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 23

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 23

…”Ace Bannion is an old friend… with an airplane. A bad rabbit with bad habits…

“Where do we start Miss Caraway? There are a dozen angles to consider here,” Martin supposes

The Independence

Constance’s most urgent task is to digest this mounting mystery menagerie before it gets unmanageable. Ugh! Logistics are limiting their ability to get from here to there.

Her thoughts drift to an acquaintance, in her past of some renown that could be of great assistance to them but he is busy probably flying XF-86 jet fighters in the Korean War or flying President Truman around the world aboard the Independence.

An almost mythical human being, he would have the ability to transport them to most anywhere in the world at the drop of a hat, comparatively speaking.

“Ace Bannion,” the one solitary male in the world with which she has ever displayed the slightest interest. But his jet setting lifestyle does not mesh well with her relatively dull world, thus her relationship with Fanny.

“What or who is Ace Bannion?”

“An old friend… with an airplane. A bad rabbit with bad habits,” she references a convenience they do not possess; that and he smokes cigars. “Forget Ace, we need to nail down exactly what Willard Libby either has, or knows, or is about to expose, that has attracted so much attention.”

When in doubt, start at the beginning. “Can you get your hands on Libby’s notes and figure out what is so damned important?”

“There is the matter of professional courtesy.”

“Pardon my French Martin, but good manners and a dollar bill gets you a $1 handful of day-old crap.” This is one frank female behind those penetrating blue eyes.

“That paper was his baby, but your point is well taken. There is something in his research that has triggered an international incident.”

I don’t know about an incident, but we still haven’t identified the right clue to know where he is. This whole case is leaving an international aftertaste in my mouth.”

“I will break into his office and see what I can find; it’s at the end of the hall.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 22

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 21

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 21

…Someone(s) in the secret workings of the federal government is keeping an eye on the U of C scientist…

Back at 6137 Kimbark, there is a treasure trove of information to sort through.

Martin suggests that they work with the University’s new wieldy mainframe computer to expedite the process of information gathering. “It is like having 20 Eddies traveling at 20 different directions at once,” as Martin puts it. “Let’s get to it, girls.”

“Martin, you look into the telegraphs. Fanny, see if you can find out anything about those FBI agents. I’ll work the telephone records.” Three people doing three different things at once. “If you find something, write it down and we will compare notes.”

Connie’s notes-to-self, concerning the numbers that stand out amongst the litany of telephone activity out of the Argonne extension dedicated to Willard Libby:

  • To: Who is Billy Graham? Place a call to Northwestern Bible College where the man is affiliated.’
  • From: Tolentine Friars? Is that a restaurant or a place for Monks?’
  • From: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company. It figures he would be a bookworm,  interesting.’
  • To: The United Nations? Wow, this guy shoots high.’
  • From: Vincent Wolfgram, a single call on 12/10, the day Willard goes missing. That is huge.’
  • To: The FBI, New England office?’ Why did he contact them? And why did they nose around in his business, before he disappeared.’

As for the other two within earshot of Connie’s mumblings, their digital digging bears fruit as well. Each in turn offers some of what they have stumbled upon.

“Those FBI agents work out the Chicago office exclusively,” offers Fanny. “Yet you tell us he calls the Massachusetts office and those two Chicago boys comes a calling, why?” Fanny discovers extensive government files under his name. Someone(s) in the secret workings of the federal government is keeping an eye on the U of C scientist. In this era of Communism fear mongering  and accusation, having a file on you is not a good thing.

Martin Kamen finds out that Willard was in regular communication with Vatican City. What does their stance about the theory of evolution have to do with radiocarbon dating?


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 20

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


page 3

 

 

 

The NULL Solution = Episode 197

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The NULL Solution = Episode 197

…I believe that the McKinneys are seriously concerned about bringing back a viral agent that may be able to morph into a pandemic on Earth…

Crip may want to run this by the decontamination team.”

