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 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

The NULL Solution = Episode 169

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The NULL Solution = Episode 169

…Once a troubling tormentor, the tenacious Sampson has managed to unleash Ekcello’s inner adventurer…

“We need to run the idea of us leaving past Ekcello. His wisdom has been invaluable in the evolution of our family,” insists Celeste McKinney.

“But that was back when contaminating Earth’s timestem was the stumbling block. The Milky Way has been turned on its ear by change. Heck, aliens are not what we’ve cracked them up to be,” counters Deke.

Just like water, there is a common innate thread that runs throughout time and space. Sure some are more comely than others, but like H2O, the similarities diminish the differences.

Ekcello has been conveniently monitoring this conversation. It is not eavesdropping in his mind, seeing his mind in is tune with his entire world. He knew that this day could come, one of these cycles. He is tiring from having to hold the McKinney’s leash, such is the outward tug.

The Supreme Elder of the High Council does not have the pull he once had. The Nulls are on the loose and displays of Giftedness are falling out of favor. Those nutty Earthlings have grown on him, but their leaving will not change having known and loved them. They will always be only a whisper away.

Once a troubling tormentor, the tenacious Sampson has managed to unleash Ekcello’s inner adventurer. The thick Eridanian atmosphere used to be a ceiling, now it resembles a revolving door.

“The Seljuk spacecraft will be arriving soon,” Ekcello senses. There once was a time when the term “spacecraft” {or the Eridanus equivalent} was a banned 10-letter {or so} word. “I so look forward to Sammy Mac’s version of the Harmonia expedition.” Irony has crept its way into his vernacular.

“Let’s give the heroes the key to the city.” Deimostra summons the new Eupepsia spirit.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 169


page 165 (end Ch. 15)

The NULL Solution = Episode 167

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The NULL Solution = Episode 167

…Deimostra cannot help but recall the two suitors that are traveling with Daddy…

Eridanus is in on the otherwise inside joke. Skaldic makes sure that his planet receives Harmonia’s message of peace loud and clear. Not a single solitary soul in the Milky Way has a greater appreciation of a universe administrated by the concept of equal footing.

Ekcello, Cerella and the rest of the Gifted are listening and learning. Keen attention is required. They have a unique duopolistic connection out at the Terran territory, just as they have witness a multicultural melting pot at home.

Who knew that a doomed exploratory mission an eon ago would eventually lead to this?

That they would abandon spaceflight only to be drawn back in with both feet?

To think, that they thought they had things all figured out.

For Celeste, Deke and Deimostra, the “plan” is finally coming together, as accidentally as it may be.

“Dad and Skaldic are on their way home,” declares a watchful Deke.

Deimostra cannot help but recall the two suitors that are traveling with Sampson. “What about Chasonn? It is his ship.”

“Yes of course, him too – ‘rub a dub – dub, three men in a tub’.”

“What kind of nonsense is that Deke?”

“It is a nursery rhyme that Mom sang to me while she bathed me. Haven’t you ever had a bath?”

She can only glare, until Mom recites:

“Rub-a-dub-dub,

Three men in a tub,

And who do you think they were?

The butcher, the baker,

The candlestick-maker,

They all sailed out to sea,

‘Twas enough to make a man stare.

 

Hey! rub-a-dub, ho! rub-a-dub, three maids in a tub,

And who do you think were there?

The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker,

And all of them gone to the fair

 

 Rub a dub dub,

Three fools in a tub,

And who do you think they be?

The butcher, the baker,

The candlestick maker.

Turn them out, knaves all three.”

“Daddy is the knave. Skaldic and Chasonn are knights and gentlemen.”

“Are you sure?”


The NULL Solution =

THE ARTWORK OF JOHN TRABBIC III

Episode 167


page 163

The NULL Solution = Episode 161

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The NULL Solution = Episode 161

…The Blarney stone, a rabbit’s foot, 4 leaf clover, salt over the shoulder, a lucky horseshoe or crossing fingers and toes, call on anything that encourages good fortune…

Related imageBeepbeepbeep; three napping men react to a computer generated alarm, each in their own inimitable way.

His ship on autopilot, Chasonn rouses to check their navigational position, once his head clears.

Skaldic crawls out from a nightmare about locked doors, wondering what hit him.

The last time Sampson felt like this, it was the morning after his graduation from the Space Academy; different grog, same result.

“We are approaching the Terran system,” Chasonn announces.

Skaldic scrambles to locate his notes. He is anxious to prove himself.

