Cory Wade is Missing

by Rick Beck

Chapter 21

Emerald City

Leon swam in the afternoon, after the best light of the day for painting, passed. In the afternoon, he carefully climbed down the ladder, only letting go once most of his body was in the water.

Leon only dove from the back deck later in the day, after lunch and a snooze. When he first entered the water, after painting the morning away, Leon was at low ebb. Sitting, seeing the paint strokes in his mind, before making them, was taxing. To Cory, Leon had become more focused, as the summer progressed.

At first, when they arrived at the cabin, Leon could sit for an hour before making a brush stroke on a new canvas. Days later, Cory might figure out what Leon was painting. By early August, in the first hour a new canvas went onto the easel, Cory knew the section of lake that had caught Leon's eye.

In the beginning, Cory wasn't sure Leon was a painter at all, but by August, the painter in Leon emerged. What at first appeared to be the lark at the lake, to escape his parent's overbearing style, became something more meaningful, whether or not Leon expected it to.

Cory could dive from the back deck, but he knew he wasn't a diver. He knew how to perform the dives, and he could make good dives. He couldn't twist and turn his body the way the divers did, and that's why, Cory was a swimmer.

He wasn't sure they'd last a week or two at the cabin, before loud, chaotic, angry and unpredictable civilization called them back. The cabin in the woods grew on Cory. While it had the ability to close in on him at first, his eyes, and especially his ears had opened wide. Who knew there were sounds beyond people's voices, the blasting horns, roaring engines, and low flying jet planes?

When Cory woke each morning, he didn't jump up to race to do the hundred things he needed to do. The thing he did, once he opened his eyes, was listen.

He listened to the living organism surrounding him. There were the bird songs, the frogs, and the crickets. There were animals, leaves crunching under foot, as they crept closer to the cabin to investigate.

Once he was up, he sat on the deck, watching Leon paint. There were the simple sounds to hear. The water lapped at the base of the rock the cabin was built upon. Cory heard the breeze in the trees. By early August, he was fairly sure, clouds made a low swishing sound as they eased across the bright blue Oregon sky.

Rarely thinking of anything he left behind him in La Jolla, there was one sound that came to him, while he was free of any cares and woes. It was a sweet sound. It was the sound of Jessie's voice.

"We ate the last of the bacon yesterday," Cory said, spatula in hand, as he turned corn fritters on the griddle. "We are down to a few spotty potatoes, the onions are gone, and I'd love some ice cold milk."

"I'm out of amber and the orange I need to capture the late afternoon sky. I could use a few new paint brushes, too. I'd love an ice cold beer, and a closeup look at some women," Leon said.

"Do you mind leaving long enough to get the things we need. It's only a few weeks, until you're back in school," Cory said.

"It's time to start the decompression from painter to student. I'm ready for a break. How are we with funds?" Leon asked.

"I'll need to go to a coin shop first. Where can we go that is big enough to have a coin shop?" Cory asked.

"Eugene is two hours north, once we get out to the highway. It's a college town. They have everything you'll ever need in Eugene."

Cory stood still, looking into the depths of the lake for longer than usual. With Leon looking on, Cory was a million miles away. The dive wasn't what was on his mind, as he pushed all thoughts aside to consider La Jolla and Justin Parkson. He was counting the days since Justin ran from his bedroom.

Cory cringed, lost his balance, and plunged into the cool lake waters, while Leon was speaking to him.

Cory came to the ladder dripping wet, and Leon finished the kind of compliment he rarely gave anyone, boy or girl.

"As I was saying, if you could hold that pose for the rest of the summer, I'd paint you," Leon said, not caring it sounded a bit queer to him. "I couldn't do that if you paid me, but your body is approaching perfection. You look almost majestic, standing like that."

"That is the nicest thing you've said to me in two months," Cory said. "It ranks up there with, 'Oh, yeah, you can do that for the rest of the summer.'"

"I'm not as verbal as you are, Cory. I appreciate it when someone makes me feel good. Feeling good is, well, it's good."

