Part 4 of 6

I was making my way down Main Street looking for a barber’s when I happened to glance into Baked Café. There, sitting in the window, was the inimitable Dr. Marnus F. O’Hoolahan. I hadn’t seen him — or my wallet — since the night of his dinner party in Squatter’s Row. The talk that night had been of the good doctor’s plans to turn over the Dawson to Whitehorse Brinks truck and I was keen to get an update.

I popped inside to say hello. He was poring over his computer screen as I waded through the familiar bustle of meetings and files, laptops and lattes. He looked up. His watery, crystal blue eyes creased into a smile.

“Aha, Oliver my good man!” He exclaimed in his musical Irish brogue. “How’s God treating you this fine afternoon?” I looked outside at the driving sheet rain, wondering how a foreign accent could be impervious to 30 years of Yukon living. “He’s treating me fairly,” I answered. “But judging by your expression, He’s treating you much better.”

“That He might be Oliver, that He might be! Tell me, did you find your watch now?”

“… and my wallet? No, sadly not.”

His gaze settled back onto his screen and he beamed that gentle, kind smile so warm and disarming when worn by the elderly.

“How’s the Brinks project going?” I asked.

“Oh, fine, fine.” He said, smiling and shaking his head. “A few problems with the police diversion. You know Oliver, for all the mines and road-building and industrial work up here, you’d never believe how hard it is to source three tonnes of high grade TNT.”

He raised his eyes to the heavens, “Regulations, Oliver! What good did regulations ever do … apart from to stifle free enterprise and creativity?” He shook his head and shrugged again. “They’ll kill all the fun in living, so they will Oliver … or will they?”

The doctor had a twinkle in his eye. “This is where the future is!” He turned the computer around so I could see the screen.

The title at the top of the screen read, TOTAL CHECK-UP: TOTAL HEALTH. Below this was a large Polaroid photograph of a woman dressed smartly in office clothing. The explanation at the bottom of the page read: “No condition too rare, no condition beyond our grasp. The simplest, cheapest, most convenient, most effective health-check you will receive anywhere in the world today.”

Dr O’Hoolahan laughed gaily.

“It’s a little thing we run out of Lagos,” he confided. “Totally secure, too. A few of the surgeons on my crew were worried about fraud in the Nigerian banking system, but so-far-so-good – we’ve had no trouble accessing peoples’ accounts and no trouble retrieving their money.” He ran his hands through his silver hair as a vicar passed by and acknowledged Marnus with a respectful, “Good morning, doctor”.

Marnus gave me an avuncular wink and continued, “They send us their credit card details and a full length digital photograph of themselves and for a mere 50 dollars the patient gets a total body check-up. They don’t even have to be naked, they can send us a photograph of themselves in their work clothes. We’re mailed photographs from around the world! We forward them to our lab in Nigeria where our crack team of experts runs a series of tests over the photos to test the subjects for ailments.”

“What can you find from a photograph?”

“Absolutely nothing, Oliver.” He shone his warm, sympathetic smile once more. “It’s amazing what people will believe! And it’s no surprise which country the majority of our customers come from.” He winked at me again. “And it’s certainly not north of here if you know what I mean!”

“You mean the U—”

“So I do, so I do.” He patted my thigh affectionately and gestured to the door. “You’d better get on now, son.”

Before I knew it I was back out on the street. And God certainly wasn’t treating me fine, for when I went to pay for my hair cut, my pocket was empty.