Cory Wade is Missing

by Rick Beck

Chapter 19

Day in Court

Wes called late Monday to tell Angus they'd meet at China Camp for lunch Tuesday. He'd leave court at noon, stop by his office to pick up documents he'd need for his afternoon court appearance. He'd have most of an hour to listen to what Angus had to report.

Angus spent Tuesday morning alone in his office. He checked his messages, answered inquiries, and paid bills. Before he could file his report on the weekend trip to San Francisco, he needed to run it by Wes. Getting feedback from Wes offered him another perspective.

It was something like a debriefing in the commanders office at the police department, when a high profile case was closed. Wes liked weekly updates. He wanted to talk over reports Angus added to a case they were working.

He carried a copy of the latest report in case Wes wanted to read what Angus said about particular details. A little afternoon he left his office and drove to the restaurant that wasn't far from court.

Arriving ten minutes early at the restaurant, Angus ordered their usual drinks. By the time Wes arrived, the drinks were on the table.

"I'm all yours until two o'clock. I need to be in court at two," Wes said. "What have you got for me?"

Angus went over his second trip to San Francisco. The briefing was brief. Wes listened carefully. He had no questions, and it allowed Angus to finish before lunch was on the table.

"I do have one question. How in the world were you able to find a newsstand with a guy observant enough to realize, he'd seen Cory? I mean, how many people walk by that newsstand a day, in a week. I'd call that pretty damn lucky," Wes remarked. "I don't think I could identify someone who passed me ten minutes ago."

"You're a lawyer, Wes. All the details are on the page, and so is your focus. I'm a cop, and I've spent over 30 years watching people, following clues, and gathering evidence. Each place I went, I asked which way Cory went. I was able to retrace his movements up until the moment he stuck his thumb out and got into someone's car."

"I see what you're saying, but the fact you found a man who told you how Cory left town is amazing. I'd say it's one in a million."

"He called it, 'my street.' He stands there all day. Cars drive up, and he goes over to deliver a paper to them, or people walk past and buy a paper. He's got nothing to do but wait and watch. It was a lucky break that the newsstand was there. My mind was working on the idea he left San Francisco with someone he met, but I was considering the idea he left on foot. Cory hitchhiking out of the town where he cashed in the Krugerrand was brilliant. With a pocket full of money, he rides his thumb out of town."

"Brilliant, but not helpful. You have no doubt the man was telling you the truth?"

"He told me as he remembered it," Angus said. "He called it his street, and I have no doubt he saw what he said he saw."

"I don't need to ask you what we do next. How much did you tell Dolores, during your meeting yesterday?" Wes asked.

"The basic facts. I don't know if she's talking to Tony or not. If she is, I'm not certain she wouldn't tell him something I tell her. I'm not sure she can get her son back, and protect her husband too."

"She says a lot without telling us much," Wes said. "She lets us do the heavy lifting, but she's not invested in your investigation. I brought you in because, if anyone can find Cory, you will. If he can be found. I'm not accustomed to my clients working against me, but I am careful what I say to Dolores. She doesn't inspire trust."

"The family has secrets it's keeping, I'm looking forward to sitting down with Cory and questioning him on what he knows about the origins of those Krugerrands. I think the kid knows enough to be dangerous to Tony," Angus said.

"You still think like a cop, after all these years. Cory is lost to us for now?" Wes asked.

"Tony's boys won't be able to find him either. What happened to them, Angus. Two weeks ago they were breathing down your neck."

"They haven't been in contact with any of the men Terry identified as Cory's contacts up there. They're going in a different direction than I'm going in."

"It's like they went as far as Johnny Lee's, and they stopped there. Maybe they were thinking, they'd catch Cory there. When they didn't, well, we don't know what they have on their minds," Wes said.

"I don't know. They haven't been in San Francisco as far as I know," Angus said. "Terry is in contact with Cory's contacts. None has reported any unusual meetings with men asking about Cory."

"If Cory calls his mother, and I doubt he'll call his father, she'll have some indication of where Cory is. If she doesn't advise us, and I'm of the opinion she won't, will she tell Tony?" Angus asked.

"You saw them together. What's your impression?" Wes asked.

"It's like a cat and a dog, eyeballing each other. I don't think they are communicating at the moment, but if Mrs. Wade finds out something that puts Tony in danger, she could warn him," Angus said.

"I can see that happening," Wes said.

"That makes her the wild card in this case. You'll see, Wes, "

The food came. Angus and Wes busied themselves with sampling the steaks and preparing their baked potatoes. As they ate, Wes asked a question now and then.

