Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, December 19, 2006


The Spirit of Christmas

   Ryan met his girlfriend, Kate, on Christmas Eve. He gave her a present with a card attached to it, and she said she'd open it in the morning.
   When he got home he got a phone call from a friend of his called Sharon. He had delivered her present earlier in the day. She said, "I've just been reading your card. You got my name wrong. You called me 'Kate'. And you also called me 'Bunny Wabbit'. 'See you soon, Bunny Wabbit.' I don't know which is more disturbing."
   Ryan was greatly disturbed when he realised what he'd done. If Sharon got Kate's card, then Kate would have Sharon's. It didn't take much to make Kate jealous. The presence of Sharon in Ryan's proximity normally did the trick. Kate would be furious when she reads the card and sees that he called her 'Sharon'. And he wouldn't be any better off if he convinced her that he just got the cards mixed up. She wouldn't like the idea of Sharon getting a card from him, and she'd hate to see that card end with the words 'with love, from Ryan'.
   He needed to get hold of the card before Kate opened it, and he had the perfect opportunity that evening. Kate and her family were going to visit relatives, and Ryan knew where they kept a spare key to the back door. He could be in and out of there in under a minute. Just in case they came back at the wrong time, he dressed up as Santa and he bought another present for Kate. He could say he wanted to surprise her with this one. He got the Santa suit from an uncle of his who had dressed as Santa for a Christmas party.
   The house was in darkness when he got there. He took the spare key from beneath the flower pot and he let himself in through the back door. Kate had left the present underneath the Christmas tree, and the envelope containing the card was taped to the wrapping paper. Ryan carefully removed the card and replaced it with another one that had a message for his Bunny Wabbit.
   But just as he was about to leave he heard a noise, and then a voice: "It must be a busy night for you."
   There was a man sitting on an armchair near the dying embers of the fire. He sounded drunk, and Ryan thought that this could be his salvation. "Very busy," Ryan said. "There's a lot of travelling in this job, and so forth... Ho ho ho."
   "I know. We share occupations. You'd appreciate a bit of rest after a long night."
   "So you're Santa, are you?"
   "You can drop the pretence. You and I are both anti-Santas. We're thieves. We take what Santa delivers. Not that Santa delivered this bottle of brandy."
   There wasn't much brandy left in the bottle. Ryan decided to play along. "I need to get going," he said. "The family could be back at any time."
   "I suppose you're right," the thief said as he got to his feet. "I better be off myself." He took a carriage clock from the mantelpiece and he put it into an inside pocket in his overcoat. The coat was full of pockets, and they were full of things he'd stolen.
   They left the house through the back door. Ryan wondered if he should just walk away and never mention this incident again. He was worried in case one of the neighbours saw a man dressed as Santa and this Santa was identified as him.
   He said to the thief, "You look like a man who appreciates a good drink."
   "Never a truer word."
   "I know where you can get the best drink in this part of the country, and maybe in all of Ireland, but we'll never know because anyone who drinks it has no desire to leave this part of the country."
   The man who made this drink was Christmas Steve. It was Christmas all year 'round in his house near the woods. Ryan took the thief there.
   There were a lot of people in the house and they all looked happy, but no one was saying very much. Steve's uncle sat on an armchair in the corner. He was known as The Ghost of Christmas Past because he was always covered in dust. This was a result of his habit of sitting still for long periods of time, which was due to Steve's drink. If you asked him what time it was he'd look at his wrist and he'd always say the same thing: "It's nine o' clock." He wouldn't even be wearing a watch.
   Ryan asked Steve for two glasses of his strongest stuff. The thief drank his in one go and fell asleep about two seconds later. Ryan removed all the stolen items from the pockets of the overcoat and he put them in his sack. "I'll explain tomorrow," he said to Steve.
   He went back to Kate's house, but she had returned with her family. He decided to wait in the bushes behind the house. He still had the spare key, so when they went to bed he'd go inside and replace everything the thief had stolen.
   The lights went out at eleven. He was going to wait for another half-hour to make sure they were asleep, but he'd only been waiting five minutes when he heard a noise behind him. It was the thief. Ryan was getting ready to run, but the thief said, "Are you going to break into this place as well?"
   "I... No."
   "Relax. There's no need to pretend you're Santa Claus."
   "I'm... What are you doing here?"
   "I'm going to break into this place."
   "Haven't you done that already?"
   "Why would I be here in the bushes if I'd done it already? I set out to break into this place earlier and then... I don't know what happened then. I woke up in a house near the woods. I was lucky I woke at nine because they'll be back at eleven. I heard the father complaining in the pub about having to visit the relatives. There's time to have a look around, pocket a few things, have a drink by the fire and be out of there before they come back. So is it going to be you or me? It's your call, seeing as you got here first."
   "I... No. No, this isn't the life for me anymore. I've realised that while I've been sitting here, wondering if I should go ahead with it. Maybe the spirit of Christmas has touched my heart. Here, you can have these." Ryan gave the sack to the thief. "I stole these from another house."
   "Even Santa remembered a thief like me."
   "You better get on with the job."
   "I will. I'll be going in through a back window. I've come to an understanding with windows. Good luck, Santa."
   The thief left the bushes and made his way into the house through a window. Ryan saw a light come on shortly afterwards, and shortly after that he caught a glimpse of the thief running from the front of the house. He'd dropped the bag to aid his getaway.

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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