Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 46

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 46

…the patient does mention one incongruous word – wolf …

Wolf by Mark Adlington

“We’ll be there,” Constance bursts into the conversation from the 2nd floor at 6137 Kimbark, “first thing in the morning!”

“Who is that intriguing new voice; does the university have a party line?” asks the curious psychiatric professional.

“That would be Constance Caraway. She represents the private investigation firm we hired to help locate Willard Libby,” injects Martin Kamen.

“Well yes, by all means Miss Caraway, I will be at my office at 5:00 AM, our Rise and Shine time.”

“One quick question, Doctor Steinberg, has our mister Libby had any visitors?”

“My no; we believe someone dropped him off at the front gate… though he does mention one incongruous word – wolf … we are out in the middle of nowhere, but there aren’t any native  gray wolves, perhaps deer and coyotes.”

“Wolf,” Constance makes eye contact with her two allies, both of whom were thinking the same thing; not the four-legged mangy predator, rather the two-legged variety in sheep’s clothing. “You have been an unexpected pleasure Doctor and we will see you at Rise and Shine!”

“Wow, wow, wow, how about that!” This afternoon turns out to be that Christmas morning now passed, Constance Caraway Private Investigation had missed out on; Santa had just arrived a week late.

“Eddie!” she calls out mockingly! It is one thing to have steady work, but the way he has been “on-call”, there is no rhyme or rhythm to this arrangement; but he’ll be there bright and early, though having do dip into his road atlas for their upcoming expedition to Elgin, Illinois.

“It is as important as ever for you to find Libby’s completed work, Martin. Agree with it or not, it appears that your friend’s findings are currently hidden away in a jumbled brain. We owe it to him to preserve it… so no offense, but we’ll be leaving you behind this time.”

Martin David Kamen takes unusual exception to Constance, assuming an upright assertive position, “I am paying the bills and I will be going to Elgin; Will needs to see a familiar face!”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 44

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 38

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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

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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 35

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 35

…I may need the back-up, but stay 20 feet behind me and let’s pretend we’re not together…

Once the initial shock of discovering Fanny safe ‘n sound has set in and the requisite debriefing is out of the way, Constance leaves her in Martin’s care for the remainder of the day. The excitement meter needle has been redlining for the last day. It needs to return to normal levels.

33 North LaSalle

Eddie is re-gathered for the task of taking his employer to 33 N. LaSalle Street. She is going to see what she can find out about World Agnostica, at the address listed on that fortuitous business card. What is their deal?

“That building at 33 LaSalle is one of the last skyscrapers built before The Depression. I don’t get many fares from there… bankers are cheapskates and their secretaries are heavy smokers. I pretend not to see ‘em.”

“That’s a bank building, interesting?”

“I don’t know if you know, being an out-of-towner, but 39-blank, blank, blank means you’ll be going to the 39th floor?”

“Thanks for the tip in higher arithmetic Eddie,” she looks up at the top of the building. “If I’m not back in 30 minutes, call the Coast Guard.”

“The Coast Guard is another name for the sissy’s navy. I don’t think they have guns on their boats… my Uncle Fred (not a cousin?) rescues ducks or something…”

“I was only kidding. On second thought, instead of waiting, let’s park the car and you come in with me. I may need the back-up, but stay 20 feet behind me and let’s pretend we’re not together.”

“If anyone asks me what I’m doing, I’ll tell them I’m here for a mortgage on my house.”

“Meet me on the 39th floor and don’t talk to anyone,”

He visually zips his mouth shut.

“You’ll need a lock for that Eddie!” the out-of-town sleuth quips.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 34

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 34

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 34

…“Looks like you made a friend, Fanny?” who is giving her the “he’s married” look…

“It looks like we’re close to home.” Martin is relieved that Eddie has gotten them back in one piece..

 “Don’t forget, the walls have ears,” warns Constance.

 Kimbark 6137But before they can re-enter those 50 year old plaster partitions, they spy 2 some-ones sitting on the front stairs, who were hoping upon hope that William would show his elusive self and let them in out of the late-day chill.

 “Should I drive around to the alley?” Eddie asks.

 Constance jumps out of the stationary vehicle, a half block from the front door.

“Fanny!!!!!!!!!” She blasts past the person sitting next to her to apply a world-class hugs to a once lost partner. None of them expected such a swift conclusion to Fanny’s abduction. She Schneiderdoes acknowledge the stranger seated beside her, “And this would be?”

“Frank Herman. I do long hauls for Schneider Trucking, out of Wisconsin.” He extends his hand in friendship and does so in parting, “You’re safe now Miss Fanny, I’ll be on my way.”

“He gave me a ride back,” simply put. She points out at 61st Street and the big orange truck too large to come down Kimbark.

“Thank you Frank Herman. I guess Fanny will fill the blanks, but I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I was not expecting to see that one for… a while,” she stops short of saying forever. “Can I give you something for your efforts?”

“I have your address in Tallahassee. I’ll stop by the next time I get down that way.”

“I’m sure Fanny will make up some of her famous fried chicken for you.”

“I’m counting on it.” The modest hero moves on down the road.

“Looks like you made a friend, Fanny?” who is giving her the “he’s married” look.

Eddie's Cousins-001Eddie, for his part, escorts his road warrior brother back out to his truck, “My cousin Jimmy (cousin #3) drives a White Freightliner, part of the million mile club, but he drives forth and back to New York twice a week, has to go through Ohio. Do you drive in Ohio? Make sure you watch out for the speed traps… well any way he……”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 33

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 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