Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, February 14, 2007


The Bronze Dog

   Laura went for a walk with her boyfriend, Dylan. As they looked down on a motorway from a bridge he made an insightful comment on the shortcomings in the transport infrastructure and she said that the curls in her hair felt curlier today.
   As soon as she said it she realised that it sounded stupid in the light of what he just said. Normally the things he said made the things she said sound intelligent. The things she said were getting stupider the longer they knew each other. On their first date she said she'd been thinking a lot about Wittgenstein's treatment of non-elementary propositions and he said he'd been thinking about a hole he had made in a wall with a screwdriver just to see if he could make a hole in a wall with a screwdriver. He could.
   After the comment on her curls she tried to think of something intelligent to say, but in her mind she just saw a monkey next to a blank blackboard. It was Dylan's fault that the monkey was in her mind. She knew that if she thought about it for long enough the monkey would write 'ding' on the blackboard, and that would be Dylan's fault as well.
   She decided she needed to spend some time with intelligent people, just to get her mind operating at full capacity again. So she went to visit her friend Annabelle on a Saturday. Annabelle lived in a town by the sea. She blew bubbles and thought. She drew thought bubbles above drawings of her face, and in the bubbles she wrote the things she'd never thought of until she wrote them. This is why she had a stamp on her forehead. She put it there after writing the idea in a bubble, and she forgot it was there. The stamp on her forehead was the origin of her reputation for being intelligent. People thought she was making a statement with the stamp, possibly an artistic statement, but it didn't matter what type it was. Her friends believed that making a statement without using words was on a higher level, in intellectual terms, than anything that could be said.
   When Laura went to visit her they went to the top of a hill overlooking the sea, just to feel the breeze on their faces. They looked at the white clouds passing by above. They looked at a horse for a while too, and he looked back at them. The monkey in her head didn't like the horse, but she often disregarded the opinions of the monkey.
   In the evening they were walking down a hill towards the town, and they met one of Annabelle's friends, Orla. She only had one shoe. Sometimes she hopped on one foot, and when she got tired of hopping she'd step lightly on her bare foot and say 'ow'. When she got tired of doing that she'd hop again. She told them she'd lost a shoe on the beach. She was going home to get another pair of shoes, and then she was going back to the beach to look for the lost shoe again. They said they'd help her look.
   It only took them ten minutes to find the shoe, but they kept looking because they enjoyed the search so much. It was just as good as looking at clouds.
   They ended their search for the shoe when they found a small bronze dog in the sand. The figurine was about four inches high.
   They sat on a bench overlooking the beach and the sea. Annabelle and Orla looked at the sky as the sun descended towards the horizon. Laura spent most of the time looking at the dog. A few passers-by asked about it, and she told them she found it on the beach.
   They went to a café, and they put the dog in the centre of the table as they drank their coffee. After they left the café they headed for Annabelle's house. As they were walking down a narrow alley they heard a voice behind them. A man said, "Stop walking and turn around slowly."
   They had done everything slowly that day, but they turned around quickly and saw a man pointing a gun at them. "Give me the bronze dog," he said.
   Laura had been developing an attachment to the dog, but she decided to comply with the man's request. She was just about to reach into her handbag to get the dog when they heard another voice behind them. A man said, "Not so fast."
   They turned around and saw another man with a gun at the other end of the alley. "Give me the dog," he said.
   The other man said, "I'd rather kill everyone and die myself than see you get the dog."
   His opposite number said, "My sentiments exactly."
   Laura looked back and forth between the two men pointing guns at each other. She thought they'd get on much better if they weren't so similar. But the phrase 'kill everyone' came to mind, and it focussed her attention on the danger they were in. Her brain found top gear again, and she came up with a solution in seconds.
   "Gentlemen," she said, "I think I know how to solve this impasse to everyone's satisfaction. My grandfather faced a similar problem once. It concerned the ownership of an antique watch. It caused months of unnecessary tension and threats before it was settled. My grandfather saw a way out of the difficulty when he was reading a book about Chinese history. He gathered all the interested parties in a room and he got an intermediary to hold the watch." At this point she reached into her handbag so she could hold the bronze dog. She moved her hand all around and she looked closely into the bag. "Damn!" she said. "I left it in the café!"
   The two men paused for a few seconds as the news sank in. They both ran away at the same time, presumably heading for the café.
   "I wonder who'll get it first," Annabelle said.
   "I will," Laura said. She smiled and took the bronze dog out of the bag.
   They went straight to the police station and handed the dog in. The two men were arrested.
   Laura's mind was clearer than ever. When she got home, Dylan was holding a sleeping rabbit while standing in a wheelbarrow, surrounded by a ring of fire, but with her re-sharpened mental faculties she was able to get him, the rabbit and the wheelbarrow out of it unscathed.

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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