Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, May 08, 2007


The Leprechauns

   Eddie was walking home on a quiet road when he came across a small wooden box. He brought it home and when he opened the box a blue butterfly flew out. The butterfly went outside through the open door and Eddie went after it. He followed it for twenty minutes, always looking up at the butterfly rather than down at the ground, but he never tripped or encountered any obstacles. He had no awareness of where he was going.
   When the butterfly landed on the ground, Eddie found himself in a clearing in a forest. He saw a little man mending a shoe. His first thought was: 'It's a leprechaun. Grab him and make him lead me to his gold'. But he hadn't moved an inch when the little man produced a shotgun and said, "Don't even think about it."
   "Think about what?" Eddie said.
   "I know you're looking for gold, but I'll give you something better." The little man took a pair of shoes from a sack and said, "These shoes were made by The Silent Cobbler of the Blaskets. He can hammer a nail into a shoe and you'd sooner hear the nail fall on a carpet of grass. He hasn't said a word in fifty years, since the day when the village where he lived was blown away in the great storm that followed the three days of the black cats, and even then the word he said was 'the'. These shoes will take you to places you wouldn't find in a hundred years."
   Eddie put on the shoes and they started moving. He let them take him down a narrow, twisting path through the trees and out into the open fields, and then they descended into a valley. He crossed a stream on stones and climbed a hill. The shoes took a path into another forest. The path ended in a clearing where another little man was mending shoes. Eddie grabbed him and said, "Lead me to your gold."
   "The other fella sent you, didn't he?"
   "He gave me the shoes and they led me here."
   "It's one of his favourite tricks. He's always sending them to me, but I haven't a penny to my name. He's the one with all the gold."
   "You must have something."
   "I do. I'll give you something even better than gold." The little man took a pair of shoes from a sack and said, "These shoes were made by The Laughing Cobbler of Listowel. His shoes won't make a sound when they touch the ground. He made The Silent Cobbler of the Blaskets go silent, forever listening for a laugh or the sound of a step from a shoe made by The Laughing Cobbler of Listowel."
   Eddie put on these shoes and they led him back the way he came. He ended up in the first forest, and he came across the first little man again, but this time Eddie's arrival was completely silent. He was able to sneak up behind the man and grab him. "Lead me to your gold," Eddie said.
   The little man led him on a path that entered a cave of thorn bushes. Eddie had to crawl along the ground until they came to a tree. The little man lifted a carpet of moss around the roots and revealed a pot. "There it is," he said.
   Eddie lifted the lid of the pot and a bird flew out. He followed the bird, always looking up at it rather than down at the ground. The bird left the forest and flew over the fields. Eddie ran after it. The chase went on for over five miles, until the bird landed on a gate and Eddie looked around. He cursed the leprechaun.
   As he was walking back towards the forest he met a man called Owen who said, "I saw you running after the bird. I've never seen any man run as fast as that."
   Eddie ran to the end of the field and back again and he was amazed at how fast he could move. It was the shoes that gave him such speed. Owen got Eddie to race a man so quick that cows would fall over when he ran past them. Eddie beat him, and he won a small fortune for all those who had bet on him. He travelled the country, running against anyone who would challenge him. He ran against a horse that had won seventy-three races, including the famous race from the steeple in Donneraille to the famous place where The Excitable Man of Bantry heard the word 'sardine' for the first time. Eddie beat the horse by ten lengths.
   He used his winnings to buy gold. He thought it was appropriate that he should have a crock of gold, given the way he got the shoes. He married a wealthy heiress who wouldn't touch him with a barge pole when he asked her to touch him with a barge pole. She said he was sick, and she left him for a man who counted sheep. But he still had his gold and his shoes, and there were still people willing to race him.
   One day he met an old man who challenged him to a race across a field. The man had a crock of gold and he said, "If you win, you get this crock of gold, but if I win, I get your gold."
   Eddie agreed, but as soon as the race started, his feet felt like rocks. He realised that this old man was really the two leprechauns. One was standing on the shoulders of the other. He could hear them arguing with each other. They had put a spell on the shoes to make them feel heavy, and Eddie couldn't even un-tie the laces.
   Just as it looked as if he was going to lose, a blue butterfly appeared above him. He followed the butterfly, dragging his feet along the ground. The shoes left two deep tracks in the field. The two leprechauns looked up at the butterfly too, but the one on the bottom tripped and they fell over. Eddie won the race.
   When he had two crocks of gold he realised that all he really wanted was his wife. He took the gold to her house and he stood beneath her window. He said, "I'll give all this gold to the next orphan I see if you just take me back. And I'll never mention the barge pole again."
   She had been getting tired of the man who kept counting sheep (he was up to five-million), so she took him back.
   As luck would have it, two orphans were passing by at just that moment. They had an unhealthy and misfortunate look about them. Their faces were wrinkled, despite their youth. They both had a fine pair of shoes, but their clothes were just rags. Eddie gave them the gold and they skipped away with glee.

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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