Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008


An Army of Santas

   Trevor loved busking. It was a chance to try out his own songs on a captive audience. They couldn't avoid hearing his music, but they could get away from it as quickly as possible.
   One day he started playing songs that made people stop and listen. He said they were written by the monkey who lives in the attic above his apartment. The inhabitant of the attic wasn't really a monkey -- he was a man called Stuart who was short and hairy. Before he started writing songs, Stuart's life was plagued by doubts. His mind was occupied by questions, but he couldn't find the answers. He started expressing these questions in songs, and he found that he no longer needed to find the answers if the question was posed in a beautiful way. His doubts inspired him to spend most of his time writing songs, and some of them made him a lot of money.
   The sound of Trevor practising his songs often filtered up to the attic. Stuart took pity on him, and he offered Trevor some of his own songs. These proved to be extremely successful on the streets. Trevor wanted to return the favour. He was determined to get Stuart to experience more of life outside the attic. He started by convincing Stuart to join him on the street as he performed.
   Stuart loved seeing people enjoying his songs, and he ended up joining Trevor on the street every day. He played the accordion while Trevor played the guitar and sang. They attracted a following. Every time they played, a crowd would gather around them within minutes.
   On Christmas Eve a school band and choir were performing outside a department store. Their audience was small, so the school's music teacher asked Trevor and Stuart to play with the children. Trevor and Stuart thought this would be an ideal way to spend Christmas Eve, so they joined the children, and soon they had a huge audience. The children even learnt some of Stuart's Christmas songs.
   But their free concert didn't last long. Security guards from the department store came out and confiscated the children's instruments. They said they were acting on the orders of the owner of the store. The choir tried to sing anyway, but loud Christmas music was played through speakers just outside the store.
   A TV reporter called Alice had spent the day looking for a good Christmas story to cover for the evening news. The best she had come up with was a drunk man who said, "I saw a ghost, and he told me I was in his garden, but I couldn't have been in his garden, because that was my barrel. I'm sure it was my barrel. And then two men came out of the ghost. I said to them, 'That's my barrel. I'm sure it's my barrel.' But they took no notice."
   Alice saw the sad kids in Santa hats outside the department store. When she found out what had happened she realised she had struck gold. This was exactly the sort of story she'd been looking for.
   Her report appeared on the news at six o' clock. A man called Frank saw it, just as he was starting to relax, having completed his work, his mission. It was his job to train the Santas in the city. He used to be in the army, and this influenced his approach to training the Santas. He tried to instil a military discipline. Not everyone liked this. His boss often had to remind him that they were just civilians, but no one could deny that he produced the most efficient Santa-impersonating machines in the country.
   When he saw what had happened to the school band and the choir he knew he had one more mission this year. He rounded up all of the Santas and they marched to the department store. He informed the kids that they'd be performing their Christmas carols again within ten minutes.
   The kids looked on in awe as the Santas marched into the department store. He did exist, and 'he' was a 'they', which made much more sense.
   Trevor and Stuart followed the Santas in. Frank led them to the top floor of the building, where he opened a door with a 'Staff Only' sign on it. His niece had a part-time job in the store and she had told him where the owner's office was.
   The office had an oak door with a brass plate that said 'Edwin Platgoddle'. Edwin's secretary did all she could to stop the invasion. She told Frank and his army that they'd need an appointment to see Mr. Platgoddle.
   Edwin was on the phone when the army entered his office. Within seconds the room was swarming with Santas, and more of them were guarding the door outside. Trevor and Stuart were in the office.
   Frank said to Edwin, "Santa doesn't like what you did to those kids. You haven't been nice. It says so on his list. But you have a chance to redeem yourself. You can return the instruments and allow the choir to sing. You won't get out of this office until the kids are singing carols again."
   "They're going to have to go to bed sometime," Edwin said, "especially on Christmas Eve." He took out a bottle of whiskey and a glass and he said, "I can wait."
   He poured himself a glass of whiskey and he drank it. Frank stood at the other side of the desk and stared at Edwin. He'd used this tactic before, and he was sure that Edwin would crack before too long.
   An hour later, Edwin was still drinking whiskey and Frank was still staring. It was Trevor who finally broke the silence. He said to Edwin, "What turned you into such a Scrooge?"
   At last there were signs of cracks in Edwin's demeanour. He sighed and said, "I was in love with a woman I met at a crossroads. I courted her at dances, funerals and football matches. And after all that she ended up marrying a man who struggled to remember his own name, because she was 'in love' with him. Have you ever heard anything more stupid in your life?"
   "They say that love is blind," Trevor said.
   "Who's 'they'?"
   "Those people who drink turpentine in the park."
   While Edwin reminisced about his love life, Stuart was busy writing a song about it. When he finished it, he showed it to Trevor, and they performed the song for Edwin. He finally cracked when he heard the line about seeing the woman you love chasing an overweight cat with another man. He started singing along.
   Within minutes he was outside, singing the song with the kids. When he heard it sung by the choir, with the musical backing of the school band, he found it very uplifting, even though he was singing about things that had caused him nothing but pain in the past. He could sing the line 'She laughed at the poem I wrote about her head' with a warm-hearted smile on his face.

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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