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.


da solomon said...


"Margaret Whitcombe, please," Cati told the operator.

After a moment, she heard a woman on the other end of the line say, "Hello?"

"Hello, Mags darling, this is Cati Predoviciu. How are you, dear?"

"I'm . . ."

Cati barely stopped to hear the other woman's answer. "Swell, that's grand," she nonchalantly continued, "I was wondering if you could tell me which hospital Rama — um, the swami ended up at."

The other woman answered uncertainly, "Cati. It's Jacquie, Margaret's sister. Margaret didn't come home last night. Say, what about that swami, did he overdose on opium? I knew it!".

It was Jacqueline - that meddler.

"Oh . . . really?" Cati said, pretending not to have heard Jacquie's question. Jacquie had been categorically excluded from all the elder Whitcombe sister's to-dos ever since she had joined the Prohibition Party – so what if their vice presidential candidate was a woman? – that wasn't Cati's kind of independence by any stretch of the imagination. Nor Mags'.

Cati thought that it would be best to end the conversation quickly, before she accidentally betrayed something of Mags' affairs. "Well, thanks, darling," she said, only a little facetiously. It had never been Cati's stye to be embarrassed – and Jacquie was such a dim tomato that there was really no point in apologizing anyway. "Good-bye."


Huey, her friend, took the negatives from Cati and asked, "So, what are these?"

"Oh, a little something experimental."

"You got it," short, fat, bald Huey said with a wink and a smile far too old and dirty for a man still in his thirties.

"Not that kind of experiment, you cad."

"Awright. I'll have 'em done by tonight, then."


As she stepped into the cab, Cati only had questions.

Now, where was that Mags? - probably still with Ramanuja, wherever he was. One way or the other, she had fallen for that guy. Cati had heard about good girls getting involved with ouijas and crystal balls and ultimately falling in with the wrong element, but she had never given them any thought at all. Spiritism hadn't been any more or less interesting to Cati than skeet shooting, riding (though she had picked a little of that up, she had to admit), yachting, or any of the myriad other ways a girl with dough could find to while away her time. And what was there left for a girl to do that wouldn't earn someone's disapproval, anyway?

Cati checked her watch. It was past noon now. Henri and the reporter might still be at Saint Lawrence's. What if Mags and the swami weren't at St. Lawrence's? Then where? Maybe the police would know?

Teresa said...

"St. Lawrence's," Cati told the cabbie. It was as good a place as any to start.

da solomon said...

(Action picks up in "Occult Images".)