Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Sing Very Loudly, Mr. Hazeldene

   Eric is pitching ideas for films to a producer called Jerry.
   "How about 'Fixed Abode', a prison film."
   "'Wimple Don'. It's a film about a mob boss on the run. He hides in a remote convent, where he pretends to be a nun."
   "How about 'Fixed Abode', a film about renovating a dilapidated house."
   "'Santa Cruise'. A man goes on a cruise in search of love, but he ends up stuck on a boat with hundreds of Santas. It's a Santa Claus convention. He still finds love."
   "How about 'No Fixed Abode', a film about buying an old house and then realising it's falling down."
   "'Dead It, Mate'. It's about an Australian hit man who becomes a Buddhist monk."
   "Or he could disguise himself as a nun."
   "I don't think so."
   "I'm working on a script based on a novel I read. It's called 'Sing Very Loudly, Mr. Hazeldene'. Mr. Hazeldene is a failed socialist politician and a failed singer. He travels around the country, lecturing and singing, but when he's on the stage he's basically just a target for things like bottles or darts. Then he meets a singing teacher who transforms his life. He goes to a sleepy village on a lazy summer evening. A few people gather in the village hall to hear him lecture and sing, and he brings the whole place to life. Within minutes the hall is packed. He has this effect everywhere he goes. He becomes a star. He's standing up for the little guy and there are millions of little guys who stand up and demand political change. The political hierarchy are worried. They hire a hit man to take him out. They spread scandalous stories about him. He falls in love with a woman who looks as if butter wouldn't melt in her mouth. That's what he thinks when he sees the word 'love' tattooed on her face. He eventually finds where she has the word 'hate'. It would be a more appropriate place for 'love', and her face would be a more appropriate place for 'hate'. This woman is tough. She's like a female Rambo, although her breasts don't need to be that big. She hunts down the politicians who are trying to bring Mr. Hazeldene down. A lot of the chase takes place in the countryside: forests, hills, valleys, rivers, mountains and so forth. And cliffs."
   "I like it. That might just work. But we'd have to get rid of the character of Mr. Hazeldene."
   "I was just thinking that myself."
   "The focus should be on this woman And without Mr. Hazeldene it would make no sense for her to be hunting down politicians with machine guns and grenades. She'd be hunting down terrorists instead."
   "I like it."
   "Do you have any other ideas?"
   "'Cat Ass Trophy'. A mob boss posing as a nun in a remote convent organises a tennis tournament."
   "I think that's been done."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Dylan and Michelle

   She doesn't think seventeen is too young to have a baby. I just turned nineteen and I know how young seventeen is. Yes, she'll be eighteen in July, as she keeps saying, and then... She just makes a vague gesture after 'and then'. And then she says she really, really, really needs a cigarette. She says that after everything she says. After saying 'I really, really, really need a cigarette' she says 'I mean really'. She isn't as bothered about this as she should be. The only time she got upset was when I asked if she was sure I was the father. What else was I supposed to say? When my mother told my father she was having me he said 'Good for you' and she went mental, so it doesn't really matter what you say. When I told Alex about it he said, "I hope it turns out to be Satan. That it really is Satan. Or Satan's son. Can you imagine if it was Satan? Or Satan's son." I should have said that to her.
   When she told her parents her mother said, "Please tell me this is a joke." It was a fair response, because it's the sort of thing she'd joke about. She once told them she had fallen in love with the Latvian woman who works in the laundrette. But she wasn't joking about being pregnant. She said, "No, this one is fairly real alright. Oh God no! I'm going to have to give up cigarettes!"
   I was there. Eyes burnt holes through my head. I haven't been right since. Her father said nothing, which was unusual for him. Normally he can't stop talking, rambling on about trivial things. If she had said, "I'm thinking of buying a lawnmower," he'd still be talking now. But he was out of his depth with the pregnancy. I think he spent a lot of time staring at the ground, scratching the back of his neck. That's what I was doing. I thought he'd wait until I had gone before letting the flood of words out. I asked her what he said about it and she said, "Not much. God, if I have to wait until it's nearly October before I have a cigarette I'm going to have to kill someone."
   I still haven't told my parents. I hope they laugh. I'd laugh if I was in their shoes. I'd say, "You! A father! You can't even open a wine bottle." I would be able to open a wine bottle if I did it on a regular basis, but I only tried to do it once and my aunt stepped in and did it for me because she likes stepping in and doing things properly to make you feel as if there's something wrong with you. I can't wait to tell her I'm going to be a father. In fact, I might just tell her first, and act is if everyone is doing it these days. Obviously she'll think there's something wrong with me, but if I just act as if I think there's nothing wrong with being a father at my age she'll be confused. She wouldn't know what to say. I could ask her if she's feeling okay. "You should sit down and have a glass of wine, Auntie June."
   I haven't decided what I'm going to say to my parents. I could pretend it was all planned, that I've been considering this for a while now and I thought it was about time I grew up, moved on from childhood things, sample all that adult life has to offer, from being a father to building a conservatory. I'll have to take some of the posters down from my bedroom wall before I put that spin on things. I don't know if they'll believe it anyway. But I can't just say, "I'm going to be a father. What the hell am I going to do?" Or can I? Seeing as they're likely to say 'What the hell have you done?', maybe it's best to pull the pin on that grenade and throw it out the window before they get their hands on it.
   Maybe they'll be okay about it. This isn't like the time I nearly set the kitchen on fire. They were perfectly entitled to shout at me then. Looking at it through an adult's eyes, I can see how important things like kitchens and conservatories are, and I can see the value of keeping them un-burnt. Being a father is nothing like that. It's as life-affirming as writing a musical about puppies and daisies. It's the thing that will force me to grow up. I'd give up accidentally setting things on fire as quickly as Michelle gave up smoking. I'll casually tell them that I'm going to be a father and I'm thinking of buying a lawnmower as well. I can imagine my father shaking my hand, as one mature adult to another. As long as I don't lose my nerve and say 'What the hell have I done?'.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


The Parrot

   Adrian was sick of people staring at him just because he had a metal hook for a hand. Everywhere he went he stood out like a sore thumb. But he found that when he started dressing as a pirate he wasn't as noticeable. Even with an eye patch and a parrot on his shoulder it was much easier to blend in with a crowd.
   He got a job as a bingo caller, but the parrot on his shoulder was quicker than him, and the bird always called out the numbers first. This annoyed him, but the bingo players loved it. Fiona used to play bingo every night just to see him. She met him one evening when she asked for his autograph. They spent a few minutes talking outside the bingo hall, and they realised they shared a love of sculpture. They went to a bar to continue their conversation over drinks.
   They met again on the following evening. They went to a bar and then he walked her home. He wanted to kiss her and she wanted to kiss him, but the parrot was proving to be too much of a distraction, so she put her hamster on her shoulder to keep the parrot occupied. They leaned towards each other to kiss, but the parrot and the hamster got there first, and that proved to be an even greater distraction.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Little Elves

   I met her in the park when she was walking her dog. She called the dog Rambo after her sister. I was attracted to her because she said she kept seeing little elves jumping up and down in front of her. I once saw jumping elves after I'd been drinking for ten hours to celebrate getting rid of a tennis ball that was stuck to my hand.
   I decided to stay away from her when I found out that the elves she saw weren't imaginary. I was terrified, although they weren't really elves. They were her kids.

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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