Cory Wade is Missing

by Rick Beck

Chapter 20

Keys & Codes

Angus spent the rest of June close to the house. He didn't work on any other cases, though there were cases that needed to be worked. The Cory Wade case had become center most in his mind. It was a hard case to let go of.

Preparing for court against the B&E and assault charges was a big part of what he and Wes talked about, once Mrs. Wade got her things out of the Wade house. Otherwise the case had gone silent. While Dolores assured Wes, she'd definitely be in court when he needed her, preparations were made with, and without, her testimony. Terry assured Angus, who reassured Wes, she'd be in court on Angus's behalf, and she'd take whatever the prosecutor dished out.

As July started, Angus was only available to Judy, his secretary, Terry, and to Peg, who kept him posted on what Wes was doing. He continue saying close to the house and his wife. He thought of it as catching up on time they'd lost over the years. Even though Wes was constantly reassuring him, Angus wasn't sure he might not do time if Dolores Wade didn't come to court for him.

As of July 10th , Dolores Wade was among the missing. Wes had called her several times, but her phone didn't answer. Angus visited the U.S. Grant Hotel, and no one was home in Mrs. Wade's suite. Her mail had a hold on it at the front desk, but no one could say where she went, or when she might return.

The preliminary hearing was the following week, and the defenses corroborating witness wasn't at home to confirm Angus's story, which created a lot more work for Wes..

Angus took a meeting with Roy Bean, the CEO of Roy Bean Jeans. He listened to the man talk and after an hour, they drove to the Roy Bean Jeans warehouse in Chula Vista. For Angus it was routine, and for Mr. Roy Bean it was eye opening.

It took a half hour for Angus to explain where the 2,000 pair of Roy Bean Jeans had gotten to.

On the following Monday, Angus was scheduled to be in court on the B&E and assault charges filed by Anthony Wade. This would be the preliminary hearing.

Wes had drawn up an alternative plan to go with should Dolores not show up for the prelim. Since she still hadn't come home by Saturday, Wes had pulled together the documents and tapes from when she hired him to find her son. It wasn't nearly as solid as having Dolores on the stand, but it laid out why Angus was in the house.

Angus talked to Terry and she told him she'd be in court. He left a message at the U.S. Grant Hotel for Mrs. Wade to come to court if she returned before noon. She didn't.

Wes made another attempt to have the charges reduced. The evidence against Angus on the assault was tissue paper thin. The prosecutor laughed and wished Wes good luck on that front.

Angus was working on a plan to get Tony Wade's attention, but he needed Wes to put him on the stand. Once he was there, he was to bring Terry into the conversation.

"What do I do once I mention Terry is a material witness. You know the prosecutor is going to raise an objection to her testimony?"

"She won't need to testify, but you need to bring her into the courtroom. I'll take it from there," Angus said. "Let me bring up Terry. We'll bring her into the courtroom, and I'll play my third ace."

"Kennedy is not going to take any crap off you, Angus. You are a defendant. You aren't testifying for the defense this time."

"If you'll do what I ask, I'm fairly sure we will end this case today," Angus told him.

As Angus moved behind the defense table a few minutes before nine, the bailiff came in to check with the court reporter and to look over the sparse audience for the preliminary hearing. Angus strolled over and they patted each other on the back. They were both all smiles.

While Wes watched the conversation, Angus passed a piece of paper to the bailiff, who palmed it out of sight of everyone else in the courtroom. They talked for another minute, shook hands, and Angus returned to the defense table to sit beside Wes.

"And what was that all about?" Wes asked, as Kennedy left the courtroom by the door the jury usually used.

"Oh, Barry, he's an old Boston detective. He retired with seventeen years in. Shot in-the-line of duty," Angus said.

"The note, Angus, what was the note?"

"He'll give it to Kennedy. I talked to him yesterday. It's the basic outline of what we talked about."

"That's an ex parte communication. If the prosecutor finds out, he'll be asking for us to be found in contempt of court," Wes said.

"Will you relax, Wes. I know what I'm doing. You need to trust me on this one. I need to have the leeway to bring in what I need to bring into this case. If my hunch is right, we'll be fine. We'll be better than fine, and Judge Kennedy will thank you for not letting this thing drag out into a trial. We both know Mrs. Wade will be a no show. I'm covering my ass, counselor, and I'll swear you had no part in my ex parte communication," Angus said.

