Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Monday, December 24, 2007


Moriarty on Christmas Day

   At eight o' clock on Christmas Eve, Benny and Nora were walking to Nora's aunt's house when they saw a man who had a briefcase in one hand and a Martini in the other. He was wearing a black suit, and he had a white scarf around his neck. He was leaning to one side, and he was about to fall over into a hole, but Benny stopped him. When the man realised what Benny had done he said, "That was really very, very kind of you."
   "Not at all."
   "No, it really was awfully kind."
   "Think nothing of it."
   "If only there was some way I could repay you. Let me see if I have anything in my briefcase."
   He opened the briefcase and took out a watch. He gave it to Benny and he said, "This watch is impossible to lose. Throw it down the hole and see what happens."
   Benny reluctantly threw it into the hole and he looked down after it. "I can't see it," he said.
   "What time is it?"
   Benny looked at his watch to see the time, and there was a second watch on his wrist, the one he'd just thrown down the hole.
   "Do you normally carry them around in your briefcase?" Nora said.
   "I have about a hundred of them. I'll be delivering these and many other gifts until dawn."
   "Right. So in effect you're Santa."
   "In effect, I'm Santa, but I only deliver gifts to people whose surname begins with X. It might sound like an easy job, but it's not, especially if you're partial to the odd Martini, and when I say 'odd' I mean... I've forgotten how many I've had. It makes me prone to falling in holes and so forth. And when I say 'so forth' I don't know what I mean."
   "Don't Santas normally wear red."
   "Most of them don't bother with red because they want to escape the influence of the original one. He doesn't do very much these days. The only reason they hired me was because I could do a passable impersonation of James Bond. That's Roger Moore's James Bond. I could never do this new chap. This new chap frightens me."
   "Won't someone whose surname starts with X miss out on a present because of the watch you gave to me?" Benny said.
   "There should be enough to go around. Just pretend that there's a silent X at the start of your name. Well, I must be off. Thanks again."
   Benny put a hand on his shoulder to stop him from walking into the hole. "Oh right," the Santa said. "I forgot about the hole. Goodbye."
   He waved to them as he walked away. They waved back, and then they rushed to Nora's aunt's house. Many cousins, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles had gathered there, and they were all spellbound by Benny and Nora's story.
   No one noticed Moriarty leaving the house before Benny finished demonstrating how it was impossible to lose the watch. People rarely took much notice when he entered or exited rooms. He'd been very quiet since he got struck by lightning because ever since then he'd been hearing what another man was hearing. It was fascinating at first, but then he started hearing things he didn't want to hear, intimate relationship details and so forth. As a man who kept all of his feelings unexpressed and vented his frustrations by shooting trees, some of these things were difficult to listen to. Every evening he had to endure hours of the man talking to a woman.
   He spent the night trying to find this Santa because he thought that a man with a briefcase full of magical gifts could give him something to keep out the voices. He looked down every hole he came across, and he dug a few of his own. He wrote his name on a plank and added an X to the start, and he hung the plank over his front door, but no one came to call. He finally gave up hope at dawn, but the sight of the morning sky brought an inner calm and quiet that he hadn't felt in years. He realised that Christmas wasn't about gifts and food. It was about something inside him, something that couldn't be satisfied by material things, and the voices were inside him.
   As soon as he made this realisation he heard the voice of the woman. She said, "We thought you knew that."
   That day was Moriarty's best Christmas ever. He let his feelings out to play and run around in the garden, and it felt great. He said more in that day than he had said in the entire year leading up to it. Most people put this change down to a delayed reaction after being struck by the lightning.

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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