Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 31

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 31

Hindsight always provides the best view, Constance…

The letters F M are scrawled on the reflective glass, using a bar of soap.

F M —- F for what? Fanny? Then what does the M represent.

The meaning of the 2 letters is secondary to the fact that Fanny is nowhere to be seen. She scampers to the order counter. “Have you seen a skinny redhead about my tall?”

No.

Connie gallops out to their empty car. She sprints back inside to report on the mysterious happenings to the guys, who fan out to cover more ground.

“I’m thinking that our close call was no accident,” Eddie concludes.

The day manager of the restaurant blocks public entry down the restroom hall, allowing Martin to legally enter to women’s facilities. “F M, frequency modulation? Not likely.” Using his other senses, he wonders, “That smell, I know it….. CHCl 3, chloroform or dichloromethane.”

“That was used as anesthesia in early surgical medicine. Doc Campbell used it at his hospital back in Florida.”

“Correct and it is the fastest way to render someone unconscious, against their will.”

“She’s been kidnapped, hasn’t she.” Constance shivers at the thought. “How in God’s name did whoever know we were stopping to eat? Were we being tailed Eddie?”

“No! We’ve only gone 2 miles since we left the nunnery and we weren’t followed there or here.”

“In the world of cause and effect we have this: unknown device and missing woman. We must have a track-able gadget locked it in the trunk and we didn’t figure that out?.”

Hindsight always provides the best view, Constance.”

“But I allowed us to let our guard down and Fanny is gone!” That is no ordinary woman to her. Fanny Renwick is her housemate and partner in crime.

“Don’t think the worst, Con,” Eddie, while beside his self in worry, has to maintain a clear head; he is driving.

“If she’s still alive, there are four million people here-about – about being 2000 square miles,” Eddie then proceeds to bring up the worst.

“I get the feeling that Fanny may be a pawn/bargaining chip in this widening mystery. They may be contacting us sooner than later.” Martin draws a daunting comparison.

“Like your friend, Libby?”

“Let’s head back to the house and sort through the goodies we have. Just think, in oneRelated image secluded meeting we have a famous Evangelist in Graham, an incomparable scientist in Fermi, leading Catholic figures outside Rome, not to mention Willard Libby.”

“Don’t leave out that government guy, Wolfgram. If the US State Department or FBI is involved, who knows what is going on?”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 30

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 30

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 30

…”Can you pass the ketchup Marty?” He hates being called Marty…

Once they safely gain White Castle’s dining area, standing at the counter, Eddie does the ordering, “A Variety Sack of 30 and three Cokes.”

Constance picked out a booth by the front window, where Homewood meets Glenwood. “Busy street,” she comments.

“I need to use the little girls’ room,” Fanny offers, “how about you Connie?”

“No, I’ll wait until we hit the road.”

“30 divided by 4 is….,” Eddie starts divvying up the bite-sized hamburgers and yet another family factoid. “The hamburger was invented in Seymour, Wisconsin. They have a Burger Festival every year and me and the family make the drive there pretty much every year, mostly for the bun toss and the parade. Great fun.

“7.5. You can have my portion,” Martin does the math.

“Eat up. Can you pass the ketchup Marty?”

He hates being called Marty.

Conversation is spotty at the booth, perhaps having to do with that mystery briefcase in the trunk or is it that Fanny Renwick’s is conspicuous by her absence?

“It’s been 15 minutes,” Of course it is Constance who would notice the prolonged potty pause.

Just then, there was the screeching noise of spinning tires, a black four-door sedan tearing out of the parking lot, heading north on Halsted Street.

“That is the same idiot who nearly ran us off the road,” notices Eddie, who knows his automobiles. “That ain’t no family car.”

“Relax, he is long gone by now,” Constance gets up to head for the ladies room. “I am going to check on Fanny.”

A “Castle” cleaning woman points the way to the washroom when asked. It is small, three stalls.

“Fanny???” She expects a rapid response, but gets none. The privacy booths are empty, doors partially ajar.

A quick visual sweep is easy, her friend’s purse is still on the wash basin, opened to the makeup compartment but it is what she sees on the mirror shocks her. The letters F  M are scrawled on the reflective glass, using a bar of soap.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 29

 

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 29

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 29

…you Florida gals haven’t lived until you’ve eaten at a White Castle…

“Back to the University, Eddie!” Constance orders.

