Cory Wade is Missing

by Rick Beck

Chapter 24

Surf City

Angus intended to sleep in Tuesday morning, and maybe he wouldn't get out of bed until Wednesday, but he woke up early with his investigator's mind pestering him to do one of those things he had been putting off for some time. He couldn't ignore it.

After standing under the shower for a while, he got dressed, going down stairs to meet the new day. .

He drank a cup of coffee with Mildred, and he left without eating. Angus had plans for that too. He'd feel better once he did the only thing he had to do on Tuesday. Then, he'd go to his favorite restaurant in Ocean Beach for breakfast. That was a spot he enjoyed.

There were two cars beside the Parkson house, when Angus parked out front. He hoped Jessie was in the back yard. He walked up the driveway past the cars but didn't see Jessie hitting the tennis ball.

As he turned to walk to the front door, Mr. Parkson came out of the door nearest the driveway. Angus was ready to tell Mr. Parkson who he was, in case he didn't remember him.

"Mr. McCoy, nice to see you. Jessie isn't here at the moment," Mr. Parkson added. "Won't you come in for a cup of coffee? I just brewed a fresh pot."

"No, thank you. I wanted to let Jessie know where the case stood concerning his missing friend. Really nothing to report, but I hadn't touched base with him in some time. He hasn't come by the office."

"He's surfing over at Ocean Beach. He's staying with the family of a friend. You know how the kids love to surf. He hadn't been surfing all summer, and then a friend invited him this past weekend, it was good to see him get out of the house to socialize."

"He's surfing at Ocean Beach?" Angus asked, thinking he'd look for Jessie from the pier after breakfast.

"Yes, a friend's family rents a cottage this time of year. It's walking distance from the water."

"I know how the kids love to surf. Thank you. I'll stop by some other time, Mr. Parkson," Angus said. "Nothing much to report."

Angus moved down the driveway on the far side of the cars from where Mr. Parkson stood. He wasn't disappointed Jessie wasn't there.

"USC, Mr. McCoy. Jessie phoned yesterday to say he decided to take the scholarship to USC. He finally made up his mind. It's a good school. He sounded like his old self."

"It is," Angus said. "That's very good news. It's good to know he's getting over his friend's disappearance. Did he say which friend he was with? I interviewed a lot of the boys over at Bishop's. Maybe I know him."

"No, Jess has been so moody lately. I try not to pry," Mr. Parkson said.

"I understand," Angus said, waving as he walked down the driveway.

Angus sat in his car without starting it.

His stomach had begun to growl. He'd removed the biggest obstacle in his day, but, something was dodging around in the back of his brain. There was something he was forgetting. Sitting there wasn't doing him any good. Maybe after he ate, he'd remember. He could taste the Denver omelet at his favorite restaurant for breakfast.

Angus started the car, shifting it into gear. He drove away from Justin Parkson's house.

He's getting over Cory, Angus thought. I wish I could.

His faulty memory was a byproduct of too much Fitzgerald in too short a period of time. He'd remember what he was forgetting, after he ate a Denver omelet and drank more coffee.

Then, since he was out and about anyway, he'd go to the office to write his report on the trip to Eugene. That's when he usually remembered something nagging at his subconscious.

He smiled, when he remembered Lola. Angus hummed as he drove toward Ocean Beach.

He remember, Wes told him that not only was Dolores Wade AWOL, when he went to court, but she had fallen behind on her payments to her attorney, and thus her private detective. He mentioned letting go of the perplexing case. It had been as complicated as they calculated it might be, when they realized the missing boy was Anthony Wade's son.

Giving up an unsolved case was totally unsatisfying. The cop in him hated placing a case among the cold case files. Without any clues, and with Cory free to go anywhere he liked, Angus understood that he wasn't likely to catch up with Cory, until Cory allowed it.

Cory's guile was a direct result of living with the people he lived with. He'd learned to be tight lipped and secretive. No one had a real insight into who Cory was. It was no wonder he knew how to run, and he knew how to hide.

Angus had developed a sixth sense for the way criminals thought and reacted. On some cases he was able to out think a crook, and be waiting for him when he showed up at a predictable place. Cory Wade had a sixth sense too.

