Bareword
Same Day Test

9.54am

The waiting room has blue walls. Light blue. There are partitions covered in the same paper but it’s peeled off the back of the one I’m sitting behind. They’re new chairs, with light blue cushioning which doesn’t quite match the walls.

A guy I’ve seen before is sitting round the corner. I don’t think he knows me but I remember him because he had MOTORHEAD in studs on the back of his jacket and a perm and he used to walk around town. That night Gabrielle dragged me into a strip bar he was there too. Today he’s got this thick-as-mince grin as he sits there. He’s amused. He’s either getting tested for a range of ugly and possibly fatal diseases, or he has some other unspecified genital complaint. Maybe warts. And still he sits there smiling like the kids at school who used to say So? So? Fucking idiot.

A couple directly across from me are wearing fleece jackets like hillwalkers do. They look worried. They’re holding hands. For a moment I wish I had a hand to hold but maybe that would make it worse.

I see a magazine. It has an evil looking nurse with handcuffs on the front. It says POSITIVE across the top in large letters. I tell myself this is not an omen. I pick it up.

—Mr Houston?

It takes me a moment to remember that’s me. When I do I jump to my feet. A woman with a kind face and a labcoat round her shoulders smiles at me and takes me down the corridor.


Interview