"Can I use you as a reference, once I get out of school? No one could refuse me employment, when you put it like that, Leon."

Cory knew where he stood with Leon. In the Oregon backwoods, he was the indispensable man. In Santa Cruz, Cory would be a face in the crowd of people desiring a few minutes with Leon. He'd remain above it all and get the pick of partners.

More and more, Cory's thoughts were on Justin Parkson, especially when Leon was reaching his peak of passion, assisting Cory in ways he denied he would. Where Leon came to the brink of romantic interludes, Justin Parkson threw himself over the edge of his desire, and gave himself to Cory in every conceivable way.

Cory was sure he was in love with Jessie by August. Leon was available every day. He was ready willing an able, but it had become a routine. It was liberating in one way, but wasn't satisfying, not like Jessie satisfied him.

From his experience with Jessie, and now with Leon, Cory knew the difference between lust and love. One made you feel good, and the other, well, the other was, heavenly.

It was Wednesday morning in the first week of August, and Angus got an early start, because he was writing the final report on an embezzlement case he'd been working. His investigation ended Monday, and on Tuesday he did nothing.

"Hello," Angus said, proud of himself for remembering to bring his phone for the second day in a row.


"And whom, might I ask, is Eugene, Ms. Baldwin?" Angus asked.

"Cyril's coin shop in Eugene, Oregon. Cory converted a coin shortly after they opened up this morning. A Stanley Moon just got off the phone to report that Cory just left his shop. It's just as you said it would be. We didn't hear from him until he converted another coin."

Angus was immediately tuned in to Terry.

"Text me the information. I'll need to run by the house to get some things. I need to get off here to call Wes. Thank you, darling. You've come through again. They're sure it was Cory?"

"Positive. Mr. Moon recognized him as soon as he walked in the door. I'll get a map of Eugene and mark Cyril's Coin Shop. You make arrangements for your flight. I'll email you the map and address."

"You have made my day," Angus said, clicking off.

"Wes, Eugene. Get Peg to get me there the fastest way possible."

"Just a minute," Wes said. "Peg, Angus needs to book a flight to Eugene. PDQ. He needs to be there yesterday. Usual arrangements for a rental car. Quick like a bunny."

"I'm assuming it's Cory," Wes said. "I've been expecting this for a couple of weeks. He lasted a long time on cashing in one coin. Do what you need to do. Call when you're ready, and I'll relay the information on your flight."

"Thanks, Wes. I feel lucky this time. I think I'm finally going to meet Mr. Cory Wade."

"It would be nice. Go!" Wes said, ending the call.

At eleven thirty-five, Angus was airborne on a flight to Portland. He'd get a rental car, and be in Eugene before the next flight to Eugene took off from LAX. As fast as arrangements were made, Angus had no time to get nervous, until he was on the plane.

Angus had been waiting for so long for a break in the Cory Wade case, he'd almost given up. The pictures in the coin shop paid off.

He was on the ground before three in Portland. By the time he was in the rental car and heading for the highway, rush hour stopped him dead. At the exit to The 5, cars were backed up forever.

Traffic was at a standstill, before it became stop and go a little after four. When he broke free, he kicked it up to eighty-five. He'd risk the tickets. He wanted to get to Eugene before five, when Cyril's Coin Shop would closed.

The traffic around Salem slowed to a crawl at four-thirty. Angus relaxed. He'd settle for being at the coin shop when it opened Saturday morning. He couldn't shake the feeling he was close to finding Cory Wade. This time he wouldn't let him get away.

By the time he broke through the Salem bottleneck, Angus was tooling along at the speed limit. He could do nothing about the traffic, and this time he wasn't a week behind Cory, when he started. He was a few hours behind Cory being in the Eugene coin shop.

Laying low for so long, Angus was almost certain, Cory would be in town for a few days. He wouldn't cut and run, like he did in San Francisco. He'd be less worried about someone being on his trail. Although, he had to know, cashing in a coin would tell any interested parties watching for him, exactly where he was.