Any time Angus got close to him, the kid made a sharp turn, heading for parts unknown. Doing it once was lucky. Doing it more than once, was unlucky for Angus, and a trait of how a runner ran.

It was no illusion. When Angus drew close, Cory slipped away.

These were the thoughts that came to mind, while Angus worked a case. These were also thoughts that came to mind, over and over again, when a case remained unsolved.

The funds might run out that kept Angus looking for Cory, but Angus never stopped looking for someone who was missing. He'd be looking for Cory, until he look into Cory's eyes and said, "I've been looking for you.'

In Ocean Beach, Angus ate a Denver omelet, fried potatoes, and rye toast. He looked out the window at another perfect day in paradise. He enjoyed sitting in the window, watching the people. Angus was always looking for someone, and, even in paradise, his work was never ending.

Sipping coffee, Angus removed Cory's picture from his pocket. He looked for a minute, before putting it away.

"USC," Angus said. "What is it about USC? Why did that trip something inside my brain?"

Angus was unable to answer the question, but it was the mention of USC that moved his mind, like a small tremor.

After Angus walked to his car, and he was ready to open the old Crown Victoria's door, it came to him. He knew why Justin Parkson going to USC meant something to him. How had he miss that?

He walked the two blocks to the beach, and he took a walk out on the pier. Usually he'd stop to see what was being caught, but he didn't stop, until he reached the end of the pier.

Looking out at the line of surfers, Angus leaned his forearms on the railing.

"USC," Angus said. "He decided to go to USC."

Reaching into his pocket, he removed the picture of Cory. He was looking into the face of a boy he'd been trying to find all summer. Angus put the picture away, watching the two surfers closest to him, as they waited for a wave to ride.

Looking west, at the calm flat sea, Angus figured it would be a long wait. He waited too. He was as serene as serene could be. Maybe things weren't that complicated after all.

"We're going to the same college," he heard Jessie say. "He's going to USC. Sounded like his old self. Jessie hadn't gotten over Cory Wade. Jessie was with Cory Wade. Cory had come home. Why?

During his life, Angus never knew a period when he'd have been content to sit on a board in the ocean, waiting for mother nature to produce. He'd never been that laid back.

As the two most interesting surfers began paddling toward the beach, Angus left the railing. He walked back down the pier.

Reaching the end of the pier, Angus walked up the sidewalk toward his car but stopped, stepping off the sidewalk and onto the sand. Angus stopped his sojourn once he was in the path of the two surfers, who were just then picking up their boards to come ashore.

They stopped to peel their wetsuits to the waist. With their boards under their arms, they were on a collision course with Angus.

Angus pushed his hat back on his head to face Jessie.

"Nice to see you finally smiling, Jessie," Angus said. "Would you like to introduce me to your friend? I've been trying to catch up with him all summer. I would like an introduction," Angus said.

"This is him, Cory. He's OK. He works for your mom," Jessie said.

"I know who he is. I didn't know he worked for Dolores, until you told me," Cory said.

Cory stood fast, extending his hand for Angus to shake.

"I'm Cory Wade," he said. "Nice to meet you."

"The same goes for me. I never figured I'd find you this close to home. With what your mother is paying me, I'd think a phone call to let me know you came home was in order," Angus said.

"My mother! I had to browbeat her to rent us a cottage of our own. Can you imagine? Me and Jessie," Cory said, putting his arm around Jessie's waist, "living in one of those tiny cottages with my mother and Sensa? Please!"

Cory rolled his eyes in exasperation.

"I like Sensa. She's a fine woman," Angus said.

"She'll be at our cottage getting lunch ready by now," Cory said. "She'll stay until we show up. It's how she gets away from Dolores."

"You mind if I tag along?" Angus asked. "I'd like to say hello to Sensa, and I have some information to give you, and there are questions I need answered. It's important we talk," Angus said.

"Come for lunch. Sensa fixes a ton of food. Jessie and I can't eat it all," Cory said, heading for the cottages that overlooked the pier.

"Jessie, I thought you were going to call me if you heard from Cory," Angus said.

