April 23, 1924

After leaving Henri's shop, Cati hailed a cab and headed back to her apartment. She took her camera from its place in the chest of drawers in the foyer and went into the bedroom. Her dress was draped over the chair beside the vanity, its skirt in a puddle of fabric on the seat. Setting the camera on the vanity, she picked up the dress and held it up in the light coming through the window. There was a faint translucent stain that might have been saliva.

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.

the evening of April 22, 1924

Emma was already outside, standing around on the sidewalk. She jogged in her heels, cigarette in hand, right over to Cati as soon as she emerged from the Audubon. "Did you see those guys? They nearly knocked me down hauling Ramaswama out. Sped down the street and nearly killed that fella over there." With her cigarette in its long stem, she gestured over her shoulder to a man standing next to a motorcycle. He arms were open as he energetically explained something to a couple of passers-by. He pointed down the road in the direction that the ambulance went. "Magsy was in there, too." She shivered theatrically. "I'd hate to ever have to ride in an ambulance. They're all just hearses, y'know." She looked disgusted. Her face shifted to worry, then poutiness. Eyes downcast, sneer on her face – she might have even stamped the ground, and it wouldn't have been uncharacteristic for her, either – she said, "Cati, I'm so sorry the show was a flat. We shoulda stayed at the 150. Wanna see if there's any juice le-" The young cop from inside walked by, eyeballing the two women, half-lasciviously, half-paternally. "-ft at home?"

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)

April 22, 1924

Telephone message
For: Emma
Date: April 22 Time: 1:32pm

M. Cati Predoviciu

Of: Manhattan

Message: Meet me at the 150 Club tonight. It’s my wedding anniversary, after all!

February 17, 1924

Darling Alice,

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!


February 14, 1924

My love,
Each day I do not see you is a tragedy. I yearn for your soft touch and gentle kisses.
These flowers cannot express my affection enough. We will be together soon.
Happy Valentine's day.


January 29, 1924

E. Predoviciu
795 Fifth Ave.
New York City, NY 10003

Dear Ms. Predoviciu:

Thank you for your submission to Look magazine. At this time, we regret to inform you that we are not accepting unsolicited photographs. We appreciate your time and effort.

Please continue to read and enjoy Look magazine.

Charles Humphries

December 7, 1923

Dearest Iulia,

I apologize for the delay in my response. I have been incredibly busy, what with Christmas coming so quickly. I am sure you will forgive me once I tell you that I have been doing much shopping for my dear sweet nieces and nephews — do not ever let them think that Aunty Cati is only ever concerned with having a good time and that she does not remember her family at these important times of the year!

It was lovely to hear about your trip to Florida. It must have been an adjustment to come back to cold, wet Boston after such a long time spent at the beach. I hear they have alligators down there, though — I am sure you were ready to escape becoming some lizard's dinner! If I ever decide to go out that way, I will be sure to ask your advice on the matter.

As to our brother, I can only hope that he plans to attend Christmas dinner at Mother's this year. After the fiasco of last year, however, I am inclined to believe that Gheorghe does not intend to have anything more to do with our family, especially with Father. Did you forget that he reminded the five of us that we are not his true children? Or his insistence that he has no son but Pavel? I understand that you and our siblings yearn for the idyllic days of our youth, but that is no longer the case — just as Gheorghe is no longer who he was even five years ago. The choices Gheorghe makes are his own, and I will stand by his decisions, even if the family feels they are a blight upon our name (certainly, a ridiculous notion!).

I do not mean to be a wet blanket, especially at this time of year. This situation with Gheorghe saddens me deeply, but I refuse to be as silent about it as the rest of our family.

I look forward to seeing you, Felix, and the children at the end of the month.


September 12, 1923

My dearest Mari,

My, but you do go on about those children of yours! I do love them, really, but can you imagine if I had my own children by now? The oldest would be six, perhaps seven years old. It gives me shivers just thinking about it. William had wanted us to have children — I am glad that never came to be. How in the world would I have time to go out on the town with the girls?

I am as busy as ever, not only at night (and how!) but with managing William’s money. It is not as hard as everyone said it would be; however, it is far more time consuming than I had imagined. William had many financial advisors, who seem to think they are now mine and who wish me to purchase stocks and bonds. You know how I would prefer to use the money! I am trying to learn as I go, but I am beginning to wonder if it is time I got a financial advisor of my own.

It has been too long since we last saw each other, darling sister. Perhaps I will drive up to Connecticut next month. It ought to be lovely this time of year, what with the leaves changing.

All my love,