The Coldfall Sanction
Frank Nolan's Mistress
“. . . only a very unattractive girl could fail to make a living in Bucharest, where they boast more prostitutes to the square mile than any other city in the world,” John Reed, 1915
Miruna Lupescu, the daughter of Gheorge and Timea Lupsescu was born in the small village of Târgșoru Vechi. Long ago Târgșoru Vechi had been known as Târgșor, a medieval market town located on the cross roads of several trade routes as well as a residence of the Prince of Wallachia. With the prince’s presence there had been a promise of prosperity. Merchants were eager to establish the foundations of city. But as with the fate of the Basarab’s, this dream eventually vanished leaving behind only the ruins of an old church. Thus, eclipsed by other growing towns and in particular the emergence of Ploieşti, Targsor became the nothing more than the small village of Târgșoru Vechi.
To a poor farmers daughter, the small rural village felt as if it were nothing more than a brief stop on the way to Ploieşti – and Miruna longed to be a cosmopolitan. She dreamed of someday living in the fabulous “City of Joy.” And so with a small bag and her closest friend Ioana Tânase, Miruna, on a moonlit summer’s night, decided to take the first step toward fulfilling her dreams.
Miruna and Ioana had heard of the wealthy oil men working the petroleum field in Ploieşti. It was said that some of the men, those with managerial roles, were given houses by their oil companies – houses which of course needed a woman’s touch. Someone to provide the cooking and the cleaning – and to do this the men provided room and board. Only, once they arrived in Ploiești, they soon discovered the harsh reality of the smoky, muddy city – the need for a woman’s touch was far more than mere housekeeping. It was in fact a form of prostitution. Ioana was uncertain she could do this—and so had told Miruna they should move on. They should go to Bucharest. But the men quickly explained that Bucharest would not be any better—for there they would arrive without a place to stay unless they had some financial independence. “The wide world runs on money, ladies,” A burly American told them. ‘Hell, there’s more ladies plying the trade in Bucharest then here.” And so, Miruna thought of the farm – the dirt and the cows and the oxen and the pigs and the grain – and she refused to return to a life without a dream. And so, they succumbed to this way of living. But they soon discovered that these oil men were ever shopping for someone new – as there were always new young women arriving to take someone’s place. There the constant threat that whatever girl a man might have chosen to clean and wash and live with them could be just as easily tossed out whenever the man fancied an ankle in a different dress. And so she found herself taking up residence in a oil man’s house, and she was lucky in that the Frank Nolan had been content with her ‘touch.’ Whereas, Ioana had not been so fortunate. She found she could no longer pass from house to house and so she tried to get Miruna to return home. But Miruna explained it was too late. Their families would not understand. Their fathers would toss them out as harlots. Ioana argued that for this reason they would forever have to keep secret and the shame of what they had done – but she could do it no longer. I can not live this life. And so she left. Miruna was much concerned for her friend as she set off to return of Târgșoru Vechi, hoping her family would never learned of the many houses she had frequented.
But then, after only a few months, Nolan suddenly announced he was leaving Ploiești for Bucharest. Miruna could not help the excitement of hearing this news, even as she was fearful she would not only lose the home she had grown accustomed but that she would once again be placed back on Ploiești’s feminine commodity market. The next morning as she prepared his breakfast, she broached the subject of accompanying him to the capital to which she quickly sensed his reticence. She was aware that one of the main reasons for the quick disposal of a house girl for another was that many of the men complained about how ‘these girls’ misinterpreted their financial arrangement – of soon becoming desirous of something far more matrimonial.
Sensing Nolan’s hesitation, Mirnua quickly established that she was merely suggesting a business agreement – a traveling companion, who had little compunction about providing sexual gratification for a ticket to Bucharest. Frank Nolan, silent for a long moment, thoughtfully agreed – and once they had arrived in the elegance of the ‘Little Paris,” she has been fortunate enough to have remained his mistress while he stayed in the Hotel Princiar.