"Sorry. He said no. I'm so happy he's home. I couldn't go against him, McCoy," Jessie said. "We've been too busy to call anyone."

"I bet. I'm just giving you a hard time. I wasn't counting on you calling," Angus said. "I went to your house to tell you that I almost caught up with Cory over the weekend, but he gave me the slip again. But I bet you know more about it than I do."

"With that hat, you look like Sam Spade, McCoy," Cory said. "You do know you were standing within two feet of me in San Francisco? While you stood at the fence in Gary's yard, I was just on the other side of the fence in the bushes there."

"Two feet. What are you talking about? You were long gone by the time I got to that fence," Angus said, remembering the event.

"If you'd moved a couple of branches on the bush just to your right, on the other side of the fence, you'd have been looking right at me," Cory said. "I was so scared; I didn't even breathe."

"You've got to be kidding," Angus said. "I'm losing my touch."

"Nope. As I looked up at your face, it was well-lit by the lights in the house you were looking at; you reminded me of Sam Spade."

"What do you know about Sam Spade?" Angus asked.

"You kidding?" Jessie said. "He loves those old black-and-white movies. They must be a hundred years old. Every night it's Film Noir before bed. I've never watched a black-and-white movie before in my entire life until day before yesterday," Jessie said. "It's what he likes. I guess they might grow on me."

Angus laughed.

Cory put his arm over Jessie's shoulder as they neared the cottage.

"Cory! Like, people are looking at us," Jessie said.

"Oh, hush. I missed you," Cory said. "Let them look. They'll need to get their own man. You're mine."

Cory leaned to kiss Jessie's cheek. He got no complaint, as they started up the stairs to the cottages that overlooked the pier.

Jessie was blushing, but so was Angus.

"Have I told you how much I missed you?" Cory asked.

"Fifty times since Sunday," Jessie said. "Not as much as I missed you. I'm so glad you came home. How'd you find us, McCoy?"

"I went by your house. Your father told me you'd decided to go to USC," Angus said.

"We're both going to USC," Cory said. "My mother is paying for a dorm room. She doesn't know Jessie is going there too."

"How did my father telling you that, tip you off?" Jessie asked.

"'We're going to the same college,' is what you told me. It took a while, but I realized that Cory was home if you knew what college you decided to go to," Angus said.

"Very slick, Mr. Spade," Cory said. "You are good."

"Told you," Jessie said.

"I missed you," Cory said. "That's fifty-one. I missed you."

Cory was holding Jessie's hand by the time they stepped onto the front porch of their cottage. He kissed Jessie's cheek before opening the screen door.

"Come on in, Sam," Cory said. "I'm starved. He dragged me out to surf at eight o'clock this morning. It's a good thing I love him."

Jessie laughed happily.

Seeing Jessie happy was worth the exasperation Cory caused Angus. The somber unhappy Jessie was gone.

"McCoy," Sensa said. "How are you? It's nice to see you again."

"I'm fine, actually. I'm way better than I was this weekend, after I chased Cory all over Eugene, Oregon last week," Angus said. "How are you?"

"Oh, I'm fine. Why don't you stay for lunch? I made plenty," Sensa said.

Angus burped up a remnant of his Denver omelet.

"I would love to," Angus said. "Thank you. Smells great."

Sensa went to the door. She turned before she stepped outside.

"If you need anything, just yell. It'll give me an excuse to get away from Dolores. Can you imagine what it's like being cooped up in a single room with that woman?"

"Yes! That's why I'm not staying over there," Cory said. "I'll call later, and we'll go to the beach and get ice cream, Sensa," Cory said.

"Deal. See you, McCoy," Sensa said, leaving them to enjoy the sumptuous meal she'd prepared.

"She is the best part of my mother," Cory said. "I'd have run away a long time ago if it hadn't been for Sensa."

Angus laughed.

"I agree," Angus said.

"There goes your tip," Cory said, laughing.

"She makes swell sandwiches," Jessie said. "I've never had better tuna salad, and I love her potato salad, and the egg salad."

There were a half dozen sandwiches piled up on each of three plates. There were bowls for the potato salad, and a pitcher of milk and one of lemonade.

