Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 55

Leave a comment

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 55

…Might there be something like “brain freeze” going on with him? …

Art by Cure Joy

“The patient has taken a step back since yesterday. He is catatonic, as we refer to it. We think he is fully conscious, but he has no way of communicating.”

“How did this happen overnight? You mentioned yesterday that he said the word “wolf”.” The very reason that Constance made the connection to the scientist, while talking to Steinberg over the telephone, was that this had mentioned the word wolf, as in Wolfgram. “And twelve hours later he cannot speak?”

“He wasn’t exactly a chatterbox before, you understand. We were only able to pick out a couple of words, like wolf and masta – master – masto – something with mast in it.”

“We think wolf is part of a proper name, not the animal, but as for mast, he had scribbled mastadon on a piece of paper in the last place he was seen,” Martin is grasping for meager shreds at this point.

“The Ice Age elephant? Interesting but I cannot say I get the connection to anything I’ve heard thus far.

“All I know is that Security found this man, unconscious in a snow bank outside the front gate. He was hypothermic and we did our best to treat his frostbite. It was only after he had regained consciousness that we started the mental evaluation process. For all we knew, he could have been an unmanageable dementia victim dropped off by a family who were at wits end and did not know what to do.”

Brain Freeze by Danvenky deviantart.com

“In a freezing cold pile of snow, I don’t think so? Might there be something like “brain freeze” going on with him?” Constance grasps at the same scraps of hope as Martin.

“A brain freeze is popular vernacular for misplacing car keys or forgetting what you were about to say,” Steinberg has come to the conclusion that there are no solid conclusions to be had. “I know you were hoping to take Mr. Libby back with you, but as a mental health professional, I would be doing both you and him a great disservice if I release him to you folks now. He needs a medical hospital’s facilities as much as he does the psychiatric, which would be here at ESH.”

“We will leave him in your care, but I need your personal guarantee that you will not tamper with him. As long as he maintains physical viability, leave the rest alone. I mean it.” Martin takes responsibility for his friend.

“Message received loud and clear.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 53

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 45

Leave a comment

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 45

…the patient is a mumbling, stammering, jittery mess with the look of a drug addict…

“Take the call, I’ll jump on the extension,” Constance runs up the stairs, excited about the only outside reference about the man since they came to Chicago, almost a week ago. She takes a backseat on the following conversation:

“Thank you Millie, put him through to me.” After an electrical buzz he prompts, “Hello Martin Kamen here?”

“My name is D. Louis Steinberg, the Superintendent of Elgin State Hospital. I need to speak with someone about a patient in our care.”

“A patient, is he about six feet tall with sandy colored brown hair?” Martin describes Willard’s physical countenance from the neck up.

“Why yes, as a matter of fact and the only thing of substance we can get out of him concerns the University of Chicago. He had a jam packed pocket protector with this telephone number on the top of the list.” Steinberg is attempting to piece together information that will lead to identifying a John Doe.

“Does he have a crooked index finger,” something only a friend would notice or even care about.

“Why yes, when we asked him to sign his name… and he couldn’t, I did notice that he was left handed,” something a friend can use to confirm the possibility of that being Libby.

Left handed and if he did sign his name you would not have been able to read it,” hen scratching that he has spent the last 5 years having to decode.

“Well then perhaps he did write his name—-which you are telling me, is?”

“I believe you have a Dr. Willard Libby of the Biochemistry Department at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory.”

“Why yes, he does have an intelligent look about him, but I can tell you that that’s where it ends. He is a mumbling, stammering, jittery mess with the look of a drug addict needing his fix.” Steinberg administrates a mental health facility. “I was playing a hunch, when I called your University about this patient. He exhibits the effects of electro-shock, not the addictive profile one would assume.”

“The only thing he is addicted to is his work, the half-life of the radioisotope Carbon-14.”

“My yes,” Steinberg’s short response to a surprisingly weighty subject. “What do you suggest we do with him; there is no one who would be his advocate?”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 44

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 38

Leave a comment

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 38

Chapter Four

 REVELATION

…There is no 39th floor lady, see?…

The ground floor, good old Mother Earth, terra firma has never felt so comforting to one Constance Caraway. The elevator at 33 LaSalle has stopped one floor shy of the basement parking garage. Out on the street, automobiles provide a background for a sidewalk filled with pedestrians, so unexpectedly reassuring.

An added bonus: not one related relative story from one Eddie Dombroski on the way down..

You would think that having just experienced something inexplicable, that the leader of this expedition would guide them out of harm’s way. Instead of following Eddie back out to their car, she stops at the front desk to speak with the doorman. So should have Eddie stopped 20 feet away.

