Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 114

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 114

…Ace Bannion knows a little about everything and very much about certain things…

With the help of prevailing winds at 20,000 feet, they reach the French Protectorate of Morocco, landing at Tangier-Boukhalef in less than the expected 14 hours. The United States military uses this airport because of its strategic Mediterranean perch, not its reputation as a haven for spies and other questionables.

They bid the Globemaster crew a transitory farewell, but only for a week if things go well, two if they don’t and never if Pentateuch has his way.

Enough fences have been mended with the Brookley A.F.B. General to secure a return trip; his step-daughter has since become engaged to some Army officer and that P-51 Mustang joy ride has been swept under the carpet, in the guise of testing out a newly rebuilt engine.

As a world traveler, Constance’s companion is without peer. He seems to have been everywhere and knows someone in those places who will help him with whatever he needs. And she has suspected that there are girls awaiting his return, forever and a day, but she has been over any misplaced jealousy for just about as long.

Out of the blue, Constance asks, “How much do you know about explosives?”

Ace Bannion knows a little about everything and very much about certain things, “Enough to be dangerous, why?”

“When we get to Rome, I have a little project for you.”

“Well, if you want to blow something up, we’ll have to buy it now, before we board the boat,” they are sailing to Rome on the SS Zeligja a cargo steamer with Casablanca registry. “If we are going to use PE-4 plastics, we’ll have to get from the black market here in Tangier.”

She describes what she has in mind, a big enough bomb to take down a four story building at TreSei Via Catone. “What kind of address is that tre sei, three-six.”

“Think about it Einstein.”

“3 sixes… holy jumpin’ jehosaphat!” Ace imprecates.

“See what I mean? Agent Daniels gave me that address, and I told him not to be there this week.” During the 12 hour flight across the Atlantic she has had ample time to provide Ace with all the facts of the Libby Affair. “I could not help but think about that building in Chicago—the one without the 39th floor I told you about. I would bet my last $1000 chip at a blackjack table that that very building is the U.S. headquarters and this Vatican address is the worldwide hub for all this trouble.”


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Forever Mastadon


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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 113

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 113

…That’s what Ace ‘deserves’ for ‘borrowing’ an Army airplane and ‘ditching’ the General’s daughter before the New Year’s kiss…

… For now, it’s on to smaller and Alabama things…

shrimp“Well Mr. Nobody, how about I treat you to a dinner that will knock it out of the park,” CC tops off the baseball comedy-act wordplay, in favor of a night on the town at her favorite seafood restaurant on Mobile Bay, where you’ll never walk away hungry and shrimp is king. She can’t help but comment on the other contrast between North & South not related to crustaceans, “It is so nice to wear normal clothes for a change.”

“When I first saw you at Meigs, I thought you were an Eskimo.” Ace Bannion jokes.

“I had to buy every stitch of winter clothes after we got to Chicago; nobody told me how cold it gets there… oh make a right turn at Texas Street, then a left on Old Water Street.”

“You must be talking about The Original Oyster House on the Boardwalk; they have a surf ‘n turf that I would trade my pilots’ license for.”

“If you’re flyin’, I’m buyin’!”

Meanwhile… At Brookley AFB, 0600 departure time…

“Civilians are required to wear life jackets Miss Caraway,” the copilot of the military transport orders.

“This is an airplane, not a boat, how about a parachute.” Logic doesn’t always apply to the armed services.

“If we have to ditch over the ocean, this baby turns into a boat.”

“How comforting… why doesn’t he get one?” she points across the wide fuselage at Ace.

“The General says that your pal Bannion needs be a good swimmer.” That’s what he ‘deserves’ for ‘borrowing’ an Army airplane and ‘ditching’ the General’s daughter before the New Year’s kiss.

“I am.” He is.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 99

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 110

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 110

…I’m not into crocodiles and leaches, besides, they are sentenced to hang… I read the book…

“Do you want to help or did you come all this way to make fun of me?” Connie is serious about getting to Italy… to the Devil’s Headquarters no less.

Ace Bannion does have a serious side, real serious. And he knows people, influential people, unlikely people… and he’s been places and seen things others only dream about.

“I know a MATS pilot who does a weekly run to and from Tangier once a week.” See. “We could catch a ride on the jump-seats for free on me.”

“What the hell are mats, some sort of flying carpet?” Ace’s military lingo has Connie hoping for the best.

“Military Air Transport Service, he flies a C-124 GlobeMaster out of Brookley AFB in Alabama, then off to French Morocco; we could take a boat from there.”

