard over the years, but there was a genuine innocence to the girl that told it this time.

Terry reminded Angus of his youngest daughter.

After talking to Mildred, they agreed that they'd treat Terry like one of their daughters. First, Angus took Terry's case to Wes. He immediately got the charges reduced to a misdemeanor. The deal was that Terry would plead guilty to the misdemeanor. She'd go to school or be employed for the next five years, and, if she stayed out of trouble and passed no more bad checks, the charges would be set aside, clearing her record.

Angus sent Terry to a local school that taught electronics repair and service. There were also rudimentary computer classes that taught students how the systems that ran a computer worked.

Three years later, Terry had opened her own repair shop and was continuing to go to school while working as many hours as it took to get the work done.

At first Angus admired Terry's motivation and drive to succeed. He threw some simple tasks her way and, when she did them promptly and with enthusiasm, well, he used her all the time these days. She was a whiz at gathering information that helped Angus in his work.

The kinds of things that once took Angus hours, and sometimes days, to track down, Terry could tell him in a couple key strokes. She knew exactly how to make modern technology pay off for Angus.

Angus didn't think twice when he had a problem that involved computers in any way, shape, or form. He took it to Terry to get her to tell him what he needed to do to get what he wanted. Terry went further than he asked, putting an extra effort into anything Angus asked her to do. Terry took the help Angus offered her and turned it into a business with her own shop and a growing clientele.

"Hi, boss, what's up?" Terry asked.

"I came to ask you that. Any more activity on Cory's computer?"

"Nope. They shut it off the day whoever was in it was in it. They may have unplugged it or just shut it down. They got whatever they wanted, and they lost interest in the boy's computer."

"Can you check that. See if his computer has been disabled?"

"Sure. Just take a minute," Terry said, typing on her keyboard, she watched her monitor. "I can't open it. The power source is off, or they found the app that allows me to know when the computer is being used. I've got everything that's on his hard drive. We don't need to get into it again."

"Anything else you can give me? I lost him in San Francisco, after he cashed in that Krugerrand. His trail has officially gone cold. He's got cash and could be anywhere."

"That coin shop where he cashed the coin is legitimate. No hanky panky in its past. The current owner has been in that spot for fifteen years. The clerk is clean. That's all I've got for you, Angus."

"Cory was going north out of San Francisco," Angus said. "How difficult would it be to send Cory's picture to all the coin shops between San Francisco and Seattle in the corridor above the city?"

"It'll take time to get the contract information on each coin shop in that region, but once that's done, I can send a mass mailing with Cory's picture to all those coin shops."

"Do that for me. Sooner or later, and probably later, he'll need to cash another coin. Wouldn't do to let that slip past us without notice."

"As good as done. By the end of the week I should finish with that," Terry said.

"I wanted to check. I'll be settling back in and dealing with Tony Wade's criminal charges against me. I'm beginning to get the feeling that mama bear isn't going to show up in court when I need her."

"You got me. I was there. I know what happened," she said. "I wouldn't go into another courtroom unless someone's life depended on it, but the way I see it, your freedom might depend on my testimony the way mine depended on yours three years ago."

"You know that's problematic, Terry," Angus said.

"I Don't care. Just because I was stupid enough to give someone a bad check, doesn't mean I don't know right from wrong."

"I know that; you know that, but a prosecutor is going to drag you over the coals if you come to testify for me," Angus said.

"Let him. I owe you, Angus. I owe you big time. Because of you my life has straightened out. I have a career, and I can look at myself in the mirror and I feel just fine," Terry said.

"I'll keep it in mind, little darling. I may be all wrong about Mrs. Wade, but I don't think she'll do a damn thing she doesn't want to do. One more thing. Find me something on Krugerrands."

"What, where, why, when, boss?" Terry asked. "Big subject."

"I'm thinking a heist. Some kind of robbery with a loss of a large quantity of Krugerrands. I don't know what I'm looking for, but see if there's anything on such a heist, maybe ten years ago."

"I'm on it, boss. He cashed a Krugerrand in for bucks?"

"He did," Angus said.

"Where is it, boss?"

"San Francisco," Angus said.

"I'm not a big-time investigator, Angus, but if you think that coin is the product of a heist, or some illegal goings-on, shouldn't you hold onto it as evidence of said heist or etc., etc.?"

"See! That's why I pay you the big bucks," Angus said. "I bought the coin while I was up there. I don't know what to do with it."

With that, Angus left Terry's shop. He felt good about Terry's offer, even if he didn't want to take her up on it. She was one of the most reliable people he'd worked with over the years, but because she made a mistake a few years before, her word couldn't be accepted without strenuous objection from the justice system.

Angus had strenuous objection to a justice system that could be used to exact retribution on someone just doing his job. Justice was indeed blind, but it shouldn't be deaf and dumb too

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