Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

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


Delaney's Cow

   Delaney's brother was walking home from the pub one night with a bottle of something in his hand. He couldn't remember what was in the bottle. The label had been removed and the contents of the bottle had erased a lot of his mind. He could hardly see where he was going, and he fell into a water trough in a field. When he emerged from it his clothes were full of water, the bottle was empty and his mind was full of despair.
   On the following morning Delaney's cow drank from the water trough. She drank it dry, and then she started walking away. She kept moving in a straight line. Delaney saw her go, and he got the impression that she was going somewhere with a sense of purpose. It reminded him of the time his brother had drunk from another bottle without a label, and something clicked into place in his mind. He tried to jump off a building because he thought he could fly. This was obviously a cow that had made a great revelation.
   Delaney followed the cow to the other end of the field. The cow waited at the gate until Delaney opened it. She walked on, always moving in a straight line. When other people saw the cow leading Delaney away they also got the impression that the cow knew something, and they followed her as well. By mid-afternoon there were over thirty people walking behind her.
   Not long after the sun went down, the cow came to a ditch, where she stopped and lay down. She went to sleep. The crowd behind her looked over the ditch and they saw the fairies singing and dancing in a fairy fort. Normally they'd run away from the fairies, but they believed that the cow had led them here for a reason, so they stayed. They were tired after their journey. They sat down in the long grass, and some of them went to sleep. One man started sleep-talking. He said, "Yeah, I invented this thing with the handles and the pressure gauge... Thank you very much. You can use it to kill horses... Thank you very much."
   The fairies heard him, and they spotted their audience at the other side of the ditch. They went over to investigate. The followers of the cow were all terrified, but the fairies just smiled and played their music again. This made the followers get to their feet and dance. They were entranced by the sound. When the music stopped it was dawn and they found themselves in front of a half-built house. The fairies told them to finish the job.
   The fairies had taken a man's house apart while he was at a cheese contest. The fact that he won the contest was some consolation for the loss of his house, but not much. It was only when he came back from the contest that they realised they got the wrong house. They wanted to get revenge on another man, who lived down the road. This man claimed to have a pipe that the fairies had given him when he met them late one night and he entertained them with the story of his levitating grandfather and the nurse. They gave him the pipe because the story was so good, or so he claimed. He said that when he smoked the pipe his head was filled with wisdom. He charged people for 'consultations', but it was just a scam.
   The fairies were able to slow time, so they took the house apart in what seemed like a few hours. They weren't looking forward to putting it back together. They had made a start on it, but they found that it was much more difficult than taking it apart, so they enlisted the help of the cow-followers.
   A man called Des was one of the followers. He wanted to get the job done as quickly as possible. He was desperate to get home because the woman who lived next door promised to play the cello for him that Saturday night. He didn't know if playing the cello was a euphemism. Either way, it would be worth his while to go there. So he appointed himself foreman and he hurried people along as they re-built the house. They had the job finished in three days, and Des was able to get home in time to visit his neighbour on Saturday night. As it turned out, she really did play the cello. He was glad he went.
   He woke up in the middle of Sunday night when he heard the sound of hammering. The fairies were doing a job on his house. When he asked them to stop, one of them took a cat out of a bag. The cat sat on the ground in front of Des and stared at him. He stared back at the cat. He couldn't take his eyes off the cat because he was convinced it was going to do something. It didn't do anything for another eight hours, and neither did Des. When the cat ran away he looked around him in the light of day he saw that his house had been reduced to a shell. All of the windows and doors had been removed. Most of the floorboards had been taken out, and there were holes in the roof.
   The fairies visited him again that night and one of them said, "The house that you and your friends worked on fell down, and it's your fault because you rushed the job. The man who owns it did nothing wrong. You should see him now. He's crying and eating cheese. It's a pitiful sight. And it's your fault."
   "I did nothing wrong. Ye were the ones who hired amateurs to re-build his house. It's going to cost me a fortune to repair my house."
   "We've prepared a quote for you. We can start work next month. And don't try getting anyone else to do the job, or you'll only make things worse."
   He had little choice, so he hired the fairies to do the job. They didn't start it for another six months. They kept coming up with excuses to put it off. After working on it for a few days they said they had to leave for a while to do another job. When Des complained, one of them said, "Do you want it done quickly or do you want it done properly?"
   "The two aren't mutually exclusive."
   "You yourself demonstrated that they are."
   "Just because you don't do it quickly it doesn't mean you have to do it slowly."
   "But if you do it slowly you're never going to do it too quickly."
   They've been working on it for over five years now and the job still isn't finished. At least they've repaired the holes in the roof, so he doesn't have to go to bed with an umbrella.

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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