Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 7

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 7

…This is going to be a long drive. Eddie has more tales than a book of short stories…

“You are so kind Eddie, but our friend is in the academic field. He is a scientist and a professor.”Eddie's Cousins-001

“An egg head, eh? My 4th cousin Wilfred, yeah I know… what a name… is really smart. He invented the paddle board.” He demonstrates how, when a rubber band and ball is attached to a ping-pong paddle, it keeps coming back.

This is going to be a long drive. Eddie has more tales than a book of short stories and he is determined to regale the girls with every single one; each stoplight seems to trigger one to the next.

The Yellow Cab mercifully makes a right hand turn off 55th St onto one-way south Kimbark and stops in front of a two-story gray stone much like the others on either side. He stops the cab, gets out to open doors for his passengers and opens the huge truck to take out their luggage.

“Could you hang to our bags Eddie? We don’t know how long we will be here.”

“Your friend ain’t much for guests? Figures. I’ll turn off the meter for 1 hour, seeing this will be my last fare. I’m too close to home to go back out to Orchard Field.

“Orchard?”

O’Hare, whatever they want to call it now. I have a bungalow over in Englewood that me and the Mrs. bought a couple years ago, just ten minutes away.”

“One hour?”

“One hour and then the meter starts up again.” He squints at the device mounted above his rearview mirror. “You are looking at 12 buck and change so far.”

Escalating cab fare will not be the determining factor in how much time they spend here.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 9

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 6

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 6

…You must be from China sister. That is clear down by the lake….

Once the Constance and Fanny retrieves their suitcases, they now must find their way to the University of Chicago. At least when traveling by train, the paths leading away from downtown Union Station are much easier to follow.

“I can see the skyscrapers from here, but this airport is out in the boonies,” laments the frustrated 3rd grade teacher.

As if on cue, a boxy yellow car pulls up alongside them.

“Where are you headed ladies?” yells the bold driver of a Checker automobile painted in striking yellow with a Taxi light affixed to the roof. “It’s mighty cold out and ain’t nowhere I can’t take you.”

“That’s a triple negative,” the librarian mentions.

Shush,” Constance pokes.

“We’re looking for the University of Chicago,” Fanny blurts “Is it nearby?”

You must be from China sister. That is clear down by the lake.

“We saw a thousand lakes on the way here, which one is it near?”

“Are you for real? Michigan, come-on, that big one over that way!” Eddie points.

“My friend was merely kidding sir; we know where the university is located. We just need a reliable way to get there.”

6137 South Kimbark

“My name is Eddie, not sir and Avondale Avenue will take us to Lakeshore Drive, bing-bam-boom.” Eddie Dombroski has been a cabby since his discharge from the Army at the end of the Second World War. “That’s unless the wind drifted that snow we got last night, then we could cut down State Street to 55th.”

“Splendid! 6137 Kimbark and don’t spare the horses.”

“Horses?”

“That is just a saying Eddie,” explains Constance. “Just get us there quickly.”

“I don’t speed on slick roads are Missy, but I do know all the shortcuts.”

“We have the utmost confidence in your driving.” They have no other alternatives, but just in case, that yellow taxi is built like a Sherman Tank.

“Let me introduce us: my name is Carolyn and this is Sara.” She points to Fanny, fending off an approaching elbow with a timely wink. “We are visiting a high school friend who has made it to the big time.”

“You mean like Benny Goodman, or maybe that Rita Hayworth? She ain’t got nothing on you, if I must say so myself.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 8

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 5

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 5

…“Chicago sure looks different from the air,” comments Constance in a moment  of rare wonderment…

1950 Chicago

The large two-propeller airplane from Florida approaches Chicago from the southeast and the terrain of some 15,000 feet below is changing radically as it descends; from the hills of Tennessee and Kentucky, the Ohio River Valley to the sprawling farm fields of the Midwestern Plain.

And then out of nowhere sprouts a cluster of buildings; one taller than the next, looking like they are daring the Great Lake called Michigan to wash them away.

“Chicago sure looks different from the air,” comments Constance in a moment of rare wonderment. She is well-traveled, some would say worldly, but she is accustomed to the perspective provided by a plodding train car or the rolling deck of a steamship.

“This is the view God has.” From Fanny’s perspective, that is exactly how she sees it.

Flight 12 from Tallahassee lands at Chicago Orchard, even though commercial air travel to and from Chicago is just revving up. The airfield had its beginnings as a Douglas Aircraft assembly plant, with close ties to the war effort. Just as World War II pulled up the United States by its bootstraps, out of the depths of the Great Depression, so did war-related industries create new venues for a growing nation.

Once the passengers walk down the stairs of the Pan American airplane, they are escorted to a newly built circular structure resembling giant spider; separate “legs” meant to serve the individual companies using the airport. Most of current air traffic moves cargo across the country, so the freight terminal, at the far end of the field, is actually busier.

