Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, November 20, 2007


The Giant

   Dara used to travel all around the country on foot. On the outskirts of a town in the midlands he came across people pulling on a rope, like a tug-of-war, but they couldn't see what was on the other end of the rope because that was in a cave. Dara asked them what they were pulling.
   "We'll soon find out," one of the men said. "We found the rope near the entrance to the cave and we started pulling on it."
   "Didn't ye go into the cave to see what was on the other end?"
   "No. We were afraid of what we might find in there."
   "But ye're not afraid of pulling it out?"
   "It can't be as bad in daylight as it is in the dark depths of the cave."
   It was much worse in daylight. The rope was attached to the foot of a sleeping giant. They wished he was still in the dark depths of the cave, but as long as he remained sleeping, they'd be okay. They tip-toed away, but one of them dropped a button and the giant woke up. They ran back to the town. When they got there, one of the men, whose name was Joe, said, "Let's ask Betty if she has any ideas on what to do about the giant."
   Betty normally only had ideas about flowers, but she was so knowledgeable about flowers that it made her the most intelligent person in the town, despite the fact that she knew so little about other things. There was no point in asking anyone else. It was either Betty or the man who knew a lot about snails. He learnt everything he knew from hammering snails.
   When they told Betty about the giant she said, "Ye could give him some flowers."
   "What good would that do?"
   "It would take him by surprise."
   "Yeah. And then we could stab him in the eye."
   "I wouldn't recommend that at all. All I'm saying is that ye should give him flowers. It'd be the last thing he'd expect ye to do."
   "You're assuming he's made a list of everything we could possibly do to him, and that giving him flowers is on the bottom of that list. Even if he did make that list, pulling him out of a cave with a rope would be the last thing on it."
   "He'd have crossed that off now, and giving him flowers would be on the bottom."
   "But now that we've done the thing he least expected, the second last thing he expects us to do wouldn't be all that unexpected. That might be the very thing he expects us to do. He might be waiting for us somewhere, saying, 'Would they ever hurry on and give me the flowers.'"
   "Invert the list so. What would be the thing he most expects ye to do?"
   "Stab him in the eye."
   "Well do that so."
   "You were very much against that a minute ago."
   "I know ye're not actually going to do it. Ye're too scared."
   They remained silent for a while as they thought about this. One of them said, "Is there anything we could do with snails?"
   Dara said, "Last year I was in a town where they had a problem with dead people. They wouldn't stay in their graves. Everyone wanted to either stab them in the eye or shoot them in the ear. But if that wasn't enough to keep them in their graves the first time it would hardly work the second time. Some people were itching to do something violent. Some people were just itching. I suppose that's to be expected. Others were intent on solving the problem through peaceful methods. They started a petition against the dead people, but the dead people signed the petition themselves to show how little it mattered. The people who started the petition tried to claim this as a victory. It turned into a battle between those who wanted to solve it violently and the pacifists, with the people who were itching just standing on the sidelines, scratching themselves. The two sides became obsessed with defeating each other, and they forgot about the dead people. The dead people were disappointed. They wanted to be noticed. They started fires and broke windows, and got drunk and shouted at people, but even the itcy people were more interesting in scratching. A lot of the dead people returned to their graves of their own accord because they had more to do down there. Some stayed up above and got jobs. So just ignore the giant. Pretend ye're more interested in fighting each other. If he wants a fight, he'll just go to some other town."
   "So we can stab each other in the eye?"
   "No. Ye can pretend to stab each other in the eye."
   "There's someone I've always wanted to start a fight with," Joe said. This person was a man with a big head and a gun, and he used to say, "I couldn't be any happier with my big head and my gun. That's all I need. As long as I've got my big head and my gun, I'll be perfectly content with myself, so I will." And then he'd do a little dance.
   Joe went to his house and said to him, "Who do you think you are with your big head and your gun?" Joe poked him in the shoulder. "Who do you think you are?"
   This was the start of the pretend fight. Three days later, the giant stood on a hill overlooking the town, surveying the destruction at his feet. Buildings were on fire, and some had been torn down. Injured people limped through the streets, trying to avoid the unconscious people on the ground. The giant had played no part in this. The pretend fight had very quickly descended into a real fight, and three days of destruction followed. The giant was really just a donkey who had once been owned by a magician. A rival magician cursed the donkey so that he'd sleep all the time. The donkey's owner turned him into a giant so he'd kill the rival magician. The donkey changed into the form of a giant and stood up with a roar that was louder than thunder. He advanced on the rival magician, but after three paces he got tired and fell asleep.
   The destruction of the town meant nothing to him. As he looked down on it he yawned and fell asleep again. The town's people cheered and began to celebrate their victory over the giant.

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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