“The kid just needs a stiff shot of caffeine. That will perk him up!”

“We cannot take the chance. You message Roy while I do some lab work.”

As it would happen, the message meant for the director of NASA seeps into the cracks of bureaucracy and into the hands of a snotty-nosed underling.

-He reads.

THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH JOYNER. NOT EXACTLY SURE WHAT IT IS. CELESTE IS LOOKING INTO POSSIBLE LINK TO BUG THAT KILLED THE CREW ON MARS, WAY BACK WHEN. SEE YOU SOON – SAM

-He reacts.

Instead of delivering the {For Your Eyes Only} message to Roy Crippen, who would keep it under his hat for the sake of secrecy, the staffer shares it his colleagues while he is on his morning break. “Look at this, guys,” he proudly flashes the rare communication from the returning McKinney mission, “you don’t see one of these every day… it’s from Sampson McKinney himself!”

He thought he was reading about a little insect bite or something. The breakroom sees it differently, especially the medical officer in charge of infectious space threats.

“I’ve read about the 2030 Tycho/Space Colony 1 mission… they never were able to isolate the precise cause of the alien disaster. You don’t lose 50+ crewmen and ignore the cause. I believe that the McKinneys are seriously concerned about bringing back a viral agent that may be able to morph into a pandemic on Earth.”

“That is some farfetched theory, man.”

“Hey, do you want two aliens coming to Earth and spreading a deadly disease?” The room goes silent. “It’s my job to prevent such things and that’s what I am going to do!”

The horses have just got out of the barn.

By the time Roy tries closing the barn door, it is too late. Varying forms of Sam McKinney’s cautionary tale explode across every single known Internet medium and then some. And just like the Collapsar Axis invasion/panic/narrative, anti-alien sentiment suddenly trumps the feel-good homecoming story.


The NULL Solution =

Episode 197


page 191

The NULL Solution = Episode 196

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The NULL Solution = Episode 196

…“Maybe space sickness took a while to set in?”…

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

Unwelcomed Home

In the midst of the long way home, young Joyner has indeed come down with something. 4 out of 5 doctors do not have a clue; the other 1’s license is expired.

The otherwise warm & fuzzy homecoming story has threatened to bury the lead.

With each passing parsec, Joyner McKinney drops further below his baseline of perfect health. “Listless” is definitely not a word used to describe his countenance, but listless he is. Outward symptoms like a runny nose or an upset stomach, Does Not Apply to his Eridanian half. Any illness at all will be his first. Lethargic will have to do for now.

On Eridanus, wellbeing is a given. Near immortality promotes an invulnerable attitude and rightfully so. “Pert’near immortal” is the new moniker that Sampson McKinney has attached to the Eridanian condition, especially since the passing of Ekcello. His vested interest in Joyner dampens this certain set of circumstances, “Maybe space sickness took a while to set in?

While the effects of space affect everyone differently, Celeste is the closest thing to a medical officer on this ship. She begs to differ, “No, I don’t think so Sam. He was given a complete physical before we left. He checked out just fine.”

She has had ample time to observe her grandson. Not once has there ever been a solitary reason to panic… up until now. She has been hesitant to raise an almost unthinkable theory about his health. In the privacy of her and Sam’s cabin, she shares her theory.

“I am wondering if the same “bug” that did in the original crew of NEWFOUNDLANDER is what is causing Joyner to feel bad. There were a couple bodies on the bridge when we found it.” They must confront the facts, no matter how unsavory. “He is ½ Eridanian after all, just a thought.”

“Skaldy wasn’t sick when he was summoned to Harmonia.”

“As far as I know, the Null have greater resistance to outside influences like germs and such. I am going to scour this ship for any signs of a harmful agent, something that we either overlooked or have not been an issue until this voyage. In the meantime, you better send a message off to Earth. Crip may want to run this by Decon 1.”


The NULL Solution =

Decon 1

Episode 196


page 190