“What’s with the 39th floor? Do you know anyone from WORLD AGNOSTICA?” She hands him their card.

The polite professional Negro employee of many years, judging from his gracious interaction with the comers and goers, stares at Constance as if she had a single blue eye in the middle of her bang covered forehead, saying nothing.

“Isn’t that the strangest thing you’ve ever seen?” she rewords.

Without a response, she becomes annoyed.

“Have I become invisible?”

“There are only 38 floors in this building Miss.”

Now it is she who falls is mute.

“The Penthouse Suite is occupied by the Foreman State National Bank.”

“Excuse me, but we were on the top floor, the 39th, you know World Agnostica!”

“Who are “we”,” he inquires to the woman standing alone in front of the desk.

“Me and ………Ed……. well, he was with me.” The 20 foot rule has bolted out the lobby doors.

“This is not at all funny,” she proclaims while dashing to the right of five elevators, the one she had taken up. “Look, number 39 is right here.”

The lone person who, is patiently waiting to begin his ascent, is snickering at the crazed woman who is chasing phantoms.

There is no 39 lady, see?” states the doorman.

No odd numbered 39 on the top of row of 8 with 5 to each row. Most buildings are designed without that anomalous odd final story.

“I’ve been here since they opened her up in ’29, know her better than I know my wife. If there is a 39, I’ll quit right now and ask for a devorce!”

Leaving a job of 21 years is as inadvisable as it is for Constance to carry this conversation any further. She just shakes her head and blends into the bustling crowd outside.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 37

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 37

Leave a comment

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 37

…Instead of empty, #39666 is a castle adorned in gleaming gold, sparkling silver and precious gems…

“I’ll take your word for it. Can we leave?” Eddie D. pleads.

“No, I have one more office to check.” Constance insists.

This suite has a different feel from the outside. The door knob for one is freezing. None of the others were colder than the unoccupied ambient temperature of 55 degrees. She uses the hem of her sweater to tolerate the icy handle. One easy counterclockwise turn and the door swings open, “Eddie!” she summons her timid pal.

Their jaws drop with unadulterated amazement. Instead of empty, #39666 is a castle adorned in gleaming gold, sparkling silver and precious gems. It is not arranged at all like an office, rather a chamber of unknown purpose. The temperature beyond the door, matches that of the knob.

“This feels like a meat locker, Con.”

“We have the golden calves, and golden rams, silver falcons and wolves?” Everything is arranged like a diorama, each piece purposely placed. “And what about this, she points at one particular golden statue. Aren’t those the three smokestacks from Argonne?”

“Yeah and look at these. They look like real people to me?” Eddie is shivering on multiple levels.

Constance knows there may be clues in this glistening fantasyland, but she expedites their stay in the room for the time being, leaving the door ajar.

The haunting phantom voices have hushed, but the dead heavy air around them is beating down her chest, making it hard to breathe.

Let’s get out of here before the owner returns. I don’t think he would be pleased to see us.”

She presses the lone down arrow and the middle elevator responds to take them down,

“Who exactly is the tenant of a place like this?”

“I’ll be damned if I know. We can come back later… with reinforcements.”

Once a safe distance away, Constance is getting warm, or at least warmer, on the inside.  The castles she has visited lately do not seem like welcoming places to be.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Burg Scharfenberg at Night by Ernst Ferdinand Oehme, 1827

Forever Mastadon


page 36 (end Ch. 3)

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 36

Leave a comment

 Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 36

It’s like a half-dozen people are talking all at once, but I can’t pick out a single word they’re saying

The right elevator takes Constance up to the #39 she had pushed, noticing that that the lighted button wasn’t as worn as all of the others. After several stops and starts on the way, for the other comers and goers, she alone disembarks at the final floor of the building. She steps out into an incomplete level, without form or function; no carpeting, no paint, no lighting and not a single soul to be seen.

“Wasn’t expecting this,” her words are swallowed up.

She begins looking into each of the six doors on the floor, every one as pristine as the next, starting with 39660. Empty.

39661, empty.

662, 663, 664 + 665 all empty, yet spotless, floor to ceiling.

Before she attempts to gain access to the remaining 39666, an impatient Eddie pops out of the same lift and of course he adds his commentary, “They sure skimped on the furniture, Con!”

“Nothing much here, yet I feel like we are not alone.” She looks back at where she’s been. “Look at my footprints, they last for two or three seconds then disappear.”

“Footprints? Do you see the steam coming out of your pretty little mouth?” Eddie is getting the creeps. He watches his own breath leave a trail, “It’s cold, but not that cold in here.”