“Yeah and don’t spare the horses, I know!” The gregarious cabby is all jacked to get some action. It seems that while waiting for the other two, they were not just twiddling their thumbs. “Hey, show ‘em what you found when you jimmied that lock.”

“Fanny?”

“I couldn’t resist,” Fanny holds up what appears to be a device, electronic in nature.

Constance looks at Martin, who shrugs his shoulder. “Put it in the trunk. We’ll make some sense out of that back in the city.”

The Packard’s trunk is unlatched and the unlatched portfolio is placed inside, as if it were cursed.

“Say, can we get something to eat, I’m starved?” pleads Eddie.

“Any suggestions? I don’t know if we have time to waste.” Connie inquires.

“Hey, my tummy is growling. We passed a White Castle on the way down, over on Halsted. It’s on the way and you Florida gals haven’t lived until you’ve eaten at a White Castle. No waiters or tipping!”

“Sliders,” Martin confirms with some disdain. White Castle Restaurants are burger joints famous for their size: small, requiring more than one to fill you up. The white castle building is modeled after Chicago’s Water Tower, one of the few structures to escape the Great Fire of 1871.

“Alright, eating at a castle sounds romantic,” ever the conduit for positivism, Fanny adds her Eddie's Cousins-001approval. “Let’s go inside.”

“My treat,” Eddie insists. “My cousin Harold (#2 if you’re keeping score)) owns White Castle stock; says it’s the best investment out there. They call it fast-food; I call it heaven, in three bites or less.”

“Heaven and hell intersect at Halsted & 179th Street.”

“What’s that Marty?”

Martin need not clarify.

All of a sudden Eddie swerves to miss a wayward black sedan. His passengers are jostled about. “That goof almost hit us! He must be on his way home from the tavern!”

Once they safely gain White Castle’s dining area, standing at the counter, Eddie does the ordering, “A Variety Sack of 30 and three Cokes.”

Constance picks out a booth by the front window, where Homewood meets Glenwood. “Busy street,” she comments.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 28

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 28

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 28

…Sister Joe lets slip one very important previously unreported detail…

Constance appears to wander aimlessly through the halls, looking for tangible clues left behind by eclectic, if not curious assortment of men. She checks all the waste baskets she can find, not exactly an ordinary thing to do.

“Forgive us, but the custodian is on a leave of absence. Coincidently, we have no bookings scheduled for the next three weeks, too cold for folks I guess. I haven’t had the chance to take out the trash.”

“That’s okay, just hoping to find something, anything about the Pope… I’m a big fan.” More like big liar, but her sticky fingers do net some scraps of paper with, hopefully debris from the meeting of the six eclectic men.

Sister Joe lets slip one very important previously unreported detail.

“There was a briefcase left alongside the conference table in the conference room, but when I told Will about it, he said it wasn’t his. It requires a key, so he said it must belong to that man that government gentleman. I left it right where I found it. Wouldn’t that Mr. Wolfgram come back for it if it was important?”

Martin Kamen nods emphatically, doing his level best to keep Mary Joseph’s attention away from the girls, who by now are scurrying through Tolentine like mice in the cover of darkness.

“Not here,” says one.

“Not here,” says the other in passing.

“Nothing.”

“Notta.”

“Got it!” Fanny proclaims.

“Head straight for the car, Fan. Tell Eddie to stay at the ready. Me and Marty will try to get some more info from her even though I don’t think she has no clue about what has gone on here.”

“Neither does us.”

“Maybe no, maybe yes, but we are about to know more about something, so get out to the car before she sees you with that thing!”

Sainted Aunt Mary had one thing of value to share about her nephew’s stay. “He seemed normal to me, said he would invite me over for Christmas, us both being alone for the holiday. I guess he had a change of plans; never heard back from him.”

Related image“Yes, something unexpected came up.”

“Tell him that I love him, when you see him.”

“We will Sister Franks,” Martin promised, hoping they would get the chance to deliver the message.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 27

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 27

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 27

…very famous – very nice gentlemen… and 3 others; spent two days, three nights in Holy seclusion…

.(Photo by Mark Gail/The Washington Post)

“That is I, Mary Joseph Franks, of the Holy Mothers of Augustinians… Willard Libby is my sister’s boy.”

“Knock me over with a feather.”

