Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
Click here to buy the paperback or download the ebook for free.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Caffrey's Treasure

   Myles checked into an old hotel in a small town. He had a pint in the bar, and he got the feeling that people were looking at him. He was often the stranger in a small town, so he was used to being looked at. He wore a tweed jacket, a white shirt and a dark brown tie. He leant against the bar and he imagined the sight they'd see as they looked at him. It's the sort of sight he'd admire if he was one of them. He'd never look in mirrors if he was one of them. He believed that there were only so many things you could store in your brain before you started recording over other things. His grandfather tried to believe in as few things as possible. He stopped believing in natural gas when he received irrefutable proof that Belgium existed. Myles also limited the number of things he believed in, as well as the number of images in his mind.
   After spending many minutes looking at a painting of a horse behind the bar, he decided to look down at the bar itself. A brass railing was attached to the front of the bar. He noticed a piece of paper taped to the railing, and on the paper he read these words: 'There are ten shadows from the candlestick in the morning'.
   He asked the barmaid about it, and she said, "It's that eejit Caffrey again. He keeps leaving clues that supposedly lead to a treasure."
   "Are people following these clues?"
   "No one really gives a shit."
   "But that hasn't stopped him leaving the clues."
   "No. You could find them anywhere around the town. It's easy enough to spot him. He's the one who looks as if he knows something, but he knows nothing."
   Myles went for a walk before going to bed. He came across Caffrey in the town square, attaching another note to the hand of a statue. Myles asked him what was on the note.
   "The funeral birds grow dim," Caffrey said with a smile.
   "The only other one I've come across is the one about the candlestick in the morning."
   "You'll have to do a lot more work if you want to make any headway."
   "I'm just passing through the town, so, unfortunately, I won't get a chance to work on it at all. But it sounds intriguing. Let me buy you a drink. I'd like to ask you a few questions about your endeavour."
   "Forget it. You won't get anything out of me."
   "As I said, I'm not interested in finding this treasure. I have no intention of getting anything out of you, but you'll get a drink out of me."
   This sounded like a fair deal, so Caffrey agreed to go to the pub. Myles bought him a drink, and he asked Caffrey what sort of treasure was at the end of the trail.
   "You'll have to get to the end of the trail to answer that. They have no idea what it is. They couldn't possibly conceive it. They all think it's money -- that's all they can conceive. Money informs all of their thoughts, all of the conceptions they form."
   "I'm having trouble conceiving it too."
   "This is all a mystery to you because you've just seen two pieces of the jigsaw. No one has assembled the whole thing yet, but there are people who've assembled fragments, and you can see a mad look on their faces. Their heads are lanterns lit up by the glimmer of a conception of the finished jigsaw."
   Myles wondered was this man a liar. He had believed he was able to see through any liar, but he was unsure about Caffrey. About half of the liars he'd met in the past had been trying to sell him something. The other half were family members. This skill only worked on men. He'd never been able to tell when a woman was lying, and he'd never felt confident that they were telling the truth. A woman once convinced him that she was washing her hair. She gave a very plausible explanation for why she had to wash her hair. Another woman told him she was going to a New Order gig with her sister, but he found out later that she was meeting another man. This was when he decided to switch off his inner lie-detector when he was listening to women.
   Myles said to Caffrey, "The barmaid in the hotel told me that no one was interested in finding the treasure."
   "I know for a fact that a lot of people are interested, but they pretend that they don't give a shit. Maybe the barmaid is deeply interested in it herself. Did you ever consider the possibility that she's lying?"
   "No, but now that you mention it, it's quite possible."
   "They're all listening to our conversation right now."
   Myles turned around and he saw everyone in the pub turn away and simultaneously take a sip of their drinks. He noticed the silence.
   He went for a walk around the town before going back to his hotel. At the back of the library he saw a man trying to get in through a window, but the window was too high up and the man was too small.
   "Are you a treasure hunter too?" Myles said to him.
   "What's it to you?"
   "You're obviously seeking something in the library, something you don't want anyone else to know about. But I know for a fact that I know something you don't know. Because I've just been talking to Caffrey. He let me buy him a drink, and he let something slip."
   "Alright then. You can come along if you give me a leg up."
   Myles helped the man get through the window, and then he went in himself. The man went to the fiction section. He took a book from inside his jacket and heput it on a shelf. "Right then, I'm off," he said. "I just wanted to return a book. I've had it for years and I didn't want to pay the fine."
   "What about the treasure?"
   "No one gives a shit about the treasure."
   They were just about to leave when the beam of a flashlight lit up their faces. "I saw ye breaking in through the window," the policeman said. "Ye better have a very good explanation."
   "I've just been talking to Caffrey," Myles said. "I convinced him that I was just passing through the town and I had no interest in finding the treasure. He told me that the key to the whole thing could be found in the library in a history book about the Crimean War."
   The policeman shook his head and said, "You poor deluded fool. No one believes in that. You're as deluded and foolish as Caffrey himself. Now get out of here, the pair of ye, before my pity fades."
   They left through the window, but the policeman stayed behind. They went around to the front of the library. Through the window they could see the beam of his flashlight on the books in the history section.

The Tree and the Horse
Henry Seaward-Shannon
A Walk in the Rain
The East Cork Patents Office
Words are my favourite noises




May 2005   June 2005   July 2005   August 2005   September 2005   October 2005   November 2005   December 2005   January 2006   February 2006   March 2006   April 2006   May 2006   June 2006   July 2006   August 2006   September 2006   October 2006   November 2006   December 2006   January 2007   February 2007   March 2007   April 2007   May 2007   June 2007   July 2007   August 2007   September 2007   October 2007   November 2007   December 2007   January 2008   February 2008   March 2008   April 2008   May 2008   June 2008   July 2008   August 2008   September 2008   October 2008   November 2008   December 2008   January 2009   February 2009   March 2009   April 2009   May 2009   June 2009   July 2009   August 2009   September 2009   October 2009   November 2009   December 2009   January 2010   February 2010   March 2010   April 2010   May 2010   June 2010   July 2010   August 2010   September 2010   October 2010   May 2013  

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

More blogs about Storytelling.
Technorati Blog Finder

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?