Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Jane trying to explain

   Sarah and Molly were eating crisps, staring into space. The noise of the crisps was annoying Harry, and he eventually put his pen down and said, "Please be quiet. I'm trying to write a speech for a deer."
   As soon as he said that, he knew it didn't sound right. Sarah said to Molly, "Jane was trying to explain to a duck why he shouldn't peck at the rabbit, and she thought he understood what she was saying. And what's the very first thing he does? He pecks at the rabbit."
   They stood on a path near the sea, with ice creams in their hands and about thirty people around them. Sarah said, "And then someone tried to explain to her why the duck wouldn't understand words like 'anti-social'. She kept nodding away, and what's the very first thing she does? She tries to explain to the rabbit that it's stupid to just sit there while the duck pecks him."
   A man stood up in front of the crowd, looked down at a card in his hand and said, "Thanks for coming out this evening. When I was running through the forest, listening to the sound of the air passing through my antlers, I saw a beautiful doe in a clearing and came to a halt..."
   "I knew that didn't sound right," Harry said to himself.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Ham Sandwiches

Joan stood in the garden and looked down at the ground. She noticed an ant in the grass, but she didn't pay much attention to it. She was wondering why Tommy ate so many ham sandwiches.
   In the ant colony, an ant with a white beard stood up in front of all the other ants and said, "My name is Karl Marx. Fellow workers, we don't have to settle for the, ah... the current order, capitalism and... ahm... the dialectic movement of history, it's... if we unite we'll, ah..." His beard fell off. He stood down and went back to work, but his place was taken by an ant with a tennis racket who said, "My name is Stefan Edberg. Fellow workers, we no longer have to be crushed beneath the capitalist order, dominated by the bourgeoisie. In the dialectic movement of history the capitalist system will inevitably be overthrown and replaced an era of proletarian rule before the, ah... damn!"
   Joan heard a sound behind her. She turned around and saw a wolf dragging a bag of potatoes across the ground. She laughed and said, "That wasn't Tommy at all."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


The Man on the Boat

   Standing behind a woman in a fur coat, who's standing near a man with a bunch of red roses. They watch the two men in grey suits, one of them holding a broken chair. The other takes out a gun. Back away slowly through the shadows, then run into the night. Drive away with the headlights off.
   I need to hide for a while, so for the next few days, I love Lucy.
   There isn't a cloud in the sky, and the weather forecast says it'll be like this all day. I might cut the lawn later on. I had the sprinkler on earlier, and the grass should be dry by now. Did I leave my top hat in a bucket? What am I talking about; I don't even have a top hat.
   A knock at the door. It's two men in grey suits.
   "I love Lucy."
   "Don't try that on us. We know who you are."
   "I swear I don't know anything. I didn't see anything."


Could Be Books

Not coming soon
     from Could Be Books...

What's That Sound? by Rebecca Uncle-June.
   Jane was a highly successful brain surgeon and World Champion figure skater, but something was missing in her life. Her cat had hurt his paw, but that wasn't it. The chance discovery of a ceiling that fell on her head brought a new and thrilling adventure to her life, but that wasn't it either. Maybe it was the cat after all. Standing in a field, she tried to kick a rabbit, running after it, telling it to stop running so she could kick it. Is this it? she asked herself. Find out if this is it.

It Smells of Success, by Nancy April.
   Jane was sitting in her front garden when she noticed the smell. Within an hour her whole life had been torn apart. Find out how she slowly stitches her life back together, finding love on the way. She also buys a duck. She calls the duck Windsurfy and she takes it to the beach. She has her photo taken with Windsurfy. He's wearing sunglasses and the photo appears in a newspaper. She receives a lot of criticism for this, an almost fatal blow just when she thought she'd got her life back together. But she stitches her life back together again, finding a little duck tuxedo on the way.

Is that a Tree? by Radio Breeze.
   Jane fell over a chair. Todd hit his head off a lampshade. He once shot a cow. Jane laughs whenever she tries to say the word 'bouncey'. She met Todd when she was trying to take a photo of a sleeping kitten. She knew he was the one for her. They went for walks in the park and picnics in the fields. He once shot her budgie. She bakes cakes and sings while she does the dishes. The budgie survived, but its wing is in a sling and it tries to look sad every time Todd is around. Todd knows that it's deliberately trying to look sad.

