|Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.||
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
A Box of Twits
Lauren was trying to lose weight. She couldn't resist eating between meals, so she tried using diet bells. People would know that she'd been eating between meals because the bells would ring when the food tries to find a way out. This could be very embarrassing if you were with friends.
But Lauren found a way around this: eat food that's dead. She was eating as much as ever until she started having nightmares about killing the food. She saw herself aiming a shotgun as the food tried to get away. She heard the sound of church bells tolling for a funeral.
She went to see a psychiatrist who was part of a mariachi band. She felt a bit uncomfortable about the rest of the band being there during her session, and she asked if they could leave, but the psychiatrist said, "You might as well ask me to take my arms and legs off."
She told him about the nightmares and he said she needed medication. He wrote her a prescription for a box of twits. The box was delivered that evening. It took two men to lift it into her hall. When she opened it a cloud of dust emerged with a ball of noise. She could hear the high-pitched laughter of creatures as they abandoned the box and scurried away to the nearest hiding place. She didn't get a good look at any of them, but she saw enough to make her worry. They were small and quick. She saw two mad eyes and a sinister smile.
She couldn't sleep that night. She heard them whispering as they explored the house, and then she heard the sound of a trumpet, a trombone and a saxophone. They played a sad, slow song that made her smile.
She didn't sleep on the following night either. She got up and walked around the house. She saw three of them running after a dog with very long ears. Some of the others were chasing butterflies downstairs. Later in the night they were writing subtitles on each other's shirts. If you believed the subtitles, one of them said 'I smell celebrities. They like it'.
The line between reality and dreams was becoming blurred. On the following night the twits were playing hide-and-seek with a panda. One of them was tip-toeing behind the panda. A waiter brought her a glass of champagne. She sat on an armchair and watched them. When the panda fell asleep, some basketball players appeared and chased the twits around the house.
On the following night they pulled everything out of the cupboards in the kitchen. One of them was covered in flour. Lauren thought he was covered in icing, and she chased him with a shotgun. He ran to the attic, where he hid in a box. One of the other twits phoned the psychiatrist, who came around with his mariachi band. They brought a huge wedding cake. When she opened the door and saw it, she shot the cake and ate it. And then she fell asleep. In her dream there was a man hiding inside the cake when she shot it. He wasn't too happy about being shot, but he was able to laugh about it later. She woke up with a smile after such a happy dream.
She decided to give up on losing weight. The only other weight-loss method that interested her was a moustache that eats most of your food as you put it into your mouth, but she'd rather be slightly overweight than have a moustache.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Richie mastered the art of time travel when he was thirty-eight. He discovered this fact when he was eighteen. His future self travelled back to the street where he lived. Richie's friend, Terence, was waiting outside his house, so Terence was the first to meet the thirty-eight-year-old future Richie.
The future Richie had a pig with him. He explained to Terence that he had come from the future to say hello to his past self, and when Terence had finally grasped the idea he said, "Why did you bring a pig?"
"Just to see if I could do it."
"Why not a dog or a rabbit?"
"I said, 'What'll I bring with me?' And someone said, 'A pig.' So I brought a pig. If someone had said 'a dog' I'd have brought a dog."
"If someone had said 'an antelope' would you have brought an antelope?"
"What are you getting at?"
"You didn't have to bring a pig just because someone said 'a pig'."
"What's wrong with pigs? They're not as dirty as you might think they are."
The eighteen-year-old Richie came out of the house and wondered who the man with the pig was. The future Richie explained about the time travel and how he just came back to say hello to his past self. Richie was too shocked to say anything at first, but then he smiled and said, "I never thought I'd look so good at thirty-eight."
His future self was just about to mention the advances in skin care products and plastic surgery, but he thought better of it.
Terence said, "He brought a pig back with him. Or should I say you brought a pig back with you."
The future Richie looked at his watch and said, "I really should be getting back now. As I said, I just dropped by to say hello. I have some things I should be doing. I suppose I shouldn't mention what they are. It would ruin the surprise for you. Not that they'll come as much of a surprise."
Terence told everyone about Richie's time-travelling future self, but he was much more interested in telling them about the pig. Everyone made fun of Richie, and it annoyed him. He said he'd never bring a pig back now. He could never ask what'll he bring because he knows that someone will say 'a pig'.
"You might have forgotten it by then," Terence said. You'll ask what'll you bring and then you'll realise your mistake when it's too late. Someone will remember and say 'a pig'. And then you'll act as if you don't care. You'll say that pigs aren't as dirty as people think they are. You'll pretend that it's perfectly normal to take a pig with you on your time travel trips, because you don't want to show just how pissed off you are."
"Well there's no way I'll forget now. There's no way I'll ask 'What'll I bring?'."
"You'd do it to pretend you don't care. Rather than face twenty years of people reminding you about the pig you're going to take on holiday, you'll say it doesn't matter."
"Well it doesn't matter."
"I didn't have to travel in time to know you'd say that. And I know it does matter. I know it really pisses you off."
