Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 77

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 77

I hate to be the one to tell you Willard, but you are dead… sorry

Tolentine

Tolentine Seminary

“There are diverse forces at work here and it is becoming larger than the people involved, I’m talking a monumental struggle,” Constance tells Libby something he already knows.

“That is exactly what Billy Graham told me at Tolentine. I would have never thought in, excuse me, “a million years” that a simple deductive scientific fact would cause such a commotion.”

Speaking of the Tolentine Summit, Constance has a sad update, “I must tell you something troubling Will, but Ernesto Pacelli was found hanged in Rome.”

“That is too bad, he was such a nice fellow, sure was protective of the Catholic Doctrine.”

“He was the Pope’s brother,” Constance interjects.

“You don’t say? He never let on to his lofty lineage. Modesty is in such short supply.” Willard Libby’s clarity has been miraculously restored, no visible signs of the trauma he had endured for weeks. He now must face a world that has given him a different role. “So you tell me I am dead.”

“We had to protect you while we sorted through some things and death seemed to be the best solution at the time, faked of course. WhenFM dumped you at Elgin State Hospital, they mysteriously tried to give you a chance to survive, when they had earlier done things to you that would make that result difficult. Dr. Steinberg agreed to go along with our plan,” Constance lays the groundwork for what is to come. “Had they killed you outright, which by not finishing you off demonstrates flawed logic, your carbon dating stuff may never have made it out from behind your Hemingway collection? The only other people who agree with your findings would have trouble defending their opinions; who listens to ‘religious zealots’ anyway?”

Sad but true.  Good news muddied by overenthusiastic do-gooders.

“I hate to be the one to tell you Willard, but you are dead… sorry.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 73

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 40

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 40

…On the way back to the house, Connie is still trying to pick up the trail that leads to Willard Libby…

ROAD TO PERDITION

“Why did Billy Graham, Libby and that pope guy allow him at the Tolentine?” Fanny sees logic leaving the room.

“Good question, but they may have been under the impression that Wolfgram was some sort of government official connected to Argonne. Maybe he was part of the Manhattan Project and Will somehow trusted him, I don’t know.”

“A wolf dressed like a sheep.” posits Martin.

“Like a gumshoe dressed like a school teacher,” says Fanny.

“Or a mule dressed like a librarian.”  Constance quips.

“Who is going to put all these books back?” asks a forlorn Fanny.

“I know the librarian…” Martin winks and beckons the girl at the main desk, likely a post-graduate “friend” of his. Her thumb and index finger form the universal O.K. sign.

“Let’s put on our thinking caps.” On the way back to the house, Connie is still trying to pick up the trail that leads to Willard Libby, instead of the Road to Perdition. “Do you know what secret Libby was going to share with the world, the one that led to his misfortune?”

“I believe he was going to present an updated version of how we calculate the age of the Universe.”

“Six days and a rest,” an apt Genesis reference.

“Not exactly, but you are close Constance.”

“How close?”

“That is the $64,000 dollar question.”

“I love that show, we listen every week, right Connie?”

“Yes we do Fanny.” Sometimes focusing is a problem.

“A lot less that 12 zeroes (billions).”

“What is the harm in that?”

“For one thing that would mean that if true, it would turn science textbooks into so much rubbish, hence the interest of McGraw-Hill.”

“So… we have two sides of the ledger, don’t we,” Constance extends her arms out? “On the left we have those who support Libby.”

“Billy Graham, the Pope, Ernesto Pacelli, Fermi.”

“And those who do not on the right…..”

“Educators, entrenched science, and unknown dubious forces,” Martin describes the opposing interested parties, “making poor Will the meat in a carbon sandwich.”

“The stakes are quite high and they seem to be rising. Elvis and Kelly nabbing our Fanny girl has changed the game and this deal with World Agnostica is downright hair-raising,” she still cannot align that experience with anything that resembles reality. “I think it’s time we talk to the good guys. I’m tired of getting screwed around by the bad guys.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 39

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 33

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 33

…A simple 2×3.5” handout gives them their first truly tangible clue…

The good news: Fanny is set free. The bad news: her hands are tied and they have pushed Schneiderher out of the car, somewhere near a rail yard. She is tossed into the heart of Midwest industrialization; factories, diesel powered trains and trucks. Needless to say, she sticks out, a Florence Nightingale in a Rosie the Riveter world.

As luck would have it, she is picked by Schneider Transportation truck driver within ten minutes. He questions not, her bound hands and rumpled appearance, “I’m headed to Wisconsin,” she is told.

“I’m taking Halsted all the way back into the city. I bet those guys are headed for the Loop,” Eddie advises. The Loop is what makes Chicago industry tick.

“Just get us back in one piece. We now have two missing people to locate.” Constance has learned to act in a calculated manner, unlike her spontaneous friend whom they now must add to their to-do list. “This is getting harder to figure out by the minute.”

“Well I found out how to get into this attaché.” Martin delivers the first of a series of fortune reversals. There was also some meaty paperwork tucked into a hidden compartment in this “cold war” era design. “There is a business card in here:”

The simple 2×3.5” handout gives them their first truly tangible clue.

“Agnostica? That implies that they do not believe “in” God or “a” God.”

agnostic

aɡˈnästik/

noun

 1. a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.

“That certainly is consistent with the religious theme we keep running into,” they continue to stumble upon more clues with each passing pothole littered on their path back through the Chicago South Shore. This briefcase is a huge coup.

“There is a list of names in here… and my name is on it.” Martin Kamen swallows hard upon seeing his name right below Willard Libby while above Fermi and Sam Ruben.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 32

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 32

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 32

…“Who says we’re not working for ourselves, isn’t that right, Bing Crosby…

“Do you know who you’ve kidnapped?” a shrewd Fanny asks.

