Cory Wade is Missing

by Rick Beck

Chapter 23

Road's End

Angus drove to the ramp at The 5. He looked north, and then, he looked south. It was a thousand miles to San Diego. When he looked north, he disregarded it.

"South," he said. "He'd go toward California. He wouldn't want to go any farther away from home."

Moving onto the ramp that led to Route 5, Angus sped along like there was a reason to hurry. It was possible Cory hitchhiked out of Eugene. Odds were he would be getting closer to home after this much time away. It was as good a guess as any.

Maybe Cory was still out here. Maybe Angus could find him.

Angus remembered what Gary Ford said.

"A kid that looks like that isn't going to stand on the side of the road for long. San Francisco is a gay city."

It was a gay world , Angus thought, as he drove south, humming the sound that went with The Kink's song, Lola.

When he reached the Oregon, California border, he was tempted to drive all the way to San Diego. He'd let the rental car company sort out what to do with the Portland car.

Angus knew driving the 800 miles home, would keep his mind off what he knew. Cory left hours before he ever hit Route 5. Even he kept driving at eighty, he couldn't make up the head start Cory had, and who was to say he hadn't gotten in with a trucker, and he might stick with that ride for days or weeks to come.

He drove into California, using the first interchange to turn back toward Oregon. Driving would keep his mind off the obvious, and then he'd need a couple of days to recover from a beeline home.

It was daylight when he drove beyond Eugene, on his way to Portland. It was early enough Friday, he got on an early flight to LAX. He gave up any idea he'd be seeing Cory any time soon, as the jet headed down the runway.

Angus was up early on Saturday. He'd been exhausted after arriving home Friday afternoon. A few good meals, and sleeping in his own bed, had him fired up and ready to go Saturday.

Since Wes was away for several days, he started out by going to Terry's. She was working on a computer in the back of her shop. She looked up, when she heard Angus come in.

"If it isn't my favorite private eye," she said. "How go the search for Cory Wade?"

"Nothing has changed since San Francisco. I got close. He got gone," Angus said.

"I have some items of interest for you. I took two news articles off the Internet for you to peruse, when you have time."

"I happen to have time on my hands. That's why I came here to talk to you."

"This one came first, and it comes from the Star-Ledger, which publishes in Newark."

"Krugerrands Sink Wade Prosecution. A criminal case brought by Anthony Wade, against a prominent local private Detective, in the city of San Diego, took a sudden turn, once Angus McCoy introduced a gold coin called a Krugerrand at his preliminary hearing. While Mr. McCoy was hired by Mrs. Wade to locate her missing son, the senior Mr. Wade objected to the private detectives search for his son, once it took the private detective into the Wade house."

"While Mr. McCoy had the door key to the Wade house, as well as the code to the burglar alarm, the only response coming from Mr. Wade, 'I want that key," which tended to prove it was the key to his door. While the Honorable Judge Kennedy seemed to be amused by these maneuvers, Mr. Wade was soon having a tussle with the prosecutor, asking that the charge against Mr. McCoy be dropped. He'd suddenly seen the light. McCoy was only doing his job. The man was looking for your son, Tony. Wasn't that a clue?"

"What took you so long, Tony? It wasn't the news, his wife hired the private detective that moved Mr. Wade. It wasn't the key or the code to his house that moved him. It wasn't even his missing son. It was the appearance of the gold coin that seemed to shake Anthony Wade's resolve," Terry read.

"It was the gold coin that ended the prosecution of Angus McCoy, local private eye, whose only wrong doing might have been, his judgment in taking the Cory Wade case in the first place, and after watching Mr. Wade's performance, perhaps we know why his son is missing," Terry said. "You'll like this part. I found it interesting."

"Angus McCoy, a man with his own cop shop, and plenty of work, should have done a little investigating of the family that hired him. And this reporter has a question, Mr. McCoy, how can a moderately priced gumshoe afford to carry around a pricy Krugerrand, or is this part of another case you might be working? We'd like to know. I rarely find the going on in San Diego all that exciting, but when a local boy makes the news, goes to court, under dubious circumstances, things can get quite interesting in the city the locals call paradise."

"We keep our eyes on the local talent, and you, too, Mr. Wade,

and one must wonder, what significance the coin represents. It certainly got Mr. Wade's attention, and the FBI's, too, or so I'm told, according to my sources. What's up with that, Mr. Wade? What are you trying to hide? I bet Mr. McCoy knows, and who has he been talking to?"

Terry stopped reading.

