The Dinner Party

Part 3 of 6

Last weekend, I dined with the venerable Irish anaesthetist, Dr. Marnus F. O’Hoolahan, at his house in Squatter’s Row. It was the first time I had met him and he was in fine spirits; sitting at the head of the table like a sage, his silver hair was shimmering in the candle light and his kindly face radiating a warm benevolence.

To my utter surprise, the topic of conversation was dominated by the good doctor’s intention to knock off the Dawson to Whitehorse Brinks truck in early 2009. His entire team was arranged around the dinner table: the driver and the two designated pilots are family physicians; the explosives expert is an anaesthetist; the safe-house is owned by a radiographer, and a surgeon they call “Golden Hands” will be responsible for a spectacular police diversion.

Before I knew it, I was being recruited! Golden Hands invited me to participate in his diversion – a proposal which was whole-heartedly endorsed by our rosy-cheeked host. To their dismay, however, I declined, and after some heated discussion they agreed to approach a prominent dentist for the task instead.

Talking to my neighbour, a getaway pilot called Dr. Annabel Thirsk, I learned more of O’Hoolahan’s fascinating background. Before he arrived in Whitehorse 30 years ago, he was chief medical adviser to a well-known transatlantic airline.

As an enterprising gentleman with a keen eye for business, he identified a gaping hole in the market and presented his idea to the airline’s management. They went for it; Flight Dreamzzzz was a bespoke luxury option for first-class passengers. Yes, you guessed it; he zapped the customers! He hooked’em up to a propofol drip just before take-off and turned off the tap just before landing. He even managed to sell the drug formula to a large bio-medical company before he was fired.

“People loved it,” said Annabel. “There were even calls to make it available for economy class passengers.” She shook her head in disbelief. “Sadly, he was ahead of his time and the authorities, for whatever reason, put an end to it … Can you imagine! Such lack of vision! I hate flying. Wouldn’t you do it if you had the chance?”

But I did have the chance. For after our port and cheese, I learned that it’s an O’Hoolahan dinner party tradition for the doctor to anaesthetize his guests before they depart. And suddenly it all made sense – the minibus coming to pick us up, the large gas tank at the end of the table, the complementary novelty mask on each napkin …

The rest of the evening is a bit of a blur. I remember joining a queue in the living room with the other guests, sitting down on the couch, the frail two-handed grasp of O’Hoolahan’s hand shake, the parting pleasantries, then on with the mask and nighty-night!

I woke up the following morning with a cracking headache to discover my watch and wallet were missing. I called the doc to see if I’d left them behind. He suggested I’d dropped them when I was carried across my garden.

I looked, but there was no sign of them. And they still haven’t turned up.

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