“That last eight hours went by way too fast,” Sammy is a little off his game. He recovers to instruct, “The riddle should show up any time now. When it does, drop anchor Chase… full stop. Then we hand the show over to you Skaldy.”

The matter of Collapsar Axis, a static echo to the portside, is an ancillary concern.

The Blarney stone, a rabbit’s foot, 4 leaf clover, salt over the shoulder, a lucky horseshoe or crossing fingers and toes, call on anything that encourages good fortune. Every culture should have one.

“What do you rely on for luck Chase?”

“We trust in our skill.”

“How about you Skaldy, you must have a good luck charm?”

He pulls out a tiny figurine from his pocket. “Your daughter gave me this before we left.”

Sam recognizes the Unicorn as the object that has been with the family since back on Mars, before she was born. “She must like you… did she give you anything Chase?”

Chasonn pretends he is too busy to hear.

Minutes later this appears on the main Seljuk monitor:

“Full stop!”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 161


page 157

The NULL Solution = Episode 156

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The NULL Solution = Episode 156

…Every time Sampson McKinney leaves Epsilon Eridani, the bungee cord gets longer and longer…

Fortunately for the traveling trio, this is not supposed to be a military production. Many burdens are being set aside along the way…: Sampson’s confinement, Chasonn’s wanderlust, Skaldic’s constituency.

A relief valve has been supplied in the form of Sampson’s homemade concoction. The funny thing about altered states, they have that singular ability to make one forget about those burdens of the mind.

“Back off the throttle Chase, we’ll get there soon enough,” Sam wants to savor the inexplicable satisfaction of open space, not to mention the escapist qualities provided by the alcohol that he has distilled from native Eridanian root vegetation. The new brew enhances mental acuity, with an added generous dash of delight.

Pent-up issues need to be dealt with or it will eventually deal with you; Sampson has not devolved into a frivolous souse, but he has long since lost the structure that NASA provided him. He is certainly bound by Eridanian custom, however loose that may be.

However, compliance and resignation differ from command and control. Every time Sam leaves Epsilon Eridani, the bungee cord gets longer and longer. Naturally he plans to return to his family. This time out features deep breathing and big gulps for those who care.

Skaldic is a sport. After a twenty ounce jug lubricates his inhibitions, especially concerning Sampson’s daughter, he takes exception to Chasonn inquiring of Sammy Mac, about the lady’s current suitors… ‘How dare he’ beat Skaldic to the punch.

One thing leads to another and before you know it, the Seljuk cruiser is set on autopilot and Sampson feels the need to place himself smack-dab in the middle of a robust contest for the hand of the maiden fairest Deimostra.

Boys will be boys, whatever the size or flavor.

This matter of the heart will need to wait for another day, as does the matter of Harmonia.

Tall Tales are made of these.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 156


page 153 (end Ch. 14)

The NULL Solution = Episode 155

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The NULL Solution = Episode 155

…All the unending speculation about may be coming to an end…

Skaldic and Sam are impatiently waiting, when Chasonn and Deimostra finally do get back.

“Let’s get this show on the road Chase! We have a planet to save or a code to crack… doesn’t matter in which order we do it.” Sampson McKinney has been waiting for an escapade like this for many a cycle. “Forget that old hookah stuff, Skaldy, I have some grog for you to try. This is going to be fun!”

Celeste, Deke, Cerella, Deke, Joyner, Ekcello, Fortan {and Deimostra} are there to give them a proper Eridanus sendoff. Sammy Mac may be treating it lightly, but this mission is a big deal. Anytime you place the guy anywhere near the Terran system, apprehension cannot be far behind. Even in the company of {over}qualified chaperones, on a ship he is not piloting, the proximity of Earth is low-hanging fruit. ‘Just drop me off at that continent to the starboard,’ would be such a tempting request. ‘Secretly, Gus was always his favorite’, would be the reason most often guessed.

With a Seljukian at the helm and an Earthling as a backseat driver, it is the ex-Null-cryptographer who is the star. All his computations have passed muster, as McKinney-centric as they are. The how & why, is McKinney related. The what, where & who have been assigned to Lorgan; the probable author and gatekeeper.

Irrespective of NASA and Earth’s vested interest, this is going to be an Eridanian show, a story that Skaldic can tell his children about – if he ever has them.

All the unending speculation may be coming to an end.

It turns out that journey over to Mars is worth the price of admission. The weight of intergalactic peace hangs in the balance of what amounts to 3 good old boys on a quest for adventure. Chasonn certainly, Sampson yea and Skaldic absolutely have something to prove to themselves; or perhaps someone else.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 155


page 152