"This was a few days after the charges were dismissed," Angus said. "Pretty spicy bit of journalism."

"I thought so too. They practically call him a crook," Terry said.

"The mention of the FBI gives us a clue who wrote that little hit piece. They want Tony to know they're watching him. Not subtle at all. Wade's roots are in New Jersey. He's associated with some pretty dangerous characters there. You have something else?" Angus asked.

"This is from Wednesdays Union. I do searches on the names involved in the cases you work. This isn't so much about Tony Wade, but it's all about him. I've been doing daily searches on him since I found the first article on him."

"OK, let's see what we have here," Angus said, turning the monitor to where he could read along.

"James Fields, CEO of United Enterprises, of New York City, takes the helm of a local company. James Field's, of New York City's United Enterprises, took control of the floundering Wade Contracting earlier this week. There was no details given about the circumstances under which the company changed hands, but Mr. Fields is well known in the New York and New Jersey real estate market. There have been persistent rumors that Anthony Wade, CEO of Wade Contracting, has returned to New Jersey for health reasons."

Angus pushed himself away from the monitor.

"That's quite a bit of news," Angus said.

"I thought it might interest you," Terry said.

"What makes Cory run?" Angus said.

"A penny for your thoughts, Mr. McCoy," Terry said.

"Oh, nothing. Tony is, shall we say, between a rock and a hard place. That first article you read, put him there."

"Why?" Terry asked.

"There are things we know, and there are things they keep so secret, we'll never hear a word about it. There are powers, Ms. Baldwin, mere mortals know little or nothing about, and with that, I've got to go."

There was no question where Angus was going next. He wanted the rest of the story, and while he knew he wouldn't get it, he might get something if he was polite.

"Angus McCoy to see, Special Agent Boyle," Angus said, leaning on the desk just inside the local office of the FBI.

"You can go back. He's expecting you," the receptionist said. "Second door on the left. Knock and go in."

Angus knocked twice and stepped into the office.

"Angus McCoy to see Special Agent Boyle," he said.

"Angus McCoy is here to see you," the woman said. "You can go back. Go through that door."

"McCoy! How's Portland," Agent Boyle said.

"Eugene," Angus said.

"Our resources limit us. How was Eugene?"

"How do you know where I went?"

"You're on our radar, McCoy. Nothing personal. You're now knee deep in an FBI investigation. We keep track of where people of interest go. It's a general program that tells us when someone of interest travels on public transportation. We don't have a tail on you."

"Ask me any question. I'll tell you no lies. You don't need to follow me," Angus said.

"No, we don't. There are certain things that happen once you're on our radar. It's nothing personal. Say you went off to Portland."

"Eugene," Angus corrected.

"Say you went off to Eugene and you disappeared. Who knows, maybe some mobsters are keeping an eye on you, and at some point they decide you're too big a headache to allow to keep breathing, and they take you out. I check our computers, and I see, you flew to Portland on Wednesday. Now, if you fall off my radar, I know where to start looking for you."

"What mobsters?" Angus asked.

"I don't need to tell you anything, McCoy. You know how the world works. Of all the people of interest I keep an eye on, you are way down the list of one I need to worry about," Agent Boyle said.

"Thanks for that vote of confidence. Where'd you get the information on the preliminary hearing?"

"If you are a person of interest, mad Tony is a target. We had someone in the courtroom for the same reason we know you went to Portland. It's important we know what is going on around Mr. Wade."

"You know about the Krugerrands. I knew as quick as I showed the Judge the Krugerrand, Wade couldn't risk having any information getting out there," Angus said. "But when your a person of interest, I guess the FBI doesn't mind putting a nail in your coffin."

"We do what we can. That was our literary section at work. From time to time, we find it helpful, to rattle someone's cage. It's good for a chuckle, McCoy."

"Wasn't very good for, mad Tony," Angus said.

"Shit happens, McCoy. We were never after Tony. We know his part in the heist. We know where his coins are. What we don't know is where the boss keeps his coins. We want the boss, not Tony."

"How sick is, Tony?" Angus asked.

"When he flew out of here, he was green, McCoy. He won't be back. He might be demoted, made to pay a price, or, well, who knows what goes through a mobsters mind, when he thinks you crossed him?" Agent Boyle said.

"Indeed," Angus said.

"Simply taking that coin out of your pocket set a lot of wheels in motion. You knew what you were doing. I knew you knew exactly what you intended to set in motion. Once you talked to me, McCoy, I knew the play. It made sense. That's why I gave you the information I gave you, McCoy. That's the only reason I'm telling you what I'm telling you now. We're in this together, and that's not a secret in New Jersey."

