Homepage My Bio Nonfiction Fiction Send mail: doctorow@craphound.com On winning the Campbell Award
Fiction Banner

2,000 Year Checkup
On Spec Logo
On Spec, Winter 1990

This is the first story I ever sold. I was seventeen, and I submitted it to On Spec's special Youth Issue.

The first thing I noticed when I walked into his house was the bells. They were everywhere. The door shut with a glassy tinkle, the walls were hung with jingle-tipped macramé. A gong, made from a hubcab, strips of leather and a meat tenderiser hung on a stand in the centre of his living-room.

"Hey man, just walk in, I'll be around. I had taken this advice to heart and, upon determining which townhouse was his, I just turned the doorknob. The bells, as noted, tinkled. I couldn't see him anywhere. I shook a wall-hanging. The bells jingled.

"Hello?" No reply. The thirsty green ferns sopped up the sound, moistly stealing it from the air. I took a quick look around. Bells. Plants. Some Peter Tosh posters, bundles of bright wire in tight knots. The windows were painted with bright watercolours. The stained-glass art they formed was intricate, a gaudy collage of drug images and autohypnotic spirals.

I grabbed up the meat tenderiser and banged the gong. The bits of steel hung around it vibrated with sound. A door slid aside and he walked in.

"Good day, man." His head tottered on his neck, his long legs took funky-chicken strides over the clutter on the floor. One wiry hand stuck itself out, near my belly. I clasped it awkwardly with my left hand. He languidly raised and lowered his arm, taking mine with it.

"Mr Kane?" I asked. His head dipped. "I'm John Stewart. We spoke earlier, on the phone?"

Again his neck bent. "Yeah man, whassup? You got a problem, right?" He took an empty beer-bottle from the coffee table, where a ring of sticky dust had formed. He stuck his eye up to the business end and looked at me through the brown glass.

"Oh yeah, you got it bad."

Click here for info on my second novel, Eastern Standard Tribe

Click here for info on my first short story collection, A Place So Foriegn and Eight More

Click here for info on my first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom