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••• The International Writers Magazine - 22 Years on-line - New Fiction

A Cure for Sceptics
by Sam North
Publisher: Hammer & Tong (28th July 2021)
Paperback: 326 pages
Kindle: ASIN: B09BBHPY9M
ISBN-13: 979-8537465874

Delaney and Asha run the Berg City Office of City Oversight. Their role is to expose the shady characters running scams and fraud against the city. 300 complaints flood in for a $30,000 treatment that claims to abolish pain forever. Unfortunately the Mayor himself is touting the scheme. When Delaney finds himself left for dead at the bottom of a cliff he gets the message that he's supposed to leave this one well alone.
Reviews:-
'A great human story that wears it's heart on it's sleeve.'
Dr Allen Cook - Bridgeport University
'Like discovering a Cary Grant movie you never saw, filled with wonderful characters.'
D.Thomas


A Cure for Sceptics

THE SCAM - an extract from 'A Cure for Sceptics'

Asha was looking at her computer screen.  “Got a weird one for you today.  What would you pay to get rid of the pain in your hands?”
            Delaney poured a dash of almond milk into the coffees and took one over to Asha. 
            “This one of your hypotheticals? Since you’re asking, I think I’d need money-back guarantees.  The pain would have to be gone forever.  I’d pay a great deal for that.”
            Asha nodded. “But you didn’t actually come up with a figure.  Would you sell your nice little house with a view of the harbor?”
            Delaney wrinkled his nose as he considered it.  “That’s a pretty big ask.  But some days, when the pain is really bad, I’d probably consider it.”
            “Serious?”  Asha asked, her eyebrows raised.
            “Until you’ve been in pain constantly for months or years, you can’t know how desperate you can get, Ash.  Money-back guarantee, I’d go for it.”
            Asha was impressed.  Until this moment she hadn’t appreciated just how bad his pain really was.  “Well then, I guess you are the exact right person to interview our first contestant this morning.”
            Delaney grinned.  This is why he’d hired Asha.  She had a sense of humor and understood possibly how pointless most of what they did was half the time.
            “Mr Abrams.  Ten o’clock.  Spent thirty grand at ‘Jirdasham - We feel your Pain – So you don’t have to.’ And now he wants his money back.”
            Delaney almost laughed.  “He did what?  How much?  Who?”
            “‘We feel your pain – so you don’t have to.’ You haven’t seen the Insta ads?”  Asha rolled her eyes.  Of course, he hadn’t, he didn’t do social media. 
            “Seriously, this is a thing?  Thirty grand?  Is this even in our purview?  It has to be medical surely and the Health and Safety department would handle this.  If City Hall still has one.”
            Asha shook her head.  “This was Alice’s stuff.  She dumped it on me.  It’s a scam and guess who investigate scams – us.  She made an appointment for you.”
            “But what has this got to do with City Hall?”
            Asha read from her computer screen.
            “Jirdasham is the most innovative and promising organization I have seen that deals with drug-free pain control.  If we are to get on top of the scandal of people dying from opiates, legal and otherwise, we need to work with organizations like ‘Jirdasham Pain Control.’  Mayor Caesar Stoll.  Quote - unquote.”  She adjusted her seat before adding, “it was in all the papers months ago.”
            Delaney groaned.  “And how much was he paid to say that?  Shit, Ash.  This can’t be true.  He’s pushing some scam artists and what happens if we expose them?”
            “I guess we look for new jobs.” Asha replied shrugging.  “But who knows, Chief.  They might be genuine.  Ye of little faith.”
            Delaney sipped his coffee.  “It stinks.  No one can fix pain.  I know.  I’ve tried them all.”
            Asha read more. ‘The Jirdasham Method is 100% natural with no dependency issues.”
            “Don’t buy their shares just yet, Ash.”
            “As if.  Alice was looking into this.  There’s a whole lot of complaints.”
            Delaney rolled his eyes.  “Well that’s a surprise.”  He didn’t need this.  Of course, it was a scam.  No one could get rid of pain without addressing the causes of pain.
            His desk phone rang.  He just hoped it wasn’t the Mayor.
            “City Oversight.  Delaney speaking.”
            “Mr Delaney.  Forgive me for this late call but I believe we have a ten o’clock appointment.”
            Delaney hoped he was cancelling.  “Mr er …” He’d forgotten already.
            “Abrams.  If I may request that we meet at my store, Mr Delaney.  I’m in too much pain to walk today and I can promise you an excellent coffee for your trouble. BookBank.  You know it well, if I’m not mistaken.”
            Delaney smiled with recognition.  “I’ve spent many hours browsing in Bookbank, Mr Abrams, even bought a few books and your excellent coffee.”
            “Then you’ll know that I wouldn’t ask you to come if I could avoid it.”
            Delaney glanced at his watch – six blocks, all uphill.  “Make it 10.15, Mr Abrams.  See you then.”
            Asha was watching him.  “He owns BookBank?  Tragedy about his daughter, Lily.  I used to worship her.  She was quite an activist for the environment.  So sad she killed herself.” 
            Delaney frowned.  The beautiful Lily was dead?   Delaney felt a twinge of disappointment.  Lily had meant so much to him once and he’d lived for her brilliant smile. “I find it hard to believe someone like her would kill themselves.  She got me reading stuff I would never had tried, just so I’d have a chance to discuss them with her.”
            Asha was looking at Delaney in a new light.  He was a romantic.  Sweet.
            “She had cancer.  I guess didn’t want to suffer.  I can’t believe you don’t know all this.”
            Delaney glanced at Asha and nodded.  He’d been in Europe for eight years before starting this agency.  Things had changed, people moved on, or died.  Perhaps he was too wrapped up in his own pain to catch up.  Poor Lily.  Poor Mr Abrams.  He’d been devoted to his beautiful daughter.
            “I’m going.  Don’t sign us up for anything else this crazy today, OK?”

© Sam North July 2021
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