Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, April 17, 2007


The Tern-Lombards

   Eoin went to see the Tern-Lombard brothers about an owl. They were experts on local birds. Eoin thought he'd seen a barn owl and he wanted to ask them if they knew of any in the area. The brothers lived in an old manor house. Neither of them had married, yet. An aversion to marriage ran in the family, but it was an aversion that could easily be worn away by decades of bachelorhood. Their father had married in his fifties.
   They told Eoin it was quite possible he'd seen a barn owl, and they showed him various stuffed owls that had been in the family for generations. Being shot wasn't a necessary requirement to be part of the family, but at the very least it was a worrying trend.
   They showed him all the stuffed birds and animals, and on the way out they showed him the portraits in the hall. When he saw the portrait of their grandmother he couldn't help commenting on her eyebrows. He found it difficult to resist doing these things. If he saw a nest of wasps he'd look for a stick to poke it. If the Tern-Lombards saw a nest of wasps they'd just shoot it and have the wasps stuffed.
   They demanded an apology. He considered this, and he regretfully informed them that he was unable to comply with their request. He tried to sound as diplomatic and conciliatory as possible when refusing to apologise for asking if someone was breeding caterpillars on their face.
   They were the sort of people who in former times would have challenged men to duels because of insults or aspersions cast on the character of a lady. Lives would have been lost over careless remarks about curious walks. Nowadays no one will accept the challenge of a duel, so they just shoot people. When Eoin saw them loading their guns he did what he always did after disturbing wasps: he ran for the trees.
   It was a sound plan, with no foreseeable flaws. Snares, when used to greatest effect, are unforeseeable. Eoin didn't see the snare until after the voice in his head had said something unrepeatable, which was expressed by his mouth as a scream of pain. He looked down and saw the metal teeth biting into his leg.
   He could hear them approaching through the forest. They lacked the voice in their heads that says 'Don't pull the trigger' when they aim their guns at something that can look into their eyes and express a longing to go on living.
   In Eoin's telling of this story, he had to kill a bear with his bare hands. He's told it like this countless times since he told a version in which he shot the bear, but people had sympathy for the bear when he said he shot it. He thought it was odd that people would be upset by the cold, clinical, painless death of a screaming hot bullet to the head, but they didn't object when he said he choked it to death. But he thinks people are odd. He had told the death-by-bullet version once, and before this he once told a version in which he was rescued by a bear, but that didn't make any sense. It made much more sense to shoot the bear in the head.
   He's never told what really happened, which is that he was rescued by a man dressed up as a bear, who carried Eoin away in his arms. Eoin's embarrassment was heightened by the fact that the bear costume included a T-shirt and a straw hat. But no trousers -- that made things much worse. If the costume didn't include the T-shirt then the lack of trousers wouldn't have been noticeable, but as Eoin was being carried away in the arms of the man in the bear suit, all he could think was, "Oh God! He's naked from the waist down!" He has considered telling a version of the story that includes the man dressed as a bear, just so Eoin can shoot him. He thinks that people would understand. He wouldn't shoot him in the head. Maybe in the foot, just to teach him a lesson.

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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