Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Enrick Mortigon

   Enrick Mortigon was one of Ireland's finest basketball players in 1963, but it was a time when basketball was a very minor minority sport. Within a hundred mile radius of Enrick, you could probably have counted the number of basketball players on one hand, and you needed a full hand to make up a team. Two of them to make a game of it. And if you did manage to fill the two hands, there was every chance that some of the players would be missing hands or legs or parts of their heads. If you had retained all the physical implements needed to play a physical sport, you would have played Gaelic football or hurling. Enrick was perfectly capable of playing either of those sports, and he was good at them too, but he excelled at basketball, and something in his nature always made him strive to do the opposite of what society told him to do. It was a time when society had a long list of instructions.
   Enrick's basketball playing days seemed to have come to an end after an unfortunate encounter with the fairies one night. When he woke up on the following morning, one of his legs was longer than the other. He had met the fairies when he was walking home through the fields. They told him to make sure not to walk into their fort. He would have made sure to avoid it if they hadn't said that, but he hated being told what to do, so he put his right foot into the fort and walked on. The moral that most people would take from this is 'Don't set foot in a fairy fort', but he went for the less catchy 'Don't start a conversation with the fairies with the words "Are ye having a little picnic?"'.
   He couldn't run properly because of his long right leg. He had to stand with his left foot on a wooden box, and he dug holes around his garden to put his right foot into.
   A total of seven bishops considered the problem of Enrick's leg. He met the first one by chance at the seaside. He explained the reason for his lop-sided stance, and the bishop sent him to a priest called Father Nolan who was used to coming across unexplained phenomena in his parish. Half of his parishioners had things growing on their heads or in their back gardens or on someone else's head. But Father Nolan didn't know what to do about Enrick's leg. He sent him to his own bishop, who sent him to the bishop in the next diocese. This one didn't know what to do either, and he thought that if three bishops couldn't do anything about it, the only other thing to do was to have four bishops consider the problem.
   So Enrick ended up standing in a huge room, facing four bishops, who sat behind a long table. They believed that his foot should either be cut off for being evil or else declared a miracle. Enrick wasn't too keen on either course of action. "I want two equally long legs," he said. "I want to play basketball."
   The bishops wondered what sort of a heartless man would want to play basketball. One of them said, "If you're going to take that attitude, we'll cut off your hands as well."
   "I'll have to take up soccer then."
   The bishops stared at him in horror. They were all trying to think of the best man to perform an exorcism at short notice. One of them said to him, "You should think very carefully about what you say and what you do. We're giving you a simple choice, and a beautiful choice. Either have your foot cut off or praise it as the work of God. I suggest you go away and pray before deciding which option you'll take."
   Enrick's hatred of being told what to do meant he was reluctant to choose either option. A friend of his suggested that all of his problems would be solved if his left leg was longer. He'd be even better at basketball then. And all he needs to do to get the left one to grow would be to put it into the fairy fort.
   But the fairies wouldn't make it grow if they thought they'd be doing him a favour, so he had to pretend to be someone else. He came up with a brilliant disguise. Even his own mother didn't recognise him. He went to the fairy fort late one night. He said 'how are y' doin' there?' in a Waterford accent, and one of the fairies said, "Did you think we wouldn't recognise the man with one leg longer than the other?"
   Enrick told them about his love of basketball, and how the two options offered by the bishops. The fairies had pity on him. They said they'd return his leg to its normal size if he did a favour for them. They wanted him to use his disguise to distract the publican while they did a bit of 'shopping' in the pub.
   The pub was closed for the night, but the owner was still inside, washing the glasses. He opened the door when he heard a knock. Enrick said 'hello' in his Waterford, and he started telling a story about a calf he was worried about. He saw the fairies doing their shopping behind the bar.
   The publican realised what was going on just as it was coming to an end. He knew he couldn't do anything about the fairies, but he could kill a man from Waterford and no one would ever know. He went to get his gun, and Enrick ran away. When he looked back he saw the publican loading his gun at the door. He saw some woodland ahead. If he could make it to the trees he'd be safe, and he'd easily make it there in time if it weren't for his leg.
   But as he ran he felt his leg returning to its normal size. He was able to run at full speed again. The exultation of reaching the woodland with two legs of equal length made him jump as high as he could and let out a shout of joy, which morphed into a scream of pain when he hit his head off a branch, and then silence as he lay unconscious on the ground.
   He woke there in the morning, and he didn't mind the pain in his head because his leg was back to normal. He was able to play basketball again. He just needed to find another two players to form a team.

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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