Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, January 08, 2008



   Myself, Jimmy and Chadwick went into a pub one afternoon and we met Chadwick's brother, Richard. Chadwick describes Richard as a 'man of letters', but when we met him in the pub he described himself as a man of endless sorrow. He was doing his best to drown that sorrow.
   "I was engaged to a wonderful woman called Gwendolyn," he said, "but this morning she told me she'd rather marry something that walks on all fours. It wasn't entirely my fault. A man called Panda is to blame for most of it. He's one of my oldest and closest so-called friends. So-called friendship is something that will feel the white heat of my intellect's gaze when this knot of bother is un-knotted and tied into a neat little bow. We call him Panda because he once beat a badger to death. It was self-defence, he said. We told him to pretend the badger was a panda if he was going with the self-defence line, and the name 'Panda' stuck. 'Look, there's Panda,' someone said, and everyone laughed. 'What are you going to beat to death today, Panda?' And so forth. He hated the name at first. Many's the person he tried to send the way of the badger. But he realised that the more he fought the more the name stuck, and it wasn't such a bad thing to be called after all. He made this realisation shortly after we started calling another man a name that referred to something he didn't do to a duck, but he did do it to a pillow, although he vehemently denies this. I don't know why we call him the name that refers to performing such an act on a duck when we could use a name that mentions the pillow. I'd rather use the latter one, for the sake of accuracy at least. Panda would rather use the one about the duck. He likes being called Panda now. He even wore a panda costume to a fancy dress party. He relieved himself in it, on purpose. There have been incidents of involuntary relief in the past, but this one was entirely intentional, and it's hard to criticise a man for such a course of action when he can lay out all the pros and cons and show you why he did it. You've just got to say, 'Yes, I suppose it was the best thing to do.' Filming my drunken rant against dolphins was not the best thing to do. This is what caused the rift with Gwendolyn. She's so sweet. This is entirely off the record, you understand. Officially, sweetness isn't a quality I look for in a woman. Obviously that depends on the type of record. There's a version of me that appears in the same record that immortalises incidents such as the time Panda involuntarily relieved himself after being electrocuted, and that version of me would focus on the physical attributes of a woman. That record would ruin me if a journalist saw it. For the public record, I value the intellectual attributes of a woman and her personality. 'Someone who makes me laugh'. That's what they all say, and what most of them mean is 'Someone I can laugh at', poison-tipped darts of laughs thrown at every inadequacy and faux pas. Most of my friends would aspire to be like this, but they've never met a woman they can look down on enough to be able to feel superior to them. I could never laugh at Gwendolyn. When someone who's better than you makes a mistake, you can only thank God you have enough sense to realise she's still better than you. How can I convince her to take me back? She's not the sort of person who enjoys looking down on other people. She'd like to marry an equal, but I've given her every reason to look down on me. The 'I was drunk' defence doesn't work on women like Gwendolyn. But I was drunk when I made my drunken rant against dolphins. I'd never have done it when I was sober, and I wouldn't have used such language. Panda filmed it and emailed it to everyone he knew, and they emailed it to everyone they knew. It found its way to Gwendolyn. She has a soft spot for dolphins. In that film she'd have seen a version of me that she never saw before, and she obviously didn't like what she saw. She phoned me this morning and told me it was over. I couldn't even get a word in, which is probably just as well because I'd have told her I was drunk."
   "Something similar happened to me once," Jimmy said. "A former girlfriend saw a film of me attacking a tree with a baseball bat. I just told her I was on medication and she accepted that."
   Chadwick said, "If the 'I was drunk' defence won't work, then the 'I was on medication' defence isn't likely to be any more effective. I have a better plan. Tell her you were rehearsing for a part in a play."
   "She's not likely to believe that either."
   "Not on its own, but if we actually write the play and show her the script it will seem much more convincing. We could even find a cast for it, and a writer. If that doesn't convince her, we could let her see a rehearsal."
   "That might just work," Richard said. "I know a man who owns a small theatre. We could rehearse it there."
   Chadwick wrote the play around his brother's drunken rant. Richard played the part of a man who hated dolphins, but then a dolphin rescued him when he fell off a boat and he vowed to protect dolphins. Myself and Jimmy played dolphin hunters. Chadwick played a wise old man.
   Chadwick got a man called Ted to pretend to be the writer. Ted was a man of few words, so he was unlikely to say anything to ruin the plan because he was unlikely to say anything. Richard told Gwendolyn that he hadn't told her about the play before because he wasn't confident in his acting ability. He brought her along to a rehearsal and she loved the play. So did the owner of the theatre. He talked us into staging it for real, and it had a nine week run. The hunters that myself and Jimmy played were a lot like Laurel and Hardy. We were completely convincing in these roles because it was often real. Punching each other every night was fun for a week or two, but nine weeks of it took its toll.

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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