“Do you hear that?” she asks, reacting to the sound of whispers.

“Hear what? I had a grenade go off inside a bombed out building at the Battle of Verdun, Verdun France in the Big War, didn’t see that lousy kraut hiding behind a wall. My buddy shot him before he could throw it, but it did go off… my ears still ring some to this day…”

It’s like a half-dozen people are talking all at once. The chatter is non-stop, but I can’t pick out a single word they’re saying, like babbling.”

“I’ll take your word for it. Can we leave?”

“No, I have one more office to check.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 35

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 28

Leave a comment

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 28

…Sister Joe lets slip one very important previously unreported detail…

Constance appears to wander aimlessly through the halls, looking for tangible clues left behind by eclectic, if not curious assortment of men. She checks all the waste baskets she can find, not exactly an ordinary thing to do.

“Forgive us, but the custodian is on a leave of absence. Coincidently, we have no bookings scheduled for the next three weeks, too cold for folks I guess. I haven’t had the chance to take out the trash.”

“That’s okay, just hoping to find something, anything about the Pope… I’m a big fan.” More like big liar, but her sticky fingers do net some scraps of paper with, hopefully debris from the meeting of the six eclectic men.

Sister Joe lets slip one very important previously unreported detail.

“There was a briefcase left alongside the conference table in the conference room, but when I told Will about it, he said it wasn’t his. It requires a key, so he said it must belong to that man that government gentleman. I left it right where I found it. Wouldn’t that Mr. Wolfgram come back for it if it was important?”

Martin Kamen nods emphatically, doing his level best to keep Mary Joseph’s attention away from the girls, who by now are scurrying through Tolentine like mice in the cover of darkness.

“Not here,” says one.

“Not here,” says the other in passing.

“Nothing.”

“Notta.”

“Got it!” Fanny proclaims.

“Head straight for the car, Fan. Tell Eddie to stay at the ready. Me and Marty will try to get some more info from her even though I don’t think she has no clue about what has gone on here.”

“Neither does us.”

“Maybe no, maybe yes, but we are about to know more about something, so get out to the car before she sees you with that thing!”

Sainted Aunt Mary had one thing of value to share about her nephew’s stay. “He seemed normal to me, said he would invite me over for Christmas, us both being alone for the holiday. I guess he had a change of plans; never heard back from him.”

Related image“Yes, something unexpected came up.”

“Tell him that I love him, when you see him.”

“We will Sister Franks,” Martin promised, hoping they would get the chance to deliver the message.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 27

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 27

Leave a comment

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 27

…very famous – very nice gentlemen… and 3 others; spent two days, three nights in Holy seclusion…

.(Photo by Mark Gail/The Washington Post)

“That is I, Mary Joseph Franks, of the Holy Mothers of Augustinians… Willard Libby is my sister’s boy.”

“Knock me over with a feather.”

“I am the Director of Retreats.”

“Retreats? We were under the impression that your—nephew—came to Sunday mass prayer and fastinghere.”

“Oh no, we are not a functioning place of worship. People come here to fast and pray, get closer to Our Lord Jesus.” Mary Joseph is serious about the mission of this Augustinian Order.

“By the way, these are my colleagues, Miss Fanny and Mr. Martin Kamen of the University of Chicago.” They bow in turn. Sister Franks gives the ecumenical sign of peace. “What was Willard Libby doing here the week of December 3rd?”

The erstwhile nun is busy paging through a 24 inch square registration tablet.

“He was retreating with a Mr.(Enrico) Fermi and a Mr.(Billy) Graham, very famous – very nice gentlemen… and 3 others; spent two days, three nights in Holy seclusion.” She was guessing about that last conclusion.

“One other of them gave me the willies, Wolfgram, Vincent Wolfgram was his name. There was a coldness about him, flashed an official looking badge in my face, did not stay overnight and refused to sign the guestbook.” That she would not think well of every soul that passed through the doors of this sprawling estate is surprising.

“Oh my, how can I forget, my word… and they were joined by Cardinal Stritch, the Archbishop of Chicago, I have heard many wonderful things about him… and the fifth man was an emissary from The Vatican, yes, Ernesto Pacelli. We were so honored to have them here.”

“Did Willard tell you why they chose Tolentine to meet?”

“He did mention something about a message from the Holy Father. Can you imagine my nephew and Pope Pius?”

The CCPI band of investigators is taken to the south wing of Tolentine, where the men in question spent the majority of their time.

Trying to do her best not to raise suspicion, Constance appears to wander aimlessly through the halls, looking for tangible clues left behind by the men. She checks all the waste baskets she can find, not exactly an ordinary thing to do.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Matadon


page 26