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Buying and selling skin

  • 03 August 2011

Small change

The woman's blink rate tells him she's nervous: almost once per second, four times the normal count. Jack knows a touch of nerves can help soften up a client, especially in the clinic's private waiting cubicles, but if he overdoes it she may fear opening her wallet. And that must be avoided at all costs.

Today's tuning strategy will combine his intuition with her file data: Kate Moore, 36, legal consultant, IQ 128. Single, lives alone, one cat; decent income, eldest child, immigrant-made-good parents who scrimped to afford private schools. Non-smoker, gym-goer; moderate drinker, wheat allergy. Likes the ocean, cinema games, soul music, fresh flowers — especially jonquils. Favourite colour: orange. No illicit drugs, no major social transgressions. Dog phobia. Body issues. Unremarkable sexual history. Referred by her mentor, who's treating her for Type B depression, mild anxiety and low self-regard. Anxious about ageing, lack of partner, declining fertility, career plateau, etc.

Yep, he gets the picture. And visually? A six out of ten. For now.

He has a few minutes before the medico summons her. He pipes a generic instrumental soul ballad into her cubicle, then dials up a subtle scent, a blend of seaspray and jonquils, just below the threshold of consciousness. It takes less than a minute to bring her blink rate down, but hey, thinks Jack, let's not overdo it. If she gets too tranquil, he can always dial in some dog.

Kate has just begun to relax when a woman's voice addresses her from the ceiling. 'Ms Moore, Dr Paige is ready for you. Please proceed to consult room 3, on the left.' Kate pads down the thickly carpeted hallway, self-conscious in her white robe and paper slippers. 'Senior Medico Elaine Paige,' reads the door plaque, 'Rejuvenation specialist. BASc(Hons), MD, MSc, MappPsych'. All those letters, she thinks, must spell experience.

So she's not prepared for the fresh-faced woman behind the desk; the medico can't be older than late 20s, which Kate knows is impossible. Dark glossy hair swept back off a porcelain forehead, immaculate skin and symmetrical features, generous lips and a bright blue gaze. Slim, of course. And pale, fashionably pale. She stands to greet Kate, offers her hand: her smile is assured and perfectly aligned, her hand soft. Kate tries not to stare. The woman's skin appears completely poreless. Focus, she tells herself. The medico is speaking.

'Primarily we use infralight and dermaceuticals, so there's minimal downtime,'