Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.

'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Tuesday, December 09, 2008


The Mottelowl Society for Anthropological and Scientific Research

   The Mottelowl Society for Anthropological and Scientific Research was founded by Mr. Mottelowl in 1928. His hero was Mr. Pickwick. He believed that his Society could play its small part in the advancement of the human race. Members were encouraged to travel, recording all of their experiences and impressions, and to conduct scientific experiments. They met once a week to discuss their findings. It was also a chance to drink whiskey and play billiards.
   During the final years of his life, Mr. Mottelowl became obsessed with building a model of the town he lived in. The model was kept in the attic of the building where the Society met. That model is still in the attic, and it contains tiny figurines of all past and present members. The figurines representing new members are put in the school for the first two years. The Society's President is represented by a small wooden man sitting on an armchair next to the fire in the Society's meeting room, and at the other side of the fire is the figurine of Mr. Mottelowl. One of their former Presidents is kept in the town's prison. The man himself has never been to prison, but the location of his figurine is meant to represent the shame he brought on the Society. When he became President he realised that his title had a seductive power over women. He started living the life he had always secretly wanted to live, which involved large quantities of women and drink. He didn't seem to mind when details of his lifestyle appeared on the front pages of the newspapers. He had plenty of women and drink to comfort him. But the other members of the Society were appalled. They voted to have him thrown out of the Society. He didn't seem to mind this either.
   A man called Stephen became the new President. Under his guidance the Society worked hard to restore their standing amongst the general public. They did a lot of charity work, and this helped improve their image.
   But Stephen was living a double life. Ever since he was a boy he had loved wrestling. Wrestling events were held once a week in an arena in the town, and his father used to take him to these. As he got older he started to despise the tactics of some of the villains. They'd break chairs over their opponents' heads, or set fire to their shoes.
   Stephen joined up with some like-minded people to organise wrestling events of their own. Their fights took place in an old theatre, and they were governed by the rules of gentlemanly conduct. These gentleman wrestlers used the names of famous poets. Stephen was known as Mr. Wordsworth. One of his colleagues, Mr. Byron, never resorted to violence. His only weapons were words. He'd climb into the ring and say, "I'm going to give you a trashing. I'm going to landlord you. Then I'm going to landlock you. And then we'll have a drink and a good laugh about the whole ridiculous business. Thank you for your time." Then he'd shake hands with his opponent and leave the ring.
   No one knew who Mr. Wordsworth really was because Stephen concealed his identity beneath a fake beard. The villains of the gentleman wrestling were cads who drank too many cocktails, crashed sports cars and broke off engagements to elope with a chorus girl. One of these cads, Mr. Longfellow, decided that the best way to get in character would be to drink too much. This is what led to an unfortunate lapse in gentlemanly behaviour when he was fighting Mr. Wordsworth. He pulled off the fake beard and revealed Stephen's true identity.
   Stephen knew he'd be removed from office at the next meeting of the Society, and his figurine would be put into the prison. The only way he could save himself would be if he had the overwhelming support of the general public. The other Society members would be desperate to avoid damaging their reputation again. Stephen believed that the best way to gain the backing of the public would be to defeat one of the real wrestlers, one of the villains. The man he chose to take on was a wrestler called Bullman Riley. Bullman was so bad he once spat on a kitten.
   Just after Bullman defeated an opponent (with the aid of a candlestick which he had concealed down his trousers) Mr. Wordsworth climbed into the ring and said, "I'm standing up for fair play. I'm fighting in the cause of sportsmanship. I'm defending the honour of honour. I'm going to teach you this simple truth: the virtuous will always defeat those who have abandoned all notions of decency."
   The crowd cheered. Stephen felt elated for a few seconds, but then he noticed that Bullman Riley's opponent was still struggling to get back to his feet and the cut on his forehead was real, as was the anger in Bullman's eyes.
   Bullman picked him up and threw him across the ring. Stephen was dazed, but he was just about able to gather his wits and roll out of the way when he saw an enormous Bullman-shaped object flying through the air, destined to land on the spot he was occupying. He un-occupied that spot just in time. This annoyed Bullman even more. He caught Stephen's arm and flung him into the ropes. Stephen bounced back. He could see that Bullman was going to clothesline him with his right arm, so he ducked. He must have inadvertently veered to one side as well because he went headfirst into Bullman's stomach. Bullman was winded. Stephen staggered backwards into the ropes and was thrown forward again. He tried to spin out of Bullman's way, but he ended up hitting Bullman full in the face with his arm. When he saw Bullman lying on the canvas and he heard the hysterical cheers of the crowd it dawned on him that all he had to do was sit on Bullman and wait for the ref to count to three, which he did.
   The crowd loved Stephen. His colleagues in the Society grudgingly accepted that they couldn't get rid of him if they wanted to improve their standing amongst the general public, but they were shocked when he told them that he intended to continue his wrestling career, and that he hoped to bring about a merger between the gentleman wrestling and the original variety.
   The other members of the Society were powerless. The only way they could get rid of him would be to turn him into one of the villains, and to do this they'd need to find a wrestler who was practically angelic and get him to fight Stephen. This plan still hasn't come to fruition, but they haven't abandoned it. Wrestling is the subject that dominates conversations during meetings of The Mottelowl Society for Anthropological and Scientific Research.

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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