"They called him back to New Jersey. I didn't see that coming."

"He flew back the morning after the preliminary hearing. They sent one of their major players to take over the San Diego operation. He's been investigated for bank fraud, money laundering, the usual list of mob activities. He remains fairly clean, which makes him valuable in taking over Tony's operation," Agent Boyle said.

"So where's Tony now?" Angus asked.

"We have one of his boys. One who was in on the Lufthansa heist, where they stole those Krugerrands. He's told us how it went down. We have him, one other soldier, and Tony working that job. We're trying to get Sammy the blade Cappuccino. He took the lions share of the loot. We didn't move on Tony, and we won't move on the other guy, until we have Sammy, so we are waiting to see how it plays out in New Jersey."

"Tony is in trouble?"

"I think we can safely assume they didn't replace him because they were happy with him. It's why we put the piece in the Star-ledger. We can wait and they may eat their own. If we can put heat on Sammy, he's not as powerful as he was five years ago. We might get him out of our hair without doing anything, but we want to take him down, one way or another," Agent Boyle said.

"Why are you telling me all this?" Angus asked. "You didn't have that much to say the last time we talked."

"We're way farther down the road to closing the Lufthansa theft. You've given us a lot of help McCoy. You know how the system works. You're nice to us and we're nice to you," Agent Boyle said.

"Sure, but all I did was give you what I had, because I wanted to find the Wade kid. I didn't give you anything important," Angus said.

"Not important in the larger scheme of things, but it filled in some blanks. You allowed us to move Tony out of San Diego, which is why I gave you what I gave you the last time we talked. I can't discuss details of an ongoing investigation. What I can tell you is, Wade has an apartment in New York City and a house in White Plains. He hasn't been to either place, but he's been back East since shortly after the charges against you were dismissed," the agent said.

"So he's in trouble. Where do they have him?" Angus asked.

"Somewhere that we have no eyes. He's not without influence. He didn't have enough to keep him from being called home, but we have no information, since he arrived in Newark. We'll wait and see," the agent said.

"I have a second Krugerrand," Angus said.

"Ah, the boy was in Eugene," Agent Boyle said. "Emailing the coin shops finally paid off?"

"Finally did, and how do you know we emailed coin shops?"

"We're the FBI. We know everything, McCoy."

"He was in Eugene. I didn't see him, but I talked to people who saw him. He was there. I just didn't catch up with him."

"You hold those coins for now. We won't be going to court any time soon. Keep doing what you're doing. If you find out anything I should know, I'd appreciate a call. If I find out something you should know, I'll call you, but for now, that's all I have for you." Special Agent Boyle said, standing to shake Angus's hand.

"McCoy, watch your back. Mad Tony may not be here, but he has a long reach. If he decides you're the one responsible for the trouble he's in, he won't hesitate to take you out."

"I'll keep that in mind, Boyle," Angus said.

"Odds are, he's been planted inside the foundation of a new building somewhere. When a hood the caliber of Tony is missing for more than a couple of weeks, it means he's helping to holdup a building somewhere. You do know about contractors?"

"I do," Angus said. "I'll keep my eyes open. Thanks."

On Monday, Angus learned more about how the system was working, than he'd been aware of for some time. Life as a dashing private eye kept him out of the loop on a lot of inside information. It was another reason why Terry was so valuable to him. If she hadn't picked up on the New Jersey news story, Angus wouldn't have gone to see if Agent Boyle knew something about the origins of that story.

Even though he'd learned a lot, he still had the same problem. Cory Wade was out there and he could be anywhere. He lasted on the money from cashing in the first coin for almost the entire summer. Angus needed to face the fact that this case might have no resolution.

With the lack of sleep and poor eating habits, Angus ran out of gas shortly after noon on Saturday. He went home, took a nap, ate dinner, and he went to bed before eight.

On Sunday he had no energy. He dove into the Sunday paper and he enjoyed a relaxing day at home. At three he got a text message from Wes.

"Made it home early. Lunch at noon, China Camp or the Bayou?"

Angus text backed, "Bayou," and there was no more communication.

"I'll need you to drive me to the Bayou at noon tomorrow."

"I say this coming on yesterday. Wes, is back?" Mildred asked.

"Yes, we're meeting at noon. I'll tell him about my latest misadventure concerning the Cory Wade Affair," Angus said.

