Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 9

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 9

…“Associates of Al Capone perhaps?” Connie’s A-typical outsider perception…

Fanny Renwick takes up lookout posture, keeping one eye on the front parkway, while checking lampshades, picture frames and such for listening devices.gumshoe_detective

“No, I don’t have a clue, which is why I called on your agency.”

“Why not use a local gumshoe?”

I don’t know a reliable civilian investigator, trust anyone of authority from this city, especially not the Chicago Police Department.”

“Associates of Al Capone perhaps?” Connie’s A-typical outsider perception.

“No, not exactly, but you see what I mean; Corruption with an upper-case C.”

“You never really know who is in whose pocket.” Constance speaks of how when “Money talks and honesty walks”.

“Precisely!”

“When you spoke to Miss Connie, did you use this telephone,” Fanny asks, having traced the cord leading to it to its source on the baseboard?

No, I gave you a university extension, down in the boiler room of the Admissions Building. That’s why it took some time for me to come to the phone. I was working over at the biochemistry lab.”

“What did you find, Fanny?”

basement

“There is a splice in this wire… and the extra set of Bell wires leads down below the floor.”

“The basement,” explains Kamen. “We never go down there. It’s an old, dark, typical 100 year old two-flat after all, a musty place filled with cobwebs and spiders.”

“Who has access to it and could you takes us down there?”

“Only the boiler guy has a key, uses the back entrance to work on the mechanicals. The last time he was here….” He hesitates…. “We didn’t even call him, come to think of it; called it a complimentary visit, back in August I believe.”

“Is this the door to the basement?” Constance guesses.

“Surely it is, but it’s always locked…”

But it opens without a key.

“Don’t call me Shirley and it seems to be unlocked. Constance has a bevy of P.I. clichés in her verbal arsenal, corny and/or clever.

“Curious.” He points down the rickety stairs. “Watch your heads; cover your hair from the dust and spider webs.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 11

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 8

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 8

…“Constance Caraway!” He quickly ushers them inside. “I wasn’t expecting you until tomorrow…

With much anticipation and a smattering of trepidation, the team of Constance & Fanny wait for a response to the thunderous ‘BING-BONG!!!!’ they hear from on the other side of the front door. “The bigger the house, the grander the doorbell,” she tells Fanny.

After a scant minute, Fanny lifts the manual door/black brass adornment, then releasing it. A resounding boom resonates through the wooden door. “And the knockers are bigger too!”

“You never told me that you liked big knockers,” inside humor between good friends. Neither of them fits the bill.

That one gets past Fanny, who is wondering why no one is coming to the door. And it isn’t getting any warmer; should have worn heftier coats, but it was 68 degrees when they left out of Florida.

Another minute passes when, from behind comes, “Are you girls here for the 5 O’clock piano lesson?”

4 feet raise 4 inches off the granite landing.

“William is running late,” states the man from behind them.

After catching her vacated breath, Constance comprehends the situation, replying, “We are looking for a Mister Martin David Kamen.” William who? Piano lessons?

“This is he and who might yea be?” The man appears to be in his late 30s and quite handsome at that.

“We are from CCPI in Tallahassee Florida.”

“Constance Caraway!” He quickly ushers them inside. “I wasn’t expecting you until tomorrow… but I’m glad you’re here. But forgive me for saying that you don’t look anything like I imagined… taller, I mean.”

“Disguises, don’t you know? I figured if I showed up with my hound’s-tooth hat and magnifying glass that it would be a dead giveaway.”

“Oh my, yes! I have no idea who is watching, what they’re watching or what their intent is.”

“Do you know “they” are?” No time for formalities.

Without prompting, the un-introduced Fanny takes up lookout posture, keeping one eye on the front parkway, while checking lampshades, picture frames and such for listening devices.

“No, I don’t have a clue, which is why I called on your agency.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 10

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