He wanted to secure a room on the Interstate, on one of the Eugene exits. He decided to book it for two nights, just in case. Then, he'd book it for the weekend, if he felt Cory might still be in town. Being the first lead in months, he would keep his options open.

Hurrying was no longer on Angus's mind. He needed to take his time to create a solid plan of action. He could wait until the morning to visit the coin shop. That evening, he could circulate in places where college-aged kids gathered. There was no telling where Cory had been since the last week in May.

Angus figured the allure of a college town might be irresistible to Cory. There was a good chance he'd spend more than one day enjoying what a college town had to offer. With money in his pocket, he'd want to spend a little on having fun. He was still mostly a kid, and kids found fun irresistible.

Angus had Cory's picture and nothing but time on his hands. It put him in mind of the police work he'd done. Many times, while searching for a suspect, he went door-to-door, canvasing anyone who would talk to him. Most people wouldn't give him the time of day, but, once in a while, seeing a light in someone's eyes, they would say, "Come in. I can help you."

There were folks who wouldn't help a cop on a bet, but scattered among these, and part of the same culture, were people who offer to help, if they can. Wanting to live in a better society, these folks know they needed to be part of helping to make it better. While Cory wasn't a fugitive, the principle was the same. Some people wanted to help.

The motel had a dining room, but across the highway was a restaurant with a dozen tractor trailers parked beside it. Angus dodged the traffic and was soon sitting with a chicken fried steak, steak fries, and creamed corn in front of him at Pop's. It was today's special, and it was special. Especially when Angus hadn't eaten all day. As soon as he gulped down his first cup of coffee, his headache began to recede.

He hadn't had coffee since shortly after nine that morning, and the headache was predictable, but he wasn't in enough pain to drink what they called coffee on the flight to Portland. Once he was on the ground, he didn't waste time looking for a cup of coffee.

Angus, considering another chicken fried steak dinner, settled for a slice of apple pie and more coffee.

Angus knew coffee was a bad idea after six in the evening. It made him jittery, and he couldn't sleep. Since he didn't figure on getting any sleep until he was back in San Diego, he enjoyed the better-than-average coffee. The food and service were good, and he would have breakfast at Pop's. He liked the feel of the place.

After eating, he went to his motel room to shower. Angus got back into his car, driving to Cyril's coin shop, using the map Terry sent. It was close to the center of town, and a block off the main drag that took him into Eugene.

Across the street from the coin shop was a bar, with a restaurant next door. He left his car in front of the coin shop on the quiet street. It wasn't quite eight o'clock. He entered the restaurant, going directly to the cashier. She had a view of the entire operation.

Angus flashed his badge and I.D. just before he removed the picture from his inside pocket. He looked at Cory's face for a minute. He hadn't looked at the picture of the boy he was after for a month.

"Has this boy been in here today?" he asked, sliding the picture in front of her.

"He's young. What did he do?" She asked.

"Nothing. Missing person. I had a tip he was in Eugene. I figure this area was as good as any to start looking."

"Well, cowboy, I came on at six. You want to talk to Heidi. She'll be here in the morning, darling."

"The waitresses too. They just came on for the evening?" Angus asked.

"A couple have been her since noon and they stay until eight, when the evening rush has slowed," she said.

Angus put a ten-dollar bill on top of the picture. Without saying anything, the cashier took the picture and the ten-dollar bill and then walked to the end of the counter where the waitresses picked up their orders. As a waitress came up, she flashed the picture. The first two shook their heads no. The third shook and then half-nodded.

The cashier came back to report to Angus.

"Joyce isn't sure. She's the redhead with the pencil behind her ear. She'll talk to you in a minute."

"Thank you, ma'am. A pleasure doing business with you," Angus said.

"You come back now. We serve the best food in town, cowboy," she said as Angus waved acknowledgment.

"Thing is, there was two of them. I think the tall slim one was this boy. They were here maybe at one or two. I hadn't been on for long. I simply can't be sure, but I think this was one of those boys," Joyce said. "Thing is, this boy's hair is long, not neat like the picture. It could be him, but I can't be sure, sweetheart."

