The Human Genre Project

D ya know me?

It’s the big interview this afternoon. No that ahm particularly nervous, but, but yiv got tae stay one step ahead ay these SS cunts. A lot’s riding on the outcome of the day. Made sure and was up sharpish, well before noon, and dragged ma wedding, funerals, court and interviews suit frae the cupboard. Smelled a bit ripe tae be honest, but nothing a skoosh of deodorant didnae sort. No that ah give a fuck if I stink, mind, but a dinae want to play to thir fucked-up middle class prejudices. Be getting enough of a grilling from the leery, po-faced cunts as it is without them thinking I’m some sort of jakey too.

Time for a swifty before likes. Besides, I have tae meet Big Grey Al for the red stuff.

- Awright Al, ah says, pumping the big guy’s han.
- William. Al’s the only cunt bar mah ma that calls me William.
- Mr Savage tae you, cunt, I beams standing him a pint and chaser.
- Here you go son, best ay gear this, he says, handing me a wee container. It’s in there aw primed. Just keep it casual likes, mak sure they dinae look too closely at it.
- Eh? I says, tempted to shake the thing out. It better nae be some blacky’s!

Big Grey Al just laughs, is it fuck, he says. Aw ahm saying is it’s nae fucking Hollywood likes, so jist dinae wave it in front of thir pusses.

— Aye, okay. Cheers aw the same. I’ll square yi aefter the interview, when ahm back on it.

Big Grey Al nods sagely, you’ll fuckin square me for it wither yir back oan it or no, Billy.

I nod, and gulp back the rest of my pint. Jesus.

- Mr Savage, the first one says, aw pretend polite. She motions to a bright orange plastic chair. This is my colleague Mr Huxley and I’m Ms Buchanan. I nod. As I’m sure you’re aware, Mr Savage – Billy, call me Billy, ah says, gien a dafty smile — As I’m sure you aware, Mr Savage, we will be recording this session should we need to refer back to anything you’ve said – and youz, I interrupt – when we reconsider your case. This is permissible under the Home and State Security Act 2012.

- I ken, I say, trying to look cheerful and cooperative.
- As you know, the purpose of this interview is to ascertain whether you will continue to be a ward of the state, or whether you can become a fully functioning and contributory member of society.
- Any chance of a cup of tea? Ah says.

She sighs. The fat cunt, Huxley, scribbles something onto his pad.

- Your debt to society currently stands at £10,080, of which £5,760 is WA, and £4,320 IA.
- As much as that? I says, pleasantly surprised.
- Yes. As you’ve been a state ward for 18 months, we are now entitled to take further measures to reintegrate you into society.

Here it comes.

- Can you roll up your sleeve please Mr Savage? She’s taking some sealed plastic kit thing from under the desk.
- For the record, fat Huxley says, Ms Buchanan is removing the Monitoring Pack from its wrapping.

I grin at the boy, wondering just how many times the tool’s rattled oot the same line.

- This is an RFID tag, Mr Savage. Do you know what that is?

I nod.

- For the disk, please, fat arse says.
- Aye, I says, all serious.

She levels the plastic gun over my forearm and whaps the handle. I wince as the wee tag’s fired into muscle. Bet the whore’s knickers are sopping.

- We’ll be able to track your movements at all times, Mr Savage, to ensure you are complying fully with your contract.

Fucking contract. The bitch makes it sound like a job. She goes to dab at my forearm with a burny swab but I take it from her and do it myself. She’s nonplussed.

- We are also entitled – this is the killer moment, ah just hope that cunt Big Grey Al has come through wi the goods – to run a DNA Suitability Assessment Test.

I force out a complicit grin.

- Please press your thumb onto this depression, Mr Savage.

I do it as casually as I can, sure the fucking false thumb’s sliding down my finger, wondering if the wee blood packet is in the right spot, whether the needle will pierce it, and more to the fucking point, whether the red Big Grey Al packed it with is of sufficiently substandard stock.

I pretend to wince when I hear the needle jump oot. She hands me a swab again and I quickly withdraw my hand. Fat boy Huxley whips the datacard from the machine and pokes it into the computer.

Buchanan eyes some desk interface in front of her, glasses riding up her nose with distaste.

- Lot of pollen this time of year, Mr Savage she says. Pollen. In the air. She swivels her eyes upwards.
- Oh aye, lots of pollen likes, I grin. Smells lovely.

She frowns. Not playing havoc with your hayfever? She asks, eyes narrowing.

- Mah hayfever? Oh, I says rubbing my beak, fucking brutal but. Just took my antihistamines before I came in. Didnae want to be snotting all over you.
- Very considerate, Mr Savage, Huxley says. I smile.
- Did you walk here? Huxley asks.
- Walk?
- Yes
- A wee bit, and the tram.
- I see. Cause you much pain?
- Fucking right, I says, £3.20 for a single? Bloody highway robbery.
- I meant your ankle. Your … gout?
- Oh the gout, I says, rubbing my leg. Aye, nips sometimes. Too much good living. She doesn’t rise to it. I’m beginning to think I should have spent less time shooting the shit with Big Grey Al and more time asking about the red. Fuck.

- According to your genome sequencing, you are sadly ill-qualified for most of the options on our database.
- I see, I say, trying to look crestfallen.
- Your mental capacity is rated average to low, you have a predisposition to heart disease, most cancers, a variety of pulmonary disorders, and your lifespan – assuming you don’t smoke or drink, she says wearily – is around seventy at best.
- Some guys have all the luck, I says.
- Pardon, Huxley’s nose wrinkles. Rod Stewart, ah says. The cunt scribbles something else.
- Your education and experience are negligible, your health is deplorable, your faculties mediocre at best, and your prognosis bleak.
- Nothing for me then? I says. Fucking Bingo bango.
- Oh I don’t know, Buchanan purrs. There are three potential fits.
- Three? I says, pretending I’m chuffed to bits. What are they? Shite! Three possibles?
- The first one is for the position of Janitor at Raeburn Primary school.
- Ah, I says, my face dropping.
- Ah? Huxley frowns.
- Mah record.
- Your Genome sequence?
- Naw, mah record. Criminal likes.

Huxley dials up another database quick sharp. He’s right, he says through gritted teeth. Rules him out of the second one too.

Buchanan scowls.

- What does that leave me? I say, pretend hopeful.
- Data entry for Standard Life.
- Data entry? I says, looking confused.
- Yes, you type shit onto a computer all day, Buchanan hisses.
- I see, I say nodding, with some disappointment.
- Is there a Problem, Huxley wants to know. A bead of sweat runs slivery down his cheek.
- I’m afraid my eyesight is very poor.
- It doesn’t mention anything about that in your profile, Buchanan says.
- I ken that, I say. It wouldn’t.
- And why not? Huxley’s face is reddening. I’ve got this pair of cunts just where I want them.
- I got maced, at the last interview I attended. For cleaner at Murrayfield.

Buchanan taps up another screen. It’s all there in front of her.

She leans back in her chair, eyeing me, wee twitches running through the muscle of her jaw. Huxley just glares. There’s a moment’s silence, the hum of the desktop’s fan suddenly deafening in the stifling wee room. I wait.

Buchanan sighs and pushes her glasses up her nose, pulling out my sheet.

- Mr Savage, are you currently activity seeking work?
- Yes.
- Have you engaged in any work, paid or otherwise since you last signed on?
- No.
- If you have answered either of these questions dishonestly, we reserve the right to suspend your benefits and recoup any funds you may have been awarded. Sign here.

Bingo fucking bango.

Stefan Pearson