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)