After retrieving their suitcases, they now must find their way to the University of Chicago. At least when traveling by train, the paths leading away from downtown Union Station are much easier to follow.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 7

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 4

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 4

…Let’s get our winter clothes packed and hit the road…

 Fanny points out that A-Bomb was tested out in the American Southwest..

img004

Fanny Renwick

“Yes,” deep breath, “but the spy was traced back to the Manhattan Project at Argonne National Laboratory, which is out west of Chicago.”

Fallow Deer of Argonne

“I didn’t know where we were. It looked like out by Campbell Lake, all the trees and country roads and such, though I did get some great pictures of those Fallow Deer.” Fanny was fascinated with animals, like these white deer, even took color pictures of something white.

“We were tailing a suspected double agent, that German spy in Ally clothing, on his way out to his drop area, not sightseeing for local animals.”

Constance fully expects to bring things into focus most times for Fanny, who disarms people in ways that her boss cannot. That occasional blank stare takes the attention away from Connie’s intense presence.

“You make sure Betty (the upstairs neighbor) looks after Molly. And tell her it may be a while this time. Let’s get our winter clothes packed and hit the road!

         A Christmas adventure is calling.

Having had a clarifying conversation with their prospective client Mr. Kamen, there is no doubt as to CCI’s involvement in the case of the missing the missing scientist, Mr. Willard Libby. There seems to be some problem getting unbiased P.I.’s in that city of Al Capone.

Constance and Fanny wait to board a Pan American DC-3, Flight 12 non-stop from Tallahassee Commercial Airport, a one runway operation, to the newly named Chicago Orchard [Douglas] Airport. Their fellow fliers, gathered in nice straight line, are an interesting mix of snow birds (an new trend for those who are originally from the north, but live in the south during the winter months) and holiday travelers (who want to experience the fairy-tale world of Christmas at Marshall Fields department store, on the famed Michigan Avenue of Chicago).

Not that any one would recognize either one of the women. Constance has her hair in a bun, dressed in a lace-collared blouse and calf-length shirt, looking every bit the 3rd grade school teacher. Fanny is wearing black rimmed glasses, like she would be helping you find a library book. Perfect disguises, “Two frumps on a log,” is how Connie put it.

They will need to blend into the college scene they are about to enter. If biochemist Martin Kamen is being watched by anyone, the two Floridian women cannot stand out any more than they already do; at 5’8 apiece, Constance and Fanny loom over most their gender brethren.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 6

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 3

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 3

…Private investigation pays no mind to holidays, sleep or any other aspect normal life…

Fanny Renwick, walking tall and proud after being out for the morning, returns with her not-so-subtle Polaroid & its “electric eye” hanging from her neck and 5 crisp $100 bills (+ a $5 for interest) in her hot little hands.

“Our mister Simms saw me taking pictures and accused me of working for his ex-wife. Boy he sure is paranoid, perhaps a tinge of guilt no doubt about his overdue bill?  He couldn’t reach for his wallet fast enough and you should have seen the moths fly out!” As a rule, Fanny personifies unfettered child-like joy.

“But I told him I would have him castrated if he didn’t give us the money,” Unfettered joy meets Constance’s unforgiving reality.

“Ouch Connie, that’s hitting below the belt.”

“We have the dough, don’t we Fanny?” She often brings her friend down hard, just to balance out the woman’s default sweetness.

“While you were out, we got a telegram from Chicago, must have cost a small fortune, reads like a book… Somewhat cryptic, I must say. This guy wants us to come and look for a missing scientist.” The glazed strawberry blonde Caraway whisks her long hair back away from her face. “Here, what do you make of this.”

Dear Fanny, no really, dear Fanny looks at the half-crumpled paper, struggling to read the choppy text. “What is a.s.a.p.”

“Always say a prayer.” Not true. “That is short for RIGHT Damn NOW!”

“But it’s Christmas Eve Connie! Do we have to work?” Private investigation pays no mind to holidays, sleep or any other aspect normal life. “And that’s an awful long drive and the car is at Sam’s Garage.”

“We’ll fly to Chicago… they have Christmas too you know and maybe even real snow!”

“Oh snow, swell.” Fanny loves it. “Hey, isn’t Manhattan in New York, not Illinois?” Fanny points out upon reading the word ‘MANHATTAN in the wire from Chicago’.

“The atomic bombs that took out Japan, ending that stupid war, were developed by scientists working for the government; top secret stuff.” She proceeds to connect a few dots. “Manhattan Project, project, get it? Remember that spy case we were working at the end of the war?”

The light bulb goes on above Fanny’s scattered little brain, but still cannot connect the dots. “That was in New Mexico though,” she points out.

