Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, October 31, 2006


The Butler and the Maid

   The butler and the maid often stood in the kitchen. Sometimes they sat at the table. Occasionally one of them sat while the other one stood, but they couldn't see each other then.
   One day while they were sitting at the table they saw a glass bowl full of strawberries, and they wondered where it came from. The uncertainty made them feel uncomfortable. They tried to forget about the strawberries, but the bowl was obscuring their view of each other.
   They went to the coast to look at the waves, hoping to forget about the strawberries. They stood on the beach and looked. When they left the beach they walked along the seafront. They saw a bowl full of red marbles in a shop window.
   "What are we going to look at now?" the maid said.
   "I don't know."
   They were reminded of the strawberries when they saw the marbles. They met a friend of theirs called Kevin, and he was able to divert their attention.
   He told them about a woman he was in love with, but she was more interested in something she wrote on her hand than in him. He'd grown a beard since they last saw him. It happened by chance -- he'd been looking at a bird for too long.
   He was on his way to a party at his friend's house, and he invited them. The woman he loved, Annabel, would be there, and he was determined to impress her. He had come up with an act that involved two glove puppets, and he was sure it was more interesting than anything you could write on your hand. He got the idea after he wrote things on his own hands, to see what the attraction was. When he was reading out what he had written it was almost like a dialogue between his two hands, so he added the puppets.
   When they arrived at the party, the other guests were just standing or sitting in silence. The maid and the butler thought they could stand or sit at home. The party's host, Harry, had built a robot to help with everyday tasks, like sweeping the floor. The robot kept walking into a wall. "He'll be alright as soon as he finds his eyes," Harry said.
   Kevin thought this would be the perfect time for his act. He got out the two puppets and he introduced them as Smithwick and Beamish. They began their act.
   Smithwick: Would Tarzan try to kill you if you bought Jane dinner?
   Beamish: You could wear a dress and pretend you're one of Jane's friends.
   Smithwick: What if Tarzan fell in love with you?
   Beamish: You'd be free to have a go at Jane if he left her for you.
   Smithwick: What if you enjoy wearing women's clothes but you don't enjoy the company of Tarzan?
   Beamish: You should probably go to see a doctor about that. Or ask Jesus.
   Smithwick: What would Jesus say?
   Beamish: He'd probably tell you to go to a doctor.
   Smithwick: Wouldn't he be qualified to act as a doctor himself?
   Beamish: Yeah, but he'd probably just want to get rid of you.
   Smithwick: How could Tarzan be attracted to you if Jesus wants to get rid of you?
   Beamish: Because Jesus would see through the dress. Not literally.
   Kevin forgot the next line. It was written on his hand, and he had to remove one of the puppets to see it. He had to make up a story about Smithwick undressing. Smithwick said, "If Jesus can see everything, would he close his eyes when you undress, and can he not see something even when his eyes are closed?" Beamish suggested to Smithwick that he undress and see if he gets struck down by lightning. Beamish had to help Smithwick out of his clothes.
   According to his hand the next line was 'I shot a seagull', and this is where Kevin's act ended. He didn't see much point in going on. People were just staring at him, and not in a good way. The robot seemed to like it, but then he went back to walking into a wall.
   The butler and the maid saw the robot's eyes on a shelf. The eyes were like two red marbles. They remembered the strawberries.
   "Is there anything else we could look at?" the maid said.
   "I don't think so."
   "We could close our eyes."
   They closed their eyes, and they listened to the sounds all around them. When they opened their eyes an hour later, the robot had found his eyes, but he was still walking into the wall. He found it more enjoyable when he could see what he was doing.
   Kevin had lost his beard, and he was kissing Annabel. The thing she had written on her hand was 'Where's Kevin?'. When he saw those words he realised that she just didn't recognise him in the beard, so he went home and shaved it.
   The butler and the maid left the party. When they got home the strawberries were gone. It was easier to pretend that the bowl didn't exist when it was empty.

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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