For a few minutes, the boys loaded their plates and got a drink for each of them. They sat in wicker chairs beside the table. Angus took a glass of lemonade and half of a ham salad sandwich. He wasn't hungry, but he wanted to appear sociable.

"Shoot, McCoy. I guess I owe you some answers. I'm back. I thought you worked for my dad. I had no idea my mother hired you. I didn't know Dolores knew I was alive."

"You should try the tuna salad," Jessie said, turning toward Cory.

Angus burped up more of his Denver omelet.

Cory put his lips on Jessie's lips. They closed their eyes, hesitating, before going back to their food.

"You're right. Tastes delicious," Cory said, licking his lips. "I like the egg salad too. You should try that, Sam."

"How did you get home so fast?" Angus asked.

"I picked up a phone while I was in Eugene. One of those throw away jobs, you know. I knew my mother's number, and I called her after I left Leon and Lola at the club where we were on Thursday night. She told me to get to Portland, and she'd have a ticket waiting for San Diego. I left Portland at first light. I made my mother drive me straight to Jessie's. We've been together ever since," Cory said. "She told me the old man was back in New Jersey. She said that a friend called to tell her Tony was in a lot of hot water, and his future with his employer was in doubt. I told her I wanted to come home."

Cory and Jessie chewed and looked at one another.

"High school, Cory?" Angus asked.

"Wednesday and Thursday I'll take my finals. Thanks for turning in my term papers. I didn't know how I was going to recover those. I can't get into my computer any longer. I suspect it's been unplugged or disabled. Dolores talked to Bishop's. They'll confirmed my grade point average as soon as I show up for the finals. They'll send my transcript to USC. They know I excel academically."

"Why did you leave town? You could have stayed," Angus said.

"No, you don't know my father. I went against him on something he told me not to do. As much as being queer angered him, going against my father meant, getting out of his reach. I don't know how much you know about dear old dad. He can be difficult."

"To say the least," Angus said. "You don't know how nice it is to see you in the flesh," Angus said. "Do you still have the Krugerrands. Is taking them how you went against your father?"

"You know about that? You said you were a detective," Cory said. "He told me not to move them from the house. I didn't do that, Dolores did. But, if I was going on my own, I was taking what belonged to me, as much as it pissed off dear old dad. I was supposed to let him buy them back if I decided to cash one in. Since we were no longer speaking, I improvised. A boys got to do what a boys got to do."

"You do know those coins were stolen, don't you?" Angus asked, watching Cory's reaction.

"No, I didn't know that. I may have suspected it, but when you live in a house like mine, you're smart if you don't ask questions," Cory said. "I didn't ask, and I didn't know."

"You didn't know they were stolen?" Angus asked again.

"No, I didn't know they were stolen," Cory said. "Am I surprised they were stolen? It doesn't come as a shock."

"From now on, if anyone asks you that question, and you may well be asked, stick with the first part of your answer. 'No, I didn't know they were stolen.' that's all you need to say. Your attorney, if you do end up being questioned about those coins, will tell you what I just told you. No, is all you need to say about it. Do not offer any additional information."

"What if I sold two of those coins to survive? Can they bust me for that, McCoy?" Cory asked.

"No, you didn't sell any Krugerrands," Angus said, taking the two Krugerrands out of his pocket, placing them on the table. "They were never sold. You never took them from the safe deposit box. No one has any proof otherwise. Do you understand why I'm telling you this?"

"To keep me from becoming part of something I don't want to have any part of?" Cory said.

"You've got it. We did not have this conversation, and I did not buy back the two coins you didn't sell. Jessie never heard anything about gold coins. Did you Jessie?"

"What gold coins?" Jessie said.

"That is what you both need to say. If they take you in for an interview, I've told you what to say. No matter how much they smile and tell you that you aren't a person of interest, you wouldn't be there if you weren't a person of interest. You say nothing but, 'I want to call my attorney, now.' They are not your friends, and they know who your father is. Don't ever forget who you are. I was a cop for longer than you've been alive, son, and no cop is your friend. You aren't being interviewed because they're looking for a date. Do you understand that?"