Get me to the Church, by Knee Ball-Igloo.
   It was the day Todd dreamt about all his life. He was about to marry his childhood sweetheart, Jessica. Nearly killing a camel with a chimney brush by repeatedly hitting it over the head with the brush wasn't part of that dream. But this is the real world. Six hundred and eighty three times over the head. Falling out of a helicopter was part of that dream, but finding that his bride had run off with the chimney sweep was not. This was going to be a day everyone except the camel would never forget.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


French Film

   A man and a woman sit in silence at a table in a quiet café. She holds a cup of coffee and stares out the window. He leans back in his chair and taps his fingers on the table top. They can hear a woman talking on the street outside. The sound fades away.
   Man: Oui.
   Subtitles: Yes, I will accompany you to your parents' dinner party, but if your aunt Carol tells the story of the time she met Tiger Woods and he had a golf tee stuck in his beard, I will be unable to refrain from pointing out that she is an idiot. That was not Tiger Woods. That was obviously a man with a golf tee in his beard who wanted to make a fool out of your aunt because he found her so repulsive. I find her repulsive too. And if she talks about how her daughter's pet rabbit does a little dance whenever someone says the word 'shuffle', I will be unable to refrain from pointing out that this would make him more intelligent than her daughter. If she tells the story of her dog and the water, I will leave the table in disgust, but not before I point out her numerous grammatical errors. The dog is very strange and your aunt is an idiot. If her dog keeps getting wet it is because she is stupid. And if her dog likes the rain it is because he is stupid too. I also find your parents repulsive.


Tuesday, May 03, 2005


In the Park

   Henry and Jane stand on the grass in the park and watch the birds. The birds' names are Laurel and Hardy. They didn't have any names before Jane arrived. Henry ignores them. There's a letter in his pocket. The word 'argumentative' is in that letter, and it's very close to the word 'Henry'. He stares at a tree and thinks about the letter.
   One of the birds spills a tin of paint over the other bird, probably Hardy, and he runs in circles flapping his wings. "I was never denying that Handel's Messiah was first performed in Dublin," Henry says. "I was just saying something about Dublin."
   Jane has given a worm the name 'Steve McQueen'.


The sun begins to set

   He lights a cigarette and looks towards the horizon. She sighs and looks down.
   Tree: His foot is caught in a snare, but he's trying to act casual because she just told him that she's been offered a job in New Zealand.
   "New, ahm... who?" he says.
   Gate: What the tree failed to point out was that the job is throwing fridges off cliffs to test them.
   She sighs again and says, "It's the chance of a lifetime, but..."
   Tree: I should also point out that the gate hasn't been quite right since a Ford Transit backed into it.
   "I just don't know what to do."
   Gate: A bird landed in the tree once, and then it just fell over, the bird. For no reason whatsoever.
   "It's such a long way away."
   "I... who?"
   Tree: People are always saying that there's a funny smell off the gate. That's why they leave it open.
   "It's a huge decision."
   Gate: Someone carved the word 'Slow' on the tree, and now everyone calls it 'Slow'. That's why the bird fell over.


Arranging Flowers

   Lucy and Nicole are arranging flowers on the table. Ron stares out the window.
   "They just don't look quite finished," Lucy says.
   "What about one of those little umbrellas?" Nicole says.
   "No, you're thinking of cocktails."
   "What about..."
   Ron: Spiders die. I kill them. Cows fall over and people blame me for it just because I push over cows. I mean, just because I kill spiders.
   As the afternoon enters evening, the rain starts and the wind picks up. Lucy and Nicole stand at the window and stare out at an umbrella stuck in a tree. Ron says, "If I'd pushed over one cow then I could understand why people think I push over cows, but just because I've shouted abuse at thousands of ducks, it doesn't mean I've pushed over even one cow. I mean, just because I've killed thousands of spiders."


A Knock at the Door

   A bear knocked at the front door. Maybe it wasn't really a bear. Actually, it probably wasn't a bear at all. He said hello, coughed, looked down at the ground and scratched the back of his neck, then he said, "This might sound a bit odd, but I was supposed to play Yul Brynner in a version of 'The King and I'. You might say, why was I playing Yul Brynner and not the character Yul Brynner played in 'The King and I', but it's a long story." No, it was a bear alright.


Two Birds

   Charlie and Ella watch TV for a while before dinner - a programme about an elephant. Then after dinner they watch the cat in the back garden, but the cat feels the pressure of having to live up to the elephant on TV, and he falls over.
   Two birds on a branch, and the little one says, "Assuming you're the big one, why do they have so much trouble killing James Bond?"
   The cat is lying on his side with his paws sticking out. Ella says, "Do you think it would have made any difference if we'd called the cat 'Marx' and the dog 'Engels', instead of the other way around?" Charlie thought the cat was Marx and the dog Engels. Charlie thinks the reason they have so much trouble killing James Bond is because he's an idiot. And the big one says, "There's no doubt I'm the big one."


The Light in the Window

   Steve sat in his car and looked at the house at the other side of the street. Jim was next to him in the passenger's seat. Through the fog he saw a woman come out of the door and run to a car. A man followed her a few seconds later. He saw the red tail lights come on, and he started his engine. Just as he was about to drive away, Jim said, "Wait a minute. This is the pole vaulter we're supposed to be following, isn't it?"
   "Are you sure it's him?"
   "Well who else could it be?"
   "What about the man on top of the lamp post."
   Steve looked up at the man holding on to the top of the lamp post near the car. "Why do you think it might be him?"
   "I don't know."
   "It doesn't matter anyway. They've gone now."
   "Well let's follow him then."
   They looked up at the man on top of the lamp post and he looked down at them.


In the hills

   Over the hill and down in the valley. "Hello there Daisy."
   "Hello Henry."
   "How are you, Daisy?"
   "Not too bad, Henry. How are you?"
   "Not too bad, Daisy. How's the puppy?"
   That's Daisy and Henry. Emily is looking for her watch in the garden. She finds it wrapped around a garden gnome, almost as if he's been tied up with it. She wonders what happened to the bag that used to be on the garden gnome's back. And wasn't there another gnome nearby? Am I looking at a robbery? she says to herself. Later on the phone she's still talking about it. "My watch is more expensive than a whole garden gnome. I mean, if that garden gnome had kidnapped the other gnome and demanded a ransom, he'd still get more by selling my watch. They have no sense whatsoever." She talks for half an hour and there's complete silence on the other end of the line. Alan doesn't say a word. And that's the puppy.


Walking down the street

   Dave walks down the street and thinks about his friend Jane, who was telling him about how her son got a goldfish and called it Skippy. He tried to teach the goldfish to roll over, but the goldfish wouldn't do anything at all, and Jane's son said to it, "I heard Skippy the bush kangaroo say that he wanted to come around here to punch you." Every time someone calls around, he says to the goldfish, "Oh no! Skippy's here to punch you." It's very embarrassing for Jane, but Dave thinks that all she needs to do is tell her son that Skippy the bush kangaroo is angry with him for suggesting that he'd punch a goldfish.
   Later that afternoon, Dave is hiding in a wardrobe with Denise and he's afraid of being caught in there, but she doesn't even know why they're hiding. She thinks it's very exciting. He tries to stay calm, and then he remembers the goldfish and he tells her about it. "...She just needs to tell him that the real Skippy, the kangaroo, is very angry with him. Then he'll stay quiet. And she's embarrassed by his attempts to play the violin too because all the neighbours hear. But all she needs to do there is close the bloody window."
   Dave wishes he could be somewhere else when he's in a room full of people and they're all looking at him. He sees a vase of flowers on the sideboard. He takes the flowers out of the vase, hands them to Louise and says, "I got these for you." She's delighted. He breathes a sigh of relief. Then he remembers Denise in the wardrobe. She's still there, trying to remain as still and as quiet as possible, with a big smile on her face in the darkness. He also remembers the goldfish. "...All she has to do is to say that the real Skippy is upset with him. And close the bloody window when he plays the violin. It's as simple as that."


