She was trying not to think.
She lit a second cigarette and picked up the receiver of the telephone on the side table. "Emma, love!" she said with whole-hearted false cheer. "Join me at the Cellar tonight!"
Cati finished her cigarette and reached into her purse again. This time her hand emerged with a flask, from which she took a healthy swig of gin. Grabbing her purse, she returned the silver container to its place as she hurried down the hall to her bedroom.
Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a figure move across the kitchen door. "Hello, Magda," she called out to her housekeeper. "I'm only here a moment. I'll be going out with Emma shortly."
Cati took her pistol out from where she kept it in her lingerie drawer. She slipped it into her purse beside the slim cigarette case, the little book of matches, and the tarnished flask. There was a sealed tube in there, too, with an odd, mercurial fluid collected in the bottom.
Putting its existence out of her mind, she turned and headed out to catch a cab.
The night before, Cati had finally called Jacqueline Whitcombe. She gave Mags' sister her condolences, but apart from that, Cati hadn't known what else to say. Truth be told, Cati hadn't been very close to Mags, and she didn't much like Jacqueline either. She felt a certain amount of obligation to reach out to Mags' family, however, due to the fact that she'd somehow gotten involved in chasing after her companion and her killer.
She had also called, in part, to make herself feel better. It hadn't worked.
Cati finally found the little golden tube under a discarded pair of stockings on the corner of the vanity. She leaned over the vanity's surface to peer at herself in the mirror and smeared the color on her lips. Satisfied, she headed out to hail a cab to Henri's shop.
She looked at the clock hanging on the wall above the shop door. She wondered how the fellows were faring in their search for information. She thought, too, about poor Mags, who, while she had possessed an often quite irritating and self-focused demeanor, clearly did not deserve to meet her end at such a young age. It was probably best, Cati decided, if one did not get involved in matters of the occult.
After what seemed to Cati to be an incredibly long time, she was finally able to get to the counter. "Hi there, Huey," she said. "Are my photos ready?"
She took a moment to set the scene: pulling the curtains to create a dim atmosphere, turning on a small lamp and removing its lamp shade to create the bare bulb light of the dressing room the night before. She draped her dress over a pillow, hoping it would successfully replicate her own lap. Then she snapped a series of photos of her dress from different angles.
When she was done, she opened the curtains again and tossed the dress back over the chair. She went into her walk-in closet, where she had a small table set up, and shut the door. In the dark, she took out the negatives and placed them in a small, black bag. Leaving the closet, she put the bag into her purse.
Cati then went to the phone. "Margaret Whitcombe, please," she told the operator. After a moment, she said, "Hello, Mags darling, this is Cati Predoviciu. How are you, dear? Swell, that's grand. I was wondering if you could tell me which hospital Rama— um, the swami ended up at. Oh, really? Well, thanks, darling. Good-bye."
Cati walked down the street to drop her negatives off with a friend who often developed her photos for her. Then she hailed another cab.
During the cab-ride from the Audubon to Cati's place, traffic began to slow down. Emma craned and shifted in her seat to see. "What's up, cabby?"
"I dunno, accident maybe. Yeh, I can see it now – Mother-Mary-shit! That's Tony Cordola's cab!"
"Someone you know?" asked Emma. "I'm sorry."
Their taxi was waved through by the police. It stalked by the accident – the cabby stretched his neck to see: The scene was illuminated by flashing red light and the strong, steady beam of police cars – the front of the other cab embraced a streetlamp, which was leaning like some old monument. Its doors hung open like mouth of a dead steel animal, and lolling out of the back seat like its flaccid tongue was the slight arm of a woman.
"Yeah. Tony. Ah, Tony," the cabby sighs, "I toldya. Lay off the booze. It's no way to work."
The cab slid by. Cati glanced inside the backseat. Her face was bloodied, and her body was limp, but Cati recognized the woman. Emma drew a sharp breath. "That's –" She cut herself off. It was the young woman who had accompanied the dressmaker Henri to Ramanuja's show. Cati looked away. Ramanuja was right – by accident, it seems, but he was right.
(text by dasolomon)
You will not believe the week I have had. (Then again, you know me so well — you probably will!) My doorbell did not stop ringing. I received flowers, telegrams, jewelry, even an ermine coat! My God, these men are relentless, and they are all convinced they love me. Poor saps. Especially my fly boy Edward, so far away in the Philippines. I imagine he must have had quite a time sending me a whole bouquet of flowers all the way on the other side of the world! He's absolutely stuck on me (though I hardly knew him — we spent one night at the juice joint before he shipped out!), and I don't know how to break it to him that I don't want a handcuff. In fact, I don't even want to be his girl!
And then there's Liam. They say you can prevent pregnancy by washing with Coca-Cola of all things! I wonder if it's true...
You have failed entirely to tell me about your new daddy. Considering that I have never known you to put aside your work for the sake of a man, he must be absolutely ducky. So do tell!