2,000 Year Checkup
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."