"It could all have been just a prank. Or a dare. Or a forfeit I'll have to carry out at some stage in the future."
"I don't care. Either way, it's given me twenty years worth of abuse to sling at you."
Just then, Terence's future self arrived. He was wearing a dress. "Now I know you're probably thinking it's a bit odd that I'm wearing a dress," he said, "or maybe you're thinking something else entirely. I can probably guess what that might be, seeing as, y' know, I'm you, more-or-less. Well, more, if you want to be technical about it. I'm twenty years more you than you are. But you shouldn't be thinking whatever you're thinking about the dress. Everyone wears dresses in the future. If you wear trousers people will think you're a bit odd. Or something else entirely. The fact that I'm wearing a dress is really nothing to worry about."
Richie smiled. He was just about to say something when Terence said, "Okay, I'll shut up about the pig."
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Melanie's Musical Comedy
The high point of Jack's career was when he appeared in an ad on TV. Even if he was an actor this wouldn't have been much of a high point, but he was an interior designer. He finally got an interior design job when a woman called Hilda hired him to renovate an old house in the country. She invited him to stay there while he was working on it.
Her niece, Melanie, was staying there too. Melanie was always bouncing a basketball and enjoying the musical being performed in her head. Sometimes the outside world was in perfect synch with the action in her head. The world was the soundtrack to the musical, no matter how strange the world became. She once wore a military uniform as she posed for photos next a scarecrow in civilian clothes. The photographer was trying to make a comment on something. That's also what he was trying to do when he attempted to kidnap a politician. All he succeeded in doing was guaranteeing the politician's re-election. Kidnapping is no longer a vote-winner because now they're all doing it. He's been dressing as a pirate recently, and he wants to be known as The Pirate. He says it's another one of his comments, but Melanie thinks it's because he likes dressing up in women's clothes. When you look at him, you would think he's a female pirate until you get a closer look, and then you'll wish you hadn't looked so closely, but it's too late to get out of it then.
She decided to retire from modelling and she joined a band. It was a busy few months of parties and waking up in other people's clothes, but it came to an end when she was lectured by a policeman who she fell in love with, and he fell in love with her. His name was Geoff. The lecture became a discussion about gannets in an old apartment in the city.
In Melanie's mind, her aunt's new house was full of possibilities for the affairs and the romantic mis-understandings that she'd see in the musical comedy in her head. Jack's initial verdict on the house was that there were too many yellow things in it. His words formed part of the soundtrack as she bounced the basketball outside. He stood next to her, with the cold wind on the side of his face, and he told her about a life full of humiliations, like the time when he had to dress as a penguin and hand out leaflets at a fair. People were looking at him, waiting for him to do his dance. He closed his eyes and said, "Beam me up, God." He knew that people would be staring at him. He didn't want to open his eyes again. Tears streamed down his face. When he finally opened his eyes he didn't recognise his surroundings at first. It was dark, and everyone had gone home.
He had asked a woman to marry him. She said she'd have to think about it. Presumably she's still thinking about it, now that she's moved to Canada. Melanie said 'yes, I will' when he asked her to marry him, but he meant it as a rhetorical question: "Would you marry me?"
Hilda had organised a house-warming party for when Jack finished his work. Melanie invited Geoff. She thought he'd inevitably fight with Jack when he heard about their engagement. She invited The Pirate as well because she thought he'd be perfect as an agent for romantic mis-understandings.
Jack was terrified of being beaten by a policeman, but Geoff wasn't looking forward to their meeting either. He didn't like having to get revenge on anyone, even though his father had written the book on revenge. His father wrote books on all of life's essentials, from revenge to retribution. The gene's he inherited from his parents made him want to read books alright, but not the ones his father wrote.
The party was the perfect accompaniment to the drama in Melanie's head. She saw men with white teeth and surgically enhanced glints in their eyes, dancing with women who glide. All of the house's ghosts joined in the fun.
It was a cold, star-filled night outside, but the fires were lighting inside. There were constellations of candles in some rooms, and bright chandeliers in others. When Melanie walked into a candle-lit room she saw someone getting a closer look at The Pirate, and the musical came to a crashing end when she saw that it was her aunt who was doing the looking, and that wasn't all she was doing.
Melanie told Jack that the wedding was off and she poured herself a large whiskey, hoping to drown out the sound of the outside world. Jack was relieved that he didn't have to fight Geoff, and Geoff was relieved that he didn't have to injure anyone. He'd practised on a tree and he wasn't looking forward to doing it on Jack. Someone could get hurt.
Melanie's hopes of keeping the world on the outside seemed to have been dashed when her aunt entered the room and started playing the piano to express her new-found love. Her piano teacher was a man with exceptionally long fingers. He told her they got longer every time he lied, so he'd been trying to lie as much as possible. In truth he wasn't a piano teacher at all. That would explain why she was such a bad player. The noise she made destroyed everyone's mood.