"I wish you would tell me what you're up to. I feel like a rookie, not understanding what the hell is going on."

"You know what you need to know. Do what we discussed and we should be OK, if Kennedy doesn't have me locked up," Angus said with a smile.

The judge's gavel sounded and court was called into session. As the honorable Judge Kennedy laid down the ground rules, he glared straight at Angus, and Wes began to sweat.

Angus sounded confident about what he planned to do, and Wes would go along with him, because he didn't have much choice in the matter. He'd look even more foolish if he withdrew from the case.

The usual motion to dismiss was entered by Wes. The obligatory objection came from the prosecutor. Judge Kennedy ruled the preliminary hearing would go on.

"I've looked at what both the prosecution and defense contend took place in this case, and it's all hearsay, with each man giving a different account of what took place in the Wade house the day of the incident in question. I want to hear each man give his version of events. This is not the trial. I want to hear both accounts of those events. I'll hear from the prosecution first. Mr. Pruett, you can bring Mr. Wade to sit at the table with you."

"Mr. Matthews, while Mr. Pruett does that, you were having a problem with your main witness as I recall. Has that been resolved?"

"Mrs. Wade has not responded to my repeated calls for her to be in court this morning. She wasn't in the hall before we came into the courtroom, your honor."

I assume you can document her role in this case?" Judge Kennedy asked.

"I can. I have the documentation I gathered when she hired me. It was clear what she was asking me to do, and it involved the defendant, Angus McCoy," Wes said.

"We'll hold off until trial on the documents. Right now I want to hear both versions of the story. It's one man's word against another. Mr. Wade will you please come to the stand. You won't be sworn. I want you to tell me in your own words, what took place on the night you came home and found Angus McCoy in your house?"

Tony was polite and he didn't raise his voice. He was the picture of decorum as the judge's attention was on what he had to say. The struggle he described between himself and Angus sounded contrived, mostly because it was. He talked of his wife's precious antique table being destroyed. It was invaluable, according to him. And he knew when it was made and who owned it before it found its way to the Wade house.

"Mr. Pruett, do you have anything you wish to add?"

"I do, your honor," Mr. Pruett said, standing, and buttoning his jacket as he approached his witness.

"You are Anthony Wade of Wade Contracting Inc.?"

"I am," Tony said with pride.

"Mr. Pruett, I know who he is. This is the preliminary. You can get all this in during trial. Let's cut it short today," the judge said.

"Yes, your honor," Mr. Pruett said. "Mr. Wade, your confrontation with Mr. McCoy, where did it take place?"

"At my house," Tony said, leaning to say it into the microphone. "In my living room."

"You came home and found an unidentified man in your living room, and you did what?"

"I threw him out of my house," Tony said.

"Did you subsequently need to go to the emergency room to be treated, Mr. Wade?"

"I did," Tony said.

"We have documentation on his ER visit on that night, your honor," Mr. Pruett said.

"I've seen the reports and the picture," the judge said.

"That's all I have, your honor."

"I'll allow Mr. Wade to sit at the table with you. There will be no cross examination today. This is purely for my own edification. Mr. Matthews, I need you to be brief. I assume you'd like to call Mr. McCoy. I want to hear from him. I want his version of events. There will be no cross this morning."

"Yes, I agree we need to hear what really happened that evening," Wes said.

"Truth, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder, Mr. Matthews," the judge said. "Mr. McCoy, please come sit over here. I look forward to hear your version of events."

The judge didn't sound hostile, and he invited Angus to tell his story. The judge sat silently, listening carefully.

Tony leaned to whisper in the prosecutor's ear periodically.

Angus described his meetings with Mrs. Wade, what she was asking him to do, and how he performed those duties, until it was time to take a look at Cory's PC.

"Mr. McCoy, how did you gain access to the Wade house?"

"Mr. Wade gave me her key," Angus said, holding up the key.

"And you just happened to have it on you this morning?" the judge asked.

"Absolutely. The house is protected with an alarm system. Mrs. Wade gave me the code to disarm it," Angus said.

"Mr. Wade, could your wife have given Mr. McCoy the key to your house, and the code to disarm your burglar alarm. That's a long way from breaking and entering."