“Yes,” deep breath, “but the spy was traced back to the Manhattan Project at Argonne National Laboratory, which is out west of Chicago.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 5

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 2

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Constance Caraway P.I.  Episode 2

…We are research scientists with previous ties to the MANHATTAN PROJECT and I suspect some sort of foul play…

“Thank you Miss Connie!”

Jimmy K. calls her by the shorter version of her name, the name she blames her mother for. It is told that Mom had morning sickness for much of the eight months she carried her baby; constantly ill, hence Constance. Mrs. Caraway insists that she is named after a great-aunt from her father’s side. A side trip to the National Archives, while doing some research on another case in Washington D.C., helped Constance disprove that bogus tale. Do not try to sneak something past her; you can’t hide from the prying eyes of a P.I.

Need Truth – Will Find is the tag line below the letters Constance Caraway Private Investigation painted on the opaque mottled glass on the massive front door; motto and credo.

She closes that door which seems to creak more and more these days. Behind the door she opens the telegram as if it were a gift from the coming Christmas morn… RriiippP!

W E S T E R N  UNION

NEWCOME CARLYON – PRESIDENT  J.C. WILLEVER – FIRST VICE-PRESIDENT

RECEIVED AT MAIN OFFICE 221-23 MONROE STREET- ALWAYS OPEN

To: CONSTANCE CARAWAY INVESTIGATION       TALLAHASSEE FLORIDA

24 December 1950

MESSAGE:

I am contacting you because of your previous work at Argonne National Laboratory DuPage County Illinois.

I cannot go into to great detail at this time. I believe that a colleague of mine at the UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO is in grave danger, as I have not heard from him several days.

We are research scientists with previous ties to the MANHATTAN PROJECT and I suspect some sort of foul play.

Please meet me at 6137 South Kimbark near the university campus a.s.a.p. Please call me at UOC-495-2101 between 12 PM and 4 PM to confirm.

MARTIN DAVID KAMEN

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

Just as she re-reads the tantalizing-ly titillating telegram for the 10th time, her roomy Fanny Renwick, after being out for the morning, walking tall and proud after being out for the morning returns with her not-so-subtle Polaroid & its “electric eye” hanging from her neck and 5 crisp $100 bills (+ a fiver for interest) in her hot little hands.


Forever Mastadon ~ 

Episode 2


page 4

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 1

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CONSTANCE CARAWAY P.I.

Episode 1

 

Chapter One

 MANHATTAN MYSTERY

…Jimmy K. works for the neighborhood WESTERN UNION office, which encompasses a vital link to the outside world for CCPI…

‘Ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong’. Rapid repetition of this familiar noise tells the occupants of 455 East Tennessee Street that someone is at the front door and they may well have ants in their pants.

Molly

‘Ding-dong, ding-dong!’ There is an audible exclamation to the final two rings before the words, “I’m coming, for god’s sake! Do you want me to break my neck? Out of the way Molly!” Molly is an excitable yellow Labrador retriever, whose self-appointed duty is doorbell answerer. Almost a casualty of chaos, the 15 foot fresh-cut evergreen in the foyer, bedecked with colorful ornaments and light, rocks on its tripod base as they pass by.

The hurried woman comes from her upstairs office, home base for Constance Caraway Private Investigation. She had been on the phone with a fairly recent client, a guy named Simms, who has been ignoring her repeated mailed bill for work they had done on his messy divorce case. Five hundred dollars is $500 dollars and she was counting on the money for a little time away from “their” two-story building in downtown Tallahassee. And it is Christmas Eve to boot.

Henry JThe other person constituting the “their” portion and partner in the practice of legalized prying, Fanny Renwick, is out taking pictures of their debtor, a well-to-do retiree who owns the building adjacent to them. She captures him driving a brand new 1950 Henry J automobile, $2000 dollars at Cal’s Cars… and he can’t pay them for ridding the man of his gold digging floozy of a wife of six short months?

Constance grabs the huge door with brass handles, nearly dislocating her right shoulder, flinging it open.

Jimmy

“Oh—it’s you Jimmy.” The boy works for the neighborhood WESTERN UNION office, which encompasses a vital link to the outside world for CCPI. “Where is the fire, Jimmy? You nearly rang the bell off the wall.”

“My boss told me there would be a $1 bonus for me if I get this to you girls and back to the office in 5 minutes… down Molly, yes I’m happy to see you too.”

Constance orders Molly, who loves company and cannot help herself, to leave Jimmy alone. She backtracks to the banister, where her purse is hanging.

“Let me sign for that and here’s another dollar; I hope you bring some good news for a change.” Not every telegram bears a positive message, but she is a serial tipper regardless of the message.

“Thank you Miss Connie!”


~Forever Mastadon~

Episode 1


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