“I am the Director of Retreats.”

“Retreats? We were under the impression that your—nephew—came to Sunday mass prayer and fastinghere.”

“Oh no, we are not a functioning place of worship. People come here to fast and pray, get closer to Our Lord Jesus.” Mary Joseph is serious about the mission of this Augustinian Order.

“By the way, these are my colleagues, Miss Fanny and Mr. Martin Kamen of the University of Chicago.” They bow in turn. Sister Franks gives the ecumenical sign of peace. “What was Willard Libby doing here the week of December 3rd?”

The erstwhile nun is busy paging through a 24 inch square registration tablet.

“He was retreating with a Mr.(Enrico) Fermi and a Mr.(Billy) Graham, very famous – very nice gentlemen… and 3 others; spent two days, three nights in Holy seclusion.” She was guessing about that last conclusion.

“One other of them gave me the willies, Wolfgram, Vincent Wolfgram was his name. There was a coldness about him, flashed an official looking badge in my face, did not stay overnight and refused to sign the guestbook.” That she would not think well of every soul that passed through the doors of this sprawling estate is surprising.

“Oh my, how can I forget, my word… and they were joined by Cardinal Stritch, the Archbishop of Chicago, I have heard many wonderful things about him… and the fifth man was an emissary from The Vatican, yes, Ernesto Pacelli. We were so honored to have them here.”

“Did Willard tell you why they chose Tolentine to meet?”

“He did mention something about a message from the Holy Father. Can you imagine my nephew and Pope Pius?”

The CCPI band of investigators is taken to the south wing of Tolentine, where the men in question spent the majority of their time.

Trying to do her best not to raise suspicion, Constance appears to wander aimlessly through the halls, looking for tangible clues left behind by the men. She checks all the waste baskets she can find, not exactly an ordinary thing to do.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Matadon


page 26

Finders Keepers – Losers Weepers – WIF Treasure

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Hidden Treasures

Found in

Strange Places

When we imagine someone finding hidden treasures, we may think of uncovering massive shipwrecks under the ocean, or explorers discovering the legendary golden city of El Dorado. It turns out that ordinary people can find hidden treasure just about anywhere in the world. In these 10 stories, people were just going about their normal lives when they stumbled upon an unexpected fortune.

10. Golden Opportunity

Life as a janitor is never easy, and it’s not a career path that normally leads someone to become a millionaire. But for one sanitation worker in South Korea, another person’s trash is truly someone else’s treasure. In April 2018, a janitor working at the Incheon International Airport was changing the bags in a garbage can, and discovered solid gold bars hiding at the bottom of the bin that were wrapped in newspaper. They were worth 70 million won, or $64,807 US.  This employee (who wished to remain anonymous) turned the bounty in to the police, since he suspected that the gold bars were most likely connected to some sort of crime.

In South Korea, there is a “finder’s keepers” law, which says that anyone who turns in an item to the police is entitled to keep it if it is not claimed after six months. There is also a “lost articles act” which says that even if the original owner shows up to get their bars of gold, the janitor still gets to keep between 5-20% of the total value as a reward for turning it on. Considering that these bars were hidden for a reason, the likelihood of the real owner claiming them is slim-to-none.

9. Always Double-Check

The Cerezo family was going through an awful series of tragedies. 14-year-old Savannah Cerezo died in 2012, and in 2015, the family was going through financial problems, and their home went into foreclosure. Most people who buy lottery tickets watch the numbers on live TV with eager anticipation, but for Ricardo Cerezo, he simply bought lottery tickets every week out of habit, because he had some small hope that everything would get better.

Before she died, Savannah gave her parents a cookie jar as a gift. Ricardo treasured one of the last tokens of his daughter’s memory, so he kept all of his lottery tickets and other valuables in the jar. After several months of accumulating tickets, Cerezo’s wife threatened to throw out the slips of paper if he didn’t clean up. So, Cerezo took all of the tickets to his local gas station to have the clerk scan them. One of the tickets said, “file a claim.” He called the Illinois State Lottery, and found out that his ticket was worth $4.85 million.

8. Unique Taste Pays Off

Sometimes, when you go to a museum, a piece of artwork looks so simple, you cannot help but think, “I could do that.” Ben Nicholson is one of those artists. In his most famous works, he layered blocks of colors, and sometimes did landscapes and sculptures. One woman named Jo Heaven was doing some thrift shopping in 2015 when she spotted a picture with a scene of horses, deer, and houses screen printed on cloth.