"You'll need to ask my wife," Tony said in a less friendly tone.

"Barry, mark this key exhibit A and go and see if Mr. Wade will give you his key, and for the time being, it will be exhibit B. Mr. Wade, have Mr. Pruett give you a sheet of paper. You will write the code to your alarm system on it. Pass it to Barry, along with your key, please."

"Mr. McCoy, write the code you were given, pass it to me."

Barry approached the bench with the code and the key.

"What do you think. Are these keys identical, or do we need to make a trip to to the Wade house," Judge Kennedy asked Barry.

"They're the same key. What are the odds McCoy's got someone else's house key and it is this close to the Wade key."

"Mr. Wade, Barry is going to bring you the key, Mr. McCoy had, and your key. Tell me if they match or not. Since your wife isn't here, we need to do this the old fashion way."

"They're the same key," Tony said, "And I want them both."

"In due time, Mr. Wade. This is the code to your house?"

"It is," Tony said with objections in his voice.

"Who has the code to your alarm?" Judge Kennedy asked.

"My wife, my son, and my wife's personal maid, and me of course," Tony answered.

"And apparently Mr. McCoy, Mr. Wade," Judge Kennedy said carefully, looking at the two pieces of paper. "How do you explain this, Mr. Wade? Difficult items to obtain surreptitiously, I'd say."

"OK, Mr. McCoy, the B in the B&E being disposed of, tell me what happened while you were inside the Wade's house on the evening in question," the judge said.

"As my computer expert was upstairs, copying Cory's contacts off his hard drive, I went downstairs, which is when I ran into Tony."

Tony Wade sprang straight up out of his seat.

"He's lying. No one was in the house, but him," he said.

"Prosecution objects, your honor," Mr. Pruett said, helping to get mad Tony back into his seat. "My client. Mr. Wade is sorry for his outburst, your honor. He hopes you understand how emotional all this is. His home has been violated."

"I'm sure it is, Mr. Pruett," the judge said. "Mr. Matthews, I suspect you have something to add to this little drama?"

"I do, your honor. The computer person we use, in cases like this one, is waiting in the hallway. I had her wait outside, not knowing if there might be something Ms. Baldwin shouldn't hear."

"Prosecution objects to this witness, your honor. Ms. Baldwin was recently a defendant in a felony case to which she pleaded guilty to. The prosecution objects to her testimony," Mr. Pruett said.

"Your honor, Ms. Baldwin was my client in that case. She pleaded guilty to a reduced charge over three years ago. Since then she's been going to school, has opened her own computer business, and my office as well as Mr. McCoy's office, uses Ms. Baldwin because she is reliable and prompt with any work we send to her. I'd think this court would recognize a success story when it sees one," Wes said.

"Let's take a look at Ms. Baldwin. I'll allow her to speak at preliminary, but that doesn't mean she'll testify at trial, Mr. Matthews," the judge said.

"I understand, your honor," Wes said.

"Barry, go get Ms. Baldwin. We'll let her stand by the gate, while I ask her some questions," Judge Kennedy ordered.

Terry, usually in jeans and a tee-shirt, was dressed in a quiet business suit. It was very professional looking, and she was neat as a pin, which wasn't always so.

"You've been on the other side of that gate, Ms. Baldwin," the judge asked.

"Yes, your honor, I have."

"What were you charged with, Ms. Baldwin."

"I wrote a bad check, your honor," Terry said. "The company prosecuted me."

"I see," the judge said. "You do work for Mr. McCoy?"

"I do, your honor," Terry said.

"Prosecution strongly objects, your honor. Mr. McCoy doesn't merely send Ms. Baldwin work, he paid for her to go to school, and he assisted her in setting up her business. He has an investment in this witness, and she would say anything to help her benefactor," Mr. Pruett said with a hint of outrage.

"Did you do that, Mr. McCoy," Judge Kennedy asked Angus.

"I did, your honor. Every word she said is true. Probably the best damn investment I ever made," Angus said. "She's a whiz with anything having to do with computers."

There were titters in the courtroom.

"Ms. Baldwin, would you say anything to help your benefactor?"

"I would like to help Angus. He gave me a chance, when I was facing jail, but if he ever caught me in a lie, he'd fire me. If I lied for him in a court of law, he'd break off our friendship. I know right from wrong. I know the truth from a lie. I made a mistake. I did something I thought I could keep under control, I couldn't, and I don't lie."

