All the townspeople were incredulous when Antimony Vargas swept into town and bought the crumbling and decrepit pharmacy. It had stood vacant for so long no one could remember it having ever been occupied. Slumped like a lumbering ghost on the corner, it was the kind of place one’s mind erases before its presence is even registered. The plans the exotic blonde Brazilian had for the place did not remain a mystery for long, however. Within months the ruined old apothecary had been transformed into the Pharmacie Populaire. No ordinary chemist’s, Antimony’s place, was breathtakingly stylish, all gleaming old wood and vintage glass, with carved shelving displaying beguiling blown glass bottles filled with colorful concoctions and potions, each adorned with a fancy label written in Antimony’s looping hand. Lazy brass ceiling fans wafted the faint scent of imported French perfumes across counters piled with odd notions and elegant baubles. Best of all, it became a meeting place. Antimony had refurbished the old lunch counter and behind it she’d whirl up a gently fizzing violet elixir that would chase your headache into the next county or a syrupy emerald cordial that would melt your bad day into a bemused grin and an oddly euphoric outlook. If there was one thing Antimony could not abide, it was suffering of any kind. Still the town’s denizens were shocked to discover that, upon request and careful consideration, Ms. Vargas quietly dispensed tonics of a different sort, preparations designed to bring a quick and painless end to lives of unbearable misery. Chloroform, ether, arsenic, hemlock – at the Pharmacie Populaire one could pick one’s poison. Some considered her an angel while others called her a murderess but everyone agreed that their town was better off with Antimony in it, and so a collective and consensual blind eye was turned to the darker services she offered. If you pass through town, be sure to pick up a vial of her famed Ruby Treacle – it’s said to make your 25th anniversary feel like a honeymoon.
Antimony Vargas and a few of her favored poisons are depicted in this 2 1/2” x 3 1/2” x 1/4” original collage, which is executed on a handpainted canvas of handcut and assembled vintage images. It is accented with black Thai lace paper, silver repousse corners, crystals and silver watch parts. Edged in black satin ribbon dripping with jet-like beading, this charming piece is an absolute jewel.
This original artwork and story are copyright 2011 Ramona Szczerba. Neither artwork nor story can be reproduced without my express written permission. Thanks!