Dept 17


I really don’t need this in my life, I was thinking. I looked at his face as he stared at his phone. Jesus, you know? Monday morning, clocks went back yesterday. Or forward. The one where it’s lighter in the morning so it was lighter this morning, bright, nice autumny weather and I’d fucking gone and let myself think that today might be the dawn of a great new week. Ha, nah, not a great week, I’m not that stupid, but at least a good week. Well more fool me. You can’t have a good week with these pumpkins. I swear, they’re worse than kids.

“It’s a prototype,” I said, hoping, but knowing it wouldn’t, be the end of it.

“It’s a prototype now but it works,” whined Sub, turning his phone to me, like I hadn’t seen the clip from BBC Breakfast. The clip he’d already shown me. He showed it to me again like I hadn’t just watched it. The clip ended and it was Naga Munchetty on the sofa. I don’t like Naga Munchetty. Sub sadly turned his phone back to himself.

“Look, that suit can only fly for about three minutes, I reckon. Tops. Maybe not even that.”

“Yeah, for now,” he replied.

“They’re never going to get enough fuel in it. Where they going to put it? It can’t have a big fuel tank.” I sat back in my chair with my arms crossed behind my head. The video, which had completely dulled my slight buzz, was of some fucking guy who’d decided to make a rocket suit! Like that’s something somebody just decides to do! A proper sci-fi suit with jets on his arms and legs. I mean, it was cool as fuck. Like IronMan. I didn’t say that to Sub, I just pointed out the flaws. It was hard not to think that on some unconscious level the guy, who I didn’t know and who lived in a different country, had built the suit just to make my life worse. In the clip they were demonstrating the guy wearing it and going up a hill to rescue somebody. Somewhere an ambulance couldn’t drive to. “I mean, he couldn’t carry them down,” I said, waving an arm, because I was still thinking of things that would shut Sub up.

“Nor could I,” he replied, turning my kind words back on me like a cartoon gun with the barrel bent right around. Sub couldn’t carry much. I beat him at arm wrestling. What did he want me to say?

“What do you want me to say?” I asked. I put my hands flat on my desk then picked up a pen with my right one. I was a bit fidgety because there was somebody in my office.

“I’m thinking of getting a job, a proper job.” he said.

“Oh fuck off, mate. You’ve got a job. Don’t be a dickhead.” I dropped the pen to show disgust.

“A proper job, before it’s too late.”

“Oh, why do you do this? Eh?” I lent forward. Yeah, my good mood was completely gone. It always goes and every single time I’m surprised and disappointed! Every few weeks I get this shit. Oh, but that’s okay, I’m the manager so I have to manage people! It’s my job! It’s why I get twenty-seven grand a year. Because they, grown-ass adults, can’t fucking manage themselves. I knew why he was doing it, that’s the worst thing. He wanted reassurance. He wanted to come into my office and suck some positivity out of me like a sad drab vampire. I’ve got problems, you know? I deal with them myself. Take some personal responsibility, I thought as I watched him. He was looking at his legs with his sad face. He was thinking. I knew he was about to mention drones. I was ready for it. He drones on about drones!

“First drones and now th-“

See. “Look, Sub, you’re fucking amazing. You can fly. Without a suit! How many people can do that?”

“Two hundred and thirty.”

“Two hundred and thirty out of billions and billions of people. You’re incredible. You’re so fucking special,” I said and yeah, I totally was thinking, special needs more like. “You’re the,” I lowered my voice, “you’re the best one here. Don’t tell the others, but without you we’d be fucked. How many people in Europe can fly?”

“Fifty seven.”

“That many?”

“Yeah, fifty seven, including me.”

“How many in the Channel Islands?”

“Just me but-“

“Fuck buts. Just you. Remember that,” I said with an earnest mouth arrangement and a slightly nodding head. I continued slightly nodding. Was that it? Had I said enough. I looked at him. Nope.

“A drone can fly,” he continued, wallowing around in his self-pity.

“Subsonic, mate, fuck drones. Fuck that guy in a suit. You’re a super hero and you know what? It’s good you haven’t got laser eyes or…”

“Super strength.”

“Or super strength. It’s good, you know why?”

“Bullet proof,”

“Or bullet proof, it’s good, you know why?”

“Because it makes me human,” he said in a goofy voice which was making fun of all the other times we’d had this exact conversation, but it worked. I like the human thing, which I’d come up with just like that, during one of our discussions. He liked it too, despite his protests. And that’s why I make the big bucks. That’s what being a manager is about. It’s not about planning missions and logistics. 90% of it is massaging these great big babys’ egos. And it is better than working in the car-park.

“Yeah, being human. You say it like it’s nothing but it’s a good thing.”

“Yeah, I know but-“

Interrupting, that’s another important skill to have in your managerial arsenal. Don’t, whatever you do, let them finish. “Guernsey would kill to have you,” I said. They only have one super hero. Granite. Really strong guy but weighs, like, three tonnes and moves slower than a snail. What’s the point of that? Stupid.

“Might fly over there, see what they’ll offer,” said Subsonic and he was joking which meant his mood was lighter which meant I’d done great managing and it was only 9:20.

“Yeah, you do that, now go on, fuck off out.”

“Yes boss!” he said, standing and smiling. I shook my head as he left my office. I rolled my eyes and exhaled through my nose when the door was closed. I heard him dicking around with the others. I then remembered I’d meant to tell him to go up and see if he could see where that leak was coming from. It was the first dry day in a while. It was probably good I’d forgotten. Enough drama for one day. I’d ask him later.