|Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.||
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
The Hedgehog and the Clock
I found a hedgehog and a clock.
I put them into a box, and I showed them to Delia. She wrote a song about them. It became a minor hit. Everyone was singing 'The Hedgehog and the Clock'. People paid to see them in the box. One of those people had a box for a head. I asked if he'd like to have the hedgehog and the clock in his head and he said he would, so I put them in.
He used a marker to draw a TV screen and switches on his head. He used one of the switches to turn on the TV. We saw the hedgehog and the clock on his head. They were in a film.
Delia wrote a theme tune for the film, and we did the voices of the hedgehog and the clock. We charged people to see the film, and we made a fortune from it.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Late one night when we were on the street preaching about mind control, the good priest emerged from a dark alley. He was covered in blood. The bad priest was sitting by a fire in his study. He was drinking whiskey. We were confused, but God said to us, "Do not be confused. This is all part of my autobiography and I've come up with a brilliant ending that explains everything. It's a twist you'll never see coming."
So I suppose we'll just have to wait until we get to the end of God's autobiography. Daphne was standing next to a lamp post on the corner of the street. She was waiting for a man called Justin. He was just a tiny dot on a page, and you wouldn't even notice the dot if it wasn't pointed out by an arrow that kept poking him in the back of the head. The ghost of Christmas past was on a bus full of people who didn't know where they were going, and neither did the driver. He'd been driving around the city for years, always on the lookout for something, but he didn't know what it was. The passengers were happy to wallow in the past with the ghost, and the rest, as they say, is part of God's autobiography.
We were part of each other's diaries. According to mine, we were writing things into our diaries as we sat on a park bench beneath the yellow electric light and the white light of the moon. I've written the following lines into my diary for tomorrow:
He's up in the air with his hair.
I'm out of sheep.
I dislike the jam in my pockets.
He was joking about the speed of his coconut.
She tried to tie the worms in knots but they just made her laugh.
Now I just have to work these lines into tomorrow's plot.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
When Shane woke up on the floor of a friend's house on the morning after a party he noticed that the sleeves of his favourite jumper were about six inches longer than they used to be. He assumed that they must have been stretched during the party, but on the following day he looked at the jumper again and the sleeves were even longer. They were definitely growing. After a week they were down to his ankles.
When he looked at the jumper in the mirror he started crying. He had never cried before and he had no idea why he'd start crying then. This thought only made him cry more.
He told his friend Lucy about it, and he made her promise not to tell anyone. She was trying to forge a career as a singer-songwriter. She thought she sounded like Shirley Bassey, but she had a terrible voice. This didn't stop her from singing her songs in the pub. The owner of the pub didn't stop her because he was her father.
One night she sang a song about a man who cried because the sleeves of his jumper kept growing. She didn't mention Shane by name, but there was a reference to a man who once thought he could shake sugar out of a cat, and everyone knew who it was. They noticed that the sleeves of his jumper had been rolled up.
At the end of the song they all looked at him and laughed. The laughter died down when he started crying, and he desperately wanted them to laugh again.
People kept buying him drinks for the rest of the night. He got so drunk that he started to doze off. When the bar man rang the bell and said it was closing time, Shane noticed that the sleeves of his jumper had been tied together. This made him cry again.
A man called Hugh came over to him and said, "I'll straighten you out."
"I don't need straightening out."
"You need something."
"Maybe so, but it's not straightening out."
"You don't even know what I have in mind."
"I don't want to know what's in your mind. I wouldn't touch anything you held in your hands."
"I'm going to straighten you out whether you like it or not."
Shane started crying again. Hugh shook his head, and then he dragged Shane away. "I'm doing this for your own good," Hugh said.
Hugh lived on top of a wooden tower about a mile outside the town. He'd built the tower himself. He called it a spiritual lighthouse. He was the light.
He tied Shane's sleeves to a fence post outside the tower and then he went inside. Shane saw a light come on at the top of the tower. It went off again a few seconds later, and Hugh emerged from the door shortly afterwards.
Hugh led Shane into the woods nearby. They stopped at a clearing. In the centre of the clearing there was a pile of broken branches. Hugh took out a match and lit a fire. He took a small glass bottle out of his coat pocket. He removed the cork and poured the contents onto the fire. The flames turned blue. "My grandmother taught me everything I know," he said. "This has been created using a recipe she learnt from her mother. All you have to do is stare into the flames."
Shane did as he was told, and after a few minutes he started to see the figure of a man emerging from the flames. The fire man started talking, but he struggled to find things to say, and then he started singing a song about making a scarf out of an old shirt and making scones out of an old cat he was no longer using.
This is when Hugh's grandmother arrived. "You're doing it all wrong," she said to Hugh.
She took out another bottle and poured its contents onto the fire. The man in the fire started shivering. He looked as if he was freezing. He tried to say something, but he couldn't get a word in. Hugh's grandmother kept talking for hours, hardly pausing for breath. Shane focussed on the flames, but bits of what she said stuck in his mind. He remembered her saying, "I found that I could speak Russian and I had to clippety-clop a horse to the next town where we could all fall over and laugh because that's what people do there."
As time went by, the man in the flames stopped trying to talk and he started to warm up. After a few hours he looked as if he was comfortably warm in the flames.
Dawn arrived and the flames died down. When Hugh's grandmother finally stopped talking, Shane was cold, and he realised that he wasn't wearing his jumper. It was nowhere to be seen. His favourite jumper was gone, but he didn't cry, and this made him smile.
He hasn't cried since then, and the sleeves of his new favourite jumper haven't grown. Every time he lights a fire he can see the figure of a man emerge from the flames. This man looks comfortably warm in his jumper, with the sleeves wrapped all around him.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
The Sword of Damocles
When I was young I believed there was a robot who was trying to kill me. I stopped believing in Santa before I stopped believing in this. I found out the truth eventually. The robot was really trying to give me some crisps.
I met a woman at a garden party and I told her about the robot. She spent the next ten minutes laughing at my stupidity, but I hadn't laughed at all when she told me about the sword of Damocles that was hanging by a narrow thread over her head. She believed that in between the sword and her head there was a cat. She hoped that the cat's reaction would warn her of the sword's descent and she'd have time to get out of the way.
Her laugh came to a sudden end when she heard a cat screech. She dived into a nearby hedge. When she peeped out a few seconds later, everyone was looking at her. The cat who screeched had been asleep on the patio until the robot rolled over its tail. When she realised what had happened she would have appreciated a hole to hide in. But the robot is incapable of detecting embarrassment. He went over to her and offered her some crisps.
The Tree and the Horse
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.
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