“The African Queen, no thank you. I’m not into crocodiles and leaches, besides, they are sentenced to hang… I read the book.

“Me too, and if you remember, Rose and Charlie save themselves by sinking the Louisa and they live happily ever after,” the globetrotter recalls. “We can hop a freighter to Morocco-001Malta, and then catch an island hopper over to Rome, one-two-three.”

“Count to three and say N O.”

“I get us to Morocco and I believe we can find a more conventional route to Rome. Come on, don’t you remember the flying boats?”

“That is another story from another time,” she harkens back to the Hong Kong Clipper, which was an episode in another book (The Life & Times of a Black Southern Doctor). “But I do like the friends fly free program you are offering.”

“I will get us on the next GlobeMaster…….that is one great plane!” If he had his way, he would be sitting in the pilot’s not the jump seats. He is the boss of his own airplane, “I believe they cross the big pond on Mondays, so I’ll fly us down to Brookley Sunday night.”

“That gives us the weekend to bum around.”

“Yes, I want to meet all the characters you have been talking about.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 98

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 108

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 108

Chapter Ten

 Landings

… Whooah, slow down…..they didn’t teach me that stuff at my school…

Constance Caraway has found her way to the lakeside airstrip peninsula known as Merrill C. Meigs Field. It has become an irreplaceable tool for Chicago commerce, an attractive perk for all those corporations that fill skyscrapers new and old, tall and small. Her mission there concerns one certain Beechcraft Bonanza with A1239XB on its side, containing one familiar pilot.

ALPHA 1239 X-RAY BRAVO on a southerly approach to runway 1-A; requesting permission to land.” This is Ace Bannion’s first visit to the island named Northerly and he puts down in the face of a north breeze. He gently whooshes his three wheels onto the freshly poured concrete and glides to a stop before the entire 3900 feet is used.

Once he has secured a berth for his plane, he heads for the Quonset hut that serves as airport control and terminal. At one end of the metal building stands a tall reddish-blonde with a steaming beverage in hand and whose identity is never in doubt. She is staring out a small rectangular window, riveted at the sight of a placid, mostly frozen Lake Michigan, mere yards away.

The man she calls “A.B.” for short is striding her direction, an Air Force duffle dangling from one broad shoulder, leaving his other arm free to engulf a longtime friend.

“Ace Bannion,” she screams! He ditches his duffle to make it a full frontal embrace.

Cee Cee,” he calls her CC for short. A running joke concerns a possible child together, ‘How about Dee Dee?’ AB-CC-DD has iambic pentameter symmetry.

Small talk catch up quickly turns into informational excess.

“… and the half-life of that carbon isotope proves it!” she explains.

“”Whooah, slow down…..they didn’t teach me that stuff at my school,” Ace is getting it with both barrels.


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Forever Mastadon


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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 107

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 107

…Once again, Constance intentionally avoids bringing up the subject of Ace Bannion…

Connie has gotten the message loud and clear, hearing of the attempted destruction of her Tallahassee roots, while driving over to Merrill C. Meigs Field to pick up Ace Bannion. It looks more and more that she may have to include him in this fight with an international aftertaste, feeling the need to retaliate in some way or shape or form.

She, in her detective(ly) duties, has been playing defense for the entire Libby Affair, at least from the standpoint of the opposition, other side. The only saving grace is the fact that Libby is alive and not dead. But Pentateuch is operating with undeserved impunity, even though he is basking in a fool’s victory.

“That does it, I’m going to call that CIA guy and find out where these people live.”

“What if that means going to Italy, where Agent Daniels has been undercover?” Fanny wonders.

“I don’t know Fan. I will do what I have to,” is the way things are left.THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A BLACK SOUTHERN DOCTOR

Fanny gets past revenge and gives her a report on the Campbell case, much less dramatic than the Chicago drama, but important in its own right. Doc Campbell has been a significant part of the Tallahassee medical scene for four decades and is need of backup from longtime friends. Fanny will gladly fill that role.

“Those cowards can’t keep dumping their smelly leftovers on Alpha Campbell. Do you know that he does not turn down charity cases to this day, whether they can pay or not.”

Constance encourages her partner to soldier on, but once again intentionally avoids bringing up the subject of Ace Bannion.

Worth Moore, L. Dick Cannon and A.O. Campbell are new players dotting the Constance Caraway landscape. The anti-God forces of Forever Mastadon and World Agnostica has been joined by The Church of Spiritual Engineering. Fanny Renwick has traded Windy City intrigue for Sunshine State shenanigans. Eddie Dombroski and his stories are on the shelf, but Ace Bannion has flown in to add his legendary dimension to the narrative.