"Thank you, Ms. Baldwin. Take a seat in the front row in case I need you. Mr. McCoy, what kinds of tasks do you give Ms. Baldwin?"

"On this case, your honor, she copied Cory Wade's hard drive to get the contact information I needed to see if I could find Cory. She has notified coin shops and given me their addresses so I could see if Cory had done business in one of them," Angus said.

"Why coin shops?" Mr. McCoy.

Angus reached into his pocket and removed the Krugerrand.

"Cory has access to several of these. Because they are so distinctive, we were able to trace him to the shop where he sold this coin. It's one of the few leads I've had," Angus explained.

"A Krugerrand?" The judge said, weighing the coin with his hand.

"Yes, sir, and the latest job I have Ms. Baldwin doing is to research the history of that coin. She's now researching heists involving Krugerrand," Angus said, looking directly at Tony.

Tony immediately leaned to speak to the prosecutor. There was a rather short argument.

"Are you any closer to finding Cory Wade, Mr. McCoy?" "Unfortunately not, your honor. He was at a residence I went to, one on the contact list Ms. Baldwin furnished for me. Cory heard me at the front door. He went out the back door. He's a sharp young man, and he seems to think I'm out to do him harm."

"Why would he thing that, Mr. McCoy. You're supposed to be the good guy," Judge Kennedy said with alacrity.

"I don't know, your honor. Cory is afraid of something. I think that's why he ran, but I haven't been able to catch up with him to ask him why he is running."

"Your honor," Mr. Pruett said.

"Mr. Pruett, there's no cross examination. I want to hear what Mr. McCoy has to say. Please, take your seat."

"Your honor," Mr. Pruett insisted. "Mr. Wade says that he now has a better understanding of why his wife allowed Mr. McCoy to be in his house. He wants to drop the charges, and the prosecution moves to dismiss the case."

"Very good, Mr. Pruett. I'm just the man who can do it. Mr. McCoy, you are free to go. You no longer have any business before this court. Thank you for coming," Judge Kennedy said with more than a little curiosity about what just took place.

He would be summoning Angus to his office soon.

"Lunch is on me," Angus said. "Am I hungry. I feel like I wrestled a bear."

"I have the entire day blocked off for this hearing. I'm free as a bird until my conscience gets the better of me," Wes said.

"I need to get back to work," Terry said. "I'm running behind on work I've promised. I do hope I helped, Angus, but he didn't even ask about me being in the house that night."

"Terry, you were the key to what just happened in there. I didn't intend you to answer any questions about the night we were in the Wade house. I needed to show the judge the Krugerrand, and you set it up perfectly. I didn't tell you what I was doing, because I didn't want to put anymore pressure on you than you already felt. As usual, you did what I asked, and you did it well," Angus said.

Terry smiled, not being convinced she did all that much.

"This was about getting that Krugerrand in, while I watched the blood drain from Tony's face. Now that I'm certain those coins are wrong, I will be visiting the FBI soon. Once Tony goes away, Cory will be free to come home and not feel like he's in danger. We just may have killed two birds with one stone today, my dear," Angus said, holding onto Terry's hand as he spoke.

"I'm glad, Angus. I just want to get out of here," Terry said, turning to leave the courthouse.

An hour later, seated at a table in China Camp, Wes toasted Angus with a drink in hand.

"To a job well-done, by the best private eye in the territory. Now, do you mind telling me what the hell is going on," Wes said, before tipping back his drink. "You just scared the bejesus out of me. Do you know how close we came to being in contempt of court, Angus? What were you thinking?"

"I was thinking, Mr. Matthews, that I've been in enough courtrooms to know how far I can go with a judge like Kennedy. I was thinking I have the goods on Tony Wade, and I wasn't going to let him browbeat me and think he got away with it. The last laugh is mine," Angus said, tossing bank his Fitzgerald.

"I keep thinking you were an ordinary cop, and I confuse that with you being just another private investigator, and then you remind me why I use you. I can't begin to tell you how close you were to putting me in cardiac arrest, McCoy. Why didn't you just tell me what you were up to, and not leave me hanging out there like some legal prop you hired."

