Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Roderick on a Ship

   I was on a ship. I heard the sound of seagulls. There was nothing unusual in that. I had to look elsewhere to find something painted unusual. When I first decided to look elsewhere I positioned my feet in such a way as to give my head the comfort it needed to face towards the west for a considerable period of time, and to give my eyes the comfort to focus on a woman who wore a brown hat with a purple feather. The stance I assumed didn't give my feet the comfort they desired to enable them to stand for a considerable period of time, as the positioning of my left foot was objected to by a small dog or a creature endowed with teeth and a hat. My eyes, being focussed on the woman, failed to identify the being whose object in life was to oppose the presence of my foot.
   I considered what would constitute a considerable period of time. When it comes to looking at a woman who's aware she's being observed, five seconds would be a considerable time. This is the conclusion I came to after playing volleyball with the idea in my brain for over five minutes as I looked at her. My brain, being fully engaged in the volleyball, failed to notice the discomfort my gaze was causing her, or the agitation of the dog/creature-with-teeth-and-hat, or the objection of my leg to its current position. Having completed the mental volleyball I directed my brain to survey the scene imparted to it by my eyes. The conclusion I came to was this: there was nothing unusual in that.
   I then commenced looking at the woman for a considerable time, which I had determined to be five seconds, but I had barely reached the 'consid' of my considerable time when she came over to me, her feet pointing east as mine were pointing west, her eyes copying the direction of her feet, as my eyes copied my feet. For a short period of time I considered directing my eyes to copy her feet, but this would have caused immense discomfort. The advantage of copying my own feet was that I was able to undertake a close examination of her face as she waited for what would certainly be regarded as a considerable time in a situation where the person who is expected to speak remains silent. After I had ascertained that the responsibility to break the silence did not rest with me (on the basis that she was the one who had journeyed to my vicinity to point her feet in an opposite direction to mine, when she could just as easily have done that behind me) I commenced examining her face. I identified an expression that displayed annoyance at being the object of a stranger's attention for considerably longer than deemed acceptable in polite society, but her politeness was restraining the annoyance from seeping into her speech. This explained the pause as she searched for words other than those presented for her with the help of her annoyance. She broke the silence with a variety of words used in the following order: "Do you know there's a small dog attached to your leg?"
   "No, I was not aware of that," were the words I used, though not necessarily in that order. I continued, "Has the dog attached himself or has someone else attached him to my leg?"
   "Who would attach a dog to your leg?"
   That sounded like a challenge. I was determined to solve this mystery she had presented for me, like a woman in distress presenting a case to a detective, but first I looked down at my leg. The information she had supplied was correct: a dog was attached to it. I told her I had been unsure if the being who was vying for position with my leg was a dog or some sort of a creature with teeth and a hat. The expression on her face changed. The annoyance diminished into insignificance, like winter melting into spring, allowing a smile to bloom.
   We walked along the deck. The decision of our feet to assume a common direction brought an air of cordiality to our relationship, and it was reflected in the common task we assigned to our minds: to identify the person who attached a small dog to my leg. We narrowed it down to three candidates.
   The first was a man of medium build whose left foot remained motionless, retaining its north-westerly direction throughout the considerable time we spent observing him (ten minutes would be a considerable time to observe a man who is unaware he's being watched) but his right foot never stopped moving, like a small dog running around the feet of its owner (the owner, in this case, being the left foot).
   The second candidate was a man who aroused our curiosity only because he appeared unremarkable in every respect.
   The third candidate was a woman who wore a white feather boa. We observed her as she leant against a grand piano later that night. Her high heels had the effect of disorienting her feet, and the secondary effect of making her taller. I failed to consider time on this occasion.
   In our solutions to the mystery of who attached the dog to my leg, she opted for the second candidate. I went for the first. She commented on how this reflected the differences in our natures, momentarily muting the cordiality established by our feet.
   I looked elsewhere. I saw a barometer. At one o' clock in the morning I looked elsewhere again. The scene presented for my perusal included a glass of water and an alarm clock. There was something unusual in that. It involved a man in a black suit who held a small bottle of cyanide. Although I didn't look down to verify this, I can state with near certainty that a small creature endowed with teeth was attached to my leg at the time, though whether he possessed a hat is a line of inquiry only speculation can advance.

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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