As the waiter brought more coffee, Wes checked his watch.

"What do you intend to do about finding him?" Wes asked.

"Nothing. I could come up with a hundred ways to go. That's the point. He left no trail. He could be anywhere by now, and money is no handicap. I can't do anything but wait. I don't take shots in the dark. You almost never hit anything when you do."

"Let me know if anything pops and I'll give you a heads up if Dolores gives me anything else on Cory," Wes said.

"I have Terry contacting coin shops. Cory hitchhiked out of San Francisco. He had a thousand bucks in his pocket. He probably won't need to cash in another coin for some time. That's what I know."

"Why canvas coin shops at this point then?" Wes asked.

"Covering all the bases, Wes. Sooner or later he'll cash one in, and that may be the next time we hear anything concerning him. Getting his picture in every coin shop will make it easier for us to know when he does convert another coin to dollars," Angus said.

"Memories are short on a thing like this. These coin shops need an incentive to remind them that they want to advise us that Cory has been in their shop. Offer a reward for information. Offer five hundred dollars," Wes said, eating the fat he'd cut away from his steak. "Make it a thousand. I'll cover the reward. They'll keep Cory's picture handy if they can picture putting a grand in their pocket."

"Good idea. I'll get with Terry and have her add the $1000 reward to her mass mailing to West Coast coin shops. We'll send out his picture. He could be almost anywhere, but covering the West Coast should be as far as we need to go. If we don't get any hits by summer's end, we can widen our search," Angus said.

"You talk to Terry about appearing in court on your behalf?"

"I mentioned that I didn't consider Mrs. Wade reliable. Terry offered to testify to what she saw, which was the entire confrontation between me and Tony. She was standing on the top of the stairs, waiting for me to distract Tony so she could slip out," Angus said.

"How did you manage to distract Tony," Wes asked.

"I took his gun away from him. That's when he threw himself on that dainty coffee table. Needless to say, it was distracting. It distracted me. Damnedest thing I ever saw," Angus said with a smile.

Wes laughed.

"Did you buy the Krugerrand?" Wes asked.

"I did," Angus said.

"Where is it now?" Wes asked.

Angus reached into his pocket and placed the coin between their plates. Wes picked it up. He felt it's weight, handing it back to Angus.

"Don't want the waiter thinking you're leaving him a $1,000 tip."

"No, we wouldn't want that," Angus said, putting the coins away.

"Heavy little sucker," Wes said.

"Gold is actually quite dense," Angus said.

"And you're carrying it around with you?" Wes said.

"I have police protection," Angus said. "It reminds me, I need to figure out how to use it. I know those coins are wrong. Tony having them is wrong. I don't want to do something, and end up putting Cory in jeopardy. I want to know where they came from, and how Tony got his hands on them."

"Don't bite off more than we can chew, Angus. If we become aware of a crime, we need to report it. Keep that in mind."

"That's why I'm holding on to it," Angus said.

"Well, if you run short of cash, you're covered," Wes said. "There are a lot of pieces to this case. Do you have some kind of plan?"

"I'll keep a watch on Mrs. Wade's activities. Jessie Parkson is the second most likely person Cory will contact. I'll keep reminding both of them to let me know if Cory calls," Angus said.

"You think he'll call one of them?" Wes asked.

"He's an eighteen-year-old boy. He's hundreds of miles from the only life he's known. He'll call one of them sooner or later. Will they tell me he called? I wouldn't bet a Krugerrand on it," Angus said. "Cory is going to call someone, sooner or later. Once he does, I'll be able to pick up his trail."

"So we wait," Wes said. "I have plenty to keep me busy."

"I have got two active cases that will keep me close to home. I've been neglecting them to search for Cory. I can spend the time on those cases, while I wait," Angus said.

"I have an in-house theft case that I've agreed to handle," Wes said. "It involves a local warehouse that supplies jeans to about two hundred stores on the West Coast. He lost 2,000 pair of blue jeans last year and he wants someone to catch whoever it is stealing them."

"Blue jeans? Not exactly high rollers," Angus said.

"You obviously haven't bought blue jeans lately. Two thousand pair is big bucks, Angus," Wes said.

"Send me over the file, and I'll scope it out. If I can work it and get away on a minutes' notice, I'll take it myself," Angus said.

"And I need to get to court," Wes said, tossing his napkin on the table. "I'll pay up on my way out. You finish your meal. I'll have Peg message you over the Roy Bean Jean case."