"You work tomorrow," Angus asked.

" Every day if I don't win the lottery," she said.

Angus handed her a ten-dollar bill and his card. My cell is on the back. These boys come back, you call me," Angus said. "There's another twenty in it for you if they come back."

"I'll do that," she said.

Angus went back to his car. He'd park it on a side street and then go door-to-door to the bars and clubs in the area. There was always a chance he could get lucky, when he hadn't been lucky yet.

Cory was close.

Cory was very close to where Angus was right now.

There would be no sleep tonight.

He spent some time driving around to see what stayed open after nine. There were two restaurants near the coin shop. There were bars dotting the landscape. People in Eugene liked to drink. Angus thought about going door-to-door with Cory's picture, but this was a college town, and if he hit a place where Cory had gone, he might intend to go back. If he showed his picture, someone might say, 'Hey, dude, someone is looking for you.'

Angus decided against it. He'd be in town tomorrow. He'd keep an eye out for him. If he didn't make a sighting, he'd take the picture from door-to-door tomorrow night. Cory might spend a day or two in town, but no more. He knew as well as Angus did, cashing in a coin could bring someone to Eugene looking for him, and it had.

Angus slept for a few hours. He got up, took a shower, and he put his clothes on. He drove to Pop's at a little after four. He ate his breakfast, read the local paper, and drank coffee. At six, with the daylight apparent in the eastern sky, Angus toured Eugene again.

The streets were empty. Only the two restaurants were open, but there wasn't much business. Angus paid particular attention to the mid-town hotels and motels. There were several near what he considered to be the center of the downtown. They were all close to the street that went to the university.

At seven thirty, Angus parked in front of Cyril's Coins & Fine Jewelry. There was no display in the window. Angus took the paper with him. He went into the restaurant across the street. He ordered coffee and a sweet roll. He brought the Eugene paper he'd picked up before going to eat at Pop's.

Once he lost interest in the paper, Angus looked out the window and drank coffee. The clerk at the coin shop arrived at eight forty-five. Angus left five dollars on the table. He went to pay his check.

Taking his time, he gave the clerk time to get his day started. At nine, Angus was on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. He stepped off the curb and walked directly to the coin shop's door. It was unlocked, and he went inside.

Stopping at the counter, just inside the door, Angus removed his wallet and the picture of Cory. He let the clerk watch him arrange them to be seen by someone behind the counter.

The clerk smiled, when he passing. He knew it was payday.

"I'll be with you in a minute. I need to make one more trip to have the displays in the window," he said.

There were coins, gold jewelry, and some silver pieces being put on display. It looked a lot like the shop in San Francisco.

"Stanley Moon, I presume?" Angus asked in his best police detective's voice. "I believe you are expecting me. I'm Angus McCoy from San Diego. My assistant talked to you yesterday."

"Yes, I'm he. Let me make one more trip, and I'll be done."

Angus watched the young man make another trip and then head into the back one more time to close the safe where the displays had been stored.

Angus reached into his pocket and took out a card. He opened his wallet and began peeling off hundred-dollar bills. Stanley Moon stopped in front of Angus and watched him count. Once done, Angus put his card on the pile of hundred-dollar bills and pushed them at the young clerk.

"This is yours, I believe," Angus said, putting his finger on top of the card on top of the money. "I need to get a positive I.D. on Cory, and then the money is yours."

The clerk leaned into the picture. There was instant recognition in his eyes.

"This the boy who sold you the Krugerrand yesterday morning?"

"That's him. He was here about this time yesterday," Stanley said. "I was putting out the displays then, too. His hair is longer, but I knew it was the boy in the picture as soon as I looked at him. When he took out the Krugerrand, I saw dollar bills."

Angus slid the pile of bills the rest of the way across the counter to Stanley. Then Angus began counting out more hundred-dollar bills.

"You are going to sell me the Krugerrand?" Angus asked, still counting.

"Sure. I wouldn't sell it in a year," Stanley said.

"The quote yesterday was twelve-hundred and twenty-six. Here's thirteen. That gives you a little profit on what you paid," Angus said.