A departure implies leaving — a change from the usual.

The status quo is always subject to change.

Some changes are more welcome than others…


Constance Caraway P.I.

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Forever Mastadon


page 95 (end Ch. 9)

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 105

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 105

…What better excuse can there be than a 5’8”, drop-dead gorgeous, whiz-bang of a private eye…

It is a severe clear afternoon on this late January day, the visibility being 10 miles on the ground, but 100 miles at 2500 feet. For a dedicated flyer, there is nothing that compares to the unparalleled freedom that a nearly empty sky provides. If driving a car is like navigating a colony of ants, flying can only be compared to… there are few comparisons; cars require paths to get from point A to point B, whereas the same trip is a straight line in a plane.

Ace Bannion is as straight-in-a-line as it gets. Seldom does he waste time bogged down on the complexities of the ground, which is why he has not been weighed down by such earthly burdens like wives and children.

But even a bird needs to set down every once in a while and after training pilots for the military the past six months and this  free spirit is in need of a diversion. What better excuse can there be than a 5’8”, drop-dead gorgeous, whiz-bang of a private eye; none that he can think of, so it is off to point C² – Constance Caraway.

C-squared could divert the moon in his estimation and is the best excuse for a layover he can dream up. They have flirted with more than friendship over the past two decades, but for one reason (him) or another (Fanny) it never materialized. But when she mentioned that she could use some help AND that Fanny was a thousand miles away in Tallahassee, well he did not hesitate to file a flight plan from San Diego to Chicago and get his single engine prop airplane pointed in the right direction.

Why a knockout like her would not have gone to Hollywood to be in movies or marry a movie star or some powerful titan of industry is inexplicable to him.

As for she, Constance doesn’t understand why someone as darling and downright dashing as Ace has not married some lucky girl by now. God knows he has had one hundred & one chances.

The two do have a good time when the opportunity presents itself, so why not now, smack-dab in the middle of the 20th Century?


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Forever Mastadon


page 93

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 104

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 104

…“My cousin Hilbert from Sandwich Illinois is a crop-duster,” proof that Eddie D. is getting back to his old self…

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With Fanny away in Florida, Constance Caraway respectfully skips the Tolentine performance in favor of a well-being check at the home of Eddie Dombroski. She has taken personal responsibility for putting the man in harms way. An experienced private eye should have guessed that Eddie would want to be the one to rescue his wife, even though they were only playing a hunch and he normally followed orders to the letter.

Edie Dombroski has been so gracious in the face of this family crisis. She is a gritty city woman, loving on the inside with an urban-tested exterior. Her husband had been mugged in the past, had his share of fender benders and even had a hand in stopping a bank robbery, but he had never taken a bullet to his midsection or his left shoulder.

“Do you need a spleen?” is one of the questions Eddie has for his post-op caretakers. His other was more of a commentary, “Lucky for me I’m a righty; I can steer, shift gears, the whole ball-of- wax.”

“You won’t be driving any time soon Edward Francis,” Edie lays down the law. “Miss Caraway has given us $1000 dollars so you/we can make it to spring.”

Constance’s care extends to her pocketbook.

“Don’t forget about that color television she bought us. I bet we’re the first on the block to have one,” he brags, “and it has a record player too!”

“You can see I’ll have my hands full,” she casts a lamenting gaze Constance’s way. “Guess who has to change the channels? Edie this, Edie that, Edie I could use a snack…..”

“I cannot help you with that Mrs. Dombroski; though I did keep the receipt from Goldblatt’s Department Store?”

“Oh no you don’t missy!”

“I need to get going,” she checks her Timex wristwatch, “I’ve got to meet a friend at Meigs Field.”

“Fanny?”

“No, she’s back in Tallahassee on another case.”

“Meigs? That’s that new runway on the lake, but it’s only for private planes.”

“My friend has a BeechCraft Bonanza.”

“Does this flyboy have a name?”

“Ace Bannion.”

“And my name is Clark Kent.” Not Elvis or Gene Kelly.

“Well Clark, I’ll bring Ace around for a visit while he’s in town.”

Eddie's Cousins-001“My cousin Hilbert from Sandwich is a crop-duster, no airports needed for him. I mean to tell you, when he comes home for lunch he just flies right up to his back door.”

Proof that Eddie is getting back to his old self.

“Sandwich? I have relatives in Bologna!”

Constance is always herself.


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Forever Mastadon


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