"I do," Cory said. "What if someone saw me with those coins?"

"What coins? Show me the evidence. Anyone questions you about that, you need to call your attorney. You do not answer questions about gold coins," Angus said.

"Isn't lying to cops a crime?" Cory asked.

"If you were lying to them, yes, it would be a crime. If they lock up everyone who lied to the cops, everyone would be in jail. You did nothing wrong. The less you say, the safer you stay. It's easy to remember your simple answers."

"OK," Cory said. "What do I do with the coins?"

"Since they are stolen property, and possession of stolen property is a crime. You need to give them to me. I'll turn them over to the proper authorities," Angus said.

"So what's with my father? Where does he fit into the heist?"

"Use your imagination. The FBI arrested one of the men involved in the theft for a different heist. It's a long story, but once they had him, he sang like a canary. He doesn't know where the the coins are, but he told the FBI who has them. It's a long complicated story, but the guy they have can put the finger on everyone involved," Angus said. "What you need to know is, they aren't interested in you, Cory. Turn the coins over to me, and you're out of it."

"And what about my father?" Cory said.

"Your mother knows more than I do on that front. He flew back to New Jersey, and he hasn't been seen since," Angus said. "The FBI doesn't know where he is either. That's what they told me."

"Dolores is paying for this?" Cory asked.

"Dolores is paying an attorney to take care of the matter. She doesn't, and probably shouldn't know, the information I gave you. I was hired to see you got home safely, which includes, as far as I'm concerned, keeping you out of jeopardy. You were too clever for me to catch you, Cory, but I can still see to it you are in no jeopardy."

"Who knew mommy dearest cared?" Cory said.

"Your mother has hired an excellent attorney. He'll keep your name out of it. Your mother may not be out of the woods, but the attorney says they'll deal any jeopardy she's in against the useful information she has. Even if she doesn't know anything of value, they'll cut her a deal. They don't want your mother," Angus said.

"I need the coins. They're only dangerous for you if you have them. I've made a deal to turn them over to the FBI, no questions asked. That removes you as a person of interest concerning those coins. Your mother won't mention the coins either."

"Dolores knows all this stuff?" Cory asked.

"No, but she's lived with your father for twenty years. Your mother knows how to take care of herself," Angus said.

"Ain't that the truth," Cory said.

Cory got up and went to a cabinet in the corner of the room. He took out the leather pouch and brought it back to Angus.

"I've still got eight hundred dollars and change from the coin I sold in Eugene," Cory said.

"What coin?" Angus asked.

"Oops!" Cory said.

"Exactly," Angus said.

"I have what I need. You know what you need to know. I doubt we'll cross paths again. You're home and I'm off to work on other cases," Angus said. "My work here is done. You boys enjoy life."

"I'd say thanks, McCoy, but I just gave you ten thousand bucks," Cory said. "You should be the one saying, thank you."

Angus laughed.

"In the immortal words of your mother, keep the change. You two have a good time on what's left over from Eugene. I have done what I needed to do. And Cory, I've chased a lot of runners in my time, you are the most aggravating one I've ever chased," Angus said, heading for the door.

Jessie and Cory got up to watch Angus go.

When Angus stepped off the porch, he looked over his shoulder.

Cory and Jessie stood with their arms around each other, and they were in the midst of a long lingering kiss.

Angus thought back to when he first fell in love with Mildred. He recognized their passion. A case never ended with a kiss before, but it was better than getting a poke in the eye.

The End


Later, Angus sat eating a donut and drinking a cup of coffee in Wes's outer office. He waited for Wes to get a few minutes free.

"You look like the cat that ate the canary," Wes said, as he went into the main office to get another cup of coffee for himself.

"I just got finished talking to Cory Wade, Wes," Angus bragged, grabbing another donut before he followed Wes into his office.

"How'd you manage that?" Wes asked, closing the office door behind them. "The last we talked, the outlook was bleak, and saying you were depressed, as well as three sheets to the wind is an understatement of major proportions."

"I went to speak to Jessie this morning. He wasn't there, but his father told me what college he intended to go to," Angus said.

"What does that have to do with the price of apples?" Wes asked.