The two men in the front seat seem not to care who she is.

“Some wacky redhead?” guesses number one thug. “Are you packin’ heat.?”

“Maybe and My name is Mary Pickford.”

“Eating at a White Castle, right… And we’re movie stars too,” cracks brute number two.

Obviously the men, who have taken Fanny, are just following orders. Maybe she can play them.

“I know the name of your boss.”

“Who says we’re not working for ourselves, isn’t that right, Bing Crosby?”

“That’s right, Gene Kelly,” says the driver.

“You guys are Hi-larious,” she answers back.

“Who are we working for Miss Pickford, I mean Miss Caraway?” they taunt.

They’ve got the wrong girl, but Fanny strings them along, needing to make her response count, while trying to recall a name she picked up on three hours ago at Tolentine, “Vincent, yes you are associates of Mr. Vincent.”

Izzula3 – DeviantArt

They look at each with vacated expressions.

“Cat got your tongue?”

Again there is stunned silence.

“My people are coming for me.”

“Do we look worried Miss Caraway?”

She shows them her Visitors badge, stuck to her sweater. It reads “Renwick”.

“This ain’t the Caraway broad, stupid!”

The black Cadillac pulls up to the first telephone booth they see. “Bing” drops in a single dime, confirming that it is indeed a local call. His demonstrative actions indicate frustration. He returns to the passenger side telling his mate, “O’Malley’s Garage on Western,” turning to their snatch, “tell us what you did with the bag, whoever you are.”

“You guys don’t have a clue, do you?” She can play dumb too.

“The briefcase you took from the convent, Red, where is it?”

She holds out her empty and bound hands.

“Stop the car.”

Better listen to him Bing. You and Mr. Kelly are in way over your heads. The coppers will be looking for you.”

“Get out, now! You ain’t worth the trouble.”

Fanny is unceremoniously kicked to the curb

Crosby blares at Kelly, “We grabbed the wrong dame!


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 31

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 25

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 25

…“Maybe this entire hubbub about carbon whatever is leading us down primrose path…

“Fanny, you keep your eyes peeled for any mistakes those creeps made. As for you Martin, you best hope that they didn’t find what they came for.”

“You may think we scientists are a bungling bunch of stumblebums, but Willard Libby is no one’s fool. If you remove exclusivity from a clinical position, you may have just wasted 10 or more years of research.” Kamen knows of which he speaks. In 1940 he and Sam Ruben collaborated on the discovery of the radioisotope carbon-14. But they were lacking the connection between 14’s half-life and the predictability of previously existing antediluvian verve (scholastic for old ideas).

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Constance remembers Martin mentioning that Libby was a player in the building of the atomic bomb. Maybe this entire hubbub about carbon whatever is leading us down the  primrose lane; a war-busting bomb seems to be a more inviting target than arguing how old a sedimentary rock or an Egyptian mummy is. Who cares?”

“My mummy is going to be 65 this year, looking forward to my father retiring from the railroad,” Fanny has a sense of humor only a mother can love.

Feeling that her dim-wit is being ignored, she adds something of substance, “Whoever messed up this office was not worried about being caught. They were not wearing gloves, can you believe it!? But the fingerprints are nondescript smudged, grimy, useless. ”

“That’s because they didn’t know what they were looking for.” Martin heads for electronics  terminal in the office. “Willard had the good sense to store his efforts using the Fail-Safe Method, one being the backup for the other. Palpable paper would be the obvious choice, but electronic storage makes sense too. At he time I was wondering why he was insisting on giving me the binary title code for such an important file.”

“There are smudgy fingerprints on that screen too; looks like they tried to pry it away from that gadget panel.”

“We’re not dealing with the brightest crooks in the crookery.” Caraway continues her crime scene assessment. “I think this means that wherever your Willard is, they still don’t have whatever they were after.”

“Maybe it isn’t just what he knows that they were after. Maybe they want to keep the man himself quiet.’

Just like the noise muffling attachment on the end of a handgun, it’s called a silencer.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 24 (end Ch. 2)

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 14

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 14

…“You have to understand what the man’s life was like; he did not have one…

Fanny’s simple solution of interviewing everyone at Argonne may have some holes.

“That would seem logical, Miss Renwick, but we have a new, state-of the-art, and panoramic film camera system that records everything… and I mean everything that goes on here.

“I went over the pictures with Security two days before the Carbon-14 Summit was to start and then three days after we suspected that he had gone missing.” People at a Top Secret government facility just don’t walk away unnoticed.

You have to understand what the man’s life was like; he did not have one. He’s been like a bloodhound on the trail of raccoon, obsessed by radiocarbon dating. With little family, no wives or children and a general distaste for conventional forms of entertainment, all he has was his work and the respect that it provides.”

“Too bad security wasn’t this tight back in ’42,” Constance refers to the double-agent case they worked and chronicled in CONSTANCE CARAWAY: SPIES AT WAR. “The Feds were all over Los Alamos, so we mopped up here at Argonne.”

“Wow, I was working on my Masters way back then,” young Martin spouts inoffensively.

“Ouch, thank you for reminding me of my age—-I mean years of experience,” some offense taken.

“That is how I learned about your investigative prowess.” He respects his elders. “I do my homework and you were the one who exposed James East as Victor VonOeste.”

“We got lucky there. Most of the secret selling came from within the nuke program. VonOeste had only acted as if he was double-crossing the Germans, when in fact they were as thick as thieves.” In perhaps her best-ever masquerade, Constance had been inserted into the program as a micro-technician (Fanny was a cleaning woman and not happy about it). That was only thing small about her investigation. “But enough about the past; we are looking for your friend and colleague who left the grounds undetected.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 14