This was the point at which Melanie's spirits returned. She felt it was down to her to restore the party atmosphere. She got an idea: Wake up her uncle. And give him a gun.
It seemed like the perfect musical comedy ending, and it worked out okay, in the end, after the pirate's bullet wound was seen to, and Geoff had been blackmailed to stop him reporting the crime. The party got underway again and it provided the perfect soundtrack for the musical in Melanie's head.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Seamus was very aggressive towards people who refused to speak Irish. People who couldn't speak Irish would be on the receiving end of a rant, but because they couldn't understand a word he said they assumed he was complaining about the government or the weather, and they normally agreed with him.
His younger brother, Roy, had learnt Irish in school but he had forgotten most of it. Seamus thought he had forgotten it on purpose just to annoy him. Roy and his friends, Gerry and Marion, often had to listen to Seamus's rants.
When Gerry was given a bottle of something alcoholic by a man who had a spider on his face, they needed someone to test it before drinking it themselves. So they found out how to say 'Would you like to try this drink?' in Irish. Roy repeated the Irish phrase to Seamus, who was delighted to hear the music of the mother tongue coming out of his brother at last. He couldn't refuse the offer of the drink. Roy poured him a glass, and Seamus drank it in one go.
He felt great at first. He even agreed to go to the pub with Roy, Gerry and Marion. But after an hour he wasn't feeling so good. Objects that had remained inanimate for all of his life suddenly started to move.
On the following morning he woke in an unfamiliar room. He had often dreamt of waking in a strange place and saying, "Is this heaven?" On this occasion he was able to guess that the answer would be a 'no'. A 'yes' would have been more disappointing because it would have come as a huge anti-climax to find the words 'Up Wexford' on the ceiling of heaven.
He left the house and found himself in a farm yard. A woman smiled and waved at him. She looked vaguely familiar. An old man came over to him. His name was Leo. Two taller, younger men stood at either side of him. He called them his bodyguards, but they hated the thought of guarding his body. They didn't even like standing near him.
Leo said to Seamus, "I've been led to understand that you made advances towards my daughter, and this led to a sort of a dance, and a sort of a dance is more than enough to qualify as a proposal of marriage in my book. It's a blood-stained, bullet-ridden, well-read book. So that leaves you with two options. The first is to agree to take part in a play, where you'll be a character called Mr. Fox, and we'll try to track you down. Actually, the second option is a part in a play too. You'll be the husband and Georgina will be the wife."
Seamus looked at Georgina. She smiled at him. He looked back at her father and his bodyguards. Leo was always smiling. The bodyguards weren't. He looked at Georgina again.
"It's a big decision," Leo said, "so take your time. Bear in mind that she's in her mid-thirties, so it's not as if you'd be spending your whole life with her. But anyway, I suppose we should get better acquainted. What's your name?"
Seamus didn't want to give his real name. He thought of his brother. Whenever a policeman asked Roy for his name he always said 'Willy Wonka'. It was almost a compulsion. Gerry had an uncanny ability to arouse the suspicion of policemen, and then Roy made things worse by saying his name was Willy Wonka. Marion often got them off the hook by trying to arouse something else in the policemen.
Seamus couldn't think of anything else to say, so he said, "Willy Wonka."
Leo said, "I've heard that name somewhere before... Would you be any relation to the man who restores the vintage tractors?"
"No. I own a chocolate factory."
"That must be where I've heard of you. Georgina, we've hit the jackpot."
"Yeah," she said, "I feel as if I've just found a golden ticket."
"That's right. Come on into the kitchen and we'll have a little something to celebrate."
On their way back into the house Georgina whispered to Seamus, "I know you're not Willy Wonka. If you want to get away, just leave through the bathroom window and head for the fields."
He followed her advice. When he was running away through the fields he felt relieved to have escaped from the role of Georgina's husband, but then he heard the sound of the chasing pack and he realised he was playing Mr. Fox instead.
He ran up the side of a hill, hoping his salvation would come at the other side. What he saw at the other side was a hot-air balloon. There weren't any other likely candidates to play the part of his salvation. He told the man in the basket that he needed to get away quickly, and the man said, "Climb aboard."
The man in the hot-air balloon was smoking a pipe and wearing a sea captain's hat. He kept referring to the balloon as his ship. They ducked when they heard shots fired, but they got away from their pursuers when they entered low-lying cloud. Seamus started to wonder if he was in hell, but then he heard a woman singing in Irish and he knew that such a beautiful sound couldn't come from anything in hell. The next thing he heard was the sound of them crashing into the roof of a cottage on a mountainside. The next sight he saw was a man pointing a shotgun up at them, but then it all went dark when the balloon deflated and landed on them. Seamus was able to get away. He ran through the fields again.
It was nearly evening when Roy, Gerry and Marion finally tracked him down. They had been trying to find him all day because they wanted to see how the drink had affected him. They took him home, and on the way he told them all about his adventures. They couldn't wait to try the drink for themselves.
The Tree and the Horse
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.
More blogs about Storytelling.