"Sure," Stanley said. "Why buy the coin? I mean, it's none of my business. I'll go back and get it. It's in the safe, but that's not a coin Americans typically buy."

"It's part of a case I'm working. It's a technicality, but I feel better knowing where the coins are," Angus said.

"They're stolen?" Stanley Moon asked. "I shouldn't like to think I bought a stolen coin."

"No, not the one you bought from Cory. It was his coin to sell. At least he thought it was. It's part of a theft from a long time ago. I'm more comfortable having them in my possession, and, that way, the FBI doesn't stop by to confiscate it. Cory is my primary mission. He's been missing from his home for some time. It's a family matter."

"I see. I'll be just a minute. I need to get the coin out of the safe," he said. "It's not a coin we'd typically display."

He was already a thousand bucks ahead of the game, and he'd just opened the door. Selling the coin made his day.

"What can you tell me about Cory?" Angus asked, as Stanley slid the Krugerrand to Angus, retrieving the payment for the coin.

"He'd just gotten out of the shower. I could smell the soap on him. His clothes were new. You know how a new shirt will keep the folds, after you remove the cardboard and pins? It had that kind of creases. His hair is longer than in the picture, but I knew who he was. When he said he had a Krugerrand to sell, it didn't take a genius to know he was the kid you were looking for," Stanley said. "He looked like the boy in the photo you sent. I never, not in a million years, expected he'd walk into my shop, but there he was."

"Which way did he go?" Angus asked.

"They. There was another boy with him. Not quite as tall. Darker. Brown hair. His clothes looked new too. Looked like people who come to town to visit someone at the college. Regular sessions don't start at the college for another week. They didn't act like students. That was my impression, but I can say for certain."

"That's it?" Angus asked.

"No, I saw them again while I was eating my lunch. It's been slow, and I sit up here and look out while I have a sandwich. Before I was done, maybe close to one, they went into the restaurant across the street. I didn't see them leave. You might want to check over there," Stanley said.

"I already did. They were in there for lunch at around one," Angus said. "Here's my card. My cell's on the back. You see them or remember anything else, call me."

"Yes, sir," Stanley said, looking at the card.

Angus stood outside the coin shop for a few minutes. He looked up and down the street. Things looked different in the morning, and Thursday night in Eugene wasn't going to be any more lively than Wednesday night.

Angus understood: at that moment he was as close to Cory as he'd been since the night he knocked on Gary Ford's front door. He didn't know if Cory was still in Eugene, but he felt like he was. It's the kind of feeling Angus got when a case was about to conclude.

The fact he'd showered and he was wearing new clothes when he went into the coin shop meant they were staying in town. Since they ate a few hours later at the restaurant across the street, meant they were in no hurry.

No one mentioned seeing a car, which told Angus Cory and his buddy were staying within easy walking distance.

Tonight, he'd go door-to-door, if he didn't spot Cory today.

Angus ate lunch across the street from the coin shop. He'd walked the streets in the area for an hour that morning. He was betting Cory and his companion knew no more about Eugene than he did. It's the reason they returned to the restaurant across the street from the coin shop.

They started at the coin shop yesterday morning. They ate lunch three or four hours later. The clerk didn't mention a car. If they walked to the coin shop, and walked back to the restaurant, they were staying close by.

Angus could sit in the restaurant, drink coffee, and hope they might return there. He could cover more ground and stand a better chance of seeing them if he moved around town, too.

If Angus was right, they'd be on these streets today, and probably tonight as well. Angus would circulate in the hopes they'd cross paths, or they might go into the same establishment. When Angus showed Cory's picture, someone was going to remember him. He was sure of that.

When college was in session, it would be a major undertaking, trying to find a face in the crowd, but college wasn't in session, and there weren't that many people on the streets on a weekday, and Angus was feeling lucky.

He felt that way since hearing, 'Cory cashed in a Krugerrand.' He wasn't just close. He was very close to finally seeing Cory Wade for the first time. Angus could feel it in his bones.

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead