Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, May 30, 2006


A Tree

   It's a mixed blessing to be able to put up your hand and say, "I know who I am and I know who you are and... and that's all I know." But one of the good things about it is you get to meet a lot of people. That's how Sam met Estelle. She thinks she's a tree. He told her she was a very pretty tree. She sighed and went on a merry-go-round tour of her grey afternoon, with ice cream cones and hurry-go-cars that go away while she walks slowly through the city streets. Sometimes she sits on a bench in the park, watching the busses on the street outside.
   "I don't really think I'm a tree," she said.
   "You're still pretty, whatever you are. A woman."
   He put up his hand, but he didn't know what to say. And he didn't need to say anything -- it's just one of those lucky co-incidences. He kept his hand in the air and she said, "You're a tree too." He put his other hand in the air as well. She liked that.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


It was a Hedgehog

   I don't know what the weather man says. He talks too fast. Last night he painted his arm blue during the weather forecast because a hedgehog told him to do it, and he lost track of what he was saying. His weather reports are mostly about what the wind is doing in the willows. He says a hedgehog tells him to do that too, but I doubt it.
   Alison likes hats. She eats moles. Ignore what I said about the moles. She likes moles. She says, "Space..." If you join up the dots, that's something about liking moles. I don't know what you'd join the dots to.
   I met her in a pub. She said she really enjoyed jogging, and I didn't have to join anything to anything to get that. And I didn't have to re-arrange the words 'I', 'really', 'enjoy' and 'jogging', although I did remove an F word, but that didn't alter the meaning.
   I spilled a drink on my shoes. I told her a hedgehog made me do it. She said, "Yeah, I doubt that."
   But if you join the 'yeah' to a small tree and the 'that' to the words 'I'm so glad you're here', and re-arrange everything, then she swooned and said she loved the way I dealt with those thieves. I said 'thanks' and we walked away together, and I said 'up yours' to the hedgehog.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


The Swans on our Side

   Bob is a neighbour of mine. He once met some blind swans, and he wanted to see if they were really blind, so he started moving his right leg about. He found that he liked moving his leg about, so he kept doing it. It became a hobby. His left leg held him upright while his right leg moved all over the place. He did this at GAA matches and events all over the country.
   Non-blind swans were attracted to his moving leg, and Bob often had to run away from them. When he was chased by a swan with an ice pick in its mouth, he vowed to never move his leg around again. He took up smoking a pipe at the crossroads instead.
   Myself, Jimmy and Chadwick went to see him at the crossroads, to see if we could convince him to give the leg-moving another go, but he had no intention of leaving the crossroads. "I'm smoking a pipe at the crossroads," he said. "That's just what I do now."
   "Couldn't you move your leg about a bit at the same time?" I said.
   He looked down at his leg and thought about that. "No," he said three days later when we were driving by in an ice cream van we had to steal. 'Steal' is probably over-stating it. We just borrowed it to get away with nine tins of red paint. 'Borrowed' would be under-stating what we did to the paint. We had to take them because the paint would have been used on the footapth outside the pub. It was part of a film that was being shot in the area. The paint was meant to represent blood, but it would have prevented access to the pub. Our first plan was to change the script so that the paint would be returned to the hardware shop.
   Our fake script fooled the leading actor. We were there during the filming when he said, "This film and that tree." He went over to the tree, drew a red X on it, stood back and pointed at it. "That tree is where I threw an apple at a squirrel." He took out a script and drew a big red X on it. He pointed towards another script on a chair. "That script is the one I meant to use. And that's the man who gave me the wrong one."
   He pointed at Jimmy. All of the actors and the film crew looked ready to pounce on Jimmy. It was his own fault for allowing his rivalry with a squirrel to influence his work on the script.
   He said, "I'll be running away in that direction." He pointed one way and ran the other. The actors and the film crew ran in the direction he pointed.
   The paint was left unguarded, so myself and Chadwick used the opportunity to borrow that. It's not easy for two people to carry nine tins of paint, so we borrowed the ice cream van too. We picked up Jimmy, and we would have got away if he hadn't pressed the button to play the 'ice cream man' music. One of film crew heard us, and he saw us in the van.
   So we were going through the crossroads in the van, with the film people not too far behind, and we thought Bob and his leg could be of some use, so we stopped and picked him up. After a long chase, the film people eventually cornered us in a field. The only way forward was through a stream, but we decided to face them instead. As they advanced on us, Bob stood on his left leg, and he moved his right leg around in a very menacing way. The film people stopped moving towards us.
   The swans appeared, and instead of attacking Bob, they went for the film people. They were even more menacing than Bob's leg. The film crew and the actors all ran away. Bob has been moving his leg about almost all the time since then, and he's never been bothered by the swans, although they sometimes come to watch, even the blind ones.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Graham's Arms

   Karen and her husband bought an old mansion in the country. They hired Graham and Sean to paint the rooms. Karen often called in to see them while they worked, just to have a chat.
   One evening, just as they were getting ready to go home, she was getting ready to go out to a ball. She came in to see them in the drawing room. She sighed and said, "No one says anything anymore," as she slowly descended to the ground, her dress coming to rest around her.
   She sat on the carpet. Graham was just about to put his arm around her when Sean coughed to attract his attention, and he shook his head, which was intended to remind Graham of the time he put his arm in that place where all the rats were when he was trying to get his chewing gum back. Graham looked at his arm as he held it out. He'd washed his hands since then, so he patted her on the head.
   At the weekend they took her to the seaside to cheer her up. They bought ice creams and looked out over the sea. "The sea looks so lonely," she said, "so very, very lonely."
   Graham wondered if he should pat her on the head again.
   Back at the house, she told him about some of the paintings in the hall. He said, "Now this arm, this arm here has been painted by no less a person than Boris The Basket."
   "Oh right," she said. "I don't think I've heard of him."
   "He broke my kettle. On purpose, I think. And this arm... You don't want to know about this arm."
   Graham won a pig in the lottery, and the pig had a top hat. Graham just wanted the top hat, but the pig wouldn't give it to him. Karen came up with a plan to get it. She suggested they distract the pig with a toy cow, and take the hat then. She came along to see it too. Sean held the toy cow in front of the pig. He moved the cow around and said 'moo' a lot. Graham slowly crept up behind the pig, but he stopped when he got within reach of the hat. He didn't know whether to use his 'good' arm or his 'bad' arm. He'd surely use the good arm for a top hat, but his bad arm would be ideal for taking something off a pig.
   He paused for too long, and the pig figured out what was going on. Graham chased the pig around the field, but he couldn't get the hat. He gave up when he fell in the mud.
   When they took Karen home she said she had a great time. Graham thought that if she could enjoy watching him chase a pig, then she wouldn't be put off by his arm, so he told her about the chewing gum and the rats, and she said, "That's really, really interesting." Then she kissed them both on the cheek and said goodnight.
   "She didn't care less about my arm," Graham said to Sean, "and she kissed me on the cheek, the one that was attracting all those stray dogs."
   "She didn't know that."
   "You know nothing about women."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


An Affair Up There

   Myself and Jimmy met Chadwick in his front garden one day, and he was reading a book called 'Basketball is for People with Heads'.
   "You can't argue with the title," he said.
   "What about Gilbert?" Jimmy said.
   We went to see Gilbert at the basketball court. He was holding a ball under his arm.
   "I suppose he does have a sort of a head," Chadwick said, "in his own way."
   We rarely saw his head before, because he was so tall and you couldn't keep looking up all the time. In my mind there was just a blank space above his neck. But it was blatantly obvious that he had a head then because of what Sylvia was doing to it. She was tall too, but she had to stand on a wooden box to get to his eye level. And she needed to get to his eye level to look into his eyes, which she did pretty much all the time, even when she was kissing him.
   "Barry won't like that," Jimmy said.
   Barry was Sylvia's husband. We went to see him, but he didn't even look up at us. He was obsessed with his own knees.
   "I haven't seen my knees in years," he said, "but I saw them by chance the other day when the dog took my trousers. Look at that one. I never knew that one looked like that."
   It wasn't much fun looking at his knees. After we left his place, Chadwick said, "As long as he's looking at his knees, he'll never see what's going on above."
   "Unless he saw them in a sort of a horizontal position near the ground," Jimmy said. "But what are the chances of that happening?"
   We thought we might as well have a word with Sylvia, to see if we could convince her that an affair with Gilbert wasn't such a good idea after all. We had to make sure Barry didn't look up when was near Sylvia and Gilbert, and Charlie was just the man to keep him distracted.
   Charlie is a stand-up comic. His comedy act was terrible until he started wearing a top hat and saying 'I say' before everything he said, like, "I say, look at those birds. They'll get lost." These little changes made his act hilarious. Most of his jokes involve getting people to look at things, and this was an ideal way of diverting Barry's attention if he ever looked up from his knees.
   So we left Barry with Charlie, and we went to see Sylvia at the basketball court, but it wasn't easy to bring up the subject of her leaving Gilbert, especially when Gilbert was there. And then Barry arrived with Charlie. They were both looking at Barry's knees. "Look at that," Barry said. "Have you ever seen anything like that? I never thought I'd see anything like that on my own knees."
   "You should get someone to look at that," Sylvia said. "I've been saying that ever since you fell off the shed."
   "Is that what happened?" Barry said.
   "Do you not remember?"
   "Come on," she said, "we're going to get someone to look at your knees. And then we'll get someone to examine your head."
   It was interesting that his knees got priority over his head.
   Sylvia walked away with Barry. An awkward silence followed, as Gilbert watched them go. But Charlie broke the silence when he said, "I say, look at that man. He looks as if he's going to Mullingar." It was very funny. Mullingar.

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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