Despite the fact that the image looked like an elementary schooler created it on MS Paint, Heaven recognized the name of English artist Ben Nicholson, because her mother was an art teacher. She also had a taste for art that was weird and quirky, so she actually intended to keep it for herself, and had no idea it was worth anything. When she got home, she was shocked to find out that it was actually pretty valuable. She eventually sold it for £4,200 or $5,691 at auction, and gave 10% of that back to the charity shop in Swindon where she originally purchased it.

7. Between the Pages

In 2012, a man named Carlos went to his local book exchange in Marlborough, Massachusetts. The program allowed locals to bring in their old books, and they could pick an equal amount to trade and take home with them. When Carlos got into his car with the stack of books, he opened one to skim the pages. He was shocked to see that it had been hollowed out, and had roughly $20,000 inside, along with other valuables. Instead of keeping it a secret, he tried to figure out who the original owner was. There was no name written in the book, and he had no idea who left it behind.

Carlos contacted the local news, saying that if the true owner comes forward by sending him an e-mail, he would give it back. They just needed to identify the name of the book, the approximate amount of money inside. They also needed to identify the other valuable objects that were hidden away. There was never a follow-up to this story, so we’ll probably never know if he got to keep the money, or if he reunited the treasure with its owner.

6. Under the Sea

A fisherman living on the Palawan Island in the Philippines dropped the anchor of his boat, and he noticed that it was stuck on something. He dove underwater to check, and the anchor was caught on the biggest clam he had seen in his entire life. He pried the mouth open, hoping to possibly find a pearl that he could sell to a jeweler. Instead of the stereotypical ball-shaped pearl, he found a massive white mound that weighed 75 pounds. It was unlike anything he had ever seen before.

Since this wasn’t the typical pearl that could be made into a necklace, he assumed it was worthless, and decided to keep it under his bed as a good luck charm.

The man’s aunt, a woman named Aileen Cynthia Maggay-Amurao, works as a tourism officer for Palawan Island, and she was looking for ways to attract more people to come visit, bringing in some much-needed tourist dollars to help the local economy. Her nephew figured that this was such an odd object, maybe people would be interested in seeing it. So he brought the pearl to his aunt, and she put it on display behind glass. Once word got out about the story of this massive pearl, they discovered that it was valued at $100 million.

5. Hard Work Pays Off

The Elliot family had been tenants of a farm in Somerset County, England for years. After working the land for decades, they were finally able to get a mortgage to purchase the property in 1998. Cousins Kevin and Martin Elliot were running the farm together, so they decided that since the land now belonged to them, they could get out a metal detector and see if they could find anything buried on the land.

They knew that the property was very old, and it had been used as farm land for thousands of years. So when they pulled out the metal detector, they were not disappointed. They found 9,213 silver Roman denarius coins. There were so many, they had to carry them in buckets back to the house. After they were confident that they found all of the coins, they sold them to the Somerset County Museum for £265,000, or $358,224.35 US. While there is no report as to what the Elliot’s did with the money, it very well may be that the land paid for itself.

4. A Frugal Shopper’s Fantasy

Almost everyone who moved into their very first apartment had to buy things from a thrift store to furnish it, but almost no one has ended up with a fortune because of it. In 2007, a college student living in Berlin, Germany needed by buy a couch, so she headed to a local flea market to save money finding second-hand furniture. She paid $215 for a couch with a pull-out bed.

When she got it back to her apartment, she pulled out the bed to test it, and a tiny 10-by-12 inch painting was hiding inside. There was no signature on it, and she was unsure of its value, so she brought it to a local art auction. It turns out that the painting was from the 1600s, and it was painted by a friend of a famous Venetian painter named Carlo Saraceni. It was given the name “Preparation for Escape to Egypt” and it sold for $27,630.

3. A Gift From the Past

In France, crumbling chateaus are passed around to extended family every generation. The amount of work that would go into fixing up a mansion or castle and the responsibilities that come with it far outweigh the building’s actual value. Many older homes in aristocratic families remain untouched for several generations, and they fall into disrepair when the children choose to live their own lives in modern-day houses and apartments rather than dealing with their ancestor’s home.