"You knew everything you needed to know, Wes. I knew what I was doing. Kennedy knows I'm aware of the boundaries. If I'd told you exactly what I was going to do, you'd have worried yourself sick. This way, you merely got apoplectic for a few minutes, and it was all over. You know me well enough to know, I need to do certain things my way. This was one of those, Wes," Angus said.

"All's well that ends well," Wes said. "You're going to the FBI?"

"It's something. I don't know how they'd be able to trace a single gold coin, even if they are part of a theft of gold coins. It's worth a shot, and if it works, who knows, Cory might get wind of it and come home. If you're right, he's Tony Wade's son, and he's carrying around a lot of stolen property, Angus."

"I know that. Life doesn't come without risk. I'll try to keep him out of anything I uncover. I might be all wrong. Maybe those coins are how Tony invests his money. Maybe Tony has gone straight," he said.

"That'll be the day," Wes said. "Men who are mobbed up, don't walk away. Especially men in the contracting business."

"Would you gentlemen like another drink?" the waiter asked.

"Definitely," Angus said.

"Would you like to order, while I'm here?" he asked.

"Porterhouse, medium, baked potato, salad," Wes said.

"The same for me, only well-done, fries, and maybe some green beans or something," Angus said.

The waiter chuckled as he wrote it down.

"Coming right up, gentlemen," he said, walking away.

Cory stood on the railing of the deck behind the cabin, looking down into the lake's clear cool water. The blue of the sky stood in contrast to the rich green forest that surrounded the lake. The morning sun was just then peeking over the tree tops to add warmth to the day.

The first dive of the day was also the best dive of the day. Cory was about to wash away any remnants of sleep. The chilly waters, at first a shock to his system, revitalized him. Wide awake, Cory would swim for at least a half hour. The next time he set foot on the deck, he'd be ravenous and ready to fix breakfast for two.

In the pool where the swim team practiced, there was a constant need to turn; you measured a swim by counting laps. In the lake, Cory swam to the middle and back, the middle being an abstract spot in the swimmer's mind.

Even after two months in the wild, Cory felt like he wanted to keep swimming beyond the boundaries of the lake. The water in the pool where the swim team swam was tepid. Some days it took a major effort to swim the required laps. In the lake, Cory kept swimming in one long straight line, and when he turned around to swim back to the cabin, he regretted he couldn't keep on swimming.

Being in the water still made him look like a prune, not a look he liked. After two months of being nude most of the time, he resembled a tall brown prune after his morning swim.

Cory wasn't sure why he still wanted to look good around Leon. Leon, true to form, started his day with a paintbrush in his hand. He put it down to eat breakfast, but, being the best light of the day, Leon wasted no time getting back to his painting.

By late July, this was the routine they followed. Cory didn't question it. He was able to do as he pleased, and Leon never failed to do what he pleased. The time they spent together was often centered around Leon's need for contact with another human being. He could do it himself, but why expend the energy when someone was there when he needed him most.

Cory learned a lot about stimulating another boy. Having the same junk, he knew how to get his to function for peak enjoyment. He used Leon as a guinea pig of sorts. At first it felt awkward, seeing him lie back to present his erect penis, but after two months, he invented ways to get Leon's attention. At first, Cory only knew he was having an impact on Leon at the moment of truth, but Cory figured out how to handle Leon over the summer. Cory had him making noises and moving in ways to assist in achieving the ultimate outcome.

It was a matter of control to Leon. He was certain he was in control, but it was Cory who called the shots. Bringing Leon nearer and nearer to a most satisfactory ending, Cory pinched, squeezed too hard, and bit him back from the brink, and then he'd do it all over again. Leon could hardly stand the new and improved Cory, but he gritted his teeth and endured the torment Cory inflicted upon him.

It was a matter of inches to Cory. He learned to torment every inch of Leon's lust. There was always the promise of things to come, and the denial that became part of the game. Once Leon understood what Cory was doing, he'd make Cory pay in the most delicious contact they shared.

It was this that made Cory feel good about doing Leon. It satisfied him in a way Leon never intended, but lost in lust, in the heat of passion, Leon experienced uninhibited love. Once he returned to the painter's body, Leon denied he'd done anything at all except respond to the stimulation his companion offered him.

Leon remained pure, if you didn't count his boyfriend and girlfriend in Santa Cruz, and his lover at the cabin in the woods.

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