Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

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


The Hole

   Sam dances at least twice a week. It stops him from falling into the hole. He fell into it once and he didn't see any way of getting out, so he started building a house, and he tried to convince himself that he could live comfortably in the hole. But the house didn't even qualify as a shack. He knew he had to find a way out.
   He met a man called Cecil who was working on a ladder. He'd assembled it from old pieces of timber and sticks he'd found, and it was all held together with string. It didn't look very safe, so before using it he got a priest to bless it. It was the same priest who pretended to be a chef when Cecil needed someone to identify a dead bird. When he wasn't pretending to be a chef he was pretending to be a priest.
   After the ladder was blessed, Cecil placed it against the side of the hole and started climbing. It swayed from side to side when he stepped on the first rung. He waited for a few seconds until it stopped moving, and then he carefully put his foot on the second rung, but the ladder fell to pieces. The priest cursed it.
   They needed a more solid structure. Sam came up with the idea of building scaffolding. If they took apart the things that served as houses, they might just have enough timber for the scaffolding. They needed the help of a woman called Yvonne. She'd been in the hole for nearly two years, and in that time she'd built a very solid shack. She had a garden with a small fence around it. They wanted to start building the scaffolding on her roof, but there was a chance that her house would fall down, so they needed to convince her to leave the hole with them.
   They went to see her one day and they explained their plan, but she said she was perfectly happy where she was.
   "How could anyone be happy down here?" Cecil said. "There's so much more of the world out there, so much we're cut off from. It's like living with your eyes closed."
   "I would live with my eyes closed if I was out there. It's my eyes that caused all my problems. From a young age, I discovered that I saw dogs in black-and-white. I could see everything else normally, but dogs were always various shades of grey. At first I thought it was the dogs, but I knew something was wrong when people talked about the lovely tan colours in our neighbour's dog. I pretended that I saw it too. I realised what was happening, and things started to make more sense. I used to think that the Kerry Blue terrier was just a name, and I thought it was an appropriate name for a grey dog. If you believe some people from Kerry, the sun is always shining there, but it's been raining every time I've been there."
   "Are you sure it's not a form of colour-blindness?" Sam said.
   "I've never heard of anyone being blind to the colour of dogs and to nothing else. And even colour-blind people don't see in black-and-white. No, this was definitely something out of the ordinary."
   "It might be out of the ordinary, but still, it's no reason to hide from the world."
   "No, it's not. I was able to live with it. I never told anyone about the way I saw dogs, and I tried not to think about it. I convinced myself it didn't matter. But then two years ago I saw a man in black-and-white. I stared at him, and I could see that he knew I saw something in him, as if I was seeing his secret. I was afraid of him. Something about the look in his eyes made me back away. I've felt like that around some dogs too. That fear stayed with me, even when I was far away from him. Only down here in the hole can I escape the fear."
   "You don't have to hide in a hole to escape the fear," Sam said. "It's like with dogs -- show them you're not afraid of them and they won't hurt you. If we all left, we could be there when you confront him. That's all you have to do. Just show him you're not afraid."
   "He's right," Cecil said. "As Rabelais once wrote: 'Keep running after a dog, and he will never bite you; drink always before the thirst, and it will never come upon you'."
   She imagined confronting the man. Thirst presented a different image for Sam's mind.
   "Okay," she said. "I'll leave."
   They built the scaffolding on top of her house. It didn't look completely secure, but it was a much better prospect than the ladder. Cecil climbed it first to prove it wouldn't fall down, and he made it out of the whole. Yvonne went next, followed by the priest and then Sam.
   The priest decided he was a photographer outside the hole. They went to see the man who appeared in black-and-white to Yvonne. They found him in a windswept field near the beach.
   The four of them stood about ten yards away from him. They looked at him without moving. The photographer was smiling, but the faces of the other three seemed to be devoid of life. Their lack of movement was made more noticeable by the strong wind, which brought life to their hair and clothes. They all looked as if they'd been living in a hole, like four stray dogs.
   They sensed his fear. He backed away slowly, and then he ran. Yvonne was no longer afraid of him, and he always kept his distance from her.

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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