"Roy Bean Jeans," Angus said, rolling his eyes. "And I thought I might never make it to the top of the big time investigator's world."

On Wednesday Wes met with Dolores Wade. She wanted to talk about her pending divorce from Mr. Wade. It wasn't the kind of law Wes practiced. He did much better with criminal cases – criminal law was far more predictable than divorce law – but Dolores was Dolores. She wanted what she wanted. Wes agreed to listen and nothing more.

Dolores was in charge, as usual. She had her own ideas about the law. She was paying Wes a small fortune to find Cory, and Wes felt obligated to listen and respond, as her advocate.

Wes would brief Mr. Abernathy after Dolores left his office. He'd make sure that the next contact on her divorce was handled by Mr. Abernathy. Divorce was too dodgy for Wes's taste. He liked practicing predictable law.

"The question is: do you really want to scrap over twenty years of working at being married, Dolores? This is the final step, and you two have gotten here pretty quickly. I think you ought to have a sit-down with a marriage counselor. Put your feelings out on the table. There's a chance this can be salvaged. This," Wes said, picking up the stack of papers before tossing them all over his desk, "Is hardball. We might be able to avoid a messy divorce if we make some effort."

Wes was asking Dolores to make an effort.

"He won't let my son come home. He's thrown my son out of the house. I can't live there under those circumstances."

"Okay, Dolores. Your son is eighteen. He'll be going off to college. For eighteen years your husband had a perfectly normal son. He's not going to adjust to finding out he's gay overnight. How did it make you feel? Did you pat your son on the back and say, 'It'll be okay. We still love you."

"I didn't do anything. I didn't say anything. I was in shock."

"Well, men handle this worse than women. It's an ego thing. You want your son to be a close copy to yourself. You want him to have the breaks you never got so they can go even further than you went. It's a tough world, Dolores. Being gay makes it ten times tougher, because a lot of people reject anyone who is gay. It was once a crime being gay, you know? While I have never been involved in a case where parents threw away a perfectly good child, for being gay, I've heard stories from other attorneys. Being gay is not something a child wakes up one morning to choose, because it will upset his parents. It's a life altering circumstance that no one chooses. Kids invariably want acceptance, to be one of the crowd, to fit, to be liked. You want to tell me Cory didn't feel that way? He did, Dolores. He couldn't, because he's gay, and our society makes that inherently difficult."

"Cory is simply confused. I haven't talked to Tony about what happened, and I haven't seen Cory since it happened, but I can't live with a man who has so little regard for my son," she said firmly. "My mind is made up. I want a divorce." "'I'm gay' is not what a man wants to hear from his son, Dolores. Once he thinks about it, he could change his mind."

"He threw him out of the house. Our son is on the streets. If it is ten times tougher for him to be a homosexual, than it's up to us to try to make it a little easier. If that's what he is. He threw away our son," Dolores said, raising her voice with tears in her eyes.

Wes didn't buy the tears. Dolores Wade as an emotional woman didn't wash. He looked at the divorce papers Tony Wade's attorney served her with. The tears dried up as fast as they started.

"I got these by special courier this morning," Dolores was irate.

"Well these papers are clear. You left. He wants you to stay out of the house. Now, I can get you back in to get whatever you need, that won't take a few minutes with a judge, but his attorneys are bigger than my attorneys, Dolores," Wes said. "The case I agreed to handle is about your son, not your husband. Mr. Abernathy is the partner who does divorce work, and I'll keep an eye on what he is doing concerning this," Wes said, picking up the papers on his desk.

"I can guarantee you that this will drag on for years, and, while you may prevail in the end, I can't guarantee there will be anything left after years of litigation. He's going to throw every roadblock known to man to keep you away from his wealth. It's obvious he's going to fight you. It's how these things work."

"What do you suggest?"

"If it were me, I'd try to resolve the dispute. We'll find Cory, and you and Mr. Wade can go into some counseling. If you make the effort, his attorneys will advise him to respond in kind. After eighteen years there must be something in your marriage worth saving."

"I need some clothes. I need my personal things. Can you take care of it? I don't know what I want to do."

"I'll get my partner on it. I'll have him call you at the hotel to let you know when you can get into the house for your things. Think about what I've said. Give it a little time, and I think you can work out your differences. Regardless of all that, Dolores, I think you should see a professional. Your son is missing, you've got this thing with your husband, you are obviously in distress. See your doctor, and, if he can't recommend someone to help you, call me; I'll make sure you see someone qualified in such matters. If I were you, I'd take a vacation. Get away from the pressure. Enjoy some sun, surf, and peace and quiet. Let things cool off here. It might look a lot different to you upon your return."

