April 23, 1924: evening

When Cati arrived at Huey's shop, there were several other customers ahead of her. Cati waited, impatiently, until the others had been helped. Many of them were folks she recognized from the neighborhood, though no one she knew by name. She kept herself busy by mentally critiquing the older ladies' choices in fashion.

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.

Too late.

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?"

1 comment:

da solomon said...

"Yep. Got a new favorite dress, I see."
Cati had been hoping that Huey's first words to her would be an expression of surprise – that way she'd have known that there was something interesting in the photos. "Something like that. Say:" she began, hopefully probing. "Did you see anything in those pictures?"
"You mean besides your dress?"
"Like what?"
"I don't know. Anything unusual? Ectoplasma," she said, trying to recall Thelonius' word.
Huey squinted as if searching for the meaning of the unfamiliar term in Cati's face. "No." Intuiting that he was meant to have seen something, Huey offered his compliments. "They're really fine studies of texture and darkness. So, they're not what I was hoping for when you said, 'experimental.' They were still very nice to look at."

Nice to look at, she thought. Disappointing.

Instantaneously, Cati felt guilty for the thought. Mags was dead, and here she was hoping to find evidence of phantasms in her party dress. Have the Whitcombes even been told? She thought about how rude she had been to Jacquie – suspicious, goody-two-shoes Jacquie. Sheltered Jacquie. It would be very hard on her.

Cati paid and took the photos. Perhaps they could be inspected at home, in better light. Huey was a busy man after all and probably didn't look at them very closely once he had realized that there were no nudes.

The sun was gone now, having sunk behind the skyline while Cati had been waiting on the chatty older ladies in Huey's shop – What did they take pictures of?, she wondered. Not ectoplasma. The others would be at Henri's shop by now – she hoped. They had been going to see a man named Spider – What a name! These people Thelonius knew!

That was exciting, at least, entering into the world of Thelonius Jones, photographer, reporter. He seemed so - there was a certain - je ne sais quois? - savoir faire? - about the guy. Like he knew what he was doing. If nothing else, this was valuable experience for an aspiring photographer.

If nothing else. The words echoed in Cati's head against her will. Briefly, Cati remembered the pleading look on Mags' face as she cradled her swami.