"Jessie told me that he and Cory were planning to go to the same college. He wasn't going to pick a college until Cory agreed," Angus said.

"His father giving you that little tidbit told you that Jessie was with Cory somewhere," Wes said.

"There is no end to your deductive skills, Wes. He also told me where I'd find Jessie."

Angus tossed the leather pouch with the eleven Krugerrands onto Wes's desk.

Wes picked up the pouch without opening it.

"He carried these around with him? I'd have a hernia," Wes said.

"Gave them up without a fuss, did he?" Wes asked. "He's a good kid. You told him the story?"

"I gave him the G-rated version. He knows a basic outline. He knows what to say if he's asked about the coins. He did not know the coins were stolen, but he did know his father was a hood."

"What you are telling me is, there is no evidence tying Cory to these? There's no reason for the FBI to talk to him," Wes said.

"Tony would have to tell on himself to tell on Cory," Angus said. "The FBI is the FBI. They might want to interview Cory because he is the son of Anthony Wade, but considering his age, I doubt it. They are after who they're after. I don't see Cory figuring into it. Mrs. Wade, no guarantee there, but you're her attorney, and even if they want to talk to her, you'll keep her out of slammer."

"Glad you have so much confidence in me. I'm not sure Dolores shares your opinion of me," Wes said.

"You have her where it counts, Wes," Angus said.

"How do you figure?" Wes asked.

"You have her by the checkbook," Angus said.

Wes laughed.

"Let's hope for all concerned that Dolores doesn't need to write me any more checks. What will Cory tell his mother about what you told him?" Wes asked.

"Cory isn't any fonder of his mother than he is of his father," Angus said. "I don't think they talk. No matter what he says, she can't say anything about the coins without implicating herself. She had the coins in her safe deposit box."

"Cory was eight years old when that theft went down," Wes said.

"Seven," Angus said.

"I stand corrected. You're turning these over to the Feds. Cory is not going to be interviewed about a theft that took place when he was a child. They cannot establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he had possession of stolen property. I can guarantee he's out of it," Wes said, determination in his voice.

"I trust you," Angus said. "I tied up all the loose ends."

"Then, get these where they need to go," Wes said, tossing the pouch back to Angus.

"Will do."

"It's Tuesday and he's hooked up with that kid Jessie already?" Wes asked. "Didn't waste any time, did he?"

"It's love, Wes. I think it's why he came home. I don't think he had any idea what he'd find when he got here," Angus said. "But Jessie was still waiting for him. He knew he would come back to him."

"You tell him one of daddy's henchmen had turned state's evidence, and daddy is going away for a long time, once they get around to him," Wes said.

"Not in so many words. The kid's happy. He's in love. I wasn't going to tell him his father was going away. Let mommy take care of that, but the FBI hasn't had a visual on Tony since he arrived backed in New Jersey." Angus said. "They wouldn't be surprised if they don't see Tony again."

"Yesterday, after listening to your tale of woe, I decided we might never catch up with Cory. Now, twenty-four hours later, you're in the pink. How times have changed. You tell me Cory is not only home, but we've covered all the bases, and he's not only out of jeopardy, but he's in love. Sounds like a clean sweep to me."

Wes got up and went to the top drawer of the closest filing cabinet. He removed a bottle of Knob Hill and a Bottle of Fitzgerald. He took two glasses from the drawer, putting one next to Angus before pouring them both full of liquor and putting the bottles away.

"To a job well done, Angus," Wes toasted.

"They say, all's well that ends well, and I'll leave it at that," Angus said, tipping back his drink, and immediately remembering the dozen drinks from the day before.

He burped, turning his glass upside down.

"I know when I've had enough," Angus said.

"I've got an interesting case involving a Saudi prince, an Egyptian fisherman, and two British MPs." When can you get started on it, Angus. I've got the file over here," Wes said, taking a file from the top of another file cabinet.

"Sounds like the beginning of a joke," Angus said. "I'll take the file with me, and I'll read it while I'm taking the rest of this week off."

"I'll pencil you in as my investigator of record," Wes said.

The end of Cory Wade Is Missing.

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