|Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.||
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Gary was suffering from writer's block. He spent hours looking at the blank page in his typewriter, but he couldn't come up with anything. He decided he needed to take his mind off writing for a while, so he took his typewriter apart.
He spent a week cleaning every part and then putting them all back together. He felt refreshed when he'd finished the job, and he was satisfied because he'd actually finished something. He was full of enthusiasm for writing again. He put a page into the typewriter and wrote the word 'The'.
His enthusiasm started to wane as he tried to think of what should follow the 'The'. A minute later he took the page out of the typewriter, rolled it into a ball and threw it into the bin. He put another page into it, but he still couldn't think of anything to write about, so he decided to use a little reverse psychology on the page: he'd say 'I don't want to type on you anyway'.
He took the typewriter apart again, and this time he re-assembled it so that the metal levers with the letters would come back towards him instead of towards the paper when the keys were pressed. When it was finished, he put a page into the typewriter and started typing. He felt perfectly free to type whatever he wanted when the letters were moving away from the paper instead of leaving their mark on it. He put his head over the typewriter and he gently pressed the E key. When the metal letter touched his forehead he suddenly got an idea for a story about a man who buys a statue in an auction, and the statue keeps changing. He pressed other keys, and each time a letter touched his forehead he got an idea. He put tiny pieces of felt over the metal letters to protect his forehead. He put his head over the typewriter and typed away as normal. A succession of ideas and images flowed through his mind.
He started to wonder what he was actually typing. He bought another typewriter, and he took the two machines apart. He was able to construct a typewriter with one set of keys that operated two sets of letters: one that moved towards him and another that moved towards the page. He put his head over it and typed, and each time he pressed a key a letter would touch his forehead and another would strike the ribbon and leave a mark on the page.
It was thrilling to feel his mind illuminated by the stream of ideas and images. When he got to the end of the page he stopped to read what he had typed, but he only read these lines: "It's space, quite possibly. Shakespeare knew what I was talking about. Or he would have done if I'd said it a few centuries ago, and that's time."
He took the paper out of the typewriter, rolled it into a ball and threw it into the bin, and then he kicked the bin away.
Later that evening he remembered what he had written and he thought that it might not be so bad if it was read in the voice of a certain character. He retrieved the sheet of paper and he wrote an introduction for the piece. He explained that the man who wrote it invented a machine to hit himself on the head repeatedly just to see if he could do it. He decided to give the character a stupid name, and he came up with 'Aw Lelong'. He ended up writing over ten pages about Aw. The ideas flowed, stories about Aw's feud with a goose, or the time he handcuffed himself to the woman who wanted to hit him repeatedly with a rolling pin, the one who had a rolling pin in her other hand (it was dark and he thought he was handcuffing himself to the woman who wanted to 'do something with handcuffs).
The piece was published in a magazine. It consisted almost entirely of the introduction, with a short extract of Aw's writing at the end. It was only as he was reading through the story in the magazine that he realised why it had come so easily to him. Most of stories about Aw's life had happened to Gary's brother, Lawrence.
Lawrence was furious when he read the story. "From now on," he said to Gary, "your name will be 'Ow'. Think of me as your creation. I'm a machine for hitting you on the head."
And a very effective machine he proved to be. He took every opportunity to hit his brother. He'd say, "What's your name?" and then hit him.
After weeks of being hit on the head, Gary finally came up with a good idea: he'd write more stories about Aw Lelong, and in these ones Aw would be the hero. He'd drive fast cars and be surrounded by beautiful women. He'd be like a lazy James Bond. These stories came easily too because he just copied most of them from films. Lawrence stopped hitting him, and he started to think there was some truth to the stories. This belief wasn't shaken when women hit him with rolling pins or umbrellas.
The Tree and the Horse
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.
More blogs about Storytelling.