Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007


A Hairy Showband

   Alan was at a party. Seamus said to him, "Do y' know the witness protection program, like you see in films or on TV?" He couldn't remember what he was going to say after that, so he told his joke about the hamster.
   When Alan was talking to Sophie he couldn't think of anything to say, and he couldn't tell her the joke about the hamster, so he said, "Do you know the witness protection program?"
   "Y' know, you'd see it in films or on TV."
   "This is something they have in America. And maybe they have it here too. It's basically to protect witnesses, in trials."
   "Oh right... What about it?"
   Alan couldn't remember what he was going to say about it. He said, "Why... I mean... Why not just leave them unprotected. And just let criminals get to them. And let trials collapse so the criminals can get away. Why not just let all trials collapse, and just let everyone do whatever they want to. Just let anarchy reign. You might have a few more things to worry about, but you'd have a few less things to worry about too. You wouldn't have to worry about your garden because someone could come along and bury a cow in it, and there's nothing you could do about it. There's no point in cleaning your windows if kids are going to come along and break them. There's no point in worrying about revenge because there's nothing you can do. Or there's everything you can do. You can bury a cow in someone else's garden. You can do whatever you want. And the police can do nothing. Or why not just let the kids be the police. Justice would be completely random then. And you wouldn't have to worry about the kids at all. They're the ones with the guns. They're not going to waste time breaking windows if they have guns. No one would dare bury a cow in someone's garden if the kids are the police, because that's exactly the sort of thing they'd shoot someone for. A few innocent people would probably get shot, but overall, it'd surely be worth it. And you could easily bribe the kids too. You could do anything at all when the kids are asleep. It'd be back to the anarchy then. If there's a cow buried in someone's garden when they wake up, and someone says, 'He did it,' they're not going to waste time getting finger prints and things. Not that you could get finger prints from a cow anyway. Or maybe you could. That'd be the sort of thing kids would waste days trying to do, and then they'd just shoot whoever they felt like shooting. But when they're asleep, you could do anything. There's no point in wasting time worrying about being burgled or shot because it's probably going to happen anyway."
   "Yeah," she said, and nodded. "Have you ever noticed that when you're typing the letter 'I' on a computer, as in 'I', meaning 'me'; have you ever noticed the way it always makes it into a capital 'I'? But like, when you look at it, the small little one looks much more like a person, with a little head. I always use the smaller one when I'm typing. They've got no arms or legs -- that's the only problem."
   "Yeah... Excuse me a minute. I have to talk to John over there."
   He walked away, leaving her alone. She stared at a painting on the wall. She heard the sound of a violin, a slow tune. At first she thought it was in her head , but then she realised that someone was playing it in another room. She followed the sound.
   It led her to the room at the other side of the hall. The violinist stood in front of the fireplace, and when he finished playing he started crying. He left the room, and so did most of his audience. Sophie was left alone with Ray.
   She didn't know what to say to break the silence, and she no longer cared about what she said, so she told him about the lowercase 'i'. When she mentioned the lack of arms and legs, he said, "Unless you were looking at someone from the side."
   "Oh yeah. I never thought of that... Although for women it'd be like..."
   "Yeah... And for men too. Or maybe not for men."
   A brief silence followed. He broke it when he said, "I met a hairy showband once. A really, really hairy showband. They complained about the cold and I said, 'A really hairy showband would be better equipped to deal with the cold than a moderately hairy showband, a showband of average hairyness.' They said they met a really hairy showband in Kilarney, and they seemed completely oblivious to the fact that they were a really hairy showband themselves. They asked if they could borrow my kettle and I said they could. I wondered what the showband in Kilarney would be like. They must have been on the verge of being bears, roaming through the hills and valleys, catching salmon in the streams, getting into fights with other bears. When I got the kettle back I plugged it in to make a cup of tea. But just before I poured the water into the teapot I wondered if I really wanted to use the water from a kettle that the hairy showband had used. But I really wanted a cup of tea, so I tried to picture the hairier showband in Kilarney. I pictured two eyes staring out from beneath the coat of hair, and the hair was soaked from the rain and their tears, the gold rings on their fingers lost beneath the brown hair. They have the same conversations every day. 'What's for dinner tonight?' 'Salmon. If we can catch the feckers.' 'Where did it all go wrong? We could have been like Will and Grace. Although someone told me one of them was gay, but I doubt it. We'd have funny, evil friends who'd come to watch our showband. The audience would be glamorous. No one would wear a jumper their mother bought them twenty years ago when they were thirty. And our evil friends would probably kill them if they did.' And after picturing that, the showband who'd used my kettle seemed only moderatly hairy in comparison."
   She desperately wanted to get away, but she couldn't just leave him there alone. In that moment she thought she'd spend the rest of her life getting away from the ones who wanted to be with her, and being left alone by the ones she wanted to be with. It was more depressing than anything that could be expressed on a violin. She told herself that she should want to be with the ones who want to be with her, and that the ones who don't want her aren't worth knowing. She tried to see Ray in a different light, and he didn't seem so bad when she saw him as someone who wanted to be with her. She asked him if he'd used the kettle and he said, "Yeah, I've no trouble using it now. Some people refuse to drink tea I make with it. They say it's because a rat once died in my kitchen and I left it there. I don't know if they're put off by the dead rat or the fact that I left it there."
   Sophie needed all of her will power to keep the smile on her face and to stop her legs from taking her away, but after the urge to leave had passed, the smile stayed in place by itself. It wasn't all that bad. A dead rat was better than a live one.

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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