"How long will you need. I won't fix a full meal for dinner. You never eat after one of these meetings. How long will you stay?"

"Give me to four. No, after drinking, I won't want much to eat, Mil."

When Wes arrived at the Bayou, Angus was working on his second drink. There was a Knob Hill at Wes's place.

"I didn't know I'd be back so soon, so I have nothing on my calendar today. How long before Mildred comes to pick you up?"

"Four," Angus said. "I want to be smashed by four."

"You're the man that can do it. I take it things did not go as well as expected in Eugene," Wes said.

"They didn't. I wasted three more day. Five if you count the weekend. I spent the weekend sleeping and eating," Angus said.

"I haven't heard from Dolores. She ran out of service on July 31. Peg sent her a invoice asking for ten thousand more dollars, so I can pay you for your time. You do want to be paid," Wes said.

"I insist on it. I have a gun to put emphasis on the point."

"Enough said. I can't argue with the time you've put in on this case. You do realize if that kid doesn't wish to be caught, he can stay on the run for years. For all the assistance we've gotten from Dolores, I could chuck this case without giving it two thoughts," Wes said.

After lunch, working on his fifth or sixth drink, Angus began talking.

"In Chicago," Angus said.

"Not a Chicago story," Wes said. "Please!"

"In Chicago, you'll like this one, Wes."

"It's how the last dozen Chicago stories started," Wes said.

"There was a confidence man, Shorty Maloney. Shorty and I went back a long way. I arrested him the first year I was a detective in Chicago. He clipped a wallet from a guy in a bar. Bumps him and does the dip and the hand off to his buddy. The guy he clipped was as drunk as a skunk, but he knew Shorty got his wallet, and he calls the law. Who is sitting two blocks away? Moi, and I met Shorty Maloney for the first time. He's in one room. The guy he clipped is in the other, and Shorty knows he's been made. He wants to make a deal, but I ain't Monty Hall. This guy is going down. I do have my standards."

"I can't wait," Wes said. "Do you mind if I have a couple of drinks while you're getting to the point?"

"No, No. Give me a minute. You'll like this one," Angus said, finishing his drink, holding his shot glass in the air.

"Shorty says, 'I'll see if I can't locate this man's wallet, I'm good with a deal like that'.'

"'Shorty," I says, "Look around. Your ass is in jail. Why am I listening to you, I says.'"

"He says, 'I'll find everything that was in that wallet for you. If I can get a line on where the goods are. Your man doesn't have to cancel all his cards, get a new driver's license, none of that shit.' I laughed in his face, but the guy who lost his wallet goes for the deal. He had maybe a hundred bucks in the wallet, but the trouble involved in replacing everything will cost him more than that."

"What happened?" Wes asked.

"I was told to make the deal. The man wants his stuff. He'll take a loss on the money to get the stuff back. I cut Shorty loose. He says I'll hear from him by the end of the day. I say, 'Yeah, like I'll be seeing Santa Clause,' I says," Angus said.

"What happened?" Wes asked.

"See! You love my stories. A messenger shows up an hour later. He has a big manilla envelope, a mailing envelope. I sign for it and dump it out on my desk, there's the guys cards and license. Just like Shorty sold it to me. The guy is tickled pick he got them back. I'm out to get Shorty now. I hate it when a guilty guys gets off the hook."

"Did you get him?" Wes asked.

"You'll really like this," Angus says. "Shorty moved uptown and he's out of my usual beat. I keep my eyes open though, and I'll be ready for Shorty the next time he shows up. I hear he's running half dozen scams, and I can tell by the description, it's Shorty. Word has gone out that I want the guy. I get a call from a guy who transferred out of my squad, and he is working across the city. He tells me they're going to take Shorty down the next morning. I'm invited along so I can gloat as they haul him off."

"They go in. I'm not officially part of the bust, so I'm outside, and they call me inside. I go in and three swat guys are standing around the table. 'You McCoy one of them asks?' Yeah, I says. 'It's for you,' another guy says, pointing to an envelope on the table. Sure enough, for Detective McCoy is written on the envelope. How'd he know I was going to be in on the bust?"

"How did he know?" Wes asked.

"He didn't. He remembers my name from two years before, and not knowing any other cops, he addresses his note to me."

"It's a confession?" Wes said.

"No, he has a deal for me," Angus said.

Wes laughed.

"'McCoy, I know you know I'm a man of my word. You need to take this note to the proper D.A. I am going to give you the perp in the Stein Jewelry Store heist. There are some miscellaneous beefs against me. Have the Stein D.A. Clear the charges off the books. Once that happens, I'll give you the guy who beat down Stein.'"

