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Whilst Frank dealt with a demon on the rainy street–Justine and Rich left to their own “horrors”–Antonia Porter nee Vincent adjusted her parlor. It had been ages since new clients had come to town and she was anxious to appear welcoming.

Ever since the tourism in Carlisle had taken its permanent dive, Antonia’s business had struggled. Not that she was alone in this fact, quite the opposite. But whereas the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker (Tyler & Daughter’s Candlestick Co., 21 Cliff Avenue, open M-F, 10-8) all had renewable and what some might call “necessary” businesses, Antonia’s services were more…niche. More valuable, no doubt, but in a town like Carlisle, it was difficult to get a firm foothold on the collective consciousness. Everything was too nice, went too well. The rents were low, the town morale was high and people tended to look towards each other, as opposed to an unseen force, when searching for a source of their happiness.

Until that lovely day. The Embargo. She thought about it as often as her mind would allow. She damn near fell out of her recliner the moment it happened. One minute you’re watching Kyra Sedgwick come down hard on Bill Croelick in the penultimate episode of The Closer and the next, you’re splayed on the floor. It had taken her hours to get the spilled ranch dip out of Janey’s latch hook rug. HOURS. But it had been worth it, hadn’t it? After all the toil and the strife. Marrying lower than herself, deserving of more. Antonia Porter had held on and finally, someone, something, had rewarded her.

Antonia Porter with her husband, Duke, 1973

After all the ruckus, Antonia did her best to lay low. She was never one to grasp for attention, though that never stopped its steady flow. After all, it can’t be helped when you’re so beautiful, so flawless and socially graceful. People just flock to you. But this time she said, “No, I’m sorry. I simply can’t.” Like a mourning dame from the ’20s, she scoffed at the various masses clinging to her legs. “Help us! Please!”

No one had the courage to say it out loud but she could feel them calling to her. Sure, Ophelia–the spoiled bitch that she is–gladly stepped into the spotlight YET. AGAIN. Always so demure, so ravishing. Just because she’d never had to deal with a bad hair day in her life she and her trash bag, old money husband thought they were so great. But no. Not this time. Not today! And from the looks of things so far, Today was about to last a very long time.

As she brushed off the final crumbs from the velvet scarf on the table holding her crystal ball, Antonia managed a brief smile.

The tinkling bell above her front door rang, and she turned to greet her first new client.

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