Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Moving House

   Eddie used to hammer nails into a tree in his back garden. He found it relaxing, and it became a hobby. One night he had a dream in which a woman with a pumpkin for a head told him to leave the tree alone. Her hideous smile revealed razor-sharp teeth. This dream became a recurring nightmare, and Eddie wouldn't go anywhere near the tree.
   One day he was walking down a street in the small town where he lived and he saw a woman with a pumpkin for a head. He was terrified. He turned around and ran away.
   The woman's name was Abbie. She was a member of a theatre group who were performing a play in the town. She was wearing her costume to promote the play. When she saw the effect she had on Eddie she ran after him to make sure he was okay. She suspected that the plastic pumpkin on her head might have frightened him, so she took that off.
   Eddie ran through the trees at the edge of the town. He looked back, and he slowed down when he saw the woman's head where the pumpkin had been. He was just getting ready to stop when he went over the edge of a ravine. She watched in horror as he fell. She ran to the ravine and she looked down into it. She saw him looking back up at her. He had landed on a mattress and he was fine. "What are the chances of that happening?" he said.
   She made her way to the bottom of the ravine. As well as the mattress, there was a chest of drawers, a chair and a lamp. When Eddie returned to the ravine on the following day, more furniture had been added. He met Abbie again, and she suggested staying in the ravine overnight to see who was bringing these things. Eddie didn't like the idea of spending a night in the ravine, but he knew a man called Fergus who was always willing to undertake spying jobs. Fergus could do a brilliant impression of a tree. His grandfather had taught him how to do impressions of many plants and animals. His tree was so good that it even fooled birds. They often perched on his arms, and if he stayed still for long enough they'd start building nests on him.
   Fergus agreed to observe what was going on in the ravine. He spent four hours doing his tree impression before he had any visitors. At midnight the fairies arrived, and they recognised him straightaway. One of them said, "I suppose you've been sent here to find out about the furniture."
   "Ahm, yeah," Fergus said.
   They gladly told him what they were up to. They were moving the house of a man called Kevin. He was visiting relatives in America. He'd be gone for three weeks, and during that time they'd move every bit of his house and all of its contents to the bottom of the ravine. They wanted revenge because when he was walking home one night he heard the fairies' music from the bottom of the ravine. Kevin didn't know it was the fairies. He thought it was a local band, and he said, "It sounds as if the instruments have come to life and ye've decided to torture them back into death."
   As revenge for this, the fairies put twenty mice in his house, but the place was already full of well-fed mice, and they fought off the newcomers. This annoyed the fairies, so they decided to move his house. They were going to move the mice as well.
   When Eddie heard about this he felt he had to do something. He was convinced that fate had led him to the mattress. "Fate drew my attention to what was going on," he said to Abbie. "It wants me to do something. I need to stop the fairies."
   She said, "You should be helping the fairies. If they hadn't put the mattress there, you'd be dead."
   "If Kevin hadn't upset the fairies they wouldn't have put the mattress there. I should be helping him."
   "If Kevin's parents hadn't raised a man who's prone to upsetting fairies, he wouldn't have upset the fairies. You should be helping his parents."
   "They're dead now, so I'm going to have to settle for helping Kevin."
   Eddie and Abbie called at Kevin's house late one night, when the fairies were inside taking the place apart. Some of them were up on the roof removing the slates. Eddie knocked on the door, but there was no answer. He said, "I forgot. He's on holidays." He spoke in a loud voice to make sure the fairies would hear.
   "I don't know why you have to call so late," Abbie said.
   "The later the better. He'd be drunk at this time. He's more likely to make a slip."
   "He's not going to accidentally tell you where he buried his gold."
   "People say all sorts of things when they're drunk."
   Eddie and Abbie walked away. They went to the ravine on the following morning. All of the furniture had been restored to Kevin's house.
   When Kevin got back from America, the fairies called to see him in the middle of the night. They played music that made him happily tell them all of his secrets. He told them about the time he accidentally set his neighbour's car on fire (he wanted to see how flammable the seats were). He lied to his mother when he blamed the dog for stains on the sofa. He lied to his girlfriend when he said he'd never surrepticiously taken photos of her. He crashed his grandmother's electric wheelchair into a hearse, and he ran away and left it there. He owns all of Barry Manilow's albums.
   His telling of these and other secrets went on for hours, and when the well finally ran dry he hadn't mentioned his gold at all. The fairies realised they'd been fooled.
   Eddie had spent that night in the pub with Abbie. He was celebrating his success with the fairies. She was wearing her pumpkin when they walked home late at night. When he woke in the morning he saw the pumpkin next to him in the bed, and he kissed it, but he soon realised that Kevin was wearing the pumpkin, and he wasn't wearing anything else. Eddie wasn't wearing anything at all. They both reacted by screaming. This was a secret they buried deep inside them, and it would take the most cunning music to coax it out of its burrow.
   The fairies had swapped all of the contents of their houses. Eddie thought he was in his own house, but they were actually in Kevin's place. They had to see a lot more of each other over the following days as they switched everything back, but they avoided eye contact.

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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