Here boy

   Steve is trying to put out the fire with just a watering can. The girl guides are making even more noise than the wasps, and the puppy is hanging by his teeth from the telephone wire.
   Poppy has an idea: she faints.
   It wasn't much of an idea, but it worked. Poppy missed the whole thing. When she regained consciousness, Marianne was sitting by the fire with a blanket wrapped around her, the puppy was asleep in the basket, and Dan had just figured out how to get the fridge down.


Look at the Dog

   They sit at her kitchen table and drink tea. He looks at the dog outside the window as she talks, so he's not really listening and he hasn't noticed that she's trying to split up with him. When she says, "Sometimes I think we're just on different wavelengths," he wonders if she's talking about the time she got electrocuted.
   Teapot wearing fake beard: I admire the way the teapot is handling this situation.
   As he listens to what she's saying he gets the impression that she's blaming him for the electrocution. "The thing to remember about that," he says, "is that Tommy claims to be a classically trained pianist too. So when he says he's an electrician, y' know..."
   Teapot wearing fake beard: Did you see the way the teapot remained completely calm? I don't know who that teapot is, but he's already earned my respect.
   "I remember there was an old bike once and he was hammering away at it. Sometimes he'd stop and look at it, then he'd hammer away at it again. It was very funny."


The Owl

   Sarah skipped down the path into the trees, took a deep breath of the fresh air and looked all around her at the happy woodland scene - the birds singing in the trees, the rabbits and squirrels talking to each other. She took notes and made sketches of everything she saw. She got a shock when she heard an owl, and she jumped. She was glad no one was around to see that, although the squirrels were looking at her in a funny sort of way. She crossed out the word 'happy' before the word 'owls' and wrote 'tedious, over-rated, self-important' instead.
   When she went home she said to her sister, "There must be something you can do with owls."
   And her sister said, "If they can send a man into space, surely they can send an owl... to Limerick."
   Sarah saw the owls in a different light after this. She'd been to other cities, but she'd never been to Limerick. The next time she saw the owls in the woods she crossed out the words 'tedious, over-rated, self-important'. When she got home she looked up the word 'cosmopolitan' in the dictionary and she wrote that instead.


The White Scarf

   As the sun went down, Ray leant against his car and lit a cigarette. The case was starting to worry him; the murder of a wealthy heiress, a sister who isn't as sorry as she should be to lose a sister, and a husband who spends most of his time fishing. And the nurse was proving to be a lot less helpful than he hoped she'd be.
   "For the last time, I'm not a bloody nurse."
   He took a long drag of his cigarette. He looked up at the stars coming out in the sky, and he wondered if he should go to the beach house. He had a feeling he'd find Annabelle there. And he was starting to wonder if the nurse was really a nurse at all.
   A light came on in an upstairs window.
   Ray: Look, there's someone in the room. Is he the same man you saw on the boat?
   Nurse: I'm sick of this. I'm going home.

The Tree and the Horse
Henry Seaward-Shannon
A Walk in the Rain
The East Cork Patents Office
Words are my favourite noises




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very slight stories

They Met a Bear
  They stopped in a small seaside town and they went for a walk. They met a bear.
  This is one version of the story. In another version, they met a sailor, and in this one they ended up being held at gunpoint on a speedboat and becoming unwilling participants in a diamond robbery while disguised as a cow, and sharing in the proceeds of that crime.
  So when they tell the story they just say, "We met a bear. He waved at us."

The Story of the Fortune Teller and the Alarm Clock
  A fortune teller threw an alarm clock at me. This story is deliberately lacking in details to mock the predictions of the fortune teller. Although she was right when she said she'd throw an alarm clock at me.

  One. Two. Three, the study. Four, a candle stick. Five. Six...
  Seven is missing, presumed dead. One has taken up the case, and two is helping him in his investigations. They both suspect six. Seven was last seen next to six in the garden.
  But seven isn't really dead. He's consumed half a bottle of whiskey and he's currently in the orchard, talking to a rabbit. "One of us is as boring as a gate post," he says, "and it's not..." He stops to count on his fingers. "No, actually it is me."
  Eight nine ten.

Debbie and his dog
  Debbie was sick of people mistaking her for a man.
  "Is your dog my parole officer?"
  She was sick of people asking her that too.

Very Slight Stories: like short stories, only shorter

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