Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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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.

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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