|Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.||
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Keith often imagined himself wearing a disguise. He'd remember having conversations with people, and his contributions to the conversation would be delivered from behind a fake beard, or from beneath a hat with a wide brim. He wondered if this was because he didn't really believe the things he was saying. He saw himself as a Prussian infantry officer when he remembered telling his girlfriend, Isobel, that he liked her new hair style. When he said she looked good in black he imagined himself as a crow. And not just dressed as a crow -- he was an actual crow. He liked the idea of being a crow. He started wearing black, and he often pictured himself standing against white backgrounds. When it snowed, he dressed entirely in black and he went for a walk through the white countryside. A photographer saw him and took a photo. The photo appeared in a local paper, and Keith became a minor local celebrity for a while.
A band called 'The Ancient Little Spies' wanted to use the photo on the cover of their album. He agreed to this, but the album wasn't what he expected. He expected a soundtrack to his walk in the snow, but they wrote songs about famous cartoon characters sniffing glue, or killing aliens with pencils. He decided it was time for a change of image, so he started wearing bright colours. But the band became popular, and people associated that album with him, even when he dressed as a Prussian infantry officer. People were always asking him if it was really possible to kill an alien with a pencil. He'd say it would depend on the alien. The only way he could disassociate himself from The Ancient Little Spies was to start his own band. He called the band 'The Pig-Like Wolves' because of a dream he had in which he killed a pig-like wolf with a silver pen. But the band didn't turn out exactly as he had hoped. There were five members and they all wanted to contribute to the band. One of them wrote derivative songs about cartoon characters vandalising bus shelters. The lead singer was a woman who could never decide what her hair should be doing. She was constantly changing its style, and the image of the band changed with it because she was the face of the band. Keith imagined himself in a turtle costume when they performed some songs. Being a turtle would have been bad enough, but wearing a turtle costume was much worse. It was nowhere near as good as being a crow, or being himself.
He wondered how he could actually be himself. He knew when he wasn't being himself, and he knew what he didn't want to be. The other band members didn't seem to know who they were either, but they weren't bothered by it. When he met a woman called Mrs. Headcrust he knew he wanted to be Mr. Headcrust. A few obstacles stood in his way. One was Isobel. Another was the real Mr. Headcrust. Keith met this man, who proved to be nothing at all like Keith's impression of an ideal Mr. Headcrust (the one Keith wanted to be). This altered Keith's impression of Mrs. Headcrust. He no longer wanted to marry her if her ideal husband was someone who listened to Bon Jovi.
He tried to forget about Mr. Headcrust and to focus on his first impression of Mrs. Headcrust, but he saw himself as a sponge when he tried to do this. He decided to define himself in relation to Isobel instead, and he paid more attention to her, but his problem in the first place was that he didn't feel he was being truthful to himself when he said things to her. The band were having trouble deciding who they wanted to be too. The drummer wrote a song called 'Wisdom is a bird'. The singer sang it in a depressing monotone, but it was meant to be a happy song.
They went on tour with a band called 'The Shared Skittles', who communicated with each other through their own sign language. Using words always proved to be as antagonistic as holding a broken bottle in a threatening manner. But they always put on a brilliant performance at their gigs, and they all seemed happy, even when they were hitting a fellow band member's head off a door frame (the owner of the head was possibly less happy than the one holding it, but there was something touching in this basic human contact). This suggested to Keith that appearances were more important than what was going on beneath the surface. A good appearance could give you the freedom to let anything at all go on beneath the surface, from fighting in pubs to dressing as Prussian infantry (fighting in pubs is one of the few remaining outlets for violence if you're a Prussian infantry officer). It didn't matter if he saw himself as a crow or as Jim Morrison or as The Pink Panther when he told Isobel he liked her hair or her shoes or that she was right to tell a waiter that being served by him was like asking Stalin for a favour. With his new-found freedom he often imagined himself as a crow, and he liked that. He started dressing in black again, and he didn't care if it reminded people of cartoon characters sniffing glue.
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.
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