So, when one heir (who wished to remain anonymous) inherited their family home in Normandy in 2016,  it was still filled with antiques and old belongings from years before. They decided to move the furniture, and there were tin boxes covered in a thick layer of dust. Hidden inside were gold bars and coins that were worth $3.7 million. The one and only downside it that they have to pay inheritance taxes after the sale. Even so, that should be more than enough money to make necessary renovations on the crumbling estate.

2. Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel

Recycling plants take in scrap metal to melt it down and re-use. The plants hold various metal parts inside of bins, and an employee of Blue Grass Recycling in Burlington, Kentucky named Mike Rogers was cleaning out one of these barrels when he spotted green at the bottom. They were vintage US savings bonds that ranged anywhere from $50 to $500 each, and they were worth a total of $22,000. Someone must have accidentally donated a coffee can or metal container that held the bonds.

When he got home from work, Rogers and his wife did some research to figure out who the original owner was.  After doing some research, the only information he got was that these were purchased by a woman named Martha Dobbins, and they were for “Robert Roberts.” It may sound like a name that no one would dare to give their child, but Rogers actually found hundreds of men named “Robert Roberts” and he had no idea how to find the real owner.

Instead of giving up, he contacted every single Robert Roberts in the country, simply asking if they knew a woman named Martha Dobbins. When he finally found the right man, it turns out that he was 82-years-old, and his mother had died years before. She was secretly saving bonds for her son as a way to thank him for caring for her in her old age, but she died before she could tell him about it, which is why the money was accidentally given away. Just a few days before Christmas, Mr. Roberts got a huge gift he would have never expected.

1. Underground Bling

A farmer in Uekan, Switzerland was walking around his cherry orchard when he spotted something shining underneath the dirt. He started to dig, and found silver Roman coins. There had been a nearby Roman settlement 1,700 years ago in Switzerland, and that field was used for farming back then, as well. Thankfully, there had never been any homes built on top of the land, so the artifacts had remained untouched for all that time. The owner of the orchard called in professional archaeologists to dig up the cherry orchard in order to uncover as many artifacts as they could. In the end, they recovered 4,166 coins. Historians estimated that this amount of money would have been equal to one or two years of wages for a Roman.

Sadly, this farmer doesn’t get to sell the coins for thousands of dollars. There is a law in Switzerland that says that these kinds of historic artifacts belong to the Swiss people, even if it was found on private property. So the farmer got a finder’s fee, and the coins went to a museum.


Finders Keepers – Losers Weepers –

WIF Treasure

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 26

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 26

Chapter Three

 CASTLES

 …Yet another detailed Dombroski anecdote finds them right to the front entrance of the main Tolentine building, looking every bit the castle…

The inimitable Eddie Dombroski has once again been summoned to the greater University of Chicago area. The path between his home and the prestigious bastion of higher education is a well-worn path. In the intervening three days after Constance and her compatriots did their sweep of Willard Libby’s campus office, he has ferried any and all of them, here and there and back again.

The girls share a guestroom at Kamen’s Kimbark address for convenience sake, just down the hall from the elusive piano teacher William, who seems to be more of an urban legend than real person. In the notable time they have spent in Hyde Park, they have yet to see him in person.

Here and there, there and here; today’s here is the Tolentine Seminary (in Olympia Fields Illinois) where they are to meet with a M. Joseph Franks, who has been talking to Libby quite regularly, Illinois Bell records have shown.

“I haven’t been this far south since my folks took us kids on a camping trip down by the Kankakee River. I saved my youngest brother’s crazy buttski after he fell into the water trying to catch a big fish, not with a pole but with his bare hands, dumb Pollack! It was a monster thing, about the size of our canoe. Jimmy couldn’t swim, but that didn’t stop him from jumping in after it.

Yet another detailed Dombroski anecdote finds them right to the front entrance of the main Tolentine building, looking every bit the castle, minus the mote and towering walls. Named for Saint Nicholas of Torentino, an Augustinian Friar, it is a sprawling property with that eerie look of inactivity, though well kept and stately. There is woman waiting for them as they enter the narthex.

“We are looking for a Joseph Franks,” Constance states with assurance. The staff is aware she is fishing for information about Willard Libby.

“That is I, Mary Joseph Franks, of the Holy Mothers of Augustinians… Willard Libby is my sister’s boy.”

“Knock me over with a feather.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 25