"You did what he asked?"

"I didn't have a choice. Stein is a big deal. The guy that robbed him pistol whipped him. Bad news. He's in a coma for weeks. The D.A. Wants the guy who did it," Angus said.

"You made the deal," Wes said.

"I made the deal and Shorty takes another walk. I'm a little less angry about this deal. He got a really bad guy off the street, and Shorty is annoying, but he's not dangerous. I could accept that."

"But Shorty didn't go away this time," Wes said.

"No, Shorty was an on the ground informant. He knows a lot about what's going down in Chicago, and this was before the time when a dozen shootings a day go down. If Shorty doesn't know who pulls off a nasty job, he's capable of getting the goods on who did.

He starts giving me stuff outside my jurisdiction, but I get invited into whatever area involved," Angus said.

"Your legend has spread," Wes said.

"Something like that. I go on the busts, because I have the note from Shorty. It's like a search warrant. My name is mentioned when they announce a troubling crime is solved. I get promoted soon after that," Angus said. "A year or two pass. A messenger shows up at my desk one day. It's a note from Shorty, and it starts all over again. By the time the final two notes come, I jump right on what he gives me. I know it will clear a seriously bad case off the books."

"So is Shorty still out there?" Wes asked.

"I don't know where Shorty went. As I said, it went on for nearly a decade. The last two notes were delivered to my desk by messenger. No quid pro quo. Just a scrap of paper inside, 'McCoy, so and so is good for this shooting. Here's where you can find him, and here's where you can find the piece.' After the fifth or sixth note, I didn't hear anymore. He moved, died, or he went straight, but the notes stopped. I've got to solve all my cases without Shorty's help after that," Angus said. "Funny how things work."

"He was a regular crime fighter," Wes said.

"He was. Always a case as cold as a witches tit, too."

"You never thought someone got wise to Shorty? Ended him?"

"I did, but I prefer to think he's living in a retirement village in Florida, double-dealing in penny ante poker games for the elderly high rollers who can't make it to Vegas any longer."

"When you come right down to it, It's a story about justice working. Shorty was more valuable on the street with his eyes open. Any prosecutor worth his salt could see the value in dealing with Shorty. I could trade with Shorty," Wes said.

"If life was different, and if Shorty started out with the advantages you and I had, he'd have been an undercover cop. I thought, while it was still going on, someone ought to make Shorty an honorary cop. Give him an award for community service."

"What happened to you wanting to lock Shorty up, Angus?"

"I was young. Justice to me was locking everyone up if they dared to crossed a bright red line I had drawn inside my head. I saw so mush anguish, and misery, and I somehow managed to escape it. began wondering how I escaped it. Then, I thought, I could try not to add to people's misery. I began to see people as people and not perps. We all need to accept some guilt for the misery in the world. Someone creates that misery. Someone keeps their boot on the neck of poor people. They do what it takes to survive. As a cop, I met a lot of them. It was my job to arrest many of them. I traded in my bright red line for a bit of compassion. I had to see the misery. I didn't need to add to it. You learn as you go. It's easy to beco6me cynical, but you can overcome being cynical too."

"Angus McCoy, philosopher," Wes said. "We could all do more, if we weren't so busy doing what we do. It is what it is. You chase perps and I defend them. I can't afford to be too judgmental."

"You'd defend Jack the Ripper if he had money," Angus said.

Wes laughed.

"No, Jack the Ripper was guilty as sin. I wouldn't take his case, no matter how much money he had. I do have a reputation to protect. I do my best not to take a case, when the defendant is obviously guilty. I'm afraid, Jack would be on his own."

Angus lost track of the number of drinks he'd had. He hadn't had enough, not yet. He'd drink until Mildred picked him up. That would be it for this bender. He'd get hammered, go home and sleep it off, and wake up with a hangover.

After Angus blew off steam, talked Wes through his latest trip, and Wes told him, 'You couldn't do anymore than that.' Angus might stop beating himself up over getting old, getting slower, and not making the move he should have made to catch up with Cory.

Wes didn't drink from his third Knob Hill. He blocked off noon to four on his schedule, but he knew he needed to go to the office to finish a brief and to put some documents in his briefcase. Wes knew by the seriousness in Angus's voice, this was going to be one of those afternoons. He'd stay until it was time for Mildred to come.

He wanted to make sure his friend got to the car OK.

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