Wes couldn't imagine what it was like being Dolores Wade.

"Thank you, Wes. I'm sorry to be such a bother. I have depended on Tony for so long it's difficult trying to get things done on my own."

Dolores Wade left Wes's office.

Wes put his head in his hands. "Why me?" he asked himself.

Wes called Angus.

"I'm having papers drawn up to allow Dolores Wade into her house to collect her things. Since you are familiar with Dolores, and the house, can you go to the house with her to see that Tony doesn't browbeat his wife? We both know how these confrontations go."

"Just what I need to work off my frustration," Angus said. "Let me know when, and I'll take Mrs. Wade into her house."

"This isn't about our disagreement with Tony. I don't want any trouble, Angus," Wes said. "Maybe send one of your cohorts."

"I'd never ask my associates to do anything I won't do, Wes. You know me better than that. I will take Dolores into her house, and I won't be the one who throws the first punch."

"No punching! You'll have a court order. You can take a cop with you to serve it if you think there will be trouble, Angus."

"There won't be any trouble. I'll serve the papers on Tony. I'll go with Mrs. Wade to do whatever it is she needs to do."

"How come I don't get a warm fuzzy feeling about that," Wes said, hanging up the phone.

In the last week of June, Angus went to the U.S. Grant Hotel. He was there to drive Mrs. Wade to her house to collect her things. Angus had a copy of the court order that allowed Mrs. Wade to do this.

"I do appreciate this," Mrs. Wade said, after she got into the car with Angus.

"Not a problem, Mrs. Wade. I'm at your service," Angus said.

The traffic was light in mid afternoon, and, in twenty minutes, Angus was parking in front of the Wade's La Jolla house.

Mrs. Wade called ahead to let Tony know she was coming. Tony was standing in the front window of their house when Angus parked the car. He escorted her to the front door. It was unlocked, and Angus held it open for her.

"These are official court documents, which makes me an official of the court, because I'm delivering them to you," Angus said, shoving the papers to Tony before handing them to him.

"Tony," Dolores said curtly, at first sight of her husband.

Angus escorted Mrs. Wade upstairs to her bedroom. Mad Tony was as mad as a hornet, but Angus didn't mind. Tony stood in the middle of the living room and watched them.

Once Mrs. Wade was engaged in collecting what she needed, Angus returned to the bottom of the stairs to wait. Tony backed up, wanting no part of Angus.

"He's your son, Tony. She's your wife. Don't you have feelings for anyone but yourself? One day you're going to regret this. You can quote me on that."

"When I need to take advice from a washed-up cop, that'll be the day," Tony said with no kindness in his words.

Tony kept his eye on a relaxed Angus McCoy. Angus measured the time he stood at the bottom of the stairs. Once he figured he'd given Mrs. Wade enough time, Angus went back upstairs to see what she had ready to carry out to the car.

Tony moved toward the stairs when he saw Angus coming down with several suitcases.

"Tony, I'm sure there are things you can do, but you can't intimidate me. We've been down that road. It didn't work out for you. Let me do my job. We'll be out of here in no time, and you can go about your business."

Tony gave Angus a reluctant nod.

He moved back far enough for Angus to have plenty of room, but he intended to see what his wife was taking out of the house.

Angus helped Mrs. Wade with several more suitcases and an overnight bag. She had something that looked like a jewelry box under her arm as she was ready to leave the house that had been her home for as long as they'd lived in La Jolla.

" Tony, if this is how you want it, we'll do it your way. Cory will come home, and he's going to finish his education. Don't doubt that for a second," she said, following Angus out of the house.

Once again Dolores told Tony how it was going to be. She once again neglected to say to Tony, 'And you're going to pay for it,' but Tony would pay for it. It's how these things worked.

Angus dropped Dolores in front of the Grant Hotel. He helped unload his trunk, turning Dolores over to the concierge who called for a cart and some muscle to get the luggage to where it was going.

Angus drove to Wes's office to reassure him that Dolores Wade got her things without incident. He was scheduled to check in after making a return to the Wade house. Wes asked Angus to send someone else with Mrs. Wade, but Angus decided it was his case and that made it his job.

Sending an associate into the lion's den wasn't an idea Angus entertained for more than a minute. There was too much of an opportunity for Tony to do something stupid if someone he didn't know brought his wife to the house.

Tony knew Angus, and while they had no use for each other, he wasn't going to tangle with Angus, while he was serving a court order. Angus couldn't afford to get into another altercation with Tony Wade, with an assault charge still pending.

Wes was happy to see Angus unscathed.

"You and Tony didn't get into it?" Wes asked. "You look fine."

"I looked fine after Tony threw himself on his coffee table," Angus said. " I'm a peaceable guy. I thought you knew that."

" Yeah! Well tell it to Tony Wade's attorneys. They haven't heard how peaceable you are," Wes said.

" I bet they haven't," Angus said.

" They say he needed five stitches to close the massive wounds you inflicted on Tony. I cut my finger once and they put three stitches in a cut I couldn't see. Five stitches aren't going to excite the judge."

"A clumsy guy like that shouldn't have glass tables," Angus said. "Did they take five by eight glossies. I bet it was something to see."

"None I've seen," Wes said. "This works in our favor. The more they try to build a scratch into a major assault will go a long way in making them sound ridiculous."

"He fell, Wes. I won't admit I may have helped him once he started going down. He came at me. When I sidestepped him, his momentum took over, and he was on the way down, anyway."

"That's not how Tony tells it," Wes said.

"We are two big men who weigh in at well over two hundred pounds. If we went at each other, we'd both look like we'd been in a war. There would be no question we were in a fight," Angus said.

"The judge will see through the assault charge. We still need Dolores to explain there was never a B in the B&E. My records will go a long way in corroborating your account. It's slim if Dolores doesn't cooperate, but the case you are working goes right through Tony Wade's house. Your account makes sense. Tony's doesn't. Do you still have the key to the Wade house?"

Angus removed a single key from his pocket.

"I never leave home without it," Angus said.

"Good. Make sure you have it when we go to court. I'll have you do then what you just did. It will make an impression on the judge. You didn't use the key to get into the house today, did you?"

"The door was unlocked. Tony didn't resist. He saw the papers."

"I'm still looking for a way to get Tony off my back. There is something that's obvious enough that he'll think twice about wanting to take this case all the way. Can we tie Clark and Wade together?"

"Angus, forget Wendell Clark. It's a dead end. We'll tie Tony Wade to Tony Wade. There's plenty of history on the man."

"I'd still like to make Clark face another judge on his conduct."

"Angus, if you want to get another lawyer, maybe he'll want to help you grind axes over Wendell Clark. I'm an attorney. I'm not going after the D.A. You can't afford to keep pissing the D.A. Off. It's a game you can't win, and a game I refuse to participate in."

"Oh, I almost forgot, Angus. I have a message for you from your wife. She called earlier. She wasn't trying to track you down. This is too good to miss a word. Let me find the message," Wes said, going through piles of papers on his desk. "Here. It's from Mildred McCoy."

"I know my wife's name. Why is she leaving a message for me at your office?"

"I've got the answer for you right here, Angus," Wes said, waving a typed message in his hand. I'll read it to you," Wes said.

" It starts off, 'Angus, why aren't you answering your phone, dear? I found it next to your chair when I was picking up. I had something very personal to tell you, but since you don't have your phone, I'll rely on Wes and his staff to tell you what I had to say," Wes said, reading carefully from a page he had in front of him.

" Mildred is fed up with my constant absences as of late," Angus said. "This is her mad message."

" Not so fast. I'm not done yet. It gets better," Wes said. "Let's see, Dearest Angus, I met the most wonderful man at the airport Sunday. I can't stop thinking about him. I'm afraid I've fallen hopelessly in love with him. Sorry to have to break the news to you through your attorney, but if you'd remember to take your phone, I could keep it between us. End of message, Angus, I can only figure she somehow confused you with a guy she doesn't know. How could Mildred make a mistake like that?"

"Having her take me to the airport, and meet me on my return, seemed like the easiest way to spend time together. She's some lady, Wes. Still in love after all these years, and I guess I'm taking the rest of the afternoon off. A woman who can write a message like that, after I've been neglecting her for the last couple of weeks, is definitely a keeper. I better get home and take my wife out for dinner, and an evening of spousal companionship."

" We are certainly lucky lads, Angus. Look at the Wades, and you know how lucky we are. We both have wives who understand what we do and why we're gone so much. I'd pick up a dozen roses on your way home."

"Nice touch, Wes," Angus said. "I'll do just that."

"They say marriage is a thing of the past with the young. They don't know what they're missing, Well, stay out of trouble, and Angus, don't take Mildred to IHOP for dinner."

Angus laughed as he stood up to leave. The meeting was over.

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